Institute for Historical Review

Institute for Historical Review

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Continued from Part 4


AUSCHWITZ: AN EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNT

Some new facts about Auschwitz are at last beginning to make a tentative appearance. They are contained in a recent work called Die Auschwitz-Lüge: Ein Erlebnisbericht von Theis Christopherson (The Auschwitz Legends: An Account of his Experiences by Thies Christopherson, Kritik Verlag/Mohrkirch, 1973). Published by the German lawyer Dr. Manfred Roeder in the periodical Deutsche Bürger-Iniative, it is an eye-witness account of Auschwitz by Thies Christopherson, who was sent to the Bunawerk plant laboratories at Auschwitz to research into the production of synthetic rubber for the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. In May 1973, not long after the appearance of this account, the veteran Jewish "Nazi-hunter" Simon Wiesenthal wrote to the Frankfurt Chamber of Lawyers, demanding that the publisher and author of the Forward, Dr. Roeder, a member of the Chamber, should be brought before its disciplinary commission. Sure enough, proceedings began in July, but not without harsh criticism even from the Press, who asked "Is Simon Wiesenthal the new Gauleiter of Germany?" (Deutsche Wochenzeitung, July 27th, 1973). Christopherson's account is certainly one of the most important documents for a re-appraisal of Auschwitz. He spent the whole of 1944 there, during which time he visited all of the separate camps comprising the large Auschwitz complex, including Auschwitz-Birkenau where it is alleged that wholesale massacres of Jews took place. Christopherson, however, is in no doubt that this is totally untrue. He writes: "I was in Auschwitz from January 1944 until December 1944. After the war I heard about the mass murders which were supposedly perpetrated by the S.S. against the Jewish prisoners, and I was perfectly astonished. Despite all the evidence of witnesses, all the newspaper reports and radio broadcasts I still do not believe today in these horrible deeds. I have said this many times and in many places, but to no purpose. One is never believed" (p. 16). Space forbids a detailed summary here of the author's experiences at Auschwitz, which include facts about camp routine and the daily life of prisoners totally at variance with the allegations of propaganda (pp. 22-7). More important are his revelations about the supposed existence of an extermination camp. "During the whole of my time at Auschwitz, l never observed the slightest evidence of mass gassings. Moreover, the odour of burning flesh that is often said to have hung over the camp is a downright falsehood. In the vicinity of the main camp (Auschwitz I) was a large farrier's works, from which the smell of molten iron was naturally not pleasant" (p. 33-4). Reitlinger confirms that there were five blast furnaces and five collieries at Auschwitz, which together with the Bunawerk factories comprised Auschwitz III (ibid. p. 452). The author agrees that a crematorium would certainly have existed at Auschwitz, "since 200,000 people lived there, and in every city with 200,000 inhabitants there would be a crematorium. Naturally people died there -- but not only prisoners. In fact the wife of Obersturmbannführer A. (Christopherson's superior) also died there" (p. 33). The author explains: "There were no secrets at Auschwitz. In September 1944 a commission of the International Red Cross came to the camp for an inspection. They were particularly interested in the camp at Birkenau, though we also had many inspections at Raisko" (Bunawerk section, p. 35). Christopherson points out that the constant visits to Auschwitz by outsiders cannot be reconciled with allegations of mass extermination. When describing the visit of his wife to the camp in May, he observes: "The fact that it was possible to receive visits from our relatives at any time demonstrates the openness of the camp administration. Had Auschwitz been a great extermination camp, we would certainly not have been able to receive such visits" (p. 27). After the war, Christopherson came to hear of the alleged existence of a building with gigantic chimneys in the vicinity of the main camp. "This was supposed to be the crematorium. However, I must record the fact that when I left the camp at Auschwitz in December 1944, I had not seen this building there" (p. 37). Does this mysterious building exist today? Apparently not; Reitlinger claims it was demolished and "completely burnt out in full view of the camp" in October, though Christopherson never saw this public demolition. Although it is said to have taken place "in full view of the camp", it was allegedly seen by only one Jewish witness, a certain Dr. Bendel, and his is the only testimony to the occurrence (Reitlinger, ibid, p. 457). This situation is generally typical. When it comes down to hard evidence, it is strangely elusive; the building was "demolished", the document is "lost", the order was "verbal". At Auschwitz today, visitors are shown a small furnace and here they are told that millions of people were exterminated. The Soviet State Commission which "investigated" the camp announced on May 12th, 1945, that "Using rectified coefficients . . . the technical expert commission has ascertained that during the time that the Auschwitz camp existed, the German butchers exterminated in this camp not less than four million citizens ..." Reitlinger's surprisingly frank comment on this is perfectly adequate: "The world has grown mistrustful of 'rectified coefficients' and the figure of four millions has become ridiculous" (ibid, p. 460). Finally, the account of Mr. Christopherson draws attention to a very curious circumstance. The only defendant who did not appear at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial in 1963 was Richard Baer, the successor of Rudolf Höss as commandant of Auschwitz. Though in perfect health, he died suddenly in prison before the trial had begun, "in a highly mysterious way" according to the newspaper; Deutsche Wochenzeitung (July 27th, 1973). Baer's sudden demise before giving evidence is especially strange, since the Paris newspaper Rivarol recorded his insistence that "during the whole time in which he governed Auschwitz, he never saw any gas chambers nor believed that such things existed," and from this statement nothing would dissuade him. In short, the Christopherson account adds to a mounting collection of evidence demonstrating that the giant industrial complex of Auschwitz (comprising thirty separate installations and divided by the main Vienna-Cracow railway line) was nothing but a vast war production centre, which, while admittedly employing the compulsory labour of detainees, was certainly not a place of "mass extermination".

