The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
[The Tragedy of the European Jews]
Les Sept couleurs. Paris 1964, pages 52 to 58.

(Médecin à Auschwitz)
In March 1951, in Les Temps Modernes, a monthly review run by Jean-Paul Sartre, a certain Tibère Kremer presented under the title SS Obersturmführer Docteur Mengele and the sub-title “Journal d'un médecin déporté au crematorium d'Auschwitz” [Diary of a doctor deported to the Auschwitz crematorium] a false testimony on this camp which will remain one of the most abominable unscrupulous actions of all time. The author was, he said, a Hungarian Jew by the name of Miklos Nyiszli, a doctor by profession, as stated in the sub-title. There followed 27 pages (1655- 1672) of selected extracts. The April issue of the review published a further 31 pages (1855-1886). This false testimony had just been presented to American public opinion by Mr Richard Seaver with a preface by Professor Brtuno Bettelhein. It was not until 1961 that it was published in its entirety, in German, in five issues of the illustrated Munich weekly Quick (January-February) with the titleAuschwitz, and in French in a volwne of 256 pages by the Julliand press under the title Médecin à Auschwitzand the subtitle Souvenirs d'un médecin déporté”.

In 1951. it was a sensation in France: we were in the middle of the Mensonge d'Ulysse" trial, and my soul appeared all the more blackened in the eyes of the public. In 1961, it was again a sensation, throughout the world this time: we were in the middle of the Eichmann trial…

For he certainly had things to say, this Dr Miklos Nyiszli! And what is more, he produced the first detailed account of virtually all the horrors of which the Auschwitz camp had been the theatre, and in particular the exterminations in gas chambers. Among other things, he claimed that in this camp there were four gas chambers 203m long (without specifying the width) together with four other rooms of the same dimension to prepare the victims for the sacrifice, asphyxiated 20,000 people a day, and that four crematoriums, each with 15 muffles with 3 places, incinerated them as work proceeded. He also added that in addition 5,000 other people were also killed each day using less modern methods and burnt in huge open air pits. He also added that he personally witnessed these systematic massacres for eight months.

Lastly (on page 50 of the volume published by Julliard), he stated that when he arrived in the camp (end of May 1944 at the earliest), extermination by gas had been going on at the above rate for four years.

First observation: this gentleman did not know that, if there were gas chambers at Auschwitz they were not finally installed and operational until 20th February 1943 (Document NO 4463, already cited).

Second observation: he did not know either that the gas chambers had officially and respectively a floor area of 210m² for the first (precisely that of which he spoke), 400m² for the second and 580m² for the last two. In other words, the gas chamber he saw and minutely described the operation of was 1.05m wide. A long corridor, in other words. And as he states that down the center was a row of columns with holes through which the gas escaped (these led to holes in the roof, where medical orderlies wearing Red Cross armbands threw in the tablets of Zyklon-B) and that on each side, along the walls, there were benches where people could sit (certainly not very, wide, these benches!) and that 3,000 people could circulate easily (they proceeded by batches of 3,000!). I submit that either Dr Miklos Nyiszli never existed, or if he did exist he never set foot in the places he describes.

Third observation: if the Auschwitz gas chambers and the open air pyre exterminated 25,000 persons a day for four and a half years (for according to this “witness” they went on exterminating for six months after his arrival at the camp) that makes a total of:
365 × 4.5 = 1,642 days
and in terms of corpses:
25,000 × 1,642 = 41 million people,
of whom a little over 32 million were killed in the gas chambers and a little less than 9 million in the open air pyres.

I would add that while it night have been possible fo the four gas chambers to asphyxiate 20,000 persons a day (in batches of 3,000 says the witness) it would have been absolutely impossible for the four crematoriums to incinerate them at the same rate. Even if the furnaces had 15 muffles with three places. And even if the operation took only 20 minutes, as Dr Miklos Nyiszli claims, and which is again false.

On the basis of these figures, the total capacity of all the furnaces working in parallel would still only have been 540 an hour, or 12,960 per 24 hour day. And at this rate, it would not have been possible to extinguish the furnaces until some yeas after the Liberation. Provided of course, that not a minute was wasted over almost ten years. If now we make enquiries at the Père Lachaise cemetery about the cremation time for three bodies in one muffle, we discover that the Auschwitz furnaces would still be burning today and would not be extinguished for some time to come!

I say nothing about the two open air pyres (which according to our author were 50 meters high, 6 wide and 3 deep) by means of which it is supposed to have been possible to burn 9 million bodies in the four and a half years.

There is also another impossibility, at least as regards extermination using gas, since if there were gas chambers in Auschwitz they were officially operational only from 20th February 1943 until 17th November 1944, or for 17 or 18 months. At the rate put forward by Dr Nyiszli Miklos, we then arrive at a figure of 11 million corpses and if if we add the 9 million from the open air pyres, about twenty million which, by what virtue of mathematics we do not know, Mr Tibor KREMER, in his introduction to this “testimony”, summarily reduces to 6 million. This is worrying. Especially if, as claimed by Dr Kasztner, they were not functioning for 8 or 9 of these 17 or 18 months.

