On the Piper-Meyer-Controversy: Soviet Propaganda vs. Pseudo-Revisionism
By Carlo Mattogno
Significance of the controversy
In my article “The Four Million Figure of Auschwitz: Origin, Revisions, and Consequences,” I concluded an analysis of the history and consequences of Franciszek Piper’s revision of the Soviet propaganda figure of 4 million deaths at Auschwitz with the following words:
“Thus this ‘critical spirit’ of the Auschwitz museum, who reduced the number of victims of the camp to almost a quarter, opportunistically invented a cremation capacity, which was eight times above the actual capacity! F. Piper of course knows exactly that the credibility of his ‘eyewitnesses’ goes down the drain if he would state the true capacity of the ovens, and this would also render all the allegations about homicidal gassings from these same witnesses untrustworthy. This is the reason why the Auschwitz museum is and continues to be an authority on superstition and prefers fairy tales of ‘eyewitnesses’ over science.”
By virtue of his position at the Auschwitz Museum, Franciszek Piper acts as a sort of Grand Inquisitor, the custodian of Auschwitzian orthodoxy. In that capacity, Piper is responsible for pronouncing solemn anathema upon all heterodox interpretations of history – whether revisionist or official. Piper was responsible for the excommunication inflicted upon Jean-Claude Pressac, an excommunication so pitiless that Pressac’s death on July 23, 2003, was not even mentioned by any official historian. The general press maintains a disgraceful silence as well, to such an extent that his death was only commemorated by two of his “enemies”: Jürgen Graf and myself! The excommunication of Jean-Claude Pressac extends beyond the tomb.
Piper’s main fear is that the Auschwitz debate within the official historiography might veer off in a technical direction, which, as I have explained, would mean the end of the legend of any “mass extermination” in the Auschwitz camp.
In November 2003, Piper hurled a new anathema, this time against Fritjof Meyer, provoking a reply from the German journalist.
The clash between these two personalities – truly a battle between the blind – is of interest to us, not so much for the arguments of the two contending parties, consisting, as they do, almost entirely of recycled material on both sides, although from opposing sources, but rather and in particular for their methodic procedures.
Piper is like a Party historian from a past era, a captive of Soviet propaganda; Meyer is a pseudo-revisionist, well-versed in revisionist sources, but without the courage to accept the logical consequences flowing from those same sources.
Piper on the defensive
Piper, well aware of his role, is attempting, above all, to deflect the charge of historical opportunism with regard to the Soviet propaganda “4 million” figure as shown by myself in the above-mentioned article. Piper defends Soviet propaganda, claiming that
“we should accept 4,000,000 as a figure that, according to the best knowledge of the members of both the Soviet and Polish commissions, and subsequently of the prosecution investigators and the authors of various publications, reflected the actual human losses in Auschwitz.”
Claiming that no historian was able to do research in regard to the numbers, Piper adds:
“The absence of the most important of the statistical sources that the Germans kept in Auschwitz made it practically impossible for historians to research the issue of the number of victims.”
Piper thus maintains that there was no objective verification criterion until 1983, the year in which George Wellers published his well-known statistical study on the number of deaths at Auschwitz, and that there were, so Piper continues,
“There were therefore no reasons to treat the Nazi crimes as an instrument of wartime propaganda or an inducement to fight against the enemy. About one thing there can be no doubts: no one knew or could have known the true number of Auschwitz victims at the time […].” (emphasis in original)
As I showed in “The Four Million Figure of Auschwitz,” Piper devised this pious falsehood to justify his past career as an obedient servant of Soviet propaganda! The documentation relating to the number of persons deportedto Auschwitz was in the possession of the Communist judge Jan Sehn as early as December 16, 1945, even before the Höß trial, and were used to verify the number of deaths, both actual and presumed, i.e., the transport and registration lists clandestinely copied by inmates of the political section. These same lists were utilized by Danuta Czech in the first edition of the Auschwitz Kalendarium, from which Georges Wellers, by means of a simple (but rather misleading) calculation, arrived at his startling revision of the 4 million figure, calculating 1,613,455 deportees and 1,471,595 deaths. (Though Jan Sehn based his estimate upon the same documentation as Wellers, Sehn revised the propaganda figure of 4 million deaths by increasing it to 5 million!)
So why didn’t the Auschwitz Museum undertake any similar research in the twenty-year period between the publication of the first edition of Czech’s “Kalendarium” and the publication of Wellers’ article?
This is Piper’s incredible answer:
“The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim investigated the issue in the 1970s as part of its established research schedule, without arriving at any results.”
This means that although George Wellers demolished the propaganda lie of 4 million deaths based solely on the first edition of Czech’s “Kalendarium,” the Auschwitz Museum – the original publisher of Czech’s “Kalendarium,” in possession of the same documentation utilized by Danuta Czech – arrived at no results at all!
