Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers
- Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers. Jean-Claude Pressac. New York: The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation; 1989.
Jean-Claude Pressac’s massive study of the homicidal gas chambers of Auschwitz and Birkenau appeared two years ago. Had it actually presented the slightest proof for the existence of the alleged gas chambers, media throughout the entire world would have resounded with the news. But instead of an uproar, there has been silence. The explanation for this silence lies in the fact that the author, far from presenting the expected proof, has unintentionally proved that the Revisionists were correct to conclude from their research that the gas chambers were only mythical. As will be seen, the Pressac book is a calamity for the Exterminationists, a windfall for the Revisionists.
Since 1978, there have been innumerable books, documents, and films supposed to prove, once and for all, the reality of the Hitlerian gas chambers. For their part, the professors and researchers, who made the rounds from conferences on the “Holocaust” to colloquia on the Shoah, promised us that, on this subject, we were about to hear the last word. But when all was said and done, nothing surfaced in fulfillment of the expectations that had been created. Nothing. Ever.
Nevertheless, the appearance of these books, documents, and films as well as the staging of the conferences and colloquia were usually accompanied by an ephemeral media brouhaha or the appearance of intellectual ferment, as if something new had actually been produced. The fever fell rapidly, but for some days at least the illusion of an event had been created. Nothing of the sort with Pressac’s book. This time the silence was shattering. A single journalist remarked upon the book: Richard Bernstein, whose article appeared in The New York Times of 18 December 1989 (section C, page 11, 14). The title of this article and the photograph taken from Pressac to illustrate it are indicative of the reporter’s confusion. The headline reads: “A new book is said to refute Revisionist view of Holocaust.”
The photograph shows a wooden door with a metal frame and, in the center, a peephole; moreover, one sees chalked on the door German and Russian words. The Times caption reads:
A photograph of a gas chamber door from the book “Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of Gas Chambers.” A warning written on the door after the camp’s liberation reads “Attention! Danger! No entry!"
The journalist is honest enough to stress that the writing on the door stems from after the war but doesn’t reveal to the reader that this photograph is presented by Pressac himself in the chapter on gas chambers for disinfection (page 50). Truth to tell, the unfortunate journalist could have found none better: among the hundreds of photographs and documents in this tedious tome, it is impossible to find a single one that could be decently presented as proof of the existence of a single gas chamber.
In a different edition of The New York Times published on the same date, an identical article (Section B, page 1, 4) appeared under a different title: “Auschwitz: A Doubter Verifies the Horror.”
This time, Bernstein chose a photograph of a blueprint of a crematorium and a photograph of prisoners carrying their shoes after showering. The first photograph comes from page 141 of the book, on which the blueprint is said to concern a crematorium with a homicidal gas chamber. The second photograph is taken from page 80, where the naked men are said to be prisoners who, with their shoes in hand, are leaving the shower room for the “drying room; clean side,” both rooms in a large installation for showering and disinfection.
The contents of this article would bear reproduction in full for its author’s circumspection regarding Pressac. And, as we have seen, none of the three photographs supports the thesis of an extermination in gas chambers.
In France there has been brief mention, here and there, of the Pressac book, with the air of a drowning man’s last grasp at a straw. In this regard, the case of Pierre Vidal-Naquet is heart-rending. This professor has, in recent years, championed two authors whom he counted on to answer the Revisionists: Arno Mayer and Jean-Claude Pressac, or, as he described them, an American Jewish historian “teaching at the very elitist Princeton University” and a Frenchman, “suburban pharmacist, trained in and practicing chemistry.” (Arno Mayer. La “Solution finale” dans l'histoire. Preface by Pierre Vidal-Naquet, La Découverte, 1990, page viii).
His colleague and friend Arno Mayer had just done him a nasty turn by writing:
Sources for the study of the gas chambers are at once rare and unreliable. (English original text: Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?: The Final Solution” in History. New York: Pantheon; 1988; page 362).
Which led Pierre Vidal-Naquet to write:
Nobody at all, from now on — I mean after Jean Claude Pressac’s book — will be able any longer to speak, regarding the gas chambers of Auschwitz, like Mayer of “rare and unreliable” sources. (French edition, page ix)
But what Vidal-Naquet prefers to ignore is that Pressac, too, has unintentionally made a fool of him (see note on below).
Neither Arno Mayer nor Jean-Claude Pressac has succeeded in discovering the slightest proof of the existence of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz or at Birkenau.
An author and a book that are concealed from us
So, J. C. Pressac is a pharmacist. He practices in the Parisian suburbs, at La Ville du Bois (Essonne). Around 1979-1980, he first offered his services to the Revisionists, who ended up in dismissing him; about 1981-1982, he beseeched Georges Wellers, director of Le Monde Juif, who finally sent him on his way; then he presented his services to the Klarsfelds, who still use him today, but in an odd manner. Serge and Beate Klarsfeld have not published his book in its original French version, but in an English translation in America. It is unobtainable from the indicated address: The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 515 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10002. One might say that this odd work has been placed under lock and key, in a few tabernacles, and is accessible only to a handful of the elect. In January 1990 I was able to obtain a copy by chance.
In October 1990, during my trip to Washington, I visited those two sanctuaries of international research, the Library of Congress and the National Archives, and, out of simple curiosity, asked to see the book. Impossible: it was, to be sure, listed in the general catalogue, but oddly absent from the shelves, with no one able to explain its absence.
When Pressac, who has a burning desire to speak on the radio and at conferences, makes an appearance, one has the feeling that his handlers are attempting either to cut him short or to keep him altogether silent. Thus he was recently forbidden to speak at an anti-Revisionist colloquium organized at Lyon by the Union of Jewish Students of France and the Council of Representatives of Jewish Institutions of France; a journalist wrote: “[J. C. Pressac], who was present, could not even present his work yesterday, and he took it badly” (Lyon Matin, 24 April 1990, page 7).
His friends have good reasons for confining him to a minor role; they know that, as soon as Pressac opens his mouth, they must fear the worst for their own cause: the whole world could then become aware that the unfortunate pharmacist suffers grave difficulties in expressing himself, that he advocates a horribly confused thesis and that he takes a real joy in making blunders.
A windfall for the Revisionists
I will consider Pressac’s book at some length for the following reasons:
- The work is absurd to the point of zaniness and on that ground constitutes a historical and literary curiosity that the historian has no right to ignore; the author’s mental fragility, combined with his taste for cooking his data, for padding his figures, for strewing sand in his critics' eyes and for making assertions without evidence provides a treat in itself for the connoisseur of eccentricity;
- The thesis defended by Pressac illustrates the state of decomposition into which the theory of the extermination of the Jews has fallen; according to our pharmacist, one can no longer maintain, as did the judges at Nuremberg and the authorities at the Auschwitz State Museum, that the Germans deliberately built vast gas chambers, veritable factories for gassing at Auschwitz, which functioned impeccably for years; for Pressac, the Germans tinkered with innocent rooms to transform them, for better or worse, into homicidal gas chambers (in the case of two large crematoria) and carried out improvised and episodic gassings (in the case of two other crematoria); in short, to use expressions I've heard many times from the mouth of our subject, at Auschwitz and at Birkenau there was a good deal of “improvisation” and “casual gassing": these words sum up Pressac’s book in its entirety;
- This voluminous compilation is like a mountain that gave birth to a mouse, and the mouse is Revisionist; indeed, the little of substance that one draws from reading Pressac fully confirms that the Revisionists were — and are — right;
- For the first time, an Exterminationist agrees, apparently at least, to a debate with Revisionists on terrain dear to them: that of scientific and technical argumentation; the opportunity to demonstrate the impotence of the Exterminationists on this terrain as well is too good to be missed.
A deceptive title
Pressac has chosen a deceptive title for his book. He devotes not a single chapter to homicidal gas chambers and even less to the “technique” or to the “operation” of such chambers. He never stops asserting that these chambers existed, but nowhere does he demonstrate this. Often I've done the following: opening the book to a half-dozen different pages, I've invited people to confirm that each time, without exception, either there’s no question of homicidal gas chambers, or the question of the homicidal gas chambers is conflated with something different; or finally, according to the author himself, it’s a matter not of “proof” but of “clues” and “traces” of the gas chambers. Chapters are allotted to Zyklon B, to delousing installations, to the Zentral Sauna (a large complex of showers and disinfection equipment located at Birkenau), to crematories, to testimonies, to the Revisionists, to the town of Auschwitz and to the private life of J.-C. Pressac. There are treatments in detail, invariably confused, of faucets, of plumbing, of ventilation, of stairs, of masonry, of heating, and even fairly intimate personal revelations, all in the worst disorder and in a style never anything but baffling. On the gas chambers described as homicidal, however, one finds not a single chapter nor even so much as a single autonomous treatment that can be detached For a second from the whole for study on its own.
Pressac wishes to deceive us utterly; or more specifically, to mistake showers, disinfection gas chambers, and morgues for homicidal gas chambers.
Scribbler’s methods: Disinfection gas chambers or homicidal gas chambers?
Pressac in no way respects his book’s plan. The disorder is general. The book swarms with needless repetitions. The technical discussions are disjointed. The book’s title justified one in expecting a technical treatment, thoroughly documented, of the “murder weapon.”
Because (according to the author) at Auschwitz and at Birkenau there was a considerable number of disinfection gas chambers (page 550) and because such chambers could not, for obvious physical reasons, be used for killing people, how is a homicidal gas chamber to be distinguished from a disinfection gas chamber?
And because (again according to the author) in one document (page 28) the words Gaskammer (gas chamber), Gastür or gasdichte Tür (gas-tight door), Rahmen (frame), and Spion (peephole) are all employed for a disinfection gassing, how are the words gasdichte Tür alone suddenly able, in another document, to supply proof of a homicidal gassing?
Doesn’t one risk, at every moment, believing he has discovered a homicidal gas chamber where, in reality, the German document speaks only of a disinfection gas chamber?
Left with no criterion, without the least direction, we are condemned, from the opening pages of this utterly disorganized book, to doubt, to uncertainty, to the worst errors, and all that while wandering through a maze of heterogeneous reflections by the author.
I awaited with curiosity Pressac’s response to these elementary questions. Not merely did he fail to give us answers, but he confessed his own embarrassment and, as we shall see, he devised a pitiful technical explanation to extract himself from the mess. Here is what he has written:
Since the homicidal and delousing gas chambers using Zyclon-B [sic] had been installed and equipped according to the same principle, they had identical gas-tight doors fabricated in the same workshops [at Auschwitz]. Confusion … was inevitable, since at this time it was not known how to distinguish between the two types of gas chamber … The only difference is in the gas-tight doors: there is a hemispherical grid protecting the peephole on the interior of the doors of homicidal gas chambers (page 41).
The author returns to this subject on page 49 and above all on page 50, as if there he had a technical proof, a material proof of the existence of the famous homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz. This apparent proof is based on two photographs of poor quality. On the left is the exterior of a gas-tight door with a peephole and, on the right, the interior side of this same door with a peephole protected by a hemispherical grid. It is this grid that makes the difference between the door of a homicidal gas chamber and the door of a disinfection gas chamber: it protects the peephole; thanks to it, the victims could not break the glass through which the SS were watching them! On page 50, Pressac is not so affirmative; he writes that this protective grid “makes it reasonable to conclude a homicidal use.” But, nearly 200 pages later, he reproduces the two photos again, but with a different caption; this time, more boldly, he states plainly that it concerns (indisputably) “a gas-tight door from a homicidal gas chamber (as can be seen by the heavy hemispherical grill protecting the inspection peephole on the inside)” (page 232). There one sees a characteristic example of Pressac’s inability to put his thoughts in order, of his endless repetitions, of his mania for passing from hypothetical statement to pure affirmation on the same subject. The reader’s confusion grows when, another couple of hundred pages further, he discovers a photograph of a wooden door with the following caption:
An almost intact gas-tight door found in the ruins of the western part of Krematorium V … This door has no peephole [emphasis in the original] even though it was used for homicidal gassings (page 425).
But how does Pressac know that this door was used [sic] for such gassings?
The Pressacian confusion reaches its height when, at the end of the book, the photograph of a small brick building at Stutthof-Danzig is presented to us in these terms:
… This chamber, originally used for delousing effects, was later used as a homicidal gassing chamber. This mixed usage is an extreme example of the confusion created over a period of thirty years and more by the difficulty of distinguishing between, or the deliberate refusal to distinguish between, disinfection and homicidal gas chambers (page 541).
In the end the reader is unable to understand what, for Pressac, constitutes the physical characteristics of a homicidal gas chamber at Auschwitz, or of even a mere gas chamber door at the camp. It is the author who, according to his whim, decides to class as homicidal this chamber or that door, which in fact could have been entirely innocent.
But, to return to the grill that so preoccupies him, our pharmacist ought to have consulted an expert in disinfection gas chambers and asked him, for example, the following question: didn’t the grill simply protect either the extremity of a device to measure the temperature of the chamber, or a cylinder for chemically testing the density of the gas? (See The Leuchter Report (David Clark, P.O. Box 726, Decatur, Alabama 35602, 1989, page 16, column C, and J.-C. Pressac himself, “Les Carences et Incohérences du Rapport Leuchter,” Jour J, La lettre télégraphique Juive, December 1988, page viii, where there is mention of the “thermometer” of a disinfection gas chamber at Majdanek.)
The confusion between disinfection gassings and homicidal gassings continues with the business of the trucks that left Auschwitz to pick up Zyklon B at the factory in Dessau, a city south of Berlin. Pressac cites “movement authorizations,” of which Revisionists are perfectly aware (page 188). In my Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet (La Vieille Taupe, 2nd ed., 1982, page 49), I reproduced the text of a radio message dated 22 July 1942, signed by General Glücks and addressed to the Auschwitz concentration camp:
By this [radio message] I authorize a round-trip journey from Auschwitz to Dessau by 5-ton truck in order to pick up gas intended for gassing the camp to combat the epidemic that has broken out.
The German words are Gas für Vergasung: gas for gassing. There, and in two other documents of the same type, it is expressly a question of gassing for disinfection (22 July and 29 July 1942 as well as 7 January 1943). In the meantime, on 26 August and 2 October 1942, two other documents of the same sort speak of “material for special treatment” and “material for the transport of the Jews.” There Pressac sees proof that, both times, what is meant is gas for killing the Jews! This is no proof at all. As the general context (three other texts of the same sort) demonstrates, the gas was for disinfecting clothing or rooms on account of the arrival of the Jews who had been deported. The term “special treatment” (Sonderbehändlung) here designates transport (Transportierung) of the Jews (Réponse à Vidal-Naquet, op. cit., page 24). The more people arrived at Auschwitz, which functioned as a turntable for redistributing a large number of deportees to other camps after a quarantine period, the more necessary was Zyklon B.
The six gassing locations according to Pressac
These six places are, first, Krematorium I or Krema I (also called Altes Krematorium [old Crematorium]), located in the main camp of Auschwitz and visited by innumerable tourists (it is presented as if in its original state); then, located at Birkenau, Bunkers 1 and 2 (their locations ar not very certain); Kremas II and III (in ruins that can be investigated) and Kremas IV and V (of which there remain only traces).
According to Pressac, Krema I was planned with criminal intent and the homicidal gassings in the crematorium constitute an “established fact.” But he offers only assertions unsupported by any arguments, any documents, and, in the 38 pages he devotes to this building (pages 123-160), he is content essentially to report testimonies of gassings rather than proof. These testimonies, to which I shall return, leave one absolutely unsatisfied. He recalls, following the Revisionists, how after the liberation of the camp the Poles altered and disguised this crematorium so better to convince visitors of the existence of a homicidal gas chamber. The tricks were many. It was, for example, to conceal some of them that the Poles, Pressac tells us, covered the roof with “roofing felt” (page 133). The loveliest of these ruses, discovered by the Revisionists and reiterated by Pressac (page 147), is the pretended door for victims entering the gas chamber; in reality, this door was constructed much later by the Germans to give access to the air-raid shelter into which the structure had been converted. In short, for Pressac, what the tourists visit today is to be considered an “authentic symbol of homicidal gassings at Auschwitz” (page 133), which is to say an imaginary representation, because, here, a symbol is not a reality and an “authentic symbol” is still further from reality.
In the conclusion to this section, he plays a real sleight-of-hand trick. He appeals to the Leuchter Report as the material proof — the only one — of the reality of homicidal gassings in that place. He says that Fred Leuchter, whose qualifications he cites, removed seven samples of brick and cement and that upon analysis six of them revealed the presence of cyanide; then he writes in bold-face type:
These results, virtually all (6 out of 7) positive, prove the use [of] hydrocyanic acid in the “Leichenhalle” of Krematorium I, hence its use as a homicidal gas chamber.
Pressac omits stating that Leuchter:
- Came to exactly the opposite conclusion: for Leuchter, a gas chamber did not exist and could not exist there;
- Based his findings on physical inspection;
- Reinforced this finding with chemical analyses entrusted to an American laboratory; these analyses revealed that, in the alleged homicidal gas chamber, the amount of ferric-ferro-cyanide was either zero or infinitesimal by comparison with samples from a disinfection gas chamber (recognized as such by the authorities of the camp museum), which had quantities of ferric-ferro-cyanide equal to 1050 mg per kilo, that is, at least 133 times that of the quantities found in the alleged homicidal gas chambers.
I shall return later to the Leuchter Report and the use to which Pressac puts it. Let us note for the moment that our author exploits the report and the chemical analyses it contains to his own profit. Georges Wellers does the same (see “A propos du 'rapport Leuchter' et les [sic] chambres à gaz d'Auschwitz,” Le Monde Juif, April-June 1989, page 45-53), judging that “the results of the chemical analyses were obtained by a very competent and conscientious specialist [Fred Leuchter]” but that “his understanding of the problem posed is minimal” (ibid., page 48). Vidal-Naquet thus took advantage of general credulity when, before an assembly of students of the Lycée Henri IV, in Paris, on September 24, 1990, he stated regarding the Leuchter Report:
This is a grotesque document which proves nothing. Wellers and Pressac have expressed what is to be thought of it.
Let it be added that Pressac states that Leuchter was “commissioned” by the Revisionists, thus implying that these had been beaten at their own game and that the American engineer had cruelly deceived his “silent partners.” Leuchter, however, has in fact demonstrated that the Revisionists were correct. Furthermore, he functioned in a completely independent spirit, as a man who had up to then believed in the reality of the German homicidal gas chambers.
As Pressac admits that the Poles drastically altered the site, it is incumbent on him to study the question of gassing in the alleged gas chamber as it originally was before all alterations, according to the plans that he presents to us, plans which I discovered in 1978, published in 1980, and for which he is indebted to me. However, he hasn’t done so because then he would have to admit the obvious: vast gassing operations, right beside the oven rooms and twenty meters from the SS hospital, would have resulted in a general catastrophe.
The premises could have been disinfected with Zyklon B, as suited a storage place where in particular corpses of those who had died from typhus were piled; whence, doubtless, the infinitesimal traces of ferric-ferro-cyanide.
