John C. Zimmerman

 

Holocaust  Denial

 

 

 

 

 

    PART II: TESTIMONIES

 

 

CHAPTER  6

 

PERPETRATOR TESTIMONY

 

 

 

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 Nuremberg was Herman Goring. Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels had all committed suicide. Goring was head of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force). He had issued an order on July 31, 1941 to the head of Reich Main Security to take measures to carry out the "intended final solution of the Jewish question."4 At the trial Goring denied that this meant killing. He said that Reich policy was emigration, not extermination.5 This is what subsequent deniers would claim, and they probably got the idea from Goring. However, Goring was not asked to explain why, if emigration was Reich policy, Germany suspended Jewish emigration from the Reich shortly after this document was issued.

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. Irving writes:

 

"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 [1942] discussing "transport bottlenecks in Upper Silesia" with Hitler."6

 

As will be recalled, Upper Silesia is the area of Poland where Auschwitz was located. Where did Goring think that the millions of Jews under German control were being sent?

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 school of Holocaust thought — that is, those who do not believe there was a long range plan to exterminate the Jews but that the policy evolved as Germany headed towards war.

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 von Ribbentrop, Germany's Foreign Minister. He also denied any knowledge or involvement in the exterminations. However, under cross examination he was read a document prepared by Hitler's translator on a meeting that von Ribbentrop and Hitler had with Hungary's regent, Miklos Horthy, in April 1943. Part of the document reads: "The Foreign Minister declared that the Jews were either to be exterminated or sent to concentration camps. There was no other solution."12 Von Ribbentrop denied saying "it in those words". The more significant part of the document being read to von Ribbentrop was Hitler's statement at this meeting, cited earlier in Chapter 1 of this study, that Jews who did not want to work "would be shot. If they could not work they would have in perish. They had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli. . ." Von Ribbentrop acknowledged that this is what Hitler said. This made von Ribbentrop "very grieved."13 Thus, like Goring, von Ribbentrop attempted to distance himself as far from these events as possible.

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

Jews. 15

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 exterminations in Auschwitz in 1944 and protested to Himmler. He claimed to have written a number of memos to Himmler, none of which has ever been located, in protest against these exterminations. He even went so far as to claim that Himmler stopped murdering Jews in October 1944 because of his intervention.19 However, he later stated that after listening to foreign broadcasts in 1943 he came to the conclusion that the reports of the destruction were true. "I immediately went to see Hitler, and the next day Himmler, and complained to both of them saying that I would not for one single minute support any such action."20

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 Nuremberg. However, it would have made no difference since Kaltenbrunner would have denied it just as he denied everything else. In this respect one is almost forced to agree with Arthur Butz that "Kaltenbrunner's story was complete nonsense..."22

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

The next important witness was Hans Frank, Germany's Governor General in Poland. Frank was in a more difficult position than the other defendants because the prosecution had his diaries. These diaries were quoted a number of times in Chapter 1 to show the homicidal nature of Nazi policy towards Poland's Jews.

Frank is perhaps best known for a statement he made at his trial that: "A thousand years will pass and still this guilt of Germany will not have been erased." Staglich has argued that the quote about a thousand years of guilt is taken out of context because when Frank's full statement is read it reveals that he is only saying this because of testimony he heard at the trials, especially that of Auschwitz camp commander Rudolph Hoess. Frank stated he had never installed an extermination camp, or promoted the existence of such camps:

 

"[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 Germany will not have been erased."25

 

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 outstandingly great 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 December 9, 1942, cited in Chapter 2, that a labor shortage was being created by orders from higher authorities to exterminate the Jews.29

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 October 4, 1943, cited in Chapter 1, where he spoke of the "extermination of the Jewish people."

 

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 Auschwitz where he learned of people being exterminated. He defined extermination camp as one where gas was used for killing.34 The problem with Morgan's testimony, as deniers are quick to point out, is that he constantly described the place in Auschwitz where the killings were taking place as Monowitz. In fact, Monowitz was the industrial area of Auschwitz which was used to manufacture rubber for Germany's war effort. The gassings took place in the Birkenau section of the camp.

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.

The most revealing witness in this respect was Alfred Rosenberg. Although best known as Nazi Germany's chief race theorist, he was also Commissioner for the Occupied Eastern Territories. More than anyone else, he would have known of any resettlement plan because such resettlement would have to be in the occupied Soviet territories he governed. Like Goring, Rosenberg was not a compliant witness. He denied any knowledge of an order to exterminate all Jews.35 Yet, nowhere in his contentious testimony does he ever discuss a resettlement plan. Deniers who claim that Jews were being evacuated to the East will not find any support for this thesis at Nuremberg.

