PART II: TESTIMONIES
The admissions made by the perpetrators of the Holocaust have always been especially troublesome for deniers. It is one thing to attack victim credibility, but quite another to try to explain why someone would admit to a crime. Predictably, it has been claimed that innocent
Germans were forced to admit to crimes they did not commit through torture and other nefarious means.1 Although there were probably some
German defendants who were mistreated (i.e. Rudolph Hoess to be discussed later) there is no evidence of widespread attempts to force confessions out of defendants. As will be seen, many of the major defendants denied any involvement in mass murder. Deniers argue this both ways. If a defendant denies participation or knowledge of mass murder, then that is proof it did not occur. Yet, if someone admits to crimes, then they were forced to do so.2
Butz also invented another reason why
perpetrators confessed. They thought that
"the Allies were not completely serious about carrying out executions and long prison sentences."
Therefore, they would say whatever
was necessary at the time in hope of setting the record straight at a future date.3 As usual,
he presented no evidence for this assertion. The biggest name
of the defendants on trial before the International Military Tribunal at
One of Goring's very friendly biographer's, denier David Irving,
writes that Goring heard rumors of mass killings in the East in the winter of 1941/42.
"Pathetic transports of Jews deported from the West had clogged the railroad lines into Poland and eastern Europe and his papers would show him several times that spring  discussing "transport bottlenecks in Upper Silesia" with Hitler."6
As will be
Goring would have been the obvious candidate from whom to extract a false confession. Yet, his testimony runs on for hundreds of pages and he continually argued with the prosecution. He was anything but a compliant witness. Goring even went so far as to claim that Hitler did not know about the extermination of the Jews.7 This is probably where David Irving got the idea that would form a central thesis in a book he wrote in 1977 that Hitler did not know about the mass killings (see Chapter 8 of this study). According to Butz, Goring was a credible witness because "his testimony appears to be the approximate truth as he saw it."8
There were, however, a couple of significant slips in Goring's testimony. When asked how it was that he did not know about mass murders he replied: "This is also explained by the fact that Himmler kept all these matters very secret. We [Goring and Hitler] were never given figures or any other details."9 Thus, Goring informed the court that he knew Himmler was carrying out these policies, but keeping the figures "very secret."
The other, and
more significant, slip occurred early in his testimony. Butz had claimed that Goring "never
conceded the existence of a program of extermination of Jews. . ."10 In fact, when
Goring was informed that the indictment stated
that the destruction of the Jews was a part
of planning aggressive wars, he replied that "the
destruction of the Jewish race was not planned in
advance."11 Not the "alleged destruction" but "the destruction". So Goring admitted to the destruction, but that it was not planned in advance.
Thus, Goring might be said to
fall into what is known as the functionalist
What is probably correct is that Goring was not "in the loop" as to the extermination. That is, he was not kept informed on a continual basis as to these policies, and he may not have wanted direct knowledge. However, he certainly knew of the overall policy. Goring followed a familiar pattern in the post-war trials. He attempted to distance himself as far away from these events as possible. However, the key point is that Goring never flatly denied the exterminations. He never stated: "Those things did not happen because I would have known of them." Indeed, his failure to make such a blanket declaration is perhaps the best evidence of his knowledge.
