Faurisson's Three Letters to Le Monde (1978-1979)
On December 29, 1978, a short item headed "'The Problem of the Gas Chambers' or 'The Rumor of Auschwitz'," appeared in the pages of France's most influential daily paper, Le Monde. With the publication of this piece, written by a professor of literature at the University of Lyon II, the "Faurisson affair" burst into public awareness. In the same issue of the paper were also several anti-revisionist articles, including one entitled "Abundance of Proofs" by the Jewish scholar Georges Wellers.
On the basis of the "right of reply," provided for in French law, Faurisson responded to the barrage of attacks with a second letter in Le Monde on January 16, 1979. His adversaries struck back a few weeks later with further items in the issue of February 21, including a solemn declaration drafted by two leading French Jewish intellectuals, Léon Poliakov and Pierre Vidal-Naquet. This declaration, signed by 34 historians, responded to Faurisson's provocative question about how, precisely and technically, the alleged wartime homicidal gassings were carried out by German authorities. In words that amount to an expression of intellectual bankruptcy, the 34 historians declared:
It must not be asked how, technically, such a mass murder was possible. It was technically possible given that it took place. That is the requisite point of departure of any historical inquiry on this subject. It is incumbent upon us to simply state this truth: there is not, there cannot be, any debate about the existence of the gas chambers.
Still under fierce attack in the pages of Le Monde, Faurisson sent yet another "right of reply" letter to the Paris daily, this one entitled "One proof ... one single proof." Le Monde, doubtless alarmed at the extent to which the affair had grown, refused to publish it. At the same time, though, the paper invited his adversaries to continue their attacks.
In the decades since he wrote those Le Monde items, Prof. Faurisson has broadened and refined his outlook in interviews, books and numerous letters and essays. It goes without saying that, on such or such a point, he might today express himself differently. In his letter of January 16, 1979, for example, he almost certainly would not write as he did of the well-known January 1943 Bishoff letter, and its "Vergasungskeller" reference. (On this, see A. Butz in the July-Aug. 1997 Journal of Historical Review, pp. 20-23, and S. Crowell in the July-Aug. 1999 Journal, pp. 16-17.)
Those who are familiar with the development of revisionist scholarship over the years may note that occasionally someone will trumpet as his "discovery" something that, in fact, had already been found and announced by Robert Faurisson in 1978-1979. In 1992, for example, a young Jewish-American revisionist named David Cole made quite a fuss over the fact that a young female Polish guide of the Auschwitz State Museum told him, and tourists, that the Auschwitz I "gas chamber" is "in its original state," even though a prominent Museum official told him, on film, that this "gas chamber" is only "very similar" to the original. However, Faurisson had already pointed out this contradiction in his January 16, 1979, Le Monde letter. Of course, this room is not at all "very similar" to an original "gas chamber," and portraying it as such amounts to an outright fake -- as Museum officials more or less acknowledged in 1994. (See R. Faurisson, "The 'Gas Chamber' of Auschwitz I," Sept.-Dec. 1999 Journal of Historical Review, pp. 12-13.)
In spite of the passage of time, Faurisson's three Le Monde items are still valuable, not only for an understanding of the development of revisionist scholarship, but as trenchant presentations of important revisionist arguments about the "Holocaust." Here, then, are authorized English translations of the complete texts of these three landmark essays.
-- The Editor
'The Problem of the Gas Chambers' (note 1) or 'The Rumor of Auschwitz'
No one questions the use of crematories in certain German camps. The mere frequency of epidemics throughout Europe at war demanded the cremation, for example, of the bodies of typhus victims (see the photographs).
It is the existence of "gas chambers," veritable slaughterhouses for humans, that is called into question. Since 1945, the questioning has been growing. The mass media is aware of this.
In 1945, the official historiography affirmed that the "gas chambers" had functioned in the former [pre-1938 German] Reich as well as in Austria, Alsace and Poland. Fifteen years later, in 1960, it revised its judgment: "gas chambers" had operated, "above all" (?), only in Poland. (note 2) This drastic revision of 1960 reduced to naught a thousand "testimonies," a thousand "proofs" of supposed gassings at Oranienburg, at Buchenwald, at Bergen-Belsen, at Dachau, at Ravensbrück, at Mauthausen. Appearing before British or French judicial bodies, the heads of Ravensbrück camp (Suhren, Schwarzhuber, Dr. Treite) had admitted the existence of a "gas chamber" whose functioning they had even, in a vague manner, described. A comparable scenario had been acted out by Ziereis, of Mauthausen, or by Kramer, of Struthof. After the deaths of the condemned men, it was discovered that those gassings had never taken place. Flimsiness of testimonies and confessions!