 

Rudolph Hoess

 

Perhaps 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 chambers of Auschwitz.

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 Auschwitz. One Jewish sergeant claimed that Hoess "admitted without a trace of remorse that he had been responsible for around two million deaths. . ." Yet, this same sergeant spoke about Hoess's letters to his wife. "Sometimes a lump came to my throat. There were two different men in that one man. One was brutal with no regard for human life. The other was soft and affectionate."37

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 Cracow, Poland. He describes his first weeks in prison as "quite tolerable", but the attitude of the guards changed for the worse. Both he and Polish prisoners were mistreated. The prosecutor's office intervened and things changed. "I have to openly confess I never would have expected to be treated so decently and so kindly in a Polish prison as I have been since the intervention of the prosecutor's office."38 Hoess's surprise no doubt stemmed from the fact that about 300,000 Poles, most of them Jews, perished at Auschwitz.

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 developed at Auschwitz. It should be pointed out that his account is in substantive agreement with victim testimony examined earlier. He is also in substantive agreement with Dr. Johann Kremer, discussed in Chapter 4, and the memoirs of Pery Broad, an SS guard at Auschwitz whose writings will be discussed later. "The Final Solution of the Jewish Question" is dated November 1946.

The second part of his memoirs deals with his rise through the Nazi hierarchy and some of the administrative problems he had at Auschwitz. It is here that he reveals an original order in 1941 that "[a]ll Jews without exception are to be destroyed."39 There is a separate chapter on gassings but not as much detail is given here as in the "The Final Solution of the Jewish Question." This second part is dated February

1947.

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 Auschwitz took place in Block 11, the execution block, in the fall of 1941. Russian prisoners were gassed. However, it was found that Block 11 was not suitable for such operations and the procedure was moved to the morgue in the crematorium of the main camp in 1941. Hoess gives the impression that Block 11 was only used for one or two gassings. About 900 Russians were gassed in the crematorium's morgue soon after the Block 11 gassing. The gassing was carried out using Zyklon B gas pellets, which release a hydrocyanic poison.40 The exact date of the first gassing of September 3, 1941 was given at his trial.

In 1994 Cracow's Institute for Forensic Research conducted tests on Block 11 and the Crematorium I morgue for traces of hydrocyanic poison. The test showed positive results (see Appendix III). Thus, even though there were only one or two gassings in Block 11, there is still enough residue to confirm that hydrocyanic acid was used there.

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 [1942] 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 Oswiecim was the Polish name for Auschwitz. This report of "great crematoriums" is consistent with the mass burnings referred to by Hoess. At the time of the report there were only six ovens - the number would increase to 52- so the outdoor burnings would be consistent with "great crematoriums."

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 of Auschwitz in 1944 to work in the arms industry. Auschwitz camp records show 20,000 Hungarian Jews shipped out to other camps in May through August 1944.48

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 Auschwitz had limits to its destructive capabilities."50 For years most, but not all, historians used the number of 2 million or higher. However, as was noted in Chapter 4, a thorough demographic study now places the total at 1.1 million. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum accepts the figure of 1.1 million.51

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

 

Pery Broad was an SS man at Auschwitz who wrote what he witnessed while at the camp. His camp memoirs were written independently of Hoess's, and there is no evidence to suggest that either one knew of what the other was writing. In many respects Broad's memoirs are more thorough than Hoess's in matters dealing with Auschwitz. They are more personalized than Hoess's. However, unlike Hoess, Broad did not reveal his own involvement in these matters. Broad would later be sentenced to a four year prison term.

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.

At the 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 Frankfurt trials but not at the immediate post-war trials.

Broad's memoirs are particularly troublesome for deniers because, like Dr. Johann Kremer who also testified at Frankfurt, Broad was repeating testimony he had given at another trial.

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

 

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 April 26, 1945 — two weeks before the European war officially ended. Although his confessions are considerably shorter than those of Hoess, Broad and the memoirs of victims, they have been the subject of two denier books.