The next most significant Nazi on
trial was Joachim
In a last ditch attempt to salvage the Fuhrer, von Ribbentrop claimed that this was the first time Hitler "had used expressions in connection with the Jewish problem which I could no longer understand."14 He would thus have us believe that he was unaware of four public speeches made by Hitler in 1942 which referred to the extermination of the
The next significant defendant was Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of Reich Main Security. A number of high level Nazis had testified as to Kaltenbrunner's role and knowledge in the extermination of the Jews.16 Kaltenbrunner denied everything. His denials drew praise from Staglich because Kaltenbrunner "stubbornly refused to admit knowing anything about such a [extermination] plan."17 Denier Mark Weber also favorably cites Kaltenbrunner's denials.18
Kaltenbrunner's actual denials read quite differently. He only
claimed that he personally had nothing to do with the exterminations. He said
he first learned of the
In fact, however, we know that Kaltenbrunner
was in "the loop". A memo to Kaltenbrunner
from Himmler's adjutant in 1943, cited earlier in Chapter 1, cites foreign press
reports "on the accelerated extermination [Ausrottung] of
the Jews in Occupied Europe".21 Thus, he was receiving his information directly from Himmler, not foreign broadcasts. This document was not available to the prosecution at
Nevertheless, both Butz and Staglich were willing to favorably quote Kaltenbrunner's testimony concerning the meaning of the words "special treatment." They noted that he had defined the words as referring to putting released political prisoners in luxury hotels. On the basis of this statement both authors concluded that "special treatment" could mean something favorable when it was used in connection with the Jews.23 However, Kaltenbrunner only said this when he was read the contents of a conversation he had with an SS officer, attached to Himmler, where "special treatment" was mentioned. He was simply trying to cover for himself in so far as the conversation says nothing about luxury hotels. However, before Kaltenbrunner was presented with this document he was asked if he knew what was meant by the term "special treatment." He replied that it was "an order from Himmler I am referring to Himmler's order of 1941, therefore also an order from Hitler that executions should be carried out without legal procedure."24
important witness was Hans Frank,
Frank is perhaps best known for a statement he made at his trial that: "A thousand years will pass
and still this guilt of
"[B]ut if Adolf Hitler personally laid that dreadful responsibility
on his people, then it is mine too, for we
have fought against Jewry for years, and we have indulged in the most horrible
utterances my own diary bears
witness against me. Therefore, it is no more than my duty to answer your question in this connection with 'yes'. A
thousand years will pass and still this guilt of
Staglich argued that Frank was not stating as fact that
these things happened
because he said "if Adolf Hitler. . ."26
But in fact Frank was obviously trying to cover for Hitler since he referred to him as "this
man."27 As for Frank's diary statement that the Jews "must be done away with"
and finding a method "which will lead somehow to their annihilation", Staglich
argued that such remarks "do not contain a shred of evidence as to how the
alleged murder plan was carried out." Staglich attempted to explain away these references to mass murder by approvingly citing another author
who described Frank as "a
braggart who loved to pose as a big shot and tough guy."28 Staglich did not explain Frank's speech of
Frank's testimony shows that he was doing what many other defendants were doing: trying to
distance himself from these events as far as possible. He even used Kaltenbrunner's argument about approaching Himmler
and Hitler as to whether Jews were really being exterminated as the foreign press and broadcasts
were reporting. However, they
both denied any knowledge of such events. Himmler had supposedly said at Cracow that the Jews were not being exterminated but brought to the
East.30 Frank, however, did not explain where in the East they were supposedly brought.
Nor did he mention Himmler's Posen speech of
Another noted defendant was Julius Streicher. A notorious sadist and pornographer, he was the most vile Jew hater in Nazi-Germany after Hitler and Goebbels. He is best known for editing the German newspaper Der Sturmer, which constantly called for annihilating Jews.31 Under cross examination, a number of the articles calling for mass murder were quoted to him. However, even Streicher denied knowing anything about Nazi genocide. He even went so far as to say that no editorial ever appeared in his paper without quoting the Old Testament "or from Jewish historical works of recent times."32 As for Hitler, Streicher said the following: "Mass killings were the last acts of will of a great man of history who was probably desperate because he saw that he would not win."33
Among the more the interesting testimonies given before the International Military Tribunal
was that of Konrad Morgen,
a member of the SS
whose job was to investigate corruption. His inquiries led him to
Morgan's testimony reveals that he did not know the geography of the camp. He never claimed to have witnessed a gassing. However, his testimony shows that witnesses were not being coached. He continually referred to Monowitz but was never corrected by the prosecution.