Piper also says:
“In view of the lack of camp records on the overall number of people deported to the camp and murdered there, the only basis for establishing the number of victims of the camp must be sources on deportation to Auschwitz from specific localities, regions, and countries and changes-increases and decreases-in the number of prisoners.” (emphasis in original)
But the “basis” was already available – in the first edition of Czech’s Kalendarium.
Piper then takes refuge in an attempt at self-justification that is damning:
“My findings turned out to be similar to those of Georges Wellers, as I announced in a paper read at a scholarly conference in Cracow-Mogilany on February 16-18, 1987. I then stated that ‘Wellers’s calculation methods and findings can generally be accepted without reservations, with the exception of the problematical assumptions in his estimates in regard to ‘Polish’ jews.'”
But if Piper reached the conclusion – after four years of research – that Wellers’ “calculation methods” could “generally be accepted without reservations,” why didn’t he use these same calculation methods himself in the 1960s and 70s after he began his career as a researcher in the historical section of the Auschwitz Museum in late 1965? And why did he wait until four years after the publication of Wellers’ article in 1983 to announce his acceptance of Wellers’ calculations? The answer is obvious: times change, and by 1987 the Soviet regime was beginning to come apart at the seams.
In an article published in 1991, Piper “ascertained” a figure of 1,110,000 victims for Auschwitz-Birkenau. This article was, in his words,
“an abridged version of a more broadly conceived study by the present author on the number of deportees and victims of Auschwitz.”
His study was
“part of the author’s research conducted in the State Auschwitz Museum.”
This means that Piper originally arrived at 1,100,000 figure at some earlier date. But when the new text was affixed to the famous commemorative plaques at Birkenau – after October 1991 – the new figure utilized was not the new one of 1,100,000 deaths as “ascertained” by Piper, but the old one of 1,500,000 deaths as calculated by G. Wellers! It is obvious that the Auschwitz Museum was out to salvage whatever was left of the antiquated Soviet propaganda legend.
The purpose of Piper’s criticism of Meyer
After vainly attempting to dodge the accusation of political opportunism, Piper turns to the principal aim of his article: the condemnation, without appeal – not of Meyer’s arguments – but of Meyer’s technical method.
He begins by attacking any research conducted
“on the basis of an analysis of the capacity of the apparatus of mass extermination, the time it was in operation, or the degree to which it was utilized,”
in other words, any scientific examination of the issues, which would inevitably destroy the legend of the “mass gassings.” He states that
“in technical terms, the gas chambers were utterly simple equipment: they functioned on the principle of a closed space into which poison gas could be introduced.” (emphasis in original)
Well, there is no doubt that mass killings with cyanide gas would be “quite simple” in theory – the problems would arise when the “gas chamber” was opened!
It isn’t a question of the theoretical possibility of mass gassings, but the alleged mass gassings concretely described by “eyewitnesses”: the problems arise by reason of what the eyewitnesses say, as well as what they fail to say.
Anxious that no one should fail to understand the point he is making in his article, Piper repeatedly condemns scientific discussion of these problems. He cites as another method of “negation” the
“attempt to reduce the capacity for killing people in them [gas chambers] to a minimum, as a result of various technical limitations (ventilation or security problems).” (emphasis in original)
The real target of Piper’s censure is any scientific study of the problem of cremation:
“The same applies to techniques for the cremation of the victims’ corpses. The known German records indicate that it would have been possible to cremate over 2,400,000 corpses in the crematoria alone, without taking account of the pyres or the pits where corpses were burned, or, according to Sonderkommando members, over 4,000,000 corpses.” (emphasis in original)
This is breathing new life into the Soviet propaganda figure of 4 million deaths! The expression “known German records,” in the plural, is inappropriate, to say the least, because Piper is referring, in reality, to one single document, the letter from the Central Construction Office dated June 28, 1943, discussed in greater detail below. And in fact, in footnote 11 Piper explains:
“4,756 corpses × 547 days = 2,601,532.”
It is true that 4,756 is the alleged crematory capacity of Auschwitz-Birkenau according to this letter. But even if this statement would theoretical be in accordance with the facts, Piper’s calculations would still be meaningless in practice. Piper is totally ignorant of the technical problems (such as the formation and elimination of slag, the wear and tear on the refractory brick and all parts exposed to the flames, starting with the grids on top of the gas generators), which would have rendered continual use of the crematoria day and night for 18 consecutive months practically impossible. By Piper’s reasoning, a simpler analogy runs as follows: if a car can travel 150 km/h, it therefore travels (150 × 24 =) 3,600 km in a day, and 1,969,200 km in 547 days (547 × 3,600 = 1,969,200).
