The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac

Preface by Beate and Serge KLARSFELD

A scientific rebuttal of those who deny the gas chambers

Jean-Claude Pressac deserves our praise: he has become one of the rare researchers who specialize in the field of gas chambers extermination technique, this in spite of the fact that he is not a Jew and was very nearly a revisionist.

After eight years at the la Flèche Military School, J-C Pressac chose instead of becoming an officer, to break with the army and study pharmacy.

As a newly established pharmacist, he decided at the age of about thirty to write a work of historical fiction describing the universe that would have resulted from a German victory in the second world war.

J-C Pressac went to Germany and Poland to get the necessary background for his novel, and discovered the world of the concentration camps and the mechanisms by which the Jews were exterminated. He was able to overcome his initial doubts thanks to his rational and scientific training, to resist the advances of Faurisson and his clique and listen only to the call of truth. This was a demanding and difficult path to follow, for in his case it was not only a matter of a comparative study of the testimonies of victims and executioners to determine the points of convergence or contradiction concerning the gas chambers: J-C Pressac’s original and eminently logical approach was to go to Auschwitz, working in the archives and inspecting the site, as often as was necessary — a total of over three months in about fifteen visits between 1979 and 1987 — in order to thoroughly master his subject.

It is now almost ten years that we have been cooperating with Jean-Claude Pressac. 1n 1980, in fact, we found the original album of photographs that an SS man had taken of the arrival of Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz in 1944, an album that had been brought back by a deportee, Lili Jacob, when the camps were liberated. The complete Auschwitz Album was published for the first time by our Foundation in August 1980. 'The following year a version for a wider public was produced by Random House. But as soon as our version was published, J-C Pressac had contacted us to study the original photographs, whose quality was better than that of the published version. When Le Seuil decided to produce a French version of the Random House edition, we put them in touch with J-C Pressac and he was able to considerably enrich the French edition with his pertinent commentaries and an annex containing a number of photographs and explanations concerning Krematorien II, III, IV and V. This was published in 1983.

The previous year, 1982, in issue 107 of Le Monde Juif. the journal of the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine de Paris, directed by Georges Wellers whose works are references on the subject, Jean-Claude Pressac had published art important article entitled Les Krematorien IV et V de Birkenau et leurs chambres à gas. Then, in 1985, when Editions Gallimard and Le Seuil jointly published) L'Allemagne Nazie et le Génocide Juif a fundamental work containing the proceedings of the Colloquium held in July /982 at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes et Sciences Sociales J-C Pressac’s detailed contribution Etude et Réalisation des Krematorien IV et V d'Auschwitz Birkenau formed an integral part of it. The same year, 1985. our Foundation published in English a work by Jean-Claude Pressac entitled The Struthof Albums.

“We decided in fact to publish a study, for the fortieth anniversary of Hitler’s defeat, devoted to the terrifying episode of the assassination of 87 Jews, including 30 women, for the purpose of constituting a collection of skulls and skeletons to be kept at the Institute of Anatomy of a large German university. Because they were Jewish, these men and women were selected, asphyxiated, dismembered and carved up by men of science. Racist science. We asked Jean-Claude Pressac to study, in particular, how these Jewish victims were gassed at Struthof near Strasbourg …”

“The record is a terrible one, but the world must confront it, for it exemplifies the horror of the Jewish condition during the Nazi period. Those things that happened must be known. They cannot and must not be forgotten. Such is the main ambition of the publications we have undertaken.”

Meanwhile, in 1983, we had asked J-C Pressac to write a reference work with all the available drawings and photographs, devoted to the technique and operation of the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau. This initiative on our part was by no means exceptional because already in 1978 we had published in English a very detailed work entitled The Holocaust and the Neo Nazi Mythomania, containing three parts: The Launching of the Final Solution by Dr Joseph Billig. The Existence of Gas Chambers and The Number of Victims and the Korherr Report by Georges Wellers. In our introduction to this work, the first published by our Foundation, we explained our approach. which ten years later remains the same:

“We have taken the initiative not only for the conception of this book, its edition and publication, but also for its distribution. Our objective is to provide people of good faith with the precise facts which incontestably refute the lies of the Neo Nazi propaganda relevant to the Holocaust.

“Those propagandists who seek to rehabilitate Nazism are perfectly aware that what marks it indelibly is the infamous genocide of the Jewish people. They take advantage of the credibility of the public and the more or less unconscious desire of the latter that this nightmarish mass murder had never taken place. That is why the Neo Nazis have during recent years launched an offensive which has had a certain success. Their principal themes are the following: that Hitler was not responsible for the “final solution,” that the gas chambers as a means of exterminating the Jews never existed, that the number of Jewish victims has been very considerably exaggerated.

“This propaganda is internationally coordinated, and the most virulent of these Neo Nazi publications appear in the major languages. In the following pages, we shall give striking examples of this propaganda which seeks to weaken the cause of the Jews in general as well as that of Israel.