What is particularly noteworthy about the testimonies of Goring, von Ribbentrop, Kaltenbrunner and Frank is that not one of these defendants ever denied outright that the extermination of the Jews took place. Also, none of them claimed to know anything about a resettlement plan for Jews. Sometimes one might mention in general resettlement in the East, but no specifics of such a plan or direct knowledge of any massive resettlement was ever mentioned. This in itself is highly revealing because no such plan could have possibly existed without the knowledge of these four men. Yet, it would have made an excellent defense.
revealing witness in this respect was Alfred Rosenberg. Although best known as Nazi
Germany's chief race theorist, he was also Commissioner for the
testimony most vehemently contested by deniers is that of Rudolph Hoess, who
was the Commandant of Auschwitz for most of the camp's existence. Hoess's memoirs
detail the mass murder taking place in the gas
Deniers claim that Hoess was forced to write these memoirs, if indeed he wrote them at all. They say he was beaten by the British when he was captured. We know about Hoess's abuse at the hands of his British captors because he mentions this in his memoirs.
"During the first interrogation they beat me to obtain evidence. I do not know what was in the transcript, or what I said, even though I signed it, because they gave me liquor and beat me with a whip. It was too much even for me to bear."36
It appears that his harsh treatment
was caused by Jewish sergeants in the
arresting party whose parents had died at
Hoess was turned over to the International Military
Tribunal to testify at the trials
because Kaltenbrunner's defense attorney wanted Hoess as a witness. Hoess writes
that compared to where he had been before, "imprisonment with the IMT was like staying in a health spa."
He was then handed over to the Poles to
stand trial in
Hoess's memoirs are divided into two parts, which have been relied on and cited
by countless historians since they were first released in 1958. The first part
is entitled, "The Final Solution of the Jewish Question." Here he details how the extermination machinery
The second part
of his memoirs deals with his rise through the Nazi hierarchy and some of the administrative
problems he had at
How credible are Hoess's memoirs? In addition to being in accord with other testimony, there is also independent corroborating evidence for key points he makes which will now be examined.
Hoess stated that
the first gassing at
Hoess specifically mentioned the Russian POWs as the first victims in the Fall of 1941. There is considerable data from camp records for the Fall of 1941 which suggests that Russian POWs were being murdered en masse. A card index of Russian prisoners for 1941 shows 9,997 were brought into the camp and 7343 are listed in the morgue register (not to be confused with the Auschwitz Death Books examined in Chapter 4) for the four months from October 1941 through January 1942.41 Thus, these prisoners had an astounding 73 percent mortality rate for a four month period.
Hoess stated that burning pits behind Crematorium V had to be dug to handle the gassed bodies.42 Other testimony affirms the use of burning pits near the crematoria for body disposal.43 An aerial photo of the camp taken on May 31, 1944, during the Hungarian operation, shows smoke rising from an area near Crematorium V and prisoners being marched into that facility.44 The issue will be dealt with thoroughly in Chapter 10.
Hoess wrote that
the bodies of gassed prisoners were at first buried and then dug up. More than 100,000 bodies were
burned in the outdoors "continuously
all day and night. By the end of November  all the mass graves were cleared."45
In what may be the first reference to Auschwitz in an American newspaper, the New York Times referred on November 25, 1942 to reports that the Germans in
Poland were "carrying out the
slaughter of Jews" which included "accounts of trainloads of adults and children taken to great
crematoriums at [sic] Oswiencim, near Cracow."46
Hoess wrote that
gold teeth had to be extracted from the victims.47 As was noted in Chapter 5, this is corroborated not only by other testimony
but documents from
the period. As was noted in Chapter 3, Hoess wrote that tens of thousands of Jews were being shipped out
Finally, Hoess gave the number killed as 1,130,000. This
contradicted testimony he had given earlier of
2.5 million.49 Hoess wrote: "I regard
a total of 2.5 million as far too high. Even
Hoess also wrote in this regard that "[f]igures given by former prisoners are figments of their imagination and have no foundation in fact." This statement was also directed against the Russian and Polish governments which were giving out figures of four million killed at Auschwitz.52 Hoess's figure of 1.1 million constitutes the definitive proof that he could not have been forced to write these memoirs. If he was being pressured, the Poles would have certainly forced him to use the four million number and not have allowed him to openly criticize others on this point.
