Response to a Paper Historian
Pierre Vidal-Naquet is professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (School of Higher Studies in the Social Sciences) in Paris and has been a very determined adversary of mine. He has attacked me in the academic and journalistic worlds and even in the courts. Along with Léon Poliakov, he is the author of a declaration, published in Le Monde on February 21, 1979, p. 23, which was signed by 34 historians:
It as not necessary to ask how, technically, such a mass murder was possible. It was possible technically since it took place. That is the necessary point of departure for any historical inquiry on this subject. It is our function simply to recall that truth: There as not, there cannot be, any debate about the existence of the gas chambers.
Pierre Vidal-Naquet is also the author of a long article entitled “Un Eichmann de Papier” ("A Paper Eichmann") which was directed against me. I responded to that article with my own “Réponse à on historien de papier” ("Response to a Paper Historian “). The article by Vidal-Naquet first appeared in the review Esprit (No. 45, September, 1980, pp. 8-52), and later in a new form, with additions, in a book entitled Les Juifs, la mémoire et le présent (Maspero, 1980, pp. 195-282).
My response first appeared in a short book entitled Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet (La Vieille Taupe Publishers, 1982) and later in a second, expanded edition, in December 1982. It appears here for the first time in English.
An abridgement of the Vidal-Naquet article has been published in English (Democracy, April 1981, pp. 67-95) but I have not checked to see whether that translation is faithful to the original. Vidal-Naquet is very hard-hitting and even insulting, but his article is interesting and even unique: For the first and last time an Exterminationist has tried to answer the arguments of a Revisionist. When the Revisionist replied to the Exterminationist, the latter abandoned the discussion and retreated into silence. Vidal-Naquet no longer talks about gas chambers.
In France there have been two other attempts to answer the Revisionists' arguments, but they were so weak that they fell of their own weight. The first was by Nadine Fresco ("Les Redresseurs de morts” [The Revisers of the Dead], Les Temps Modernes, No. 407, June 1980, pp. 2150-2211) and the second by Georges Wellers (Les Chambres à gaz ont existé [The Gas Chambers Existed], Paris, Gallimard, 1981).
After being burned in the French venture, the Exterminationists have preferred not to cross swords with the Revisionists. Two recent examples illustrate this: First, the collective undertaking directed by Eugen Kogon, Hermann Langbein, and Adalbert Rückerl (NS-Massentötungen durch Giftgas [NS Mass Killings with Poison Gas>, Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1983); then, Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews, revised and definitive edition (New York/London: Holmes and Meier, 1985). In neither book are the names of the Revisionists mentioned, or their publications or arguments. For a book to be considered scholarly, however, it must treat both sides of the issue at hand; present the arguments of the opposing side; furnish bibliographical information that would let the reader consult the original sources, and the sources; and finally, it must answer the opposing party if it can.
One of the most notable differences between the Exterminationists and the Revisionists is that while Revisionists spend most of their time mentioning and examining the arguments of the other side, Exterminationists maintain a policy of ostracism against their opponents.
Let us imagine for a moment a layman who would like to know who is right-those who claim that there was a genocide carried out against the Jews by using homicidal gas chambers, or those who claim that this is an historical lie. Such a layman would like to attend a debate between representatives of those two theses, but he cannot. The Exterminationists refuse all proposals for debate that the Revisionists offer them. In place of attending such a debate, this layman might want to read publications in which each side tries to answer the arguments of the other. But he cannot do that either, because while the Revisionists do discuss the opposing arguments, the Exterminationists either turn a deaf ear or reply with insults.
There is only one way to satisfy to some extent our layman’s desires; that is to have him first read Vidal-Naquet’s “A Paper Eichmann” and then my own “Response to a Paper Historian. “Failing that, “Response to a Paper Historian” offers an introduction to a debate between an Exterminationist and a Revisionist that is unprecedented, both in its scope and its detail.
The historian cannot avoid spending a good part of his life in paper. He goes through documents; he collects them; he compares archives and written documents of all kinds. But at the same time the historian must not neglect the material aspect of the facts; therefore he must also transform himself at times into an on-site inspector: an archeologist, a physicist, a chemist, an explorer. Visiting a place, he looks at it, searches through it, measures it, photographs it; he touches it with his fingers. He transforms himself sometimes into a police investigator. He carries out physical reconstructions or, when that is impossible, he carefully reconstructs things in his mind. He needs to have his feet on the ground. It is very good for him to inform himself, from the documents, about democracy in Rome; but it is wise to go to the spot in Rome to see what a small area was occupied by the Forum, the focal point of that democracy. His illusions take flight; so much the worse! Reality replaces them; so much the better!
When he deals with the Ancient World, which is his speciality, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, I suppose, is not content with documents only, but also investigates sites. On the other hand, when that historian calls himself an historian of the “gas chambers,” he goes around and around in documents and abstractions. Settled comfortably far above us in a half-philosophical, half-religious empyrean, he writes about other writings and does not even take the effort to reflect on what he writes.
That is why I call him a Paper Historian.
Beginning with the first paper he wrote on the question of the “gas chambers,” we discover two striking examples of that dangerous mind-set. We recall that Le Monde on 21 February 1979 (p. 23) had published a text entitled “The Nazi Policy of Extermination: A Declaration by Historians.” That text was written by Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Léon Poliakov and signed by thirty-four historians without any competence on that subject.
To begin with, the Le Monde text reproduced an extract from the “confession” of SS-man Kurt Gerstein. The extract was intended to persuade us that it contained an “indisputable” and “striking” testimony about the Nazi “gas chambers.” In halting French, Gerstein had, we are told, written: “The naked men [in the gas chambers] are standing up at [sic] the feet of the others. Seven hundred to eight hundred in 25 square meters, in 45 cubic meters; the doors are closed.” Any reader alert to reality would conclude: 28 to 32 men standing on one square meter-that is physically impossible; the admissibility of that strange testimony is at least questionable. But settled in their common philosophical-religious empyrean, our thirty-four scatter-brains did not see what leaped to the eye of the layman.
Here again is the triumphant (and also silly and empty) conclusion of our paper historians' manifesto:
It is not necessary to ask how, technically, such a mass murder was possible. It was possible technically since it took place. That is the necessary point of departure for any historical inquiry on this subject. It is our function simply to recall that truth: there is not, there cannot be, any debate about the existence of the gas chambers.
Tautology? A double redundancy? Pure silliness? How to describe such a pearl of wisdom? Remember well the last phrase: “There is not, there cannot be, any debate about the existence of the gas chambers. “
In good logic, Vidal-Naquet would not have had, nineteen months later, to publish in Esprit a long article on the subject; an article that he expected me to honor with a response (Les Juifs, la mémoire et le présent [The Jews, Memory, and the Present], Paris: Maspero, 1980, p. 280). Here is the explanation: The text in Le Monde had been conceived to ward off a very pressing problem. In the confusion that was provoked by my article on “The Rumor of Auschwitz, “Vidal-Naquet and Poliakov hastily drew up a manifesto, and then took it to some signers, saying to them: “We say there cannot be any debate, but it is very clear that you must not pay attention to that phrase and that you all have to get busy replying to Faurisson. “That is how Vidal-Naquet ingenuously puts it on page 196 of (Les Juifs … ) when he writes:
A good number of historians signed the declaration published in Le Monde on 21 February 1979, but very few got busy; one of the rare exceptions being F. Delpech.
As to the argumentation which was hidden behind this silliness, I leave to others the job of answering. I will let Claude Guillon and Yves le Bonniec speak (Suicide, mode d'emploi [Instruction Manual for Suicide], Alain Moreau, 1982):
We are quite prepared for our part to consider any method of elimination, including gas chambers. It is possible that the technical arguments of Faurisson will be shown to be without value. Having said that, it is inevitable to ask oneself how technically the gas chambers function, that is to say simply whether they existed or did not exist. Such is the obligatory course of every historical inquiry. If by chance no one can be found to show how a single gas chamber was able to function, from that we would deduce that no one could have been asphyxiated (p. 205).
That remark of the two authors is preceded by the following:
After Rassinier (whose estimation of the gas chambers is more reserved), Faurisson is interesting for having, at the same time that he claims to denounce a forty-year-old lie, revealed numerous lies, and having aroused among his opponents one of the most formidable productions of new lies of the decade. The official historians themselves recognize that today people still visit a gas chamber, where there never was one, which ought not, according to them, to diminish at all the influence of other “historical” truths. (op. cit., pp. 204 205)
Claude Guillon and Yves le Bonniec use here a key argument of the Revisionists against the Exterminationist thesis. Vidal-Naquet does not breathe a word of that in his innumerable writings and interventions in court.
I want to speak of what I call the “drastic revision” of 19 August 1960. On that day, the Hamburg weekly Die Zeit, which subscribes to the victors' “Holocaust” story, published a letter, a simple letter from Dr. Martin Broszat of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. In that letter, which was simply entitled, “No Gassing at Dachau,” he conceded to us, or rather, he finally conceded to historical truth, that there had never been any homicidal gassing in the Old Reich (Germany within its 1937 frontiers). Since 1960, that is to say for 22 years, we have awaited the rigorously documented study which would let us see why it had been suddenly necessary to stop believing in the “gassings” at Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück, and Neuengamme, while at the same time continuing to believe in the “gassings” in the camps located in communist Poland. Do we not have at our disposal for all the camps an indiscriminate mass of “proofs,” of “testimonies,” of “confessions"? Have they not executed or driven to suicide the officials of camps where, finally, it is revealed, as if by the working of the Holy Spirit, that there had never been a homicidal “gas chamber"? But no more of this candor: If Dr. Broszat, since 1972 the director of his institute, has never dwelt on those questions, it is because he knows perfectly well that in showing the inanity of the “proofs,” the “testimonies,” and the “confessions” relating to the camps located in the Old Reich, he would demolish simultaneously the “proofs,” the “testimonies,” the “confessions” relative to the camps in communist Poland. That is so because for an honest observer all those “proofs,” all those “testimonies,” and all those “confessions” are worth nothing. They are really of interest only to sociologists specializing in the study of mechanisms of belief.
I now come to the article by Vidal-Naquet. I am going to follow it step by step at the risk of appearing disjointed or of repeating myself, because his entire article is confused.
1. From page 195 to page 208, Vidal-Naquet piles up generalities and digressions which do not seem to me to have great relevance to the subject.
Response: No response.
2. From page 208 to page 210, Vidal-Naquet talks about the Secret Speeches of Himmler (Heinrich Himmler: Geheimreden 1933-1945 und andere Ansprachen [Heinrich Himmler: Secret Speeches 1933-1945 and Other Talks], ed. Bradley F. Smith and Agnes F. Peterson, Berlin: Propyläen, 1974), about the statistician R. Korherr, and about the word Sonderbehandlung (special treatment). He insinuates, but without great conviction, that a passage from those speeches shows a will to carry out “genocide” against the Jews, and that Sonderbehandlung is a code word for extermination.
