The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
This particular Frenchman had left an impression. A most unpleasant individual. This awful man had like me come to the Archives and also discovered the plans of the Krematorien,

[Drawings 932 and 934 (Krematorium II), 2136 (Kr III), one or two of Kr 1 and an overall plan of the Birkenau camp, drawing 2503 of 18/6/43. Early in 1977 he received copies of the drawings of Krematorien II and III he had consulted and at the end of 1977 the Museum sent him reproductions of the Kr I drawing of 25/9/ 41 and Krematorien IV and V drawing 2036 of 11/1/43.]

But after two days he packed up and went home because he had caught a cold. Once back home, this hypocrite to whom everything had been generously shown wrote articles [Le Matinof 16/11/78. Le Monde of 29/12/78 and 16/1/79] claiming that hydrocyanic acid homicidal gas chambers would never have been able to function physically and hence that the extermination of the Jews was a legend. Trying to maintain that the homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau never existed amounted to historical trickery and downright lying. It appeared that a certain Professor “Laurisson” was the author of these absurdities. [Iwaszko had teamed about the “Faurisson affair” thanks to a visit to the PMO Archives by Maître Bernard Jouanneau, as lawyer for the LICRA, on 12th June 1979, five months before my own visit].

Though I was sure I would eventually be able to get at the truth, I was hampered by the terrible weather conditions and completed only half of my program of producing slides of the camp, the gaps being filled by 50 photographs sent to me by the Museum. I would say in passing that while Ivaszko was always helpful and friendly, even managing to save a film that had broken in my camera, the attitude of two Polish policemen was quite different and I underwent a most unpleasant grilling and had twelve negatives of a newly begun film confiscated, simply because I had the misfortune to photograph the bridge over the Auschwitz railway (the famous bridge where, on 1st March 1941, Himmler, accompanied by his retinue. had indicated with a wave of the hand, that the Birkenau area should be the site for the construction of a new camp for 100,000 prisoners of war (Kriegsgefangenenlager or KGL)], the siding going towards Birkenau and the nearest factory (of the period!) surrounded by barbed wire, which was apparently producing equipment for the police. For a whole hour I was able to savor the uncomfortable position of a “western spy”, for this is what I was considered to be.

Nonetheless, I had come to find answers to my questions, and I had them, even if I still had no absolute certainty. Just as I was setting off, I came upon a group of French former prisoners, come specially for All Saints Day. They congratulated me, complementing my fine historical curiosity, calling me a “relay” or “transmitter” of the good word. A radiant woman former prisoner, a blond lady doctor, tried to find out if I could bear witness in some way or other in the media [It was only later on that understood the motives of this woman. There are so few real specialists of the problem in the west that she considered it highly desirable to “co-opt” me]. But I politely declined and did not reveal my identity, declaring myself to be an insignificant nobody. At that time I could not understand this former prisoner's request, not knowing that some people did not believe or no longer believed in this horror. People like Andrzej Brycht, a Polish writer born in 1935 who left his country in 1970 to settle in Canada, who writes in his Excursion Auschwitz Birkenau(1966 and January 1980, NRF, Editors Gallimard, for the French version): “I observed these ruins [those of Krematorium II] incapable of believing that so many people could have been burned in such a miserable building”, and says, “Who could know what really happened here [in Birkenau] and even whether all that existed”.

During the conversation with the former prisoners, the name of Laurisson had come up again. This thoroughly aroused my curiosity and I decided to contact him and find out what his views were. Five months passed. After two preliminary telephone conversations I met the gentleman concerned, Professor Faurisson (to give his correct spelling). He appeared to look normal. About fifty, very much the academic. Apart from a somewhat acid voice on the phone he seemed quite correct.