The "gas chambers" of Poland -- as will surely be admitted in time -- were no more real. It is to the Polish and Soviet judicial bodies that we owe most of our information about them (see, for instance, the horrifying confession of R. Höss, Commandant of Auschwitz).
Today's visitor to Auschwitz or Majdanek discovers, in the way of "gas chambers," facilities in which any gassings would have spelled catastrophe for the gassers and their entourage. A collective execution by gas, supposing that it were practicable, cannot at all be likened either to a suicidal or to an accidental gassing. In order to gas a single convict at a time, with his wrists and ankles shackled, the Americans employ a special gas [hydrogen cyanide] within a small space, from which, after its use, it is extracted and subsequently neutralized. So then, how could two thousand people (and even three thousand) be held in an enclosure of 210 square meters (!), at Auschwitz, for example, to have a common and powerful insecticide called Zyklon B poured onto them; finally, just after the victims' deaths, how could a team be sent, without gas masks, into that place saturated with hydrogen cyanide, in order to remove the corpses infused with cyanide? Some too little-known documents (note 3) show, moreover: 1) That the structure in question [at Auschwitz-Birkenau Krema II], which the Germans are said to have blown up shortly before their departure, was nothing but a typical morgue (Leichenkeller), built underground (to protect it from the warmth of the air) and fitted with a single small door for entry and exit; 2) That the Zyklon B could not be evacuated by a rapid ventilation, and that it needed at least 21 hours to evaporate. Whereas thousands of documents on the Auschwitz crematories (including invoices precise to the last Pfennig) are in our possession, there exists neither a directive to build, nor a study, nor an order of material, nor a blueprint, nor a bill, nor any photograph, as regards the "gas chambers," which, we are told, adjoined those crematories. At a hundred trials (Jerusalem, Frankfurt, etc.), no evidence has been produced.
"I was at Auschwitz. There were no 'gas chambers' there." Those who dare bear witness on behalf of the accused by pronouncing that sentence are hardly listened to. They are prosecuted. Still in 1978, anyone in Germany who speaks out in favor of Thies Christophersen, author of "The Auschwitz Lie," risks a conviction for "defaming the memory of the dead."
After the war, the International Red Cross (which had investigated "the rumor of Auschwitz"),(note 4) the Vatican (which had been quite well informed about Poland), the Nazis, the collaborators, all declared, along with many others: "The 'gas chambers'? We did not know." But how can one know of things that did not exist?
Nazism is dead and gone, together with its Führer. There remains today the truth. Let us dare to proclaim it. The non-existence of the "gas chambers" is good news for poor humanity. Good news that it would be wrong to keep hidden any longer. (note 5)
-- Le Monde, December 29, 1978, p. 8.
A Letter from Mr. Faurisson
Until 1960, I believed in the reality of those gigantic massacres in "gas chambers." Then, upon reading Paul Rassinier, a wartime résistant and deportee who had written Le Mensonge d'Ulysse, I began to have doubts. After 14 years of personal reflection, then four years of sustained research, I became certain, as have 20 other revisionist authors, that I had before me a historical lie. I have visited and revisited Auschwitz and Birkenau where the authorities exhibit a "reconstituted gas chamber" (note 6) together with remains said to be those of "crematories with gas chambers". At Struthof (Alsace) and at Majdanek (Poland), I have examined the buildings presented as "gas chambers in their original state." I have analyzed thousands of documents, particularly at the Paris Centre de documentation juive contemporaine: archives, transcripts, photographs, written testimonies. I have tirelessly pursued specialists and historians with my questions. I have tried to find, but in vain, a single deportee who could prove to me that he had really seen, with his own eyes, a "gas chamber." I especially did not want an illusory abundance of evidence; I was willing to settle for one proof, one single proof. I have never found that proof. What I have found, on the contrary, is much false evidence, worthy of the witchcraft trials, dishonoring the judges who have admitted it. And then I have found silence, embarrassment, hostility, leading finally to slander, insults, and physical blows.
