The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
Faurisson’s documentation was beginning to show gaps as work proceeded. I was asked to go to the Museum to find more material. I was free to do as I thought fit, but specific tasks were to check in situ the “reconstitution” of Krematorium I and carefully check the references in the Polish book by Judge Jan Sehn, Les crimes allemands en Pologne [German crimes in Poland], published in Warsaw in 1948. Then came the final instructions from Washington: “enter the ruins of Krematorien II and III” and visit the “disinfection” barracks in “Bauabschnitt / construction stage” I of Birkenau. In July, Faurisson had warned me against the tendency to see “falsehoods” everywhere like the Swedish revisionist Felderer. “There really are no falsehoods, but simply false interpretations of things that really existed”. I was by now well-prepared to “revise” the “official” history of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
[Part of the preceding section and what follows is a short
summary of my visit of 25th to 30th August 1980, entitled
First day: 26th August 1980
At eight o'clock sharp I presented myself at the Auschwitz Archives. I gave Thion’s book to Tadeusz Iwaszko, telling him that the situation was serious. Auschwitz, Hoax of the twentieth Century, etc. Iwaszko didn’t turn a hair, simply asking the purpose of my visit. I said that Faurisson, supported by certain elements of the French extreme left, was becoming a threat. He had to be fought. and on his own ground. It was necessary to study the technology and rationally explain the Zyklon-B gassings and back this up with irrefutable historical material. Iwaszko understood my point of view, but would never subscribe to it, being convinced that no discussion with the revisionists was possible, whatever the documents produced [and he is right]. He considered Thion’s work to be simply a pamphlet. And then he had doubts about my sincerity. Either I was telling the truth, or I was an emissary sent by Faurisson. But whatever his personal opinion, he could not officially accuse me and had to provide me with the documents I requested.

This conversation took place in a somewhat tense atmosphere. My approach work is tricky because I was not fully acquainted with what I knew to exist. The Museum had sent me only 59 negatives of the 150 I had ordered and I had returned them because they were not up to standard. He brought out the same drawings as in November 1979, ones I knew by heart through having recopied them. Finally I went back to first principles and requested the volumes of the Hoess trial, At last I was able to make some progress, finding there the references I required. At 1 p.m. the Archives closed and I had to pack up. Not very fruitful, this first contact, but I had found the right road.

In the afternoon, investigations at Birkenau. The cloudy weather of the morning had giver way to sunshine. Destination: the disinfestation barracks, Bauwerken/ worksites BW 5a and 5b. 5b (women) was open, but 5a (men) was closed. Rapid visit of 5b, taking many photographs. Inside, three rooms with thick doors fitted with felt sealing stripe. Gas chambers? [No, I was mistaken. These were hot air disinfestation chambers. I had passed through the “real” gas chamber that used Zyklon-B as disinfestation agent, without even realizing it]. Then I went on to the BA.I sewage treatment station next to Krematorium II. More photographs. I came to Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorium II, one of the “supposed” homicidal gas chambers. I wandered round these 210 m² surrounded by such mystery. The sky was clear and the sun pleasantly warm. The weeds growing over the ruins were healthy Their shade of green proclaiming summer. A stark contrast with this Leichenkeller 1, its roof broken into huge slabs. Two of the slabs formed a kind of roof [on the extreme left on Photo 15]. Stupefaction: it was possible to slip inside through the ridge of this “roof” and there was enough light to take photographs. An archeological dream. I could not believe my eyes, spellbound by what I discovered. And certain confirmations were already evident. I had been right in June, when I was studying poor photographs of the construction drawings. The upper ventilation duct of “corpse cellar 1” was a very primitive arrangement made of wood. There remained only a few bits of battens stapled to the concrete ceiling, but that sufficed. In the center of the accessible section there was a pillar, almost intact, which was what still supported part of the ceiling. At the foot of this pillar, under 50 cm of water. I was able to see one of the waste water drains as on drawing 932 of the Krematorium basement. I was jubilant because the presence of this drain connected directly with Krematorium II corroborated what I had observed