The Holocaust Historiography Project

Witnesses at Auschwitz

Introduction

We shall designate here as a "witness" any person who has affirmed, certified, or attested to having seen a homicidal gas chamber or a homicidal gassing in those camps. We shall make a distinction between two categories of witnesses: the judiciary witness and the media witness (a witness may on occasion be both a judiciary witness and a media witness). The judiciary witness is one who has been called to testify in court as to a fact: he has taken an oath; he has been questioned. The media witness has given testimony in a book, on the radio, on television, or by any other means of communication (media).

According to popular belief, the witnesses of one or the other category are very numerous; their testimonies are precise, essentially corroborate each other, and have been verified. How is it in reality?

The reality is different. But it was 1985 before many people realized it.

Before 1985

Before 1985, media witnesses were relatively numerous and judiciary witness relatively rare despite the abundance of trials concerning the two concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. And though it has generally gone unnoticed, the remarkable fact is that no judiciary witness had ever been cross-examined on the materiality of the reported facts (description of the weapon of the crime or description of the procedure in the use of that weapon); and no expert's report had ever been completed on the weapon of the crime, hence no testimony ever verified with regard to the contents and the conclusions of such a report.

The media witnesses have offered vague and contradictory evidence, some of which has been denounced as false or erroneous by authors who themselves nonetheless believe in the gas chambers.

In 1985

In 1985, at the first trial of Ernst Zündel in Toronto (Canada), the public prosecutor called two witnesses: Arnold Friedmann and Dr. Rudolf Vrba. The first was representative of the usual judiciary witness, while the second was a key figure and one of seminal importance in the history of the "genocide of the Jews": he, along with another Jew, had been the originator of the "Protocols of Auschwitz" or War Refugee Board Report published in Washington in November of 1944. That Report figured as the key document in the trials held by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, as well as in the briefs of the American trials concerning the two concentration camps. It attested to the existence and the use of homicidal gas chambers in Birkenau.

Breaking with a judiciary usage of some forty years, attorney Douglas Christie, relying on data furnished by Professor Faurisson and assisted by the latter during the cross-examinations, minutely cross-examined these two witnesses. In the end the two witnesses broke down: the one confessing that he had spoken only from hearsay and the other admitting that he had called upon "poetic license" in his writings.

In the second trial, in 1988, of Zündel (a trial still longer than the preceding one: four months instead of seven weeks), the public prosecutor forwent the calling of witnesses.

Since 1985

Since 1985, in the light of the first Zündel trial (1985) and the direct inferences drawn from it at the second Zündel trial (1988), the courts of the entire world have avoided calling witnesses on the homicidal gas chambers or homicidal gassings at Auschwitz and Birkenau.

The media witnesses have continued to make themselves heard, but their evidence has become still more vague; and some of their testimony has been denounced as false or erroneous by authors who believe nonetheless in the homicidal gas chambers.

Conclusion

The authors who believe however that there were homicidal gas chambers in these two concentration camps have had to admit, step by step since the end of the war, that there had been no order by Hitler to physically exterminate the Jews, that there had been no plan for that physical extermination (even at Berlin-Wannsee), no instructions, no supervisory measures, no budget. They are forced to admit that there has been no expert's report on the weapon of the crime confirming the existence and the operation of homicidal gas chambers (at Auschwitz and Birkenau or at any of the other concentration camps, labor or transit). They are compelled to admit that there is no autopsy report establishing that a prisoner had ever been killed by poison gas.

It remains for them to wonder if even a single witness to this crime ever really existed, whether a judiciary witness or a media witness, or if the witnesses of this crime at Auschwitz and at Birkenau are no more truthful that the witnesses of the same crime at Dachau (in the case of Dachau, it was not until 1960 that the historians and the judges admitted that when all was said and done, despite the supposed proofs and the supposed witnesses, there had never been any homicidal gassings there).

The very fact that we are still today unable to show by a mock-up that is scientific in character what a homicidal gas chamber at Auschwitz or Birkenau could have been and how it could have worked can be explained by the utter absence of the elements that would enable us to make such a mock-up: material, documentary, criminalistic, and testimonial elements.

R. Faurisson
10 November 1993


The witnesses of the Auschwitz gas chambers

Summary: Testimony should always be verified. There are two essential means of verifying testimony in a criminal matter: comparison of the testimony with the material evidence (especially with the expert's report on the weapon used in the crime) and the detailed cross-examination of the witness on what he claims to have seen. However, in the trials wherein the homicidal gas chambers of Auschwitz have figured, no magistrate or attorney ever called for an expert's report of any kind on the weapon of the crime; moreover, no attorney cross-examined the witnesses, requiring them to describe accurately even a single one of these chemical slaughterhouses. Or so it was until 1985. When finally, at Toronto in 1985, in the first Zündel trial, witnesses were cross-examined on these matters, their rout was total. Because of that resounding defeat and on account of others before and after 1985, the defenders of the thesis of the extermination of the Jews began to abandon a history of Auschwitz based essentially on witness testimony, and at present they are endeavoring to substitute for it a scientific, or at least seemingly scientific account based on the study of facts and proofs. The "testimonial history" of Auschwitz in the manner of Elie Wiesel and Claude Lanzmann is discredited. It has had its day. It remains for the exterminationists to attempt to work, as do the revisionists, on the basis of facts and proofs.