The first meeting lasted four or five hours. I emerged with my head bursting. A splitting headache. We had both approached the problem in the same way. Through drawings. Something tangible, concrete. Not on the basis of vague testimonies, always true in the eyes of their authors, but without great historical value because frequently deformed by different factors. The floodgates of out mutual stores of information very quickly opened. I knew a fair bit, but he seemed to know a hundred times more, and in depth, supported by serious and unimpeachable references.
[End of the text extracted from the notes]
I worked with Robert Faurisson from the end of March 1980 to December 1980. Then, as all serious historical research began impossible, his dogma being paramount, our meetings became less frequent, though we remained in touch, then the final break came in April 1981. Before being able to realize that the force of his argument rested purely and simply on the lead he held in the knowledge of the facts, I had to catch up with him, Only then was I able to judge impartially the value of his arguments. What first made me think deeply, helped me and, I admit, disturbed me, was Pierre Vidal Naquet's article of September 1980, La mémoire d'Auschwitz. The second factor was my own research at the PMO Archives and the documents I found there in three stays (25th - 30th August, 4th - 17th October and 11th 21st November 1980). Third was the pleading of Maitre Bernard Jouanneau at the hearing of 1st June 1981 at the High Court of Paris during the “Faurisson trial”. But as early as the end of August 1980, Faurisson, who was not at that time aware of it, could no longer count me among his unconditional supporters. His theory stood up for only TWO DAYS to a direct historical confrontation with the Museum documents and the Birkenau ruins, the just result of over hasty research that, irony of fate, had also lasted two days.

I met a twosome. Robert Faurisson and Pierre Guillaume. The first called himself a historian and an “anarchist of the right”. The second supported the first, published him, and considered himself to be an “anarchist of the left”. They formed a most disparate couple, The meetings took place at the home of Pierre Guillaume. who put Faurisson up during his visits to Paris. I never understood why Guillaume supported Faurisson. Guillaume already publishing Paul Rassiniers's works, it seemed logical that he should be interested in the works of another revisionist, Faurisson. textual and documentary critic, Professor in the Classical and Modem Letters and Civilization Faculty at the University of Lyon 2.

Why did I work with them? Because they brought precise answers in response to my doubts. People born after the Second World War no longer believe in anything very much. The hypocrisy of human behavior, the systematic falsification of information and deliberate deformation of the facts have made them more than suspicious of any official sources, “authorized beliefs” and “expert opinions”. This attitude implies that before accepting anything, one has to cheek for oneself its truth and significance. The necessary openness to all that stems from this causes “permeability”, which in turns leads to a certain “fragility”. In the case of Auschwitz, this means listening to both parties (there are only two), judging the validity of their arguments and where necessary going further into their theses, while maintaining one's own liberty. Thus one gentleman, a university professor, told me: “You have doubts about the functioning of the Birkenau crematoriums? Of course you have, because they never served to exterminate people and they did not contain gas chambers”. On the other side, shortly afterwards, a member of a Jewish organization inopportunely advised me “to stop tormenting myself with the study of this problem”, clearly indicating that I should abandon any work on this subject, which should remain “private property”.