Piper, by necessity an enemy of science, uses this fallacious system of calculation on two occasions. In reference to the cremation capacity mentioned in Kurt Prüfer’s memo dated September 8, 1942 (discussed below) – 2,650 cadavers per day – Piper comments:
“It should be pointed out that this gives a total of 967,250 corpses cremated per year (and 876,000 in Birkenau alone), or, over the year and a half that these facilities were in existence, 1,450,875 corpses (and 1,314,000 in the crematoria of Birkenau).” (emphasis in original)
In this case, the calculations are as follows: 2,650 × 365 = 967,250, and so on with all the other figures mentioned (for example, 2,650 × 547.5 = 1,450,875).
Piper also uses this “calculation method” in reference to the above-mentioned memo by Prüfer, asserting that
“a total of 1,387,200 corpses in the four Birkenau crematoria during the period when they were in use”. (emphasis in original)
Here he has multiplied the presumed capacity of the individual crematoria by the total number of days of their existence, 2,348, i.e., an average of 587 days per crematorium, which is inexplicably different from the 547 assumed by Piper in the preceding calculation!
Piper then attempts to dispose of any scientific examination of the cremation problem by means of the following observation:
“The functioning of the open-air pyres and pits where corpses were burned in addition to the crematoria in Auschwitz Concentration Camp makes all discussion about the limited capacity for the cremation of corpses, and therefore any calculation of the number of victims on the basis of crematorium capacity, entirely irrelevant.”
Here as well, Piper raises a purely theoretical objection that has no basis in fact. The “cremation pyres and pits” must be studied, not in and of themselves, but in regard to the “eyewitness testimonies.” Piper himself has written that “in the spring of 1943, with the launching of the new gas chambers and crematoria,” the alleged cremation pits of the so-called “Bunkers” ceased to function and then resumed at “Bunker 2” and in the courtyard of crematorium V “in May 1944, during the extermination of “Hungarian” jews. This means that no “cremation pits” were in use at Birkenau from the end of March 1943 (with the entry into operation of crematoria IV and II) until mid-May 1944 (with the arrival of the transports of ‘Hungarian’ jews), i.e., for a period of 141/2 months. On these grounds alone, then, scientific investigation of the crematoria is perfectly legitimate. Nor are the cremation pits immune from scientific investigation, particularly in the light of aerial photographs of Birkenau taken in 1944. Any such investigation must inevitably – and drastically – revise downwards the “eyewitness” statements upon which Piper’s assertions are made.
As for the crematoria, Piper claims that their activity periods cannot be calculated
“since there are no credible sources making it possible to establish either the amount of time that the crematoria were actually in operation, nor the extent to which their capacity was used.” (emphasis in original)
And then he adds:
“Meyer bases his interruptions in crematorium operation on such enigmatic data as to make establishing even an approximation of these interruptions impossible, let alone any precise dates for periods during which a specific crematorium was out of service.”
This statement shows that Piper has no knowledge of the documentation of the Auschwitz Zentralbauleitungthat is kept in the archives on Viborgskaja Street in Moscow – not very commendable, for a Director of the Historical Section of the Auschwitz Museum.
Piper then analyzes the essential points of Meyer’s article from his own point of view.
Prüfer’s memo dated 8 September 1942
He begins with the memo by Kurt Prüfer, Chief Engineer at Topf & Söhne, dated 8 September 1942. Like Meyer, he fails to mention that credit for discovery of this document goes to Jean-Claude Pressac. Piper’s solemn excommunication of Pressac is obviously still in effect.
In my article on Meyer, I explained the sense in which this new document should be interpreted. I shall restrict myself here to an examination of Piper’s explanation.
In particular, Piper raises an objection against Meyer in relation to the crematory capacity mentioned in the memo:
“Meyer’s interpretation of the daily capacity, as mentioned by Prüfer, raises further reservations. Meyer thinks that Prüfer is talking about capacity per 24 hours.” (emphasis in original)
Piper, on the other hand, writes several rather illogical pages to “prove” that the “daily capacity” refers to a period of 12 hours. In so doing, he shows that he is not even aware of the article, in which Pressac describes his discovery. I quote again the relevant passage that I quoted on a former occasion:
“The question of capacity of the crematories at Auschwitz-Birkenau is answered in an internal memo written by Prüfer on 8th Sep 1942, and bearing the heading ‘Reichsführer SS, Berlin-Lichterfelde-West, Krematorium Auschwitz: Confidential and Secret!’ The memo states that the three double-muffle ovens of Crematory I could cremate 250 bodies daily, the four triple-muffle ovens of Crematory II 800 daily; those of Crematory III likewise 800; the two four-muffle ovens of Crematory IV 400 daily; and those of Crematory V likewise 400. Theoretically this gives a total capacity of 2,650 bodies per day, which was never realized. This memo, written by the best known German cremation specialist of the time, shows that the total cremation capacity of 4,756 bodies per day, as stated by Auschwitz Central Building Administration in report for Berlin dated 28th June 1943, is greatly exaggerated.”
Thus, in Pressac’s opinion,Prüfer’s memo shows that the capacity of 4,756 corpses in 24 hours mentioned in Bischoff’s letter was “greatly exaggerated.” Prüfer’s memo of Sept. 8, 1942, cannot, therefore, refer to 12 hours, because in that case the 24-hour crematory capacity would amount to 5,300 corpses, a figure even higher than the one Pressac considered greatly exaggerated.
Instead of checking the source, Piper simply indulges in arbitrary and lengthy lucubrations that are meaningless.
Piper’s interpretation of the document in question is rather fantastic. First, he notes that the Erläuterungsbericht zum Vorentwurf für den Neubau des Kriegsgefangenenlagers der Waffen-SS, Auschwitz O/S (Explanatory Report for Construction of the Waffen-SS Prisoner of War Camp, Auschwitz O/S) dated October 30, 1941, states that the new crematorium intended for the Birkenau camp (future Crematorium II) has five 3-muffle ovens, each muffle of which could cremate 2 corpses in half an hour, corresponding to a (theoretical) capacity of 1,440 corpses in 24 hours. Piper then argues:
“Prüfer’s memo would therefore mark an attempt to modify a contract that had already been signed and was in the process of having its provisions realized.”
He then adds
“that Prüfer’s proposal as to the capacity of the crematoria was rejected”
“The central Construction Board (Zentralbauleitung) stuck to the earlier findings and tested the crematoria over a 24-hour working day. The results are found, as noted above, in the June 28, 1943 letter.”
In reality, the “contract” between the Central Construction Office and the Topf Corporation related merely to the crematory machinery, as clearly shown by the letter from Topf to the (then) Bauleitung of Auschwitz dated November 4, 1941:
“Sincerest thanks for your order for the delivery of:
5 Topf three-muffle crematory ovens with pressurized air installation
2 coffin introduction devices with rail installation for ovens
3 Topf forced draft installations
The order is accepted on the basis of the enclosed cost proposal and the conditions thereof, for a total price of RM 51,237.”
Therefore, not only was there no “contract’ relating to the crematory duration and capacity of a muffle, but Prüfer’s memo could not be an attempt to violate this phantasmagorical “contract,” since the memo was addressed to “Reichsführer SS, Berlin-Lichterfelde-West” andwas intended for the Hauptamt Haushalt und Bauten, which depended on the “Reichsführer-SS” and was headquartered at “Berlin-Lichterfeld-West, Unter den Eichen 129.” The letters sent by Topf to the Auschwitz SS Bauleitung were, by contrast, addressed “an die Bauleitung der Waffen-SS und Polizei Auschwitz O/S,” with the addition of “for the attention of BauleiterBischoff” when they involved matters that were the specific responsibility of the Bauleiter, such as the cancellation of a possible contract. If Prüfer had really signed such a “contract” with Bauleiter Bischoff and had then wished to cancel it, he would have written to Bischoff himself, not to Berlin!
In addition, Prüfer’s memo contains no mention of cancellation of any hypothetical contract. As may be seen, Piper’s imagination knows no bounds. No less fantastic is his claim that the letter from the Central Construction Office dated June 28, 1943, represented the rejection of Prüfer’s “contract,” with a reconfirmation of “earlier statements,” i.e., the presumed “contract.”
There is undoubtedly a link between the above mentioned Erläuterungsbericht and the letter in question, but the link is not the one imagined by Piper.
Bischoff’s letter of 28 June 1943
Piper then occupies himself with the letter from SS Sturmbannführer Karl Bischoff, Head of the Auschwitz Central Construction Office, dated June 28, 1943, relating to the crematory capacity of the crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Piper mentions the initial publication of this document, in 1957, while aggravating the error contained in the letter. The letter is, in fact, a copy, prepared by a certain archivist named Cossens, who considered the civilian employee Jährling to be the signatory, attributing to him the rank of SS Sturmbannführer.
Piper, in fact, speaks of a letter from “H. (?) Bischoff, signed by SS Sturmbannführer Jährling.”
This kind of historical ignorance is really incredible. I advise Piper to read my study The Central Construction Office in Auschwitz, a copy of which I have, in the meanwhile, mailed to the Auschwitz Museum for their perusal, so that he may avoid further embarrassment in future. It should be furthermore noted that the name of the archive in which the copy was made was not “Domburg,” but Dornburg.
As to the letter in question, I refer to my article “‘Schlüsseldokument’ – eine alternative Interpretation.” (“‘Key Document’ – An Alternative Interpretation.”).