In the present study, "gas chambers" is to be understood in the sense of "homicidal gas chambers" or "Nazi gas chambers." "Auschwitz" must be taken to include Auschwitz I or Auschwitz base camp as well as Auschwitz II or Birkenau. Finally, by "gas chamber witnesses" I mean either those who claim to have witnessed a homicidal gassing in such places or those who merely say that they have seen or perceived a homicidal gas chamber. Lastly, by "witnesses" I mean those whom we customarily designate as such, whether we are speaking of judiciary witnesses or media witnesses; the first have expressed themselves under oath at the bar of a court of justice, while the second have borne witness in books, articles, films, on television or on the radio. It goes without saying that some witnesses have in turn been both judiciary and media witnesses.

This study is devoid of any psychological or sociological consideration of the testimony concerning the Auschwitz gas chambers, just as it does not consider the physical, chemical, topographical, architectural, documentary and historical reasons which make the testimony unacceptable. It aims above all to emphasize a point that the revisionists have not called attention to until now, but which is nevertheless of capital importance: until 1985, no judicial witness of the gas chambers had been cross-examined on the physical reality of the facts reported. When, in 1985, at the first Zündel trial, I succeeded at last in having such witnesses cross-examined, they simply fell apart. Since that date gas chamber witnesses have no longer been brought before the courts except perhaps in the Demjanjuk trial in Israel, where once again the testimony was revealed to be false.

To begin, I shall dwell at some length on the grave motives which, as early as 1983, led Simone Veil1 to admit that there were no gas chamber witnesses.

Simone Veil's point of view

After the end of the war the delusion that the witnesses of the Auschwitz gas chambers were without number gained ever more currency. At the end of the seventies, with the arrival on the scene of historical revisionism, particularly in France, it began to appear to some people that these witnesses were perhaps not so numerous as had been believed. Thus it was that at the time preparations were being made for the great trial being brought against me by the Jewish organizations, their attorneys, and in particular Robert Badinter, the future minister of Justice, experienced great difficulties finding evidence and witnesses. Taking up their pilgrim's staffs, they made everlasting trips to Poland and to Israel to fetch back from there, if possible, what they were unable to find in France. It was a waste of time. Then came my trial, first in the court of original jurisdiction (1981) and then on appeal (1983). Not a single witness ventured to appear before the court. On 26 April 1983, the Paris court of appeals delivered its judgment. I was sentenced, to be sure and as was to be expected, for "injury to others," that is to say, in effect for injury caused to the Jews by the statement of my views in a major newspaper. But the court coupled its sentence with remarks calculated to cause consternation in the ranks of my opponents. My work was judged serious but dangerous. It was dangerous because, in the opinion of the magistrates, it seemed I was affording other persons the possibility of exploiting my discoveries for reprehensible purposes! However, this work of mine was serious in the sense that, in the opinion of the court, it revealed neither negligence, nor levity, nor deliberate ignorance, nor falsehood, contrary to the affirmation of the opposing party that had accused me of "injury to others by the falsification of history" (sic).

On the subject of witness testimony, the court went so far as to state:

M. Faurisson's researches concerned the existence of gas chambers, which, to believe multiple testimonies, were used during the Second World War to put to death in a systematic fashion some of the people deported by the German authorities [author's emphasis].

The court summarized perfectly what it called my "logical approach" and my "argumentation" by stating that for me, the existence of the gas chambers, as they have usually been described since 198565 collides with an absolute impossibility that by itself would invalidate all existing testimony, or at the very least render it suspect [author's emphasis].

Lastly, drawing a practical conclusion from these considerations, the court decreed it the right of every Frenchman not to believe the evidence and the witnesses of the gas chambers. It stated:

The weight of the conclusions defended by M. Faurisson [concerning the problem of the gas chambers] depends solely on the judgment of the experts, of the historians and of the public.

Two weeks later, Simone Veil reacted publicly to this judicial decision—most upsetting for her and for her coreligionists—with an extremely important pronouncement. She admitted the lack of proofs, of traces, and even of witnesses of the gas chambers, but added that this lack was easily explained, because:

Everyone knows [she asserted] that the Nazis destroyed the gas chambers and systematically killed all the witnesses.