THE WARSAW GHETTO

In terms of numbers, Polish Jewry is supposed to have suffered most of all from extermination, not only at Auschwitz, but at an endless list of newly-discovered "death camps" such as Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek, Chelmno and at many more obscure places which seem suddenly to have gained prominence. At the centre of the alleged extermination of the Polish Jews is the dramatic uprising in April 1943 of the Warsaw Ghetto. This is often represented as a revolt against being deported to gas ovens; presumably the alleged subject of Hitler and Himmler's "secret discussions" had leaked out and gained wide publicity in Warsaw. The case of the Warsaw Ghetto is an instructive insight into the creation of the extermination legend itself. Indeed, its evacuation by the Germans in 1943 is often referred to as the "extermination of the Polish Jews" although it was nothing of the kind, and layers of mythology have tended to surround it after the publication of sensational novels like John Hersey's The Wall and Leon Uris' Exodus. When the Germans first occupied Poland, they confined the Jews, not in detention camps but in ghettos for reasons of security. The interior administration of the ghettos was in the hands of Jewish Councils elected by themselves, and they were policed by an independent Jewish police force. Special currency notes were introduced into the ghettos to prevent speculation. Whether this system was right or wrong, it was understandable in time of war, and although the ghetto is perhaps an unpleasant social establishment, it is by no means barbaric. And it is certainly not an organisation for the destruction of a race. But, of course, it is frequently said that this is what the ghettos were really for. A recent publication on the Warsaw Ghetto made the brazen assertion that concentration camps "were a substitute for the practice of cramming the Jews into overcrowded ghettos and starving them to death." It seems that whatever security system the Germans used, and to whatever lengths they went to preserve a semblance of community for the Jews, they can never escape the charge of "extermination". It has been established already that the 1931 Jewish population census for Poland placed the number of Jews at 2,732,600, and that after emigration and flight to the Soviet Union, no more than 1,100,000 were under German control. These incontrovertible facts, however, do not prevent Manvell and Frankl asserting that "there had been over three million Jews in Poland when Germany began the invasion" and that in 1942 "some two million still awaited death" (ibid, p. 140). In reality, of the million or so Jews in Poland, almost half, about 400,000 were eventually concentrated in the ghetto of Warsaw, an area of about two and a half square miles around the old mediaeval ghetto. The remainder had already been moved to the Polish Government-General by September 1940. In the summer of 1942, Himmler ordered the resettlement of all Polish Jews in detention camps in order to obtain their labour, part of the system of general concentration for labour assignment in the Government-General. Thus between July and October 1942, over three quarters of the Warsaw Ghetto's inhabitants were peacefully evacuated and transported, supervised by the Jewish police themselves. As we have seen, transportation to camps is alleged to have ended in "extermination", but there is absolutely no doubt from the evidence available that it involved only the effective procurement of labour and the prevention of unrest. In the first place, Himmler discovered on a surprise visit to Warsaw in January 1943 that 24,000 Jews registered as armaments workers were in fact working illegally as tailors and furriers (Manvell and Frankl, ibid, p. 140); the Ghetto was also being used as a base for subversive forays into the main area of Warsaw. After six months of peaceful evacuation, when only about 60,000 Jews remained in the residential ghetto, the Germans met with an armed rebellion on 18th January, 1943. Manvell and Frankl admit that "The Jews involved in planned resistance had for a long time been engaged in smuggling arms from the outside world, and combat groups fired on and killed S.S. men and militia in charge of a column of deportees." The terrorists in the Ghetto uprising were also assisted by the Polish Home Army and the PPR -- Polska Partia Robotnicza, the Communist Polish Workers Party. It was under these circumstances of a revolt aided by partisans and communists that the occupying forces, as any army would in a similar situation, moved in to suppress the terrorists, if necessary by destroying the residential area itself. It should be remembered that the whole process of evacuation would have continued peacefully had not extremists among the inhabitants planned an armed rebellion which in the end was bound to fail. When S.S. Lieutenant-General Stroop entered the Ghetto with armoured cars on 19th April, he immediately came under fire and lost twelve men; German and Polish casualties in the battle, which lasted four weeks, totalled 101 men killed and wounded. Stubborn resistance by the Jewish Combat Organisation in the face of impossible odds led to an estimated 12,000 Jewish casualties, the majority by remaining in burning buildings and dug-outs. A total, however, of 56,065 inhabitants were captured and peacefully resettled in the area of the Government-General. Many Jews within the Ghetto had resented the terror imposed on them by the Combat Organisation, and had attempted to inform on their headquarters to the German authorities.