When I first made contact with Faurisson, the position of his studies was summed up in his interview in Storia Illustrata number 261 of August 1979, by Antonio Pitamitz, [published after having been revised, corrected and commented by Faurisson in Vérité Historique ou Vérité Politiqueby Serge Thion, La Vieille Taupe. April 1980]. The gas chambers al Auschwitz, Maidenek and Struthof were his current targets. Those of Maidenek looked so ridiculous to him that he had not developed his refutation very far. According to him, the confession by the former commandant of Struthof, Josef Kramer, established the irreality of the homicidal gassings, because of sheer chemical impossibility. As for Auschwitz, the comparison of two plans of Krematorium I (Topf & Sons drawing D.59042 of 25/9/41 and Bauleitung drawing 4287 of 21/9/44) supplied by the Museum enabled him to conjure away the gas chamber by demonstrating a “rearrangement” of the premises that corresponded to no original drawing. Fired by this success, he extended his argument to Birkenau Krematorien II, III, IV and V, mainly using “internal criticism” of the autobiography of the first commandant of the camp, Rudolf Hoess [who was actually relating an episode that took place at Bunkers 1 and 2!]. He went on to attack even more fiercely the gas chambers at Buchenwald [where there really were none], Dachau, Mauthausen [the work by Pierre Serge Choumoff proves their existence], Orienburg [one seems to have worked, using liquid hydrocyanic acid, but its mode of employment seems to me imprecise and to require more explanation] and Ravensbruck [where small scale gassings using Zyklon-B in a roughly converted barracks were carried out at the end of the war]. Using a method dear to him, Faurisson sheltered behind the writings of traditional authors to confirm his negations. Doctor Martin Broszat's famous letter (published in Die Zeit of 19th August 1960) entitled No gassing at Dachau, which established the non-existence of gas chambers at Dachau, Bergen Belsen and Buchenwald, generalizing this to the whole territory of the former Reich facilitated his “liquidation” of Dachau and Buchenwald. Olga Wormser Migot with Le Systême concentrationaire nazi, 1933 45 (PUF 1968) helped him to declare the gas chambers of Mauthausen and Hartheim to be mythical. He adopted the principle of taking the enemy's arms and turning them against him. What is more, the publication of Vérité historique ...” by Serge Thion provided him with a “moral guarantee” against the “persecution” to which he was subject and, above all, a spectacular tactical victory in revealing that the “DIARY OF ANNE FRANK is nothing but a literary hoax”. Those who read his demonstration considered it to be valid [even Pierre Vidal Naquet, who was to become the first man to stop Faurisson in his tracks]. It was not until 1986 that doubts arose. Harry Paape (Director of the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation [RIOD] and Secretary General of the International Committee for the History of the Second World War) and his team published in Amsterdam De dagboeken van Anne Frank, a book demonstrating the authenticity of the different versions of the Diaryby means of a strictly material study. It will be possible for us here in France to make our final decision once this is available in French. However, it proves already that the scouring of texts as recommended by Faurisson has its limits and becomes worthless in the face of a materialistic approach using original documents.
For those not thoroughly versed in the finer technical points of gas chambers, and this means 99.999% of the population, Faurisson's claims were a revelation. A fine masterpiece, finely polished and unassailable. Nobody sitting down opposite Faurisson and listening to him for one or two hours could fail to emerge from the conversation shaken or completely converted to his cause. He was steeped in his subject, backed up by 200 kg of documents, 200 photographs, 10 years of reading and 4 years of intensive work What could one say when he started off:
"What I say is that the famous gas chambers were just another fabrication of the war. This propaganda invention is to be compared with the legends spread during the First World War about “Teutonic barbarity”. At that time already the Germans were being accused of perfectly imaginary crimes: Belgian children with their hands cut off. Canadians crucified, corpses transformed into soap, etc.”
One could but nod one's head and listen in wonder. This extract shows one of the tricks used to get the message across: putting forward a lie (the gas chambers are only war propaganda) then covering it immediately with a well known truth (the German crimes invented by the British in 1914-18 [Photo 16]), brought out to protect the false initial postulate. This process was pushed to the absolute limits of is possibilities in an 80 page pamphlet published by Guillaume in 1982, L'incroyable Affaire Faurisson [The incredible Faurisson Affair], containing the conclusions lodged by the LICRA and Faurisson's responses to them in the Court of Appeal. This mixture of truths, lies and unjustifiable interpretations reached such a level of subterfuge that it is virtually impossible to unravel. Even a “specialist” such as I had myself become quite by accident, had difficulty in separating the grain from the chaff. This is one of the finest examples of the Faurisson style. The Appeal Court judges allowed themselves to be influenced by this insidious rhetoric and their judgment of 26th April 1983 “confirmed” that: “at present nobody can convict him [Faurisson] of lying ...” a ridiculous conclusion when one knows the man. But alas, how can one suppress an ironic smile when he speaks of the “gassings” in Dachau: