Institute for Historical Review
Unfolding my usual newspaper on May 17, 1963, my eye was caught by the following: "Legal error uncovered in Austria: innocent persons have been in prison for fifteen years." Then followed the explanation, in the form of a press dispatch from Vienna, dated the day before:
Sentenced sixteen years ago to hard labor for life, two Austrians, Hubert Ranneth, 43, and Joseph Auer, 30, were yesterday set free.
Following a new investigation ordered last November by the Austrian Minister of Justice, light was thrown on one of the worst legal errors of the century.
In 1947 Ranneth and Auer were sentenced for having murdered with iron bars three workmen in a steel works. But it was only last November that an important fact became known. The "complete confession" of Auer, on which the accusation had been based, had been extorted by means of a shot of scopolamine, a euphoric medicine, paralyzing in big, doses. Finally the medical experts have established that the iron bar, at the time, the item that led to conviction, could not have been used to murder the victims.
Many good people think that this information offers an explanation for the sensational confessions in the celebrated Moscow trials. It does not seem that this method of Austrian justice was used at Nuremberg, at least not during the thirteen big trials. That drugs might have been used in the multitude of minor trials which have taken place since, against former S.S. or petty bureaucrats of the Third Reich, is quite possible. Most of these cases never came to a hearing except after a long period of imprisonment of the defendants, after having been many times postponed, and that fact raises all sorts of suspicions. The drugging of the defendants seems to have been the case, for example, in the trial of the "Death busses," March 1963, where the accused gave technical details of the operation which experts cannot accept. This could be the case again in the trial of the second commandant of the camp at Auschwitz, where the matter has been under preliminary investigation for three years and where the trial has been postponed four times already. As of the date of this writing, the Prosecutor has still not succeeded in proving that 437,000 Hungarian Jews were gassed at Auschwitz between the 16th of May and the middle of October 1944. Perhaps, that is why the defendant, instead of committing suicide like Gerstein (whose case will be discussed farther on), decided to die of a "heart attack"; in 1963 it has become very difficult to have suicides. This could be the case with Eichmann. Once the first injection is admitted, one is permitted to think that others may have come later, a fact which would explain a lot of things.
Additional means at the disposal of justice include compulsion through bad treatment and physical torture (Streicher, Pohl, Ohlendorf), intimidation (Sauckel, whose wife and nine children in the hands of the Russians were, according to his statement at the Trial of the Major War Criminals, used to exert pressure on him, by the Soviet examiners), psychological torture or "brainwashing," and, finally, the situation that the defendant found himself in with regard to the charges (Höss, Kurt Becher, Hoettl, Wisliceny, von dem Bach-Zelewski).
Next followed the witnesses who were not brought to the bar by any charges and who gave evidence without any pressure being exerted on them: the partisans of guilty conscience. One easily understands why the Czech communist, Doctor Blaha, saw a gas chamber in action at Dachau where none existed. It was communist doctrine to say so. Furthermore, as a prisoner belonging to the Haeftlingsfuehrung of the Dachau camp, this individual could not have had a clear conscience. One can just as easily understand an analogous declaration of the S.S. Hoellriegel concerning other imaginary gas chambers at Mauthausen. It is an example of a guilty conscience in its pure form on the part of a man who had to get himself pardoned for his participation in the drama, and who, furthermore, might have to jump, from one day to the next, from the role of witness to that of defendant. I have explained this factor in connection with the cases of Louis Martin-Chauffier. David Rousset and Eugen Kogon. I could have added to their names the names of others such as the Reverend Father Riquet of the Society of Jesus. Professor Pierre Bertaux and many others who, having given during the German occupation certificates of good conduct to collaborators or Gestapo agents, later became fierce upholders of the Resistance orthodoxy in order to excuse their former actions.
The most typical case of this kind of guilty conscience seems to me to be that of the German Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
In short, he is a man who could have been at the defendants' bench at Nuremberg under the charge of "Crimes against peace," for having participated in the Nazi "Plot," which the indictment included, from 1920 until 1936. Such a conclusion is inescapable when one reads his own book. Vom U-Boot zur Kanzel which came out in Germany in 1935, when Hitler had been in power for two years, and which was written on the theme "Damals versank mir eine Welt." It is the harshest of any indictment of Bolshevism that I have yet read it is also a narrow and chauvinistic profession of faith in nationalism, and it shows the most complete adherence to the general policies of the N.S.D.A.P.
To get pardoned for all that, Pastor Niemoeller, President of the Council of the German Protestant Church, in a speech which he gave on July 3, 1946, and which was published under the title Der Weg ins Freie (F.M. Hellbach, Stuttgart, 1946), testified that 238,756 persons had been exterminated at Dachau, although we know today that in reality there were only about 30,000 deaths there; he confirmed the existence of a gas chamber, and we know today there was not one there; and since 1945, every time he has opened his mouth to speak, he has preached the unilateral responsibility of Germany, and the collective responsibility of the German people, in the war of 1939-1945. He is today at the head of a pacifist movement, and he defends without exception all of the contentions which are the basis of Soviet Russia's foreign policy. There is no doubt that if he had not conducted himself in the way that he has, he would have been one of the chief objects of the accusations that the Soviets incessantly make against the Germans. Pastor Niemoeller, in short, has the same attitude as all of those people of the Parisian gentry, or of the world of arts and letters, who led a Dolce Vita in the company of the highest German personages of occupied Paris, rejoicing in the champagne of Hitler's victories, and who, as soon as the wind turned, gave their allegiance to the communist party and became the most severe denouncers of the collaborators, in postwar France, solely with an eye to escaping the defendants' bench.
It was people like that who gave the prosecutors and the judges at Nuremberg their most striking evidence and who continue to enrich the archives of Rehovot (Israel) and of Warsaw with all those documents, as fanciful as they are new, which are discovered from time to time and which are published to the sound of trumpets in order to keep alive in the world those anti-German feelings on which the world policy of Bolshevism and Zionism depend.
At Nuremberg, the Prosecution and the Judges got sensational results by this method. Notice this curious document P.S. 3319 (N.M.T. XXXII, pp. 159-92) which Mr. Raul Hilberg cites and comments upon (pp. 502-709). In question is the organization, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Third Reich, of an anti-Jewish congress at Krummhuelbel on April 3 and 4, 1944, with all the representatives at foreign posts participating. In 27 Pages a certain Ludwig Kohlhammer, Landesgruppenleiter, reports very exactly on the number of participants -- 31 persons -- and their names and what each one said.
Now, this congress never took place. This is how the matter was presented to the Nuremberg Tribunal:
March 27, 1946, von Steengracht (Secretary of State, Foreign Affairs, Third Reich) is interrogated by Colonel Philimore, deputy prosecutor-general for the English, who asks him:
"I would now like to bring up the question of the Jews. You told us yesterday that you yourself and Mr. Ribbentrop had prevented the anti-Jewish Congress of 1944 from taking place. Is that true?
"Yes," answered von Steengracht. (TX., p. 137.)
And this is what he stated the day before in reply to a question put by Dr. Horn, von Ribbentrop's counsel:
"Our liaison with Hitler informed us that the latter, informed by Bormann, had ordered Rosenberg's office to organize an anti-Semitic congress. Ribbentrop did not want to believe it, but after having had a conversation with the liaison agent, he had to believe it. Since this decision made it impossible for us to prevent the congress through official channels, we tried to prevent it with a policy of hesitation, delay and obstruction. And, although the order had been issued in the spring of 1944, and the war was still not over in April 1945, the congress never took place." (T.X., p. 125.)
On April 2, 1946, von Ribbentrop is interrogated by Mr. Edgar Faure, who at the time was deputy prosecutor-general for France, and who later was to become President of Council in France:
Mr. Edgar Faure (to Ribbentrop): "During the examination of your witness Steengracht, the English prosecutor brought forth document P.S. 3319, which has the English No. G.B. 287. I would like to refer to this document just for one question: In this document appear the minutes of a congress, of a gathering at which were present all the reporters on Jewish matters in the various diplomatic missions in Europe. This congress was held at Krummhuebel on April 3 and 4, 1944. It had been organized by Schleier. That was read the other day. You knew about this congress, I suppose?"
von Ribbentrop: "No, I am hearing about it for the first time. What was that congress? I have not even heard that such a congress took place. What sort of a congress was it?"
Mr. Faure: "The document has been filed with the Tribunal, and I simply want to ask you one question. You have testified that you did not know about this gathering at which were present thirty one persons, almost all of them diplomatic personnel. I point out to you that during this reunion Counsellor of Embassy von Thadden made a declaration which was reported in the following terms:
'The orator is showing why the Zionist solution of Palestine and other similar solutions should be rejected, and why there are grounds for the deportation of the Jews to the eastern territories.'
I suggest that this declaration made by a Counsellor of Embassy before thirty one persons in your department represented your own thesis on the subject."
von Ribbentrop: "Yes, but I do not know at all what you are trying to say. Will you please put the document at my disposal so that I may answer?"
Mr. Faure: "I have no intention of showing you this document .... (T.X., p. 420)."
That was the proof of forgery. It was also a typical breach of the Rule of Procedure No. 2 of the Tribunal itself which provided that "all the documents appended to the Indictment shall be put at the disposition of the defendants not less than 30 days before the trials" (T.I., p. 2 1 ). This matter was never spoken of again. If one looks in the Index of Names (T., 24) for information on Landesgruppenleiter Ludwig Kohlhammer, he is not listed. But, Document P.S. 3319 was admitted into evidence. One can hardly understand why. If Mr. Edgar Faure wanted to prove that the Zionist and other similar solutions, according to the thesis of the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, were rejected in April, 1944, there was no need to invent a document. It was common knowledge that the main obstacles to these solutions derived from the strategic operational situation, and that, as the affair of Joel Brand proved the following month, the Allies turned them down, through neutrals. One understands even less how it is that seventeen years later, Mr. Raul Hilberg still does not know that this document was a common forgery.
Shall I speak to Mr. Raul Hilberg about his principal witness on the missions of the Einsatsgruppen, Gruppenführer Ohlendorf? On January 3, 1946, in the morning session, he said, "On the subject of Jews and communist commissars, the heads of the Einsatzgruppen received verbal [sic] orders before each mission," and that "on Russian territory [we admire the precision] that meant that they were to be assassinated" (T. IV, p. 322), and in the afternoon session, to the question as to whether this had been arranged in the agreement between the O.K.W. and the R.S.H.A., he replied that "he did not remember, but that in any case that job of liquidation was not mentioned" (T. IV, p. 319). Every two hours he was asked if "most of the heads of the Einsatzgruppen came from the R.S.H.A.," to which he replied that "they came from all over the Reich," (op. cit. p. 325); then, again to the same questions, he stated that "they were furnished by the State police, the Kripo, and to a lesser extent by the S.D." (op. cit. p. 332). The poor fellow, with the threat of a death sentence hanging over him, had completely lost his head and did not know what Saint to turn to for help to escape his destiny. He was hanged in 1951 in spite of his willingness to please, and after having suffered such treatment! At his trial in 1948, when all that he had said at Nuremberg was brought up against him, he said that all previous declarations had been extorted from him under pressure and were worthless.
The preceding paragraphs are concerned only with the witnesses, testimonies and earlier documents on which Mr. Raul Hilberg bases his work. At Rehovot (Israel) and Warsaw (Poland) the Zionists and Communists have for fifteen years been concentrating on a search for new documents to back up the earlier ones so as not to halt the wave of hatred against Germany, which is playing both Zionism's and Bolshevism's game. The most famous of all these testimonies which have their place on the shelves of the libraries of these two centers is surely the Diary of Anne Frank (Paris, Ger. tr. 1958, Calmann Levy). This document did not capture the attention of Mr. Raul Hilberg, but some day he might be drawn to consider it. Far from me to claim that it is a forgery. A teacher who lives near Hamburg did this, and he received a heavy sentence. Furthermore, I must admit that this matter did not engross me very much, although I followed it closely enough. What immediately struck me as being most peculiar was the handwriting itself of the unfortunate child. Aside from the fact that if the text is read in the different languages in which it has been printed in none of them are the same things found, the two specimens of the child's handwriting, one is presented by her father in the German edition and the other as shown by Life (September 15, 1958), appear to be quite different -- i.e., written by different persons.
I want to be clearly understood. I do not say that the Diary of Anne Frank is a forgery . I do not want to make any trouble! I only ask if these two writings are by the same person of the same age, since I am not a graphology expert. After that, I shall decide about the authenticity of the document. Perhaps, Mr. Raul Hilberg will take this problem up ....
And now, moving from the general to the particular, let us speak a little about the late Messrs. Rudolf Höss, Kurt Gerstein, and Miklos Nyiszli, who, in varying degrees are the stock witnesses of Mr. Raul Hilberg.
Der Lagerkommandant von Auschwitz spricht
Born in Baden-Baden on November 15, 1900, Rudolf Höss was a soldier in the First World War. As a member of the N.S.D.A.P. from 1922 on, in May 1923, he and two accomplices killed Walter Kadow who had turned over to French occupation troops in the Ruhr Leo Schlageter, a sabotage organizer in the occupation area. Höss was sentenced to ten years but was paroled after serving six.