Pery Broad was an
SS man at
Broad gives a comprehensive overview of the miserable conditions which existed in the camp i.e. torture, illness, hunger and general deprivation. His numbers on the total killed were erroneous. He states that two or three million Jews were killed at Auschwitz.53 However, this was widely believed to be the case at the time. He also writes that during the Hungarian operation three of the four crematoria broke down and bodies were burned outdoors.54 This conflicts with Hoess's account of only one crematorium completely broken down during the Hungarian operation (Crematorium IV) while another broke down off and on (Crematorium V). However, like Hoess and other witnesses,55 he confirms the use of burning pits.
Broad was able to correctly identify the number of ovens in Crematoria II and III at 15 each. He does not give the number of ovens for Crematoria IV and V, but correctly notes that there were less.56 He mistakenly says that in the two larger crematoria 4,000 people could be killed at one time.57 The actual number was about 2000 in each crematorium or 4000 in total. However, he does correctly state that the halls of the two larger crematoria (II and III) which were used as an undressing room and gas chamber were underground while the two other crematoria halls (IV and V) were on ground level.58
He discusses the true meaning of "special treatment" as killing. He notes in this respect that the papers held in the camp dealing with "special treatment" and "special detention" were removed from the dossiers. Elsewhere he also notes that camp papers and records dealing with the mass murder were destroyed.59 This account essentially agrees with Hoess who stated that Himmler had given orders that all documents relating to the mass murders be destroyed.60
He also confirms Hoess's and others' testimonies about the two bunkers which were used for gassing before the new crematoria, with their gas chambers, were built in 1943.61 Like others mentioned in Chapter 5, Broad notes that there was an attempt to deceive the potential victims with signs reading "To disinfection".62 As will be recalled, others described the signs as saying "to baths". Broad mentions, as do so many others, that gold teeth were pulled from the victims.63 Broad also confirms a point made by Dr. Johann Kremer (see Chapter 4) that the SS men involved in the killings got extra rations and liquor.64
In his memoirs Broad refers to "six covered air shafts" on the roof of the crematorium's mortuary.65 He must have been referring to the vents on the crematoria which were used to insert Zyklon B. As was noted in Chapter 5, an aerial photo of the camp shows four vents, not six. However, in Broad's testimony given in 1946 he states that six shafts were on the roof of Crematorium I, in the main camp in 1942, before the new Birkenau crematoria were built. The four openings were in Crematorium II in Birkenau. He testified that through the six holes "after the tins had been opened, the gas was poured in".66 In his memoirs he did not identify which crematorium had the six holes.
Auschwitz trials in Frankfurt, Germany, which lasted from 1963 to 1965, Broad also gave
testimony which substantively confirmed his memoirs.67 An abbreviated version of his
memoirs was read into the
court record.68 However, testimony was also given against Broad at the trials. He was a defendant at the
memoirs are particularly troublesome for deniers because, like Dr. Johann Kremer who also testified at
Broad had testified in a 1946 trial at which he was not a defendant - about some of the mechanics of gassing. He noted that the poison used was Zyklon B. He agreed with the following description read to him: "The boxes are filled with small pellets which look like blue peas. As soon as the box is opened the contents are shaken out through an aperture in the roof... " After four minutes everybody was dead.
He stated that during the Hungarian operation about 10,000 per day were gassed.69 He erred when he stated that the Hungarian operation took place in March and April 1944. It took place in May, June and July of 1944.
Staglich challenged Broad's memoirs because a typewritten copy was presented to the court which had not been published. Staglich stated that they were in no way authenticated. Two witnesses did testify as to the memoirs authenticity. Staglich referred to them as "presumably German-speaking Jews of the type let loose at one time on German prisoners of war in order to 'effect' incriminating statements from them, in one way or another. . ."70 He quotes the following account: "After some hesitation Broad admits that he is the sole author of this report, but he says that he cannot stand by everything in it because some of the things he wrote were based on hearsay." Staglich then reaches the conclusion that the Broad report is what else? a forgery because he does not like some of the German words used.71
Broad was on trial in 1964 and it is not surprising that he might try to distance himself from his own writings given their incriminatory nature. Staglich, himself a judge, should have encountered this during his tenure on the bench. Sometimes defendants do try to dissociate themselves from previous statements. Nevertheless, at no time during the trial did Broad state that he did not write the memoirs. Thus, in both his 1946 and 1964 court testimonies he affirmed the facts presented in his memoirs.72
Broad was sentenced to four years in prison. He had been out of prison a number of years before Staglich wrote his book. Yet, Staglich gives no indication as to whether he ever attempted to contact Broad to learn the "truth" about these memoirs and Broad's testimony.