Neither Gerald Reitlinger nor Raul Hilberg nor Pierre Vidal-Naquet seems to believe that there was a gas chamber there; as for Olga Wormser-Migot, she stated expressly in her dissertation that Auschwitz I had no (homicidal) gas chamber (Le système concentrationnaire nazi ( 1933-1945 ), PUF, 1968, page 157).
Pressac is thus perhaps the last believer in the “homicidal gas chamber of Krematorium I.” At least publicly, for I recall that in private, in the company of Pierre Guillaume and me, he ridiculed the idea. As for Bunker 1, he admits that in the last analysis even the physical site is unknown to us (page 163). He adds that no one has either physical traces or an original plan (page 165). As for the mass graves that were supposedly alongside this bunker and whose odor was allegedly unendurable, he considers them to be a product of the imaginations of the “eyewitnesses” and the odor in question to have arisen from decantation basins for sewage (page 51, 161).
Regarding Bunker 2, there is no more evidence. Pressac believes he has found traces of this house but he furnishes only “testimonies” that he himself considers implausible; these testimonies are sometimes accompanied by drawings; in addition there are vague area plans owing to a Soviet commission (page 171-182).
The factual balance established by Pressac up to this point is pitiful, if one considers that a good portion of the history of homicidal gassings at Auschwitz is founded on the certitude that the Germans carried out massive gassings at these three places (Krema I, Bunker 1, Bunker 2). This certitude, which one sees today as based on no evidence, has invaded the history books and the court dockets: goodly numbers of Germans have been convicted of the alleged gassings in Krema I, in Bunker 1 and in Bunker 2.
Krema II is supposed to have been planned without a homicidal gas chamber (page 200). It is here that the Pressac thesis differs totally from the traditional thesis. According to him, the Germans transformed a harmless, half-underground morgue (Leichenkeller 1) into a homicidal gas chamber. To that end they improvised, but without modifying the ventilation; this is supposed to have remained in conformance with that of a morgue, evacuating contaminated air at the bottom; that would have contradicted the ventilation of a hydrocyanic gas chamber, in which the warm air and the gas would have necessitated removing the contaminated air at the top.
Krematorium II is supposed to have functioned as a homicidal gas chamber and a crematorium starting on 15 March 1943, before its entry into official service on 31 March , to 27 November 1944, “annihilating a total of approximately 400,000 people, most of them Jewish women, children, and old men” (page 183).
Pressac offers no proof in support of such statements. He even states that the “industrial” extermination of the Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau was “planned between June and August 1942 and actually implemented between March and June 1943 by the entry into service of the four Krematorien” (page 184). These dates are known to be those on which the Germans, alarmed by the spread of typhus, decided to build these crematoria, and later completed the construction, but one cannot see what allows Pressac to assert, additionally, that these dates coincide with a decision to gas and an employment for gassing! Nowhere does he reveal to us who made such a decision, when, how, why, what were the authorizations, the instructions, the funding, and, as well, who, on the spot, was questioned for such an undertaking and what it must have taken to set in motion the modalities of this gigantic murder. He states that documents specifying the date of the decision to modify the crematorium for “criminal” ends are lacking (ibid.)!
Krema III, too, is said by Pressac to have been planned without a homicidal gas chamber (page 200). The Germans are supposed to have carried out the same “do-it-yourself” improvisation as in Krema II. Krema III is supposed to have operated from 25 June 1943 to 27 November 1944, “killing about 350,000 victims” (page 183).
Kremas IV and V are supposed to have been planned with homicidal gas chambers (page 384). They are supposed to have functioned, one beginning on March 22, the other on April 4, 1943 (page 378), but to have been scarcely used. “After two months, Krematorium IV was completely out of service. Krematorium V did not enter service until later, but was scarcely any better.” (page 384, 420). The gassing procedure is described as “illogical to the point of absurdity” (page 379) and as “constituting a circus act” for the SS man carrying out the gassing (page 386; see page See The “circus act” of Kremas IV and V below).
It is important to recall here that in 1982 Pressac maintained that Kremas IV and V had been planned without homicidal gas chambers; the Germans had, according to him, transformed harmless rooms into homicidal gas chambers ("Les 'Krematorien' IV et V de Birkenau et leurs chambres à gaz, construction et fonctionnement,” Le Monde Juif, July-September 1982, page 91-131). He never lets us know why he renounced that thesis in order to adopt one diametrically opposed now.
To sum up, if one is to believe our guide, one obtains, as to crematoria planned with or without homicidal gas chambers, the following sequence, arranged in chronological order according to initial date of operation:
Krema I: planned with homicidal gas chamber
Krema IV: planned with (Pressac’s thesis in 1982: without)
Krema II: planned without.
Krema V: planned with (Pressac’s thesis in 1982: without)
Krema III: planned without
Neither logic nor chronology can be served by such caprice and such incoherence.
For Pressac, almost no Zyklon B used to kill people
According to our author, more than 95 per cent of the Zyklon B was used to exterminate vermin, which take time to kill, and less than 5 per cent to exterminate people, who are easy to kill (page 15). He doesn’t let us know how he has arrived at these figures. Here, we are at a far remove from the claims of the run of Exterminationists, in particular Raul Hilberg, who assures us that:
Almost the whole Auschwitz supply was needed for the gassing of people; very little was used for fumigation (The Destruction of the European Jews. New York: Holmes and Meier; Revised and Definitive Edition; 1985; page 890).
One can imagine the consternation of Exterminationists on this point, as on many others, if, instead of vaunting the book without having read it, they should happen to open it up and start reading.
He cannot explain the absence of blue stains
According to our pharmacist, if the Germans used so little Zyklon B to murderous ends, that’s because in order to gas a million men (750,000 in Kremas II and III and 250,000 elsewhere, page 475), only tiny quantities were required, whereas much more was needed to kill insects. Pressac holds to his belief in this matter because it is for him the only way to explain a stupifying physical-chemical anomaly: the complete absence of blue stains in the places at Auschwitz and Birkenau at which, supposedly, Zyklon B was used to kill human beings on an industrial scale, while, on the other hand, one notices the presence, today, of large blue stains on the walls of the disinfection gas chambers at Auschwitz, at Birkenau, or in other concentration camps. These blue stains in the disinfection gas chambers are due to the presence, at one time, of hydrocyanic (or prussic) acid; this acid has remained in the walls where, combining with iron contained in the bricks, it has produced ferric-ferro-cyanides.
Pressac dares to state (page 555) that, in the case of homicidal gassings, the hydrocyanic acid went directly into the victims' mouths before it could spread elsewhere and impregnate the ceiling, the floor, and the walls. The gas was not even deposited on the bodies of the victims, from which it could have emanated throughout the room. This naive explanation amounts to supposing that the hydrocyanic gas, in this case and this case only, consisted of molecules with homing devices, so organized that these molecules divided up the job of being inhaled, each vanishing into its own particular mouth.
According to even its manufacturers, Zyklon B (employed since the early 1920’s and still used around the world today under other trademarks) presents the inconvenience of needing “difficult and lengthy ventilation, due to the gas’s strong capacity for adhering to surfaces” (doc. NI-9098). Pressac forgets that, according to his own theory, in Leichenkeller 1 (less than 210 sq. meters) of Krema II alone 400,000 persons were gassed in 532 days (see See Krematorium II is supposed to have functioned as a homicidal gas chamber and a crematorium starting on 15 March 1943, before its entry into official service on 31 March , to 27 November 1944, “annihilating a total of approximately 400,000 people, most of them Jewish women, children, and old men” (page 183), which implies that gassings of human beings were carried out with great speed and in nearly continuous fashion. He knows that hydrocyanic acid is absorbed through the skin (page 25). So many corpses, representing a skin surface far larger than that offered by the insects and impregnated, like it or not, by hydrocyanic acid, would have constituted no less a source of emanation of the dread gas, which would have gone on to settle all over the room. These corpses would have been, further, impossible to handle in the way we have been told, and I shall not recall here the extreme precautions that, in today’s American penitentiaries, are required of the doctor and his two helpers in order to remove a single cyanic corpse from a hydrocyanic gas chamber.
The ruins of Krema II are eloquent: they do not bear the least stain of blue ferric-ferro-cyanide. Therefore, the Germans certainly never used Zyklon B there in the quantities needed to gas 400,000 persons.
He admits that the Germans' code language is a myth
Pressac opens an enormous breach in the edifice of the traditional historians and especially in that of Georges Wellers when he rejects the thesis according to which, in order to camouflage their crime, the Germans used a secret language or “code.” He states twice that this is a “myth,” explaining himself at length (page 247, 556). He well sees that the secret of such a massacre would be impossible to conceal. Following the Revisionists, he submits documents that prove that the camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau were, if one may say so, transparent. Thousands of civillian workers mingled each day with the prisoners (page 313, 315, 348 …). Numerous civilian firms, located at different places in Germany and Poland, received orders for the construction of the crematories, the disinfection gas chambers or the gas-tight doors. The Bauleitung alone comprised around a hundred employees; photographs show engineers, architects, and draftsmen in their offices (page 347) where — as was known long before Pressac — the plans of the crematories were displayed for all to see. The aerial photographs taken by the Allies show that at Auschwitz, as at Treblinka too, the farmers cultivated their fields right up to the camp fences. On the other hand, it is certain that the Germans sought zealously to conceal their industrial operations at Auschwitz (in vain, by the way). Thus the following paradox would arise: at Auschwitz, the Germans strove to hide what was going on at all their factories (armaments, synthetic petroleum, synthetic rubber, etc.) except at their “death factories,” supposedly located in the crematories.
Unsubstantiated statements and manipulations
The book abounds with unsubstantiated statements and manipulations throughout.
What evidence does the author have to support the claims, hitherto unproved, according to which on 3 September 1941 Zyklon B was used, for the first time, to kill 850 people in the basement of Block 11 at Auschwitz I (page 132)? He states that, shortly afterwards (?), Russian prisoners were gassed in the morgue (Leichenhalle) of Krema I. He provides not a single bit of evidence. He states that, according to the “confession” of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, these prisoners numbered 900, then slips in the following words: “in fact between 500 and 700.” The method is characteristic of Pressac: undoubtedly recognizing that the figure 900 is impossible in view of the dimensions of the room, he “corrects” it, and instead of making clear that his lower number is hypothetical, he asserts that in fact there were 500 to 700 victims. I believe I could cite a good fifty examples of this process, which consists of introducing an unbelievable testimony, altering it to make it credible, and finishing up by according the result of this transformation the status of an established fact a little further on in the text, without reminding us that the original text was changed on the basis of a hypothesis.
Pressac alters words, numbers, dates, sometimes informing the reader of these changes with laborious justifications, at other times leaving him in the dark. Page 18 offers an example of this procedure. There the author sets forth the different characteristics of hydrocyanic acid (HCN, principal component of Zyklon B): molecular weight, etc. Suddenly, in a list of fifteen characteristics, he slips in the following “Concentration used in homicidal gassing at Birkenau: 12 g/m 3 (1%) or 40 times the lethal (or mortal) dose.” By so doing, he gives to understand, from the outset of his book, that the homicidal gassings at Birkenau are a scientific fact of equal standing with the molecular weight of the gas under discusssion; and he would have us believe that the amount of Zyklon used to kill people at Birkenau can be, almost to the gram, scientifically established!
This technique, a mixture of guile and aplomb, is standard operating procedure throughout the Pressac book. Page 227 includes surprising assertions. Without providing the least justification, the author declares that Krema II “was used to gas Jews before it was even completed (the dressing room was not finished) and before it was handed over to the camp administration on 31 March 1943. He lets fly, as self-evident, that that around 6,900 Jews were gassed in twelve day. And he specifies the exact numbers and dates: 1,500 Jews from the Cracow ghetto on Monday evening, 14 March; 2,200 Jews from Salonika on 20 March; nearly 2,000 more Jews from Salonika on 24 March; and 1,200 more the day after. None of these dates is accompanied by the citation of any source other than “The Auschwitz Calendar,” compiled by Polish Communists. If indeed these Jews arrived at (the camp on these dates, on what authority does Pressac tell us they were gassed? The accusation made here against Germany is exceptionally grave and would require a sheaf of evidence of extreme precision.
Repeatedly Pressac mentions “Himmler’s order of 26th November 1944 to destroy Birkenau Kremas II and III,” “thus making the end of the gassings official” (page 115, 313, 464, 501, 533, etc.) but our autodidact can only repeat here, without verification, what leading Jewish authors have stated (with some variation as to the date). This order never existed, but one understands why it had to be invented: in the first place to explain why, when the camp was liberated, there were no traces whatsoever of the crime; further, to make up for the absence of any order to begin the gassings.
On what authority does Pressac assert that Himmler was present in person at a homicidal gassing at Bunker 2, on the day of 17 July 1942 (page 187)? How can he accuse Dr. Grawitz, “Head of the German Red Cross,” of having seen the extermination of the Jews (in gas chambers, from the context) with his own eyes (page 206)?
To begin with, whence has he derived his summary of the homicidal gassing procedure at Auschwitz such as it appears, fragmentarily, on page 16? His sketch surprises one.
What the reader of a work entitled Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers would expect is an in-depth study bearing on the technique and operation of these extradordinary chemical abbattoirs without precedent in history, then a complete description of the process by which a million victims were gassed. But the author evades the subject. He furnishes nothing but vague, fragmentary hints, with the reader unable to determine whether they are based on “testimony,” documentation, or are simply the result of further extrapolations. Nowhere in his book does he reveal the natural subject of gassing procedure. To be sure, he mentions, but only in the context of Kremas IV and V, the procedure peculiar to the gassings in these two locations, a procedure so absurd that he speaks of it as “a circus act” (page 386).
How is he able to write “In May 1942, the large-scale gassings of arriving transports of Jews began in Birkenau Bunkers 1 and 2” (page 98), especially given that, as we have seen above, he acknowledges knowing nothing about Bunker 1 (appearance, make-up, and even site)? How does he know that, when the Zyklon B was poured through the openings in the roof of Krema I, the SS men in the hospital located right next door avoided watching the operation because “at such times it was forbidden to look out the windows” (page 145)?
In what way does a pile of shoes offer proof of the existence of homicidal gas chambers (page 420)?
How is he able to maintain that the SS envisaged the possibility of alternately using Leichenkeller 1 and Leichenkeller 2 as gas chambers (page 303)?
How could anyone serve up the enormity enthroned at the top of page 188 (column 2)? There Pressac declares that the “terrible hygienic conditions in the camp” required enormous deliveries of Zyklon B and that the SS, in order to hide these conditions pretended to order Zyklon B for exterminating the Jews; these requests were addressed to superiors who had “a general knowledge” of the extermination “without being informed of the practical details"!
The 'circus act'of Kremas IV and V
Had he been honest, the author would have begun the section he devotes to Kremas IV and V by recalling his interpretation of 1982. At that time, he maintained to Le Monde juif (op. cit.) that these two Kremas had been planned without criminal intent, as simple crematoria; then, later, the Germans had carried out improvisations in order to transform certain rooms there into homicidal gas chambers. In 1985 the author was still sticking to his thesis (Colloque de l'École des Hautes Études en sciences sociale [François Furet and Raymond Aron], L'Allemagne nazi et le génocide juif Gallimard/Le Seuil, 1985, page 539-584).
But in the present work Pressac makes a 180-degree turn, giving his reader no warning other than after the fact, in veiled terms at that (page 379, 448). Because Pressac is always confused, readers will be unaware of why he held his former thesis (that these Kremas were planned without criminal intent), or what led him to adopt a new thesis, diametrically opposed to the earlier one (these Krema were planned with criminal intent).
The author’s embarrassment is considerable. One wonders if he wouldn’t be happy to send to the devil the history of Kremas IV and V that — he insists on this point — should not have worked because they were so badly designed and constructed that the ovens were quickly out of service (page 384, 420). He writes that at the end of May 1944 most of the members of the Sonderkommando who lived in a section of the Men’s Camp at Birkenau — and therefore, he adds in passing, openly and publicly — were transferred “to Krema IV, which was converted into a dormitory for them” (page 389). In the Holocaust literature the revolt of the Jewish Sonderkommando, which set fire to Krema IV out of despair at having gassed and burned masses of their co-religionists, is presented as a page of heroism. For his part Pressac doubts the “veracity” of this story and writes that Krema IV was only a dormitory site that time and that
this rebellion was an act of despair on the part of prisoners who were overcrowded and underoccupied, who had seen too much and felt that their end was near (page 390).
As one will see right away, the layout of the premises was such that, at Krema IV and V, it would have made a mockery of a homicidal gassing operation.
Let us take either of these two Kremas. To start with, because there was no undressing room, the crowd of victims is supposed to have been led into the morgues, where bodies were already piled up. There, the victims undressed with the corpses in full view. Then they were led into an antechamber, and next a corridor. Wisely, they passed the doctor’s office, then a coal storage room. Next, at the end of the corridor, they were divided up between two “homicidal gas chambers,” each equipped with a coal stove that was fired from the corridor. Then an SS man, stationed outside the building, is supposed to have poured the granules of Zyklon B through shutters on the roof. Due to the height, he had to use a ladder. He had to position the ladder and climb up for each shutter; he would open the shutter with one hand and empty the contents of the Zyklon can with the other. Quickly, he would close the shutter and go on to the next. At the next he would move all the more quickly because, HCN being lighter than air, the emissions from the granules from the first made the operation more dangerous, even if our SS man was wearing a gas mask.
At the end of the operation, he would have had to ventilate these rooms at length and with care. Given the small size of the shutters and the absence of any sort of equipment for ventilation, one cannot see how the operation could be carried out. The doors would have to be opened, and thus the antechamber, the doctor’s office, etc. The corpses would have to be removed from each of the two gas chambers; then dragged the length of the corridor and past three successive doors to end up in the morgue, where presently other prospective victims would be arriving.
In his 1982 study in Le Monde juif (op. cit., page 126), Pressac wrote “this improvisation is stupefying,” concluding:
So, it becomes obvious KREMATORIUM IV AND V WERE NOT PLANNED AS CRIMINAL INSTALLATIONS, BUT WERE CONVERTED INTO SUCH [Pressac’s capitals].
In the great opus under review, he makes obscure reference to his feelings of “1980;” he says that at that time he found that the operation was “illogical to the point of absurdity” (page 379).
Nine years later, has our pharmacist finally arrived at either explaining this operation, “illogical to the point of absurdity,” or discovering that the Germans in fact used a different procedure, one logical, sensible, explicable? Not at all.
He begins by relating that the SS took note of the fact that their procedure “had become irrational and ridiculous” (page 386). The SS gasser had to pour the Zyklon B through six openings (Pressac considers that that there were three gas chambers, the hall doing service as the third!). This SS man, he states, had to go up or down his ladder no fewer than eighteen times while wearing his gas mask.
According to our guide, after two or three gassings carried out in this fashion, the Bauleitung (Construction Office) determined that natural ventilation was dangerous and that the method of introducing the poison resembled “a circus act.”
For ventilation a door was installed that resulted, Pressac assures us, in preventing the west wind from blowing the gas in a dangerous direction and that allowed the rooms to be ventilated only by the north or south winds.