Höss was a member of the S.S. from 1934 on; while in the S.S., he became a block chief (Blockführer) at Dachau at the end of 1934; later he was promoted to manager of the prisoners' belongings and, then, deputy to the commandant of the Sachsenhausen Camp. He served as Commandant at the Auschwitz camp from May 1940 (the camp was not ready for prisoners until June 14) until the end of November 1943. He was arrested for the first time at Heide (Schleswig) in May 1945 by the English, who released him almost immediately, and was arrested again in May 1946 at Flensburg (Holstein), where he was interrogated with "whip and alcohol," as he says in his book, Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle, (p. 211, French ed.). He was then transferred after a few days "to Minden on the Weser, an interrogation center in the British zone," where he suffered "the most brutal treatment from the military prosecutor, an English commander." (ibid.) He came to Nuremberg at the beginning of April as a defense witness for Kaltenbrunner. He testified at Nuremberg on May 15, under threat of being turned over to the Soviets. Knowing what treatment they had in store for him, it was quite natural that he said what he thought was best calculated to keep the Americans from doing that. Professor Gustav Gilbert, a psychologist attached to the prosecution staff, was at the Trial and, encouraging this hope, adroitIy suggested what he should say. He did not complain about his treatment at Nuremberg: on the contrary, he said it was a "health cure" (p. 21 1) when compared with what he had undergone at Heide and Minden. Unfortunately for him, he was claimed as a war criminal by Poland, and was transferred there on May 25 where, on July 30, he was incarcerated in the Krakow prison. At Krakow he experienced a change of scene that was much worse than Heide and Minden, and "without the intervention of the Prosecutor they would have finished me off," he said (p. 214). His case was heard from the 11th to the 29th of March, 1947. He was condemned to death on April 2 by the Warsaw Supreme Court and was hanged on the 4th at Auschwitz.
In prison, while waiting his trial, he wrote his memoirs. For this purpose, he was given not a pen and ink but "a pencil." The advantage, for those who wish to exploit it, is that facsimiles -- and surely the originals, too -- from pencil writings are almost illegible. It follows that authenticity can only be attested by experienced specialists, the kind who work on Egyptian palimpsests, and so far the original manuscript has not been submitted to one, if my information is correct. The original document is in the Auschwitz Museum where the International Committee of the camp has custody of it, and where its inspection by scholars has been carefully restricted. Just try to examine it there! To my knowledge, one part of it has been published in German entitled Autobiography (1951), but it does not seem to have been translated into any other language except Polish. As far as I know only a few fragments, cited by authors more fortunate than I (for example, Michel Borwicz, Revue d'histoire de la seconds guerre mondiale, October 1956, pp. 56-87) have appeared until now. Another part was published with the title, Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle (1959) in French, English, German and Polish. It seems that the whole manuscript has not yet been published and that, at the present time, specialists are studying and preparing the rest for publication, doubtless in "pencil" too. It looks like there are many fine days ahead for the historians. In short, together with the testimony of the author at Nuremberg, on the same subject, we have at hand three texts from the same person. What do these texts say?
The judgment of the Supreme Court at Warsaw which sentenced Höss to death and which served as the introduction to Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle (pp. 9-13, French ed.) charges him with taking part in the killing of:
-- about 300,000 persons confined in the camp as prisoners, and listed in the camp register.
-- a number of people, whose exact number is difficult to determine, but at least 2,500,000 mostly Jews brought to the camp by wagons from all over Europe for immediate extermination, and not in the camp register for that reason.
-- at least 12,000 Soviet prisoners of war held in the concentration camp contrary to the law of nations with regard t o the treatment of prisoners.
Therefore, the Polish court claimed that 2,912.000 persons in all for the period from May 1940 to the end of November 1943 died at Auschwitz. By assuming that this figure was correct, and by adding those who were exterminated from the end of November 1943 to January 1945, witnesses at Nuremberg spoke of 4,500,000 dead. In October 1956, Mr. Henri Michel, a former French deportee and the editor-in-chief of the Revue d' histoire de la seconds guerre mondiale, put the total number of dead at Auschwitz at 4,000,000, in this way: "This camp was the most international and the most western of the death factories, and its soil is enriched with the ashes of four million corpses." (p. 3.)
In reply to the question put by Dr. Kaufmann, Kaltenbrunner's legal counsel at Nuremberg, "Did Eichmann tell you in fact that more than 2,000,000 Jews were destroyed at Auschwitz camp?", Höss answered, "Yes, that is right." (T. XI, p. 409.) Behind the scenes he is supposed to have told the American psychologist, Gustave Gilbert that "Every day two trains brought in 3,000 persons, for 27 months" (therefore, for the whole length of the period of deportation, from March 1942 to July 1944). "So that makes a total of about 2,500,000 people." (Statement of Professor Gilbert before the Jerusalem Tribunal in judgment on Eichmann, May 30, 1961.) But, when it came to giving details about these 2,500,000 people he wrote in the Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle (p. 239, French ed.):
As for me, I never knew the total number, and had no way of determining it. I can only remember the number in the most important cases, often pointed out to me by Eichmann or one of his deputies:
-- From Upper Silesia, or Poland in general: 250,000
-- From Germany, or Theresienstadt: 100,000
-- Holland: 95,000
-- Belgium: 20,000
-- France: 10,000
-- Greece: 65,000
-- Hungary: 400,000
-- Slovakia 90,000
The figures concerning cases of less importance are not graven in my memory, but they were insignificant compared with the above. I think the figure 2,500,000 much too high.
These figures, too, have to do with the whole period of deportation and Höss got them from Eichmann. And, Eichmann definitely did have things to say about the matter, but when Höss' statement at Nuremberg is compared with his book, we see that these things do not always agree.
It is my opinion that very few Jewish deportees came to Auschwitz from countries other than those which appear on Höss' list. It is possible that this total corresponds to the reality, although it is still very high. Apparently, this realization was admitted by the Institute of Jewish Affairs in Eichmann's Confederates and the Third Reich Hierarchy when it concluded that " at Auschwitz, [together with its satellite camps, best known of which was Birkenau, located to the south not far from Krakow]... about 90,000 Jews perished." Probably, Mr. Raul Hilberg referred to this estimate, too, in order to figure at a million (p.572) the number of Jews who died there. What is the basis for the estimation of the number of survivors, one of 230,000, and the other of 130,000? Neither in Eichmann's Confederates and the Third Reich Hierarchy nor in The Destruction of the European Jews is there an explanation of how these figures were determined. Therefore, they are probably conjectural. In Mr. Raul Hilberg's case, it is a little troublesome because (p. 670) he finds only 50,000 survivors for the whole of Poland, which is astonishing considering that there were already 130,000 at Auschwitz.
But, we shall not anticipate the discussion of the general statistics which will follow in another chapter; we are concerned here with the witness Höss, not the general statistics. And, about those two trains that for 27 months brought 3,000 people to Auschwitz every day, witness Höss does not seem very certain. On this subject I invite the reader to think about these three propositions:
1. "As far as I can remember the convoys arriving at Auschwitz never carried more than 1,000 prisoners." (p. 220.)
2. "Following some delays in communications, five convoys a day, instead of the expected three, arrived." (p. 236.)
3. "In the extermination of Hungarian Jews, convoys were arriving at the rate of 15,000 persons a day." (p. 239.)
From which it appears that under certain circumstances five trains per day of 1,000 persons each delivered a total of 15,000 persons.
To the Tribunal on April 15, 1946, Höss had stated that these trains carried 2,000 persons each (T. Xi, p. 412). To Professor Gustave Gilbert he said that they contained 1,500 each, and in his book, he comes down to 1,000. What is certain is that for the period given none of these estimates on the capacity of the trains corresponds to a total of 1,130,000. The last one is the closest to the truth with an exaggeration of only 300,000. Since Mr. Raul Hilberg takes under consideration six "killing centers," an exaggeration of 300.000 for each one would yield a total exaggeration of nearly 2,000.000 persons and, out of six million a total exaggeration of that magnitude is quite important.
The same observation holds for the soundness of this testimony: "ln the middle of spring, 1942, hundreds of human beings perished in the gas chambers." (p. 178.) But, as we have seen, Document No. 4401 establishes beyond any doubt that the so-called "gas chambers" were not ordered for Auschwitz until August 8, 1942, and Document No. 4463 establishes that they were not actually installed until February 20, 1943. At Nuremberg, Höss had already stated in his deposition that "in 1942, Himmler came to visit the camp and was present at an execution from beginning to end," (T.XI, p. 413), no one called his attention to the fact that even if it were possible that Himmler had gone to Auschwitz in 1942, it was not possible for him to have been present at an execution, since the gas chambers had not been constructed yet. And, furthermore, we know that it would have been unlikely for Himmler to have been present at an execution because as we learned after the war from his physician, Dr. Kersten, he could not bear the sight of an execution.
Höss' comments concerning the capacity of the gas chambers and the crematories also are grossly contradictory. For example, he says on one page that:
The maximum figure for the number of people gassed or incinerated every 24 hours was a little more than 9,000 for all the installations. (p. 236, emphasis added.)
But, then, he says a few pages later:
As I have already said, Crematories I and II could incinerate about 2,000 bodies in 24 hours; it was not possible to exceed this if one wanted to avoid damage. Installations III and IV were supposed to incinerate 1,500 corpses in 24 hours. But, as far as I know, these figures were never reached. (p. 245, emphasis added.)
How can one fail to deduce from these flagrant contradictions that here is a document which was fabricated hastily after the event by illiterates?
Moreover, this fabrication, after the event, can be detected just from the kind of book it is, written in pencil and carefully preserved in the archives of the Auschwitz Atuseum, where, unless one is a well-known communist, one cannot examine it. Although it bears the date of February-March 1947, it became known and published only in 1958; this fact further clouds the reliability of the document. In addition, it is attributed to a dead man who, in any case, cannot protest what is said over his signature; this fact, in itself, tells all too much.
Finally, a careful analysis of the following language reveals a pearl:
Toward the end of 1942, all the mass graves were cleaned [crematory ovens had not been built yet, and incineration was done in mass graves]. The number of cadavers buried there exceeded 107,000. This figure [as Rudolph Höss explains farther on] includes not only convoys of Jews gassed from the beginning, until the moment when they went on to incineration, but also the cadavers of all the prisoners who died in Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. (p. 231)
From this statement one infers that in nearly three years 107,000 persons died. I say "in nearly three years" because the two phrases, "toward the end of 1942" and "until the moment when they went on to incineration," are paradoxical, because the cremations could not have been begun, according to the official thesis, before February 20, 1943. Therefore, for the two to be concomitant, which is called for here, it is absolutely necessary that both should have occurred on this last date. Because the camp was opened on June 14, 1940, one has to speak of almost three years. Hence: the cremation of 107,000 cadavers before February 1943 must mean that all of the rest were cremated at a later date. Taking into account that between February 1943 and October 1944 (the official end of the exterminations) there are 17 months and that, as the Kasztner Report tells us, for 8 or 9 months (the autumn of 1943 to May 1944) the gas chambers at Auschwitz were out of order and not working, it remains to be established how many persons more than 107,000 could have been "incinerated," from February 1943 to October 1944, when the camp was equipped with four crematory ovens of 15 burners each. I would be very astonished if a cremation expert, given these facts, should reply that it was possible to cremate the million bodies that are claimed by Mr. Raul Hilberg, or even the 900,000 of the Institute of Jewish Affairs. And, here we must also remember that Eichmann gave May 15, 1944, as the date when Himmler ordered that cremation be stopped and that, therefore, the period during which the killings and the cremations took place -- if they took place -- could not have been longer than 5 or 6 months (March-Fall 1943).
But, there it is a question of how much credence can be given to Höss' different versions, and after what we have seen I should imagine that his credibility is very limited.
What follows is, unhappily for Mr. Hilberg, not much more convincing. Witness what Höss says about the development or the final solution in the direction of extermination.
We have seen that when he visited the camp in March 1941, Himmler told Höss about his intention to transform the camp into "a great armament plant, which would keep 100,000 war Prisoners occupied." Therefore, at that date, Auschwitz was not destined for the extermination of Jews, and so Mr. Raul Hilberg's contention -- based upon a speech of Hitler's on January 30, 1939, that after such extermination was decided upon, it was carried out according to a mathematically progressive plan that already had been worked out -- is destroyed.
On the contrary, there seems to have been no planned extermination. In fact, it seems that gas was used for the first time to kill prisoners without any order whatsoever, with gassing apparatus that was makeshift, and without anyone in a responsible position in the camp, from top to bottom, expecting it:
During one of my business trips (1942) my substitute, Schutzhaftlager Fritsch, made use of gasses with a group of political officers of the Red Army. For this he used cyanide (Zyklon B) which he had at hand, because it was used all the time as an insecticide. He informed me as soon as I returned. (Page 172)
Thus, from the fortuitous initiative of a subaltern is supposed to have arisen the method which was supposed to have been used on a massive scale against the Jews.
Many times, in his work. Rudolf Höss says (or he is made to say) that verbal orders from the highest government offices, particularly that of Himmler, told him to exterminate the Jews with gas, but, he then adds, "We never got a clear-cut decision on this matter from Himmler" (p. 233). Moreover, when Höss was all for gassing on a large scale, he states that, "I often brought this up in reports, but I could do nothing against pressure from Himmler who always wanted more prisoners for armaments factories" (p. 189). So now, Himmler was against the gassings? In any case, it is not clear how Himmler could have had more and more prisoners for munitions work if he was exterminating more and more with gas.