The retorts recently prompted by my brief piece on "The Rumor of Auschwitz" are those I have read more than once in 18 years of research. I do not call into question the sincerity of their authors, but I will say that they are teeming with errors long since pointed out by the likes of Rassinier, [Franz] Scheidl and [Arthur] Butz.
For example, in the letter of January 29, 1943, (bearing the regular mention "Secret") which is quoted to me, Vergasung does not signify "gassing," but rather "carburetion." Vergasungskeller designates the room, below ground, in which the "gaseous" mixture that fed the crematory oven was prepared. This oven and others like it were supplied by the firm Topf & Sons, of Erfurt (Doc. NO-4473).
Begasung designated the gassing of clothing in autoclaves. If the gas used was Zyklon B -- "B[lausäure] preparation," that is, Prussic acid or hydrogen cyanide - then "blue gas chambers" were mentioned. Nothing to do with the purported "slaughterhouse gas chambers"!
The Diary of physician Johann Paul Kremer must be cited correctly. It will thus be seen that, if he speaks of the horrors of Auschwitz, it is in allusion to the horrors of the typhus epidemic of September-October 1942. On October 3 he wrote: "At Auschwitz, whole streets have been annihilated by typhus." He himself would contract what is called "the Auschwitz disease." Germans died of it. The sorting of the sick and the well was the "selection," or one of the forms of "special action," carried out by physicians. This sorting was done either inside the buildings or outdoors. Never did Kremer write that Auschwitz was a Vernichtungslager, that is, in the terminology invented by the Allies after the war, an "extermination camp" (by which is to be understood: a camp equipped with a "gas chamber"). In reality, he wrote: "It is not for nothing that Auschwitz is called the annihilation camp (das Lager der Vernichtung)." In the etymological sense of the word, typhus annihilates those whom it strikes. Another serious translation error: under the date of September 2, 1942, Kremer's manuscript reads: "At three a.m. today I was, for the first time, present at a special action outdoors." Historians and judges traditionally suppress the word "outdoors" (draussen) to have Kremer appear to say that the action in question took place in a "gas chamber." Finally, the horrid scenes before the "last Bunker" (that is, in the yard of Bunker 11) are executions of the condemned, executions that the physician was obliged to attend. Among the condemned there were three women who had arrived in a convoy from Holland: they were shot. (note 7)
The "Krema" buildings of Birkenau were perfectly visible to all.(note 8) A good number of plans and photographs prove this, and they prove as well the thorough material impossibility that these "Kremas" could have contained "gas chambers."
If, with regard to Auschwitz, someone quotes to me, yet once again, the confessions, memoirs, or miraculously unearthed manuscripts (with which I am already acquainted), I shall ask to be shown in what way the imprecise precision of their information differs from the imprecise precision of the information in all the documents which led the Allied military tribunals to rule that there were "gas chambers" where, in the end, it has since been acknowledged that there were none: for example, in the whole of the former Reich!
In my article I cited the [Nuremberg] industrial documents NI-9098 and 9912. One should read these before countering what I say about the "testimonies" of Pery Broad and R. Höss, or (why not?) the "confessions," made after the war, by J. P. Kremer. These documents establish that Zyklon B was not in the category of gasses considered susceptible to ventilation; its makers had to agree that it was "difficult to remove by ventilation because it sticks to surfaces." In carrying out a chemical test to prove the disappearance of the gas from its confines, a room infused with cyanide by Zyklon B fumigation can be entered only by someone wearing a gas mask fitted with a "J" filter -- the very strongest -- after approximately 20 hours. (note 9) Mattresses and blankets must be beaten in the open air for between one and two hours. Nevertheless, Höss wrote:(note 10) "Half an hour after the start of gassing, the door was opened and the ventilation device turned on. The removal of the bodies began immediately." Immediately (sofort)! And he goes on to add that the team, assigned to handle two thousand cyanide-infused corpses, entered the place (which was still full of gas, was it not?) and took them out while "eating and smoking," that is, if I understand correctly, without any gas masks. That is impossible. All the testimonies, as vague or conflicting as they may be about the rest,(note 11) agree at least on this point: the crew opened the chamber either immediately or "shortly following" the victims' deaths. I say that this point, in itself, constitutes the touchstone of the false testimony.