Kurt Gerstein was a disinfection
officer with the SS who recorded his experiences. He appears to have deserted the SS and sought out the Allies in April 1945.73
He then wrote an account of the mass murder he had witnessed at Belzec and Treblinka. His
confessions appear to be the earliest of the
post-war writings since they are dated
The first book
was written by Carlo Mattagno in Italian and
The second book, and the better known among deniers, is Henri Roques's The "Confessions" of Kurt Gerstein, published by the Institute for Historical Review, the world's largest publisher and distributor of denier materials. Mattogno can definitely be identified as a denier from other writings. However, it cannot be completely ascertained on the basis of Roques's book as to whether he is actually a Holocaust denier.
It is important to point out that both authors
accept the authenticity of the Gerstein report which
was submitted at
The report has been challenged for some striking impossibilities. Gerstein states that 25 million people were gassed, a figure which includes Jews and non-Jews.77 He also wrote that 700 to 800 Jews could be killed in a gas chamber of about 270 square feet. Historians have relied on his memoirs as to the general truth of what he witnessed but not 25 million people gassed or 700 to 800 people killed in an area of 270 square feet. Deniers claim that these two statements show that he lied about everything.
He gives an account of personally witnessing the process of gassing Jews. His descriptions are very graphic. Some of his memoir is strikingly familiar. For example he saw a sign saying "To the bath and inhalations." He also observed the removal of gold teeth from murder victims.
Gerstein's position as a disinfection officer has not been questioned. There are invoices with his signature on them ordering Zyklon B 78 which was used for delousing clothing as well as killing people. Therefore, in his position as a disinfection officer he would have had occasion to visit the camps where Jews were being killed because their clothing had to be disinfected before being sent to ethnic Germans.79
The issue of whether Gerstein was a credible witness turns on whether he told anybody about the mass murder he witnessed during the war while he was personally witnessing these things. This would be a contemporaneous account as opposed to a post-war memoir which he wrote while he was in captivity. In his memoirs Gerstein mentions Dr. Otto Dibilius who is identified by Mattogno as a Catholic bishop. Gerstein also mentions Baron von Otter of the Swedish Legation. During his interrogation he also mentioned a Dr. Hochstrasser.
Mattogno writes that Bishop Dibilius
and Dr. Hochstrasser stated that they were told during the war by Gerstein of what he had seen. They stated that the information they received was
passed along to intermediate Roman Catholic
Historian Walter Laqueur investigated this issue. A Mr. Soederblum,
who was the person to whom von Otter reported during the war, stated that "we judged it too risky to pass information
from one belligerent country to
another." Eric Boheman, a government spokesman,
believed that there were some documents in the archives. Laqueur then was able to obtain access to von Otter's
papers and found a letter, dated
"It relates the story of meeting with Kurt Gerstein in late August 1942 and the report about the "corpse factory" of Belzec (a literal translation from the Swedish). There are details about transport conditions, technical procedure, the reaction of the SS guards and the Jewish victims, the collection of jewelry, gold teeth and other valuables. Gerstein also showed von Otter documents referring to the purchase of cyanide gas."
"Gerstein visited von Otter again half a year after their first meeting in order to inquire what use the Swedes made of his information."82
Thus von Otter's post-war written account, ignored by Roques, confirms Gerstein's revelations.
Gerstein also mentioned a Dr. Pfannenstiel, a Professor of Hygiene, as witnessing the events in Belzec. Pfannenstiel has confirmed the fact, in 1950, that he witnessed the gassing operations with Gerstein.83 Ten years later he gave similar testimony.84
Thus, three individuals to whom Gerstein states he told of these events during the war all confirm his account. The one individual whom Gerstein states was there with him, Dr. Pfannenstiel, confirms the gassings. Why would all of these individuals lie? Admissions like those of Pfannenstiel are always explained away by deniers on the basis that these individuals said what they were told in order to avoid prosecution. However, that does not explain why a Swedish diplomat (von Otter), a Catholic bishop (Dibilius) and Dr. Hochstrasser would lie about what Gerstein was telling them during the war.