To begin with, "everyone knows" is not an argument worthy of a jurist. Next, S. Veil, although thinking perhaps to get herself out of the difficulty, worsened her own case; in effect, in order to support what she was saying, it would be necessary for her to prove not only that the gas chambers had existed, but that the Nazis had destroyed them and killed all the witnesses: an enormous criminal undertaking raising the questions of when, on what order, with whom and by what means the Germans had carried it out in the greatest secrecy.

But what does it matter! We shall make a note of this concession by S. Veil: there are neither proofs, nor traces, nor witnesses of the gas chambers. It goes without saying that in order to reassure her people, S. Veil sugared this surprising concession with the usual observations. Here, then, in her own words, is what she confided in an "event interview" with France-Soir Magazine (7 May 1983, page 47) entitled: "Simone Veil's warning apropos the Hitler diaries: 'We risk making genocide commonplace"':

What strikes me today is the paradox of the situation: we publish a journal attributed to Hitler with a great fanfare of publicity and a lot of money without, it seems, taking great precautions to make certain of its authenticity, but at the same time, in the course of a trial brought against Faurisson for having denied the existence of the gas chambers, those who instituted the proceedings are compelled to provide formal proof of the reality of the gas chambers. Well, everyone knows that the Nazis destroyed the gas chambers and systematically killed all the witnesses.

A choice as fraught with consequences as that of S. Veil's was not be be explained solely by the disaster of 26 April 1983, but by a whole series of events which had made 1982 a black year for her from the point of view of the history of the gas chambers and the credibility of the witnesses. I shall recall here only three of these occurences:

  1. On 21 April 1982, historians, political personalities and former deportees had founded an association in Paris having as its purpose the search for proofs of the existence and functioning of the gas chambers (ASSAG: Association for the Study of the Murders by Gas under the National Socialist Regime); a year later this association had still not found any proof [that is still the case today, in 1993, since the association, whose charter provided for it to continue "only until it had achieved its purpose," is still in existence].
  2. In May of 1982, the Veterans Ministry had inaugurated at Paris an important "Exhibition of the Deportation 1933-1945"; later this exhibition was due to make the tour of France. I immediately circulated an article in which I demonstrated the false nature of this exhibition: neither proofs — other than fraudulent ones — nor accurate testimony as to the existence of the gas chambers could be shown to the visitors; and so Mlle Jacobs, the person responsible for this initiative in the ministry, at once cancelled this traveling exhibition.
  3. From 29 June to 2 July 1982 an international symposium on "Nazi Germany and the Extermination of the Jews" had been held at the Sorbonne. This symposium had been announced as a decisive reply to the revisionist offensive in France, and it was supposed to end with a resounding press conference. The reality had been quite different: on the opening day we had distributed brand-new copies of my Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet in the entrance hall of the Sorbonne (which didn't go off without some risk to ourselves). The symposium wound up behind closed doors and in tumultuous circumstances; finally, at the time of the press conference, the two organizers of the symposium, the historians François Furet and Raymond Aron, didn't so much as utter the words "gas chambers."

I often say that it was on that date, the 2 July 1982, that the myth of the Nazi gas chambers and their witnesses died or entered its death throes, at least from the point of view of historical research. In the very heart of the Sorbonne, people had thus, to their consternation, discovered the lack of any solid proof and of any witness worthy of belief. Beforehand it had been trumpeted that this symposium would put an end to the "foolishness of Faurisson" by producing a host of proofs and testimonies. After so much hullabaloo, such a silence was eloquent.

The written testimony of Fajnzylberg-Jankowski

I mentioned above that at my trial, not a single witness ventured to appear before the court. At the last minute, the prosecution had nevertheless produced the written testimony of a Jew who was living in Paris but whom they had taken care not to bring into court. The Jew in question was the famed Alter Szmul Fajnzylberg, born in Stockek (Poland) on 23 October 1911. The former waiter, Pole, atheistic Jew, Communist, and political delegate of the international brigades in Spain, had been interned for three years in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

In his brief written testimony, he affirmed essentially that while working at the Auschwitz crematorium (Altes Krematorium or Krematorium I) he had spent a good part of his time locked up in the coking plant, because each time the SS were gassing Jews in the room next door, they took the precaution of sequestering the Sonderkommando in the coking plant so that no Jew might verify the gassing operation de visu! Once the gassing operation had been completed, the Germans released the members of the Sonderkommando and had them collect and cremate the victims. Thus the Germans, it seems, hid the crime from and revealed the result of the crime to the same individuals!