As to the procedure for introducing the gas (the “circus act"), that remained the same, except that the shutters were widened by 10 centimeters. Pressac writes, in all seriousness, that
The method of introduction remained the same, however, the camp authorities considering that a little physical exercise would do the medical orderlies responsible for gassing a world of good (page 386).
Here, as elsewhere, our pharmacist shows marvelous aplomb, telling his story without supplying his reader a reference to any evidence whatsoever. Where has he seen, for example, that the camp authorities (which? when?) decided that the “circus act” was absurd but that “a little physical exercise would do the medical orderlies responsible for gassing [the Jews] a world of good"?
One of the constants in Pressac’s writings is the stupidity that the SS demonstrated by its boasts. He uses this to explain many of the anomalies, absurdities, and ineptitudes in the stories of homicidal gassing. It is curious that he apparently doesn’t suspect that this “stupidity” could be attributed precisely to those who describe to us the activities of the SS gassers in such fashion. Or yet again, because all these operations are supposed to be tinged with stupidity, is it the SS’s stupidity or that of Pressac himself?
Lastly, it is surprising that before concluding that Kremas IV and V definitely had homicidal gas chambers, he didn’t wonder whether they didn’t simply house showers or delousing chambers. I have in my archives a sketch of Kremas IV and V, after a plan that I entrusted to him; I see written plainly in our subject’s handwriting the words “Showers 1” and “Showers 2” at the places he calls the homicidal gas chambers today. And, on his third gas chamber, I read “Corridor.”
Instead of one proof, thirty-nine criminal traces
In his chapter on proof, Pressac capitulates immediately. He is aware of his failure; despite his rodomontade, he admits:
The day when a newly discovered drawing or letter makes it possible to explain the reality in black and white the revisionists will be routed (page 67).
This statement, which he lets slip regarding a detail, could be applied to the work as a whole: Pressac hopes one day to discover a “specific German document” that will prove the Revisionists wrong, but as of now, he hasn’t yet found anything.
He recalls that in 1979 I launched a challenge. I was asking for proof, a single proof of the existence of a single homicidal gas chamber. He is not up to this challenge. His title for Chapter 8 speaks volumes. It reads:
"One Proof … One Single Proof": Thirty-Nine Criminal Traces (page 429).
For my part, I was expecting to find a chapter entitled “'One Proof … One Single Proof'? Thirty-Nine Proofs.”
By “criminal traces” he intends “traces of the crime” or “clues to the crime.” That is to say, as the author specifies, “presumptive evidence” or “indirect proofs.” Pressac tells us that “in the absence of any 'direct,' i.e. palpable, indisputable and evident proof,” an “indirect” (author’s quotation marks) proof “may suffice and be valid.” He adds:
By “indirect” proof, I mean a German document that does not state in black and white that a gas chamber is for HOMICIDAL purposes, but one containing evidence that logically it is imposible for it to be something else (page 429).
And at this point the reader is offered thirty-nine indirect proofs.
Let us return for a moment to my challenge, in its meaning and its rationale. And let us also see in what terms Pressac admits that he is unable to provide what he himself calls a “direct proof” or a “definitive proof.”
On 26 February 1979, exercising my right of response, I sent a letter on this matter that Le Monde refused to publish and which is reproduced in my Mémoire en défense contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire (La Vieille Taupe, 1980, page 100). At that time I wrote:
I know a way of advancing the debate. Instead of repeating ad nauseam that there exists an abundance of proofs attesting to the existence of the “gas chambers” (let us recall the value of this alleged abundance for the — mythical — “gas chambers” of the Altreich), I propose that, to begin at the beginning, someone supply me with one proof, one single precise proof of the actual existence of one “gas chamber,” of one single “gas chamber.” Let us examine this proof together, in public.
It goes without saying that I was prepared to consider as “proof” what my opponents themselves chose to designate as such. My challenge is explained by an ascertainment: the Exterminationists all employed the all-too-facile system of “converging bundles of presumptions” or again, as it was called in past times, “adminicles” (parts of a proof, presumptions, traces). Each of their alleged proofs, rather shaky, was supported by another proof, itself rather fragile. There was much use of testimonial proof, which is the weakest of all because, as its name indicates, it is based only on testimony. The “essence” of the testimony of Kurt Gerstein was called on, supported by the “essence” of the confession of Rudolf Höss, which rested on the “essence” of a personal diary in which, they say, in veiled language, Dr. Johann Paul Kremer revealed, and at the same time concealed, the existence of the gas chambers. In other words, the blind man leans on the cripple, aided by a deaf man. In the past, at the time of the witchcraft trials, judges made great use of adminicles and, in order to condemn witches and wizards, relied on a strange accounting method whereby a quarter of a proof added to a quarter of a proof, itself added to half a proof, are considered to equal a real proof (the film Les sorcières de Salem [the French version of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible] depicts a judge practicing this type of arithmetic). Naturally, one couldn’t provide definitive proof of the existence of Satan and of a meeting with him. It was impossible to prove his existence as one would prove that of a human being. That wasn’t the fault of the judges, the thinking went, but precisely that of Satan, who, it was no doubt thought, was too naughty to leave traces proving his misdeeds. Intrinsically perverse by nature, Satan left at the most only vague traces of his passing through. These traces did not speak by themselves. One had to make them speak. Especially wise intellects were skilled at detecting them in places where ordinary people saw nothing. For minds such as these, Satan had tried to cover his tracks but had forgotten to hide the traces of his so doing, and, beginning there, learned magistrates, helped by scholarly professors, were able to reconstruct everything.
It was no different from any of the trials in which, since 1945, SS men have been tried for their participation, always indirect, in the homicidal gassings. The adepts of Satan, these SS men allegedly left not a single trace of the gassings, but trained minds (the Poliakovs and the Wellers), testifying in their writings or at the bar of justice, have known how to foil their tricks, unravel the mystery and reconstruct the crime in all its Satanic horror; they have interpreted, deciphered, decoded, and decrypted everything.
No “direct proof,” he finally concedes
The “traditional” historians provided him [Faurisson] an “abundance of proofs” which were virtually all based in human testimony (page 429).
He also states that there have been photographs of which certain have traditionally passed as proof of the existence of homicidal gassings, but he admits that not a single one of these can be “presented as definitive proof” (ibid.).
Not a single one of the numerous plans of the Krema of Auschwitz and Birkenau in his possession indicates “explicitly,” he writes, the use of homicidal gas chambers, although in the trials certain of these plans were employed as though they were explicitly incriminating (ibid.).
There remain, he writes, only the various items of correspondence and official documents of German origin, which have, for example, been used in the “Faurisson trial;” but which, according to him, have never formed more than a convincing body of presumptive evidence (ibid).
The list of thirty-nine “criminal traces” brings to mind an enumeration (in the style of François Rabelais or Jacques Prévert) of disparate objects. One sees a parade of harmless technical terms drawn from the realms of the architect, the heating engineer, or the plumber, over which our pharmacist from La Ville du Bois wracks his brain to uncover darker designs. Pressac is without equal in making screws, nuts, bolts, and even the very screwheads speak. It would be tedious to go through all thirty-nine clues. I shall restrict myself to the ones that, according to him, are essential.
Harmless technical terms
But beforehand I would like to call to the English-speaking reader’s attention several German technical terms in fairly commonplace usage.
In order to designate a delousing gas chamber (or a gas chamber for training recruits in the use of gas masks), the Germans use the word Gaskammer and, when the context is sufficiently clear, simply Kammer. A gas-tight door is a Gastür or gasdichte Tür; English speakers use “gas-proof door” as well as “gas-tight door;” this type of door can be used either for delousing gas chambers or for airlocks (for example, airlocks in an oven room or in an air raid shelter). In a more general fashion, a gas-tight door may be found anywhere in a building where there is a risk of fire or explosion; this is so in a crematorium, where high temperature ovens are in operation. I believe that in Germany — this has to be verified — doors to basements with central heating installations are, generally if not compulsorily, gas-tight to contain fire, explosion, or gas leakage. Gasprüfer means “gas detector.” Brausen means “shower heads” (for watering, spraying, showering). Auskleideraum means '"undressing room” and, in delousing installations, refers to the room in which, on the “dirty side” unreine Seite, persons undressed; it is not impossible, but I haven’t been able to verify, that in a morgue the same word is applied to the room in which clothes were removed from the carcasses. Pressac introduces into evidence the existence of words such as Drahtnetzeinschiebvorrichtung, which he translates as “wire mesh introduction device,” and Holzblenden (wooden covers); I do not think these words call for any special comment.
On the other hand, it is inadmissible that at the very start of his book, where he claims to enumerate all terms used by the Bauleitung in order to designate “delousing” or “disinfection,” he noted the words Entlausung, Entwesung, and Disinfektion without taking the chance to recall that one of the terms most frequently used by the Germans to designate this type of operation is Vergasung, which is translated by “gassing.” For example, to stick to those documents cited by Pressac, Nuremberg Document NI-9912, which I was the first to publish and for which he is indebted to me, designates gassing only by Durchgasung or Vergasung; this last word, which figures in the first paragraph of Section III, was translated into English as “fumigation” (page 18, col. D). In a document cited by Pressac himself, General Glücks speaks of “gas for gassing” the camp due to the typhus epidemic Gas für Vergassung (see See The German words are Gas für Vergasung: gas for gassing. There, and in two other documents of the same type, it is expressly a question of gassing for disinfection (22 July and 29 July 1942 as well as 7 January 1943). In the meantime, on 26 August and 2 October 1942, two other documents of the same sort speak of “material for special treatment” and “material for the transport of the Jews.” There Pressac sees proof that, both times, what is meant is gas for killing the Jews! This is no proof at all. As the general context (three other texts of the same sort) demonstrates, the gas was for disinfecting clothing or rooms on account of the arrival of the Jews who had been deported. The term “special treatment” (Sonderbehändlung) here designates transport (Transportierung) of the Jews (Réponse à Vidal-Naquet, op. cit., page 24). The more people arrived at Auschwitz, which functioned as a turntable for redistributing a large number of deportees to other camps after a quarantine period, the more necessary was Zyklon B; as for Commandant Höss, he referred to disinfection gassings as Vergasungen (see See On 12 August 1942, Commandant Höss distributed 40 copies of a Sonderbefehl (special order) drafted as follows:
In passing I wish to specify that, for the reader’s convenience, I have translated Entlausung and Entwesung the same, that is, by “disinfection.” I note moreover that in the language used by the Bauleitung or in the ledgers of the locksmith of Auschwitz, there is a tendency to use the words interchangeably, without always distinguishing between “delousing” and “disinfection.”
In Krema II and III, the ventilation of the area that Pressac dares call a gas chamber, whereas it was a morgue, was exactly the opposite — and he admits this — of the way it must have been if Zyklon B had been employed there. Zyklon B is essentially hydrocyanic acid, a gas lighter than air. Therefore ventilation would have had to proceed from the bottom to top, with air blowing in at ground level and being extracted at ceiling level. But it was done from top to bottom as in a morgue. Pressac does not try to explain this anomaly, which destroys his thesis, at its foundations, one could say. He makes note of it, then does not even attempt to come up with an explanation.
Fourteen shower heads and a gas-tight door
A discovery on which he prides himself, truth to tell the only one which he presents as “definitive” (page 430) before declaring that it “indirectly” (page 430) proves the existence of a homicidal gas chamber, is an inventory from Krema III for 14 shower heads (Brausen) and a gas-tight door (gasdichte Tür). Giving in to enthusiasm at first, our inventor writes on page 430:
[THIS] DOCUMENT … IS DEFINITIVE PROOF OF THE PRESENCE OF A HOMICIDAL GAS CHAMBER IN LEICHENKELLER 1 OF KREMATORIUM III.
In 1986, the magazine VSD had published an interview with Serge Klarsfeld under the title “Les historiens du mensonge” (["The Historians of the Lie"], May 29, page 37). There Klarsfeld admitted that until then “no one had bothered to compile the material proofs” of the existence of the gas chambers. To the question “Why were there no longer real proofs?” he answered:
There were beginnings of proofs which embarrassed the Faurissonians but had not yet silenced them. In particular, two letters analyzed by Georges Wellers, dating from 1943, which spoke, one of a gassing cellar, the other of three gas-tight doors to be installed in the crematoria.
Klarsfeld announced that he was eventually going to publish “a monumental work on Auschwitz-Birkenau by Jean-Claude Pressac.” Be added that the author had discovered the “proof of proofs":
In all he has found 37 proofs, one of them definitive, of the existence of a homicidal gas chamber [in Krema III] at Birkenau.
The interview was accompanied by “the irrefutable proof” in the form of a reproduced document described as follows:
On this receiver from [Krema III] signed by the camp commandant of Auschwitz, one reads at the top of the last two columns: 14 shower heads (Brausen), 1 gas-tight door (gasdichte Tür).
Regarding this “definitive” or “irrefutable” proof, Klarsfeld declared that it concerned
A document which mentions both a gas-tight door and 14 shower heads.
To which he added by way of commentary:
Come, let us be logical, if this was a shower room, why this gas-tight door? The logic is flawless.
The logic is certainly not flawless and besides, as is obvious, here Klarsfeld makes use of a rhetorical technique dear to Pressac: preterition (and what’s more, in the interrogative form.)
To begin with, this interview is actually a confession. In it Klarsfeld acknowledges that, until then, nobody had bothered to gather the material proofs. For his part Pressac declared at about the same time: “until now there have been the testimonies and only the testimonies” (Le Matin de Paris, 24-25 May 1986, page 3). In other words a terrible charge, an atrocious accusation against Germany had been broadcast throughout the world up to that time with no real proof, merely with the “beginnings of proofs” or with “testimonies.” The murder weapon had never been subjected to expert examination.
The text I submitted by right of response recalled that the gas-tight doors were commonplace and that, for example, before and during the war it was compulsory to equip every place that could serve as a bomb shelter with gas-tight doors. I added that the gas-tight doors did not imply, any more than do gas masks, a homicidal gassing.
Serge Klarsfeld, embarrassed by my use of citations from his interview in a text I devoted to Elie Wiesel ("Un grand faux témoin Elie Wiesel” [A Prominent False Witness: Elie Wiesel], Annales de Histoire Révisioniste, no. 4, 1988, page 163-168 [published as a leaflet by the Institute for Historical Review]), blundered by publishing a letter in Le Monde Juif, January-March 1987, page 1) in which he stated that his interview was “mistakenly edited” at certain points. But there are denials that are as good as confirmations, and such was the case here, because Klarsfeld, compounding his mistake, was then impelled to write:
It is evident that in the years following 1945 the technical aspects of the gas chambers have been a neglected topic because back then no one imagined that their existence would have to be proved.
Pressac had before his eyes a typed form, probably mimeographed, in numerous copies. Headings down the side of the page listed various parts of a building (rooms, elevator cage, hallway, toilet, etc.); across the top were headings for different fittings (lamps, chandeliers, lanterns, ovens, electrical plugs, etc.). Both horizontal and vertical listings left blank spaces for additional headings. The form in question referred to rooms in Krema III, among them Leichenkellers l and 2. Regarding Leichenkeller 1, alleged to have been the homicidal gas chamber, the following had been entered: 12 of a certain type of lamp, 2 water taps, 14 shower heads and (handwritten in ink) 1 gas-tight door. For Leichenkeller 2, allegedly the undressing room, 22 lamps and 5 faucets have been noted.
From the juxtaposition of 14 shower heads and a gas-tight door in the same room (part of a morgue), Pressac concludes that he is confronted with a homicidal gas chamber (!) outfitted with dummy shower heads; these shower heads, he adds with admirable composure, were “made of wood or other materials and painted” (page 429; see also page 16)!
The reasoning here is disconcerting. Pressac frames it in expressly the following terms:
- A gas-tight door can be intended only for a gas chamber [implying a homicidal gas chamber];
- Why does a homicidal gas chamber have showers in it?
This reasoning evinces, aside from its innuendoes, a grave error. A gas-tight door can be found, as I have already stated, at any place in a structure in which, as is the case in a crematorium, ovens operate at high temperatures, with the risk of fire, explosion, and gas leakage. They may also be in air-raid shelters, in disinfection gas chambers, in morgues, etc. Finally, Krematorium III could have had, in all or in part of its Leichenkeller 1, a shower or wash room (every crematorium has a room for washing corpses). Furthermore, in another passage, Pressac writes that Bischoff, head of the construction office, requested, on 15 May 1943, the firm of Topf & Sons, specialists in the construction of crematoria, “to draw up the plans for 109 showers using water treated by the waste incinerator of Krematorium III” (page 234); we know that there was a shower room on the ground floor because the plan is detailed enough to show it; on the other hand, the plan of the basement is not detailed and indicates only the general layout of Leichenkellers 1 and 2.
But Pressac must sense the frailty of his argument because once his enthusiasm has receded, he writes, nine pages later, in regard to this same document:
This document is the only one known at present that proves, indirectly [my italics], the existence of a HOMICIDAL GAS CHAMBER in Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorium III (page 439).
Let us observe, in consequence, that at issue here is the sole real proof and this proof is now indirect, although earlier it was decreed to be “fundamental” (page 429) and “definitive” (page 430). Georges Wellers himself, despite his readiness to entertain the most tainted “proofs,” has conceded, since 1987, his total skepticism regarding the probative value of the document disclosed in VSD the year before. He told Michel Folco:
Good, and the story of the shower heads on the form, you know, that isn’t proof of what it was (Zéro, Interview, May 1987; page 73).
As long as one refuses to carry out complete excavations of Krema II and III or to publish other explanations as to the function of these places furnished by the architectural engineers Dejaco and Ertl at the 1972 trial in Vienna, the matter can only be speculated on.
Four 'introduction devices'
When Pressac discovers on another inventory that four “wire mesh introduction devices” and four “wooden covers” for Leichenkeller 2 are mentioned, he puts foreward the hypothesis that the inventory is in error and that it should read Leichenkeller 1 (page 232 and 430). His hypothesis is not gratuitous; it is founded on a material observation an aerial photograph showing, apparently, four openings on the roof of Leichenkeller 1. But he is wrong to present subsequently his hypothesis as a certainty and to decide that the wooden covers belong to Leichenkeller 1 (page 431). If these devices were used to convey the Zyklon B granules to the floor of the alleged gas chamber, how would they have been protected from the pressure of the crowd of victims and how would the gas have been able to spread through the room? I recall that, in the procedure for disinfection gassing, the granules were not piled together or thrown in bunches but rather spread out on matting so that the gas could rise from the floor to the ceiling without hindrance or obstacle; after the gassing, the personnel, always wearing gas masks equipped with a particularly powerful filter, entered, following a long period of ventilation, to recover the dangerous granules, taking great care that none were left behind. Finally, Pressac seems to ignore that in 1988, at the Zündel trial in Toronto, the Revisionists were able to show that, if the four apparent openings are present in Brugioni and Poirier’s work at the date of the aerial reconnaissance of 25 August 1944, curiously they no longer appear on the aerial photograph “6V2” of 13 September 1944, which Brugioni and Poirier didn’t publish. Are they patches? Retouchings? Discolorations? On this matter one must read the expert testimony of Kenneth Wilson (Robert Lenski. The Holocoust on Trial. Decatur, Alabama: Reporter Press; 1990; page 356-360, with a photograph of the expert at work, page 361). The imposing block of concrete that constituted the roof of Leichenkeller 1 and which can be inspected today on its outer as well as its inner surface bears not a single trace of these mysterious openings. As for the support columns, they were entirely of concrete and were not hollow. To conclude, if the inventory shows that these “devices” and “covers” belonged to Leichenkeller 2, it is dishonest to transfer them arbitrarily to Leichenkeller 1 as Pressac has done in his “recapitulatory drawing for Krematorien II and III” on page 431.
