In 2014 the Auschwitz Museum published a bilingual (Polish and English) book edited by Igor Bartosik, Łukasz Martyniak and Piotr Setkiewicz titled The Beginnings of the Extermination of Jews in KL Auschwitz in the Light of the Source Materials. I subsequently give the page numbers in parentheses.
Right at the beginning of the book, in its introduction, it contains a clumsy attempt at disinformation:
“For many years, the beginning of the extermination of jews in the gas chambers has been one of the least-researched issues in the extensive literature on the history of KL Auschwitz. Numerous monumental works by historians devote only a few pages to the question.” (p. 23)
A footnote refers to:
“Franciszek Piper, The Bunkers – Temporary Gas Chambers in Auschwitz 1940-1945 (Oświęcim, 2000), vol. III, pp. 134-143;
Jean-Claude Pressac, Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (New York, 1989), pp. 161- 182;
Robert Jan van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz (Bloomington, 2002), pp. 72, 180.”
The authors can only speak for themselves and for other orthodox historians. As they know well but prefer to hush up, I have written three studies on this topic of together almost 600 pages:
– Auschwitz: la prima gasazione. Edizioni di Ar, Padua, 1992; most recent English translation: Auschwitz: The First Gassing. Rumor and Reality. 3rd ed., Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield, 2016, 190 pp., 15 documents and 33 photographs;
– Auschwitz: Crematorium I and the Alleged Homicidal Gassing. Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago, 2005, 138 pages, 35 documents;
– Debunking the Bunkers of Auschwitz: Black Propaganda versus History. Most recent edition: Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield 2016, 264 pp., 26+7 documents and 21 photographs.
The authors explain this lack of attention by orthodox Holocaust historiography mainly by “the lack of source materials, basically limited to collections of accounts, memoirs, and testimony delivered during the trials of ‘Nazi’ criminals following the end of the war.” But that changed, as they explain:
“Only at the beginning of the 1990s, with the declassification of the records of the SS Central Construction Board that had been held until then in Moscow, did it become possible to access German documentation making it possible to fill in to a considerable degree the historical knowledge about the functioning of the first gas chambers in Auschwitz.” (p. 23)
All this documentation has finally been cataloged and studied by historians of the Auschwitz Museum:
“As a result of extensive searches conducted in both the Zentralbauleitung collection and the other archival resources, a range of interesting and previously unknown documents has been identified.” (p. 24)
This implied claim of historical discovery is disingenuous, since of the 74 documents published by them, I had already published nine, Pressac had published three, and another 19 had previously been mentioned and discussed by me.
Excluding the nine documents on the “judenrampe,” which are insignificant for the Holocaust, 31 of the 65 documents, almost half of them, are not new at all.
I will defer a detailed examination of the authors’ “Introduction” to Part Two of this present study, because only after a critical analysis of the documents cited in their book will the reader be able to full understand my critical examination of the authors’ allegations.
My examination of the documents published by the authors makes it clear that their comments are characterized by superficiality and dilettantism. They start from the deep-seated prejudice, based on testimonies, that homicidal gassing facilities existed at Auschwitz and Birkenau, which they then try to substantiate with documents by systematically distorting their meaning, often quite evidently with malicious intent.
Their presentation does not exhibit the slightest effort to really understand the documents. It furthermore ignores the historical and documentary context in which these documents are embedded and their mutual relations. Their Introduction does not add anything to the picture I have outlined; in fact, it makes it worse.
The Historical and Documentary Context
The authors argue that the documents submitted by them.
“make it possible significantly to clarify the chronology of events and to confirm facts known until now only through witness accounts. It should nevertheless be noted that the documents do not usually refer directly to killings in the gas chamber, […]” (p. 24)
Stop! This is a rather hypocritical understatement. In fact, the documents in question never refer, directly or indirectly, to killings in homicidal gas chambers!