This non-ocular witness is also known under the names of Alter Feinsilber, Stanislaw Jankowski, or Kaskowiak. His testimony may be read in another form in the Cahiers d'Auschwitz.2

The defeat of the witnesses at the first Zündel trial (1985)

The important victory won on 26 April 1983 by revisionism in France would be confirmed in 1985 with the first Zündel trial at Toronto. I should like to pause a moment at this trial to underline its significance from every point of view and especially as it concerns the testimony on the Auschwitz gas chambers: for the first time since the war, Jewish witnesses would undergo a normal cross-examination. Moreover, without wishing to minimize the importance of the second Zündel trial (that of 1988), I should like it to be understood that the 1985 trial already contained in principle all that was gained in the 1988 trial, including the Leuchter report and all the scientific reports that would proliferate in the wake of the Leuchter report.

In 1985, I acted as advisor for Ernst Zündel and his attorney, Douglas Christie, as I did again later, moreover, in 1988. In 1985, I had accepted that heavy responsibility only on the condition that all the Jewish witnesses would, for the first time, be cross-examined, and cross-examined moreover quite bluntly on the physical reality of the facts reported. I had as a matter of fact noted that from 1945 to 1985, Jewish witnesses had been given the benefit of a veritable privilege. No defense attorney had ever thought or dared to ask them for material explanations concerning the gas chambers (precise location, physical appearance, dimensions, internal and external construction) or homicidal gassings (operating procedure from beginning to end, instruments utilized, precautions taken by the persons involved before, during and after the execution). On rare occasions, as in the Tesch, Drosihn and Weinbacher trial,3 lawyers had formulated exceptional questions of a material nature that were somewhat embarrassing for the witness, but such questions were always marginal to the central questions that ought to have been asked. No lawyer had demanded explanations about a weapon that he had in any case never seen and that had never been shown him. At the big Nuremberg trial (1945-1946), the German trial lawyers had exercised total discretion in this regard. In the Eichmann trial, at Jerusalem (1961), attorney Dr. Robert Servatius had not wished to raise the question; in correspondence on the subject, he wrote me: "Eichmann hat selbst keine Gaskammer gesehen; die Frage wurde nicht diskutiert; er hat sich aber auch nicht gegen deren Existenz gewandt" [Eichmann himself saw no gas chamber; the question was not discussed; but he didn't question their existence either] (21 June 1974). In the Frankfurt trial (1963-1965), the lawyers proved to be especially timid, although it must be said that the atmosphere was smothering for both the defense and those accused. This spectacular trial will forever be a blot on the escutcheon of the German judge and person of Hans Hofmeyer, first Landgerichtsdirektor, then Senatspräsident. During more than 180 sessions, the judges and the jury, the public prosecutor and the plaintiffs, the accused and their lawyers, as well as journalists from all over the world, accepted it without protest when, as the one and only physical representation of the "weapon of the crime," they were furnished nothing but a map of the Auschwitz camp and a map of the Birkenau camp in which, at the site of the alleged homicidal gas chambers, there were five tiny geometric figures with the words, for Auschwitz, "Altes Krematorium" and, for Birkenau, "Krematorium II," "Krematorium III," "Krematorium IV," and "Krematorium V"! These maps4 were exhibited in the courtroom. Among the revisionists, the Frankfurt trial has often been compared to the witchcraft trials of the years 1450-1650. However, in those trials, sometimes at least an effort was made to describe or to draw the witches' Sabbath. In the Frankfurt trial, even among the trial lawyers who gave a witness like Filip Müller a bad time, not one of them ever asked a Jewish witness or a penitent German prisoner at the bar to describe for him in detail what he claimed to have seen. Despite two visits of the court to the scene of the crime in Auschwitz, along with some German lawyers, not a single one of the latter, it seems, demanded a technical explanation or a criminology expert's report on the weapon used in the crime. On the contrary, one of them, Anton Reiners, a Frankfurt attorney, carried complaisance so far that he had the press take a picture of him in the act of lifting the lid of the trapdoor through which, it was said, the SS poured the granules of Zyklon B into the alleged gas chamber of Auschwitz.

Therefore, at Toronto in 1985, I had definitely made up my mind to put an end to these anomalies, to break the taboo and, to begin with, to ask the experts and the Jewish witnesses—or rather, to have the intermediary D. Christie ask them—the questions that are normally asked in any trial where one is supposed to establish whether a crime has been committed and, if so, by whom, when and how. Happily for me, Zündel accepted my conditions and D. Christie consented to adopt that line of conduct and to put to the experts and the witnesses the questions I prepared for him. I was convinced that in this way everything could change, and that the veil woven of so much false testimony would thereby be torn. For all that, I didn't count on the acquittal of E. Zündel, and we were resigned to paying the price of our boldness, but I had the hope that with the aid of this man of character and penetrating vision, and thanks to his intrepid lawyer, history, if not justice, would finally triumph over the legend.

From the moment of the first cross-examination, an atmosphere of panic began to stir amind the ranks of the prosecution. Every evening and during a large part of the night, I would prepare the questions to be asked. In the morning, I would send these questions, together with the necessary documents, to attorney Doug Christie, who, for his part and with the aid of his colleague,66 carried out an essentially legal task. From the beginning of the cross-examination sessions, I stayed right next to the lawyer's desk and, by means of stick-on lables, tirelessly provided him with supplementary questions to use on the spur of the moment according to the responses of the expert or the witness.

The expert called by the prosecution was Dr. Raul Hilberg, the author of The Destruction of the European Jews. Day after day, he had to suffer such humiliation that when he was asked in 1988 by a new public prosecutor for a new trial against E. Zündel, he refused to return to testify. He stated the reasons for his refusal in a confidential letter in which he confessed his fear of having to face D. Christie's questions again. What was clearly apparent from the cross-examination of Dr. Raul Hilberg is that when all was said and done, no one had any proof of the alleged attempt to effect a physical extermination of the Jews; nor did anyone possess either a technical report on the weapon of the crime (gas chamber or gas truck), or an autopsy report establishing the murder of a prisoner by means of poison gas. But in the absence of any proof, of any weapon and of any corpse, were there any witnesses of the crime?

Testimony should always be verified. The usual first means of making that verification is to compare the assertions of the witness with the results of official inquiries or of technical reports bearing on the physical reality of the crime. In the present case, there had never been an official investigation or a specialist's report regarding the alleged Auschwitz gas chambers. And that was what made any kind of cross-examination difficult. But that difficulty ought not to have served as an excuse, and in fact a cross-examination became all the more indispensable, for without it, there was no way of knowing whether the witness was telling the truth or not.

Jewish witness cross-examined at last: A. Friedman and Dr. R. Vrba

To any persons interested in the technical and documentary means whereby we were able despite everything to rigorously cross-examine the two principal Jewish witnesses, Arnold Friedman and Dr. Rudolf Vrba, I can only recommend that you read the transcript of the 1985 trial (Queen versus Zündel, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 7 January 1985). Pages 304-371 recount the examination and the cross-examination of Arnold Friedman; the latter collapses on pages 445-446 when he ends up confessing that he in fact didn't see anything, that he spoke from hearsay because, he said, he had met people who were convincing; perhaps, he added, he would have adopted D. Christie's position rather than that of those people if D. Christie had been able to tell him then what he told him now!

Dr. Vrba was a witness of exceptional importance. One may even say that for the Toronto trial, the prosecution had managed to recruit the No.1 "Holocaust" expert in Dr. Raul Hilberg and the No. 1 witness in Dr. Rudolf Vrba. The testimony of the latter had been one of the principal sources of the famous War Refugee Board Report on the German Extermination Camps — Auschwitz and Birkenau, published in November 1944 by the Executive Office of the President [Roosevelt]. Dr. R. Vrba was likewise the author of I Cannot Forgive (New York, Bantam, 1964), written in collaboration with Alan Bestic, who, in the preface, had stated with respect to him: "Indeed I would like to pay tribute to him for the immense trouble he took over every detail; for the meticulous, almost fanatical respect he revealed for accuracy"; (p.2).

A court of justice had perhaps never before seen a witness express himself with such assurance on the Auschwitz gas chambers. But at the end of the cross-examination, the situation had reversed itself to the point where Dr. Vrba no longer had any explanation for his errors and his lies save one: he admitted that in his book he had had recourse to "poetic licence" or, as he was pleased to say in Latin, to "licentia poetarum"!

A sensational development occurred at the end: Prosecutor Griffiths himself, who had sent for this No. 1 witness, but was apparently exasperated by Dr. Vrba's lies, fired the following question at him:

You told Mr. Christie several times in discussing your book I Cannot Forgive that you used poetic licence in writing that book. Have you used poetic licence in your testimony? (p.1643).

The false witness tried to parry the blow, but prosecutor Griffiths finished him off with a second and equally treacherous question, this time concerning the figures given by Vrba for the number of people gassed; the witness responded with sheer drivel.

Griffiths prepared to ask him a third and final question when things came to a sudden halt, and the prosecutor was heard to say to the judge: "I have no further questions for Dr. Vrba (p.1643).

The witness left the witness box with a wry look on his face. The examination, cross-examination and reexamination of this individual take up 400 pages of the transcript (pp. 1244-1643). These pages could well appear in an encyclopedia of the law in the chapter on the methods of detecting false evidence.

The prosecution waives the calling of witnesses

Three years later, in 1988, at the time of the second trial of E. Zündel, the public prosecutor judged it prudent to forgo the calling of any witnesses. Canadian justice had apparently grasped the lesson of the first trial: there were no true witnesses of the existence and functioning of the Nazi gas chambers.