In Alsace, the Struthof camp's "gas chamber" is interesting to visit. The confession of Joseph Kramer can be read on the spot. It was through a "hole" (sic) that Kramer poured a "certain quantity of hydrogen cyanide salts," then, "a certain quantity of water," a mixture giving off a gas that killed in about one minute. The "hole" that is seen today was made in so sloppy a manner, with a chisel, that four earthenware tiles were broken. Kramer used a "funnel with a tap." I cannot see how he could keep the gas from coming back out of this crude hole, or how he could thus willingly allow that gas, leaving the chimney, to spread toward the windows of his own house. Moving on to an adjacent room, I would like to have an explanation of this business of the corpses preserved by Professor Hirt in "vats of formaldehyde solution" that are, in fact, nothing but vats for sauerkraut and potatoes, with simple, non-airtight wooden lids.
The most commonplace weapon, if suspected of having killed or wounded someone, is subjected to forensic examination. It will be noted with some surprise that these prodigious criminal weapons -- the "gas chambers" -- have never been subjected to any official examination (whether legal, scientific, or archaeological) whose report may be examined.(note 12) If, tragically, the Germans had won the war, I suppose that their concentration camps would have been presented to us as re-education camps. By questioning such a presentation of the facts, I should doubtless have found myself accused of being an objective ally of "Judeo-Marxism." I am neither objectively nor subjectively a Judeo-Marxist nor a neo-Nazi. I feel admiration for those Frenchmen who courageously struggled against Nazism. They defended the right cause. If today I state that the "gas chambers" did not exist, it is because the difficult duty to be truthful obliges me to say so.
[In accordance with the law of July 29, 1881, we hereby publish Mr. Faurisson's text. Any response directed against him or his statements would in turn offer him a new right of reply.
Nonetheless, we do not consider the case opened by Darquier de Pellepoix's declarations to be closed.] (note 13)
-- Le Monde, January 16, 1979, p. 13.
One Proof ... One Single Proof
In a lengthy declaration, 34 French historians have recently let us know that it is of course "natural" to ask oneself all sorts of questions about the Second World War, but that, nonetheless, "there is not, there cannot be, any debate about the existence of the gas chambers."
For my part, I remark that there is a debate about the existence or the non-existence of the "gas chambers," and I believe that this debate is a legitimate one. It has for a long time pitted a few specialists of the school of revisionist historians against a few specialists of the official history. This debate opened, in a way, in 1960 when Dr. Martin Broszat, representing the very official Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, had to make a huge concession to the revisionist Paul Rassinier: he was obliged to acknowledge that in spite of an alleged over-abundance of evidence, documents, testimonies and confessions (all of them reliable), not a single "gas chamber" ever existed in any of the concentration camps in the former Reich. In 1968, the discussion was revived, on the official side, by Olga Wormser-Migot who, in the face of a veritable storm of protest, dared to speak, in her thesis, of what she then termed "the problem of the gas chambers," Since 1974, this debate has little by little become a public one in western Europe and in the English-speaking world at large (including, just recently, Australia!). The French press can no longer ignore this, lest it practice a form of censorship.
This debate is already richly instructive. An attentive reader of Le Monde will have learned much just from a perusal of the February 21, 1979, issue, where a whole page was exclusively devoted to a rendering of the official history's arguments. To begin, the reader will have learned that, in certain camps, fake "gas chambers" are presented to "pilgrims and tourists" (the only pity is that he is not told the names of those camps). Then, he will have learned that the figure for Auschwitz of three million dead is "surely an exaggeration," news that will come as a surprise if he recalls that the official figure is four million. He will have noted that, in places where the German archives are declared to be "silent,"(note 14) there is a tendency to interpret them. He will have seen that, where Third Reich documents are "apparently innocuous," they are interpreted to the point, for example, of saying that "to treat accordingly" signifies ... "to gas." He will have noted that the orders of Himmler either to build or to destroy the "gas chambers" are not in the least precise, the fact being that such orders apparently never existed. He will have learned that the "document" of the SS engineer Gerstein is deemed "unquestionable," not in its entirety but "for the most part." With a bit more attention, he will have noted that, according to the passages of the [Gerstein] document that those in charge care to quote to him, there were from 700 to 800 persons in a "gas chamber" whose area was about 25 square meters, with a height of 1.8 meters, which gives us from 28 to 32 persons standing in the space of each square meter! Among the list of the 34 historians, he will perhaps have noticed that there is but a single specialist of the history of the camps. In the bibliography list, he will have twice come across the name of Olga Wormser-Migot for secondary works but not for her thesis, doubtless considered dangerous; and he will not have found any book or any article devoted to the "gas chambers," for the good reason that, on the official side, there is none, neither in French nor in any foreign language (in this regard, beware of certain deceptive titles!).