The authors’ hypothesis proceeds from the assumption that a homicidal gassing facility called “Station 1 of Operation Reinhard” existed (the alleged “Bunker 1”), which does not appear in any document. Conversely, the term “Operation Reinhard[t]” appears only in relation to the “disinfestation chamber and storage of inmate belongings” and “Station 1.” Yet if the first facility was a simple disinfestation facility with attached warehouses even according to the authors, why should the latter have been a homicidal gas chamber?
After 1943, however, when the four crematoria of Birkenau went into operation, the SS realized according to the authors that it was impossible to continue keeping the claimed ongoing mass murder a secret:
“This is why the overall number of such entries rises significantly in this period, despite the continued formal use of the recommended code words (SB, Sonderbehandlung) in documents that were issued.” (p. 25)
The authors’ delusion is truly staggering. What documents are they writing about? There exists not a single document about the perpetration of mass killings by means of Zyklon B at Auschwitz, and those documents containing alleged code words have a completely different meaning. Only with a huge effort of deception and imagination do the authors manage to efface the documents’ real meaning over and over again.
Euthanasia at Auschwitz
Outlining the history of Auschwitz, the authors mention the alleged camp visit of a commission presided over by Dr. Horst Schumann on 28 July 1941, in consequence of which 575 detainees were “reviewed” in the hospitals and “transferred to the euthanasia center in Sonnenstein” to be murdered (p. 26) But on the entire affair claimed to be the very beginning of the murder of inmates at Auschwitz, not a single document exists.
Elsewhere I revealed that not a single document exists about this alleged historical event (2005b, pp. 70f.), and that the 2008 article by Jochen August – “The transport of 575 inmates from CC Auschwitz to Sonnenstein (28 July 1941). Reconstruction of the destroyed transport list” – quoted by the authors in support of their conjecture, confirms only that the Auschwitz Museum does not possess any documentary proof for the reality of this alleged transport to Sonnenstein.
Injections with Phenol
This (alleged) crime – so the authors continue – “could only temporarily alleviate the problem of the overcrowding of the hospital blocks in Auschwitz,” so the SS, to avoid “bothersome transports to euthanasia centers in Germany,” undertook killing experiments right afterwards.
“Among the available poisons, the choice fell on phenol, a popular disinfectant that was injected directly into the chambers of the doomed prisoners’ hearts. From the end of the summer of 1941, hundreds of prisoners were murdered this way.” (p. 26)
Because the euthanasia centers allegedly used carbon-monoxide gas chambers to kill patients, it is unclear why a similar facility was not set up in Auschwitz as well, instead of resorting to bothersome individual injections. It goes without saying that not a single document exists on these alleged killings, and the whole thing is therefore relegated to suitable testimonies, as always. From a historical point of view, the whole story is unfounded and inconsistent.
The “First Gassing” in the Basement of Block 11 at Auschwitz
Then the authors turn to the purported first homicidal gassing with Zyklon B in the basement of Block 11, which according to the orthodox version happened in the period between 31 August and 4 September 1941 – which allegedly results from the fact that the bunker’s registry does not contain any entries of newly interned prisoners in its prison cells for these days. During that gassing, 600 Soviet PoWs and 250 sick inmates were ostensibly killed. To back this up, the authors refer, among other things, to the report of the camp resistance from 24 October 1941 that “speaks of 850 POWs killed, which surely includes the sick prisoners taken from the camp hospital”; they also cite “later reports from November 15 and 17 [which] mention 600 murdered POWs.” (p. 27, note 7).
These are only a few examples of the countless contradictions with which the orthodox narrative of the “first gassing” is riddled. In a study dedicated to this fantastic event I demonstrated that this narrative was concocted with great malice on the basis of the resistance movement’s reports and eyewitness accounts, which are all utterly contradictory on all essential points (location, date, preparations, type of victims, perpetrators, start time and duration of the gassing, the fate of the corpses; see Mattogno 2005b). There is therefore no need to dwell further on this aspect of the Auschwitz myth.