Response: I would first like to make a remark about the seductive title, Secret Speeches. Those speeches were not at all secret! In this regard, I note a marked tendency among the Exterminationists to fool the ordinary reader with tendentious titles. So it was that Serge Klarsfeld’s Memorial to the Deportation of the Jews from France is only a list of the Jews who embarked on the trains for deportation. There is no question here of a list of the dead, as they would often have us believe, especially when they go to deposit these lists at a funeral monument near Jerusalem. Georges Wellers himself, in his hatred for Vichy, goes so far as to entitle one of his books L'Etoile jaune à l'heure de Vichy (The Yellow Star in the Vichy Era) although the Vichy government always successfully opposed the wearing of the yellow star in its zone. Vidal-Naquet, himself, does not know what tone is proper to take about Himmler’s remarks. He speaks of his “direct or nearly totally direct language. “Here he believes he sees him “at maximum frankness,” even though he adds that “a description of the real process would be a thousand times more traumatic.” There’s the rub-Vidal-Naquet proclaims that he has found in Himmler what the Exterminationist historians have sought in vain since 1945: either an order or a simple instruction verifying a decision to exterminate the Jews. But at the very moment that he presents to us the result of his search, he looks sulkily at what he has found: The language of Himmler is “direct or nearly totally direct,” there is no “description of the real process.” (Dare we ask if that “description of the real process” happens to exist only in Vidal-Naquet’s head?) But that’s not all. Vidal-Naquet adds another puzzle to the puzzle. He is astonished at a “toning down” by Himmler; that devil Himmler was facing a “well-informed” audience! Why, then, this “indirect or nearly totally indirect” language? Then, suddenly, enveloping himself in an analysis more and more abstract and autistic, Vidal-Naquet believes he has discovered that Himmler “codes,” and even “supercodes,” what he had in his mind. Vidal-Naquet deciphers this alleged “code” with supreme speed and ease; he decodes on first reading, off the top of his head. He decrees, without the least proof, that Sonderbehandlung is a codeword and, in our presence, he decodes it instantaneously: That word means “extermination.” But things get really complicated when our analyst, seized by a sudden scruple, adds as a footnote a remark very likely to mislead a reader who no longer knows whether Himmler is “direct or nearly totally direct"; whether he “is at maximum frankness” or is being secretive; whether he “codes” or whether he “supercodes": “Of course Sonderbehandlung could also have a perfectly benign meaning.” Response to a Paper Historian 27
The reality was the following: Sonderbehandlung could have a whole series of meanings, from the most serious to the most benign. The context should instruct the reader. The primary meaning seems to be medical, and one will find, for example: “Sonderbehandlung: Quarantänelager (quarantine camp).” On the other hand, in document PS-502, the same word means explicitly “executions. “Sonderbehandlung was also applied to the favored treatment enjoyed in captivity by high officials. See what defendant Kaltenbrunner says about it at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (French edition, Volume XI, pp. 347-348):
In those two deluxe hotels [for special treatment] were lodged some of the best people such as M. Poncet, M. Herriot, etc. They received rations triple those normal for a diplomat; that is to say, nine times the wartime rations of a German. Every day each received a bottle of champagne; they corresponded freely with their families, they could receive parcels from their families left behind in France. These internees received frequent visits, and we would inquire about all their desires. That is what we called “special treatment.”
Arrivals and departures were noted in the reports of the daily population of each camp. Among the departures might be noted the dead, the “S.B.” (Sonderbehandlung), the freed (people forget that many of the concentration-camp inmates could leave Auschwitz after completing a sentence of several months), and those transferred. They would have us believe that the “S.B.” were those condemned to “gassing.” There were, however, “S.B.” in the camps that had no gas chambers, even according to the Exterminationists. These “S.B.” must have been, in all probability, internees assigned to other camps for some reason (Bergen-Belsen for health; Bergen-Belsen for categories of Jews to be exchanged with the Allies; Ravensbrück for women; Dachau for priests; Theresienstadt for old people, etc.). The “transferred” category, properly speaking, was made up of people assigned to a particular job either in the camp, or in a distant camp. We find, in the travel authorizations, telegrams from the WVHA (the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office) allowing trucks to pick up material either for Sonderbehandlung or for Desinfektion (disinfection); these two words being used interchangeably. It was a matter, more precisely, of going to Dessau to obtain quantities of Zyklon-B in order to disinfect the Auschwitz camp, where typhus was prevalent (radio message of 22 July 1942 addressed to the Auschwitz camp under signature of General Gluecks [Raul Hilberg, Documents of Destruction, Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1971, p. 220]). In one and the same book (Sachso, by the Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen Society, Minuit-Plon, 1982) the expression “special treatment” is applied on page 99 to the act of marking in blue pencil on the left breast of a bearer of lice, and on page 327 it is applied to an execution.
When we seek an expression which can take account of all these meanings at the same time, we ask ourselves what would be most suitable for Sonderbehandlung: would it not be to isolate? One finds that meaning in gesonderte Unterbringung (isolated stay), an expression often applied to arrivals.
The fact remains that although Sonderbehandlung could occasionally mean to execute, we know very well that Himmler, after receiving the work of his statistician Korherr, told the latter that in a certain passage of his report he ought to replace the word Sonderbehandlung with Transportierung (transport).
Long after the war, Korherr protested against the interpretation of Sonderbehandlung as meaning massacre. In Der Spiegel of 25 July 1977, cited by Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich on page 391 of Der Auschwitz Mythos (The Auschwitz Myth) (Tübingen: Grabert Verlag, 1979), he wrote:
The statement according to which I supposedly was able to establish that more than a million Jews could have died in the camps of the General Government in Poland and of the territories of the Wartheland from the results of a special treatment (Sonderbehandlung) is absolutely incorrect. It is necessary for me to protest against the use of the verb to die in this context.
Korherr goes on to say that Sonderbehandlung was supposed to mean Ansiedlung (displacement).
The context is really the last concern of someone like Vidal-Naquet. I willingly concede to him that on page 169 of the German edition (Geheimreden…), Himmler says this to his audience (6 October 1943):
We came up against the question: What about the women and children? In this case as well I decided on a very clear solution. That is, I did not feel justified in exterminating the men — in other words, to kill or allow to be killed — while allowing the children to grow up into avengers against our sons and grandsons. The difficult decision had to be made to let this people disappear from the earth. (op. cit., p. 169)
If we end the quotation here, as Vidal-Naquet does, Himmler assumes the proportions of a General Turreau intent on killing men, women, and children and making of the Vendée (during the French Revolution) a great cemetery. However, the continuation is curious and makes clear that Himmler has indulged in a bit of braggadocio. He goes on to say that in his conduct of the anti-partisan struggle he was able to spare the German officers and soldiers a double danger:
That of becoming too hardened, of becoming heartless and of no longer respecting human life, or of becoming too weak and of losing one’s head to the point of having a nervous breakdown-the path between Scylla and Charybdis is terribly narrow. (p. 170)
But how then, one may ask, did Himmler’s men in fact proceed? The answer is found in many pages of his so-called Secret Speeches, and in particular on pages 201 and 203.
Two months after the speech mentioned above, Himmler returned to the subject (16 December 1943). Again, it is the partisan war that he is talking about, a war carried out as savagely on one side as on the other. He says:
Wherever I was forced to take action in a village against partisans and against Jewish commissars-I'm saying this to this circle, as meant exclusively for this circle-as a basic rule I also gave the order to have the women and children of these partisans and commissars killed as well. I would be a weakling and a criminal against our descendants if I were to allow the hate-filled sons of the sub-humans wiped out by us in the struggle between humans and sub-humans to grow up. Believe me: It’s not easy to give such an order, and not as simple to carry out as it is to think through correctly its consequences and put them into words in a meeting hall. But we must always recognize just how naturally basic and primitive is the racial struggle in which we find ourselves. (p. 201)
More interesting yet is the speech Himmler gave five months later to a number of generals at Sonthofen (24 May 1944). Here we find less than ever the “genocide” we might fear. Himmler declared:
Regarding the Jewish women and children, I did not consider myself justified in allowing the children to grow up into avengers who would then kill our fathers and our grandchildren. I would have regarded that as cowardly. Therefore, the issue was dealt with uncompromisingly. Nevertheless, right now-and this is unique in this war-we are first bringing 100,000 male Jews from Hungary, and later another 100,000, with whom we are building underground factories, into concentration camps. None of them, though, will come into any contact at all with the German people. (p. 203)
The Germans were haunted by the possibility that uprisings like that of the Warsaw ghetto would recur behind their lines. Concerning the fear of seeing happen at Budapest what had taken place in Warsaw, we can read Ich, Adolf Eichmann (I, Adolf Eichmann), published by Dr. Rudolf Aschenhauer (Druffel Verlag, 1980), page 33.
3. On page 211, Vidal-Naquet, reciting the history of the “extermination,” talks about “the halt to the extermination of the Jews on Himmler’s order at the end of October 1944.”
Response: That order never existed and I challenge Vidal-Naquet to produce it for us. Just as there existed no order by Hitler or by Himmler or by anyone to start the extermination of the Jews, so also was there no order by anyone to stop an extermination which had not occurred.
4. In a footnote on page 212, Vidal-Naquet asserts, “I see no reason to doubt the existence of the gas chambers at Ravensbrück, Struthof, and Mauthausen.”
Response: With regard to Ravensbrück, Vidal-Naquet refers us to the book by Germaine Tillion (Ravensbrück, Paris: Le Seuil, 1973), which contains a plan of the camp. The location of the alleged “gas chambers” is not even noted! Nowhere else is there either the slightest plan or the slightest physical trace. This is a strictly metaphysical “gas chamber. “
Regarding Struthof, I was the first to publicize the condition of the premises, guaranteed to be “in original condition.” I proved that the “gasser” would have been the first to gas himself with his mysterious gas (see the two contradictory confessions by Josef Kramer about the “gassings” at Struthof camp in Alsace.) Vidal-Naquet does not resolve the technical puzzle; besides, nothing that is technical interests him.
With regard to Mauthausen, things are even simpler. The handles that open and close the pipes bringing the alleged gas into the shower are within reach of the victims! That is what is clearly evident from a normal photo. The photo exhibited at the recent display about the deportation which was held on the Esplanade of the Trocadéro in Paris (April-May of 1982) showed it not quite as well. The handles were cropped out.
5. On page 212, in footnote 23, Vidal-Naquet confesses that there exists on the subject of the concentration camps “a sub-literature which represents a really vile kind of appeal to consumerism and sadism.” He adds: “All that is dependent on hallucination and propaganda must be eliminated.” On these bases he denounces Christian Bernadac, Silvain Reiner, Jean-Francois Steiner, and V. Grossman. He admits having fallen “into the trap set by Steiner’s Treblinka (Fayard, 1966).”
Response: Very well, but that hardly moves us forward. What would be instructive for the reader would be to know why Vidal-Naquet fell into such a trap and how he got out of it. He insults Bernadac without our knowing exactly why, and he touts Nyiszli, leaving us none the wiser as to his motives. He proceeds by ukases. He decrees that one narrative is credible and that another one is not. He devotes himself to none of the analyses that the Revisionists carry out. When a Rassinier asserts to us that the best-seller, Doctor at Auschwitz, by Nyiszli, is only a “rascally trick,” it is after a long analysis and an inquiry of the most serious kind. Rassinier arms us for future reading, leaving it to our judgment as mature adults to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Vidal-Naquet disarms us. In his presence we are like children who, each time a new work appears, await the judgment which will fall from the mouth of their father-a father at the same time peremptory and fallible. What does he think of Martin Gray who, to write Au nom de tous les miens (published in English as For Those I Loved), took as his ghost-writer a purveyor of moral lessons named Max Gallo who helped Gray, in cooperation with the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation, to fabricate his deportation to Treblinka? Does he sense an odor of authenticity in the rubbish piled up by Filip Müller in Trois ans dans une chambre à gaz, à Auschwitz (Three Years in a Gas Chamber at Auschwitz) (Pygmalion/Gerald Watalet, 1980), a book launched with a great fuss by Claude Lanzmann [director of the documentary Shoah, 1985) and by Le Nouvel Observateur, a book which drew tears from the actor François Perrier who came to talk about it on television?
What does he think about Constantin Simonov on Majdanek (Editions sociales, 1946)? How does he judge a hundred other works, either histories or first-person accounts, where we find over and over again the same cliches, the same inventions, the same foul smells, the same physical impossibilities as in the works that he denounces as false? What does he think of Fania Fénelon as she expresses herself on what she experienced at Auschwitz (which is not without interest) and as she tries to make us believe in the existence of the gas chambers (which she did not see)? What does he think of the quite recent Sachso, in which the Association of Former Inmates of Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen had the effrontery to tell us that the camp had a homicidal “gas chamber,” when for nearly a quarter of a century it has been accepted by authorities in Exterminationist history that the place never had any such installation? What does he think, in that regard, of the way in which faith is transformed into “science"?
6. On pages 212-213, Vidal-Naquet concedes to us that the theologian Charles Hauter, who was deported to Buchenwald, “never saw a gas chamber” and “is deranged on that subject.” He quotes him:
The machinery for extermination literally abounded. To be accomplished quickly, extermination demanded a special kind of industrialization. The gas chambers answered that need in quite different ways. Some of them, of a refined style, were supported by pillars of a porous material, inside of which the gas formed, then passed through the walls. Others were of a simpler structure, but all were sumptuous in appearance. It was easy to see that the architects had conceived them with pleasure, planning them for a long time, drawing on all of their esthetic resources. They were the only parts of the camp constructed with love.