SUDDEN SURVIVORS

The circumstances surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, as well as the deportations to eastern labour camps such as Auschwtiz, has led to the most colourful tales concerning the fate of Polish Jews, the largest bloc of Jewry in Europe. The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, in figures prepared by them for the Nuremberg Trials, stated that in 1945 there were only 80,000 Jews remaining in Poland. They also alleged that there were no Polish-Jewish displaced persons left in Germany or Austria, a claim that was at some variance with the number of Polish Jews arrested by the British and Americans for black market activities. However, the new Communist regime in Poland was unable to prevent a major anti-Jewish pogrom at Kielce on July 4th, 1946 and more than 150,000 Polish Jews suddenly fled into Western Germany. Their appearance was somewhat embarrassing, and their emigration to Palestine and the United States was carried out in record time. Subsequently, the number of Polish Jewish survivors underwent considerable revision; in the American-Jewish Year Book 1948-1949 it was placed at 390,000 quite an advance on the original 80,000. We may expect further revisions upwards in the future. 7.

SOME CONCENTRATION CAMP MEMOIRS

The most influential agency in the propagation of the extermination legend has been the paper-back book and magazine industry, and it is through their sensational publications, produced for commercial gain, that the average person is made acquainted with a myth of an entirely political character and purpose. The hey-day of these hate-Germany books was in the 1950's, when virulent Germanophobia found a ready market, but the industry continues to flourish and is experiencing another boom today. The industry's products consist generally of so-called "memoirs", and these fall into two basic categories: those which are supposedly by former S.S. men, camp commandants and the like, and those bloodcurdling reminiscences allegedly by former concentration camp inmates.