The Le Monde reader is told of an account of the "final solution to the Jewish question" dated January 20, 1942. One may well wonder why the text of this account is not called by its name, as is normally the case: "Wannsee Protocol." I observe that, for some time, it has been realized that these strange minutes (for the word "Protocol" is a misnomer) are full of oddities and that they lack any guaranty of authenticity. They were typed on ordinary paper, with no indication of the place or date it was written, no indication of its origin, no official letterhead, no reference, no signature. That said, I think that the meeting of January 20, 1942, did take place, and that it dealt with "the solution, at last, of the Jewish problem," which is to say that, as their emigration to Madagascar had been made impossible by the war, it was decided to expel the Jewish populations to the East of Europe.
Whoever bases any accusation at all on the Gerstein "document" (PS-1553) shows, by so doing, proof of an inability to find a solid argument for the existence of the "gas chambers." Not even the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg cared to exploit this text, which had emerged from its archives. Other tribunals, it is true, have been content to use it. The confession by R. Höss is not worth any more. I shall not go back over the matter of this "confession," drafted under the surveillance of his Polish and Soviet jailers. The least effort of analysis shows its fabricated nature; on this point I refer the reader to the works of Paul Rassinier and, in particular, to his study of the Eichmann trial (Le Véritable Procès Eichmann). As for Kremer's diary, written during the war, it is genuine, but certain meanings are abusively coaxed out of some passages, or indeed the text is twisted in order to have us think that Kremer is speaking of the horrors of the "gas chambers" where, in reality, he describes the horrors of a typhus epidemic. After the war Kremer, indeed, did confess what he was led to confess, in accordance with all the stereotypes of the confession specialists. I am rebuked for having hidden this confession. I have not hidden it. I have expressly mentioned the existence of these "confessions." I have not analyzed the text because, quite simply, my opponents have felicitously refrained from presenting it to me as evidence of the existence of "gas chambers" at Auschwitz! When Kremer speaks of three women being shot, I am willing to believe him. It could happen, I think, that a convoy of 1,710 persons contained three who were to be shot on arrival, at Auschwitz. But when Kremer, after the war, tells us that the incident involved women who had refused to enter the "gas chamber," I believe none of it. I need only go back to what he claimed to have seen of an alleged gassing operation, observed from his car. Kremer is among those people according to whom the reopening of the "gas chamber" was carried out "a moment" after the victims' death.(note 15) I have already shown that this is a material impossibility. And then, I note that, in an attempt to explain one confession, Kremer's, another confession is relied upon, that (as chance would have it) of Höss. The disturbing point is that these two confessions, both obtained by Polish military justice, contradict one another much more than they uphold one another. One should take a close look at their respective descriptions both of the victims and the surroundings, and of the executioners and the mode of execution.
I do not understand the reply made in regard to Zyklon B. Used in a "gas chamber," it [hydrocyanic acid] would have stuck to the ceiling, to the floor, and to the four walls, and would have permeated the victims' bodies and their mucous for at least 20 hours. The members of the Sonderkommando (in fact, the crematory crew) charged with the task, it is said, of taking the bodies out of the "gas chamber" half an hour after the pouring in (?) of the Zyklon B, would have been instantly asphyxiated. And the Germans could hardly have scoffed at that, for the job would thus not have been done, and no new batch of victims could have been brought to the spot.