Little by little, all the other countries of the world have come to understand the lesson as well. In 1987, in France, at the Klaus Barbie trial, there was much talk about the gas chambers of Auschwitz, but strictly speaking no witnesses of those gas chambers were produced. Counsel Jacques Vergès, courageous but not foolhardy, preferred to avoid the subject. That was a godsend for the Jewish lawyers who feared nothing so much as to see me appear at the side of J. Vergès. If the latter had accepted my offer to advise him, we could have dealt a formidable blow in France to the myth of the Nazi gas chambers.

It is still the case in France that on the occasion of a few revisionist trials, Jewish witnesses have come and alluded to the gas chambers a few times, but no one has testified in the witness box to having seen one or to have witnessed a homicidal gassing.

Today gas chamber witnesses are extremely rare; and the Demjanjuk trial in Israel, which once again revealed how general was the use of false testimony in the matter, has contributed to the change. No more than a few years ago it happened that I was aggressively challenged in the back of the courtroom by some elderly Jews who presented themselves to me as "living witnesses of the gas chambers of Auschwitz"; they showed me their tatoos. I had only to ask them to look me in the eye and describe a gas chamber for me, to elicit the inevitable rejoinder: "How could I? If I had seen a gas chamber with my own eyes, I'd not be here today to be talking to you; I'd have been gassed myself." Which, as we see, leads us back to Simone Veil and her statement of 7 May 1983, and we've already gone over what must be thought of that.

The media witnesses

In addition to judiciary witnesses, there are media witnesses of the gas chambers or of homicidal gassings at Auschwitz or at Birkenau. We think, in this connection, of the names of Olga Lengyel, Gisela Perl, Fania Fénelon, Ota Kraus, Erich Kulka, Hermann Langbein, André Lettich, Samuel Pisar, Maurice Benroubi, André Rogerie, Robert Clary… My library is full of these accounts that copy one another. Paul Rassinier was the first to point out to us how the falsity of these testimonies could be demonstrated; he did it notably, for Auschwitz, in Le Véritable Procès Eichmann ou les Vainqueurs incorrigible (Les Sept Couleurs, 1962), in which appendix V is devoted to Miklos Nyiszli's Médecin à Auschwitz.

In the years from the fifties to the eighties, there was some interest among revisionists for undertaking such critical studies of the testimonies. It seems to me that today that has become superfluous. Let us refrain from flogging a dead horse and leave the effort of criticizing those second-rate writings to the exterminationists themselves, and to Jean-Claude Pressac in particular, since — as we can readily observe today — the fiercest anti-revisionists are finally enrolling themselves in the revisionist school. The result is sometimes quite lively. In October 1991, the periodical Le Déporté pour la liberté, the organ of the National Union of the associations of deportees, prisoners and families of the deceased (UNADIF), announced on the front page: "On the center pages of this issue, part one of the testimony of Henry Bily, one of the rare Sonderkommando survivors." In his November 1991 installment, H. Bily continued the account of Auschwitz experience under the title of "My extraordinary story."

Well, in the following issue of the Déporté pour la liberté, the December 1991/January 1992 issue, there appeared a "Rectification following the insertion in our columns of the text of Henry Bily." The management and the editorial staff of the publication revealed the forgery: H. Bily, in the greater part of his testimony, had simply made:

a verbatim copy, with no mention of references, of passages (especially from chapters 7 and 28) of the book by Dr. Myklos Nyiszli: Médecin à Auschwitz, written in 1946 and translated and published in 1961 by René Julliard publications. Unfortunately, the errors committed originally by Dr. Nyiszli were also repeated; finally, the longest excerpt relates to the description of the work of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Sonderkommando that Henry Bily claims [e.e. mendaciously) to have worked in … It follows from this analysis that it is not possible in any way to consider Henry Bily's text as an original and personal testimony.

The sentence "Unfortunately, the errors committed originally by Dr. Nyiszli were also repeated" could well give an attentive reader of this statement to understand that, to crown the misfortune, H. Bily, a Jewish haberdasher, had copied a statement that was a falsification to begin with. P. Rassinier, as I have just said, had long since proven that Médecin à Auschwitz, a work dear to the heart of Jean-Paul Sartre, who had published extracts from it in les Temps modernes, had to be the most flagrant kind of a fraud. Many revisionists, and in particular Carlo Mattogno, later confirmed this diagnosis. For my part, in my review of Jean-Claude Pressac's book, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (New York, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1989), I slipped in a section entitled "Pressac's drollery [unintentional] apropos of Dr. Nyiszli." In it I venture to refer to the devotees of false statements about Auschwitz, false statements which pharmacist J.C. Pressac attempts to defend at all cost by means of distortions, labored inventions and irrelevant speculations, but which, without intending it, he discredits for all time (R. Faurisson, "Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (1989) or Tinkering and 'itty-bitty gassings' at Auschwitz and Birkenau according to J.C. Pressac," Revue d'histoire révisionniste, November 1990, pp. 126-130).