Operation Reinhard Testimony
As noted in
Chapter 1, Operation Reinhard involved the camps of Belzec, Sobibor
and Treblinka. Franz Stangl
was the overall commander, first in Sobibor then in Treblinka. He was
deeply involved in the mass exterminations
carried out under the name of Operation Reinhard. He
was tried in
Butz had a difficult time attempting to explain Stangl's admission. He sought to rationalize such confessions by arguing that Stangl was old and prone to confess to anything.86 However, the extent and depth of Sereny's interviews with Stangl suggest otherwise.
Stangl's second in command at Treblinka was Kurt Franz, who also served at Belzec. At trial Franz stated: "I cannot say how many Jews in total were gassed in Treblinka. On average each day a large train arrived, sometimes there were even two."87 His overall view as to the number exterminated per day is consistent with what is known about Treblinka. About 750,000 to 900,000 died in this camp which operated from July 1942 to the fall of 1943. As will be recalled from Chapter 1, a train transport schedule from March 1943 shows a daily delivery of about 2,000 Jews.88
Willi Mentz, known as the "Gunman of Treblinka," described the installation of "new and larger gas chambers," which could hold twice the number of the smaller gas chambers. He stated that there were five or six gas chambers. Mentz also described how he shot people on arrival. "There were men and women of all ages and there were also children.89
Herber Mattes, a sergeant at Treblinka, described the "upper camp" in the facility as the place where the gas chambers were located. Like Mentz, he described the building of new gas chambers in 1942. "All together, six gas chambers were active. According to my estimate, about 300 people could enter each gas chamber."90 Mattes's estimate differs from Mentz who believed that the new gas chambers could hold twice the 80 to 100 of the old gas chambers.
interesting in the case of Treblinka is the testimony
of Otto von Horn, who
was a guard there. He had given testimony in the 1960s. He gave background testimony about Treblinka
at the "Ivan the Terrible" trial
in Israel in the 1990s where he described the gassing operations.91
Von Horn was under no obligation to testify at this late date. Yet, he voluntarily came to
Sergeant Eric Lambert testified about Sobibor. He was involved in building the gas chambers there. The camp commander "gave us exact directives for the construction of the gassing installations. The camp was already in operation, and there was a gassing installation. Probably the old installation was not big enough..."92
Erich Fuchs, who served at Sobibor, described an initial "test gassing" where "thirty to forty women were gassed in a gas chamber". The engine was turned on "to release exhaust into the chamber so that the gasses were channeled into the chamber."93
Erich Bauer, known as the "Gasmeister" by prisoners, stated: "I estimate that the number of Jews gassed at Sobibor was about 350,000."94 However, many estimates place the total at 250,000.
The testimony from those involved in the killing at Belzec
is very similar. Lieutenant Josef Oberhouser stated that "[t]he gassing of Jews which
took place in Belzec camp up till
The above constitutes a portion of the Operation Reinhard perpetrator testimony. One fact to be noted is that none of these perpetrators ever mentioned any plan to resettle Jews beyond the camps to which they were delivered.
The trials for
the Operation Reinhard perpetrators were held mainly in the early and mid 1960's in
It is worth noting in this
respect that deniers have all but ignored the Operation Reinhard
trials. Why? The immediate post war trials held in
Alfred Franke - Gricksch, an SS Major, wrote a report after he was released by the British in 1948. Shortly after his release he dictated to his wife an account of a meeting that both he and his superior had with Himmler. She typed it and would submit it at the Treblinka trial in 1965. Himmler quoted Hitler as saying:
"I have after much deliberation decided to blot out once and for all the biological basis of Judaism. . . I am determined, out of a higher responsibility, to translate this recognition of mine into action, whatever the consequences."97
Franke-Gricksch was seized by the Russians and is believed to have died in captivity.