In addition, we must note that when Himmler verbally asked Höss to construct gas chambers at Auschwitz (in the summer of 1941), Höss "submitted a detailed plan of the proposed installations." About these plans, he stated, "I never had an answer or a decision on this matter" (p. 227). Nevertheless, gas chambers were constructed, because, says Höss, "... later Eichmann casually told me [ -- verbally, therefore; everything is verbal in this business! -- ] that the Reichsführer approved" (p. 227). Himmler, then, could never have given the order to construct the gas chambers -- the admission is tremendous! It seems that Himmler wanted at one and the same time to destroy as many and as few as possible of the same people. Höss adds that:
The Jewish prisoners under his [Himmler's] jurisdiction were to be treated with every consideration .... They could not do without the great supply of manpower, especially in the armament industries. (Page 191)
It does not clarify matters to look into the method used for extermination. We have seen above that the gas used was an insecticide, Zyklon B, which was used, Höss tells us, for all asphyxiations after the gassing of the political officers of the Red Army. It is strange, to say the least, that to carry out such an order, even given verbally, that some gas other than an insecticide was not provided (3).
Be that as it may, this is what Zyklon B is: "Zyklon B exists in the form of blue pellets, delivered in boxes, out of which gas is formed under jets of water vapor." (p. 228.) But, as we shall see further on, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli claimed that the gas was formed on contact with air. It was so dangerous to handle that after it had been used in a room, the room "had to be aired for two days" before it was safe to go in that room again (p. 229), but the gassing of the Jews "lasted on an average of half an hour" (P. 173), after which "the doors were opened and the Sonderkommando immediately began the work of clearing out the cadavers" (p. 230, emphasis added). In fact, sometimes they dragged "... the corpses out while eating and smoking" (p. 180) and without incurring the least harm. Equally incredible is the account of the first extermination which took place in a morgue. In order to get the gas in there, "while they were unloading [the future victims from] the trucks, several holes were rapidly made in the stone and concrete walls of the morgue" (P. 172). We are not told how the necessary water vapor was let in, nor how the holes were stopped up after the blue pellets were put in; no doubt, that was done rapidly too, with old rags.
I would like to add that in addition to the contradictions that can be uncovered from one page to another in Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle and in addition to those which appear when it is compared with what its author said at Nuremberg, the testimony on Auschwitz-Birkenau is written in a style that is strangely similar to the public confessions of the defendants in the famous Moscow trials, which no one in Western Europe took seriously. Perhaps, this strange style is further corroboration of my contention that Höss' memoir is a fraud. Arthur Koestler told the whole story in his Le Zero et l'Infini -- I must not fail to refer to that!
Doctor at Auschwitz Times
In March 1951, in Les Temps Modernes, a monthly review run by Jean-Paul Sartre, a certain Tibere Kremer presented, with the title S.S. Obersturmführer Docteur Mengele, and subtitle, Journal d'un medecin deporte au crematorium d'Auschwitz, a piece of false evidence concerning that camp which will remain one of the most abominable pieces of trickery of all time. The author was, he said, a Hungarian Jew named Miklos Nyiszli, a medical doctor by profession, as is indicated in the sub-title. The article contained 27 pages of selected extracts from the doctor's memoir (pp. 1655-1672). The April issue of the review devoted 31 more pages (pp. 1655-1886). This false evidence had just been presented to American public opinion by Mr. Richard Seaver, with a preface by Professor Bruno Bettelheim. It was only in 1961 that it was published as a whole, in German, by the Munich illustrated weekly Quick in five issues (January to February) under the title Auschwitz, and, in French, by Julliard Publishers in a volume of 256 pages with the title Medecin a Auschwitz, and the sub-title Souvenirs d'un medecin deporte.
It made a sensation in France in 1951. The trial over Le Mensonge d'Ulysse was in full swing, and in the eyes of the public I had the blackest of souls. In 1961 it made a sensation again, but the world over this time -- the Eichmann trial was in full swing.
The things he had to say, this Doctor Miklos Nyiszli! And, in addition, he gave the first detailed account of all the horrors that took place at Auschwitz, including the exterminations in the gas chambers in particular. Among other things, he claimed that in this camp was a gas chamber, 200 meters long (width was not given), together with three others of similar dimensions. They were used to asphyxiate 20,000 persons a day, and four crematory ovens, each with 1 5 burners, incinerated the victims as the operation proceeded. He added, in another connection, that 5,000 other persons were, every day, done away with by less modern means in two immense open air hearths. And, he added again that for eight months he had been personally present at these systematic massacres. Finally (this is on page 50 Of the JulIiard edition), he stated specifically that when lie arrived at the camp (about the end of May 1944 at the earliest) the exterminations by gas, at the rate cited above had been "going on for four years."
From the aforementioned testimony, the following contradictions can be gleaned. First, this fellow did not know that if there were gas chambers at Auschwitz they had not been installed or made ready to work until February 20, 1943 (Document No. 4463, already cited).
Second: He did not know that the area of the gas chambers, officially and respectively, was 210 square meters for the first (the very one he mentioned), 400 square meters for the second, and 580 square meters for the last two. In other words, the gas chambers which he saw, and whose operation he describes so minutely, must have been only 1.05 meters wide. In fact, it must have resembled a long hall. Since he states precisely that down the middle of the chamber there was a row of columns With holes from which the gas came out (these columns came up through the roof, and into these openings hospital attendants wearing Red Cross arm bands threw the tablets of Zyklon B), that there were along the walls on both sides benches for sitting (surely not very wide, those benches!) and that 3,000 persons (they were gassing batches of 3,000!) could move about easily in the room, I claim that one of two things is true: either this Dr. Miklos Nyiszli never existed, or, if he did exist, he never set foot in the places that he describes.
Third: If the gas chambers at Auschwitz, together with the open hearths, exterminated 25,000 people a day for four and a half years (since according to this "witness" they continued to exterminate for six months after his arrival) that makes a total of 1,642 days. And at the rate of 25,000 persons per day for 1,642 days, there would have been 41 million cadavers, a little more than 32 million in gas chambers and a little less than 9 million in the open hearths.
I shall add that even if it had been possible for the four gas chambers to asphyxiate 20,000 persons a day (at the rate of 3,000 per batch, as the witness says), it was absolutely not possible to cremate that many at the same time, even if there were 15 burners and even if the job took only 20 minutes, as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli also falsely claims. Taking these figures for a basis, the capacity of the ovens, all working together, could not have consumed more than 540 corpses per hour, or 12,960 for the 24-hour day. At this rate the ovens could not have been put out until several years after the liberation. And only then on the condition that not a minute was lost for nearly ten years. Now, from information from Pere-Lachaise on how long it takes to incinerate three bodies where there is one burner, we see that the ovens at Auschwitz are still burning, and that they are not anywhere near ready to be put out!
Since, I have made my point regarding the ovens, I shall pass over the two open air hearths (which were, our witness says, 50 meters long, 6 wide, and 3 deep and in which were burned 9 million cadavers during their four and a half years of operation) without further comment.
Fourth: There is another impossibility, at least as far as extermination by gas is concerned, since, if there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, they were not officially operating except from February 20, 1943 to November 17, 1944, or for 17 or 18 months. The number of deaths by this means, based on Dr. Miklos Nyiszli's facts, would then be about 11 million, and with the 9 million of the open hearts, about 20 million, which -- by some unknown mathematical process -- are reduced to 6 million by Tibere Kremer in his presentation of this "testimony."
Fifth: That is not all. This Dr. Miklos Nyiszli is as much in contradiction with himself as he is with all those who testified before or after him about Auschwitz. The following is a comparison of his testimony with that of the others: it is he who says (p. 56) that the gas was produced from pellets of Zyklon B "on contact with air!" Höss told us that it was "in contact with water vapor." It is he who tells us (p. 56) that "in five minutes" everyone was dead, according to Höss the Zyklon B took "half an hour." Again, it is Dr. Nyiszli who tells us (p.36) that the Hungarian Jews were transported to Auschwitz at the rate of "four or five trains a day," each of which contained forty cars, which, in turn, contained 80 persons (p. 15), or 3,200 persons altogether, but a few pages later, he says that they, each carried "about five thousand people... " (p. 18).
This last statement must cause surprise, since we know that the deportation of Hungarian Jews lasted for 52 days (May 16 to July 7, 1944) according to the Kasztner Report, and that the Histoire de Joel Brand agrees on this point, Höss said at Nuremberg that the deportation took "a period of four to six weeks." (T.Xl, p. 412.) Let us make some calculations concerning the four possibilities:
1st: 4 trains of 3,600 persons equal 14,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 748,000 persons
2nd: 4 trains of 5,000 persons equal 20,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 1,040,000persons
3rd: 5 trains of 3,600 persons equal 18,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 936,000 persons
4th: 5 trains of 5,000 persons equal 25,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 1,300,000 persons
But, in statistics from Jewish sources, the highest figure given for Hungarian Jews is 437,000 (4). I leave it up to the reader to figure out this odd item. I shall add that the Kasztner Report tells us that on March 19, 1944, Eichmann arrived in Budapest with a company of 150 men and that 1,000 rail cars were at his disposal to carry out the transportation of the Jews. If, as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, says, the trip lasted four days -- which is plausible; it took that long to go from Compiegne to Buchenwald in the convoy I was in -- then after six days there were no more cars in the railway station at Budapest! Consequently, the work of deportation was halted until the 9th day when empty cars began returning. And, this estimation is made without taking into consideration the number of railway carriages that were necessary to bring to the assembly points all of the Jews who had been rounded up all over Hungary. The court of the Jerusalem Tribunal that condemned Eichmann to death moreover completely destroyed this testimony in stating (in Exhibit No. 12) that "in less than two months 434,351 persons were deported in 147 sealed freight trains, with 3,000 persons in each train, men, women and children, two or three trains a day on the average," and so, as we shall see farther on, this new version is not any better.
The passages in the testimony of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli where he contradicts himself are numberless: the crematory in action, his nose and throat assailed "by the smell of flesh burning and hair scorching," (p. 19); "the hair of the dead is clipped off" (p. 60), after removal from the gas chamber and before incineration; then, "coarse hands cut off the tresses of their well-kept hair" (p. 168), before they were sent to the bathing place and then to the gas chamber. And, so it goes.
But, what is more significant than the contradictions in the texts themselves is what one finds by comparing the French version of this so-called testimony with the German version which appeared in the Munich illustrated weekly Quick in successive issues after January 15, 1961. In the latter version, the crematories all together are not incinerating more than 10,000 persons a day instead of 20,000. A pistol shot which hits the target at 40 to 50 meters in French, does so only at 20 to 30 meters in German. An institute which was "the most celebrated in the Third Reich" in the one case becomes "the most celebrated in the world" in the second. "Pretty rugs" become "Persian carpets." Auschwitz camp which could hold "up to 500,000 persons" in the French version is no more than "gigantic" in the German version, all precision, having disappeared, without doubt, because between 1951 and 1961 the author -- long since dead, as we shall see -- discovered through an intermediary that at Nuremberg Höss had stated that "it held up to 140,000 persons." (T. XI, p. 416.) A distance of three kilometers is reduced to 500 meters, or vise versa, etc.
One of two things can be concluded from the preceding discussion: either it is an authentic document, in which case it should be the same in 1951 as in 1961, in its French and in its German versions, or, if it is not the same, then it is apocryphal. The fact that the two versions do not agree with each other in almost any respect and that neither one agrees with the descriptions, for example, that were derived from the documents produced at Nuremberg permits one to maintain, at least, that this Dr. Miklos Nyiszli never set foot in Auschwitz. That fact I suspected after having read the very first page of his testimony. Did he not say of the convoy of which he was a part that after "leaving behind us the Tatra mountains, we went past the stations of Lublin and Krakow" (in order to get to Auschwitz from the Hungaro-Rumanian frontier). This statement proves that in addition to not knowing the camp at Auschwitz he did not know the route to get to it either. And, to think that a publishing house was found in Paris that would place such utter nonsense as this testimony before the public!
In April, 1951, when the extracts from his testimony were published by Les Temps Modernes, I wrote to him. In October of the same year he answered, through the agency of Mr. Tibere Kremer, that actually "2,500,000 persons had been exterminated in the gas chambers at Auschwitz ... " In February 1961, after having read the entire text in Quick, I decided to write to Mr. Tibere Kremer. The letter was returned to me with the notation "no longer at this address" stamped on it. I next wrote to Dr. Nyiszli in care of Quick, and I was told that my letter could not be forwarded to Dr. Nyiszli because he was dead.
In November 1961, after having read the entire text in the French version, I wrote to Julliard Publishers, asking them kindly to forward the enclosed observations to Mr. Tibere Kremer, whose address they surely must have since they had just published his translation. I added:
Historic documents are rightly respected and versions of them should not be published unless their authenticity is guaranteed. It happens that for ten years, in connection with my research, I have been seeking the original of this one, and no one has ever been able to tell me where it can be consulted. The best qualified historians in the world know nothing about it. The versions which have been published are divergent and contradict each other on every page. The author speaks of places which he has obviously not been to, etc. Therefore, if you could give me sufficient assurance to allow me to state "authentic document" in the case of Dr. Nyiszli, in the references in my work, I would be very much obliged.