The “Gas Chamber” in Crematorium I at Auschwitz
Since the gas chamber in the basement of Block 11 had proved awkward to use – only a madman would have come up with the idea to carry out a homicidal gassing in the bunker cells – the murderous practice is said to have been moved to the crematorium, turning its morgue into a “gas chamber.” “The extent of the remodeling” necessary for this, the authors assure us, “was relatively small, limited to mounting two solid doors and punching four drop hatches in the flat roof” (p. 27). The first gassing is said to have been carried out in that morgue in September or October 1941.
The authors’ claims are really incredible. They claim that the morgue of the crematorium was equipped with two solid – presumably gas-tight – doors, but they do not provide the vaguest documentary clue for this. They assert that four holes were punched through the morgue’s ceiling, but again they do not even adduce a scrap of evidence for this. They nevertheless have the nerve to present the order for “four airtight flaps” as evidence for the existence of those four openings for pouring in Zyklon B through the morgue’s roof.
The “Bunkers” at Birkenau
According to the authors’ conclusion, there is no evidence that any preparations were being carried out before the winter of 1941-1942 to establish an extermination center in the vicinity of the Auschwitz camp. According to them, it is also doubtful that the SS ever had “intentions to kill large groups of deportees in the gas chamber at crematorium 1: Using it would have created numerous difficulties for the SS: a number of undesired eyewitnesses in the camp among prisoners and civilian workers […], and the limited capacity of the crematorium furnaces.” Therefore, in order to carry out the alleged extermination of the jews, a different location had to be found, and the choice fell on the village of Brzezinka (Birkenau) and a farmhouse belonging to the Harmata family, which was transformed into the “gas chamber”: thus was born the legendary “Bunker 1” (p. 31).
Documents on the “Bunkers” at Birkenau
After this bizarre presentation of the origins of the alleged homicidal gassings at Auschwitz, the authors finally begin to discuss the documents they present.
They claim that the date of March 1942 in relation to “Bunker 1” is confirmed by a 1944 document “that refers to the initiation in March 1942 of the construction of the extermination center” (p. 32). This is their Document 36, the “construction request for the expansion of the PoW camp of the Waffen-SS at Auschwitz Upper Silesia. Installation of 3 barracks for special measures” from 26 May 1944. As I have shown above, they misleadingly interpret it as a “re-erecting” of the three undressing barracks at the elusive “Bunker 2.”
According to the tenets of the orthodox Holocaust narrative, “Bunker 2” was the only one of the “bunkers” put back into operation in 1944. But with a fatuous sleight of hand, the authors claim that the document in question is “indirect evidence that bunker I dates from and began operating in March 1942” (p. 152). In other words, they use a date given in a document which, in their contorted logic, deals with “Bunker 2” and apply it to “Bunker 1”! Not to mention that their Document 36 only mentions “3 barracks for special measures” without the slightest reference to the alleged modification of an existing house (the alleged “Bunker 1”). Hence their guess is doubly fallacious, and only with blatant dishonesty can they speak in this regard about an “extermination center,” a term that basically refers to the alleged gassing facilities, although there is no trace about it in the document.
The authors then report on Himmler’s visit to Auschwitz on 17 and 18 July 1942, which they obviously interpret in a criminal way, since the Reichsführer-SS is claimed to have ordered the intensification of the alleged extermination, By so doing, he allegedly turned Auschwitz from a “regional center for the extermination of the Silesian jews” into a European extermination center (p. 33). But Höss had to be aware of these plans already, “because the decision to build bunker II and introduce systematic selection was surely made before Himmler’s July 17-18, 1942 visit” (note 37, p. 33). Indeed, as I have shown above, even before the decision had been made to deport “European” jews in masses to Auschwitz. A beautiful timeline! Höss no doubt possessed a holocaustic crystal ball enabling him to predict the future.
The content of the talks between Himmler and Höss is known only based on the Auschwitz commandant’s post-war account, which is known to contain such huge blunders that it must lead the critical researcher to doubt his entire narrative. In particular, he stated that Himmler witnessed a gassing in one of the two “bunkers,” but based on what is documented, this is simply impossible (see Mattogno 2004b, pp. 17-25).