Pressac makes use, but not without hesitation, of the shopworn argument based on the presence of the word Vergasungskeller in a routine letter that the Auschwitz Construction Office addressed to the competent authorities in Berlin (doc. NO-4473). This letter, dated 29 January 1943, which contained nothing confidential and was not even stamped “secret,” states that in spite of all kinds of difficulties, and in particular, despite the frost, the construction of Krema II was nearly completed. In fact this Krema would not be operational until two months later. The letter states specifically that due to the frost it has not yet been possible to remove the form-work from the ceiling of the corpse cellar (which isn’t assigned a number), but that this is not serious because the Vergasungskeller can be used as a provisional morgue (page 211-217, 432). For Pressac the use in this letter of the word Vergasungskeller involves an “enormous gaff [sic]” (page 217), revealing the existence of a homicidal “gassing cellar” that could only have been Leichenkeller 1.
Because the word Vergasung is standard in German technical language to designate either the phenomenon of gasification, or carburetion in a motor, or disinfection gassing (translated in English as “fumigation;” see See On the other hand, it is inadmissible that at the very start of his book, where he claims to enumerate all terms used by the Bauleitung in order to designate “delousing” or “disinfection,” he noted the words Entlausung, Entwesung, and Disinfektion without taking the chance to recall that one of the terms most frequently used by the Germans to designate this type of operation is Vergasung, which is translated by “gassing.” For example, to stick to those documents cited by Pressac, Nuremberg Document NI-9912, which I was the first to publish and for which he is indebted to me, designates gassing only by Durchgasung or Vergasung; this last word, which figures in the first paragraph of Section III, was translated into English as “fumigation” (page 18, col. D). In a document cited by Pressac himself, General Glücks speaks of “gas for gassing” the camp due to the typhus epidemic Gas für Vergassung (see page 348 above); as for Commandant Höss, he referred to disinfection gassings as Vergasungen (see page 371 below). It is impossible to see how, on the part of the author of the letter at Auschwitz, or on the part of the addressee in Berlin, a meeting of minds could result in the understanding that, for the first and last time, a homicidal gassing was at issue here. If Pressac, relying on another document, is correct in saying that the Leichenkeller in question here can’t be Leichenkeller 2, he is wrong to deduce that consequently it can only be Leichenkeller 1 that recalls a homicidal gas chamber. He doesn’t examine seriously another hypothesis: Leichenkeller 3 with its three rooms.
To place myself in the framework of his hypothesis, if the word Vergasung is to be taken here in the sense of “gassing,” Pressac must, before jumping to the conclusion of a homicidal gassing, consider the possibility that the word may refer to a disinfection gassing and because (locating myself throughout in the framework of his book) he makes great play of the testimony of the Jewish cobbler Henryk Tauber, I remind him that, according to this testimony, such as Pressac reads it himself, Zyklon B cans were stored in one of the rooms of Leichenkeller 3. According to him, the room of which Tauber speaks would have been the one that, on plans in our possession, is labeled Goldarb[eit]; perhaps he considers that this room, before it was used for melting down the dental gold, served as a storage room for the Zyklon cans (see page 483 and the annotated plan on page 485, number 8) but perhaps another room of Leichenkeller 3 is meant. What is certain is that materials for gassing (Vergasung) were stored, if possible, in locations protected from heat and humidity, well-ventilated, and locked; a cellar was recommended.
Expressed otherwise, again in Pressac’s frame of reference, the letter of 29 January 1943 might mean that the morgue couldn’t yet be used but in the meantime the corpses could be placed in the storage room provided for the gassing materials; in the Vergasungskeller, that is the “cellar for gassing [material]” (as Vorratskeller means “cellar for provisions").
On the other hand, if one makes of Vergasungskeller a cellar for homicidal gassing, if this cellar was Leichenkeller 1, and if the Germans contemplated making it into a provisional morgue, where would the victims have been gassed? Leichenkeller 1 could not have been simultaneously a homicidal gas chamber and a morgue.
I notice on pages 503 and 505 that Pressac believes that I have given three successive and differing interpretations of Leichenkeller 1. I am supposed to have seen this room as first a room for carburetion, then as a morgue, and finally as a disinfection gas chamber. Not at all. In the first case, I recalled Arthur Butz’s interpretation of the word Vergasung in the sense of “gassification” or “carburetion” but neither Butz nor I located this Vergasungskeller that, in any case, would have had to be close to the oven room and not in a dependency far-removed from the ovens. In the second instance I reminded Pierre Vidal-Naquet that the word Leichenkeller meant morgue or cold room and I specified: “A morgue has to be disinfected” (Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet, op. cit., page 35). I added that chemical analysis would be able to reveal traces of cyanide because Zyklon B is an insecticide with a hydrogen-cyanide base. Rooms designated to hold corpses, in particular corpses of those dead of typhus, would have to be disinfected. (I remind here that I use the word disinfection for “disinfestation,” fumigating for insects, as well as for disinfection proper).
One will remark that Raul Hilberg mentions this document (NO-4473) and cites three extracts in German, but avoids reproducing the word Vergasungskeller (The Destruction of the European Jews, op. cit., page 885). I imagine that as someone with a good command of the German language he saw that, had the Germans wanted to speak of a gas chamber, they would have used the words Gaskammer or Gaskeller and not Vergasungskeller, which one cannot translate as “gas chamber” without dishonesty. Besides, at the end of his book, Pressac himself is resigned to writing that the Vergasungskeller document “does not in itself constitute the absolute proof of the existence of a HOMICIDAL gas chamber in the basement of Birkenau Krematorium II” (page 505.)
Four gas-tight doors
On page 447, as “criminal trace” number 22, Pressac cites a document that makes mention of, regarding Krema IV, four gas-tight doors. This time, for reasons that are not clear, he judges that this document does not amount to a “conclusive” proof of the existence of a homicidal gas chamber. This admission tends to reduce much of the value of his initial and fundamental “criminal trace,” on which he cites the mention of a single gas-tight door on an inventory from Krema III as if it were a conclusive proof (see See Fourteen shower heads and a gas-tight door).
A key for a gas chamber
On page 456 he offers us as the 33rd “criminal trace” a document dealing with a “key for gas chamber.” He does so with some embarrassment. That is understandable. Can one imagine a keyhole in a door, gas-tight, to a room that itself is supposed to be gas-tight? He writes that this is “incomprehensible with our present state of knowledge;” but why then represent this document as a “criminal trace?” The key might have been the one to the room in which the cans of Zyklon B were stored.
A peephole for a gas chamber
Still on page 456, he confesses that the 34th “criminal trace” is nothing of the sort, whatever may have been believed. In question is an order regarding “The fittings for one door with frame, air tight with peephole for gas chambers” (Die Beschläge zu 1 Tür mit Rahmen, luftdicht mit Spion für Gaskammer). In 1989, during proceedings brought against me by the LICRA (International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism), LICRA and all the rest offered this document as proof of the existence of homicidal gas chambers. Pressac, however, concedes that the document at issue was a command concerning a disinfection gas chamber, as I had already indicated in my Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet (op. cit., page 80).
Other false findings
“Criminal traces"numbers 33 and 34 ought never to have figured on Pressac’s list of the 39 “criminal traces.” Indeed, he presents number 33 to us as “incomprehensible with our present state of knowledge,” while number 34 proves, as Pressac admits, the existence of a disinfection gas chamber, not that of a homicidal gas chamber.
The business of the ten gas detectors, which he brings up on page 432, has already been scotched on page 371, where Pressac reveals that the firm Topf & Sons, manufacturers of crematory ovens, routinely supplied detectors for CO and CO 2 ; why try to convince us that this type of company, on receipt of an order for “gas detectors,” would have understood by way of telepathy that in this case it was to supply detectors for HCN (and not of CO and CO 2 ) and… that it would be in a position to furnish an item that it did not manufacture?
On pages 223 and 432, Pressac reveals what he believes is a document, dated 8 March 1943, according to which Leichenkeller 1 of Kremas II and III had to be “preheated.” Pressac is triumphant. Why would one bother to preheat a morgue? And he implies that what they wanted to preheat was a homicidal gas chamber. But nineteen days later, on 25 March 1943 to be exact, the authorities learned that such a preheating wasn’t possible (page 227).
On page 302 Pressac regales the reader with an account of how a corpse chute was replaced by a stairway, but toward the end of his book he abandons any attempt to include this in the “39 criminal traces.”
He ought to have pondered the lesson of the Dejaco/Ertl Trial (1972)
I have had occasion to say that the real “Auschwitz Trial” was not that of certain “Auschwitz guards” in Frankfurt (1963-1965), but the trial in Vienna, in 1972, of two men responsible for constructing the crematoria of Auschwitz, above all those at Birkenau, Walter Dejaco and Fritz Ertl, architectural engineers. Both were acquitted. If the scantiest of the fragments presented here by Pressac and, as he admits, already known at the time, could have proved the existence of homicidal gas chambers, this trial would have been played up with great fanfare and the two defendants been crushingly condemned. The trial, which was long and meticulous, and that was at first noisily heralded, above all by Simon Wiesenthal, demonstrated — as Pressac concedes — that the prosecution’s designated expert was unable to trouble the two defendants; the expert “virtually admitted defeat” (page 303). In July 1978 I paid a visit to Fritz Ertl (Dejaco had died that January), in hope that he could clarify certain points regarding the plans of the crematoria that l had found at the Auschwitz Museum. I discovered an old man, panicked by the prospect that his troubles were beginning anew. He was obstinate in refusing me the slightest information but he told me all the same that, for his part, he had never laid eyes on homicidal gas chambers either at Auschwitz or at Birkenau.
It is no secret that I would be delighted to have access to the documents from the pre-trial investigation as well as the transcripts of the Dejaco/Ertl trial. I am convinced that these would include detailed answers on the architecture of the Birkenau crematoria, on their internal layout, on their purpose, and, lastly, on their possible modification. This Dejaco/Ertl trial, the preliminary investigation of which began in 1968 at Reutte (Tirol), is all too often forgotten: it prompted, for the first time, a general mobilization to prove the existence of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz. It marked the first time that the Soviet Union really played a role in furnishing valuable documents, and it witnessed the establishment of a sort of direct conduit between Moscow and Vienna through the intermediacy of Warsaw (Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland) and Auschwitz (archives of the Auschwitz Museum) (page 71). Officials from the Jewish community throughout the world, alerted by Simon Wiesenthal, spared no effort. The two unlucky architectural engineers thus saw massive forces combined against them. Let it be added that, because they were quite unaware of the chemical and physical impossibilities of homicidal gassing in the facilities they had built, their plea was that the buildings' construction was perfectly normal, but that surely it was possible that certain Germans had used them to commit crimes. Dejaco went as far as to say: “And every big room could serve as gas chamber, Even this hearing room” (Kurier, 29 January 1972). Dejaco was greatly mistaken, as a homicidal gas chamber can only be a small room requiring a very complex technology and specific equipment, but nobody caught the error. It was during this trial 18 January-19 March 1972 that the only Jewish “witness” to the gassings, the all-too-renowned Szlamy Dragon, “fainted” on the stand, and gave no further testimony. (AZ, 3 March 1972). Pressac says that he demonstrated “total confusion” (page 172).
The Leichenkeller at Sachsenhausen deserved a visit
In order to get an idea of the several Leichenkeller at Birkenau, Pressac ought to have visited the Leichenkeller at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, that is still intact and which, modernized in 1940/1941, offers a standard model of this type of building: on the ground floor there was a dissecting room, a doctor’s office etc., and in the basement three rooms occupying about 230 a square meters. They could hold 200 corpses. Each room had its own function. One was designed for the undressing and laying out of 80 corpses; the next for laying out 100 corpses; the third was for 20 infected corpses. It is not claimed that there was a homicidal gas chamber in the Sachsenhausen crematorium. Pressac could have verified on the spot that a Leichenkeller, which has to be cool, possesses as well heating vents, humidification equipment, a special system for the isolation of the infected corpses (no direct drainage into the sewage system), a chute (Rutsche) very similar to those in Kremas II and III at Birkenau with, on both sides, steps for the personnel who ran the elevator for transporting the corpses. Finally, at Sachsenhausen it is confirmed that the very word Leichenkeller is generic and is used of the building, ground floor, and cellar, as a whole. This point of nomenclature alone should make us cautious regarding every invoice, every work sheet, every accounting record, which, apparently referring to a basement room, perhaps actually concerns a room on the ground floor. For example, at Sachsenhausen the well-lit dissecting room and the doctor’s office, both located on the ground floor, are described as belonging to a Leichenkeller (underground morgue).
He ought to have done work in the archives at Koblenz
In the German Federal Archive at Koblenz, Pressac could have discovered, as I did, the extraordinary collection of documents NS-3/377, relative to the 1940 moderniziation of the Leichenkeller at Sachsenhausen. The three plans — of the foundations, the basement, and the ground floor — might have been done by an artist. There is an additional collection of 90 pages itemizing the materials supplied and the expenses accrued; Pressac could perhaps have found in these pages the actual sense of words that he unjustifiably invests with sinister meanings when he finds them in the records of the workshops at Auschwitz. By the way, I also have in my possession extracts from these records, carefully selected by the Polish prosecution. From them one can determine that the Germans and the internees under their discipline were scrupulous in entering the slightest order and job; reference is often made to disinfection gas chambers.
He ought to have visited a Leichenkeller in Berlin
Pressac, who in his book speaks more of the crematories and the ovens than of the gas chambers, should have visited the Ruheleben crematorium at Berlin-Charlottenburg to see a contemporary Leichenkeller capable of receiving 500 bodies at a time. (See Hans-Kurt Boehlke. Friedshofsbauten. Munich: Callway Verlag; 1974; page 117; which shows a plan of the above.)
He should have considered the example of Stutthof-Danzig
Toward the end of his book (page 539-541), Pressac devotes some attention to a small brick building that, at the camp in Stutthof-Danzig (not to be confused with the camp at Struthof-Natzweiler, in Alsace), is occasionally represented in the “Holocaust” literature as a homicidal gas chamber although it was obviously, as shown by its external stove, a disinfection gas chamber.
Pressac’s discussion is incoherent. He begins by stating, correctly, that given the presence of the stove, the building was a gas chamber for delousing prisoners' effects (page 539). Then suddenly, with not a shred of supporting evidence, he declares that from 22 June 1944 (one admires his precision) to the beginning of November 1944 the building was used as a homicidal gas chamber for executing groups of about 100 people. Finally on the next page (page 540), Pressac changes his mind and concludes that no scientific examination of the “murder weapon” was ever made. From this he concludes, judiciously:
which means that we do not knaw how the chamber functioned as a delousing installation and are unable to provide material proof of its criminal use.
It should be brought to Pressac’s attention that therefore he had no right, a few lines earlier, to charge anyone with homicidal gassing. What iss more, what holds for the camp near Danzig is just as valid for Auschwitz and it is inadmissible, there as elsewhere, to accuse the Germans of having used an abominable weapon without even having the weapon submitted to expert examination.
No expert report on the weapon; no real excavation
Until 1988 there had been no expert report on the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Birkenau. We had to wait until April 1988 for Fred Leuchter, a specialist in execution gas chambers at American penitentiaries, to publish a 196-page report on “the alleged execution gas chambers at Auschwitz, Birkena, and Majdanek.” Ernst Zündel, a German resident of Toronto, Canada, had hired Leuchter to examine those gas chambers and to gather samples there. The result was spectacular: there had never been any homicidal gas chambers in these camps. Only the sample taken from a gas chamber at Birkenau — officially recognized by the present camp authorities as having been used for disinfection with Zyklon B — contained meaningful, and even considerable, traces of cyanide; moreover, this chamber had the blue blotches that reveal that a gas containing hydrocyanic or prussic acid had been used in the past.
Pierre Vidal-Naquet dared to state in 1980 that an expert report had been “accomplished in June 1945 on the ventilation orifices of the gas chamber at Birkenau (Krema III) on twenty-five kilos of women’s hair and on the metallic objects found in the hair” (re-edited in Les Juifs, la mémoire et le présent, Maspero, page 222, n. 41) I replied to him:
I am familiar with the expert reports ordered by examining magistrate Jan Sehn and carried out by the laboratory located on Copernicus Street in Cracow. They are not reports establishing specifically that such and such a building was a homicidal gas chamber (Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet, op. cit., page 35)
I shall not deal here with the explanations that I have advanced for the possible presence of traces of hydrocyanic gas in the vents, in the hair or in other objects. S. Klarsfeld knew of this expert report but he knew its limitations as well because, in his 1986 interview (see See In 1986, the magazine VSD had published an interview with Serge Klarsfeld under the title “Les historiens du mensonge” (["The Historians of the Lie"], May 29, page 37). There Klarsfeld admitted that until then “no one had bothered to compile the material proofs” of the existence of the gas chambers. To the question “Why were there no longer real proofs?” he answered: he admitted that up to that time real proof had never been published; but an expert report would have constituted real proof. Pressac mentions the expert report of 1945 but is a long way from sharing Vidal-Naquet’s views because he points out that, while scrapings from certain metallic objects described as galvanized plates originating from Leichenkeller 1 of Krema II were analyzed, this analysis, which revealed the presence of cyanide compounds, is only qualitative (Pressac’s own emphasis — page 233), although to serve as proof the analysis would have had to have been qualitative and quantitative.
Pressac informs us that the German association for “reconciliation with the Jews” and for “repentance,” Sühnzeichen (Sign of Atonement), had in 1968 begun excavations in the ruins of the “gas chamber” of Krematorium II; I would be curious to know why these excavations were almost immediately broken off. In 1987 I received a revelation from French journalist Michel Folco. During a trip to Auschwitz organized together with Pressac, the two of them had met with Tadeusz Iwaszko, chief of the Auschwitz Museum archives, with whom I became personally acquainted in 1976. Folco asked him why the Poles had never resolved to carry out excavations and an expert examination, the results of which would have enabled them to silence the Revisionists. Iwaszko’s response was that if proof of the crime were not discovered, the Jews would accuse the Poles of having suppressed it. Pressac wrote that in 1980 Iwaszko had already told him that excavations would have been of no value because in any case, whatever the results, the Poles would be accused of having “arrange[d]” the site (page 545).
That’s where the shoe pinches the accusers: they dread the results of excavations and analyses. The Revisionists, for their part, have risked undertaking such researches; their reward for doing so has been the Leuchter Report, which proves that there were no homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, at Birkenau, or at Majdanek ("The Leuchter Report: The How and the Why,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1989, page 133-139).