On the 8th of December, in the name of Julliard Publishers, of which he is one of the literary directors, Mr. Pierre Javet answered:
Thank you very much for having sent me a typewritten copy of your letter of November 16th.
I am forwarding it today to Mr. Tibere Kremer, translator of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli's "Medecin a Auschwitz," so that he may reply to you.
Meanwhile, I may tell you that it is true that Doctor Nyiszli is dead, but his wife is still alive. Moreover, I have showed his book to several deportees who have confirmed its authenticity.
I am still waiting for an answer from Mr. Tibere Kremer. However, it is quite probable that I shall never receive it. First, as we have said, on October 24, 1951, Mr. Tibere Kremer sent on to me a reply from Dr. Nyiszli to my letter of April, l 9 51. Then as a result of my continued research concerning this singular witness, I learned from New York, where the book was published in 1951, that Dr. Nyiszli had died long before his testimony was first published. If this fact is true, this dead witness -- another one -- was thoughtful enough to write to me after his death. And, so Mr. Tibere Kremer's silence is understandable. No further comment is necessary.
June 6, 1961: The Jerusalem Tribunal in judgment on Eichmann is overwhelmed with testimonies on the subject of the extermination of Jews that was said to have taken place at the camp at Belzec. All of the journalists reporting the hearings say just about what this one from Le Figaro (Paris, June 7, 1961) says:
The third extermination camp in question [at the hearing of June 6 during the Eichmann trial], that of Belzec located between Lublin and Lemberg, had only one survivor at the war's end, and he has since died.
The prosecutor bases his case on a series of depositions made before Allied officers by Kurt Gerstein, lieutenant in the Health Service of the Waffen S.S., who afterwards hanged himself in a military prison in Paris. Gerstein had been ordered by Eichmann to look into quicker poisons.
And, here again in the limelight is Kurt Gerstein, as he was in January 1946 at the Nuremberg trial and as he was recently in Germany in the drama Der Stellvertreter (Hamburg, 1963) by a certain Rolf Hochhuth. It is a story as gruesomely phantasmagorical as that of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli.
In the very first days of May 1945 (the 5th, it seems) French troops on going into Rottweil (Wurttemberg) found and took prisoner in a hotel a certain Kurt Gerstein. He was wearing the uniform of the S.S. with the epaulettes of a Obersturmführer. He was taken to Paris where he was interned in a military prison, according to some, in the Cherche-Midi, according to others, or in the prison at Fresnes, still others said, where he is said to have committed suicide. In short, no one knows exactly where he was imprisoned. As for when he died, a morning in July -- the 25th almost all the annotators say, in particular, Professor H. Rothfels (Vierteljahrshefte fuer Zeitgeschichte, No. 2, April 1953, p. 185) -- is given, but nothing could be less certain. On March 10, 1949, the widow Gerstein is said to have announced that she received from the Ecumenical Commission for the Spiritual Aid of War Prisoners, headquartered at Geneva, only the following terse communication on the death of her husband:
Unfortunately, in spite of repeated attempts, it has not been possible to learn more about the death of your husband, nor can the whereabouts of the grave be determined.
At the present moment neither the arrest, nor the death of the man, seem to have been made public. At least, there has been no publication to my knowledge. In any case, it was only on January 30, 1946, that this fact became sensational news through the attention drawn to it by some first> Without doubt, the first and best known of these blunderers was Mr. Dubost, the French prosecutor at the trial of the Major War Criminals at Nuremberg. In the archives of the American delegation he had found a number of invoices for Zyklon B that had been furnished to the Auschwitz and Oranienburg concentration camps by DEGESCH Gesellschaft, of Frankfurt/M; they were dated April 30, 1944, and were appended to an account in French, signed by Kurt Gerstein, Obersturmführer of the S.S., which pertained to the extermination of Jews in the gas chambers at Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, Majdanek and Treblinka; the account does not give the date of these exterminations. (T. VI, pp. 345-347.) Subsequently, Mr. Hans Rothfels tells us (Vierteljahrshefte f. Z., op. cit. p. 177) that this document was made use of by the prosecution in the German language, in its principal passages, as evidence at the so-called "trial of the doctors," which was conducted at Nuremberg on January 16, 1947. And, then, the part about Zyklon B and the appended invoices were used at the trial of the DEGESCH Gesellschaft at Frankfurt in January 1949.
The date of this document, April 26, 1945, was made public for the first time at the "trial of the doctors." And, until the article of Mr. Hans Rothfels, mentioned above, only the French version was used, which for various legal purposes was translated into German. In Le Breviaire de la Haine (Paris, 195 1, pp. 220 ff.), Mr. Poliakov gives this French version, but without the date. In 1959, Heydecker and Leeb in Le Proces de Nuremberg do the same. In Der Gelbe Stern (Hamburg, 1961) Mr. Schoenberner gives the date as May 4, 1945. But in 1961, Exhibit No. 124 of the Jerusalem Tribunal which condemned Eichmann gives no date, and, furthermore, the French version therein is in no way similar to the version that was published by Mr. Poliakov in 1951. What is remarkable is the fact that it is thanks to Mr. Poliakov that we know about this second version (Le Proces de Jerusalem, Paris, 1962, p. 224 ff.) and that he gives it, apparently without remembering that it was he who gave us the first.
We had to wait for the "trial of the doctors," in January 1947, for that of the DEGESCH Gesellschaft, in January 1949, and -- above all -- for the article, cited above, by Mr. Rothfels, in order to learn how this document got into the archives of the American delegation, where Prosecutor Dubost had found it, together with not only the two invoices from DEGESCH Gesellschaft that are mentioned above, but 12 of them, bearing dates between February 14 and May 31, 1944. At the same time, we learned that the French version, composed of six typewritten pages ending with a handwritten statement attesting to the authenticity of the contents, followed by the signature of the author (Vierteljahrshefte f. Z.., op. cit. p. 178), had two more attached pages, also handwritten and signed, but in English, bearing the same date, in which Gerstein said that not more than four or five people had been able to see what he had seen. There was one more page in which he asked that his statement not be made public before finding out whether Pastor Niemoeller had died at Dachau or had survived, plus 24 typewritten pages in German with a handwritten note, dated May 4, 1945, but not signed (Vierteljahrshefte f Z., op. cit. p. 179). It seems -- at least that is what Mr. Rothfels tells us -- that this German version in 24 pages, and the French version, are "on the whole identical on all points." Since there are two different French versions, the one published by Mr. Poliakov and the one that was Exhibit No. 124 at Jerusalem, nothing is lost in asking him which of the two he takes as his basis for comparison.
Now, let us return to these two French versions. In January 1946 the Americans had not yet realized the importance of this document -- which existed in two versions, even three versions if one believes Mr. Rothfels -- and they did not think it was worth being produced in evidence against the defendants at the Tribunal. Fortunately, Mr. Dubost was there. On January 30, 1946, he brought it out of his brief case, and submitted it as reference P.S. 1553-RF. However, before we discuss what happened, we should first learn a little more about its author Kurt Gerstein.
Who was Kurt Gerstein? To this question, no answer is to be found anywhere in the forty-two volume report of the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trial. For reasons which the reader will not fail to understand, the Tribunal, in fact, did not want to hear anything about either Kurt Gerstein or his testament; out of the bundle of documents that were produced by Mr. Dubost, it accepted only two invoices of April 30, 1944, each for 555 kilos of Zyklon B, one for Auschwitz and the other for Oranienburg.
The next day, January 31, 1946, in such a form that no one could doubt its authenticity and its admission into evidence by the Tribunal, newspapers all over the world reproduced this document which was not allowed to be read at the hearing the day before. It was this "press offensive" that started the exploitation of this document, which has continued for fifteen years by those eminent historians from the Ecole Normale Superieure, de la Rue de la Liberation (sic), founded by Father Loriquet, such as Mr. Poliakov (Le Breviaire de la Haine -- what a nice title!) and a few others like the Germans H. Krausnick (Documentation sur l'extermination par les gaz), J.J. Heydecker and J. Leeb (Les Proces de Nuremberg), and Gerhardt Schoenberner (L'Etoile Jaune), among others.
As much as one can gather from the writings of these brilliant historians, Kurt Gerstein was a chemical engineer. In 1938 he was arrested by the Gestapo and was interned in the concentration camp at Welzheim. How he managed to get out we do not know. In any case, we find him again in 1941 in the political S.S. and in 1942 in the Waffen S.S., with the rank of Obersturmführer in the "hygiene division" (Abteilung der Entwesung und der Entseuchung) of the Central Sanitation Service (Hauptamt des Sanitaetsdienst). In this capacity it was his business to receive the orders for Zyklon B, a chemical that was used as an insecticide by the Reichswehr, since 1924, and then by the Wehrnacht, which was not fortunate enough to know about DDT. These purchase orders he passed on along with a request for delivery, to the chemical works of DEGESCH Gesellschaft of Frankfurt/M. or to its subsidiary, Testa of Hamburg. And, naturally, when he received the disinfectant he got invoices.
The facts that he tells about -- or to be more correct -- which are found in the account that is attributed to him -- belong in 1942. So, on the 8th of June he met in his office with S.S. Sturmführer Gunther who said he urgently needed 100 kilos of Zyklon B to be delivered to a place which was known only to the driver of the truck.
A few weeks later, the driver of the truck in question presented himself; he was accompanied by Gunther. They loaded the 100 kilos of Zyklon B in the truck, Gerstein got in, and they drove off for Prague and then for Lublin where they arrived on the 17th of August. On the same day, they met Gruppenführer Globocnik, who is charged with the extermination of Jews in Warthegau and who has not found any better way to carry out his task than by using the exhaust gas from Diesel motors, which he has arranged to have piped into rooms especially fixed up for the purpose.
Naturally, the Gruppenführer, who has a sense of logic, starts by talking to Gerstein and detailing the scope of his entire operation. In his region there are three installations for exterminating Jews with diesel fumes: Belzec (on the route from Lublin to Lwow) with a capacity of 15,000 persons a day; Sobibor (he is not sure just where that is!), with a capacity of 20,000 per day; Treblinka (120 kilometers NNE of Warsaw), with no indication as to capacity according to Mr. Poliakov, but Heydecker and Leeb are more precise and give the figure of 20,000 per day. (This remarkable document does not speak the same language to one and the other!) A fourth installation, Majdanek, is in preparation, but nothing is said by anyone about where it is or what its capacity was anticipated to be. To be thorough about this, we must add that in L'Etoile Jaune (German ed.), by Mr. Gerhardt Schoenberner, this part of the document not given; doubtless, it is an example of another sort of historical method. In citing the four locations, nevertheless, Mr. Gerhardt Schoenberner attributes to Gerstein's pen a total capacity of 9,000 persons per day for the four installations.
From Le Breviaire de la Haine of Mr. Poliakov and the Documentation sur l'extermination par les gaz by Mr. Krausnick, we deduce in addition that the Führer was at Lublin two days before (apparently, they do not shrink at anything in these factories where historical forgeries are fabricated!) with Himmler, and that they gave the order to "speed everything up." But this part of the document is not reproduced in either L'Etoile Jaune by Schoenberner, or the Proces de Nuremberg by Heydecker and Leeb.
Finally, Globocnik -- but only according to these two authors -- informs Kurt Gerstein of his mission to improve the gas chambers, particularly with the use of a more poisonous gas and less complicated mechanisms. Then, the men part company, after deciding to go to Belzec the next day.
And, after having repeated all that he was told, Gerstein recounts what he saw. Upon arriving at Belzec on August 18th, Mr. Kurt Gerstein began by visiting the camp under the guidance of a person that Globocnik put at his disposal. Mr. Poliakov was not able to read the name of this person. But after working at it, he thought he could make out "Wirth." More fortunate than he, Mr. Schoenberner was able to read clearly "S.S.-Hauptsturmführer Obermeyer von Pirmasens." Unfortunately, when the latter speaks of S.S. Wirth, who is quite another person than the one mentioned by Mr. Poliakov, he gives him the rank of "Hauptmann," a grade that never existed in the S.S!
In any case, during this visit Gerstein saw gas chambers in action using Diesel exhaust, and he measured the places: 5x5 or 25 square meters in area; 1.90 meters in height or 45 cubic meters, he calculated. We will say nothing about his 2.5 cubic meter error. Messrs. Krausnick, Heydecker, Leeb, and Schoenberner did not say anything about it either. More concerned about what was probable, Mr. Poliakov corrected the document (as we have had the honor to tell you!). He calculated that the chambers were 93 square meters in area (Breviaire de la Haine, p. 223, 2nd ed.), without any further details, and that figure was more prudent. But, in the Proces de Jerusalem (Paris, 1962) when the Tribunal admits into evidence the 25 square meter version, Mr. Poliakov is not at all put out, and agrees with that figure, too. How right he was to correct the document! Later on, Kurt Gerstein recounts, as factual, that the next day, August 19th, he saw the gas chambers -- four according to some; ten, protest the others -- in action.