Response: I do not see why Vidal-Naquet takes exception to that testimony. It is neither worse nor better than everything else to be read under the rubric of “gas chambers” at Buchenwald, Auschwitz or elsewhere. By what right does Vidal-Naquet assert that the theologian never saw any gas chambers, and that he “is deranged on that subject"? The answer is simple and disarming, like reasoning in the Vidal-Naquet style, and must be formulated as follows: “The theologian did not see gas chambers at Buchenwald because it offends the official truth on the question, the official truth admitted by tacit and secret consent among the establishment historians, according to whom, definitively, Buchenwald had no gas chamber.” In other words, to remain faithful to the tautological, redundant, and autistic reasonings of a Vidal-Naquet, here is what one would have to say to Charles Hauter: “It is not necessary to ask oneself how, technically, such a mass murder was possible at Buchenwald. It was impossible technically since it did not take place. That is the necessary point of departure for any historical inquiry on this subject. It is our function simply to recall that truth: There is not, there cannot be, any debate about the non-existence of the gas chambers at Buchenwald.”
7. On page 213, Vidal-Naquet concedes, “The number of six million Jews killed, which comes from Nuremberg, has nothing sacred or definitive about it, and many historians arrive at a slightly lower number.” “So it is,” he adds in a footnote, “that R. Hilberg arrives at a total of 5,100,000 victims.”
Response: This remark of Vidal-Naquet jibes with what Dr. Broszat finally declared before a court in Frankfurt: “The six million is a symbolic number.” I am surprised that Vidal-Naquet does not quote a more convincing argument in support of his thesis than the total proposed by Raul Hilberg. Gerald Reitlinger himself, on page 546 of his The Final Solution (London: Sphere Books Ltd., 1971), presents a “Summary of Extermination Estimates (Revised 1966).” His table gives us a choice between a minimum of 4,204,000 and a maximum of 4,575,000 Jewish dead. Still, he takes great care to add that it this a matter of totals based on conjectures. Vidal-Naquet ought to inform us that all such totals are based on pure conjectures. After 37 years, with the electronic means that we possess, the approximate number of Jewish victims ought long since to have been established, but it sadly happens that the Exterminationists do not wish to establish it. When a regime like that in France has kept secret its own figures for over ten years now, it is hiding them for fear of Jewish reaction, and, as we shall see farther on, Vidal-Naquet has taken part personally in this refusal to communicate a bit of information which inevitably would embarrass the liars and jugglers of numbers.
8. On pages 213 and 214, Vidal-Naquet writes of Klarsfeld: “In the same way, Klarsfeld, by the thorough work which characterizes his Mémorial, has decreased by more than 40,000 the number usually given for the deportation of Jews from France (from 100,000 to a little more than 76,000).”
Response: I have already said what I thought of Klarsfeld’s book. The content is worthy of a photograph which appears on the cover. The photo is cropped in order to appear pitiful: The smiling persons have disappeared. One can find the photo in its complete form on page 188. Second distortion: On page 28, Klarsfeld leads us to believe that General Kohl was in favor of the physical destruction of the Jews, when it was a question of a destruction of their influence, “like that of the political churches.” The words omitted are: “Er zeigte sich auch als Gegner der politischen Kirchen” ("He showed himself to be also an enemy of the political churches.") This very serious distortion of a text from [SS-Hauptsturmführer Theodor] Dannecker originates with Josef Billig, followed by Georges Wellers, followed by Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton. Each one has replaced the missing phrase with an ellipsis, the typographical sign of an omission. Each therefore could say, “here finally is proof of the decision to exterminate. The only proof, to tell the truth.” With Klarsfeld the distortion is all the more conscious since, before publishing his Mémorial, he had published Die Endlösung der Judenfrage in Frankreich (The Final Solution of the Jewish Problem in France) (Paris: Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation, 1977) for the German courts that were to try [Kurt] Lischka. In that work it was impossible to conjure up those three periods (ellipsis) all of a sudden in the middle of a letter by Dannecker (page 36). I can cite a third attempt at trickery on Klarsfeld’s part on page 245 of his Mémorial, in regard to the diary of Dr. Johann-Paul Kremer: see my Mémoire en défense, p. 125.
There is something infinitely more serious, however. In order to determine the number of the dead among the 76,000 Jews deported from France, Klarsfeld used an astonishing procedure: He declared DEAD all those who had not taken the trouble to go declare themselves ALIVE to the Ministry of Veterans by the deadline of 31 December 1945! And that at a time when that step was neither obligatory nor official. Truth obliges me to note that Klarsfeld did go to Belgium to find out whether it would be possible to gather there more names of survivors. The majority of Jews deported from France were foreigners. I do not think they had a great longing to return to a country which had turned them over to the Germans.
Klarsfeld has not troubled to find out how many Jews deported from France, then liberated, migrated to Palestine, the United States, South Africa, Argentina, etc. He has had no scruple about counting as dead all those who, after returning to France, presented themselves, without being asked to do so, at the door of the Ministry of Veterans after 31 December 1945. One could say a great deal about his Mémorial, about the appendix to Mémorial, or about the thousands of “gassed persons” made up out of whole cloth by the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Paris, according to Klarsfeld’s own statement.
Vidal-Naquet says that the number usually given for Jews deported from France was 100,000 and that Klarsfeld reduced that to a little more than 76,000, thus bringing about a revision of about 40,000 (?). There is an error there. The number usually given was 120,000 and not 100,000, and the revision is therefore about 44,000. According to Klarsfeld, in 1939 France had about 300,000 Jews (French, foreign, stateless) out of its 39 million inhabitants (see his page 606). From that we conclude that three quarters of the Jews settled in France were not deported; a strange phenomenon to reconcile with a supposed policy of “extermination.” A phenomenon still stranger in Bulgaria and in pre-war Romania or in Denmark or Finland. A phenomenon all the stranger when we think of all of the associations throughout the world which include survivors of the “Holocaust” who, like Simon Wiesenthal himself, went from death camp to death camp without Hitler ever killing them.
The “Wannsee Protocol,” which I do not feel has any value, for reasons that I do not have time to give here, is considered authentic by the Exterminationists. For this reason, I point out that the transcript notes 865,000 Jews for France in 1941. From that we would have to conclude that not even one tenth of the Jews of France were deported.
9. On page 214, in footnote 28, Vidal-Naquet writes:
Faurisson declares (Vérité …, pp. 98, 115) inaccessible the findings of the Committee for the History of the (Second) World War on the total number of non-racial deportees. They can be checked very simply in J.P. Azema, De Munich à la Liberation (From Munich to the Liberation, 1979), p. 189: 63,000 deportees, of whom 41,000 were members of the resistance, an estimate obviously lower than those which were formerly accepted.
Response: I have never limited my criticism to the fact that the Committee hid from us “the total number of non-racial deportees. “I had always reproached it for hiding from us the total number of true deportees: racial or non-racial. One will note that my criticism remains as valid today as yesterday, and that neither the Committee, nor Azema, nor Vidal-Naquet dares to reveal to us the number of racial deportees. I am going to do it for them: THE NUMBER WHICH THEY HAVE HIDDEN FROM U.S. FOR NINE YEARS IS 28,162. (For the non-racial, it is exactly 63,085). Obviously that number-28,162 Jews is terribly embarrassing for the Exterminationists. It was obtained at the end of an investigation which lasted twenty years. How to reconcile it with the number from Klarsfeld: about 76,000? Here is a good subject for our Exterminationists to reflect on. Must we assume that the Committee worked scientifically and that it assigned the characteristic of Jewishness to those for whom that characteristic meant deportation? Must we believe that Klarsfeld for his part counted as Jews all the Jews, whether they had been deported for that characteristic or for another such as resistance, sabotage, spying, black market, common-law crime? I don’t know anything about it. I pose the question and I would certainly like some clarification. Let our people play their violins in unison!
Vidal-Naquet talks about 63,000 deportees, including 41,000 resistants, as an “estimate obviously lower than those formerly accepted. “I find him a little bit shifty. He ought to be more precise and recall for us that at the main Nuremberg trial, the number of deportees from France was officially 250,000 (IMT, Vol. VI, p. 325), which, we might note in passing, gives us an idea of the seriousness of that tribunal which called itself “military” and “international” when it was only a judicial masquerade. It was neither military (with the exception of the judge from the USSR) nor was it international but inter Response to a Paper Historian as Allied, with the victors alone cynically judging the vanquished on the basis of a statute which contained judicial abominations like Articles 19 and 21.
10. On pages 214 and 215 Vidal-Naquet writes, “It is quite simply a shameless lie to compare the Nazi camps with the camps created by a perfectly scandalous decision of the Roosevelt administration to house Americans of Japanese origin (Faurisson, in Vérité…, p. 189).”
Response: In fact, I wrote, “I describe 'genocide' as the act of killing men because of their race. Hitler no more committed 'genocide' than did Napoleon, Stalin, Churchill or Mao. Roosevelt interned American citizens of Japanese race in concentration camps. That was not 'genocide'.” Let people reread my sentences. Where is there a comparison of the German camps and the American camps? Where is the “shameless lie” on my part? If I had had to compare them with anything, it would have been to say that in any case it would probably be better to live in a concentration camp run by a wealthy nation like the United States in 1941 rather than by a nation like Germany where shortages of all sorts were rampant. Azema, already quoted, wrote in footnote 2 of page 189, in regard to the mortality rate in the German camps: “During the last weeks, the epidemics reached an endemic stage, and the last transfers were particularly deadly.”
Having said that, concentration camps are a modern invention that we owe not to the British in their war against the Boers, but to the Americans during their Civil War, and I think that the horrors of Andersonville1 must have been as bad as the horrors of the English, German, Russian, or French camps. Let us recall modestly in what conditions, right after the war, we put many of our German prisoners of war, and for those who have a short memory, let us recall that the Americans demanded the return from France of the Germans whom they had given to us, and that the transfer operation had the name “Operation Skinny"; an operation involving those who had nothing more than skin on their bones.
11. On page 215 Vidal-Naquet wrote: “… it is the job of historians to take historical facts out of the hands of ideologues who exploit them. In the case of the genocide of the Jews, it is obvious that one of the Jewish ideologies, Zionism, exploits that great massacre in a way that is sometimes scandalous.”
Response: Very well. But when I say that, people cry anti-Semitism and have me heavily sentenced by the French judicial apparatus: 360 million old French francs in fines, three months suspended prison sentence, and not one colleague to express his astonishment at the sentencing of a professor with but a single income. The only parties whom I accuse in this enormous lie about the “gas chambers” and about “genocide” are international Zionism and the State of Israel. To be exact, I accuse them of being the principal beneficiaries of it.
12. Vidal-Naquet spoke, on page 216, about the “demonstration made by Faurisson that the Diary of Anne Frank is, if not a 'literary hoax,' at least a doctored document.” Then comes the following commentary: “On the scale of the history of the Nazi genocide, that change removes one comma.”
Response: Here is what is troubling. The same Faurisson who finds himself treated on nearly every page as an inveterate liar and as a complete falsifier supposedly has the analytical qualities necessary to detect a doctored document where millions of readers saw a work of a staggering authenticity, which all by itself has supposedly done more good for the exterminationist cause than have the six million dead. Are there two Faurissons? Does he thus divide himself from one suddenly into two? If that is the case, we must be shown how. Very many readers are going to think that, after all, he has used one and same method (textual, pragmatic, in accord with the facts) to distinguish the true and the false in every instance.
13. On page 216, in footnote 30, Vidal-Naquet writes: “You will find in her article [that of Nadine Fresco, “Les Redresseurs de morts,” op. cit.] an excellent analysis of the methods of revisionist history.”
Response: In that long article, loquacious and, as has been said, “ridiculing in tone,” I have found no trace of any analysis whatsoever. I was named 150 times. I believe that I had the right to reply. I therefore sent the journal a text for that purpose. Les Temps Modernes let me know that there was no question of publishing it since I denied the existence of the “gas chambers” (oral response).2
14. On page 220, Vidal-Naquet reproaches the American Revisionist Dr. Austin App for having written: “The Third Reich wanted the emigration of the Jews, not their liquidation. If it had wanted to liquidate them, there would not be 500,000 survivors of the concentration camps in Israel [an imaginary number, Vidal-Naquet says] being paid German indemnities for imaginary persecutions. “
Response: In volume 14 of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, in the article on “Reparations, German,” it is said that on 12 March 1951, Moshe Sharett, in support of the demand for financial reparations from Germany, pointed out the necessity of absorbing 500,000 victims of Nazism into the land of Israel. Twenty-seven years later, in Le Monde of 3 November 1978, page 10, we read this: “An important part of the Israeli people escaped from the holocaust and is a living witness to the genocide committed by the Nazi beast,” declares a communique of the Israeli embassy in Paris. Thirty-five years after the war, in L'Agence Télégraphique Juive of 9 December 1980, under the title “Le Parti des survivants” ("The Party of the Survivors"), we read: “There are between 200,000 and 500,000 survivors of the Holocaust in Israel. They are from 45 to 75 years old, says Tuvia Friedmann.”
15. On page 221, Vidal-Naquet reproaches the Revisionists for asking proof from those who claim that the “gas chambers” and the “genocide” really existed. He does so in the following terms: “For here we are obliged, finally, to prove what happened to us. We, who since 1945, know, here we are occupied with being demonstrative, eloquent, with using the weapons of rhetoric, with entering into the world of what the Greeks called Peitho, Persuasion, which they made into a goddess who is not ours. Do you really understand what that means? “
Response: It seems normal to me for a historian to prove what he alleges and it seems to me abnormal to consider oneself dispensed from furnishing one’s proofs. We note in the passage a confession which is quite considerable; that up to the present the Exterminationists proved nothing because they knew! Such is indeed the reproach that we always made against them. On the question of the “gas chambers” and the “genocide,” the Exterminationists have contented themselves with a sort of intuitive knowledge; infused, metaphysical, religious, elusive. They were convinced that that would be enough. Ah well, that is no longer quite enough.
16. On page 222, in note 41, Vidal-Naquet writes that Faurisson and Thion have dared to maintain that no expert report on a gas chamber has ever been done. He says: “That is false; I have in front of me the translation of an expert report carried out at Cracow in June 1945 on the ventilation openings of the Birkenau gas chamber (Crematorium No. 2), on 25 kilograms of women’s hair, and on the metallic objects found in the hair. This report which uses, Georges Wellers tells me, the classic methodology, reveals compounds of hydrogen cyanide in the material.”
Response: I am familiar with the expert reports ordered by examining magistrate Jan Sehn and carried out by the laboratory located on Copernicus Street in Cracow. They are not reports establishing specifically that such and such a building was a homicidal gas chamber. I ask why they did not make that elementary investigation (which, besides, is still possible today). What Vidal-Naquet calls or lists as the “gas chamber” of Crematorium No. 2 was a “Leichenkeller,” that is to say, an ordinary morgue; half buried to protect it from the heat, in a cul-de-sac, 30 meters by 7 meters in size, with support pillars in the middle. I know the ventilation system in great detail. A morgue has to be disinfected. For this they used Zyklon-B, an insecticide invented in 1917, and still used all over today. Zyklon-B is an absorbent of hydrocyanic acid on an inert, porous base-diatomaceous earth-which slowly releases gaseous hydrocyanic acid on contact with the air. It is therefore normal that an expert report turn up traces of that acid. As regards the hair, I recall that, during the war, hair was gathered in all of the barbershops in Europe. In factories or in the camps, it was used to make carpets, shag material, insoles for boots, etc. The camps were crammed with materials for recycling, which are explained today to tourists as all coming from the personal effects of victims. I personally have a series of documents which prove that part of the hair displayed in the National Museum at Auschwitz came in fact from a carpet and shag factory located at Kietrz, about 90 kilometers as the crow flies from Auschwitz. Traces of hydrocyanic acid were found in them, which again was very normal.
I renew here my repeated request that finally, 37 years after the end of the war, someone order an expert report on every place (either in its original condition, or in ruins) that is said to be a homicidal gas chamber. Let them begin with Struthof after, if necessary, a rereading of the Simonin, Fourcade Piedelièvre report and, especially, of the unlocatable report of the toxicologist Professor René Fabre.
17. On page 223, Vidal-Naquet writes: “Faurisson contents himself with stewing … about 'the miraculously rediscovered manuscripts,' the inauthenticity of which he does not even try to demonstrate.”
Response: In my Mémoire en défense, which appeared after the present book of Vidal-Naquet, I prove the inauthenticity of those manuscripts. I do it on pages 232 to 236, in the chapter entitled The Trickeries of the LICRA and All the Others. I advise Vidal-Naquet to read, further, the special issue of the Hefte von Auschwitz, Special Issue 1, “Handschriften von Mitgliedern des Sonderkommandos” (Manuscripts by Members of the Special Commandos) (Auschwitz State Museum Publishing Company, 1972). In the preface he will see on pages 5 and 17, not without surprise, to what extent the Poles chided the first publisher of those manuscripts because of his changes and manipulations. That publisher was none other than the illustrious Professor Bernard Mark, director of the Institute for Jewish History at Warsaw, who was denounced as a falsifier by the Polish Jew Michel Borwicz in the Revue d'histoire de la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale, January 1962, page 93.
18. On the same page 223, Vidal-Naquet reproaches me for having included The Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto, by Emmanuel Ringelblum, among me “false, apocryphal, or suspect” works.
Response: Let us decide about this simply by the way in which the book is introduced! I have in front of me: Emmanuel Ringelblum, Chronique du Ghetto de Varsovie (French version by Léon Poliakov from the adaptation by Jacob Sloan [Paris: Robert Laffont, 1978). On page 7, the note by the translator begins as follows:
At the request of the editor, I have followed for this version of the Chronicle of Emmanuel Ringelblum the abridgment by Mr. Jacob Sloan, published in the United States in 1958 by McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. I have nevertheless taken care to collate this text with the original edition in Yiddish, published in 1952 by the Institute for Jewish History in Warsaw […] The Warsaw edition presents gaps motivated principally by the place and date of publication. Unfortunately, neither Mr. Jacob Sloan nor myself have been able to familiarize ourselves with the original text of the manuscript preserved in Warsaw. [emphasis added]
Must I recall here-last but not least-that the Institute’s director, whose name Léon Poliakov does not give, was the forger Bernard Mark?
19. On page 224, Vidal-Naquet comes back to a quotation from Himmler and talks about “coded language,” then quotes Goebbels who, in his Diary, on 13 May 1943, wrote: “There is therefore no other recourse left for modern nations except to exterminate the Jew … “
Response: As regards Himmler, I refer back to my paragraph 2, above. As regards what is “decoded,” I would say, “Enough talk about decoding!” As regards Goebbels, I would say that wartime phraseology is always the same; it is always a question of exterminating the enemy to the last man. Look at the words of our “Marseillaise. “I look likewise at the examples quoted by Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich in Der Auschwitz Mythos (The Auschwitz Myth) pages 82-85; statements by Vansittart, Ilya Ehrenburg, and Zionist officials, etc. Even a Jewish intellectual like Julien Benda, who claimed that he was a rationalist, wrote as follows on page 153 of Un Régulier dans me siècle (Paris [trans. Gallimard]: 1938):
For my part, I maintain that by their morality the modern Germans are collectively one of the plagues of the world, and if I had only to press a button to exterminate them entirely, I would do it on the spot, even if I had perhaps to cry about any good people who would die in the process.
That said, Goebbels repeats, on several occasions in his Diary, “The Jews must be chased from Europe.” At the time he spoke, on 7 May 1943, they had not even been chased from Berlin, and at the time of “liberation,” in May 1945, the surprising discovery was made that there still existed in Berlin at least one Jewish day-nursery and a home for old Jews. As for Europe in general, it contained millions of Jews.
20. On page 224, Vidal-Naquet wrote that it is “a little surprising […] that no SS leader denied the existence of the gas chambers.”
Response: That is quite simply false. In the transcripts of the trials we observe quite often the obstinacy camp officials displayed in not wanting to accept the “evidence.” See, in my Mémoire en défense, on page 45, what Germaine Tillion dares to write about the commandant of Ravensbrück:
Commandant Suhren was naturally interrogated on several occasions on the subject of the gas chamber. He began by denying its existence, then he admitted it, but said that it was outside of his control and maintained that position in spite of the evidence to the contrary. “I estimate,” he said (in the course of the interrogation of 8 December 1949), “the number of women gassed at Ravensbrück at about 1,500.”
It is now recognized that there was never a gas chamber in that camp, where, furthermore, the location of the astonishing “gas chamber” has never been given! The same obstinacy was shown by Josef Kramer in regard to Auschwitz. He said in his first deposition that he had heard the allegations of former prisoners from Auschwitz according to which a gas chamber was supposed to be located there, adding that that was entirely false. In a later deposition, however, he said that there was ONE gas chamber but that it was under the authority of Höss (Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-four Others [edited by Raymond Phillips, London: William Hodge and Co.] pp. 731 and 738).
Regarding the same Josef Kramer, the French military court outdid itself in the matter of the alleged homicidal “gas chamber” at Struthof. It extorted from him two totally contradictory confessions as to the conduct of the gassing operation (Celle, on 26 July 1945 and Luneburg on 6 December 1945). If Richard Baer, in the course of an interrogation in about 1962 or 1963, had admitted the existence of “gas chambers” at Auschwitz, where he was commandant, there is no doubt that in the course of the Frankfurt trial the prosecution would have used it against his 22 accomplices, who were so stubborn and vague on the subject.
I repeat here that it is impossible to scoff at a taboo. One comes to terms with it, as all the German lawyers have done by counseling their clients to deny nothing about the matter; to let the prosecution say what it wished and to content themselves with affirming that, as regards themselves, they had nothing to do with so foul an affair.
Thus in the Renaissance witchcraft trials, the witch did not go so far as to say, “the best proof that I did not meet the devil is that the devil does not exist.” She would have appeared diabolic. She used subterfuges. The devil without a doubt was there. There was loud noise some distance away. “But that was at the top of the hill, and I was at the bottom.”
Not one of the defendants at the main Nuremberg Tribunal had known about the “gas chambers” and the “genocide"-not even Frank, the former governor of Poland, who was overcome by the worst Christian repentance; not even Speer, the most “collaborative” with his judges and with his conquerors. Speer was later to publish, at the request of his Jewish friends, a text in which he said that he held himself responsible … for his blindness! He, the minister of armaments, having, all things considered, supreme control over the activity of the concentration camps, had not SEEN any formidable human slaughterhouses, needing thousands of tons of coal for the incineration of the bodies of the victims of genocide, which operated, it would seem, night and day! Speer has been rewarded for his goodwill. Millions of copies of his books have been sold with the proviso that “after the withholding of taxes, he made a fifty-fifty split with Jewish organizations, notably French ones.” (Remarks made to French television at the time of the appearance of his first book.)
In Volume 42 of the transcripts and documents of the International Military Tribunal, one discovers document PS-862. It informs us that, of the 26,674 former political leaders interrogated, not one had heard talk about the “extermination” of the Jews or about the “extermination camps” before the surrender in May 1945. Can it be imagined that the power of the taboo is such that thirty-six years after the war, a French professor who dares to deny the “genocide” and the “gas chambers” see himself condemned to three months suspended prison sentence and to 360 millions of old French francs in fines and publication expenses? And then in order to deny that those horrors existed, it is still necessary to be entangled for years with the question from the technical point of view. The common people, the Germans and their conquerors, scientists and laymen alike, all have a tendency to imagine when one talks to them about homicidal “gassing” that it was a very simple operation. After that, go on to deny that such and such a shower, such and such a concrete building was used for “gassing"! You think, “How will I procede to show that that commonplace operation did not take place in the building that they show me?” And you keep quiet. And your silence passes for agreement. About you they say triumphantly: “You see! He did not deny it!”
21. On page 22S, Vidal-Naquet writes that my technical considerations on the American gas chambers, where one sees that it is very difficult to kill a single human being, do not at all prove that it would be impossible to carry out mass gassings. He adds that “the operation of gassings, like that of eating, can be carried out in vastly different conditions. “
Response: I understand nothing of that reasoning, of those abstractions, and of those allusions. It seems to me that, if it is dangerous to gas one man, it must be still more dangerous to gas masses of men. I must reveal here that the LICRA [International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism eddy on 4 February 1981, consulted with the top toxicologist in France, Mr. Louis Truffert, in a completely fallacious and abstruse letter, to ask him if it were as difficult to ventilate a place gassed with Zyklon. Mr. Truffert then made a response which went rather in the direction expected by the LICRA. Unfortunately for them, I know Mr. Truffert, whom I have never yet talked to about my thesis about the non-existence of the Nazi “gas chambers,” but with whom I have had a very long discussion on hydrocyanic acid. In company with my publisher, Pierre Guillaume, I went to see Mr. Truffert again, but this time I showed him the plans for Auschwitz, and in particular the “reconstruction” (sic) of a “gassing” which is located in Block 4 of the Auschwitz Museum. Please believe that the reaction of Mr. Truffert was instantaneous. He immediately exclaimed about the impossibility of a homicidal gassing operation in such conditions. It is that which he wanted to confirm for us in a letter of 3 April 1981, a copy of which was to be received by the LICRA. Here is the passage which directly concerns the question:
Nevertheless, the observation that I made [in my response to the LICRA, concerning the possibility of going into a room containing bodies poisoned with hydrocyanic acid without a gas mask, involves the case of a gas chamber at ground level, opening to the fresh air, and it is evident that important reservations must be made in the case of underground installations. Such a situation would require a very large ventilation apparatus and draconian precautions in order to avoid pollution likely to be caused by accidents.
Could Vidal-Naquet be more precise about how I have used an “arsenal” that is not technical, but “pseudo-technical"? Is the consulting of six American penitentiary officials insufficient, and is Vidal-Naquet in a position to make suggestions of a scientific order to the Americans to bring about a remarkable simplification of the gassing process in their penitentiaries?
22. On page 225, Vidal-Naquet reproaches me for translating “Vergasung” as “gassing” when I translate “Keine Vergasung in Dachau” (Dr. Broszat) and as “carburation” when, in a document from January 1943, I encounter “Vergasungskeller,” a word which Raul Hilberg is careful not to quote.
Response: It is all a matter of context! “Vergasung” can have still other meanings besides. Applied to a battle narrative about the gas war in 1918, it can be translated as “gassing.” It can also be a question of non-homicidal gassing. For example, in a radio message of 22 July 1942 addressed to the Auschwitz camp, over the signature of General Glücks, we read, “I hereby give authorization for one five-ton truck to make the round-trip journey from Auschwitz to Dessau [the place where Zyklon-B was distributed] and back in order to pick up gas intended for the gassing of the camp, in order to fight the epidemic which has broken out.” The German text says “Gas fur Vergasung": gas intended for gassing. Finally, at Dachau, the building which contained the disinfection gas chambers was called the “Vergasungsgebäude. “
23. On page 225, Vidal-Naquet reproaches me for not devoting a line to the Einsatzgruppen, nor to Babi-Yar.
Response: Those were not my subjects. Similar police operations and similar places of execution existed among the enemy fought by the Germans on the Russian front. Euthanasia or medical experiments are likewise unrelated to the subject. On those two last points, I have the impression that people have made up an awful lot. I know researchers who are interested in all these supplementary subjects. Let us await their conclusions.
24. On page 225, Vidal-Naquet reproaches me for saying that numerous gypsy children were born at Auschwitz, without saying what became of them. He adds that they were exterminated.
Response: I quoted my sources: Hefte von Auschwitz (The Auschwitz Notebooks). If those children had been the victims of a Herod-like massacre at the time of their birth, Auschwitz Notebooks would not have failed to inform us in regard to each of them. I suppose that some of the children died, and that some of them survived and were found in the long line of children in good health whom the Soviets filmed at the time of liberation of the camp. I recall that bands of Gypsies continued to wend their way through Europe during the war (see Nord, by Céline). Vidal-Naquet asserts to us that those children were exterminated. Where does he get that information?
25. On page 226, Vidal-Naquet writes: “[Faurisson] maintains that in France it was the Resistance which made the Gypsies disappear.”
Response: In reality, I wrote on page 192 of Vérité …: “I recall that in France even the Resistance could see the Gypsies in a bad light and suspect them of espionage, informing, and black-marketeering.” One of my footnotes refers to the following text: “I have personally made a detailed inquiry about the summary executions carried out by the Resistance in a small region of France. I was surprised to discover the Gypsy communities had paid a heavy tribute in dead; not at the hands of the Germans, but at the hands of the Resistance.” Where, in fact, did Vidal-Naquet get the idea that the Gypsies have disappeared?
26. On page 227, in a footnote, Vidal-Naquet is pleased to recall a sentence which I have repeated for some years and that I am going to repeat here one more time: “I have searched, but in vain, for one single former deportee capable of proving to me that he had really seen a gas chamber with his own eyes.”
Response: Vidal-Naquet does not propose any name to me; neither that of Martin Gray, nor that of Filip Müller (with whom I have asked television personality Bernard Volker to be good enough to confront me), nor Maurice Benroubi (discovered by L'Express), nor Yehuda Bauer or one of his friends (whom I said I was prepared to meet on Israeli television), nor Elie Wiesel, nor Samuel Pisar, nor Simone Veil, nor Marie-Claude Vaillant-Couturier, nor Louise Alcan, nor Fania Fénelon, nor Dr. Bendel. In two years of research, the LICRA and its colleagues have been able to find for me only Mr. Alter Fajnzylberg, known as Jankowski. From him they obtained a very short deposition given to Mr. Attal, a notary in Paris. I was delighted at the prospect of meeting the latter in court. In his place, there came a very repetitive spokesman.
27. On page 228, Vidal-Naquet quotes “some documents on Auschwitz and on Treblinka (spelled Trembinki) which served as the basis for an American publication in November of 1944, attributed to the 'Executive Office of the War Refugee Board.'” He states: “There is nothing there that is not in accord in its essentials with either the documents of the members of the Sonderkommando or the testimonies of the SS leaders.”
Response: I did not notice that in the document from the War Refugee Board it was a question of Treblinka or of Trembinki. It dealt particularly with Auschwitz, and to some extent with Majdanek (where they do not mention the existence of “gas chambers"). It h curious that that document was not used in the main Nuremberg trial, where one page of fantastic statistics was simply reproduced from it (Document L422).
AS regards Auschwitz, that document is so little in agreement with the physical realities that it was sufficient for Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich, in his work mentioned above, to juxtapose two photographs: on the one hand, the plan from photographic plate number 12 (=reality), and on the other hand, the plan from photographic plate number 13 (=War Refugee Board fiction).
The fabrication by the War Refugee Board is obvious. I recall it was in that document, published by the Roosevelt entourage, and among others, by the famous Morgenthau, that Katyn is attributed to the Germans (p. 11 of the “Polish Major’s Report").
As regards “gassings,” they were carried out, according to an anonymous Polish officer, by a spray from “hydrogen cyanide bombs” (page 13 of the English text)! This report had quite a suspicious and interesting history, very well revealed by Butz and by Stäglich. It is sufficient to find in their indexes the names of the presumed authors of the first report: Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler. We also find an interesting study by Stäglich in the journal Deutschland in Geschichte and Gegenwart (Tübingen: Grabert Verlag, 1981/I) pp. 9-13.
I note that the alleged plan of the sites appears on page 15 of the American version and that it did not appear in the French version Les Camps d'extermination allemands d'Auschwitz et Birkenau (The German Extermination Camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau) (Office Français d'Edition, 2nd quarter of 1945).
28. On page 228, Vidal-Naquet dares to call on the “confessions” of Kurt Gerstein, which he says have been confirmed by Professor Pfannenstiel himself, who is supposed to have gone to find Rassinier in Paris in order to talk to him about them.
Response: In the different and seriously contradictory versions of the “confessions” of Gerstein, the incongruities, the stupidities, the nonsensical things (see above the 28 to 32 persons per square meter) are so numerous that one cannot believe that the Gerstein argument is still used. Léon Poliakov has inundated us with these different versions of what Vidal-Naquet himself had been obliged to recognize as some “faulty mistakes.” This is a beautiful euphemism!
A thesis is presently being prepared which will expose the Gerstein “confessions” and what Léon Poliakov has made of them.3 In her 1968 thesis, Olga Wormser-Migot was prudent enough to write on page 426: “For our part we have difficulty in accepting the complete authenticity of the confession of Kurt Gerstein or the veracity of all its elements.” As to what Dr. Pfannenstiel declared on several occasions to the German courts, here it is: 1) he treats Gerstein almost as a liar on several points; 2) he is extremely vague about the “gassing” which he is supposed to have witnessed one day side by side with Gerstein; a “gassing” with a Diesel engine, which is a curious way of gassing when we know the small amount of deadly carbon monoxide furnished by a system very rich in carbon dioxide.
Pfannenstiel is supposed to have gone to find Rassinier in Paris? That is very often said, but I know nothing about it since the visitor refused to give his name. It could be. How many times has a Nazi, bound by his “confessions” and compensated for them, served the good Exterminationist cause on command in respect to a Revisionist
or hardened Nazi? When Dr. Johann-Paul Kremer came back from his long detention in Poland and wished to begin speaking again, the German courts gave him to understand that it was in his interest to keep quiet. He kept quiet. They re-employed him as a witness for the prosecution at the Frankfurt trial (1963-65) but always with that extraordinary discretion of the German judges about the actual conduct of the “gassings.” I was able to become acquainted with a short correspondence between Rassinier and Pfannenstiel. I propose to publish it one day in order to show how Pfannenstiel sought to evade Rassinier’s simple technical questions.
It is, furthermore, necessary to be clear on Belzec. Gerstein said that they “gassed” there; but there exist other theses quite as believable (or unbelievable), and I do not see how our establishment historians have been able to eliminate them in favor of the Gerstein thesis. According to Jan Karski, the Jews were killed' with quicklime. According to the New York Times of 12 February 1944, page 6, the Jews were electrocuted. According to Dr. Stefan Szende, they proceeded in a quite sophisticated fashion: The same platform which electrocuted the Jews was raised from the water; then made red hot, and the Jews incinerated. Karski is today a professor at Georgetown University in Washington. In 1944 he published Story of a Secret State (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.; Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1944). Here is what is to be read on pages 349-351 of Karski’s book:
… I know that many people will not believe me, will not be able to believe me, will think I exaggerate or invent. But I saw it and it is not exaggerated or invented. I have no other proofs, no photographs. All I can say is that I saw it and that it is the truth. The floors of the car containing the Jews had been covered with a thick, white powder. It was quicklime. Quicklime is simply unslaked lime or calcium oxide that has been dehydrated. Anyone who has seen cement being mixed knows what occurs when water is poured on lime. The mixture bubbles and steams as the powder combines with the water, generating a large amount of heat. Here the lime served a double purpose in the Nazi economy of brutality. The moist flesh coming in contact with the lime is rapidly dehydrated and burned. The occupants of the cars would be literally burned to death before long, the flesh eaten from their bones. Thus, the Jews would “die in agony,” fulfilling the promise Himmler had issued “in accord with the will of the Führer,” in Warsaw in 1942. Secondly, the lime would prevent decomposing bodies from spreading disease. It was efficient and inexpensive a perfectly chosen agent for their purposes. It took three hours to fill up the entire train by repetitions of this procedure. It was twilight when the forty-six (I counted them) cars were packed. From one end to the other the train, with its quivering cargo of flesh, seemed to throb, vibrate, rock, and jump as if bewitched. There would be a strangely uniform momentary lull and then, again, the train would begin to moan and sob, wail and howl. Inside the camp a few score dead bodies remained and a few in the final throes of death. German policemen walked around at leisure with smoking guns, pumping bullets into anything that by a moan or motion betrayed an excess of vitality. Soon not a single one was left alive. In the now quiet camp the only sounds were the inhuman screams that were echoes from the moving train. Then these, too, ceased. All that was now left was the stench of excrement and rotting straw and a queer, sickening, acidulous odor which, I thought, may have come from the quantities of blood that had been let, and with which the ground was stained. As I listened to the dwindling outcries from the train, I thought of the destination toward which it was speeding. My informants had minutely described the entire journey. The train would travel about eighty miles and finally come to a halt in an empty barren field. Then nothing at all would happen. The train would stand stock-still, patiently waiting while death penetrated into every corner of its interior. This would take from two to four days.
When quicklime, asphyxiation, and injuries had silenced every outcry, a group of men would appear. They would be young, strong Jews, assigned to the task of cleaning out these cars until their own turn to be in them would arrive. Under a strong guard they would unseal the cars and expel the heaps of decomposing bodies. The mounds of flesh that they piled up would then be burned and the remnants buried in a single huge hole. The cleaning, burning, and burial would consume one or two full days. The entire process of disposal would take, then, from three to six days. During this period the camp would have recruited new victims. The train would return and the whole cycle would be repeated from the beginning.
Let us however go on to Dr. Szende. The first edition of his book appeared in Sweden under the title Den Siste Juden från Polen (The Last Jew From Poland) (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlang, 1944). The second edition appeared in Switzerland as Der letzte Jude aus Poland (Zurich: Europe Verlag, 1945). The third edition appeared in Great Britain as The Promise Hitler Kept (London: Victor Gollancz). The fourth appeared in the United States of America with the same title (New York: Roy Publishers, 1945). I am reproducing here a short passage from page 161 of the American edition:
When trainloads of naked Jews arrived at Belzec, they were herded into a great hall capable of holding several thousand people. This hall had no windows and its flooring was of metal. Once the Jews were all inside, the floor of this hall sank like a lift into a great tank of water which lay below it until the Jews were up to their waists in water. Then a powerful electric current was sent into the metal flooring and within a few seconds all the Jews, thousands at a time, were dead. The metal flooring then rose again and the water drained away. The corpses of the slaughtered Jews were now heaped all over the floor. A different current was then switched on and the metal flooring rapidly became red hot, so that the corpses were incinerated as in a crematorium and only ash was left.
The floor was tipped up and the ashes slid out into prepared receptacles. The smoke of the process was carried away by great factory chimneys. That was the whole procedure. As soon as it was accomplished, it could start up again. New batches of Jews were constantly being driven into the tunnels. The individual trains brought between 3,000 and 5,000 Jews at a time, and there were days on which the Belzec line saw between twenty and thirty such trains arrive.
Modern industrial and engineering technique in Nazi hands triumphed over all difficulties. The problem of how to slaughter millions of people rapidly and effectively was solved.
The underground slaughter-house spread a terrible stench around the neighborhood, and sometimes whole districts were covered with the foul-smelling smoke from the burning human bodies.
This narrative, which Dr. Stefan Szende is supposed to have gotten from one Adolf Folkman, is crazy, but less crazy and more coherent than the “confessions” of Kurt Gerstein, which, let it be said in passing, are found to be in serious contradiction with the “truth” about Treblinka, such as it was established at the main Nuremberg trial. At Treblinka, with all due deference to Gerstein, the Jews were not gassed, but were scalded (see, for the racy details, document PS-3311). Here again I ask Vidal-Naquet: Which story to believe? And why this one rather than that one?
29. On page 223, Vidal-Naquet writes that there are some more than doubtful “testimonies” in which an SS man, like Pery Broad, for example, seems to have adopted entirely the language of the victors. He adds that the memoir of Pery Broad on Auschwitz was drawn up for the English (the last three words are underlined by Vidal-Naquet himself).
Response: I know of few forgeries as obvious as the memoir of Pery Broad. Vidal-Naquet seems in agreement with me in seeing a forgery there, but he draws no conclusion from that. This forgery is English and at the same time of a workmanship and a tone that are perfectly Stalinesque, to the point of caricature. I say this to respond to the naive people who claim, contrary to all proof and to every investigation, that no torturing was done in the Allied prisons, and who add: “Look at how much agreement there is between the confessions collected in the West and those collected in the East.” I point out in passing that in the lawsuit which was brought against me by the LICRA and eight other associations, the Pery Broad memoir was placed in evidence as an exhibit. They must really be in trouble if they have to present that kind of “proof” of the existence of the gas chambers!
30. On pages 232 and 233, Vidal-Naquet talks about Höss, the first of the commandants of Auschwitz. He recognizes that it is perhaps true that Höss’s English captors beat him on several occasions. He says that he was “likewise maltreated by his Polish guards at the beginning of his incarceration in Cracow.” He says that Höss could not have known the exact number of his victims and that “all the speculations made by Höss on the subject of the numbers of victims are useless.” He recognizes that Höss gave absurd figures regarding the numbers of Romanian and Bulgarian Jews. He says, in return, that Faurisson is wrong to “make a great fuss on the subject of an error, repeated on several occasions, which in the testimonies collected by the English has him talking about the imaginary camp of 'Wolzek near Lublin' (probably a confusion and reduplication with Belzec and Majdanek).”
Response: Vidal-Naquet makes many concessions here. I dare say that a fair number of them come from his reading of my writings. But I admire the way that everything is minimized here! An outsider could believe that the speculations made on the numbers given by Höss come from Faurisson. Nothing of the kind! As to that affair of the Romanian and Bulgarian Jews, it is very serious. I point it out in order to show how Dr. Broszat mutilated the text of Höss’s diary in order to remove certain blunders.
As to the camp of Wolzek, which, in reality never existed, it cannot result from a confusion with Belzec, since Höss mentions the two camps side by side. Nor is it a question of a “recopied error,” but of a second error.
One looks forward to a complete judgment on the personality of Höss and on the degree of authenticity which one can attribute to the writings of a man tortured by everyone, committing enormous errors, either about numbers or places; whose writings, published in German eleven years after his hanging by the Communists, were seriously tampered with.
31. On pages 234-236, Vidal-Naquet attempts, without great conviction, it seems to me, to defend the principle of a trial like the main Nuremberg trial, or, in the case of Eichmann, that in Jerusalem. In order to know what was said at the Jerusalem trial, he refers particularly to the book entitled Eichmann par Eichmann (Eichmann by Eichmann).
Response: It is clever not to seek to defend the indefensible, especially when, like Vidal-Naquet, one voluntarily relies on humanitarian good conscience. I hope for his sake that he will never find himself in the defendant’s dock with a representative from his conquerors on the judges' bench, someone who, of course, will have armed himself beforehand with all the moral justifications in the world for judging the vanquished.
I recommend the reading of these three pages for their mealy-mouthed tone: “That the material gathered at Nuremberg is not always of very good quality is certain [etc.].” As to using the compilation by Pierre Joffroy in order to know what was said at the Jerusalem trial, that shows an astonishing laxity. Vidal-Naquet could have consulted the transcripts of the trial at the Paris Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation. He entertains us with the following quotation: “Eichmann, in prison or at his trial, referred often to the works of Léon Poliakov as an authority and the best source about events.” For my part, I can indeed believe it. Eichmann, in his cell, was fed like a Christmas goose. He ended up no longer knowing what he had heard, what he had seen, what he had read. Here, for example, is a very important passage from his interrogation by the Israeli government commissioner regarding the “gas chambers” directly from Transcripts, J1-MJ at 02-RM:
The Commissioner: Did you talk with Höss about the number of Jews who were exterminated at Auschwitz?
Eichmann: No, never. He told me that he had built new buildings and that he could put to death ten thousand Jews each day. I do remember something like that. I do not know whether I am only imagining that today, but I do not believe I am imagining it. I cannot recall exactly when and how he told me that and the location where he told me. Perhaps I read it and perhaps I am now imagining that what I had read I heard from him. That is also possible.
32. On pages 236-244, Vidal-Naquet talks about Paul Rassinier.
Commentary: He does so with a great deal of confusion. He clutches especially at what he calls the “fantastic calculations” by Paul Rassinier regarding the number of Jewish losses. It seems to me that in the matter of “fantastic calculations” and of cock-and-bull stories, no one could surpass our Exterminationists. We have seen from the foregoing that on these points Vidal-Naquet has made a fair number of concessions, and that it seldom happens, to tell the truth, that he leaves his rarefied atmosphere to set his feet on our earth for a moment. But he loses his temper when Rassinier uses statistics that come from a Russian Jew: David Bergelson. According to the latter, the Red Army was able to save a very large number of Jews at the time of the entry of the Germans into the Soviet Union in 1941. Vidal-Naquet says that source is worthless. For this he gives us two reasons, and I am personally completely in agreement with Vidal-Naquet on one of them, as to how David Bergelson could have known those numbers as early as 5 December 1942; but Vidal-Naquet will not allow me to use the same reasoning when I challenge a mass of numbers given hot and heavy immediately after the war by the Exterminationists. And what is there to say about the numbers of those supposedly massacred that the Polish resistance or Zionist groups in Geneva and Bern dared to give in the midst of the war?
Vidal-Naquet gives another reason for challenging Bergelson, and this time he makes himself hard to understand. He writes: “D. Bergelson was a writer who was a member of a Jewish committee created by the Soviet authorities for the purpose of making propaganda addressed precisely to American Jews. After the war, in 1952, his mission accomplished, he was shot.” Let us reread each of those words slowly! What reproach can one make to this Bergelson? Was it a crime to be part of such a Jewish committee? Was it a crime to tell American Jews that a number of their fellow Jews in Russia had died? What does this “mission accomplished,” so long after the war, mean, and does Vidal-Naquet find that the Stalin courts and police did good work by shooting that Jew, at the very moment of the famous “doctors' plot"? No. Vidal-Naquet is certainly engaged in hiding part of the truth from us. We are going to have to tell it for him.
In 1977, Georges Wellers did not hide the truth in Le Monde Juif (April-June, page 65), when he told us that David Bergelson was part of an ad hoc Jewish committee created in the USSR at the end of 1941 and charged by the government with winning the sympathies and the financial support of American Jews for Russia in the war. In other words, Bergelson exaggerated the number of Jews in order to obtain more money. So it happens that, when confronted with many of the Exterminationist statistics, I think of what I call the “Bergelson complex.”
Was it a sort of “Bergelson complex” which was suffered by those comedic showmen of relics who, like Salomon Mikhoels from the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee formed in Moscow, made a tour of American cities and showed the public a cake of soap allegedly made from the fat of Jews, and allegedly brought from a concentration camp? The sums of money brought in by those tours were important, as noted by Gerald Israel in Jid/Les Juifs en URSS (Yid/The Jews in the USSR) (Editions Spéciales/Jean-Claude Lattes, 1971).
33. On pages 246-247, Vidal-Naquet writes: “It is perfectly evident that Faurisson has not read the text that he mentions.” He says that in regard to the declaration of war on Hitler’s Germany by Chaim Weizmann, a declaration for which I gave as reference The Jewish Chronicle of 8 September 1939, page 1. He adds that this declaration of war “is made up.” Finally he adds that Chaim Weizmann was not the president of the World Jewish Congress.
Response: That is true. I give Vidal-Naquet credit. Chaim Weizmann was the president, not of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), but of the World Zionist Organization (WZO). After the war he was to become the first president of the State of Israel. In 1939 and for some years before, Jews and Zionists were active in pushing the West into a crusade against Hitler. Even before the date on which the British and the French entered into a war against Germany, Chaim Weizmann had taken the initiative of writing, on the date of 29 August 1939, to the British Prime Minister in order to assure him of the support of the Jewish Agency for the cause of the democracies. He wrote: “The Jews stand by Great Britain and will fight on the side of the democracies.”
Furthermore, a declaration made on 8 September 1939 at Jerusalem by the Jewish Agency assured the British that, despite the White Book of 1939, the Yishuv of Palestine would be loyal and would struggle for the victory of the British Empire. The Times of 6 September 1939 headlined it exactly: “Jews To Fight Against Nazi Germany,” while in New York The New York Times, on page 9, headlined: “Jews Stand by Britain.”
Curiously, Vidal-Naquet seeks to minimize the importance of Weizmann’s act, while underlining that the latter expressed himself only in the name of the Jewish Agency. I will not be treacherous enough here to insist on the various motives which could have moved the Zionists themselves, some of whom had maintained contacts with Hitler’s Germany. Zionism and Nazism had some points of agreement. I will simply say that rightly or wrongly Weizmann intended to speak in the name of the world Jewish community, and that it was indeed in that way that his initiative against Hitler was received by the whole world.
In the Encyclopaedia Judaica, published in Jerusalem in 1971, we read in the article on Weizmann: “When World War II broke out, Weizmann immediately promised the British government all possible aid by the Jewish population in Palestine and the Jewish people outside.” (emphasis added)
John Toland, in his Adolf Hitler (Doubleday, 1976, page 574), reports this, which would merit verification at the source: Regarding Chamberlain] “(Later, according to Ambassador Kennedy, he said that the 'Americans and the world Jews had forced him into the war.')”
Having said that, let no one accuse me of having made the Jews responsible for the Second World War. I have never been able to determine who was responsible for any war.
34. On page 248, Vidal-Naquet points out a page of mine “which ought to be included as part of an anthology of filth.” (!) I had written (see page 190 of Vérité … ):
Where there were large concentrations of Jews impossible to watch over carefully except through the intermediary of a Jewish police force, the Germans feared that which was to take place elsewhere, in the Warsaw ghetto, where suddenly, just behind the front in April of 1943, an insurrection took place. The Germans were amazed to discover that the Jews had built 700 blockhouses. They put down the insurrection and transferred the survivors to transit camps, work camps, and concentration camps. The Jews there lived through a tragedy.
Response: For Vidal-Naquet, the “filth” would rest in the fact that my informant here supposedly is Himmler, and that I had taken good care to hide my source. He says that “any reference to a note has charitably disappeared.” I do not understand what he means by “charitable disappearance of a footnote reference.” Actually, as the result of a typographical error, the number 48, which was to have appeared after the word “Blockhaus,” was dropped. But note 48 shows up in its proper place, and reads as follows: “Speech given at Poznan on October 6, 1943, page 169 of the Discours Secrets of Heinrich Himmler (Paris: Gallimard, 1978). This is the French translation of Geheimreden 1933 bis 1945 and andere Ansprachen (Propyläen Verlag, 1974). That work is to be used with caution, especially its French translation.” So where is the “filth"?
35. On page 249, Vidal-Naquet reproaches me for having written that the Warsaw ghetto insurrection took place just behind the front, in April 1943. He says that the front was then very far away, more than a thousand kilometers distant.
Response: Vidal-Naquet here confuses the “front” with the “front line.” The front line was located perhaps more than one thousand kilometers away, but the Russian front (as we say, the German front, the Pacific front, etc.) really began at the Pripet Marshes.
36. On pages 249-250, Vidal-Naquet reproaches me for not giving more details on that insurrection, and begins to talk again about “[my] master, Himmler.”
Response: I do not have to spend time on what was not my subject. I left the subject of the ghetto and what Himmler has said about it with the following sentence: “The Jews there lived through a tragedy.”
37. On pages 250-251, we think that Vidal-Naquet is finally going to come to the subject itself, that is to say, the homicidal “gas chambers.” In fact, he talks about one document in German (a commonplace travel order), in which we read: “One hundred twenty-five men and 684 women and children have been subjected to special treatment (sonderbehandelt wurden).” He asks, “Will he dare say that those persons were taken to a rest camp?”
Response: I note that Vidal-Naquet does not dare to say that those people were gassed. I note that he comes back to “Sonderbehandlung.” On the one hand, I believe that I have already answered that question; on the other hand, I note that in the same convoy 406 men and 190 women were put to work. For the men it is specified that the work was in the Buna factories; for the women, it is not specified. The other men, women, and children, therefore, benefited from special treatment; they did not have to work. This is what can explain why, at the time of the liberation of Auschwitz, so many men, women, and especially children were found very much alive among those “incapable” of marching and taking part in the evacuation-along with, of course, the sick and the dead. In the calendar from the Hefte von Auschwitz (1961, Volume IV, p. 81) the writers had no fear about stating quietly that the 125 men and the 684 women and children were all gassed. Elsewhere, the same calendar considers two convoys which left Drancy on 4 and 6 March 1943 to have been gassed. But Serge Klarsfeld, in his Mémorial (p. 110, pp. 386-389), rectifies the “mistake"-those two convoys went to Majdanek and he found the survivors.
38. On page 251, in note 86, Vidal-Naquet makes a very brief allusion to the famous aerial photos of Auschwitz recently revealed by the CIA. We talk about them on page 319 of Vérité. He says that “it seems in fact that one photo taken on 25 August 1944 […] shows the process [of extermination] in action.”
Response: With the photo in front of us Vidal-Naquet would never dare claim such a thing. That photo, like all the photos from Brugioni and Poirier, issues a stinging reproof to the whole Exterminationist legend. The two Americans themselves, quite crestfallen, are obliged to write on page 11: “Although survivors recalled that smoke and flame emanated continually from the crematoria chimneys and was (sic) visible for miles, the photography we examined gave no positive proof of this.” The two authors add in a footnote: “The imagery examined from records of the extermination period include (sic) 4 April, 26 June, 26 July, 25 August, and 13 September 1944.”
Personally, I would permit myself to add here that in a letter which can be consulted in the National Archives in Washington (letter of Robert G. Poirier to Professor David Wyman on 6 March 1979), it is said that there were as many as 32 aerial missions over Auschwitz from 27 December 1943 to 14 January 1945. Since it happens, on the other hand, that I possess copies of the intelligence reports of the OSS (ancestor of the CIA) about the region, as well as certain technical commentaries on the photos, I can state here that the knowledge that the Allies had about Auschwitz was astonishingly precise. Had there taken place at Auschwitz or in its region anything at all that resembled enormous massacres on an industrial scale, there is no doubt that the Allies would have revealed it immediately. The official announcement of such massacres would have been a stupendous psychological weapon whose destructive effect the Nazis would not have been able to counteract. It is clear that if the Allies refused to believe the allegations of the Zionists of Geneva or of Bern, or those of the Polish Resistance it is because they knew, just as did the Vatican and the International Red Cross, that to stick to the facts, and not to the malicious wartime gossip there was in reality neither an extermination nor a holocaust.
39. On pages 251 and 252, Vidal-Naquet writes: “Auschwitz was, they [Butz, Faurisson, Thion] all tell us again and again, a great industrial center, specializing in the production of synthetic rubber. But no one has ever explained to us why babies had to go there, and no one has told us what became of those babies. The complete inability of the 'revisionists' to tell us what became of those who were not registered in the camp and whose names nevertheless appear on the lists of the convoys is proof of the lying character of their statements.”
Response: In the beginning, the Germans wanted to intern in their camps only those from 16 or 18 to 55 years of age who were capable of working. They supposedly dispensed with persons unable to work. Why, nevertheless, did they, little by little, deport those incapable of working-even babies?
There are several reasons for this. The first is the insistence of the governmental authorities of the occupied countries on not having families dislocated. The religious authorities especially protested against breaking up families, and the fact that some children were turned over to houses of correction, to homes, to foster parents, etc. Georges Wellers in L'Etoile jaune… (op. cit.) shows very clearly that no one imagined that he was leaving Drancy for an extermination center (see pp. 4, 5, 233 et seq., 254 about the “grouping of families"). Indeed some people, allowed to live at Drancy in idleness, said that all in all, it was better to go to the East where their lot would doubtless be difficult, but less depressing. To the children they explained that they were leaving for the mythical country of Pitchipoï. Among those who left, there were even some “volunteers.”
Sometimes they allowed families to vote on the question of whether to take their children with them or to leave them in France (C. Levy and Paul Tillard, Le Grand Rafle do vélodrome d'hiver [The Great Round-up at the Vélodrome d'hiver], Robert Laffont, quoted by Georges Wellers in Le Monde Juif, July/September 198(), p. 109).
A section of Auschwitz-II was called the family camp, and there remain on the walls of the areas virtually never visited by tourists numerous drawings or paintings made by the children. What became of the babies? We know, at least for a part of them, through inquiries carried out twenty years after the war by the Poles, the results of which have been partially gathered in the volumes of the blue Anthology of Auschwitz (copy typed in French, in English … ). This Anthology is very seldom read. On the subject which interests us here, I would recommend particularly, but not exclusively, Volume II, third part, pp. 31-114: “Results of the Psychiatric Examinations of Persons Born or Interned During Their Infancy in the Nazi Concentration Camps.” This study, published in Polish in 1966, was translated into French in 1969. I quote here the French edition.
In the same volume, we can read an article on “The Examinations of the 'Children of Auschwitz"' (pp. 18-30). We find there sentences such as these: “The children examined up to the present were eight years old at the time of Liberation. Most of them were less than five years old when they were interned” (p. 18); “The youngest children had their numbers tattooed on their legs. As they grew, the number became unreadable” (p. 25); “The examinations and the studies continue. They are finding [written in 1965] more and more of the 'children of Auschwitz'” (p. 30).
People often reproach Laval for having strongly insisted to the Germans that they deport the children. The reproach is unjust. Laval in fact wrote: “I have in particular succeeded in not having the children separated from their parents” (Mémoire en réponse à l'acte d'accusation [Memoir in Response to the Bill of Indictment]), 1945. This is because, like the religious authorities, he did not want families to be broken up. Henri Amouroux (La Grand Histoire des Français sous l'occupation [The Great History of the French Under the Occupation], Volume 5: “Les passions et les haines,” page 333, note 3) reports this reflection made by Laval to Jean Jardin: “I have just come from a terrible meeting [with Oberg]. They want to leave the children with us. I said to them, 'It is not customary for us to separate children from their parents.'”
Certain authors claim, in contrast to Georges Wellers, that the Central Consistory, for example, “knew” from 1942 that the deportees were destined for extermination. They give as proof a text which one can read on page 207 of Klarsfeld’s Mémorial, something that the latter has entitled “The Vehement and Lucid Protest of the Central Consistory” (25 August 1942). I have some doubts about the authenticity of that document. Excluded from the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation, under threat of physical force by its director, M. Meram, I have had to ask someone to go to verify the original text for me (references CCXIII-15 and CDLXXII-89). Here is the response that I received: “Alleged duplicate which is in fact a sheet of onion-skin paper, without a letterhead, without a signature and bearing only the date of 25 August 1942.”
There were other causes for the deportation of children: for example, the systematic clearing of the ghettos, or systematic expulsion (see the examples of Warsaw or Budapest).
In the blue Auschwitz Anthology, we can read the report of a Polish midwife who, as part of her thirty-eight year career, had, in the course of two years spent at Auschwitz-Birkenau, delivered the babies of 3,000 Jewish and non-Jewish women; and that was done, she said, with an exceptionally high rate of success (Warsaw, 1969, Vol. II, 2nd part, pp. 159-169: “Rapport d'une accoucheuse d'Auschwitz” [Report of a Midwife at Auschwitz], S. Leszczynska, translated from an article that appeared in 1965 in the medical review Przeglad Lekarski).
40. On page 252, in note 88, Vidal-Naquet writes: “Pierre Guillaume, questioned by me on that subject [where did those not registered in the camp go?] answered that those persons were transferred to the station at Kielce. Why?”
Response: He meant Kosel (120 kilometers from Auschwitz) and not Kielce. Pierre Guillaume was alluding to a fact that Klarsfeld reports on page 12 of his Mémorial. Klarsfeld recalls the astonishing method used in Paris by the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation and at Auschwitz by the National Museum of Auschwitz in order to determine the number of persons gassed. For example, when it was discovered that a convoy that had left France did not seem to have reached Auschwitz, both places calmly deduced that the convoy did reach Auschwitz, but that it had been completely gassed there!