The lessons of a soccer field and a swimming pool
In 1983, Klarsfeld and Pressac published a French version of the Auschwitz Album (published by Seuil). Pressac drew up a misleading plan of Birkenau (page43) on which, in particular, he obscured the surroundings of the large Birkenau crematories. Specifically, he concealed from his readers that, immediately next to Krema III, there was a Sportplatz (playing field) that served as a soccer pitch for the inmates, and that right next to the Sportplatz there was a large hospital area. These simple topographical specifications about which Pressac is rather discreet in his large book) render absurd the thesis that the crematoria were supposedly the culmination of a horrible extermination process accompanied by cries, fire, flames, and the smell of burning flesh. Can you imagine teams of soccer players and crowds of spectators at the various matches, just a few steps away from those horrors?
Pressac is careless when he challenges the Revisionists to prove that in the central camp the swimming pool was used by the inmates. I will let a former Auschwitz prisoner answer for me. He was a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Strasbourg who, while affirming in a rather vague way the homicidal gassings at Auschwitz, was just as willing to write about the distractions available to the inmates:
On Sunday afternoons, there were soccer, basketball, and water polo matches [my emphasis] to the ardent cheers of the spectators: people needed very little to distract them from the dangers that threatened them! The SS administration allowed regular amusements for the prisoners, even on weekdays. A movie theater showed Nazi newsreels and sentimental films and a very popular cabaret gave presentations often attended by the SS authorities. Finally, there was a very creditable orchestra, made up originally only of Polish musicians and replaced later by a new, high-quality group made up of musicians of all nationalities, mostly Jews (Marc Klein, Observations et réflexions sur les camps de concentration nazis, taken from the journal Études germaniques (no. 3, 1946), 1948, page 31)
I could cite many other examples of such activities, but I shall refrain from doing so, because where human beings are so “concentrated,” life becomes unbearable in spite of all; promiscuity, epidemics, the struggle to live and to gain individual advantage make such an existence frightful, especially in time of war. But we must not add false horrors to the real horrors. Furthermore, the camps run by the Soviets, including the ones they “liberated” in Germany before filling them again with their political adversaries (beginning with the National Socialists), were even more horrible, according to the statements of people such as Margaret Buber-Neumann, who experienced them both.
Pressac entitles one of his chapters “Auschwitz According to the Revisionists. Photographic Exhibition of the Famous Holiday Camp KL Auschwitz” (page 507). The irony and the slanderous insinuation here conceals his embarrassment at reproducing photographs that are not consistent with various kinds of horrors supposedly found in the camp. He tries to cast suspicion on certain of these photographs by pointing out that many of them come from “Revisionist sources.” He is obviously unaware that many of them are from the album kept by Dürrfeld, an engineer who was one of the leading executives in the factories at Auschwitz. The file reference “DUE” (for Duerrfeld) ought to have alerted him: the Dürrfeld trial is well-known to historians of Auschwitz, but apparently not to our pharmacist-turned-amateur-historian.
Involuntary contributions to Revisionism
Here and there throughout the text, one finds information (very often in the form of photographic documents) that tends to reinforce the position of the Revisionists. Here are some samples:
- The story of one Rablin, a prisoner employed in disinfecting with Zyklon B, proves just how dangerous this terrible gas was to use. Rablin, only slightly exposed to the gas, was hospitalized and took two months to recover (page 25); it is paradoxical that the Germans tried to cure of gas poisoning a man whom, the story goes, they should have killed with precisely that gas;
- The deposition of inmate Joseph Odi describes the procedure for using Zyklon B in the disinfestation gas chambers, a procedure that has often been described by the Revisionists, and that shows the dangers of the operation. Although suitable for clothing, this method would not work with human beings. Above all, the witness reveals that the cases containing the cans of Zyklon B were stored in the Theatergebäude (theater building) and that transporting it from there to the gas disinfection chambers was done with a Health Service vehicle standing by. The Revisionists know all this, but it is interesting to see Pressac’s book reminding us of two points that should help clear both the Carmelites of Auschwitz and the Red Cross of the charges too often made against them. Today the Carmelites are often reproached with occupying a place in which the Germans are supposed to have warehoused gas to kill human beings. In reality, the gas was used to kill lice and protect human health. The Red Cross vehicle was there to protect against the accidents that were always possible with Zyklon B. It played no role in murder; it, too, was there to safeguard men’s health (page 41); it is noteworthy that J. Odi is precise when he talks about the disinfection gas chambers and very vague on the subject of the homicidal gas chambers; besides, he believes that men were gassed in the disinfection gas chambers!;
- The beautiful photograph showing an impressive complex of eight disinfestation gas chambers in that part of the Birkenau camp traditionally called “the Gypsy camp” (Entwesungsanlage Ziguenerlager) contradicts the thesis that the Germans intended to exterminate the Gypsies (page 63);
- An astonishing photograph taken in the Zentral Sauna shows a group of naked inmates, apparently in good health, carrying their shoes from a vast shower room (50 shower heads) to the “drying room” on the “clean side” of the disinfection area (Trockenraum, reine Seite): an unthinkable scene in an “extermination” camp (page 80; see See This time, Bernstein chose a photograph of a blueprint of a crematorium and a photograph of prisoners carrying their shoes after showering. The first photograph comes from page 141 of the book, on which the blueprint is said to concern a crematorium with a homicidal gas chamber. The second photograph is taken from page 80, where the naked men are said to be prisoners who, with their shoes in hand, are leaving the shower room for the “drying room; clean side,” both rooms in a large installation for showering and disinfection.
- One photograph shows some inmates in their striped uniforms employed in disinfecting clothes in front of a battery of three autoclaves; here the disinfection is done by steam; elsewhere, it may be done with warm air, with Zyklon B, or even with other gasses; the true concern of the Germans was to exterminate vermin, not men, by any and all means (page 82). Enough can never be said about their obsessive fear of Typhus; “there were in fact about 25 Zyklon-B delousing chambers of different sizes operating in the camp” (page 550), and a great number of disinfection chambers that operated in other ways, without using gas;
- A sheet of operating instructions for coke-fired incineration furnaces points out that the furnace fire bars must be cleared of clinker and the cinders removed every evening; these ovens, Pressac tells us, could only operate 12 out of 24 hours, not 24 hours a day as claimed by the believers in the extermination myth (page 136, 224, 227);
- To replace Krema I, the Germans had considered constructing a “new Krema,” to be built a short distance from its predecessor, near the SS hospital and the Kommandatur. Pressac acknowledges that this “new Krema” had no homicidal gas chamber. He says that the construction was finally transferred to Birkenau and that Krema II and Krema III at Birkenau were, in effect, replicas of what had originally been planned for Auschwitz I; the plan remained the same. As a result, Kremas II and III were designed without homicidal gas chambers (page 33, 140-143);
- Page 143 is particularly interesting. Pressac sees only inoffensive Leichenkeller in this plan, but when the same plan serves for the construction of the Birkenau Krema, here he arbitrarily dubs the Leichenkeller either “disrobing rooms” for the victims, or “homicidal gas chambers.” As a matter of fact, the existence of this plan proves that in the minds of the Germans and, in particular, of Walter Dejaco, Kremas II and III at Birkenau, simply replications of the Kremas that had originally been intended to be near the Kommandatur and the SS hospital in the main Auschwitz camp, could not have had any homicidal purpose (this is confirmed on page 200, where we read that Kremas II and III were “designed without homicidal gas chambers");
- A surprising photograph, dating probably from May 1945, proves that the roof of Krema I was used as a dance floor, decorated with a red star and hammer and sickle as well as Polish and Russian flags; people, says Pressac, danced on the roof of the “gas chamber;” I suggest that, if at that time anyone had given credence to the myth of the gassings, such a profanation would not have been permitted. Some months after the liberation of Auschwitz, evidently, the myth of the gas chambers had not yet taken the form in which we know it today (page 149);
- Pressac reproduces a whole series of documents from the Weimar archives relating to engineer Kurt Prüfer, responsible for the design and construction of the “Topf & Sons” ovens; Prüfer was arrested, imprisoned, and interrogated after the war; nothing, in either his papers or his interrogations, provided the slightest proof of the existence of homicidal gas chambers in the crematoria (page 93, 94, 191, and 371); if the documents that Pressac used contained so many criminal traces, Kurt Prüfer and other members of the firm’s staff could have been easily broken down;
- On 12 August 1942, Commandant Höss distributed 40 copies of a Sonderbefehl (special order) drafted as follows:
A case of indisposition with slight symptoms of poisoning by hydrocyanic gas which occurred today makes it necessary to warn all those participating in the gassings (Vergasungen) and all other SS members that in particular on opening rooms used for gassing SS not wearing masks must wait at least five hours and keep at a distance of at least 15 meters from the chamber. In addition, particular attention must be paid to the wind direction. — The gas being used at present contains less odorous warning agent and is therefore especially dangerous. — The SS garrison doctor declines all responsibility for any accident that should occur in the case where these directives have not been complied with by the SS members (page 201).
The word used to designate the disinfection gassings is Vergasungen. The above directive confirms what the Revisionists have consistently said about the danger of using Zyklon B. If at Auschwitz incessant and massive gassing operations had been carried out, especially under such conditions as we have been told, accidents involving the SS personnel would have been innumerable. Neither the camp commandant, nor the chief medical officer responsible for the garrison, nor the other doctors, nor the SS would have tolerated such accidents (page 201); and if we must look at it from the point of view of the legend, the “homicidal gassings” could not have gone off normally inasmuch as the Jewish personnel would not have been able to accomplish the task of entering a cyanide-treated space to drag out thousands of cyanide-impregnated corpses; and the criminal enterprise would immediately have ground to a halt for lack of personnel to carry it through successfully;
- A telex dated 18 December 1942 reveals that during the month of December the work of both the inmates and the free civilian laborers had to be interrupted several times for delousing and disinfestation (Entlausung und Entwesung). The camp had to be isolated, and civilian laborers had not been able to leave for six months. A period of leave from 23 December 1942 to 4 January 1943 was therefore essential (page 210);
- In the archives of the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, there is an album of 397 photos, taken by the Germans themselves during the war, which show construction of Auschwitz, including that of the crematoria. This is the most important information in Pressac’s book. It is outrageous that this album has been kept hidden for so long, and that the publication of the photographs is being done in driblets, so to speak, as was the case with the photos from the Auschwitz Album. The album of which I speak is the Bauleitung Album (the construction office album). The photographs therein confirm that Auschwitz was a prison or internment camp with nothing out of the ordinary about it. Pressac acknowledges that all the inmates we see at work appear to be as healthy as the civilian workers (page 331, 339). Is he perhaps concealing from us photographs from this album that would give us a clearer idea of what went on at Auschwitz, or that would correct what we think we know about each room of the large Kremas and about the changes eventually made in those rooms?;
- Regarding a time sheet indicating the make-up of a crew constructing a chimney for Kremas IV or V, Pressac comments that “the composition of the gang employed is typical, with 12 civilians and 20 prisoners working as bricklayer’s laborers” (page 412); so there is no possibility of secrets on that side either;
- One plan proves that the Germans planned to construct an enormous hospital sector covering all of the section of Birkenau known as “Mexico.” Pressac says this in fact is “a real godsend for the Revisionists.” He admits that “there is an INCOMPATIBILITY [his capitals] in the creation of a health camp a few hundred yards from four Krematorien where, according to official history, people were exterminated on a large scale” (page 512). And his commentary continues in the same direction. We await his parry. It does not come. Pressac’s embarrassment is plain to see. He thinks perhaps he can manage to get out of the difficulty by saying that we ought not to underestimate the capacity for “doublethink” of the SS hierarchy, which blindly executed orders even when they were totally contradictory. I note that, as I said above (see See In 1983, Klarsfeld and Pressac published a French version of the Auschwitz Album (published by Seuil). Pressac drew up a misleading plan of Birkenau (page43) on which, in particular, he obscured the surroundings of the large Birkenau crematories. Specifically, he concealed from his readers that, immediately next to Krema III, there was a Sportplatz (playing field) that served as a soccer pitch for the inmates, and that right next to the Sportplatz there was a large hospital area. These simple topographical specifications about which Pressac is rather discreet in his large book) render absurd the thesis that the crematoria were supposedly the culmination of a horrible extermination process accompanied by cries, fire, flames, and the smell of burning flesh. Can you imagine teams of soccer players and crowds of spectators at the various matches, just a few steps away from those horrors?), Pressac is silent about the existence, near the crematoria, of a large hospital area containing 18 barracks; more important, in his large book he persists in concealing the existence of this hospital area. A site plan dated 21 June 1944 shows that the Germans planned to construct, alongside the Birkenau railroad ramp, a total of six vegetable halls, each with a capacity of 930 cubic meters in size — a curious initiative in an “extermination camp” (page 533-534).
The 'bankruptcy of the traditional history'
Pressac draws up a bankruptcy report: no one before him has been able to prove the existence of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz and Birkenau. He recognizes that the historians, the judges, the Soviets, the Poles, the arraigners of the “war criminals,” as well as the accusers of the Revisionists have accumulated false proofs and worthless arguments (the Revisionists, too, are supposed to have failed in their endeavors). He writes at the end of his study, just before the appendices:
This study already demonstrates the complete bankruptcy of the traditional history (and hence also the methods and criticisms of the Revisionists), a history based for the most part on testimonies, assembled according to the mood of the moment, truncated to fit arbitrary truth and sprinkled with a few German documents of uneven value and without any connection with one another.
The celebrated work of Eugène Aroneanu, which has for so long been a sort of Exterminationist bible (Camps de concentration, preface by Jacques Billiet, director of France’s War Crimes Information Service, Office français d'édition, 1946), he calls “an historical monstrosity,” “an incoherent and self-contradictory whole” (page 15). On the post-war trials, he writes that “the tons of Zyklon B ordered by the camps were attributed to homicidal use without any verification.” And, as I mentioned above (see See For Pressac, almost no Zyklon B used to kill people), he makes the following remark, which will likely upset his Exterminationist friends:
By far the greater part [of Zyklon B] (over 95 per cent) was destined for delousing (effects and buildings) while only a very small quantity (less than 5 per cent) had been used for homicidal gassings (ibidem).
He is of the opinion that the American-conducted trial of Bruno Tesch, one of the officials of the Degesch company and thus responsible for the production of Zyklon B, was a “masquerade;” the court was not concerned with the technical question, merely with the verbal testimony of his employees. In 1946, Pressac writes, simple malicious gossip could easily lead to someone being hanged. That was the case with Bruno Tesch (and, I would add, with his associate, K. Weinbacher) (page 16-17); see in this regard the revealing article by William B. Lindsey, “Zyklon B, Auschwitz and the Trial of Dr. Bruno Tesch,” The Journal of Historical Review, Autumn 1983, page 261-303.
The Soviet film Chronicles of the Liberation of the Camp,1945 shows a gas-tight door as belonging to a homicidal gas chamber; in view of its location, says Pressac, it was a door to a disinfection gas chamber (page 41). Further on, he talks about the work of the Soviet Commission of Inquiry as a “completely put-up job” and an “historic [sic] montage” (page 46); the unfortunate thing is that the Nuremberg Tribunal “took judicial notice” of that work in the name of Article 21 of its charter.
At Birkenau, the vast hall of the Zentral Sauna, where the inmates disrobed (Auskleideraum) before showering, possessed an impressive number of tubular radiators. The Poles removed these radiators because, according to Pressac, this concern for the comfort of the inmates conflicts, in the minds of present-day visitors, with the location of the ruins of Krema IV and its “gas chambers,” only 100 meters away (page 78). He might have added that the Poles had dealt in the same manner with the “arrest cells” in Block 11, which the tourists visit in great numbers. I am the one who called Pressac’s attention to this mania of the Poles for removing heating apparatuses, whether for their own use or to give a crueler impression of the conditions under which the inmates were supposed to have lived.
At the Nuremberg Trial, a perfectly ordinary German document dealing with the crematory ovens was presented as proof of the extermination. Pressac sees there an example of “the stupid way in which the documents of the defeated were 'evaluated' by a tribunal of the victors” (page 106).
A certain reconstruction by the Poles after the war is “far from being a faithful reproduction of the original state” because of its exaggerations and its simplifications (page 108).
The fact, according to Pressac, that at a given time in 1942 the Germans used 2 to 3 per cent of the Zyklon B for murder and 97 or 98 per cent for disinfection “totally invalidates” the interpretation of certain documents by “the traditional historians” (page 188).
Sometimes naming him and sometimes not, Pressac underscores the errors or the deceptions of Georges Wellers. The latter’s argument based on the ventilation system of the Leichenkeller is, for Pressac, contradicted and indeed completely demolished by the facts (page 289). Wellers' “quite erroneous” and “quite unfounded” interpretation deceived the lawyers of LICRA (the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism) who pleaded against Faurisson (page 355). In citing transcripts of eyewitness testimony, Wellers has made cuts when those testimonies contain improbabilities, without any indication to the reader that he has done so (page 479). The plan he gave of Auschwitz (Les Chambres à gaz ont existé/Des documents, des témoignages, des chiffres, Gallimard, 1981, page 12-13) is of “a very mediocre quality as regards many details,” although Pressac doesn’t go so far as to use the word “falsification” (page 165-166). What is striking is that this was the plan that hung for all to see in the courtroom at the Frankfurt trial and that Hermann Langbein reproduced in his book about that trial (Der Auschwitz Prozess, Eine Dokumentation, Frankfurt, Europäische Verlaganstalt, 1965, page 932-933 [not 930-933 as Pressac mistakenly indicates]).
The supposed camouflage around Kremas II and III is, according to Pressac, a product of the imagination of the “traditional historians” (page 341).
Jan Sehn, the Polish investigative magistrate who prepared the trials of Rudolf Höss and many of the SS men, “made a change” in a German document while reproducing it as a copy allegedly identical to the original (page 454). Nevertheless, Pressac is careful not to be too harsh with this investigative magistrate, to whom we owe a hundred lies about Auschwitz — to name one, the lie of the “nearly 60,000 persons in 24 hours” gassed at Birkenau (Jan Sehn, Le Camp de concentration d'Oswiecim-Brzezinka, Wydawnictwo Prawnicze, Warsaw, 1961, page 132). It is also to Sehn that we owe the “gigantic ditches” in the open air (with or without crematoria?) (ibid., page 148). However, the aerial photos taken by the Allies on 25 August 1944 show absolutely nothing of the kind (D. Brugioni and R. Poirier, The Holocaust Revisited. Washington: CIA; February 1979; pages 9-11).
In 1981 I was brought to trial in Paris by the LICRA and many other organizations. The principle lawyer for the LICRA was Maître Bernard Jouanneau. From the pages Pressac devotes to this trial and to this lawyer it is evident that the author believes that many of the documents that they used against me do not, in reality, prove the existence of the homicidal gas chambers in the least. Not one of the eyewitness testimonies that Jouanneau introduced had any real value. As for the technical arguments offered by Jouanneau, all of them were worthless, and sometimes “disastrous.” Lastly, the lawyer outrageously abused the theory according to which the Germans, to hide their crime, used a “code” or “camouflage” (page 554-556).