At the crack of dawn, a trainload of Jews arrived from Lemberg at the Belzec station, on the very edge of the camp, composed of 6,700 -- Mr. Poliakov gives 6,000 -- men, women and children, who were crammed into 45 cars (therefore, between 148-150 people per car, and, for those who know the size of Polish freight cars, quite a figure). It is certain that with its 6,000 to 6,700 people, this train of 45 cars was the most nightmarish of all deportee trains. Please recall that Dr. Miklos Nyiszli did not dare to give more than "about 5,000 persons per train." This Kurt Gerstein certainly has no eye for estimating or measuring, and for an engineer that is not very good.
Two hundred Ukrainians, with whips in hand, hurl themselves at the train doors, tear them open (i.e., actually rip them off of the cars!) and make everyone get out, under the surveillance of other Ukrainians, with loaded guns in hand. "Captain of the S.S. " Wirth directs the operation, assisted by a few of his fellow S.S.: the prisoners are forced to undress completely, to turn in their valuables, to have their hair cut off; then, they are taken to the gas chambers.
"The rooms are filling. Everyone squeeze closer, ordered Captain Wirth. Many people were standing on the tips of their toes, 700 to 800 in an area 25 meters square, and 45 cubic meters. The S.S. pack the room as full as they can. The doors are closed." relates Mr. Schoenberner in L'Etoile Jaune, and, except in style, the others say the same thing, except for Poliakov, who sticks to his 93 square meter area.
The point on which everyone agrees, on the other hand, is the duration of the operation, measured by Gerstein, chronometer in hand. First the 700 to 800 persons who are jammed into the gas chambers had to wait two hours and forty-nine minutes before the diesel motor would run; then, it took thirtytwo minutes for everyone to die. These times come from Gerstein who clocked them with his chronometer in hand, I repeat.
It was this fantastically gruesome account that Mr. Dubost -- not just,anyone, but a prosecutor, and, doubtless, a well known one too, since he was chosen from among his peers to represent France at Nuremberg -- wanted to have accepted by the International Tribunal on Janaury 30, 1946. The Tribunal did not go along. But, one must say that for the Tribunal not to go along it had to be really a little thick, because in other circumstances it swallowed, apparently without the flick of an eyelash, lots of other tricky things of this kind. This refusal of the Tribunal to consider the evidence did not keep the world press from issuing, the next day, January 31, 1946, ad nauseam and to cry yourself to sleep, the Kurt Gerstein story as an unquestionably authentic document. And, even today -- fifteen years later -- men who lay claim to the title of historian still dare to present it as unquestionably authentic in their books. Nor, by doing so, do they lose prestige or the favor of the world press. This reality was demonstrated at the Eichmann Trial. And, as we have mentioned above, the story has recently been staged in Germany by an actor of sorts, on a text written by Rolf Hochhuth, who obviously is seeking literary publicity by the presentation of a shocking subject matter.
In the Eichmann Trial, the Kurt Gerstein account was presented by the public prosecutor as being one of a "series of depositions given by Gerstein before various Allied officers." The judgment at Jerusalem did not refer to that series of depositions, and they were never made public. It seems that we do not know all that there is to know about the Gerstein dossier. Why? I am afraid that the answer to that question lies in this one little fact: in the article by Hans Rothfels (op. cit.) we find him writing that "so fehlt insbesondere die im franzoesischen Text eingefuegte verallgemeinernde und sehr uebertreibende Schaetzung der Gesamtzahl an Opfern" (p. 179), and in a note (p. 180) "G. schaetzt hier auf 25 millionen (Nicht nur Juden, sondern vorzugsweise Polen und Tschechen)." The preceding sentences translate as follows: "Thus is lacking in particular the generalized and very exaggerated estimation of the total number of victims inserted in the French text. G. estimates here 25 million (not only Jews, but especially Poles and Czechs)." It really was a little unbelievable. What is astonishing is the fact that those who made use of this singular document did not discover that gas chambers 25 meters square with a capacity of 700 to 800 persons was an even more shocking exaggeration. This oversight reveals quite a lot about their intellectual faculties as distinguished "Professors." Only those statements of Kurt Gerstein that were considered "objective" (sachlich, Mr. Rothfels says, p. 179) and, therefore, true, were made public and used at the tribunals. Another case of testimony that has been tampered with.
In the case of the Hochhuth play, we have only to point out the sources which he leans on for the authenticity of all the assertions in the Gerstein document as it was made known to the public, especially the assertion that "700 to 800 persons [were] asphyxiated" in gas chambers whose "floor area [was] 25 square meters." Among these sources there figures, naturally, Pastor Martin Niemoeller (and, we have seen what his testimony concerning Dachau was worth), a certain Professor Golo Mann (who attests to gas chamber exterminations at Mauthausen from 1942 on), and various other persons of about the same including even Bishop Otto Dibelius, who I held in esteem until then as having much greater discernment; various newspaper articles by unqualified people and numerous rumors round out Hochhuth's source material.
All this passes understanding. It is true that one should be astonished at nothing: at that Eichmann trial the judges accepted as truth, for days on end, the statements of people who saw -- with their own eyes -- the gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen working, which even the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte at Munich, that model of world resistantialism, admitted as having never existed.
Without doubt as a worthy counterpart to the Stellvertreter of the aforesaid Rolf Hochhuth there has just been brought out in France the Tragedie de la deportation in which, endorsed by Mrs. Olga Wormser and Mr. Henri Michel, even people like Mademoiselle Genevieve de Gaulle and the gentle Germaine TilIon come forward to reaffirm the existence of gas chambers and the systematic extermination by that means in one or the other of those camps where the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte says that they did not exist.
Every day, with pen quivering with indignation, the press wonders at the resurgence of nazism, racism, and anti-Semitism -- among which, however, they draw no distinctions. What makes me wonder is why the text tamperings of Mr. Poliakov and the others have so far not injected even more poison into the racism and the anti-Semitism which are aimed against the Jews. Nothing has been overlooked that would lead to that effect .
We know that Kurt Gerstein was an engineer, and, as such, he probably had a logical mind and probably was trained to make careful and accurate observations. Consequently, if it is true that he made the statement of which we have just read the resume (4), this man was obviously not, or was no longer, in possession of all his faculties when he did so. It is of interest to find out why. On this point, the clues we have about the circumstances of his death are to me very revealing. If we are to believe Hans Rothfels (op. cit. p. 185, note 25), the widow Gerstein was informed that he had hanged himself, with the following notice: "...Death was due to hanging. This manner of killing oneself can absolutely not be prevented in a prison." That may by true. but it is no reason for not telling her when the event took place or what was done with the body; and, the fact that the authorities professed ignorance on both scores seems to me to explain a lot of things.
Suppose, for instance, that the two military inquisitors -- a Major D.C. Evans and a J.W. Haught -- who were said to have started the interrogation of Kurt Gerstein, found themselves in the presence of a man who, at the time they confronted him, had not yet written anything, or, between the date of his arrest and his first interrogation, had written only what he had actually seen, which would have been horrible enough, knowing the savage character of the war in the East on both sides. To read the memoirs of all those who were arrested in Germany at this time, and under these conditions, that is generally what happened to them. They were invited by those who had arrested them to write their confessions; so, this is not an entirely gratuitous supposition. Whether Kurt Gerstein wrote his confession in French or in German is not important. It is possible that he wrote them in both languages -- at least, so they say. Let us suppose again, and this is not entirely gratuitous, either, given the ways of the military and the police, that after the French version was written they attempted to force him to say what is in the document which bears his name, but which represented their view at the moment of the events in question; on the Allies' side, concentration Camps, gas chambers and "genocide" were in general the central theme of the anti-German propaganda, and being familiar with the intellectual level of the military and the police in all countries of the world, it would not be astonishing if that view represented their profession of faith. They might, themselves, have gone on to the editing of the French text, which was then presented to Kurt Gerstein for his signature; at the same time they could have asked him to write a few lines at the end of the last page to make its authenticity positive. One can imagine the scene -- Kurt Gerstein -- an engineer, and a man who was a precise thinker refusing to countersign and to authenticate all of those technical impossibilities which do not stand examination, and the two inquisitors giving him the beating that was usual in such cases. They were pretty brutal with him, no doubt, since Kurt Gerstein was usually described as a man who could not be pushed without resisting into saying what he did not want to say. Later, we can imagine the same scene for the German text, which lasts much longer but takes place in the same manner. The German text was written on a typewriter with a handwritten endorsement, but was not signed. Another detail must be noted: the handwritten endorsement is shorter, and the formula of certification under oath which occurs in the French text is missing. So, my conclusion is that Kurt Gerstein was beaten unconscious, and then he died before getting to the oath and the signature ....
[break in text]
Everything now becomes very clear. Since he died during the interrogation at Rottweil (in Germany) as a result of the torture inflicted on him to obtain his confession, Kurt Gerstein could never have been transferred to Paris to be put at the disposal of the Securite Militaire. This imaginary transfer would not have been thought up in the first place, unless a simple examination would have shown to the naked eye the real causes of his death. By spiriting away his corpse, an autopsy was avoided and, thus, the inevitable subsequent scandal was also avoided. This hypothesis would explain, furthermore, how the Americans came to let the document that bears his signature lie undisturbed in the archives of their delegation at Nuremberg where Prosecutor Dubost found it. It is easy to understand, under such circumstances, why they had no desire to bring this body up to the surface by producing his so-called confession before the Nuremberg court. By rejecting it as not probative and by preventing Mr. Dubost from even reading it, the President of the hearing of January 30, 1946, knew very well what he was doing. But, Mr. Dubost, who had come so close to making a blunder, had given it out to the press. From then on, it could not be retracted, and its authenticity had to be sustained in order not to lose face before public opinion, which was thus already alerted.
There are only three other possible hypotheses:
First, at Rottweil, interrogated as Kurt Gerstein must have been to get a confession from him so manifestly out of line with the technical truths, he could have thought that the Americans would have him confirm the confession at the bar of some tribunal, at which time he could retract it and tell how it had been forced from him; however, foreseeing how he would be handled most likely by the ones thus exposed, in a moment of depression, he wanted to end his life quicker, suffer less, and, thus, committed suicide. Then, the body had to disappear so as not to reveal the marks it carried;
Second, he was actually transferred to Paris, where, to make him confess more, he was tortured again as he had been at Rottweil, and, for the same reason, he committed suicide; and, again, for the same reason the body had to disappear;
Third, either at Rottweil or at Paris, thinking that they could not get any more out of him than what he had said, or to avoid having him retract it in court, those who interrogated him murdered him in cold blood so that his supposed testimony could be presented by the prosecution without any risk of being contradicted by its author; in this latter case, it was still necessary to get rid of the body in view of the state that it was in, a condition which would have controverted the contention of suicide.
I maintain that the most plausible of these four hypotheses is the first. And, I maintain this opinion for the following reason: In July 1945, all of the French administrative services were in operation again, if not yet perfectly at least normally, and in all of the military or civil prisons, the prison registers were kept up to date. Therefore, one of two things must have happened: either the name of Kurt Gerstein occurs on the register of one of the prisons in the column " entered on... ;" the column "released on..." is blank, and the "observations" column records his death, the person or group to which his body was turned over, and the place where he was buried. Or else, which is the case, there is no notation for Kurt Gerstein, which means that he was never imprisoned in any military or civil prison in Paris. That fact would indicate that, if he left Rottweil for Paris, he never arrived. Was he assassinated en route? It is possible. In any case, the most precise of all those who have told us where he committed suicide is the always incredible Rothfels who writes:
Gerstein was then [after his arrest] put on his honor for the time being by the French occupation forces, with permission to go back and forth between Tubingen [where his family lived] and Rottweil. Then he was brought to a prison in Paris [at what date he does not tell us]. There on July 25, 1945, in the "military prison of Paris" he committed suicide. (op. cit. p. 185)
Aside from the freedom of movement that was allowed this prisoner while he was still at Rottweil, and which in itself should not cause the slightest surprise, the most curious thing in this statement is that he killed himself in "the military prison of Paris." In Paris there is not one, but several military prisons, each one being administratively designated by its own name,the most famous of which is the "Prison militaire du Cherche Midi." In 1945, given the extraordinary number of people, both military and civil, who were incarcerated, there were "military divisions," in addition, at la Sante, Fresnes, and other places. The official paper which mentions the death of Gerstein could only have as its letterhead: "Military Subdivision of Paris -- Military Prison of Cherche-Midi," or of Fort Montrouge, or of Caserne Neuilly, etc., or "Penitentiary Administration -- Prison de la Sante, (or Fresnes) Military Division." Depending on the administration which issued the communication, it could also, of course, have had other headings. For instance, the heading could have been "Securite militaire" or "Surete Generale;" but in no case could it have been "military prison of Paris." And if, in spite of this, it has this heading and if an official statement with another stamp gave notice of the death of Gerstein only in these terms and in quotation marks, then it is just a forgery that was prepared for the occasion by someone who knew nothing about the French police services, or about the French safety, intelligence, military and civil administrations. In short, it is a clumsy forgery -- another one!