One of the early trials involving
Arthur Butz had latched on to Kramer's initial
statement at his trial that there were no gas chambers, executions or cruelty
"Even if he had felt personally heroic [in denying the gas chambers], there were powerful arguments against such heroism. His family, like all German families of the time, was desperate and needed him. If, despite all this, he persisted in his heroism, his lawyer would not have cooperated... Kramer's defense, therefore, was that he had no personal involvement in the extermination at Birkenau. . . Remember that these proceedings were organized by lawyers seeking favorable verdicts, not by historians seeking the truth about events.98
Butz, as usual, did not present a shred of evidence to substantiate these claims. How could Kramer possibly think that he would be set free by admitting that gassings took place while he was a commandant of that portion of the camp where the gas chambers were located? The real reason for Kramer's retraction was that there was too much testimony at the trial about gassing from both perpetrators and victims. There was simply no way he could maintain any credibility in the face of such testimony by claiming that there were no gas chambers or executions. Therefore, he followed a strategy characteristic of many perpetrators. He tried to distance himself from the crimes as much as possible. He denied that he took part in selecting any prisoners known as "selections on the ramp" for the gas chambers. Rather, he stated that this was done by camp doctors.99 In some sense this was correct. Camp doctors often made selections of healthy prisoners who could work, while the rest were gassed.
an SS medical doctor at
Similarly Franz Hoessler,
a guard at
The standard defense at this trial by nearly all of the
Staglich attempted to explain away the
Staglich's mode of argumentation is quite familiar in Holocaust denial. He was willing to accept the testimony of former inmates when it served his purpose. However, these same inmates also spoke of gassings throughout the course of the trial. Staglich was not willing to accept the gassing testimony. In fact, Klehr admitted that he drew up a schedule for those under him to insert gas into the chambers. He stated that his superiors told him to do this because so many victims were arriving. Klehr also admitted to being present at on the ramp selections where those unfit for work were sent to gas chambers.105 Staglich ignored this part of Klehr's testimony.
Staglich had a great deal of trouble with the testimony of Hans Stark because he admitted to pouring gas into the chamber. Staglich accused Stark of lying because he never said anything about a gas mask which was needed during a gassing operation. However, this does not mean that he did not wear a gas mask. The issue just never came up since Stark was not describing the technical aspects of gassing. Staglich complained that when Stark was asked how the gassed people looked "he was at a loss for an answer."106 What Stark actually said was that "I didn't look closely; one glimpse was enough for me."107 Stark's testimony was similar to a statement made in 1959 where he not only discussed the gassing but defined the terms "special treatment" and "special lodging" as meaning execution. He knew this because he worked in the Political Section of Auschwitz.108
A defendant who never reached the
Baer's death was, in fact, a fortuitous event for deniers since it has allowed them to spread conspiracy theories about his death. They could now claim that he would have revealed the "truth". What Baer actually said differs substantially from the deniers' view. After he was arrested he stated:
only Camp I at
Baer was correct in that there were no gas chambers in the
never faced trial, his statement generally follows what was said at
This was a sore spot for Staglich who claimed that the defendants did not have any choice because they were attempting to secure legal advantages for themselves. They admitted to these things "in an attempt to placate the court and the prosecution." The judges neglected their legal duty to ascertain the truth. Defense attorneys succeeded in having their clients falsely confess to crimes. Staglich believed that what was taking place was a "show trial."114
Like Arthur Butz before him, Staglich did not present any evidence to substantiate these allegations. Butz had made the argument about defendants making false admissions in the immediate post-war trials in the late 1940s to secure advantage. One would think that since many of these defendants received harsh sentences, the defendants on trial in the 1960s would have seen the futility of such a strategy. Moreover, if the defendants really did not know anything about gas chambers, they could have denied personal knowledge while not rejecting the overall existence of such installations. Yet, this did not happen; probably because there were too many witnesses, including other defendants, who placed them at the scenes of the crime.