Pressac’s inconsistencies have their amusing aspects. He remarks on the dishonesty or incompetence of the Exterminationists but, at the same time, wants at all costs to save the Exterminationist theory. Thus he is reduced to flattering his friends for qualities that supposedly make up for their faults. And when he flatters, he does not do it by halves — he bootlicks: Jouanneau’s demonstration was based on a mass of errors but it was “superb” (page 556).
Manipulation of testimonies
In a work that professes to be technical, one ought first to describe the scene of the crime, then examine the weapon used in the crime and the material proofs of the crime, in order, finally, to review the testimonies. Pressac, who has no understanding of method, opens all his chapters with the testimonies. It must be said that this is a way of clouding the reader’s normal capacity for judgment, because these “testimonies” posit the existence of the homicidal gas chambers as a basic principle.
The quality of the testimonies that Pressac invokes is pitiful. Sometimes he acknowledges that himself, but he often seeks to save those testimonies from discredit, by means of the most oversubtle devices.
Rudolf Höss is presumed to have written Commandant at Auschwitz and Miklos Nyiszli supposedly wrote Auschwitz: An Eyewitness Account of Mengele’s Infamous Death Camp, two testimonies offered as essential. Höss lived for several years at Auschwitz, and Nyiszli supposedly lived there for six months as an inmate. But what these to “witnesses” write, for example, about the ventilation of the homicidal gas chambers, constitutes, according to Pressac, an enormous technical error. On this point they told the opposite of “the truth” (page 16).
Alter Fajnzylberg, Filip Müller, and Rudolf Höss affirm things that are “practically impossible,” or “not corresponding to the facts,” that “cast a doubt,” are “wrong,” “contrary to reality,” “unlikely” (page 126-127). The “errors” committed by Höss “throughout his autobiography” have an explanation that Pressac brandishes proudly and emphasizes in bold-face type: He was present, without seeing (page 128). But if that is the case, he wasn’t a witness! How could he be present and not see? How can one be commandant of an “extermination camp” and not see the instrument of “exterminating” at least a million (?) people? How was the commandant able to stress the dangers of Zyklon in 1942 (see See On 12 August 1942, Commandant Höss distributed 40 copies of a Sonderbefehl (special order) and then in 1946 decree that the dangers were non-existent (see note below)?
As for the eyewitness testimony, so often invoked, of SS man Pery Broad, the form and the tone of it, Pressac tells us, “sound false.” Broad’s writings, which we owe to the Poles, cannot be sincere. They are “colored by a rather too flagrant Polish patriotism.” The Broad manuscript is not known. It has all been “slightly” reworked by the Poles (his quotation marks around “slightly” imply that the rework was not slight!). But what does it matter, asks Pressac: despite the discrepancies between the various witnesses, some homicidal gassings did take place in Krema I — that is an established fact (page 128). “Established?” By whom? He does not say.
The testimony of Szlamy Dragon elicits the following commentary:
This is physically impossible … I do not think that this witness was intentionally misleading, but he was following the tendency to exaggerate which seems to have been the general rule at the time of the liberation and which is what gave rise to the figure of 4 million victims for K.L. Auschwitz, a figure now considered to be pure propaganda. It should be divided by four to get close to reality (page 171).
In 1972, at the Dejaco/Ertl trial, witness Dragon showed “total confusion” (page 172; It is no secret that I would be delighted to have access to the documents from the pre-trial investigation as well as the transcripts of the Dejaco/Ertl trial. I am convinced that these would include detailed answers on the architecture of the Birkenau crematoria, on their internal layout, on their purpose, and, lastly, on their possible modification. This Dejaco/Ertl trial, the preliminary investigation of which began in 1968 at Reutte (Tirol), is all too often forgotten: it prompted, for the first time, a general mobilization to prove the existence of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz. It marked the first time that the Soviet Union really played a role in furnishing valuable documents, and it witnessed the establishment of a sort of direct conduit between Moscow and Vienna through the intermediacy of Warsaw (Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland) and Auschwitz (archives of the Auschwitz Museum) (page 71). Officials from the Jewish community throughout the world, alerted by Simon Wiesenthal, spared no effort. The two unlucky architectural engineers thus saw massive forces combined against them. Let it be added that, because they were quite unaware of the chemical and physical impossibilities of homicidal gassing in the facilities they had built, their plea was that the buildings' construction was perfectly normal, but that surely it was possible that certain Germans had used them to commit crimes. Dejaco went as far as to say: “And every big room could serve as gas chamber, Even this hearing room” (Kurier, 29 January 1972). Dejaco was greatly mistaken, as a homicidal gas chamber can only be a small room requiring a very complex technology and specific equipment, but nobody caught the error. It was during this trial 18 January-19 March 1972 that the only Jewish “witness” to the gassings, the all-too-renowned Szlamy Dragon, “fainted” on the stand, and gave no further testimony. (AZ, 3 March 1972). Pressac says that he demonstrated “total confusion” (page 172).
The testimonies of Pery Broad, of Rudolf Höss, of Dr. Johann Paul Kremer, and of SS man Hölblinger (which Pressac writes as Höblinger) on the several Bunker are subject to reservations expressed in the following terms: “entirely imaginary,” “physically impossible,” “impossible to situate this scene,” (page 174).
The testimony of Nyiszli would be valid providing that his figures be divided by four — but not always. Pressac speaks of Nyiszli’s “number four,” and says that his figures are “worrying” (page 179).
In 1980, a great fuss was made about Filip Müller’s book, Trois ans dans une chambre à gaz d'Auschwitz(Three Years in a Gas Chamber at Auschwitz), foreword by Claude Lanzmann, ed. Pygmalion/G. Watelet. [The English version, Eyewitness Auschwitz:Three Years in a Gas Chamber at Auschwitz, New York, Stein and Day, 1979, is somewhat different than the French edition.] In France Jean Pierre-Bloch awarded the book the LICRA prize. Filip Müller was one of the star witnesses at the Auschwitz trial (1963-1965), and in the film “Shoah.” In reality, he was a mythomaniac, which even Pressac realizes, for he writes:
[in his book, Müller] has accumulated errors, thus making his account historically dubious. The best approach is to read it as a novel based on true history (page 181).
If the members of the Sonderkommando affirm that 5 or 7 or 12 bodies were burned in a single muffle of a crematory oven at one time, Pressac suggests that this is an exaggeration, and that probably only three bodies at a time could have been incinerated, and skinny ones at that (page 229). He says that today’s tourist “after a silent prayer” (sic) in front of Krema I, must surely realize that “We find here the famous multiplying factor of four used by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli” (page 483).
At Auschwitz visitors can see in the former “Block 4” a model that professes to show a Krema in the midst of a gassing. This reconstruction, it must be said, inadvertently demonstrates the physical impossibilities of the homicidal gassings, in particular the cramped premises and the congestion that would have resulted from the first “gassing.” Add to that the fact that documents that have subsequently come to light, especially the aerial photos taken by the Allies in 1943/44 and published in 1979, underscore the “faults” of this model. Of small import to Pressac, who sees in the reconstruction the “powerful evocation of a mass gassing” (page 378).
Beginning on page 459, the author attempts to save from disaster the absurd War Refugee Board Report of November 1944, sometimes known as the Protocols of Auschwitz. Just the criticism of it that Pressac himself is obliged to make totally discredit this mendacious work, which is due largely to Rudolf Vrba, today a professor of pharmacology at a university in Vancouver.
The drawings of one David Olère are in favor with Pressac, who knew the artist personally, but these drawings, altogether grotesque, seem inspired chiefly by a sort of sex-shop anti-Nazism. Pressac considers them “masterpieces of authenticity” (page 554) but has reservations as to their documentary worth and about the sincerity of the witness (page 493-497, 554-556). Playing the prude, he goes so far as to refrain from reproducing certain drawings (page 498). This same David Olère asserts that the SS made sausages they called “Kremawurst” crematorium sausages) out of human flesh (page 554). His memory suffers from a certain “deterioration” page 493), and he is subject to what Pressac calls the “Krematorium delirium” (page 556).
The author’s favorite witness is the Jewish shoemaker Henryk Tauber. But this witness, too, tends to use “the famous multiplying factor of four” (page 483). He has never seen a gassing but either he was told about it (ibid.) or else he has seen the bodies of those whom he calls gassed (page 489). One day, through a window, he saw an SS man pouring Zyklon B into a gas chamber (page 494). If over so many years he saw nothing more than that, it was because during the gassing operations the SS systematically locked up the members of the Sonderkommando in the coke store. This is also Alter Fajnzylberg’s explanation. The SS wanted to conceal the existence of the gassings but not the existence of the people gassed!
Tauber tells the story of a Jew named Lejb. One day, the Germans hung Lejb, hands tied behind his back, from an iron bar above the firing hearths, for an hour. Then, after untying his hands and feet, they threw him into a cold crematorium furnace. Gasoline was poured into the lower ash bin and lit. The flames reached the muffle in which Lejb was trapped. A few minutes later, they opened the door of the furnace. The condemned man came running out, covered with burns. Next, he was ordered to run round the yard shouting that he was a thief. Finally, he was forced to climb the barbed wire fence, where he was killed with a gunshot!
Tauber speaks also of an open-air pit filled with human fat. The fat ran from the corpses into a separate reservoir, dug in the ground. This fat was poured over the corpses to accelerate their combustion. One day, the SS men threw a man into the boiling fat, then pulled him out, still alive, and shot him. “The next day, the corpse was brought back to the crematorium, where it was incinerated in a pit [!]” (page 494).
Tauber says that around 2,500 bodies a day were incinerated in a single crematorium. Here is Pressac’s commentary:
This figure is unrealistic (and it is connected with the propaganda of the immediate post-war period) … Here we find almost the famous multiplication factor of four, of which Dr. Miklos Nyiszli made such abundant and lamentable use in his book that his credibility was long contested. Henryk Tauber is far from being the only witness to say in substance “I don’t know the number of dead” or “I think it was so many” and then cooly say one or two sentences later, that after due consideration, we do arrive at the (standard) figure of 4 million victims in all. This type of imposed falsehood has to be excused, I would stress, because of the political climate of the period 1945-1950 (page 494).
In just one passage on page 498, Pressac, to qualify the assertions of his favorite witness, uses the word “dubious,” “incorrect” (twice), “not certain,” “[made up] story,” and “pure myth.” And if at the end of his testimony Tauber is so weak and so vague about Kremas IV and IV, no one can reproach him for this, says Pressac, who supposes that the witness “must have been exhausted by the end of his deposition” (page 502).
In short, all these witnesses seem to be suffering greatly, just like David Olère, from what pharmacist Pressac calls Krematorium delirium (page 556).
A witness meticulously describes the room called a gas chamber, and sees three pillars when there were really four: Pressac tells us it’s because he didn’t go clear to the end of the room. The same witness speaks of an entrance door and an exit door, when there was only one door to the room, with no other exit; this error, Pressac says, can be explained by the route taken by that witness during his visit (!). The witness talks about ten cremation ovens when there were five (each with three muffles): Pressac says that’s because “probably he had not not walked down the entire length of the oven room but instead remained at the west entrance.” The number of victims that the witness gives is incredible: that, Pressac reassures us, is because here it’s a question of an “inflated number” given by an SS man who served as the witness’s guide; or there, it is an “SS propaganda figure” (page 239).
If a witness sketches the crematory room while forgetting to note the presence of rails, Pressac says that because the rails served no purpose, the witness’s “visual memory did not retain them” (page 229). Should the same witness commit four grave material errors, it is because “the visual memories of a survivor deteriorate with time” (page 493). If this witness adds imaginary details to his sketch, no matter: it was done “to make it better” (ibid.).
Throughout this book, Pressac does his utmost to discover excuses for the innumerable “errors” of his witnesses, errors in the location, the color, the material, the form, the distance, the number of whatever is being discussed.
But his favorite explanation is that all these “errors” are the fault of the SS and the “usual SS exaggeration” (page 108), and that, if in their confessions taken by the Allies, the SS confessed to enormities, it was due to “professional pride” (page 161).
Thanks to this method, Pressac’s witnesses, Jewish or otherwise, win incessantly, while the SS men can only lose every time.
Pressac’s involuntary drollery apropos M. Nyiszli
At this point I would like to return to a case already mentioned, that of Dr. Nyiszli. One of the best known false testimonies in the concentration camp literature, next to Martin Gray’s For Those I Loved, is that of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli: Auschwitz: An Eyewitness Account of Mengele’s Infamous Death Camp, translated and adapted from the Hungarian by Tibère Kremer (New York: Fell Publishing Co., 1960).
Paul Rassinier often denounced this forgery (see The Holocaust Story and the Lies of Ulysses [Costa Mesa, CA: The Institute for Historical Review; 1988; page 244-250]), as has Carlo Mattogno. Neither the Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), nor the recent Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (1990), mentions Nyisli’s book, which has long been discredited.
Nevertheless, at the recent trial of the Revisionist Michel Konen at Meaux, Hubert Heilbronn, president of the Lazare Bank, had the effrontery to mention only one testimony in support of the existence of the Auschwitz gas chambers: that of Miklos Nyiszli (Le Figaro, 6 July 1990, page 8).
Pressac, too, resuscitates Nyiszli. But it is fair to say that in so doing he has, in his comments on Nyiszli’s testimony, inadvertently written two exceedingly funny pages (page 474-475). I will let the reader be the judge.
Miklos Nyiszli, a Jew, allegedly lived for six months in a Birkenau crematorium serving as an assistant to Dr. Josef Mengele in the dissection room. Pressac selects from Nyiszli’s book only Chapter VII, in which this witness supposedly describes a gassing operation in Krema II. At first Pressac affirms that this description is “entirely accurate, EXCEPT for certain FIGURES that are very WRONG indeed [Pressac’s capitals]” (page 473). Next, he comments on the text, and here one realizes that, even for a Pressac, almost all the data in Nyiszli’s book, whether numbers or physical details, are erroneous.
The witness declares that the gas chamber was 500 feet (150 meters) long; but, Pressac says, a plan (that I discovered and that is borne out by the building’s ruins) shows that the length of the room under discussion could not have exceeded 100 feet (30 meters). How to explain? It is simple, says Pressac: the witness told the truth, but he used a multiplier of five.
The witness states that the undressing room was 200 yards (about 200 meters) long; well, says Pressac, everything shows that room measured 50 yards (around 50 meters) in length. For here, according to Pressac, Nyiszli has used a multiplier of four.
Because the average of the various multipliers is four, Pressac, proud of his discovery, gets to talking in his book, whether regarding Nyiszli or other affirmations and testimonies, of the “famous multiplying factor of four” (see page 483, 494).
Accordingly, following our pharmacist, if we wish to find the real figures, it behooves as we read to divide all the numbers by four.
As for me, I should say that by that reckoning, every false witness would be in the clear. Supposing a “witness” states that in six months (the duration of Nyiszli’s stay in Auschwitz) he saw four men who were all 7 meters tall and 200 years old. Anyone else would dismiss such a witness. Anyone but Pressac, who, applying the rule of the famous divisor of four, would say: this witness is telling the truth: he saw one man, who was 1.75 meters tall and 50 years old.
But Pressac’s gymnastics do not end here. I have made a critical review of his comments on the Nyiszli testimony only regarding the short passage that Nyiszli has written on the gassings. Here we have, on the one hand, the multipliers Pressac says Nyiszli used; and, on the other hand, a sampling of Pressac’s comments regarding such and such a fact, physical reality, or figure reported by Nyiszli (page 474-475):
· Pressac’s comments on Nyiszli’s Coefficients:
1. Nyiszli, says Pressac, has divided by 2.
2. Nyiszli, says Pressac, has multiplied by 3; by 5; by 4;
by 2.5; by 6.7; by 4; by 4; by 2.5; by 4; by 2 to 3.
· Pressac’s Evaluations of Nyiszli’s Statements:
Wrong and deliberately misleading … Whom is Dr. Nyiszli trying to mislead and why?
Lack of familiarity with the premises
“War story” pure and simple
… (and let us add that, when the witness talks about “concrete,” we must read “wood;” when he talks about “chlorine,” we must read “hydrocyanic acid").
Pressac’s conclusion is delectable. He proudly entitles it “The Multiplier.” Here Pressac, far from dismissing his witness for his exaggerations and fables, discovers in the use of the multiplier 4 (the average of the various figures is 3.8) the sign that Dr. Nyiszli, for all his not being scientific and rigorous, is manifestly an academic who bears the stamp of intellectual training of the most serious kind. He writes:
The average of the different multipliers is almost exactly four. If we apply this to the official total of 4 million victims we arrive at a figure much closer to reality: 1 million. This calculation is by no means scientific but it shows that Doctor Nyiszli, a respected academic, trained in Germany, multiplied the figures by four when describing the interior of Krematorium II and when speaking of the number of persons or victims (page 475).
In short, Pressac understands that the “credibility” of Nyiszli’s book has been “long contested” (page 494); that was due to “the famous multiplication factor of four of which Dr. Miklos Nyiszli made such abundant and lamentable use” (ibid.). But fortunately Pressac has arrived; he has discovered the key needed by anyone reading Nyiszli’s book and, thanks to that key, everything is deciphered. There is no longer any reason to challenge the credibility of an honorable academic, educated in Germany. Pressac has saved Nyiszli.
But the reader, on seeing any figure at all from the pen of this astonishing witness, can never know whether the number is to be considered exact, or whether it is necessary to multiply or divide it, and if so, by exactly how much.
'Faurisson and his clique' (page 12)
I shall forgo counting the number of times that Pressac attacks the Revisionists in general and me in particular. Mark Weber writes:
Pressac does not seem to be a psychologically sound person. For example, he confesses that he “nearly” killed himself in the Auschwitz main camp in October 1979 (page 537). His relationship with Dr. Faurisson and French Revisionist publisher Pierre Guillaume — to which he devotes several pages — changed from a kind of admiration to bitter personal animosity. He cites nothing about Faurisson’s treatment of him that would justify such visceral enmity, even granting the intensity of his disagreement about the Holocaust issue. The emotional and even vicious nature of Pressac’s furious hostility towards Faurisson suggests an insecure and unstable personality ("Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1990, page 231-237).
Here I must provide an explanation. Pressac has a specific reason for not liking me: in the early 1980s, I was led to show him to the door of the home of Pierre Guillaume (where he had come to see us once more without announcing his arrival beforehand). That is the kind of humiliation that is not forgotten, especially by someone who, afflicted with a sense of inferiority, seeks approval, fishes for compliments, offers his services insistently and wishes to be taken seriously. Pressac ended up exhausting my patience. His obsequiousness, his mental confusion, his panicky fears, his horror of clarity and of unequivocal positions, his propensity to lie and to cheat made his visits more and more undesirable. He makes no allusion to that humiliating episode in his book; on the contrary, he states that in March or April 1981 he took the initiative and “broke completely with Faurisson” (page 554). That is quite simply false. He was ushered to the door, and, I must say, in no uncertain terms.
Jean-Claude Pressac was an admirer of Hitler, of Degrelle, and of militaria. He had a bust of Hitler in his home, in a place of honor, and, fearing our reaction at the time of a visit to his home, had forewarned Guillaume and myself about it, not without some apprehension. He had dreamt of writing a novel showing the victory of his hero and the triumph of National Socialism (see, in this regard, page 541). He had been educated at the military academy of La Flèche and, according to Guillaume, himself a former student at that establishment, had in 1959 received a reprimand from the school’s administration due to a sketch of Nazi inspiration that he had displayed at the time of a school celebration. He said that he was a supporter of Pierre Sidos, a French far-rightist. The extreme right, or what is called that, has, side by side with strong personalities (as in the case of Leon Degrelle), poor wretches who admire force because they are weak. Such was the fact with Pressac who, moreover, had certain medical problems that, I must say, increased my pity for him.
Guillaume devoted several pages to Pressac in his book Droit et histoire (La Vieille Taupe, 1986, pages 118-125). I recommend those pages, which are both lively and penetrating.
Before meeting us, Pressac believed in the gas chambers. I showed him my documentation. He was staggered by it, and recognized his error. Believing he knew how to read the plans that I had discovered in the archives of the Auschwitz Museum, he offered us his services. Half-serious, half mocking, we took to calling him “Schliemann,” from the name of the discoverer of the ruins of Troy. Pressac had a peculiar habit: at each encounter, his first words were: “I've blown it.” He “blew it” — he made a mistake — repeatedly. Easily influenced, easily anguished, he perpetually changed his opinion on details and each time adopted the most peremptory tone in articulating his thesis of the day. Another of his eccentricities: as soon as the simplest question put him in a quandary (and his life was a perpetual quandary), he would answer: “Yes/No.” Not “Yes and no” but, in a single breath: “Yes/No.” And it was impossible for him to clarify his answer, which served him as a refuge, as with a child caught being naughty. He had the irritating habit of pretending, from one minute to the next, that he hadn’t said what he had just said. I invited him accordingly to record our conversations with a tape recorder to avoid misunderstandings. With childish fear, offering no explanation, he refused to be recorded.
But he no longer believed in the gas chambers. He began to feel called to be a Revisionist; wishing it is not enough, however. My life and that of Pierre Guillaume became more and more difficult. Pressac grew frantic. The cumulative effects of the trials and of the attacks of all sorts, the progressive deterioration of my physical health, our financial problems, a general atmosphere of doom (it should be recalled here what happened at the time of the blast on the “Rue Copernic,” much worse than that of the “Carpentras cemetery") left our neophyte more and more feverish and hesitant. He pleaded with me to give up so dangerous an enterprise. For his part, he began to take his distance from us. “Jewish friends” had made him understand that there were limits to skepticism that could not be transgressed (page 548). Upon reading the plans of Auschwitz and Birkenau that I had furnished him in abundance, he saw well enough that the gassings were impossible. But, you never know, he began to say, perhaps there really did take place here and there a few small homicidal gassings, discreet, furtive, improvised: what he called “casual,” or “itty-bitty,” gassings.
Before his first departure for Auschwitz, following our meeting, he had asked me what research he could undertake there for me. I had told him that I was interested in the question of the cremations: the officially recorded number of the bodies incinerated; status of persons cremated (inmates/guards/German soldiers and officers and members of their families); number of employees assigned to cremation of corpses and to the incinerations in the rubbish ovens; the duration of the cremations; time cards, etc. I thought, as a matter of fact, that those numbers alone would demonstrate the impossibility of the stupendous number of cremations that would have been required by the gassing of hundreds of thousands of victims, over and above the cremations necessitated by the ravages of the epidemics in the camp.
On his return from Auschwitz, Pressac told me with an air of embarrassment that he had not found the time to occupy himself with the question that interested me. He had had too much work to do, and then, he added, a young Polish girl had taken a great deal of his time: innocent boasting by the timid.
Before his second journey to Auschwitz, he asked me the same question and I gave him the same answer. Upon his return, he again stated that he had not had the time to undertake the necessary research. Let me note here parenthetically that in his large book Pressac continues to evade my questions.
Pressac wound up by telling us that he no longer wanted to take sides between the Revisionists and the Exterminationists. He said he wanted to have relations with both camps and to content himself with purely technical work. I encouraged him in that path and, in a dedication the text of which he reports (page 554) but the context of which he distorts, I urged him to seek, to discover, to be cold, impartial and scientific. But that was too much to ask of him. Finding that he was unable to buckle down to methodological and austere work that would have let him put a bit of order into his thoughts, I sent him on his way. I had introduced him to the study of the supposed gas chamber at Struthof (Alsace). Later on, he published, under the auspices of Serge Klarsfeld, a small book in English — poor and confused — on the subject. I see that, in his large book, he treats the subject anew. But he takes care not to reveal a discovery I had made virtually in his presence when, at the Palace of Justice in Paris, together with Pierre Guillaume and Maître Eric Delcroix, we examined the archives of the “Struthof trial,” archives provided at LICRA’s request by the headquarters, in Paris, of the Gendarmerie and Justice Militaire. In those archives I found a document revealing that in December 1945 Professor René Fabre, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Paris, had signed an expert report of the greatest interest. The professor had successively examined the scrapings done around the chimney of the alleged homicidal gas chamber and, in the public hospital of Strasbourg, the well-preserved corpses of the persons supposedly gassed. His finding in both cases was negative: there was no trace of gassing.
In reality, that particular gas chamber, which was only relatively air-tight, had served chiefly for the training of German army recruits in the wearing of gas masks; in that case, the gas presented nowhere near the same danger as hydrocyanic acid (Zyklon B). Pressac had been happy to be able to demonstrate that for us. He had gone to take some photos of a training session in a French army gas chamber not far from Paris. I have a set of those photographs.
Three little secrets of Jean-Claude Pressac
A legend that is dear to the heart of Elie Wiesel, Filip Müller, and Georges Weller maintains that the Germans dug gigantic pits at Birkenau in which they burned thousands of bodies in the open air. I had drawn Pressac’s attention to the fact that the Birkenau camp was located in an area of vast marshes alongside a tributary of the Vistula River and that, despite their drainage work there, the water table continued of necessity to rise to just a short distance below ground level. It was difficult, therefore, to imagine such pits being dug, and I added that in any case it must have been complicated to burn corpses in pits due to the lack of oxygen. Then Pressac, whom I was always advising to get physical verification, dug a small hole in his garden and tried to incinerate the body of a rabbit. He never succeeded. When we visited the site of his “incineration ditch,” he was full of quips about the myth of the “incineration ditches” at Birkenau, and the tale of the rabbit became for us a standing joke.
Visitors to Struthof can see, on the one hand, the Natzweiler camp itself, with its crematorium and, far from the camp, a small building containing the supposed homicidal gas chamber. Pressac pointed out to me that, if they had decided to lie about Natzweiler as they had lied about Auschwitz [sic], they could have made people believe there was a homicidal gas chamber in the crematorium. To prove it, he made up for me a sort of false plan of that building, based on the true plan that we had discovered in the archives of the Gendarmerie and the Justice Militaire. I still have that false plan, drawn by Pressac, and bearing his explanatory notes. He doesn’t breathe a word of this little job in his large book.
I also have, by Pressac, a two-volume study that he entitled Auschwitz, architecture paisible (Auschwitz, Peaceful Architecture). It concerns Kremas IV and V. It is extremely disordered and has never been published. My copy is marked No. 2. The dedication page is laughable: Pressac, offering his services to all comers, launches into flattery addressed to certain Exterminationists as well as certain Revisionists. I come in for my share of these compliments, which are laid on too thick to be sincere.
A few borrowings and a few lies
In his shorter studies, as in his big book, Pressac has plundered my work outrageously. He is indebted to me for a large part of the plans, documents and photographs that he has published; the remainder comprises, most of the time, plans, documents and photographs from the same source or of an identical character. Only the photos from the Bauleitung Album, which is in the possession of the Israelis, are an original contribution.
The baseness of Pressac’s attacks on me, his deceptions and lies in the presentation of certain facts, would oblige me to correct far too many of his allegations than I am able to here. I am described as a coward, too afraid, “of course,” to appear at my trial (page 554); but he knows I was seriously ill at the time. He says that one day, in 1982, he telephoned me and found me a “human wreck;” he writes: “I was shocked and disgusted to find [Faurisson] had reached rock bottom, dragging his family down with him” (page 558). It is true that in 1981 and 1982 I believed I had reached the depths of physical, moral, and financial distress, and that my wife and children shared that distress with me; I did not for all that speak of my “martyrdom” (ibid.) and I do not see what is “shocking” and “disgusting” about my fighting as I did to the limit of my strength. I frightened Pressac. I had always frightened him by my fierceness in defending myself and by my refusal to bow my head.
He ventures to write:
Confronted with the new evidence, Faurisson and Guillaume had a moment of indecision, seeing the possibility of throwing in the sponge and officially declaring that it did appear that some homicidal gassings had taken place at Birkenau (page 554).
Here, he lies and he knows that he lies, at least as regards me. He never presented me with the slightest proof of what he called the “casual gassings;” and I personally have never considered the possibility of a retraction of any kind.
Pressac knows that the trials that were forced on me and that brought me condemnation unprecedented in the contemporary history of France were nothing but stage productions, and the documents with which they tried to crush me were valueless. He knows it and he says it, whether expicitly, as when he alludes to the role of Maître Jouanneau, the LICRA lawyer, or implicitly, when he happens to analyze a “proof” used against “Faurisson” at the time of a trial and admits that said “proof” does not possess the value attributed to it in the slightest (page 49, 554-556).
Pressac has evaded a good twenty essential questions of a technical nature that have been posed by the Revisionists. I shall cite only a few of them:
- Krema I: How can one explain the presence of a homicidal gas chamber using Zyklon B (an explosive gas) that opened onto a room where six crematory ovens were in operation, sometimes reaching temperatures of 800 degress? How could the supposed gas chamber have had a fragile door, one fitted with glass and without a bolt and that, opening as it did to the inside, would have been blocked by heaps of corpses? How could the daily ventilation process have been carried out just twenty meters away from the windows of the SS hospital?
- Kremas II and III: As it would appear that the victims came in batches of 2,000 persons, and it took an hour and a half to incinerate one body in each of the 15 muffles, at the end of this period of time there would still have remained 1,985 bodies to incinerate. Where were they stored in the meantime? How could the ventilation be done from the floor to the ceiling (Zyklon is lighter than air) when everything was set up for ventilation in the opposite direction? Where did they store the bodies of those who, day in and day out, died of natural causes? In general, how do we reconcile the scanty dimensions of the premises (the little elevator) with the immensity of the massacres to be carried out there?
- Kremas IV and V: What were coal stoves doing in the gas chambers?
- Where were the crowds waiting to enter the crematoria able to gather, considering that the aerial photos taken by the Allies never show even the slightest trace of such crowds; and that the area around the crematoria, far from having been trampled by any crowds, was occupied by well-laid-out gardens?
- How is it that the gas slaughterhouses would be located right in the middle of such a variety of other facilities, which, in striking contrast to killing centers, include: a soccer field, hospital buildings, decantation basins, and buildings for showering and disinfection?
- Where are the countless scientific, technical, and medical documents that prove that before, during and after the creation and operation of those chemical slaughterhouses (unprecedented in the history of science and technology) the Germans supposedly prepared, constructed and surveyed those pharaonic undertakings for the terrible purpose alleged, at a time when circumstances required people to get written authorizations and submit detailed budgets to get even a screw or a brick or a kilo of coal?
It will be remembered that the only task I assigned to Pressac was that regarding documents relevant to the cremations (see See Before his first departure for Auschwitz, following our meeting, he had asked me what research he could undertake there for me. I had told him that I was interested in the question of the cremations: the officially recorded number of the bodies incinerated; status of persons cremated (inmates/guards/German soldiers and officers and members of their families); number of employees assigned to cremation of corpses and to the incinerations in the rubbish ovens; the duration of the cremations; time cards, etc. I thought, as a matter of fact, that those numbers alone would demonstrate the impossibility of the stupendous number of cremations that would have been required by the gassing of hundreds of thousands of victims, over and above the cremations necessitated by the ravages of the epidemics in the camp.). Neither at the time of his first sojourn at Auschwitz, nor during his second stay, it appears, had he been able to find time to study the matter. Now that his book has appeared, his continued silence on this point is striking.
One will note that he is very careful not to say that such documents do not exist. He knows all too well that they do exist. He prefers to avoid talking about them. Why does he conceal from his readers the existence of a host of documents that prove that a record was made of each cremation? In the case of teeth extracted from a corpse before its cremation, the usual German attention to detail went so far as to demand the completion of a printed form, with the heading “Dental Station of the Auschwitz Camp,” supplying the date of cremation, the complete identity of the internee, his registration number, the number of teeth (right, left, upper, lower), etc. (see Contribution à l'histoire d'Auschwitz, Auschwitz Museum, 1968, the photograph of the document between pages 80 and 81).
Why does Pressac not mention this type of document, or a single one of the documents required by the Auschwitz chancellery on the death of anyone, with twenty or so signatures for deaths from natural causes and about thirty signatures for deaths from non-natural causes (Dr. Tadeusz Paczula, former prisoner, “The Organization and Administration of the Camp Hospital in the Concentration Camp Auschwitz I,” International Auschwitz Committee, [Blue] Anthology, Vol. II, Part I, Warsaw, 1969, page 45)?
Why does he not make the slightest mention of the “death registers” in which the Germans collected, with a separate page for each decedent, all information relevant to each death? The Revisionists had pointed out the existence of two or three volumes of those Totenbücher, or Sterbebücher, in the Auschwitz Museum, and of forty or so in Moscow: all of them, naturally, inaccessible to independent researchers. It was only under pressure from the Revisionists, notably at the time of the Zündel trial in Toronto in 1988, that the decision was made in 1989 to reveal the existence of the registers to the general public. Pressac was unlucky. His book, in which he conceals the existence of the registers, was no sooner finished than the Soviet Union revealed that, for its part, it retained a large number — but not all — of these precious documents, which strike a lethal blow to the extermination legend. Pressac, by failing to mention that there were also two or three of these death registers in the archives of the Auschwitz Museum — to which he had free access — lied by omission.
Regarding the amount of coke necessary for the cremations and incinerations, Pressac’s vagueness is such that I find it suspect (see microfilm 12,012 mentioned on page 87, the table on page 224, and the remarks on page 227). It is evident that the consumption of coke was certainly ridiculously low in comparison to the amount that would have been required for the gigantic cremations spoken of by the legend, but Pressac has so muddled everything that it is not possible to get a precise idea of it. It is probable that each muffle burned no more than an average of 6 or 7 bodies each day, like the oil-fired furnaces at Buchenwald (page 106), and it is plain that the German document of 28 June 1943 indicating an incineration capacity of 4,756 bodies a day for Auschwitz (with the ovens operating 12 hours each day) is unacceptable. Moreover, Pressac does not hesitate to justify a figure just as extravagant (340 for Krema I, 1,440 for Krema II, 1,440 for Krema III, 768 for Krema IV and 768 for Krema V) and, by a method dear to him, he puts these exaggerations down to the “bragging” of the SS men, who, at any rate in similar instances, must have “multiplied the real figures by a factor of 2 to 5” (page 110).
But his most unforgivable lie by omission concerns the daily activity of the Auschwitz and Birkenau crematoria. The reader who has just finished his book may believe that the five crematoria were devoted to the cremation of people who had been gassed. Day after day, however, these crematoria received the bodies of victims of various epidemics, of persons who had died of natural causes, of inmates, guards, soldiers, civilians. And if, for example, Krema I was near the SS hospital, that was, in the first place, to cremate the SS dead. Dr. Popiersch, the chief surgeon, died of typhus and was cremated at Auschwitz. The same was true of the wife of SS man Caesar, who was in charge of agricultural work, and of Alma Rosé, the German Jewess who conducted the women’s orchestra of the Birkenau camp, and, if we are to believe Fania Fénelon, was accorded an extraodinary funeral (Fania Fénelon, Playing for Time. New York: Atheneum; 1977; page 208). Pressac never tells us how the normal activity of the crematoria could be combined each day with the activities surrounding the alleged gassings: transport to the morgues, storage of the bodies, cremation, collection of ashes, transferral to urns, dispatch of the urns, etc.
In 1982, I reviewed Pressac’s study on Krema IV and V at Birkenau. I entitled that review: “The Myth of the 'Gas Chambers' Enters Its Death Agony.”
To this review, which I wrote in 1990, I could give the following title: “The Death of the 'Gas Chamber' Myth.”
In the media, this myth somehow manages to survive; in academic or scientific circles, it is dead. Our “suburban pharmacist,” as Vidal-Naquet calls him, had offered himself as a savior; his magic potions, in 1982, aggravated the patient’s condition; in 1989, that is, seven years later, they have finished him off.
I know Revisionists who, confronting a thesis so disastrous for Exterminationism, wonder whether Pressac could be one of their own, and working undercover, have hoodwinked the Klarsfelds. I don’t believe that in the least. Pressac is a neophyte, an autodidact, an innocent crossed with a fox. His personality is unstable; he is inconsistent, a weathercock that turns with every wind. He argues illogically and does not know how to express himself either in speech or writing — a deficiency that would be merely annoying in the exposition of a coherent thesis, but that here, with an incoherent and hybrid thesis, becomes absolutely catastrophic. Pressac isn’t wearing any mask; it is his real face that we find disconcerting. For their part, the Klarsfelds lack discernment; they are even blind.They find it “normal” that, in certain cases, persons who displease the Jewish community should be killed or seriously injured (Radio J, 17 September 1989, Agence France Press, 1:36 p.m.; La Lettre télégraphique juive, 18 September, page 1; Le Monde, 19 September, page 14). The anguish of Serge and Beate Klarsfeld at the rise of Revisionism — despite their awareness that it has access neither to money nor to the public forum — is causing them to lose their judgment and their self-control. To the Klarsfelds, all means seem justified; every assistance is welcome; any media operation can serve. Pressac, driven away by Faurisson, dismissed by Wellers, went on to offer his service to the Klarsfelds. He was hired. This tedious tome must have cost them plenty. But, if friends of the Klarsfelds paid for it dearly in money, its results will cost them even more, results that will be fatal for the Exterminationists and providential for the Revisionists.
In 1979, Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Léon Poliakov proclaimed, with thirty-two other French historians, that it was unnecessary to ask questions about the technique and the operation of the homicidal gas chambers. They stated precisely:
It is not necessary to ask how, technically, such a mass murder was possible. It was possible technically since it took place. That is the necessary point of departure for any historical inquiry on this subject. It is our function simply to recall that truth: there is not, there cannot be any debate about the existence of the gas chambers (Le Monde, 21 February 1979, page 23).
In above, I spoke of the silliness of that declaration, and I added:
… The text in Le Monde had been conceived to ward off a very pressing problem. In the confusion that was provoked by my article on “The Rumor of Auschwitz” [Le Monde, 29 December 1978, page 8], Vidal-Naquet and Poliakov hastily drew up a manifesto, and then took it to some signers, saying to them: “We say there cannot be any debate, but it is very clear that you must not pay any attention to that phrase and that you all have to get busy replying to Faurisson.” That is how Vidal-Naquet ingenuously puts it on page 196 of [Les Juifs, la mémoire et le présent, Maspero, 1981] when he writes: “A good number of historians signed the declaration published in Le Monde on 21 February 1979, but very few got busy, one of the rare exceptions being F[rançois] Delpech."