Finally, the preceding discussion which has led us to the discovery of a forgery until now unnoticed, explains why the statements that are imputed to Kurt Gerstein seem to be those of a man who was not in possession of all his faculties: at the moment when they were given to him for his signature he was already on the point of death because of the methods that had been used to extract them from him, and he only had time to sign the French version before dying. The very form of the French version, as reproduced in Exhibit No. 124 at the Jerusalem trial, militates in favor of this contention. To my French eyes, which claim to know the maternal language fairly well, it looks much more like French written by an American (or an Englishman) rather than French written by a German. I would not be surprised if, when the day comes when this document can be examined, specialists discover that it was typed on an English or American machine, since, judging by its tenor, the intellectual level of those who wanted to make Kurt Gerstein endorse it seems to have been so low that they probably did not think it indispensable to type it out on a German or French machine. As it is, it would not be very bold to ask oneself if the handwritten notes on the French version are really in Kurt Gerstein's writing.
The value that can be placed on the Gerstein document having been assessed, what now must be done is to consider the value that Mr. Raul Hilberg placed on the document. I shall say right now that for once Mr. Raul Hilberg is very prudent. He devotes only three pages to the subject (pp. 570-572), and those pages mention, in passing, that Gerstein was present at "a gassing which took an especially long time" and that "to Wirth's great embarrassment and mortification [he] timed the operation with a stop watch." However, nothing is said about the size of the gas chambers or about the figures concerning the extent of the exterminations by gas. The invoices for Zyklon B, which are appended to the document, are mentioned too. Here, I must point out that, basing himself on these invoices (12 of them according to Rothfels op. cit. p. 179; two, claimed by Prosecutor Dubost at the Trial of the Major War Criminals, with one for Oranienburg and the other for Auschwitz) and those invoices which were produced in the court of the Tribunal which in 1949 judged the DEGESCH Gesellschaft, producer of Zyklon B, Mr. Raul Hilberg calculates (P. 570) that the amounts of this product which were delivered in 1943 and 1944 by this company to the German Army, were 160 tons, and to the sanitation services of the SS were 125 tons (12 for Auschwitz in 1943, none in 1944, but 7.5 tons in 1942). In the aggregate these figures seem plausible to me; in any case, they seem Proportionate -- but in the aggregate only. If from 1942 to the end of the war, the German Army ordered and had delivered 160 tons of Zyklon B, it is quite possible, judging by their needs in the face of the exigencies of the first Russian campaign during 1941, that the sanitary services of the SS would later have required 125 tons. But, in detail I am much more cautious, and the shipments to Auschwitz particularly distress me. In the 12 invoices that were appended to the Gerstein document, bearing dates between the 14th of February and the 31st of May 1944, there were indeed some that pertained to Auschwitz, as Messrs. Dubost and Rothfels have told us. However, of these dates none are given in Mr. Raul Hilberg's calculation. And, the absence of dates make the exactness of his calculations awkward to follow.
Since I am not a specialist in the use of Zyklon B for hygienic purposes, I am not in a position to give a definitive analysis of the significance of an all-inclusive delivery to Auschwitz of 19.5 tons of Zyklon B, allowing for the fact that a greater amount was delivered, since Mr. Raul Hilberg forgot to include the deliveries of 1944 in his calculations. However, even if I were such an expert, quite a number of factors that would be needed to shape an estimate would be lacking. Therefore, this is all that I can say:
1. Just the fact that the Zyklon B was delivered to a concentration camp does not permit one to conclude that it was used to asphyxiate the prisoners; otherwise, one must conclude that it was similarly used in other camps where it was delivered but where no extermination of that kind has been shown;
2. Auschwitz was a Stammlager (central camp) which means that there were more Kommandos stationed around there than, I suspect but cannot however confirm, were located, at Chelmno, Belzec, Mijdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. This figure for total delivery is then not just for the Auschwitz camp, but all those Kommandos around the camp, a list of which, as far as I know, has never been made known;
3. In order to estimate the consumption of Zyklon B correctly, we would have to know how many tons of this overall total were used and how many were not, how many persons went through the camp, and how many kilos of Zyklon B were required to disinfect their clothing on their arrival at the rate of 1,500 to 2,000 persons per convoy. Then, we would have to know how much Zyklon B was used for the minimum disinfection of underclothing necessary for the total population of the camp, and for the Kommandos, every fifteen days. Even if we find out someday about how many persons were involved and about how many tons of Zyklon B were required, we still shall not know how many tons were effectively used, because we shall never know, there having been no inventory, how many were not used. And, so we shall never be able to make a comparison which would allow us to say whether much more Zyklon B was used than was required for disinfection -- in which case one might speak of exterminations using this material. And, this means that we have to keep searching until we find other methods of assessment;
4. Was all of the Zyklon B that was delivered to Auschwitz used? If so, then we would have proof that more was used than was reasonable, and we would have to concede the point, but that possibility is excluded. All the camps were abundantly supplied with this product, and I shall give but one example of it: the train in which I was evacuated from Dora, which left the camp at the last minute, and which I left and then got on again under circumstances which I have described in an earlier chapter, included a car three-quarters full of iron bound boxes with labels all over them: some of the labels bore "Blausaure" (Prussic acid) on a red background while the others had "Vorsicht " (danger) on a white background. Below the "Vorsicht" there were some lines which I did not read. I had more things to worry about than stuff that was labeled dangerous. I was looking for a bag and shoes which obviously were not to be found there, and I was not interested. Moreover, I was far from being able to surmise what the Blausaure was to be used for. It was much, much later, after I read Kogon, that I put two and two together. But, I only wanted to say that there is no reason for not thinking that the other camps, and especially Auschwitz, were just as abundantly supplied as Dora and that the total amount of Zyklon B delivered to Auschwitz was no more used up than was that which had been delivered to Dora. And here we are once again faced with the unanswerable question: how much of it was used?
If this question cannot be answered, one might as well say that no significance can be attributed to the deliveries of Zyklon B that were made to Auschwitz which are laid out so complacently -- and, alas, so incompletely -- by Mr. Raul Hilberg, except that this product was, by definition, not a man-killer, but an insecticide and a disinfectant and was used as such since 1924 by all the German Military and civil health services (5). The invoices produced, in any case, are not grounds for going beyond this statement itself without foundering in suppositions and conjectures, all of which are absolutely, indisputably, and shockingly gratuitous. What we have just seen on this point provides it only too well.
Mr. Raul Hilberg was well inspired not to retain either the description of extermination by gas, as the Gerstein document says its author witnessed (Remember: 700 to 800 persons in a room 25 meters square in area!), or the statistics concerning the Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor camps. At least he avoided the misadventure of that poor Mr. Rothfels.
Let us recall, too, the statistics as they occur in the German text (in the French text given by Mr. Poliakov in the Breviaire de la Haine they are not the same, and, doubtless, for the same reasons that Mr. Raul Hilberg, and the Jerusalem court, did not use them) which were made public following the article by Mr. Rothfels (op. cit. pp. 187-194), and according to which the extermination capacity of the camps was the following:
Belzec:.................15,000 persons a day;
Treblinka:............25,000 persons a day;
Sobibor:...............20,000 persons a day.
About that, Mr. Rothfels wrote (op. cit. p. 181) that "600,000 having perished at Belzec, Gerstein's estimate of 15,000 per day is not plausible" (von 15, 000 pro Tag nichts unwahrscheinliches). This camp officially began exterminating in March 1942, and stopped in December of the same year (Poliakov, op. cit. p. 224), which makes the duration of its operation some nine months or 270 days; 15,000 times 270 equals 4,050,000 persons and not 600,000.
Let us continue with this kind of reasoning: Treblinka and Sobibor were officially exterminating from March 1942 to "the autumn of 1943," about 18 months or 540 days. At the daily rate which is given in the preceding paragraph, we get an extermination total for the first of 13,500,000 persons and for the second of 10,800,000 persons. In all, for these three camps alone there must have been 28,350,000 persons exterminated. And, if we are to believe Mr. Gerstein, they were all Jews! Incidentally, this total does not count those exterminated by the same process at Chelmno, which the Gerstein document does not cite, and at Mijdanek, which it cites as being "in preparation" at the time of his visit in August 1942, so he could not estimate its capacity.
And that is the sort of testimony that they have the audacity to present to us as being "reliable!" To complete the picture let us point out that, when they come to summing up and to giving the totals of Jewish losses in each of these camps, those who seriously offer this nonsense arrive at figures like the one Rothfels found for Belzec. Below is a table giving these losses as estimated by the Polish Commission on War Crimes (from Poliakov, op cit. p. 224), and Mr. Raul Hilberg (op. cit. p. 572):
|Camps.||Estimate of Losses|
|Polish Commission||Raul Hilberg|
|Chelmno.||300,000...||"over a hundred thousand"|
|Belzec||600,000||"hundreds of thousands"|
|Sobibor||250,000||"hundreds of thousands"|
|Treblinka||700,000||"hundreds of thousands"|
|Majdanek||200,000||"tens of thousands"|
One wonders just how the Warsaw Commission and Mr. Raul Hilberg came to these conclusions; there is no evidence that they referred to the Gerstein document, and neither one cites any other documentary references worthy of the name.
For Auschwitz, in the same table, Mr. Raul Hilberg gives one million dead, whereas to my knowledge no one else ever gave less than two million, (7) with most of the witnesses mentioning four. I do not think that I go too far in saying that if people who examine the same occurrence and who claim to be as qualified as the Polish Commission on War Crimes and as Mr. Raul Hilberg, Professor at the University of Vermont, can arrive at such disparate results as we have seen, it must be that their units of measure, or their bases of reference, are purely conjectural, do not rest on anything positive, and derive from different and extremely doubtful sources. The proof which supports my observation is furnished by the Polish Commission and Mr. Raul Hilberg themselves. I have before me at least one hundred of the references which the Polish Commission turned to in order to arrive at figures for which it is responsible in the preceding table. Among these references, one finds such things as: German Crimes in Poland (Warsaw, 1948), which is a pack of contradictions by people of whom it cannot even be said that they existed and who are given as "survivors;" or, "Testimony of Dr. Rothbalsam (dead!), gathered by Mme. Novitch;" or Belzec, (Cracow, 1946) which is a book of recollections on the camp, by someone named Reder, given as "sole survivor," about whom it was said at the Jerusalem trial (hearing of June 6, 1961) that he had been "dead since..."
As for Mr. Raul Hilberg, on almost every page of his book, one finds references, in footnotes, such as these: "Affidavit by Rudolf Schonberg, survivor" (p. 311, nt. 14), or "Borkomorowski, The Secret Army" (p. 315, nt. 32), or the testimony of an unnamed survivor taken by Cohen in "Human Behaviour in the Concentration Camp" (p. 625, nt. 22), or, again, another testimony, of another survivor, named this time but just as hypothetical, taken by a certain Friedman in his book, Osviecim (p. 622, nt. 8), etc...etc. And, in addition to personal testimony, there abound extracts from papers and documents which were written during the war or since its end. In the first case, they are papers published under German control. Bits of statistics are found in them that are not always in agreement; often these documents are annotated or evaluated by journalists who are not specialists; these documents and papers may discuss the steps that were taken to plunder, to ghettoize, or to concentrate; they may outline the bad treatment of which the Jews were victims, but never do they say anything whatsoever that could justify an interpretation in the sense of murder or extermination by gas or otherwise. The word "Judenfrei" often recurs, applied to a territory, a country or a region, but it means "freed of Jews," not their extermination as Mr. Raul Hilberg insinuates. In the second case, they are papers that were published after the war ended. One finds that these documents and papers, annotated by non-witnesses, contain accounts which were given by witnesses, who, for the most part are not named. If they are named, they generally are given as "dead since," thereby precluding the possibility of being cross-examined, in a controlled manner, by qualified persons.
How, indeed, could one possibly think that these witnesses are objective observers, people who, if they are still alive, will admit that since their release from the concentration camps, every move that they have made, and still make, in their lives is dictated by the hatred that they have forever sworn for the Germans? Quite a number of witnesses of this kind appeared before the Jerusalem court to testify that they had seen gas chambers in camps where, as is acknowledged by everyone including Jewish sources, none existed.
The basic shortcoming of this kind of testimony -- if one wants to obtain the truth -- is found in the fact that it was given by people who were not witnesses, in the sense of relating honestly what they actually saw, but who were demanding reparations -- as well as retribution -- for what they have suffered. Consequently, they had an interest in saying those things which were calculated by them to support their objective. In all of this extermination business there are mostly accusers, who back each other up, and forgeries, crudely fabricated, whose authenticity is verified only by false witnesses. And, like Mr.Rothfels when faced with the Gerstein document, Mr. Raul Hilberg, with a frightening lack of conscience and an unimaginable contempt for the most elementary rules of his profession, pretends not to have seen the existence of bias and interest which undermines the credibility of his source material. And, here we are again back to the fundamental problem of our times: the extraordinary intellectual and moral prostration of the elites.
This latter observation is not addressed to the Commission for War Crimes of Warsaw, or, for example, to Madame Hannah Arendt; these two, from all evidence, do not belong to the elites. The first was created on the other side of the Iron Curtain, not to verify historical facts, but to produce evidence that can be used for certain kinds of propaganda. To take part in the Warsaw Commission it is not at all necessary to be a historian, but just a communist.
As for the second, Mme. Arendt is obviously a Zionist propagandist. Much of the data which she uses in her report of the Eichmann Trial (The New Yorker, op. cit.) derive from what she has read in the book by Mr. Raul Hilberg, which she assimilated badly, which she dishes back to us even more clumsily than the manner in which it was given in the first place, and which she cites with the clearest and most positive avowals. Mr. Robert Kempner, that former Prussian Police commissioner who is a much higher ranking agent of Zionism, is, moreover, not at all pleased with the manner in which she carried out her task. In Aufbau (Vol. XXIX, No. 15, April 12, 1963) he administered one of those blistering attacks which I recommend the reader to read. Asinus asinam castiget, the Romans of today would say of this shabby controversy.
To return to the Gerstein document and to finish with it, I now ask the following question: If it is not true that the gas chambers at Belzec, Treblinka, and Sobibor could asphyxiate between 15,000 and 25,000 persons a day; if it is not true that a gas chamber 25 meters square could hold 700 to 800 persons; if it is not true that a train with 45 cars could transport 6,700 persons; and if it is not true that Hitler was at Belzec on August 15, 1942, I ask what does it contain that is true, since it contains nothing else? Are the Zyklon B invoices that are appended to the document genuine? Perhaps, but they prove nothing.
Of all those who have endorsed the authenticity of this document, only one grieves me, Otto Dibelius, Bishop of Berlin, whose fine independent spirit and sureness of judgment I have drawn attention to, particularly with regard to the Nuremberg Trial. According to Mr. Rothfels, (op. cit. pp. 181-182) he wrote a letter to the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte at Munich, dated November 22, 1949, in which, after a series of praises addressed to Gerstein,we find the following sentence: "Through it I was in a position to establish that Gerstein's communication to me, insofar as his Swedish acquaintance came into the question, had been absolutely according to the truth. So had also been his original report." Of Eugen Kogon, David Rousset, Golo Mann, Hans Rothfels, Hannah Arendt, Raul Hilberg, among others, I have made a special and individual study of each of them, and it does not seem that anything else could have been expected of them.
With regard to gas chambers, the almost endless procession of false witnesses and of falsified documents to which I have invited the reader's attention during this long study, proves, nevertheless, only one thing: never at any moment did the responsible authorities of the Third Reich intend to order or in fact, order -- the extermination of the Jews in this or any other manner (8). Did such exterminations take place without orders? This question has haunted me for fifteen years, and it is the Gerstein document, the worst and most immoral forgery of all, that indirectly put me in a position finally to answer it in a positive way.
It was June 1963. The first and the second part of my Le veritable proces Eichmann ou Les Vainqueurs incorrigibles had just come out in German with the title Zum Fall Eichmann and the subtitle Was ist Wahrheit? ... oder die unbelehrbaren Sieger. (14) For fifteen years, every time that I heard of a witness anywhere, no matter where in the portion of Europe that was not occupied by the Soviets, who claimed to have himself been present at gas exterminations, I immediately went to him to get his testimony. And, each time the experience ended in the same way. With documentation in hand, I would ask him so many precise and detailed questions that soon it became apparent that he could not answer except by lying. Often his lies became so transparent, even to himself, that he ended his testimony by declaring that he had not seen it himself, but that one of his good friends, who had died in the camps and whose good faith he could not doubt, had told him about it. I covered thousands and thousands of kilometers throughout Europe in this way.
One day in the month of June 1963, I had a strange visitor, a German, who was large and of good carriage, who looked about sixty (but during our conversation I learned that he was actually much older) who had a little something military in his bearing, who was very distinguished in appearance, and who was exquisitely polite. In his hands was my first book on the subject, the German edition of Mensonge d'Ulysse, in which a book marker was sticking out.
He introduced himself and told me about the purpose of his visit, which he wanted kept absolutely confidential. I Promised to preserve that confidentiality, and that is why I have presented what was said in our conversation in such a way that he cannot be identified; the account of what he told me alone being authentic.
He did not want to have his name given because during the war he had been a high ranking civilian in an important government service. He had not been a military man, but was a professional within the civil service. He did not conceal from me, that, although he had not been an active National Socialist, he had, nevertheless, given his support to the Party in 1933. When the war was over, he had narrowly escaped being a defendant at Nuremberg. Although he had been "denazified" like everyone else, he had lost his former governmental position. He had suffered a great many difficulties, and he had had enough. He did not want to begin all that again. The story that he had been carrying around inside him for twenty years burdened him, but he was to be excused for the cowardice which had made him keep it to himself until the present. When the war ended, he had four children, all very young, and, at more than fifty, a whole new career to carve out.
I willingly and very sincerely conceded this. I understood the moral -- and often physical -- misery that millions and millions of Germans have lived through and still live with, and which reduced them to a silence that they only break when they vote periodically for Chancellor Adenauer, although his politics do not please them, but whom they consider the only German capable of protecting them a little against the punitive measures of the German counterparts of Tomas de Torquemada, like Prosecutor-General Bauer.
These things said, and his conditions having been accepted by me, my interlocutor opened his copy of Le Mensonge d'Ulysse to the marked page, set it down in front of him, and without further preamble started right in.
"You say, and I believe you," he said in substance, "that not one of the witnesses who have claimed to have been present at exterminations by gas have, until now, been able to prove it to you. I have just read your last writings on the matter, and I feel that you are on the point of concluding that there were none. Seeing the interest that your works have aroused, I thought that it would be very dangerous, both for you and for Germany, if you do, since you could not fail to be discredited, a fate which you do not deserve. Moreover, if you were discredited, Germany, at the same time, would have lost her only defender who has some hearing. And, so I have come to tell you myself that I have been present at an extermination by gas..."
"Then I do not understand you," I answered. "It does not seem to me that if you told your story publicly that you would risk, as you claim, being imprisoned again. Witnesses of this kind are being sought by Prosecutor Bauer, who has so far not found anyone who is trustworthy, and if you are sure of yourself, go to him; he will lay down the red carpet..."
"Be patient," he interrupted, "In Germany in order not to be thrown into prison, it is not enough to state that one has witnessed an extermination by gas. It has to be told exactly as it was described in a document or by a witness officially recognized as reliable, and that is not my case. You will see. I was on an official trip to Lublin, and I had just gone in to see Globocnik when Gerstein was announced. Chance had it that I found myself again with him the next day at Belzec. And, if I say that I also was present at the extermination that is referred to in the document which is attributed to him, I must also add that everything said in it concerning the gassing operation, as well as the circumstances under which he was present and his conversation with Globocnik, is, from one end to the other, utterly false. Without any doubt, such testimony on my part would be enough to have me thrown automatically and immediately into prison."
I understood less and less. "If everything is false from beginning to end," I ventured, "there was, therefore, no extermination . . ." "There was one all right," he said. "But let us begin at the beginning." And, then, he told the story ... From his long recital, which I have abridged in order to stick to the essentials, it turned out that:
1. In the conversation that he had at Lublin with Gerstein, in the presence of my visitor and two or three military men whose names my visitor only remembered because they are given in the Gerstein document, Globocnik had spoken only of Belzec and absolutely had not mentioned any other camps. Concerning the number of persons that could be exterminated at the Belzec installation, not one figure was given. Furthermore, he did not begin the conversation by talking of extermination; he talked only of the disinfecting of clothing. It was only further into the conversation that, while deploring the limited means for disinfection available at Belzec, he said, in passing that he had found a very efficient method which would permanently resolve the Jewish question. When inquiry was made by my visitor as to what he meant, he described his Diesel engine at Belzec... "But," declared Globocnik, "it is only a makeshift installation; what I need is a more deadly gas, which is easier to use. That is why I have sent Gunther to get from Gerstein those things that are better adapted to do this job."
"I was horrified," my visitor said to me. "Because of my civilian position, I was the only one listening to Globocnik who could say anything. 'But after all,' I said to him, 'it is a crime, and are you sure that that is the solution that the Führer has in mind for the Jewish problem?' 'Certainly I am sure,' was all that Globocnik answered, shrugging his shoulders. And, with a knowing look, but without saying it precisely, he suggested that the authority for his project came from the Führer himself. Moreover, he insisted that it must be kept secret. Unlike what is said in the Gerstein document, he did not state that Himmler and Hitler had been to Lublin two days before -- that is pure invention."
2. During the conversation, my visitor remarked that Globocnik had said that he had sent Gunther to Gerstein to get a more poisonous gas and less complicated apparatus. My visitor had noted that this was not the normal operating procedure, and he had wondered why Globocnik had not addressed himself directly to the supply office by letter. This fact made my visitor suspicious about the entire operation. My visitor said that Globocnik's assignment at Warthegau was a punitive measure that had been imposed for a number of misdeeds which he had committed during his tenure as Gauleiter in the Vienna area. At Berlin he also had a very bad reputation, at least, so my visitor claimed. Thus, with the intention of speaking about this business as soon as he got back to Berlin, my visitor decided to go to Belzec -- even though his business did not require him to go -- so as to be in a position to speak about the matter with some first hand knowledge.
At Belzec he saw a very small camp, with enough barracks to have housed four or five hundred people. He saw the inmates walking around the camp and they appeared to be well fed and in good shape. Moreover, upon inquiry he learned that they were all Jews. He was told by a Jewish inmate that there was a small railway station with a single track that served the camp. >From time to time, a short train would arrive full of his coreligionists. The people in the camp were to greet the arrivals and were to assist in their extermination by herding them into a little house, which was shown him, where they were asphyxiated. On the house was a sign which read "Fondation Heckenholt, " the name of the Jew who was in charge of starting and keeping the motor running. The inmate told all this while eating a jam tart, which clouds of flies tried to settle on and which he kept brushing away. A disgusting smell similar to that of a freshly opened grave pervaded the camp. The flies and the stench came from the massive pits where the victims were buried after each gassing. Hauptsturmführer Wirth, formerly an officer with the Stuttgart criminal police and commandant of this camp, received my interlocutor on his arrival. He and another S.S. officer, his deputy, who accompanied them during his visit, both complained incessantly about the Kommando to which they had been assigned. They begged him to use his influence to get them transferred to another unit as soon as he returned to Berlin. Neither one of them could understand how they could be required to do such work, and they were sure that at Berlin nothing was known about what was going on here. "Why do you not ask for a transfer yourselves?" asked my visitor. "Then, after getting it you could expose this disgraceful business..." "This is just what Globocnik is afraid of," he was told. "And another thing, we could not apply for a transfer without going through channels, and that means going through him, and for fear of being exposed, either he would not grant it, or he would have us shot at once on some pretext or other. We know of cases... Fortunately you have come here and you can, at the same time that you get us out of here through your connections in Berlin, stop this shameful business... Fortunately, too, it is only a small train with few cars that arrives from time to time, two or three up to now (9). Otherwise, with the limited means we have at hand for burying the bodies, we would be living in a regular center of infection, breeding every imaginable disease... Tomorrow a train is scheduled to arrive at about seven in the morning..."
3. My interlocutor told me that, upon being informed of the expected train, he decided to stay. Accompanied by Wirth and his S.S. aide, he again visited the little house that had been fixed up for exterminations, and he described it to me. It had a raised ground floor, and a hallway with three small rooms on each side, which he did not measure, but which he thought had an area of surely less than 5 x 5 meters, perhaps 4 x 5 maximum, and all of them were rectangular, not square. At the end of the hall was the room where the Diesel motor was located in the center on a cement base and a little below floor level. I asked about this motor and how it was connected up to exhaust outlets in each of the six rooms. It was a truck motor, about 1.50 meters long, a little less than 1 meter wide, and a good meter in height, including the concrete base. Its power he did not know; perhaps it had 200 horsepower, he said. I pointed out to him that it was said to have been a marine engine, and, therefore, it must have been much bigger if it had been built for a ship. "Surely not," he said. "it was a truck motor, at least its dimensions led me to visualize it on a truck." He remembered the number of cylinders, six in one row. As for the connection with the exhaust pipes, in order to proceed faster, he made a drawing for me, which showed that the motor exhaust was introduced into each room by means of a pipe that was connected to an outlet in the floor. "I do not wonder," I said, "that Globocnik wanted to find a more efficient method. It must have been horribly long..." " A quarter of an hour," he interrupted.
If until now this account had seemed plausible to me, after this remark, this "quarter of an hour" weighed heavily on the rest of our conversation. We talked about it at length, and we kept returning to it, with me maintaining that it was absolutely impossible and with him insisting that it was nevertheless true. I had already studied the Gerstein document together with automotive engineers and toxicologists and I knew what I was talking about. In response to my technical objections, he said that he had seen it and that "nevertheless it was true." In vain I tried to explain to him that, with 200 horsepower or even more, a Diesel engine could not produce, in a quarter of an hour, the necessary toxic concentration in 250 to 300 cubic meters of air to cause death. That faced with the impossibility of getting 700 to 800 persons -- 40 to 50 at a maximum, my interlocutor corrected -- into rooms of 40 to 45 cubic meters, and knowing the limitations of a Diesel engine, the writer of the document had to reduce to almost nothing the quantity of air to be made toxic. I added that the atmosphere in the house in question would not be sufficiently toxic to kill everyone until after 32 minutes and that if the day before Globocnik had said himself that the method was not very efficient, it was just another proof that the operation must have lasted a long time. Finally, I pointed out that after twenty years his memory could not be so exact, etc. Nothing budged him. He would not change his mind about the quarter of an hour, except to say that he had not timed it with his watch and that without doubt his estimate was within a minute or two of being exact. Moreover, his demeanor reflected only good faith. Since then I have, with his sketch in hand, questioned many experts on combustion engines, fluid combustion, and toxicology, no one has been willing to give less than one and a half to two hours ....
During the rest of the conversation, nothing else came up that I took exception to, but this objection is an important one and is very disturbing. There was one other thing that was strange about the asphyxiating apparatus. I did not understand why the designer had divided the space into six rooms instead of leaving it in one, which would have been less costly and less complicated; but, I did not press the point.
4. Meanwhile, Gerstein arrived with three or four people; my visitor was no longer quite sure how many. Globocnik, who had come with them, turned right around and went back. During his conversation the day before with Globocnik, my visitor reported that Gerstein had related that his trip from Berlin to Lublin had not been uneventful. What he had with him was not Zyklon B in crystals, as one might think, but liquid prussic acid in bottles, and with the incessant jolting on a road in bad repair, one or two of these bottles had broken in the truck. He and his driver had been very frightened. My visitor then asked him how his trip from Lublin to Belzec had been. "Very good," he replied. "We left the goods at Lublin..."
They inspected the camp together, and in the evening, still together, they were served at dinner by a couple of Jewish prisoners. The atmosphere was heavy; the most talkative one was Gerstein. He seemed keyed up, and everything he said seemed to be aimed at belittling Globocnik. He inspired confidence in no one, at least my interlocutor had that impression. And, when he heard several years later, from one of his friends who had had Gerstein as a student, that the latter was a psychopath, he was not surprised.
The next morning, between 7 and 8 o'clock, the expected transport of Jews arrived; it was a train of four or five cars, with some 250 to 300 men, women, and children, and not with 6,000 or 6,700 persons, piled into 45 cars, as the Gerstein Document claims. Likewise, the 200 Ukrainians that are mentioned in the Document were in reality about two dozen Jewish inmates from the camp. There was no brutality; no doors were wrenched from the cars; no one was struck with rubber truncheons. Rather, there was a brotherly reception from their coreligionists, plainly intent on creating a feeling of confidence in the arrivals.
In preparing the victims for the gassing, they were required to deposit their valuables and jewels at the Effecktenkammer in return for a receipt; then they proceeded to the barber. Finally, they were made to undress. The undressing was the longest process and took almost all morning. These unfortunates asked their coreligionists, who had received them under the armed guard of a few listless and inattentive S.S., what was to become of them. They were told that they were to be disinfected and that, after that, they would be assigned to labor Kommandos according to their abilities. They were told to take a deep breath during the disinfection process -- a hideous spectacle for those who knew.
Then, they were herded into the building where the gassing was to take place. Haphazardly they were divided up among the six rooms -- 40 to 50 per room, my visitor repeated. The doors were closed, and the lights were put out. At this moment, the only things to be heard were the prayers of these unfortunates, and the cries of fright from the women and the children. The engine was started and, a quarter of an hour later, the bodies were removed by the Totenkommando, which was composed of Jewish prisoners. The corpses were carried to a waiting grave.
"But that grave," I interrupted, "they must have seen it, since, really, for 250 to 300 people it must have been quite sizeable." My visitor replied, "No. It had been dug some distance behind the gassing house, and they could not see it. The bodies were taken out through side doors in each room, directly to the outside, sort of garage doors. The dimensions of the grave? I have an idea that it must have been about 20 meters long, 5 wide, and barely 2 deep..."
And, he explained the dangers of that kind of burial. Wirth had told him that into that huge grave lots of gasoline had been poured over the heap of corpses. But, the attempt to cremate the corpses in that manner had been only partially successful. Earth was thrown on top of the corpses, but after two or three days this earth raised up from the pressure of gas rising from below. And, it infected the air. Also, the rotting flesh attracted the clouds of those flies which one saw everywhere. Deciding that he now had seen enough, my visitor left the camp without delay and returned to Lublin.
I tried to return the conversation to a discussion of the "quarter of an hour" that the gassing was supposed to have lasted, by expressing the opinion that the length of the breakdown of the diesel engine, which lasted two hours and forty nine minutes, according to the Gerstein Document, could actually have been not a breakdown, but the added time that this engine required to poison the air sufficiently to cause death. I had no success with this suggestion. My visitor was sure that there had been not the least engine trouble and that the gassing took only a quarter of an hour.
My visitor's business in the region around Lublin took longer than he had anticipated. He was detained in Lodz for a good two weeks, and he could not get back to Berlin until about September 15. Immediately upon his return he went straight to Dr. Grawitz who was a friend of his and a close associate of Reichsführer-S.S. Heinrich Himmler. After hearing his tale, Dr. Grawitz jumped up, horrified, and rushed without delay to Himmler.
"I cannot now be specific about the dates," he added, "but about ten days later, Dr. Grawitz came himself to tell me, while at the same time congratulating me for my intervention, that an inquiry was underway about what I had reported, and, a few weeks later -- I remember that it was just a few days after All Saints Day -- that the camp had been closed and Globocnik once again had been transferred (10). That is all I know."
I told my visitor about Dr. Konrad Morgen's testimony at Nuremberg on the 7th and 8th of August 1945 (I.M.T., Volume XX, pp. 520-553). He knew about it and gave it no credit. The portrait that Morgen drew of Wirth, making him an unscrupulous criminal, corresponded in no way with what was the actual fact. Morgen had described him as being the commandant of four camps and the Deus ex-machina of the whole business (op. cit. pp. 528-29), while, in reality, he was the despairing commandant of the Belzec camp only, and, furthermore, he was bullied and terrorized by Globocnik. Then again, Morgen had testified that he had met Wirth, and if he had met Wirth, it could only have been at Belzec. But, he gave the date of this meeting as "the end of 1943" (op. cit. p. 527), when the camp had been closed at the latest in December 1942. This Dr. Konrad Morgen was a man who had held the rank of Obersturmbannführer in the S.S., who had headed the criminal police office of the Reich, with special powers that had been conferred by Himmler himself, and who probably had many things on his conscience, my visitor concluded.
I had no difficulty sharing that view with him. Morgen had said that the had met Höss, as Commandant of the Auschwitz camp, "...towards the end of 1943, beginning of 1944" (op. cit., p. 540), when Höss had not been in that post after the end of November 1943; Morgen placed all of the exterminations by gas at Monowitz (op. cit., p. 540), when all witnesses have subsequently placed them at Birkenau; Morgen claimed that Wirth received his orders directly from Hitler's Chancellery (op. cit. p. 531), when, etc....
5. It was at this moment in our conversation that the eyes of my interlocutor fell on Le Mensonge d'Ulysse open before him, and to which until then he had not made any reference. "I have read your books," he continued; "In my opinion your critique of the testimonies and documents produced at Nuremberg is impeccable and will one day bear fruit. Thanks are due you. But what interests me (he took the open book in both hands) is the problem of gas exterminations, the only issue that truly touches upon the honor of Germany. So this is what I have come to tell you. Here (he showed me the book) you have given, in 1950, a most correct interpretation, when, in formulating your judgment, you came to the conclusion that there had been very few such exterminations and those few were the work of, I quote, 'only one or two insane persons in the S.S.' I would have said 'one or two criminal sadists.' Believe me, I knew this crowd well. As a whole it was a decent group, but it was not free -- like all social groups -- of a few sadists who were capable of the most unimaginable crimes. Globocnik was surely one of them. I know Höss only from what I had heard of him in Berlin from the people in my branch of service who knew him. He did not have a good reputation either. And, it is possible that at Auschwitz he behaved the way Globocnik did around Lublin. I do not know that for certain; I only say that it is possible. And, judging from what you yourself have written about that camp, it would have been easy for him since everything which was needed to make such activity possible was obtainable at Auschwitz."
I agreed, although I had not directed my supposition to any one particular camp -- for the very reason that one could give so little credit to that mass of false testimony and false documents on the subject that had been gathered by the various military tribunals. It was one of the hypotheses that I had advanced for the camps in general with the old adage, "where there is smoke, there is fire," in mind. Actually, all of my efforts tended to show that if there had been exterminations by gas they could only have been conducted on a very limited basis since there was no positive evidence to support the existence of the widespread practice.
"There were exterminations by gas," he concluded. "I have brought you an example." Then he added: "However, they were neither massive nor deliberately ordered by the hierarchy of the Third Reich, in spite of what the evidence that was created out of thin air at Nuremberg, and that was verified by unscrupulous people, seemed to indicate; rather, such activities were the deeds of a few isolated criminals. What is certain is that each time that the authorities of the Third Reich were informed about things of this kind, they put an end to it, and I brought you proof of that. At Nuremberg, the prosecution simply made use of these isolated instances of criminal activity in order to establish the existence of an officially sanctioned practice for the purpose of dishonoring Germany. It is a little like claiming that the French systematically killed all of the German prisoners that they took during the war, basing the claim on the one case at Annecy on August 19, 1944. There are potential criminals among all peoples, and war -- which unleashes their instincts -- nurtures their depravity to incredible dimensions. Take the example of the French Resistance in whose name and Protection those criminals, of which unhappily France has the same kind and as many as Germany or any other country, committed their crimes (11). Consider the behavior of your troops during their occupation of Germany after May 1945..."(12)
He paused for a moment and then said, "Let it go at that, Sir. The honor of Germany will only be saved when it is definitely established that the exterminations by gas were the exception, and then only the act of a few criminals who were disowned as soon as they were uncovered. As for the rest, Heavens, it was war, and we are no better than Germany's enemies."(13)
I reassured him by telling him that if I stubbornly questioned every line of every document and deposition upon which was based this monstrous indictment of which Germany was the victim and that if my examination of this evidence caused me to conclude that it was nothing but the crudest of fabrications, it would not allow me to claim that there never had been an extermination by gas. Moreover, I had never claimed that, but only had stated that I had never found any reliable evidence to support that contention. "I am happy that I was fearful over nothing," he said. "Excuse me. Germany's honor owes much to you, and you richly deserve it."
And, that was the end. The discussion lost itself in generalities, but later we returned to the subject of Globocnik. I maintained that if he had only been transferred, which did not seem to me to have actually happened, the punishment had indeed been very light. "That," answered by interlocutor, "is characteristic of totalitarian systems. Those people sent so far from Berlin had been sent with the power given to Roman proconsuls. Moreover, the Nazi state was racist, and it did not consider crimes against the Jews in the same light as it viewed crimes against others; it was more indulgent towards those guilty of the former. The case of Koch, commandant at Buchenwald, who was shot for lesser crimes that had been committed against prisoners considered Aryan, is the proof. But, see what the State of Israel does. If they are gentiles, it demands the death sentence for all the Kapos guilty of crimes in the exercise of their duties as guards of gangs of prisoners in the concentration camps, and if they are Jewish, it finds many excuses for them and dismisses the charges or, at the most, imposes jail sentences of a few months, which are then suspended."
I shall spare the reader the details of the other subjects that we touched upon during the balance of our rambling conversation: the Versailles Treaty and its responsibility for the rise of German National Socialism, and, consequently, the outbreak of the Second World War; the war; wars, etc.
If I have made a point of ending this chapter with this testimony, it is because, on the one hand, a historian worthy of the name should not suppress anything that he knows which is relevant to the subject under discussion, and on the other, because I was not seriously able to impeach it except on one point. Moreover, whether right or wrong, the good faith of its author and his sincerity seemed obvious. It is one of the canons of historiography that a testimony cannot be impugned if it seems inconsistent on one point only. After all, history does not, so to speak, offer examples of testimonies that are perfectly consistent. This one, in fact, summed up the opinion which I had formed after a study of all of the documents and the testimony that was produced at Nuremberg on the subject of the extermination of the Jews by gas.
All this, however, does not at all mean that I endorse this testimony. Testis unus, testis nullus, that is also one of the laws of history, and I know only too well the ancient truth that nothing resembles perfect good faith more than perfect bad faith. Without going so far as to claim that this aphorism applied to my interlocutor, and I am far from wanting to conceal the pleasure and interest that I took in his conversation, I still must say that in spite of all that argues in his favor, and although his entry on the scene, regrettably late, can be excused by circumstances, his testimony can only be accepted with the most distinct reservations. All that one can say is that it is more acceptable than what we have so far been accustomed to, and in which we have been completely submerged. We shall not know what it is really worth unless those, who so zealously suppress impartial inquiry into the subject in an attempt to throttle the historical truth that they know, renounce the drastic measures that are resorted to to keep it from coming to light, and, instead, assist it to return to an atmosphere of free discussion. Then, all of those persons who know or who think that they know something about any event whatsoever concerning the war can come forward and can publicize it, without fear of being thrown into prison. Incidentally, I can add that if some day I could be sure that my interlocutor could be questioned without running this risk, I am authorized to make known his name. He will not run away, he told me, and this is another good point for him and his testimony, and for everyone it might be the beginning of a return to free discussion. Check! Your turn to play, Mister Inquisitors.