Staglich's other problem was that he could no longer claim
that the trials were carried out by vengeful
victors. The 1940s trials, which took place
defendants were on trial at
The inability of deniers to produce a favorable
German witness who was at a
killing site appeared to change in 1973 with a pamphlet published by Thies
Christophersen, who was at
According to Christophersen he was stationed in that part of
promoted two denier myths. First, he cited a French publication as quoting Richard Baer that he had
never seen any gas chambers at
Christophersen wrote: "During all the time I was in
This is where Christophersen's story starts to
break down. He does not say he made
any inquiries in Birkenau, the logical place to ask
such questions since there
were four crematoriums and 46 ovens a fact admitted to by all deniers. Yet, Christophersen stated that he was told that there "was
a crematorium in
He also denied the many reports of burning flesh hovering over the camp.117 In a 1988 trial involving a Holocaust denier who published denial materials, Christophersen even stated that he never saw any smoke over the camp.118 We know from the Auschwitz Death Books that many registered prisoners died up to the end of 1943. Therefore, there must have been a considerable number of deaths in 1944 in which the bodies were cremated. Why else would 46 ovens be built? Yet, Christophersen saw no smoke!
Christophersen also stated that "[i]t is an absolute
certainty that no people were
Christophersen must have certainly been aware that while he
Christophersen changed his written account in two subsequent trials involving a Holocaust denier. He first stated that he had been at Birkenau 5, 6 or 7 times; then in the second trial it was 20 times.120 He was asked about his written account where he says nothing about Birkenau but only mentions the Bielitz camp. Christophersen then claimed he never said he was at Bielitz "I only said in the direction of Bielitz". He now claimed that he really drove around Birkenau, not Bielitz.121 In fact, this is not what he said in his pamphlet.
"... I went in the direction of Bielitz and there found a mining camp in which some inmates also worked. I traveled around the entire camp and examined all five grates and all smoke stacks, but found nothing."122 (italics added)
Thus, he clearly stated that he was at the Bielitz mining camp, not Birkenau. He wrote the same thing in a 1985 article.123 He changed his story at the trial because his pamphlet, if it is to be believed, clearly showed that he had no familiarity with Birkenau. He probably calculated at the time of the denier trial, in 1988, that he could not get into trouble if he said he was constantly in Birkenau. Christophersen died in 1997 and we may never know where he went on that day. What we do know is that since these two accounts are diametrically opposed to one another not merely an inconsistency he lied in one of those versions.
There are also
problems with some of his other information. He quoted the Austrian Jew Dr. Bendikt
Kautsky as saying that he never saw any gas chambers
while he was in German concentration camps. Christophersen was attempting to give the
impression that Kautsky was questioning the existence
of gas chambers. Kautsky spent three years in the Monowitz section of
Christophersen claimed that an article by Hanson Baldwin in the New York Times in 1948 lists 18,700,000 Jews in the world
whereas there were less
than 16 million before World War II. He identifies
Christophersen quotes a Red Cross Report that it could not
verify rumors of gas chambers when it visited the camp. This is captioned as
"Suppressed Red Cross Report". In fact, as the Red
Cross informed Staglich in a letter dated
There is, however, one particular statement made by Christophersen which allows us to test his credibility as to what he saw. In discussing packages received by inmates he states that only rarely were items withheld.
however, remained the property of the
inmates and were stored in a huge warehouse called
"Kanada", where also all possessions of
Jews interned at
The Kanada section of
Therefore, Christophersen lied by saying that items held in Kanada were being held for the Jews. Even if one wanted to give Christophersen the benefit of the doubt on the many inaccuracies and questionable statements made in his pamphlet, it is simply inconceivable he could not have known the true nature of the property held in Kanada. Since he had already conceded that he knew of Kanada's existence a tactical error on his part he could not admit that these items would not be returned to the Jews because to do so would also be to admit that they no longer needed their property. Dead people would have no use for the items held in Kanada.
In 1985 Christophersen wrote an article
claiming that he could not find any eyewitnesses to the gassings.
"Instead, people would tell me that they know someone who knew someone
else, who talked about it."129 Yet he makes no mention of trying to contact
anyone involved in the post war
trials such as those that took place in
overall attitude towards the Jews can be gleaned from his statement that the
Jews declared war on