on the drawing: it was not possible to gas people in Leichenkeller 1 because the hydrocyanic acid gas could escape through the drains into the building and poison the air in parts of it. In the ceiling, a piece of planking recalled the Bauleitung letter of 29th January 1943, stating that because of the frost the removal of the formwork had been delayed [mistaken interpretation. It was the emplacement of one of the 24 dummy showers fitted in the gas chamber]. Scarcely had I emerged from this rather special place, when I encountered further surprises. Manholes hidden in the vegetation led me to discover shafts leading to the very foundations of Leichenkeller 1. I descended into one of them, using the metal rungs set into the brick wall. This “gas chamber” had more holes in it than a sieve. Gassing would obviously be impossible, for the building above and its surroundings would have been subjected to the toxic and deadly effects of prussic acid. I ran to Krematorium III. Identical findings, except that I could not descend into the manholes because they were of different design, concrete pipes with no ladder built in. I disappeared into the forest because a group of tourists was approaching. I went through “Kläranlage / sewage treatment station” II and arrived at the Zentral Sauna. It was closed as usual and I went behind the building to look for an open window, I was soon able to jump inside. I took some photographs of the clothing disinfestation autoclaves, the only authentic “gas chambers” according to Faurisson. Lastly, I went to Krematorium V, completely choked by vegetation. Not much use taking photographs. The ground floor was as shown on the Bauleitung drawing. And on the way back I finally found the ruins of Krematorium IV. There remained nothing but the concrete floor and the outline of the different rooms. I began to feel I'd had enough. “Morgen ist auch ein Tag / Tomorrow is another day”
Second day: 27th August
Nine o'clock. Archives. I asked Iwaszko to help me find the document(s) containing the term “Badanstalten fur Sonderaktionen / Baths for special actions”, a term designating the gas chambers of Krematorien IV and V [wrong. In the note of 21st August 1942, this expression refers to Bunkers 1 and 2, not to the Krematorien, which were not yet built]. He is not familiar with the expression, even though it is one of the favorite themes of many authors. Where does it come from? Not very pleased. I didn’t insist. My discoveries of the previous day kept coming into my mind. To such an extent that I was unable to stop myself telling him about the “holes” around the “komora gazowa”. Not at all disconcerted, he asked what I thought about them. On the spur of the moment I replied: “Because of the constantly wet ground, water infiltrated the lower ventilation ducts. This system would have served to evacuate this water.” He disappeared, leaving me to study volume 11 of the Hoess Trial. Then he came back and unfolded yet another plan, Bauleitung drawing 1300 of 18/6142, “Krematorium-Entwassering / Krematorium drainage”. A real slap in the face. Demolition of my hypothesis that gassing was impossible because of the arrangement of the drainage system. What is more, the shafts discovered in the ruins were not connected with the ventilation system, but with the drainage. Drawing 1300 corresponds exactly with the ruins. Unlike on drawing 932, the drainage system of Leichenkeller 1 is now AUTONOMOUS, quite separate from that of the rest of the building. It no longer joins the rest, but goes off at right angles to drain into the main external sewer coming from the Krematorium. This separate drainage would make it possible to carry out any number of gassings with no danger of dangerous contamination, There had clearly been a MODIFICATION of the Leichenkeller 1 drainage. In volume 11 I found a trace of the phantom Krematorium VI, based on incineration in open air pits; plans of the red and white “farmhouses”, Bunkers 1 and 2; extracts from the correspondence and orders concerning the construction of the Krematorien, divided into four groups: the Schlosserei / metalworking shop file; the correspondence between the firm responsible for the cremation furnaces, Topf & Sons, and the Auschwitz 'Zentralbauleitung / central construction management"; the Huta file, this being the firm that built the shells of the four Krematorien; and the Tageslohnliste / daily timesheets (a and b). Being unable to translate all this materiel immediately, I asked Iwaszko for photocopies [I was dreaming!] to be made in time for me to be able to take them home with me. He promised to let me have an answer the next day, although he thought my request would be difficult to meet because of the deteriorating situation in Poland at that time. The north was affected by a strike that was spreading to the whole country.