What should be noted is the reason why Piper considers that the crematory capacity mentioned in it should be absolutely real, or in actual fact, even less than the real capacity:
“Testimony by members of the Sonderkommando and by former commandant Rudolf Höss confirm the reliability of the data in the June 28, 1943 letter and indicate an even higher capacity.” (emphasis in original)
This kind of reasoning is highly surprising. For example, if we discovered a letter from Jean Todt, head of the Ferrari Team, stating that Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F 2003 could reach a speed of 1,600 km/h, and a few “eyewitness testimonies” furthermore asserted that it could go even faster, this would be sacrosanct truth to Piper. It would never occur to him to study the origin and significance of the letter, to evaluate the credibility of the “eyewitness testimonies,” to study the history of automotive design, the structure and functioning of motors, or the practical results obtained in trials and races. To Piper, any and all such data would be null and void – ignoble technology! – compared to the “document” and the “eyewitness testimonies”!
And when he has to choose between and “documents” and “eyewitness testimonies,” he blindly trusts the “eyewitness testimonies.” In fact, his official position on crematory capacity is derived from these “eyewitness testimonies”:
“As a result, the capacity of the crematoria almost doubled, reaching about 8,000 bodies in 24 hours, according to the statement of a Sonderkommando prisoner, Feinsilber.”
Piper fills several pages with “testimonies” that are supposed to confirm the mammoth crematory capacity mentioned in the letter of June 28, 1943, adding absurdity to absurdity. In his propagandistic blindness, he fails to realize that these “testimonies,” far from furnishing any “proof” whatsoever in favor of the statements contained in the letter, simply discredit themselves – like an “eyewitness” swearing that Schumacher’s Ferrari F2003 can travel 1,600 km hour, or even faster.
Two “technical” arguments
On two occasions, Piper advances pseudo-technical arguments, further demonstrating his inability even to perform any historical interpretation of the documents he quotes.
The first refers to the well-known Vrba-Wetzler report. Piper writes:
“Meyer also cites the Auschwitz escapee A. Wetzler. Wetzler does indeed write that the corpses burned ‘entirely (that is, bones and all – F.P.) in the course of an hour and a half.’ This, however, is pure theory. In practice, the corpses were not burned entirely. The process of cremation was interrupted; that is, the thicker bones were removed from the retorts, and the prisoners in the Sonderkommando later had to use pestles to reduce them to powder.” (emphasis in original)
The text of the report, found in the Auschwitz Museum, describes Crematoria II and II as follows:
“Out of the middle of the oven chamber a gigantic chimney shoots up into the sky. All around are 9 ovens with 4 openings each. Each opening holds 3 normal corpses at one time, which burn away completely in 11/2 hours. This corresponds to a daily capacity of approximately 2,000 corpses. […]
The total capacity of the 4 crematoria in Birkenau is therefore 6,000 gassings and cremations per day.”
Since Vrba claimed to supply the real capacity of the crematoria on the basis of information supplied to him by members of the so-called “Sonderkommando,” Piper’s objection makes no sense. Why should the members of the “Sonderkommando,” the supposed source of Vrba’s information, have mentioned a purely “theoretical” crematory capacity? Even if that were so, the “real” capacity, assuming an average duration of the cremation process of half an hour, according to Piper, would have been 18,000 cremations per day! A little high even for a propagandist like Piper.
The same statement also reveals Piper’s disheartening ignorance of the structure and functioning of the crematory ovens at Auschwitz and of cremation technology generally.
Piper’s claim that the cremation process was interrupted, and that the larger bones were extracted from the muffles, is downright ridiculous. As I have shown elsewhere, in such ovens, the peak of main combustion in the muffles was reached after approximately 55 minutes. Extracting the burning corpses from the muffles at this point would have taken quite long. Due to the cooling of the refractory masonry in the ovens caused by the opening of the doors to extract the bodies, the subsequent cremation would have been conspicuously prolonged.
Incredibly, Piper, Director of the Historical Research Section of the Auschwitz Museum – a man capable of writing page after page on the crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau – hasn’t the vaguest notion of the cremation technology used in those installations.
He is unaware that every corpse was “entirely” cremated: following main combustion in the muffle, the residual parts of the cadaver fell into the underlying ash chamber, where they were completely consumed. In the meantime, another corpse was inserted into the muffle thus freed. The Topf corporation had devised a method of cremation rather more practical than that imagined by Piper.
Piper’s second argument is as follows:
“The underground rooms in the crematoria were used as gas chambers from the moment the facilities went into operation. This function had been present in the earliest plans for these buildings, no later than January, 1942. Blueprints from that date for crematoria II and III feature not one, but two underground rooms, one of them twice the size of the other, with differing ventilation equipment. One room (the undressing room) had only exhaust ventilation. The other room had forced-air ventilation of double the power, even though this room (the gas chamber) was only half the size of the undressing room.”
According to Piper, therefore, “Morgue 1” (the presumed gas chamber) possessed twice the ventilation capacity of “Morgue 2” (the presumed undressing room) – another proof of Piper’s incredible historical-documentary ignorance.
In reality, as I have shown elsewhere, “Morgue 1” provided for 9.49 air exchanges per hour, while “Morgue 2” provided for 11,08; this means that the “undressing room” was better ventilated than the “gas chamber”!
I will not pursue the matter, having, I believe, sufficiently demonstrated the essential characteristics of Piper’s method, which might briefly be summarized as follows: Soviet propaganda, a superstitious reliance upon “eyewitness testimony,” and a repudiation of technology.
Meyer’s reply is about as valuable as Piper’s critique. I have already discussed Meyer’s article elsewhere, and have nothing to add. I do not intend to enter into renewed discussion of Meyer’s specific arguments, but rather, his methods: the increasingly extensive borrowing of revisionist sources and arguments. Of course, he refrains from actually quoting revisionist authors and arguments, even displaying a poorly-concealed contempt for them.
As for myself, Meyer treats me with arrogance, although “his” essential argument is borrowed entirely from myself – in particular relating to the crematory capacity and number of days of activity and inactivity of the Birkenau crematoria and the various points raised by Meyer in answer to Piper.
Piper’s critique, in Meyer’s words, constitutes “the first serious discussion” of his article, thus implying that my own article, cited above, was not serious. But that’s only for openers. He mentions me, but not by name (in the presence of Grand Inquisitor Piper, this would surely be impossible), contemptuously calling me an “Auschwitz Denier” and even distorting one of my arguments! Meyer writes:
“An Italian Auschwitz Denier has repeatedly quoted the document quoted by myself, and doubted by himself, on the conversion of the two farm houses for ‘special measures’, i.e., namely, mass murder, just published (even if with the lapidary remark: ‘there is no doubt that these buildings were used as storehouses’.”
This is a reference to my book “Sonderbehandlung” ad Auschwitz. Genesi e significato (Special Treatment in Auschwitz: Origins and Meaning of a Term), which recently appeared in German translation and from which he has borrowed abundantly, without ever quoting from it or mentioning it by name.
In this particular case, Meyer has “forgotten” to add the follow-up to my argumentation:
“There is no doubt that these buildings were used as warehouses. In both the documents quoted, they are mentioned immediately adjacent to BW 33, which consisted of 30 barracks for personal effects (in the camp jargon, this warehouse complex was called ‘Canada’). The three barracks moreover bore the designation BW 33a [building or structure 33a] of Bauabschnitt III [Building Section III] in the discussion report. Also during the distribution of the buildings making up the Birkenau camp, BW 33a is consistently referred to as ‘3 buildings for special measures,’ so that these in any case represented an auxiliary building site of the barracks for personal effects.”
This demonstration continues for an entire page – which we shall spare the reader – confirming that these barracks were located in Building Section III of Birkenau.
To sum up, the barracks ‘for special measures’ formed part of BW 33a, and were therefore a sub-worksite of BW 33 – a barracks for personal effects – just as “BW 11a – Neuerstellung Schornstein Krem. K.L.” (new construction crematorium chimney, concentration camp) was a sub-worksite of “BW 11 – Krematorium,” and formed part of Bauabschnitt III. Structures outside the camp were included under the heading “Outside Camps.”
It is also known with certainty that BW 33a formed part of the “Häftlingslazarett” (inmate hospital) provided for in Building Section III of Birkenau camp, which confirms that this had nothing to do with the presumed “Bunkers” of Birkenau.
Meyer not only dismisses my demonstration as if I had made an ex-cathedra assertion without proof (a “lapidary statement”), but continues – despite the evidence – to claim, incorrectly, that the barracks in question were related to the so-called “Bunkers” of Birkenau.
With regard to Bischoff’s letter dated June 28, 1943, Meyer writes:
“The original is not signed, because it was only a draft, which was apparently not sent right away, since it was based on the construction explanatory report dated October 30, 1941, which was out of date and contradicts the first practical experiences. That is now proven by my ‘crucial document,’ the letter from engineer Kurt Prüfer dated September 8, 1942.”
This is obviously an indirect reference to my article, already mentioned above, in which I pointed out precisely that which Meyer now repeats; I have also explained the relationship between this document and the explanatory report dated October 30, 1941, so that Bischoff’s letter adduces a crematory capacity, which is technically absurd. At this point, Meyer, in contrast, does not even issue a “lapidary statement”: he is simply silent. He restricts himself to claiming that the information contained in the letter is “erroneous,” but without saying why.
In conclusion, Piper dogmatically asserts that the crematory capacity mentioned corresponded to reality, or that the real capacity was even greater, while Meyer dogmatically asserts that the capacity did not correspond to reality; but neither supplies the slightest proof of his respective affirmations.
In fact, Prüfer’s memo of September 8, 1942, mentioned by Meyer, has no greater demonstrative value than Bischoff’s letter of June 28, 1943. F. Meyer then produces further “confirmation” of his arguments:
“The result on the basis of practical experience is then found once again in a second letter from Prüfer dated 15 November 1942, Staatsarchiv Weimar 2/555a, Prüfer file, according to Pressac/van Pelt in: Gutman/Berenbaum, p. 212: 800 bodies daily for each of the larger crematoria.”
In reality, the letter in question contains no indication of any crematory capacity whatever; K. Prüfer restricts himself to stating as follows, with regard to the two 3-muffle ovens of the crematoria at Buchenwald:
“The first oven has already performed a large number of cremations, the working method of the oven and consequently the new design has proven itself in practice and is unobjectionable. The ovens perform 1/3 better than initially provided for by myself.”
The crematory capacity of 800 bodies per day is therefore a simple – and, incidentally erroneous – conjecture by J.-C. Pressac: Prüfer is referring to the fuel efficiency of the ovens, not to their duration of cremation.
Meyer then objects as follows to Piper’s statements:
“I didn’t mention Jährling’s data of a daily coke consumption of 7,840 kg, although, at 1,440 cremations [per day], using the unrealistic quantity of 5.5 kg per corpse, that data would have confirmed my figures.”
On what basis does Meyer define the consumption of 5.5 kg of coke per corpse as “unrealistic”? Why, exclusively on the basis of my article “Die Krematoriumsöfen von Auschwitz-Birkenau,” quoted by himself in the first article, but merely assumed or implied in his reply to Piper.
We have already seen that Piper, in his ignorance of the documentation of the Auschwitz Central Construction Office, claims that there are no documents permitting a calculation of the days of inactivity of crematoria. Meyer responds as follows:
“On the operating time of the crematoria (971 days in Crematoria I and II, 359 days in III and IV) Piper accuses me of speculation. In my article, Fn.19, I gave the sources. They are based on the following documentation archived in the APMO: File memo of 3/17/1943, on the damage to Crematorium I, Document BW 7/30/34, p.54; Central Construction Office to Topf of 7/17/1943 on repairs prior to final completion, BW 30/34, p.17; Cracks in the oven of Crematorium III, BW 30/34, p.42; Chimney, Crematoria I and III damaged according to telegram to Topf of 5/14/1943, BW 30/34, p.41f.; 20 Oven doors of Crematoria I and II dated 10/21/1943 through 1/27/1944 as well as of 4/3 through 10/17/1944 in need of repair, Dpr.-Hd/11a, p.95f.; 7 oven doors of 6/20 through 7/20/1944 in need of repairs, Czech p.789.”
Here, he has simply appropriated my sources, as well as my arguments and my calculations!
I take advantage of the present opportunity to inform Mr. Meyer that, in the latest version (updated, based on new documents) of my article that was impudently ransacked by him, I calculated 888 days of activity (or, more exactly, of possible activity) for Crematoria II and III and 276 days for Crematoria IV and V. The latest version also contains new archive references, in case he wishes to deck himself with some more borrowed plumage in his next article!
Meyer also uses the figure of 110,000 “Hungarian” kews transferred to other concentration camps. What is the source? Piper claims that Meyer found it in a book by A. Stzrelecki, but Meyer objects:
“For the transfer of 110,000 jews from Hungary to other concentration camps, I name, first of all, Gerlach/Aly as a source, which Piper is ignorant of, whereby he also accuses me of manipulation. He quotes only Strzeleckis figures, but not exactly: Strzelecki names in his lists (p. 349ff.) for May to October 1944 exactly 104,550 inmates ‘who were registered [and] transferred to other concentration camps’.”
It is true that this author mentions approximately 104,000 transfers (for exactitude, 104,820), nevertheless, as shown in the subsequent tables, this figure refers to all inmates, both jews and non-Jews – not just “Hungarian” jews. Meyer also mentions the following note by A. Strzelecki:
“In the period between May and October 1944 several thousand, most probably up to 100,000 jews went through Birkenau camp without being registered,”
but this figure also includes other categories of non-registered jews, such as those from Lodz. How does he deduce the figure of 110,000 from these lower figures of 100,000 or 104,550 (104.820)? The answer is simple. Meyer has merely rounded off the figure of 106,700 able-bodied registered or non-registered “Hungarian” jews who were sent to the Birkenau transit camps.
Criticizing the number of inmates deported to Auschwitz from Poland that was adopted by Piper, Meyer then lists about thirty false transports of jews originating from Poland, which he has simply borrowed from my article on Piper, mentioned above.
Further along, he states:
“In the meantime, the order form for 22 ‘gas-tight’ doors for the disinfestation barracks, two of them for the related saunas, have been found in the Moscow archives.”
Here, Meyer is borrowing from my above-mentioned book, Special Treatment in Auschwitz. He also borrows the following quotation from the memorandum of May 22, 1943, discovered in Moscow by Jürgen Graf and myself:
“In addition there came very recently the solution of the Jewish question, for which the precondition for the accommodation of at first 60,000 inmates, which grew to 100,000 in a short period of time, must be created. The inmates of the camp are predominantly intended for the heavy industry expanding in the adjacent areas. The sphere of interest of the camp includes various armaments factories, for which the manpower is to be regularly made available.”
This document, unknown and unpublished, was published for the first time by myself, as was the document relating to the 22 “gas-tight” doors.
Meyer also borrows my argument, set forth above, relating to the ventilation of the “morgues” 1 and 2, in which I said:
“According to the Topf invoice dated 22.2.1943 (Moscow Archives 502-1-327) the undressing cellar had a rotary current motor of 5.5 hp for ventilation, the B-cellar had two rotary current motors of 3.5 hp each for air intake and ventilation. According to this, the (technically downright counterproductive) ventilation of the B cellar intended for the mass murders by gas were weaker than those in the cellar intended for the undressing of the victims, which was twice as large.”
Here he has simply substituted – in a rather oversimplified way – the number of air exchanges, which I had already calculated, by the performance of the motors, which he found in the photocopy of the above mentioned invoice published by myself; but the result is the same: he simply borrows my arguments and conclusion:
“Thus the gas chamber was less ventilated than the changing room!”
One of Meyer’s more random arguments is that of the merely experimental use – in practice, the non-use – for homicidal purposes, of the presumed gas chambers in the crematoria: he is unable to reply to Piper’s objection, except to say that
“real showers and disinfestation ovens were installed in the crematoria.”
Here, he simply makes a travesty of what I wrote in my article “Leichenkeller von Birkenau: Luftschutzräume oder Entwesungskammern?” (The Birkenau Morgues: Air Raid Shelter or Disinfestation Chamber?), which contains, in particular, a paragraph entitled “Documents with references to hygienic-sanitary installations in the crematoria of Birkenau.”
Unfortunately, Meyer did not have the opportunity to read my article “Die Leichenkeller der Krematorien von Birkenau im Lichte der Dokumente” (The Morgues of the Birkenau Cremtoria in the Light of the Documents), published in the December 2003 edition of the German periodical Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, after Meyer had already published his reply. But there is no need to despair: no doubt, in his next article he will once again borrow my arguments and documents, including exact archive references, but without any mention of me or of my article.
The cat-fight between Piper and Meyer nevertheless gives rise to hope for two reasons: both Piper with his crude Soviet propaganda and Meyer with his crude pseudo-revisionism pay tribute to revisionist methods and arguments.
A major rediscovery made by myself after finishing the above article compels me to add this postscript. I shall briefly recall the underlying facts. In his recent book, Robert Jan van Pelt reproduces the English translation of a long extract from the Höß trial (March 11-29, 1947), according to which the former Commandant at Auschwitz stated, among other things, as follows:
“No improvements could be made to the crematoria. After eight to ten hours of operation the crematoria were unfit for further use. It was impossible to operate them continuously.”
Fritjof Meyer has described this information as “no less than sensational in nature,” raising it to the status of a basis for revision of the number of deaths at Auschwitz (together with Kurt Prüfer’s letter of 8 September 1942 discovered by Jean-Claude Pressac):
“A second surprising piece of information is provided by van Pelt now with the publication of a testimony from the cross-examination of Höss before the court of Cracow in 1947: ‘After eight or ten hours operation the crematoria were unfit for further use. It was impossible to keep them in operation continuously.”
Meyer therefore assumes an average duration of 9 hours of crematory activity and uses this assumption as the basis for all his calculations, with the consequences described in my article “Auschwitz. Fritjof Meyer’s New Revisions.” Here, in regard to this extraordinary piece of information, I noted:
“This alleged statement by Rudolf Höss could be the result of a misunderstanding or a mistake in translation.”
Only recently, among my papers, I found the Polish text of the statement by Rudolf Höß, which reads as follows:
“W kremariacł nie można było zaprowadzić żadnych ulepszeń. Krematoria po zużytkowaniu dla spalenia w ciągu 8 do 10 tygodni same przez się były niezdatne do dalszego użytku, tak że było rzeczą niemożliwą przeprowadzać w tym poszczególnych krematoriach pracę ciągłą.”
Translated literally, this states:
“No improvement could be made to the cremation process. The crematoria, after use for cremation over a period of 8-10 weeks, became unsuitable for further use, so that it was impossible to carry on continual use in these individual crematoria.”
R.J. van Pelt’s translation therefore contains an error (“hours” instead of “weeks”) that radically alters the meaning of the statement and completely invalidates Meyer’s assumption and calculation.
The most incredible thing in this matter, though, is Piper’s attitude. Piper replies as follows:
“The contention that the operation of the crematoria was limited to nine hours per day is contradicted by camp documents and accounts by witnesses including Rudolf Höss, which indicate that in fact, when the need arose, the crematoria functioned 24 hours per day.” (emphasis in original)
Piper therefore endorses the accuracy of Höß’ statement as quoted by R.J. van Pelt and borrowed by Meyer. This means that Piper never made the slightest effort to check the source, even though he is the person best-equipped to perform such a check.