The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
the traditional historians that ALL the Zyklon-B was used for extermination, There were in fact about 25 Zyklon-B delousing chambers of different sizes operating in the camp].

I then began to study the “Zentral Sauna” file. This sanitary complex was a sauna only in name. It contained 4 “Entwesungtkammer / disinfestation chambers” installed by Messrs Topf & Sons and using hot air produced by hearths located to pits alongside them. The 3 autoclaves were shown on the drawings, but without any details [the discovery of the Bauleitung album made it possible to identify them positively as autoclaves in the strict sense because of the presence of pressure gauges]. At the end of this session, with the threat of the strike very much in the air, Iwaszko told me that the next day he would do his best to get to work, but that with no bus service he was unlikely to be present. My work in the Archives virtually came to an end there.
Fourth day: 29th August
At nine o'clock the next morning I appeared before the locked door of the PMO Archives. I rang. An official I knew vaguely by sight opened the door. “Pan Iwaszko?” I asked. “Nie! Strajk!/ No! Strike!” I suspected as much. The man’s tone sounded somewhat surly. I stopped the flow of words with a gesture, smiled at him, and wished him a good strike. That changed everything. His surliness disappeared and we parted on friendly terms …

… I still had to fill the afternoon, The sun was slowing emerging. I decided to go to Birkenau, but as a tourist, not as a researcher. When I arrived at speed at the road leading to the KGL watchtower, I had a shock! A smoking locomotive was pushing four wagons along. It stopped before the camp. Silhouettes in all too familiar verdigris uniforms were restraining aggressive Alsatians. Police of the Feldgendarmerie. Some SS in their distinctive caps were gallivanting about. In the wagons, a consignment of people dressed in dark clothes, with while armbands bearing the bluish star of David were waiting … I had arrived at the beginning of she shooting of a film about Birkenau, “Mur”, a Polish American coproduction. The Feldgendarmes were Polish militia, the SS young soldiers. The uniforms and equipment were impeccable and guaranteed authentic. A grey Kübelwagen was parked in front of the entrance building, a dashing SS Hauptsturmführer / captain and his driver standing beside it. I struck up an acquaintance. The actor, from Katowice, spoke good German. He immediately recognized my line of business: “Artz? / doctor?” “Nein. Apotheker.” While I was enthusing over the car engine, the original, a tall civilian, a well fleshed forty year old with blondish thinning hair, arrived on the scene and started to bug me. He gave mc to understand that, Frenchman or no Frenchman, I was not allowed to take photographs. What the hell… For eight years, at the military school, I had been forbidden to read certain books, see certain films, to do this, to do that… Once the “actions” began, I started my illicit photographing, often under difficult conditions, but nothing escaped me and nothing stopped me. A succession of pictures. The doors of the wagons were thrown open and the Jews jumped down to the ballast with their suitcases. they were despoiled and harassed unmercifully by the raging SS, all this accompanied by the wild barking of the dogs that the Feldgendarmes had more and more difficulty in controlling as the takes succeeded one another, being repeated until the scene reached the required degree of ferocity. The result was achieved with difficulty. For the first “Aktion”, preceded by an incident where a sliding door, stuck in the rust, refused to open, provoking the rage of the director and the hilarity of everybody else, proceeded much too calmly. The Jews descended quietly from the train and moved off towards the camp gates in silence, ignoring the row of SS backed up by a second line of six Feldgendarmes with their dogs lying at their feet, indifferent and silent. A historically authentic reaction at the opposite pole from what is generally believed. It took a whole afternoon of repeats, of takes, for the SS to learn how to “unload” a convoy in one or two minutes. Which shows that ferocity, even in Polish militia and soldiers is not a gift of nature, but has to be learned, By the evening, they had perfected the technique. I saw incredible scenes of pure violence on the part of young soldiers who really got into the part and thumped away at the Jewish extras, Poles like themselves. As for the dogs, excited beyond endurance by the ambiance, they twice rolled their masters, no longer able to control them, in the dust. Lunacy… but the conditioning had been successful.