The first book was written by Carlo Mattagno in Italian and published in Italy in 1985. The book was unavailable for this study. However, it was favorably reviewed in a denier publication. Therefore, the review will be used to represent Mattogno's views.74

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 Nuremberg and is labeled as document PS-1553.75 They do question other versions of the report. Therefore, the Nuremberg version will be used here.76

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 hierarchy in Switzerland and Sweden. Mattogno writes that he was not able to find any report confirming what these two had stated.   The case of Sweden's Baron von Otter has always received the most attention. Gerstein stated that he met von Otter on a train and told nun what he had witnessed. Gerstein also stated that he saw von Otter twice again and that von Otter stated that he had sent a report to the Swedish government. Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 1949, confirmed receiving a written report from von Otter in August 194580 about his 1942 meeting with Gerstein. Von Otter states that after hearing Gerstein's account he made an oral report to his superiors,81 but does not mention a post-war written report. It is not known whether the person to whom von Otter passed the information made a written report. The Swedish archives do not appear to yield an answer.

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 July 25, 1945, written to a member of the Swedish legation in London. Laqueur gives the following summary of the letter:

 

"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 West Germany. He never denied any of his crimes. In a set of extensive interviews with journalist Gitta Sereny he explained his role and motivations for the mass murder which he supervised. Stangl believed, erroneously, that the reason for the extermination activities he directed was because the Nazi leaders wanted the Jews' money. When asked why cruelty toward the victims was used since they were going to be killed anyway, he replied: "To condition those who actually had to carry out the policies... To make it possible for them to do what they did."85 (It might be useful to note that those who carried out the mass murder and torture in Cambodia for the Khmer Rouge first practiced on animals.)

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.

Particularly 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 Israel to describe what he saw in the camp.

   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 August 1, 1942 can be divided into two phases. . . On average 150 Jews were delivered and killed per transport." Sergeant Karl Sculch described his role in the gassings at Belzec:"...  I had to show the Jews the way to the gas chamber. I believe that when I showed the Jews the way they were convinced that they were really going to the baths. After the Jews entered the gas chambers, the doors were closed... Then Hackenholt switched on the engine which supplied the gas."95

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 West Germany. During these trials none of the defendants ever attempted to claim that the mass murders never occurred. Defendants who admitted their participation in the crimes said that they did so under duress. It should also be pointed out that many of  the defendants in the Operation Reinhard trials had previously been attached to the T 4 organization which was responsible for carrying out Germany's euthanasia program against the mentally ill and handicapped from 1939 to 1941 which killed 71,000 people.96  Not even deniers claim that the euthanasia program never existed. This raises the question as to why so many euthansia experts would be attached to Operation Reinhard if it was a resettlement program as deniers allege.

   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 Nuremberg were conducted by the victorious Allied powers. Thus, deniers have claimed that the process was tainted for this reason. However, the Operation Reinhard trials - and the Auschwitz trials held during the same period to be discussed later - were conducted by the independent and democratic West German government. These trials were not popular in Germany. Therefore, it is not possible to make the claim that vengeful victors extracted false confessions from innocent defendants.

 

Franke – Gricksch

 

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.

 

Trials

 

One of the early trials involving Auschwitz defendants was the so-called Belsen Trial, a reference to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Bergen Belsen did not have gas chambers. Nevertheless, many people died there. A number of defendants at this trial were also at Auschwitz. The most prominent defendant at this trial was Joseph Kramer, known as "The Beast of Belsen." He was the commandant of the Birkenau section of Auschwitz where the gassings occurred.

Arthur Butz had latched on to Kramer's initial statement at his trial that there were no gas chambers, executions or cruelty at Auschwitz. Kramer retracted this statement. He said he made it because he had taken an oath of secrecy not to discuss these matters. Butz argued that the original statement is true but that Kramer had no choice but to retract. Butz rationalizes:

 

"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.

Fritz Klein, an SS medical doctor at Auschwitz, testified about on the ramp selections. Of course, he claimed that he had nothing to do with them. He talked about unfit prisoners: "I have heard, and I know, that part of them were sent to gas chambers and the crematoria." He said that he disapproved of the gas chambers. The only time he was actually at a gas chamber was when it was not working.100 Butz would no doubt dismiss such testimony as ludicrous. He would be right, but for the wrong reason. Butz would probably claim that Klein was fabricating the story about gas chambers to tell the prosecution what it wanted to hear. The only real fabrication was that Klein would not admit his full participation.

Similarly Franz Hoessler, a guard at Auschwitz, admitted to being at on the ramp selections only because he had to guard prisoners. "I did not make selections myself, and there were no selections without doctors." Once again Butz might claim that such a prisoner was telling the prosecution what it wanted to hear about gas chambers. In fact, Hoessler had no choice but to attempt to blame someone else. The prosecution informed him, and he knew, that there were many witnesses who identified him as taking part in these selections.101 Therefore, he could hardly deny his presence at these events, or deny the events took place at all.