One must not confuse a suicidal or accidental asphyxiation with an execution by gassing. In the latter case, those carrying out the job must avoid the least risk. Thus, the Americans, in order to gas a single prisoner at a time, use a complicated procedure in a small and hermetically sealed space. All movements are begun on the outside. The condemned man has his wrists and ankles bound and his head immobilized. After his death, the gas is extracted and neutralized, and the guards must wait more than an hour before entering the little enclosure. A "gas chamber" is not a bedroom.
For four years I have expressed the wish to debate publicly, with anyone whom the other side may care to name, "the problem of the gas chambers." I am answered with court writs. But the witchcraft trials, like the witch-hunts, never proved anything. I know of a way to move the debate forward. Instead of repeating ad nauseam that there exists an overabundance of evidence proving the existence of the "gas chambers" (let us be reminded of what this supposed overabundance was worth for the former Reich's -- mythical -- "gas chambers"), I suggest, in order to begin at the beginning, that my adversaries provide me with a proof, one single clear-cut proof, of the actual existence of a "gas chamber," of a single "gas chamber," Then we shall examine that "proof" together, in public.
-- 'Right to Reply' letter of February 26, 1979, refused publication by Le Monde, responding to items in the issues of February 21, 1979 (p. 23) and February 23, 1979 (p. 40).
2. "Keine Vergasung in Dachau", by Dr. Martin Broszat, director of the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich (Die Zeit, August 19, 1960, p. 16). [Original text, in facsimile, and complete translation in English, in the May-June 1993 Journal of Historical Review, p. 12.]
4. See The Work of the ICRC for Civilian Detainees in German Concentration Camps from 1939-1945, (Geneva: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1975) [French edition 1946] reproducing in part (I have a copy of the full confidential text) document No. 9925: "Visit by an ICRC delegate to the Commandant of Auschwitz Camp (September 1944)", pp. 76-77 [French edition, pp. 91-92]. A crucial sentence of this document was deftly truncated of three words in the book by Marc Hillel, Les Archives de l'espoir ("The Archives of Hope"), Fayard, 1977, p. 257, and the most important sentence ("The inmates themselves said nothing [about a gas chamber]") was simply left out.
5. Among the score of authors who refute the existence of the "gas chambers," I cite Paul Rassinier, wartime deportee (Le Véritable Procès Eichmann ... 1962), and, especially, the American A. R. Butz for his remarkable book on The Hoax of the 20th Century.
7. Auschwitz vu par les SS, Auschwitz State Museum edition, 1974, p. 238, n. 85 [the English edition, KL Auschwitz seen by the SS, had been published in 1972.] [See also: R. Faurisson, "Confessions of SS Men Who Were at Auschwitz, Summer 1981, Journal of Historical Review, pp. 103-136.]
8. A soccer field "was located beside the Birkenau crematories" (Tadeusz Borowski, in the words of H. Langbein, Hommes et femmes à Auschwitz, Fayard, 1975, p. 129) [German edition: Menschen in Auschwitz, Vienna, Europa Verlag, 1972.]
13. Louis Darquier de Pellepoix (1897-1980) was head of the Vichy government's Commissariat général des affaires juives ("General Office for Jewish Affairs") from May 1942 to February 1944. With the advent of "Liberation" and the subsequent Épuration (purge), he fled to Spain, where he lived until his death. In 1978, some French journalists, besieged with letters from Professor Faurisson and sensing that an "affaire Faurisson," which had been lying quiet like live coals since July 1974, threatened eventually to flare up, decided to make a firebreak. One Philippe Ganier-Raymond, a journalist and part-time swindler (previously held liable by a Paris court, with the aid of Faurisson, for literary fraud concerning a text written by Céline), got in on the act. In October of 1978, in the weekly L'Express, he published an alleged interview with Darquier de Pellepoix in which the latter was quoted as stating that at Auschwitz only lice had been gassed. As a result, Faurisson ended up seeming, a few weeks afterwards, like the twin of a notorious wartime collaborator. [Note by translator S. Mundi.]
14. The fact that some deportees were not registered at Auschwitz, as could well be expected, does not signify that those deportees disappeared or that they were "gassed." For more details on this point, see S. Klarsfeld, Le Mémorial de la déportation des Juifs de France, Paris, 1978, p. 10 and 12.
From The Journal of Historical Review, May/June 2000 (Vol. 19, No. 3), page 40.