But that is not all. In contradiction with all who have given evidence on Auschwitz both before and after him, this Dr Miklos Nyiszli also contradicts himself. With the others, it is he who says (p. 56) that the gas is given off from the Zyklon-B tablets “on contact with air”, Hoess having told us that it was “on contact with water vapor"; it is he who tells us (p. 56) that “in five minutes” everybody is dead, Hoess' Zyklon-B requiring “half an hour"; it is again he who tells us (p. 36) that the Hungarian Jews were transported to Auschwitz at the rate of “four or five trains a days, each of forty wagons, each containing ninety people” (p. 15), or 3,600 in all, but (p 18) “about five thousand people”.

This last claim cannot fail to surprise if one knows that the deportation of Hungarian Jews lasted 52 days (16th May to 7th July 1944) according to the Kasztner Report and Histoire de Joel Brand, in agreement on this point, while Hoess said at Nuremberg “a period of four to six weeks”. (T.XI, p.412).

Let us calculate on the basis of the four possible hypotheses:

1. 4 trains of 3,600 persons = 14,400 people per day or 748,800 in 52 days;

2. 4 trains of 5,000 persons = 20,000 people per day or 1,040,000 in 52 days:

3. 5 trains of 3,600 persons = 18,000 people per day or 936,000 in 52 days:

4. 5 trains of 5,000 persons = 25,000 people per day or 1,300,00 in 52 days;

However, in statistics of Jewish origin themselves, the highest figure given for the Hungarian Jews is 437,000 people. I leave the reader to draw his own conclusions on the figures given by this singular witness. I would add that the Kasztner Report tells us that on the 19th March 1944, Eichmann arrived in Budapest with a commando of 150 men and that 1,000 wagons were at his disposal for the operation of transporting the Jews. If, as Dr Miklos Nyiszli tells us, the trip took four days — which is likely, as the convoy in which I was transported from Compiègne to Buchenwald look that long — then as from the sixth day there would have been no wagons left in Budapest station and the operation would have been suspended until the ninth day. That is so, even without taking account of the number of wagons necessary for bringing all the Jews from all parts of Hungary to the assembly points. The Judgement of the Jerualem Courts that condemned Eichmann to death in fact completely demolished this testimony by declaring (point 112) that, “in less than two months, 434,351 persons were deported in 147 goods trains, at a rate of 3,000 per train, men, women and children, or 2 to 3 trains a day on average”, and as we shall see below, this new version is no more valid

There are countless passages in Dr Miklos Nyiszli’s testimony where he contradicts himself: the crematorium being in action, his nose and throat are assailed by “the smell of burning flesh and hair” (p. 19) but “the dead are shorn” (p. 60) after their removal from the gas chamber and before cremating them, then, “rough hands cut off the tresses of their well-groomed hair” (p. 168) before they were sent to the bath and on to the gas chamber. And many other examples.

But, what is the most significant is what one discovers in comparing this French version of the so-called testimony with the German version published in installments in the Munich illustrated weekly “Quick”, starting on 15th January 1961. In this version, the crematoriums incinerated a total of only 10,000 persons a day instead of 20,000. A pistol maksman who hits his target at 40-50 meters in French succeeds only at 20 to 30 meters in German. An institute that is the most famous in the Third Reich in the first is the most famous in the world in the second. “Beautiful rugs” become “Persian rugs”. The Auschwitz camp, which could contain “up to 500,000 people” is now only “huge”, the figure having disappeared because between 1951 and 1961 the author — who had in fact been dead for a long time as we shall see below, found out through an intermediary that at Nuremberg Hoess had stated that “it had contained up to 140,000 people”. (T.XI, p.416). A distance of 3 km was reduced to 500m, etc., etc.

It all boils down to one thing: either it is an authentic document and it should be the same in 1961 as in 1951, and in its German and French versions, or it is an apocryphal document. The fact that these two versions agree on virtually nothing, and neither of them with for example, the description of the premises derived from the documents produced at Nuremberg, authorizes us to claim at least that this Miklos Nyiszli never set foot in Auschwitz. I insist: at least. I should have suspected as much from the very first page of his testimony: does he not say there of the convoy in which he is transported, “leaving the Tatra behind us, we passed through the stations of Lublin and Cracow” (to go to Auschwitz from the Hungaro-Romanian border), which proves that not only did he not know the Auschwitz camp, and never saw it, but did not even know the route that led there.

And in Paris he managed to find a publishing house willing to put this imbecility in circulation among the public!

In April 1951, when extracts from his testimony were published by Les Temps Modernes, I wrote to him. On 24th October of the same year he replied to me through Mr Tibère Kremer that in reality there were “2,500,000 people exterminated in the gas chambers of Auschwitz” …