As time went on, I became intoxicated by this induced brutality. Then the shooting of more intimate scenes, involving selected actors and actresses, began. At the beginning I had noticed four young “Jewesses” dressed all in black, leaning against a truck. But they were by no means commonplace or ordinary, Very luxurious models. Got up like queens dressed in tramps' clothing designed to emphasize the high quality chassis. Alas this game — Americans for sure — seemed to be reserved and was jealously “protected” f rom nasty but enterprising poachers. These charming decorations entered the scene under floodlights in the early evening. There were tear-jerking contrasts between their candid, suffering little faces and the wild SS raining blows on them.

I eventually headed for the Krematorien to watch the sunset over the ruins. Coming back towards the gate down the central path, I saw a whisp of smoke on my left, then suddenly a tall chimney belched a thick, dark cloud of smoke. The Jews, They were being burned … fictionally. As the chimneyless Krematorien were behind me, I was intrigued by this chimney from beyond the tomb. Built for the purposes of the film, it rose in the center of the only remaining row of intact stable-type huts in Birkenau [B IIa, the quarantine sector]. I had not noticed that the “Schwerpunkt”, (center of gravity) of “Mur” had shifted and that they were now shooting before and inside the huts of B.IIa. After dinner, I returned to Birkenau and made a rendezvous for 7 o'clock the next morning with the civilian guard to photograph the chimney and the vehicles that been left on the site.
Fifth day: 30th March 1980
7.30 a.m. in the persistent dawn mist of Birkenau. The guard was waiting with no sign of impatience. Since I had met him, I had always heard him speak correct French, but I had the impression that sometimes he was unable to understand it any more. But no matter, at least in his presence I could speak my native language. I started taking pictures. One entire film was devoted to the vehicles. Then I went on to the chimney that had been smoking. A few approach shots to integrate it in the context of the huts [Photo 18], then rounding one of them I was able to see its construction. At the base the supporting frame of four heavy beams was visible [Photo 19]. It was a fair replica of the chimney of Krematorium I: a square section extended rhomboid covered with plastic molded and colored to represent brickwork, the top being soot blackened to complete the illusion. Inside there was a ladder going up to near he lop where the smoke producing device had been placed. It was lucky that I hadn’t wasted any time, for by ten o'clock everything had been dismantled and removed. [It is worth noting that shooting took place without any problems IN THE MIDDLE OF A GENERAL STRIKE. What power the dollar had!]

Then back to the Stammlager and the Archives. There was no time left to undertake any new research. I confirmed to Iwaszko the references of the drawings and texts for which I wanted “photocopies” and filled in my official request to the Museum under his watchful eye. The documents included some drawings of the Krematorien, virtually all those of BW 5a and 5b and of the Zentral Sauna and several other documents (legal exhibits) from volume 11 of the Hoess trial. Even as I was writing. I was thinking I would never see a single one of these documents, since I had been disappointed with my previous experience. [Which turned out to be wrong. The Museum perfectly and scrupulously fulfilled my order, BUT I had to take delivery personally, on my next visit.] Iwaszko had spoken to me of a fine book that I was to take back take back to a former prisoner in France, but he had not brought it. Some trouble due to the strike? [On my return from my next trip, I delivered the book to Mr Jacques Zylbermine, deported to Auschwitz then sent to Buna-Monowitz at the age of 14. This man was to play a discreet but considerable role in my subsequent work].

It goes without saying that as a result of this trip my revisionist “belief” had been severely shaken. The “damage” turned out to be serious. Faurisson’s theories had been swept away like wisps of straw. I was not yet entirely convinced of the reality of the gassings, because some of my questions had still received no answer [I would find them for myself], but I had doubts about denying their existence. Oswiecim and Poland had neutralized me.
[End of the summary of “OSWIECIM QUINTET” or
In September 1980, Faurisson and Guillaume came to my place to assess the value of what t had been able to pick up in the Auschwitz Museum. I had admittedly been able to take many photographs, which I thought would help Faurisson form a more concrete picture of the site, but I had not been able to bring back any documents. In fact it was they who brought documents, sent to them by the opposing party, [Maître Jouanneau, acting for the LICRA]. The material thus transmitted in September represented a somewhat daunting mass of documents (in terms of volume). As if by coincidence, as we sifted these documents, the same pieces of evidence that I had found in the PMO kept appearing. Faurisson did not see the funny side of this similarity. Maitre Jouanneau and myself had totally separately, but on the indications of Iwaszko, selected the same type of “exhibits”, these being the kind of document that Faurisson detested because he was scarcely capable of countering them. An involuntary kindness on the part of our adversary was that they had translated the documents, whereas when I had them they were in German or Polish and still had to be translated. These legal translations, despite their imperfections, were a great help to me. When a translation appeared strange to me, I took it to the Museum and, with Iwaszko’s help, compared it with the original text [especially where the original was in Polish]. I was always right to check them, because that way the meaning became clear. But this verification meant trips to Poland and therefore extended over a period of months, so that Faurisson was not able to “benefit” from it. Moreover, when an obscure passage became comprehensible, it frequently provided further evidence AGAINST Faurisson. The September meeting at least showed us the extent of the evidence, a complete surprise to Faurisson himself. The vast majority of the charges were based on testimony and these were systematically rejected as dubious. But the most dangerous archive documents, and I could confirm this, came from the Auschwitz Museum. It was therefore decided to devote all efforts to demolishing the Auschwitz gas chambers. If we succeeded in removing this cornerstone of the Birkenau edifice, the rest would collapse with it. It was a desperate solution, but the only logical one compatible with our resources. Faurisson was forced to stake everything on it. I was to redouble my efforts studying the documents concerning the construction of the Krematorien in the hope of finding evidence that homicidal gas chambers had never been installed in these buildings. In addition, the study of disinfestation in the camp, which looked promising, was to be continued. I made two visits to Auschwitz that were as long as I could make them in view of my professional activities. Fourteen days from 4th to 17th October and eleven days from 11th to 21st November 1980. Just before the first of these trips, I read the article by Pierre Vidal Naquet Un Eichmann de papier [A paper Eichmann] and the preface by Paul Thibaud, La mémoire d'Auschwitz in the journal Esprit [9th issue. September 1980]. The article troubled me, but no more than that. The few PMO documents I had studied and my good knowledge of the revisionist case enabled me to reply to and criticize this article in all honesty, sure of my ground. I retained two phrases by P Thibaud: “let us recreate a memory”, and “how could that have come about?” (technically, I added], And the following statement by Pierre Vidal-Naquet:
That the war should have ended, that the tragedy should, in a sense, have become secularized, this has to be accepted, even if that means for us, I mean for us Jews, the loss of the kind of privileged right of speech that we used to have to a large extent, now that Europe has discovered the great massacre.
opened the door to non Jewish researchers who wished to establish a second “memory of Auschwitz”. I was later to seize this outstretched hand, to Vidal Naquet’s great surprise.

In the Archives. I started studying the drawings of Krematorien II and III, of IV and V and of the documents concerning their construction. There are 26 drawings of the four Krematorien, stored in files BW 30/1 to 30/24 [plus 30/19a. 30/20 contains two drawings]. The documents are in files BW 30/25 to 30/31. They are so designated because the Krematorium worksites (Bauwerk) were numbered by the Bauleitung as follows: BW 30 [Kr II], BW 30a [Kr III]. BW 30b [Kr IV], BW 30c [Kr V]. This classification is easy enough to use when one knows the numbers attributed by the Bauleitung to worksites on completed buildings [for example: Krematorium I is designated BW II, then BW 14 when it was convened to an air raid shelter; all the sewage treatment stations are referered to as BW 18; the Zentral Sauna is BW 32], but is somewhat confusing for the uninitiated. In 1980, the BW 30 files only went as far as 30/31, but in 1986 the last file recorded in the Archives was BW 30/46. In other words, historical research is not static, but progresses as more documents are found. File BW 30/43 was created as a result of my own study visits to Warsaw and 30/