“Sonderkommando”, “Cremation Pits” and Barracks Near the “Bunkers”
Next the authors claim:
“Soon after Himmler’s visit, an order arrived from Berlin to exhume the bodies from the mass graves and burn them on wooden pyres.” (p. 34)
If that was indeed Himmler’s order, then the question arises, from an orthodox point of view, why Höss visited the “field furnaces Operation Reinhard” on 16 September: is the advice of the layman Blobel supposed to have been indispensable for the erection of wooden pyres, even though one of Germany’s leading experts in cremation technology, the Engineer Kurt Prüfer, was present at Auschwitz on 19 and 20 August precisely to discuss cremation and crematoria?
The mass graves are said to have been excavated by men of the Sonderkommando, and that is allegedly proven by authors’ Document 9, which states that on 17 August 500 men were assigned to this Sonderkommando (p. 34). Here emerges the authors’ superstitious craze about the term Sonderkommando, or if you will, the malicious fiction according to which only one Sonderkommando existed at Auschwitz, which of course was in charge of “gassing,” mass graves, exhumations and open-air cremations.
On another note, what was the “small gas chamber at Birkenau” supposed to have been? From this expression we can deduce two incontrovertible facts: 1) the witness (like all the others) does not know the term “bunker”; 2) he did not even know that there should have been two “bunkers.” As we see, the authors rely once more on an utterly unreliable witness. They then continue to embroider their imaginary “historical reconstruction” with the same method of distorting the meaning of the documents.
The Genesis of the Crematoria at Birkenau
The authors continue with a long discussion of the file memo of 21 August 1941 (Document 10), which the authors interpret in an utterly deceptive and misleading way, as I have shown in my commentary. Here I examine another important aspect of the matter: the decision to build four crematoria at Birkenau. The fundamental question is: did this decision depend on the alleged mass extermination, as the authors claim, or was it a result of the extremely high “natural” mortality caused by the camp’s primitive sanitary and hygienic conditions and the subsequent epidemics?
The authors’ comments on their documents end here. They close their introduction by stating that Auschwitz grew “in the years 1942-1943 from a medium-sized concentration camp to the largest mass-extermination center,” a “radicalization” that arose not “from a single decision” but was the result of many factors (p. 38). By so doing, they openly contradict Höss’s statements, according to which the alleged extermination of the jews depended on two fateful decisions, one by Hitler in June 1941 (the alleged order to exterminate the jews), and the other by Himmler in July 1942 (the alleged extension from a regional extermination center for jews to one of European proportions).
As for the “bunkers,” the authors claim that 250,000 people fell victim to them from March 1942 to April 1943, but the most miraculous thing is that this immense extermination is said to have occurred without leaving the slightest documentary trace.
In the present study I have shown that none of the 74 documents published by the authors has any relation to the “bunkers” in particular and to the alleged extermination of the jews in general. I also demonstrated that, in order to create fictitious relations, the authors have systematically misrepresented and distorted documents, ignored their meaning and their context, provided totally inconsistent and fanciful interpretations, while showing a remarkable superficiality and historiographical ineptitude. But the greatest reproach that must be leveled against them, far more serious than their childish and foolish tenet about “code words,” is their fundamental deception according to which there existed merely one kind of Sonderkommando at Auschwitz, so that every document containing this term turns into an apparent proof for the existence of the elusive “bunkers” of Birkenau, and this despite the numerous documents stating the contrary which they obviously never cite.
The authors’ work, however, has also a meritorious aspect: having published a selection of documents that, taken in their context, help to shed light on still-unclear aspects of the history of Auschwitz.
This my present study can therefore be considered to be an update and completion of my book Special Treatment in Auschwitz: Origin and Meaning of a Term, whose theses are thus confirmed and consolidated, thanks to the documents submitted by the authors.