Vidal-Naquet, Poliakov, and the other survivors of the “declaration” of the thirty-four historians have thus had to wait ten years (1979-1989) to see appear at last an attempt at refutation of my Le Monde article on “The Rumor of Auschwitz.” Had my article been based on mere foolishness, its refutation wouldn’t have required so long a time, nor so voluminous and, as we have established, so feeble a response as that made by Pressac.
Pressac has put his name to a masterpiece of inanity. His intellectual capacities did not permit the hope of anything better. His propensity for deception and for manipulating documents, already so remarkable in his presentation of the Auschwitz Album (Le Seuil, 1983) is here confirmed.
But the pharmacist from La Ville du Bois is only a miserable wretch. Pierre Vidal-Naquet and the Klarsfelds are cut from a different cloth.
These are people who had time enough to determine just how empty-headed their “suburban pharmacist” was. They used him nonetheless. But could they have found better? In any case they have brought discredit on their cause. Now they are burdened with this monstrous book, totally unusable, and nothing to be done about it. Let any journalist in search of a scoop ask them, as did Richard Bernstein of the New York Times, to point out a single paragraph or a single photograph in this wearisome tome that rebuts the Revisionists: Vidal-Naquet and the Klarsfelds will be unable to offer anything at all.
I see hardly anyone but the Revisionists showing interest in Pressac and his masterwork, and then only as scientists would do, musing over a phenomenon of teratology, a monster. The “Holocaust” religion has certainly given birth to more than one monstrosity; Jean-Claude Pressac’s misshapen work is one example.
In his paper presented at IHR’s Fourth International Revisionist Conference in 1982 ("Context and Perspective in the 'Holocaust' Controversy,” reproduced as “Supplement B” in recent editions of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, page 335-369), Arthur Butz put the Revisionists on guard against one danger: that of wasting their time in idle technical discussion that make us fail to see the forest for the trees. If we become preoccupied with such details as Zyklon B or crematory ovens, we may end up forgetting the essential point, which is that an extermination so gigantic would have left behind a superabundance of physical and documentary proofs, not merely infinitesimal traces of domestic tinkering and puttering. Our adversaries, Butz added, will seek to enmesh us in cabalistic discussions because, on the level of establishing basic facts, they know they have already lost. As Butz also pointed out, however, a Revisionist must nonetheless show himself capable of confronting the cabalists right down to trifling details. Whatever the ground chosen, the defenders of the “Holocaust” thesis must realize that all avenues of escape are closed to them. It is thus that they find themselves today in a total impasse. Their gang plank to safety — Pressac’s book — is made of rotted wood.
The Jewish community has had some bad shepherds. It should have jettisoned the dogma of the Auschwitz gas chamber a decade ago. In December 1978, Le Monde published, at the same time as my article on “The Rumor of Auschwitz,” several articles that were supposed to refute me. I think that certain French academics, of Jewish origin, immediately perceived that a grave event had just occurred: in a few lines, I had just reminded them, like previous Revisionists, that the emperor was wearing no clothes. Confronted with this, a group of Establishment historians endeavored, in vain, to pretend the contrary. On 16 January 1979, Le Monde published my “right of response.” That would have been a fitting time, I think, for the Franco-Jewish academics to have urgently prepared a “declaration of historians” stating that there could and must be a debate on the existence or nonexistence of the Auschwitz gas chambers.
Fate declared otherwise. On 21 February 1979, then, appeared the “declaration” drawn up by Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Léon Poliakov. By it the Exterminationists ratified their ruin. Ten years later, with this book by Jean-Claude Pressac, they are reaping the fruits of their blindness. They appear to me to have been inspired by an altogether too narrow conception of their self-interest. They ought to have looked farther ahead, to have given thought to their obligations as historians and to the interest, truly understood, of the Jewish community. Then, instead of dogging the heretics with press campaigns, physical attacks, and the police and the courts; instead of staging one incestuous colloquium after another; instead of churning out an endless stream of bad books (Pressac’s being the worst), they ought to have opened their minds and hearts to discussion and reflection.
They would have done well to have done some work.
The Revisionists have been at work. It’s a pit the Exterminationists haven’t followed their lead.
Appendix I: Pressac versus the Leuchter Report
At the end of 1988, Serge Klarsfeld published, in Jour J/La Lettre télégraphique juive, a study by Pressac of the Leuchter Report. The title was: “Les carences et les incohérences du 'Rapport Leuchter'” ("The Deficiencies and Inconsistencies of the Leuchter Report").
“Deficiencies” and “Inconsistencies:” Pressac is a master there! The sole proof he could find of homicidal gassings in Krema I he owes to this report (see See In the conclusion to this section, he plays a real sleight-of-hand trick. He appeals to the Leuchter Report as the material proof — the only one — of the reality of homicidal gassings in that place. He says that Fred Leuchter, whose qualifications he cites, removed seven samples of brick and cement and that upon analysis six of them revealed the presence of cyanide; then he writes in bold-face type)! His study, plainly hurried, blends emotive reflections about Fred Leuchter with an exposition on the Auschwitz gassings, a summary on the Auschwitz crematory ovens, and a final discussion on Majdanek. On Auschwitz, he repeats what I call his theory of “molecules with homing devices” (see See Pressac dares to state (page 555) that, in the case of homicidal gassings, the hydrocyanic acid went directly into the victims' mouths before it could spread elsewhere and impregnate the ceiling, the floor, and the walls. The gas was not even deposited on the bodies of the victims, from which it could have emanated throughout the room. This naive explanation amounts to supposing that the hydrocyanic gas, in this case and this case only, consisted of molecules with homing devices, so organized that these molecules divided up the job of being inhaled, each vanishing into its own particular mouth.), a theory that tries to explain the absence, so embarrassing for Pressac, of ferric-ferro-cyanide stains there where so many human beings were supposedly gassed.
About Majdanek, I believe it’s not too much to say that Pressac does not believe in the existence of homicidal gas chambers in this camp. He writes:
Lacking any precise technical study, those gas chambers remain poorly known (page vii);
The use of [such places] as homicidal gas chambers with HCN appears difficult and remains risky … the technique would seem possible, but an actual use is risky (page viii);
[There were some] modifications … after 1945 [which give a] false impression (page ix);
a regrettable confusion during the 1950s results in the shower room often being presented as a homicidal gas chamber (with toxic gas thought to be dispersed through shower heads) (ibid.);
The use of this place for homicidal purposes is only conceivable under two conditions: the removal of a fanlight that could have been broken by the victims and the addition of a mechanical ventilator (ibid.);
the homicidal function which the author [Pressac] cannot presently discuss (ibid.);
the deputy director of the Museum told the author [Pressac] that this gas chamber had very, very seldom been used, which really means that it had not been used at all. That fiction is maintained in order not to shock popular belief which wants it that way … (ibid.);
In his big book, Pressac manifests the same skepticism. He considers that no one has yet undertaken a “serious study” of the Majdanek gas chamber (page 184). Writing of Auschwitz, he lets slip a remark that implies that Majdanek was perhaps not really “criminal” (page 218). Denouncing the methods of the “officials of the Majdanek Museum,” he writes,
I am sorry to say, and I am not the only one in the West, that the Majdanek homicidal and/or delousing gas chambers are still waiting for a true historian, which is mildly upsetting in view of the fact that the camp fell into the hands of the Russians intact in 1944 (page 555).
On page 557, a photograph shows the exterior of one of the “disinfection gas chambers thought to be a homicidal gas chamber.” The photograph comes from Maître Jouanneau, attorney for LICRA, who was duped, Pressac tell us, by the camp authorities (the lawyer used this photograph before the Paris court to prove that Faurission was a falsifier denying the historical evidence).
Appendix II: How many cremations a day at Krema II ?
How many cremations, on the average, were there per day in the five three-muffle crematory ovens of Krema II? To that question, Pressac ought to give one answer and one answer only, but instead he gives at least five, ranging from 288 a day to 1,500 a day.
- First answer: 960 or 288 or 720! Those three contradictory answers all appear on page 110 where speaking of a German document dated 28 June 1943 that indicates 1,440 cremations per day, he says that this “official” number, even if reduced by a third (that would be 960 cremations), is barely credible; and he adds that, given the SS penchant for boasting, it is better in general to divide their numbers by “a factor of from two to five” to obtain the truth in such matters. So that would give us a minimum of 288 cremations and a maximum of 720 cremations.
- Second answer: 752! This emerges from page 183, where Pressac writes that the Krema in question “functioned as a homicidal gas chamber and incineration installation from 15th March 1943, before its officially coming into service on 31st March, to 27th November 1944, annihilating a total of approximately 400,000 people, most of them Jewish women, children and old men.” Pressac does not justify any of his statements. We don’t know why he claims that this Krema operated in a homicidal manner before 31 March, nor why he declares the final date of operation to have been 27 November 1944, unless because the self-taught Pressac takes at face value the legend that on 26 November 1944 Himmler ordered the slaughter stopped. No matter. Let us take him at his word. From 15 March 1943 to 27 November 1944, there elapsed 624 days, a figure that must be reduced to 532 if we take into account that, because of a repair of its chimney, Krema II is supposed to have halted operations for three months, from May through July of 1943 (page 227). Over a period of 532 days there would thus have been 400,000 cremations, or 752 per day.
- Third answer: a “practical 'throughput' being closer to 1,000.” That is what the author says on page 470 when he judges that the figure of 2,000 cremations that was given by the witness, Dr. Bendel, cannot be accepted (see page 334).
- Fourth answer: “between 1,000 to 1,500.” That is what the author says on page 475 regarding an estimate by Dr. Nyiszli.
- Fifth response: nearly 625. This is derived from page 494, where the author indicates that the number of bodies cremated, according to the witness Henryk Tauber, was about 2,500 per day, concerning which figure he writes: “Here we find the famous multiplication factor of four [of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli].”
In sum, Pressac gives completely divergent answers in this matter; his estimates of the cremations per day in Krema II, in ascending order, are as follows: 288, 625, 720, 752, 960, 1,000, and between 1,000 and 1,500.
This Krema had 15 muffles, and the crematory ovens, Pressac admits, functioned only 12 hours a day. For each muffle, therefore, the cremations per day would have been, respectively, 19, 42, 48, 50, 64, and from 67 to 100. These figures, varying from 19 to 100 per day, would represent performances beyond the capabilities of our most modern crematoria. They are all the more unacceptable when we consider that Pressac is counting only the corpses of those who are supposed to have been “gassed,” to which must be added the cremations of bodies of the inmates, guards, and soldiers who died every day of various causes, especially when typhus was raging in the camp.
Appendix III: Pressac’s tricks in the Auschwitz Album
In 1983, Pressac and Klarsfeld jointly published a French edition of what is called the Auschwitz Album (translated from English by Guy Casaril, Editions du Seuil, 1983, 224 pages). It was a collection of 189 extremely interesting photos, taken in 1944 by a German from the photographic staff of the Auschwitz camp — possibly Ernst Hoffman. No one, whether Exterminationist or Revisionist, has contested the authenticity or the veracity of these photographs, which were taken at the time of the mass arrivals of Hungarian Jews in 1944. These photographs supply a providential confirmation of the Revisionist thesis, and it is shocking that we had to wait until the early 1980s to see all of them published. Serge Klarsfeld, embarrassed by what they revealed, could offer but a single parry in respose: fabricating a moving account of the pretended discovery of the album by a certain Lili Meier.
Klarsfeld and Pressac went to even greater lengths for the French edition of this album. In a twenty-page typed analysis that I completed in December 1983, but did not publish at that time for lack of money, I described their subterfuge. I showed that in the French edition, which I compared with the two original editions published in the United States, Pressac had drastically changed the original order of the album’s sections, an order that had reflected a logical sequence of events for the newly arrived inmates of the Birkenau camp. In place of that order, our man had substituted an arrangement that would give one to understand that most of the people pictured would end up dying in the mysterious homicidal gas chambers. He also changed the number of photographs in each section and proceeded to switch photographs from one section to another! He removed one group of photos and then, to restore the original number of sections, he made use of the same caption from the original twice, but gave it two different translations. I wrote:
Without breathing a word of it to the reader, Jean-Claude Pressac acted like a pharmacist who would surreptitiously change the contents of his bottles, change their number, and switch their labels, not to mention committing two forgeries in the process (page 7).
But the most spectacular of his manipulations was to be found on pages 42 and 43 of the Album. Under the title “The Trickeries of the Auschwitz Album,” I circulated a short piece devoted to that deceit. I did not fail to send a copy of it to Editions du Seuil. Here is what our pharmacist had devised: in order to try to make us believe that the route taken by certain groups of deportees (women and children) ended at Kremas II and III and therefore, according to him, in the homicidal gas chambers, he had provided, on page 42 of the Album, a plan of Birkenau from which he had made a careful deletion to prevent the reader from seeing that in reality these groups of deportees actually passed between the two Krema, staying on the road leading to the large shower and disinfection center called the Zentral Sauna until their arrival there. Caught red-handed, Pressac followed a policy of silence for the next six years (1983-1989). To those who had read my article and stubbornly demanded an explanation from him, even to the point of telephoning him, his answer was to feign ignorance: he claimed he knew nothing of my article. Now, with the publication of his big book, he is forced to provide an explanation: by doing so he just makes his case worse.
The plan in which he deceptively made a cut in the route to the Zentral Sauna is reproduced on page 421 of his big book. On pages 514 and 515, he tries to explain. He begins by saying that in 1983 he had easily been able to answer my criticism “in an article whose publication was not deemed necessary.” He does not reveal to us who decided not to publish it, and why. I suggest that Pressac’s answer was quite simply judged dreadful. If I allow myself that suggestion, it is because the response that he finally consents to give us in 1989 in his big book is pathetic and proves his trickery. Pressac answers in effect that, in order to draw the plan for which I reproached him, he had used “as a basis [emphasis added]” (page 515) an authentic plan: plan 3764 (page 514). I don’t doubt it: he did take that “as a basis” and added to it lines representing the avenues in and around the camp, but taking great care to truncate the route leading to the Zentral Sauna, in order to make us believe that the Jewish women and children who took that route could go no farther than the crematoria. The deletion is flagrant. The subterfuge is obvious.
But there’s more. In the original version of the Auschwitz Album, the American edition, there was a photograph that may be described as follows: in the foreground, a group of four elderly Jews, three men and a woman, are plainly having an altercation, while in the background, indifferent to the scene, a scattered few German soldiers, wearing garrison caps, are walking by. This is photograph 109. Pressac, deciding to make this photograph “speak,” moves it to the 189th and last place in the sequence, where it is supposed to mark the acme of the extermination horror. And here, in his usual jargon, is the explanation of the photograph:
That photo is unique, terrible, and to be added to the file on the extermination of the Jews as evidence for the prosecution … The footpath down which this woman is refusing to go ends at the door of [Krema] V, leading to the disrobing room and the gas chambers. If the three men who are dragging her do not seem to suspect the fate that awaits them, she knows that the building which she is turning away from, that red brick building with its black roof and its two 16 meter-high chimneys, has become the negation of life and stinks of death (Auschwitz Album, page 204).
In my 1983 article (page 9), I observed:
All that pathos cannot blind us to this: there is no footpath, and we cannot predict the direction this or that person might take; [Pressac] tells us nothing about the presence and the indifference, or inattention, of the German soldiers; how could the woman know that she is going to be gassed and the men not know that they are going to be gassed? Finally and above all, it is plain to see that the woman is trying neither to get away from the man on the right nor to resist him: she is clasping his hand in her own left hand.
On page 421 of his big book of 1989, the subject of this review, Pressac has changed his commentary on the photograph, writing:
As for the woman’s attitude, it could simply be that she, with no illusions about what is to happen and having seen the SS photographer, suddenly turned away, saying in effect: “I don’t want that [bastard of an] SS to photograph me!” Such a reaction would not be surprising, for some of the Jewish children, less polite and more spontaneous than their parents, instinctively feeling that the SS wished them no good, pulled faces at the photographers.
In other words, for one story Pressac substitutes another, and his entire interpretation of the Auschwitz Album collapses, because the photograph deemed to represent the acme of horror has been reduced, according to our manipulator himself, to showing us an old woman who does not want her picture taken!
Pressac reproaches me for not saying that the scene takes place near Krema V. As a matter of fact I did say so, because I quoted his mention of that. And I find it interesting that there is nothing secret about the place: as in many other photographs, both in that album and in his large work, we see small groups of Jews, Germans, and civilian workers all peaceably rubbing elbows with each other.
Pressac leaves unanswered in Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers all the other rebukes of his trickery I addressed to him in 1983 apropos the Auschwitz Album. He thus compels me to repeat my accusations today.
Appendix IV: The truncated testimony of Hanna Reitsch
Pressac takes note of the testimony of the German air ace, Hanna (and not Hannah) Reitsch (1912-1979) as though it were evidence of the existence of the gas chambers (page 486). In reality, Hanna Reitsch, at the end of 1944, saw an Allied pamphlet that mentioned gas chambers; she didn’t believe it. After the war, she came to believe it. By the end of her life, she no longer believed; Pressac is either ignorant, or pretends not to know, of this last development. The details of the case are interesting.
In October 1944, Peter Riedel, an aviator friend of Miss Reitsch, who was then working in the German Embassy in Stockholm, received an Allied propaganda pamphlet that touched on the gas chambers. Deeply affected, he brought it up to Hanna Reitsch at the “Aviation House” in Berlin. The latter, furious, told him that it was obviously a war propaganda fabrication comparable to the enemy propaganda lies about the Germans during World War I. Riedel urged her speak to Heinrich Himmler about it. She went to see Himmler, who leafed through the brochure, without registering the slightest emotion. He asked her, “And you believe this, Frau Hanna?” She told him no, but added that countering it was imperative. Himmler told her she was right.
Pressac specifies that the English version of Hanna Reitsch’s memoirs (Fliegen — mein Leben) stops there, but remarks that in the French version the text continues: “A few days later, the information was denied in one of the main German newspapers. I learned from Peter Riedel that the same denial had appeared in a Swedish newspaper. It was only after 1945 that I found out, and with what horror, that Himmler had lied to me, and that the awful news was true.”
If Pressac had pursued his investigation a little further, and especially if he had read Gerd Honsik’s Freispruch für Hitler? 36 ungehörte Zeugen wider die Gaskammer (Acquittal for Hitler? 36 Unheard Witnesses Testify Against the Gas Chambers) (Burgenländischer Kulturverband Wien, Postfach 11, 1142 Vienna, 1988), he could have discovered that (pages 132-138):
- Himmler also said to Reitsch concerning that Allied accusation: “That [the gassing accusation] is the rope they'll hang us with if we lose";
- Hanna Reitsch had so far returned to her good sense that at the end of her life she supported the efforts of the Revisionists and, in particular, those of an Austrian (whom she called “the courageous Friedl Rainer") “against all the terrible atrocity lies” (letter dated 15 September 1977, reproduced by Gerd Honsik on page 138 of his book).
According to David Irving, the State of Israel is holding the manuscript of Himmler’s memoirs. If that is true, why is this document being shielded from the curiosity of historians and researchers?