In the afternoon I returned to Birkenau and mobilized an attendant. Another examination of Krematorium IV: in line with the drawings, as was the drainage system. The attendant gave me to understand that there was something else worth seeing, behind Krematorium V. After a few minutes' walk in the woods, we came to a small hollow. He bent and started to knead the soil. In a flash I understood: pieces of human bone. Buckets full, He took me into the Birkenwald, And again, half filled trenches whose content spoke volumes. Crushed bones. It affected me greatly, turned me over in spite of myself. We turned back and he headed for “Kanada” [huts where the goods and chattels of new arrivals were kept]. He took a path flanked by tall grass that led to a square meter of ground where there was a mass of knifes, forks, spoons, scissors and clippers inextricably entangled, charred, rusted: an unbearable, shapeless mass, I wanted to see the Zentral Sauna again. He had no key, so we got in through a window at the back, now a tradition. Before the three autoclaves, I asked him: “Komora gazowa?” “Niet Nie! Para!” Steam. Faurisson was mistaken. The clothing disinfestation autoclaves that he presented as authentic “gas chambers”, turned out to use steam, not gas. Beyond them were four brick disinfestation chambers [known as “Topf disinfestation ovens"]. I wanted to know what disinfestation agent was used, and went down into the “Heizerruben / stoking pits” flanking them. Everything was flooded, but despite this the hearths were still visible. These were hot air chambers. No gas, be it T, Zyklon-B, Tritox or Ventox. Bad news for Faurisson! That was the end of work for the 27th.
Third day: 28th August
Gloomy weather. Bewölkt / overcast. Nine o'clock, Archives. Iwaszko had prepared the drawings requested the previous day. That of the “Luftschutzbunker für SS Revier mit einem Operationsraum / Air raid shelter for the SS hospital with operating theatre”, resulting from the conversion of Kr I, the “old” Krematorium was unfolded on a table. I note the details that I had not been able to decipher in June on the photo in Faurisson’s files. But I have the impression that it is not exactly the same drawing and give way to a moment of panic. If the Museum keeps bringing out different drawings of a given building, this seems a poor basis for my putting forward any theory whatever. This drawing, 4287, is dated 2/9/44. Faurisson believed it to date from July 1943. Since the references were illegible on the photograph, he had worked out the date from a letter from the Museum. Worrying. And yet everything fitted. It was certainty the drawing of which he had published a photograph in “Thion” (page 317, photo 8) [during my next trip I realized that there were two identical drawings with different inscriptions. Printed from a tracing of the first drawing, the second (Faurisson's) was concerned with the water pipes and fittings. The additional information was added to the original drawing in Indian ink]. Worried by this unsuspected problem, I confronted Iwaszko: “Is it really in its original state, this Krematorium I, with its rebuilt chimney. two badly rebuilt furnaces, the door between the furnace room and the morgue reinstalled a meter from its original position, the gas tight door imitated, an external door convened into a window, the windows remade, the partition walls in the morgue / gas chamber demolished, the Zyklon-B introduction orifices installed after the war?” He confirmed the reconstruction and explained his view. What mattered was not the internal and external aspect of the building itself, but the “image” they wanted to recreate of a homicidal gas chamber, a place where many people had actually asphyxiated with Zyklon-B. I accepted this, rejoicing at his confirmation regarding Krematorium I, and went on to study the disinfestation barrack, BW 5a, drawing 801 of 8/11/41. I was astonished to read “Wasch und Brauseraum / Wash and shower room” and, just above this, “GASKAMMER”. The association of showers and gas chambers could have became showers are gas chambers, in the minds of prisoners. Possible. The drawing did not correspond to what now remained. There followed a series of drawings of BW 5a and 5b showing the gradual evolution of the premises, with the creation of new rooms, with a sauna [a real one!], a technical installation connected to a disinfestation chamber. The term “Gaskammer” still appeared, but on the final drawing. 2540 of 5/7/43, the gas chamber had been replaced by a chamber connected to a hot air generator.

[BW 5a was in fact fitted with a delousing chamber using Zyklon-B, then the equipment required for gas operation was removed and two hot air disinfestation chambers were installed IN that room. In BW 5b another Zyklon-B delousing chamber was installed. This was not subsequently converted, but remains at it was, with two extractor fans visible in its east wall. That these two gas chambers, installed in a most primitive fashion, actually functioned with Zyklon-B, is attested by the fact that their wails have turned blue (both outside and inside). This utilization led to two conclusions. First. that Faurisson’s thesis that using gas chambers was a complex business was wrong: after studying the ultra sophisticated American execution gas chambers, he had come to the conclusion that because of their very simplicity, the Auschwitz “homicidal installations” were technically incapable of functioning. Second. the use of Zyklon-B as a disinfestation agent at Auschwitz was clearly established, so that it was no longer possible to maintain, as did