False witnesses Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi

A few words on Élie Wiesel and Primo Levi are necessary.

With regard to the first named, I refer to my article "Un grand faux témoin: Élie Wiesel"[A great false witness: Elie Wiesel], (Annales d'histoire révisionniste, Spring 1988, pp.163-168; see also "Un grand faux témoin: Élie Wiesel (suite) [A great false witness: Elie Wiesel (continuation)], Nouvelle Vision, September 1993, pp.19-24). In La Nuit (preface by François, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1958), a biographical account in particular of his internment in Auschwitz and in Buchenwald, E. Wiesel does not even mention the gas chambers, but it appears that by some sort of universal media agreement, he is held to be the witness par excellence of the "Holocaust" and of the gas chambers. According to him, if the Germans exterminated hordes of Jews, it was done by throwing them into furnaces or fires of glowing coals! The end of his account includes an extremely curious episode (pp. 129-133) that I have been waiting for years to have Elie Wiesel explain: in January 1945, he tells us, the Germans gave him and his father as well the choice of staying in the camp to await the arrival of the Soviets or leaving with the German troops; after talking it over together, father and son decided to leave with their exterminators for Germany instead of waiting where they were for their Soviet liberators…5

Curiously, Primo Levi has for some years figured in the media posthumously among the first rank of the Auschwitz gas chamber witnesses. He is the author of Si c'est un homme (Se questo è un uomo), Julliard/Presses Pocket, 1993. The first part of the book is the longest and most important part; it comprises 180 pages (pp. 7-186) and was written in 1947. As early as page 19 the author says that it was after the war when he learned about the gassing of Jews at Birkenau; he himself worked at Buna-Monowitz and had never set foot in Birkenau; hence he speaks of "the" gas chamber only in extremely vague terms and only upon five occasions (pp. 19, 48, 51, 96, 135). He merely makes mention of it, always in the singular and as a rumor that "everyone talks about" (p.51). Then all of a sudden, in his "Appendix" written in 1976, that is to say nearly thirty years later, the gas chambers make their appearance in force: in the space of twenty-six pages (pp. 189-214) which, given the smaller type, may be counted as thirty pages, the author mentions them eleven times (p. 193 (2 times), 198 (3 times), 199, 201 (2 times), 202, 209, 210). On two occasions he speaks of "gas" and on nine occasions of "gas chambers" (always in the plural). He writes as if he had seen them: "The gas chambers were in fact disguised as shower rooms with plumbing, faucets, dressing rooms, clothes trees, benches, etc…" (p.198). Again, he doesn't hesitate to write: "The gas chambers and crematory furnaces had been deliberately designed to destroy human lives and bodies by the millions; the record in horror belongs to Auschwitz, with 24,000 deaths in a single day in the month of August 1944" (pp. 201f.).

Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi are not the only ones to have thus "enriched" their memories.

Primo Levi was a chemical engineer. On the shambles or delirium in his Si c'est un homme from a scientific point of view, one may refer to Pierre Marais, En lisant de près les écrivains chantres de la Shoah—Primo Levi, Georges Wellers, Jean-Claude Pressac, La Vieille Taupe, 1991, 127pp.; see in particular "Le chimiste, la batterie de camion et…les chambres à gaz"[the chemist, the truck battery and…the gas chambers] (pp.7-21), the chapter dealing with Primo Levi. Levi committed suicide on 11 April 1987. It was owing to his status as a Jew that he had not been shot when he was taken prisoner by the Fascist Militia on 13 December 1943 at the age of 24. "The Fascists had captured him as a partisan (he was still carrying a pistol), and he had confessed to being a Jew in order not to be shot out of hand. And it was as a Jew that he was turned over to the Germans. The Germans sent him to Auschwitz…" (Ferdinando Camon, "Chimie/Levi, la mort," Libération, 13 April 1987, p. 29).

Conclusion

From 1945 to 1985, the so-called judicial witnesses of the Auschwitz gas chambers had the benefit of an uncommon privilege: they had always been spared the trial of cross-examination on the materiality of the facts they alleged to be reporting. In 1985, at the first of the two Zündel trials at Toronto, attorney Douglas Christie, at my suggestion and with my assistance, was determined to cross-examine this kind of witness in the normal way. The result of it was the rout of witnesses Arnold Friedman and Dr. Rudolf Vrba. That rout was so serious that witnesses are no longer to be found today who will venture to affirm before a court that they have seen a homicidal gassing at Auschwitz or in any other concentration camp of the Third Reich.

The so-called media witnesses continue to flourish in the world of radio, television and books, where they run hardly any risk of being troubled by embarrassing questions. But even those witnesses are growing more and more vague, and they may meet with denunciation on the part of representatives of the exterminationist position. The latter, in effect, are becoming ever more schooled in revisionism, because they realize that they have hitherto upheld the lies of too many false witnesses, lies which end up costing their own cause dear.