The standard defense at this trial by nearly all of the Auschwitz accused was similar to that of the above three. Since there was so much testimony against the defendants, they simply tried to shift the blame onto someone else. The Belsen Trial occurred in late 1945, a time when Butz had claimed that defendants were being forced to give false confessions by the occupying authorities. In fact, one wonders why, if these defendants were being forced into false confessions, they did not all confess to their direct participation in these events. Why did they try to shift the blame onto someone else? The torturers certainly must have been inept. Yet Staglich claimed that both Kramer and Klein "were frequently subjected to inhuman and illegal treatment. . ."102 and that their statements should not have been allowed at a subsequent trial. He did not offer a shred of evidence that any of these defendants were mistreated.

The Auschwitz trials, which took place from 1963 to 1965 in Frankfurt, Germany, involved twenty defendants and scores of witnesses. The defendants' strategy was very similar to the early post­war trials. The defendants tried to distance themselves from these events and shift the blame onto someone else.

Staglich attempted to explain away the Frankfurt trials in a manner similar to the way Butz tried to explain the Belsen trials. However, Staglich admitted that there may have been some killing with phenol injection but that such killing "had nothing to do with genocide."103 Staglich was attempting to discredit any testimony about gas chambers since he knew that the presence of such installations would mean a plan of mass extermination. Therefore, he focused on the testimony of Josef Klehr who stated that prisoners were killed with phenol injections. Staglich accepted this testimony and argued that characterizing such actions as murder could be disputed "especially since — as is indubitably clear from the testimony of former inmates — it was undertaken only after medical treatment in the camp infirmary had failed to restore the health and working care of the individual."104

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 Frankfurt trial was Richard Baer, the last commandant of Auschwitz. He had died before the proceedings began. This allowed deniers to float a whole series of conspiracy theories that he died under "mysterious circumstances." Staglich quoted non cited French press sources that "Baer adamantly refused to confirm the existence of 'gas chambers' at the camp he once administered."109 , According to Butz, Baer "insisted that the Auschwitz gas chambers were a myth."110 The non cited source of this speculation appears to be Paul Rassinier, who wrote that Baer declared that there had never been any gas chambers at Auschwitz while he was in command.111 He cited no source.

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:

 

   "I commanded only Camp I at Auschwitz. I had nothing to do with the camps where the gassings took place. I had no influence over them. It was in Camp II, at Birkenau, that the gassing took place. That camp was not under my authority."112

 

Baer was correct in that there were no gas chambers in the Auschwitz main camp while he was commander. They were in Birkenau. The gas chamber in the crematorium of the Auschwitz main camp was abandoned in late 1942 or 1943. Technically, therefore, Staglich, Butz and Rassinier were all correct. However, Baer would not have helped the deniers since he was only stating what was generally known — all the gas chambers in 1944 were outside of the main camp. The gas chamber in the main camp had ceased functioning by 1944.

Although Baer never faced trial, his statement generally follows what was said at Frankfurt. Yes, there were gas chambers. No, I did not have anything to do with them. Most of the twenty defendants followed this strategy. Not one stated that there were no gas chambers. Most of the defendants tried to blame others for what happened at Auschwitz. Moreover, none of the many witnesses denied the existence of gas chambers.113

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 at Nuremberg and elsewhere, were run by the victorious allied powers. The Frankfurt trial — and other trials in the 1960s dealing with Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka discussed earlier — were being supervised by the independent government of West Germany. Staglich could no longer attack the Allies, so he decided to impugn the legal system of a democratic country of which he was a member. Interestingly, he had no negative comments about Nazi Germany's legal system.

Twenty defendants were on trial at Frankfurt. Three were acquitted and 17 received various prison sentences.115 Many of the prison sentences had already been served by the time Staglich wrote his book in 1979. An English language edition appeared in 1986 and second edition in 1990. Thus, Staglich had plenty of time to make personal contacts with the defendants to learn the "truth". Yet, nowhere in the latest edition of his book does he state that he ever made contact with any defendant. This may be the most revealing aspect of his book. As a West German judge he certainly could have obtained access to some of the defendants, especially those still in prison. It is highly probable, indeed almost a certainty, that he did in fact contact some of the defendants but did not get the answers he wanted to hear. Therefore, he branded them all as liars.

 

Thies Christophersen

 

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 Auschwitz in 1944. His pamphlet has been published as The Auschwitz Lie. It was first published in English as Auschwitz: Truth or Lie in Canada. This particular edition advertises such publications as Adolf Hitler Was A Genius, Hitler: Psychic and Prophet, The Hitler We Loved and Why and other like-minded writings.

According to Christophersen he was stationed in that part of Auschwitz known as Rajsko from January 15, 1944 onwards. Botanical and agricultural research were conducted at Rajsko, which was more than one mile from Birkenau. Thus, Christophersen has placed his own location far enough away from anywhere at Auschwitz which could implicate him in mass murder. Christophersen was never charged with any crimes and therefore did not have to testify, nor did he, at any of the post-war trials of those accused of war crimes. He never really explains this failure.

His pamphlet promoted two denier myths. First, he cited a French publication as quoting Richard Baer that he had never seen any gas chambers at Auschwitz. As was noted earlier, Baer was not lying, if indeed he said this, because the Auschwitz main camp, which Baer commanded, did not have gas chambers while he was commandant. As was also noted, however, Baer did admit to the existence of gas chambers in Birkenau. Christophersen also stated that those who admitted to crimes did so to secure advantage.116

Christophersen wrote: "During all the time I was in Auschwitz I never in the least observed anything that even indicated mass killings in gas chambers." However, the killing occurred in Birkenau and this is where Christophersen becomes vague. He states that he was in Birkenau to make a "selection" of female prisoners to work in Rajsko. He never stated how many times he was in Birkenau and it is possible that he may have only been there once. He stated that one evening he was asked about crematoriums where bodies were burned but did not know about such matters. He then checked a mining camp in Bielitz where there were smoke stacks, but found nothing.

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 Auschwitz. . ." Here he gives the impression that he is talking about the Auschwitz main camp which had one crematorium and six ovens, not Birkenau with its four crematoria and 46 ovens. Moreover, the crematorium in the main camp had closed down by the time Christophersen arrived at Auschwitz. Once again, he is attempting to place himself as far way from Birkenau as possible.

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 shot at Auschwitz." Even Faurisson has admitted to executions in Block 11, a fact not disputed by other deniers. Yet, Christophersen tells us no one was shot.

Christophersen must have certainly been aware that while he was in Auschwitz the Hungarian deportations took place. He said nothing about the trains that began to arrive in Birkenau in May-July 1944. If his claim was that more than 430,000 Jews were never shipped to Auschwitz, then he could have stated that it never happened. After all, Butz said it never happened. However, Christophersen never addressed the issue of any new arrivals at Birkenau or anywhere else in the camp. Moreover, in October 1944 a revolt took place in the camp which resulted in much gunfire and bloodshed.119 Yet, Christophersen said nothing about this revolt. He could have addressed the issue if only to deny that it happened. His silence on both of these issues is very revealing.

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 Auschwitz, several miles away from Birkenau, and therefore would not have seen a gas chamber. Kautsky did state that he spoke with dozens of inmates who did see these installations.124

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 Baldwin as "a well known population expert". The article appears in the February 22, 1948 issue. Baldwin was giving a military analysis of the Arab-Israel conflict. In the course of his article he stated that there were 15 to 18 million Jews in the world. He simply made a mistake. Moreover, Baldwin was not a "population expert." Nevertheless, the author personally remembers Hanson's erroneous figures being quoted in all manner in the 1960s by other deniers trying to argue that this was some type of key information to prove that the Nazis never engaged in mass murder of the Jews.

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 April 28, 1978: "Our report expressly states that our delegates never got past the camp commandant's office."125

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.

 

"These things, however, remained the property of the inmates and were stored in a huge warehouse called "Kanada", where also all possessions of Jews interned at Auschwitz, were kept."126 (italics added)

 

The Kanada section of Auschwitz was where the authorities kept items stolen from Jews for the German war effort. This is common knowledge among historians and is confirmed by a letter from Oswald Pohl, Chief of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office, dated July 24, 1944, the same time Christophersen was in Auschwitz. The letter states that Jewish property had been confiscated for the benefit of the Reich: "It is impossible to enclose a list because of the vast quantity involved. The valuables accumulate in concentration camps."127 As will be recalled from Chapter 1, clothing stolen from murdered Jews was shipped to ethnic Germans.128

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 Frankfurt in the mid 1960s. Did he contact anyone who had been acquitted or had served a sentence? He does not say. One gets the impression that he either did not make a very sincere attempt to contact anyone or that those he did contact did not tell him what he wanted to hear.

Perhaps Christophersen's overall attitude towards the Jews can be gleaned from his statement that the Jews declared war on Germany in 1933.130 He based this absurdity on an article which appeared in a London newspaper in 1933 and which will be examined in more detail in Chapter 8.