COMMUNIST ORIGINS

Of the first kind, the most outstanding example is Commandant of Auschwitz by Rudolf Höss (London, 1960), which was originally published in the Polish language as Wspomnienia by' the Communist Government. Höss, a young man who took over at Auschwitz in 1940, was first arrested by the British and detained at Flensburg, but he was soon handed over to the Polish Communist authorities who condemned him to death in 1947 and executed him almost immediately. The so-called Höss memoirs are undoubtedly a forgery produced under Communist auspices, as we shall demonstrate, though the Communists themselves claim that Höss was "ordered to write the story of his life" and a hand-written original supposedly exists, but no one has ever seen it. Höss was subjected to torture and brain-washing techniques by the Communists during the period of his arrest, and his testimony at Nuremberg was delivered in a mindless monotone as he stared blankly into space. Even Reitlinger rejects this testimony as hopelessly untrustworthy. It is indeed remarkable how much of the "evidence" regarding the Six Million stems from Communist sources; this includes the major documents such as the Wisliceny statement and the Höss "memoirs", which are undoubtedly the two most quoted items in extermination literature, as well as all the information on the so-called "death camps" such as Auschwitz. This information comes from the Jewish Historical Commission of Poland; the Central Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes, Warsaw; and the Russian State War Crimes Commission, Moscow. Reitlinger acknowledges that the Höss testimony at Nuremberg was a catalogue of wild exaggerations, such as that Auschwitz was disposing of 16,000 people a day, which would mean a total at the end of the war of over 13 million. Instead of exposing such estimates for the Soviet-inspired frauds they obviously are, Reitlinger and others prefer to think that such ridiculous exaggerations were due to "pride" in doing a professional job. Ironically, this is completely irreconcilable with the supposedly authentic Höss memoirs, which make a clever attempt at plausibility by suggesting the opposite picture of distaste for the job. Höss is supposed to have "confessed" to a total of 3 million people exterminated at Auschwitz, though at his own trial in Warsaw the prosecution reduced the number to 1,135,000. However, we have already noted that the Soviet Government announced an official figure of 4 million after their "investigation" of the camp in 1945. This kind of casual juggling with millions of people does not appear to worry the writers of extermination literature. A review of the Höss "memoirs" in all their horrid detail would be tedious. We may confine ourselves to those aspects of the extermination legend which are designed with the obvious purpose of forestalling any proof of its falsity. Such, for example, is the manner in which the alleged extermination of Jews is described. This was supposed to have been carried out by a "special detachment" of Jewish prisoners. They took charge of the newly arrived contingents at the camp, led them into the enormous "gas-chambers" and disposed of the bodies afterwards. The S.S., therefore, did very little, so that most of the S.S. personnel at the camp could be left in complete ignorance of the "extermination programme". Of course, no Jew would ever be found who claimed to have been a member of this gruesome "special detachment", so that the whole issue is left conveniently unprovable. It is worth repeating that no living, authentic eye-witness to these events has ever been produced. Conclusive evidence that the Höss memoirs are a forgery lies in an incredible slip by the Communist editors. Höss is supposed to say that the Jehovah's Witnesses at Auschwitz approved of murdering the Jews because the Jews were the enemies of Christ. It is well known that in Soviet Russia today and in all her satellite countries of eastern Europe, the Communists conduct a bitter campaign of suppression against the Jehovah's Witnesses whom they regard as the religious sect most dangerous to Communist beliefs. That this sect is deliberately and grossly defamed in the Höss memoirs proves the document's Communist origins beyond any doubt.

INCRIMINATING REMINISCENCES

Certainly the most bogus "memoirs" yet published are those of Adolf Eichmann. Before his illegal kidnapping by the Israelis in May, 1960 and the attendant blaze of international publicity, few people had ever heard of him . He was indeed a relatively unimportant person, the head of Office A4b in Department IV (the Gestapo) of the Reich Security Head Office. His office supervised the transportation to detention camps of a particular section of enemy aliens, the Jews. A positive flood of unadulterated rubbish about Eichmann showered the world in 1960, of which we may cite as an example Comer Clarke's Eichmann: The Savage Truth. ("The orgies often went on until six in the morning, a few hours before consigning the next batch of victims to death," says Clarke in his chapter "Streamlined Death and Wild Sex Orgies," p . 124). Strangely enough, the alleged "memoirs" of Adolf Eichmann suddenly appeared at the time of his abduction to Israel. They were uncritically published by the American Life magazine (November 28th, December 5th, 1960), and were supposed to have been given by Eichmann to a journalist in the Argentine shortly before his capture -- an amazing coincidence. Other sources, however, gave an entirely different account of their origin, claiming that they were a record based on Eichmann's comments to an "associate" in 1955, though no one even bothered to identify this person. By an equally extraordinary coincidence, war crimes investigators claimed shortly afterwards to have just "found" in the archives of the U.S. Library of Congress, more than fifteen years after the war, the "complete file" of Eichmann's department. So far as the "memoirs" themselves are concerned, they were made to be as horribly incriminating as possible without straying too far into the realms of the purest fantasy, and depict Eichmann speaking with enormous relish about "the physical annihilation of the Jews." Their fraudulence is also attested to by various factual errors, such as that Himmler was already in command of the Reserve Army by April of 1944, instead of after the July plot against Hitler's life, a fact which Eichmann would certainly have known. The appearance of these "memoirs" at precisely the right moment raises no doubt that their object was to present a pre-trial propaganda picture of the archetypal "unregenerate Nazi" and fiend in human shape. The circumstances of the Eichmann trial in Israel do not concern us here; the documents of Soviet origin which were used in evidence, such as the Wisliceny statement, have been examined already, and for an account of the third-degree methods used on Eichmann during his captivity to render him "co-operative" the reader is referred to the London Jewish Chronicle, September 2nd, 1960. More relevant to the literature of the extermination legend are the contents of a letter which Eichmann is supposed to have written voluntarily and handed over to his captors in Buenos Aries. It need hardly be added that its Israeli authorship is transparently obvious. Nothing in it stretches human credulity further than the phrase "I am submitting this declaration of my own free will"; but the most hollow and revealing statement of all is his alleged willingness to appear before a court in Israel, "so that a true picture may be transmitted to future generations."

TREBLINKA FABRICATIONS

The latest reminiscences to appear in print are those of Franz Stangl, the former commandant of the camp at Treblinka in Poland who was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 1970. These were published in an article by the London Daily Telegraph Magazine, October 8th, 1971, and were supposed to derive from a series of interviews with Stangl in prison. He died a few days after the interviews were concluded. These alleged reminiscences are certainly the goriest and most bizarre yet published, though one is grateful for a few admissions by the writer of the article, such as that "the evidence presented in the course of his trial did not prove Stangl himself to have committed specific acts of murder" and that the account of Stangl's beginnings in Poland "was in part fabrication." A typical example of this fabrication was the description of Stangl's first visit to Treblinka. As he drew into the railway station there, he is supposed to have seen "thousands of bodies" just strewn around next to the tracks, "hundreds, no, thousands of bodies everywhere, putrefying, decomposing." And "in the station was a train full of Jews, some dead, some still alive ... it looked as if it had been there for days." The account reaches the heights of absurdity when Stangl is alleged to have got out of his car and "stepped kneedeep into money: I didn't know which way to turn, which way to go. I waded in papernotes, currency, precious stones, jewellery and clothes. They were everywhere, strewn all over the square." The scene is completed by "whores from Warsaw weaving drunk, dancing, singing, playing music", who were on the other side of the barbed wire fences. To literally believe this account of sinking "kneedeep" in Jewish bank-notes and precious stones amid thousands of putrefying corpses and lurching, singing prostitutes would require the most phenomenal degree of gullibility, and in any circumstances other than the Six Million legend it would be dismissed as the most outrageous nonsense. The statement which certainly robs the Stangl memoirs of any vestige of authenticity is his alleged reply when asked why he thought the Jews were being exterminated: "They wanted the Jews' money," is the answer. "That racial business was just secondary." The series of interviews are supposed to have ended on a highly dubious note indeed. When asked whether he thought there had been "any conceivable sense in this horror," the former Nazi commandant supposedly replied with enthusiasm: "Yes, I am sure there was. Perhaps the Jews were meant to have this enormous jolt to pull them together; to create a people; to identify themselves with each other." One could scarcely imagine a more perfect answer had it been invented.

Continue to Part 6