Since there is manifestly more risk now in presenting oneself as a witness of the gas chambers—as the Jew Filip Müller still did in 1979—the solution that tends to prevail today is the one Simone Veil had had to adopt on 7 May 1983 following a decision of the Paris court of appeals on 26 April 1983 judging my work on the problem of the gas chambers to be serious, work in which I demonstrated that the so-called testimonies collided head-on with physical/chemical impossibilities. The solution, or rather the evasion recommended by S. Veil consisted in saying that if in fact there were no proofs, nor traces, nor witnesses of the crime, it was because the Germans had destroyed all the evidence, all the traces and all the witnesses. Such an affirmation, besides being absurd, would require proof on its own account that S. Veil does not provide. But it is of little matter. Let us record that affirmation and, with S. Veil and those who in practice seem to support her point of view, let us duly note this fact long since brought to light by the revisionists: not only are there no proofs nor traces of Nazi gas chambers; there are no witnesses of them.

Today, at the end of this year of 1993, the testimonies with regard to the gas chambers of Auschwitz are discredited even among the exterminationists. The history based on the testimonies is beginning to give way to history based on facts, that is to say on arguments of a scientific nature. That is what I had recommended in my article in Le Monde of 29 December 1978 and in my letter to Le Monde of 16 January 1979. It would be necessary to waid more than ten years before we'd see our opponents venturing into the terrain where I invited them to come and try conclusions with us: the scientific terrain. J.-C. Pressac was commissioned, notably by the Klarsfelds, to denounce "testimony history" and replace it with scientific history, or at any rate history that appeared to be scientific.

Claude Lanzmann and those who hold with "testimony history" are in despair about it.6 The revisionists are congratulating themselves. A half century of unverified testimony must now give way once and for all to a quest for the facts and the proofs from legal, scientific and historical points of view.

Notes:

  1. S. Veil, former minister of Justice, former president of the European parliament.
  2. Hefte von Auschwitz, Sonderheft (I), Handschriften von Mitgliedern des Sonderkommandos, Verlag Staatliches Auschwitz-Museum, 1972, pp. 32-71.
  3. On the cross-examination of witness Dr. Charles Sigismund Bendel by attorney Dr. Zippel, see "Excerpt from transcript of proceedings of a Military Court for the Trial of War Criminals held at the War Crimes Court, Curiohaus, Hamburg, on Saturday 2nd March, 1946, upon the trial of Bruno Tesch, Joachim Drosihn and Karl Weinbacher, transcript, pp.30-31 (doc. NI-11953). On that abominable trial, it is indispensable to read: Dr. William Lindsey, "Zyklon B, Auschwitz, and the Trial of Dr. Bruno Tesch," The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1983, pp. 261-303. That article has been reproduced in part by Udo Walendy in Historische Tatsachen, No. 25 (1985), pp. 10-23.
  4. For a reproduction of these two maps, see Hermann Langbein, Der Auschwitz-Prozess, Eine Dokumentation, 2 volumes, Frankfurt, Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1965, 1,027 pp., pp. 930-933. For a magisterial study of the trial, see Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich, Der Auschwitz-Prozess, Legende oder Wirklichkeit? Eine kritische Bestandsaufnahme, Tübingen, Grabert Verlag, 1979, xii-492 pp.
  5. A point that is not without interest: in the German translation of this book (Die Nacht zu begraben, Elisha, German translation by Curt Meyer-Clason, Ullstein, 1962, pp. 17-153), the crematory furnaces of the original French version are eliminated and replaced by gas chambers (in Buchenwald as well). I owe this discovery to the Swiss revisionist Jürgen Graf, and it is to a German revisionist living in France that I am indebted for the list of the places where the German translator has thought it advisable, on fifteen separate occasions, to insert gas where there was none in the original text (see appendix).
  6. See especially the article signed by Robert Redeker which he published in his review Les Temps Modernes under the title "La Catastrophe du revisionnisme" (November 1993, pages 1-6); revisionism is presented therein as the catastrophic sign of a changing era: "Auschwitz" was—and remains for the author—a "mystical doctrine," that is to say a belief surrounded by a religious reverence; now, "Auschwitz" is becoming, he says, the while deploring it, a subject for historical and technological considerations. The article was in the process of being printed when a complete dossier appeared in L'Express on Pressac's new book (23 September 1993, pp. 76-80, 82-87). C. Lanzmann protested bitterly against this turn taken by the history of the "Holocaust." He writes: "Even to refute them, we legitimize the arguments of the revisionists, who are becoming the point of reference with respect to which everyone takes his position. The revisionists are taking up the entire terrain." (Le Nouvel Observateur, 30 September 1993, p. 97).