So it is that a convoy of 3,056 persons was counted as gassed, when in fact it had stopped at Kosel and not at Auschwitz. As we have already seen above, they assumed the same for convoys numbers 50 and 51, which instead of proceeding to Auschwitz made their way to Majdanek. The same for convoy number 73 which went to Kaunas and Reval. In short, there, and again elsewhere, they invented mass gassings. But the irony of the affair is that Klarsfeld, who rectifies these errors, commits still worse errors in counting as dead the persons who did not return to France before 31 December 1945 to declare themselves alive.
41. On page 253, Vidal-Naquet writes that Faurisson “triumphantly publishes the photo of Simone Veil, who was thought to have been gassed, but is still alive. The reason for that error is extremely simple [etc.].”
Response: I would certainly not contradict Vidal-Naquet. The reason for that “error” could not be more simple. As Vidal-Naquet tells it, “The camp archives, incomplete, no longer include the names of the women who were registered [for work].” The Exterminationists, then, completed those archives, “decoded” their incompleteness, and made them speak; they made them say one more time: Here is the proof that all the women of such and such a convoy were gassed. The case of Simone Veil is far from being an exception. It shows, thanks only to the celebrity of the lady in question, the incredible dishonesty of all of these statistics about the gassed or the dead.
42. On page 255, Vidal-Naquet allows a digression about poetry. To borrow his own expression, that “is obviously absurd.” I am even less inclined to pause here since it would get us away from our subject.
43. On pages 255-261, Vidal-Naquet tries to “code” in order then to “decode” the diary of Dr. Johann-Paul Kremer.
Response: I would say first, one more time: Enough decoding! I would then add that Vidal-Naquet wrote these pages before the publication of my Mémoire en défense which deals in large part with the diary in question. The reader of that Mémoire will find there, I think, an answer to the questions and the criticism of Vidal-Naquet.
44. On page 261, in note 102, Vidal-Naquet talks about a report by a delegate of the Red Cross concerning his visit to Auschwitz.
Response: Vidal-Naquet probably did not expect that I would return in my Mémoire en défense to that report which had been mentioned on page 115 of Vérité. For each reader who would like to form for himself an idea of Vidal-Naquet’s scrupulousness in reading a text, I advise careful reading of pages 241 to 247 of my Mémoire. He will find there, on the one hand, an analysis of the essential passage of the delegate’s report, and on the other hand, an enumeration of the procedures by which either private persons or organizations have distorted that document, which is very embarrassing to the Exterminationists. Vidal-Naquet is to be added to the list of private persons who distort the meaning of the text, without going so far, it is true, as a Marc Hillel (see p. 255 of Les Archives de l'espoir [Archives of Hope], Fayard, 1977, vi + 261pp).
45. On page 268, in note 113, Vidal-Naquet talks about John Bennett, an Australian leftist, secretary of the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties (the equivalent, in some sense, of the American Civil Liberties Union), a convinced Revisionist, who is struggling calmly and courageously, in my opinion, against the Exterminationist lie. Vidal-Naquet talks about “the campaign which has led to his being excluded from the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties,” and his drawing near to the far right. Vidal-Naquet says that he gets his information from Charles Sowerwine, of Melbourne.
Response: I have in front of me Your Rights, which is the publication of the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties. It is the 1982 edition. I certify that John Bennett appears there (with his photo) as its secretary “since the founding of the association in 1966.” I learn further that John Bennett had just been named president of the Australian Civil Liberties Union.
46. On page 269, Vidal-Naquet refers to “the hype surrounding Holocaust, the last stage in the transformation of Auschwitz into merchandise. “
Commentary: The intellectuals have cleared the way for the merchants. Auschwitz, a place of suffering, has been transformed into a sort of Disneyland with, further, a Hilton in Cracow for tourists. We in France are awaiting the arrival of a new Wiesenthal film: Genocide.
47. On pages 273 and 279, Vidal-Naquet relies on Pitch Bloch, a chemical engineer, for the job of answering me about the chapter on Zyklon-B.
Commentary: The course given by Pitch Bloch on Zyklon-B smells terribly of improvisation, and I could not advise this chemical engineer too strongly to refer to the studies and to the works of G. Peters on the question, especially those which are mentioned on page 204 of Vérité. I would advise him likewise to read Blausäuregaskammern zur Fleckfieberabwehr (Hydrocyanic Acid Gas Chambers for the Prevention of Typhus) by Dr. Franz Puntigam, Dr. Hermann Breymesser, and engineer Erich Bernfus (official publication of the Reich Ministry of Labor [Berlin, 1943]). At no point does Bloch explain to us how, at Struthof, Josef Kramer would not himself have been the first to have been asphyxiated while “pouring out crystals of a gas about which he could have said nothing except that with a little excess water that gas killed in ONE minute.” I wrote that salt and water can not give off such a gas. Bloch replies shrewdly that “salt” (note the quotation marks) and water can produce a gas. Let us leave him to his subtleties and let him be good enough to answer the question which is asked, which is: Let someone give me the name of the salt, with or without the quotation marks, which, on contact with water, releases an acid the toxicity of which would be higher than that of hydrocyanic acid!
I recall here that the hydrocyanic acid used in American gas chambers puts the condemned person to sleep in approximately forty seconds and kills him in several minutes (Caryl Chessman in 14 minutes, I believe). While I discuss the foolish testimony of Höss regarding “gassings” at Birkenau, Bloch contents himself with “correcting” the surface area of the alleged “gas chamber” (in reality, a morgue called a Leichenkeller), stating that they put 2,000 persons in 236.78 square meters, and not in only 210 square meters.
Sorry. The plan shows very clearly that the dimensions of the interior of the room, including the support pillars, were 7 meters by 30 meters = 210 square meters. Bloch does not even outline a solution to the famous mystery: How the members of the Sonderkommando could, without a single gas mask, enter immediately a room full of 2,000 bodies just poisoned by cyanide gas, since we know of the strict precautions taken by the Americans before going into a small gas chamber and touching the body there even slightly. Bloch creates a diversion by talking about “the testimony of R. Vrba and F. Wetzler.” I have already dealt with that above, in paragraph 27. But this time Bloch runs out of luck. Vidal-Naquet cites that testimony according to the remarks by Georges Wellers, who had used a French version from the Office Français d'Edition, 2nd quarter of 1945.
Bloch himself quotes for us the same document according to quite another source that he gives us in note 7 on his page 276; CIM, 1944. He thereby offers us, altogether unwillingly, the occasion for a treat, a comparison of the edition of 1944 with that of 1945. We notice then that, as usual in these stories concerning “testimonies” about the “gas chambers,” they have grossly manipulated the text. I do not have the time to stop for that here. Nor do I have time to show how Georges Welters in Les Chambres à gaz ont existé mutilated the quotations from the same document while using ellipses in parentheses where the “testimony” was too strong a brew (p. 115). I leave it to readers interested in the mechanisms of forgeries to go there to see it at close hand.
I will content myself with one example. According to this
testimony, and according to the plan that is found in the American version (but not in th.e French version, as I said in paragraph 27 above), the “gas chamber” with 2,000 bodies and the crematory ovens are located on the same level: that of the ground. Therefore the bodies would have been transported from the “gas chamber” to the crematory ovens without using an elevator. In the real plan of the rooms, however, the multiple photographs, the visible ruins, ALL prove to us that the room with the ovens was located above ground and that the alleged “gas chamber,” in reality a morgue, was located below ground. According to the “witness” invoked by Vidal-Naquet and Bloch, the transferral of the bodies took place either on “flat-hand trucks” (1944 version), or on “flat-bed trucks” (1945 version)! ! !
Bloch also does not tell us where they put the 2,000 bodies before burning them. That would have required an immense place, which appears nowhere, either in the real plans, or in the fictional plans (like the War Refugee Board Report), or today at the site. But since Mr. Bloch believed that he ought to cite for us a “testimony” which now becomes very embarrassing, permit me to cite another one of equally striking veracity; that of Zofia Kossak (Du fond de l'abîme, Seigneur [From the Depths of the Abyss, O Lord], translated from the Polish, Albin Michel: 1951):
There was no water; therefore, where were the showers? Above the doors were some narrow, oblong windows. Behind the window panes, German uniforms and faces are waiting, emotionless, but strangely evil and hostile. Have they all entered? … The door closes with a crash. That was not an ordinary door; it was a double door, impervious to gas … A shrill ringing sound, and immediately, through some openings in the floor, the gas began to rise [emphasis added]. From an exterior balcony which overlooked the door, the SS men observed with curiosity the agony, the terror, the spasms of the condemned. This was a spectacle that those sadists would never tire of. They contemplated it with the same pleasure several times each day. They noted the convulsions, the contortions, the particularly unusual postures. They had the time. The agony would last from ten to fifteen minutes. Certain ones died immediately, but others took a longer time. It depended on the dosage of the gas. When it happened that the crematorium office was economizing, the martyrdom took longer. At length, no one in the room stirred. Five hundred [emphasis added] women and children lay in a disorderly heap. Their dead eyes, wide with fear, stared up at the ceiling.-New ringing sound [emphasis added]. Powerful ventilators drove out the gas. The “Sonderkommando” appeared in masks and opened the door located opposite the entrance. There was a ramp there, hand trucks [emphasis added]. The team loaded them with bodies, quickly, quickly. Others were waiting. And then the dead were able to come to life again. The gas in such doses stuns, it does not kill. It happened many a time that the victims loaded on the last round came to on the hand carts … the hand carts got down [emphasis added] the ramp and unloaded directly into the oven [emphasis added] … The annihilation of five hundred human beings has taken no more than an hour and a quarter [emphasis added]. Except for a handful of ashes [500 bodies of women and children would leave behind at least a ton of ashes-author’s note] there would remain no other trace. The following group crossed the threshold of the bath. Chattering, the little girl held her mother’s hand, and without interrupting her ditty, she crossed the threshold … (DD. 127-128).
To see, in a general way, the incredible contradictions between the witnesses in a single trial, regarding the manner in which Zyklon was introduced into the alleged “gas chamber,” one could read the unintentionally humorous summary made by a German court which, for once, lingered for a short time on the technical aspects of the “gassings” (see Justiz und NS-Verbrechen [Justice and NS-Crimes], Amsterdam: University Press, 1975, Volume XIII, the case of Dr. Gerhard Peters, p. 134 or 415 b-5).
48. On pages 280-289, Vidal-Naquet continues with an “Appendix II.” There he mentions and criticizes briefly my Mémoire en défense which had just appeared (fourth quarter of 1980). He says that I had “not devoted a single line to trying to respond to the dismantling” that he, Vidal-Naquet, had done to Faurisson’s lies. Vidal-Naquet adds that by various details of editing of Mémoire (correction of all too evident errors), it is evident to him, Vidal-Naquet, that Faurisson was nevertheless familiar with his text. He gives only one example of a correction for which I should allegedly be indebted to him. That example relates to the translation of the German “darniederliegen” used by Dr. Johann-Paul Kremer.
Response: On page 20 of my Mémoire, I say to my readers that the translation into French by the Poles was “annihilated,” when the original German text said “liegen […] darnieder,” which meant there, “were sick in bed.” My editor has been able to prove clearly to Vidal-Naquet that I was not at all indebted to him for that detail since my translation was done prior to the article by Vidal-Naquet. In a letter that he sent in response to my publisher, Vidal-Naquet has indeed been willing to agree with that.
49. On page 280, Vidal-Naquet writes:
[I have shown that] not one single time in [the Kremer diary] did the “special actions” in which the doctor participated have any connection whatsoever with the struggle against typhus. Faurisson is incapable, for good reason, of producing a single argument, a single response on this point. I have said It before and I repeat it now; his interpretation is a forgery, in the full meaning of the term.
Response: On 5 September 1942, Dr. Kremer was present at a special action at the women’s hospital and he adds, in parentheses, “Musulmans [sic].” That term was applied to sick persons who had reached the last stage of consumption. Then, on 7 October 1942, Dr. Kremer writes: “I was present at the ninth special action (people from outside and Musulman women).” How could Vidal-Naquet claim that the condition of those male and female “Musulmans” had no connection with the formidable epidemic of typhus which ravaged both the camp and the city, causing deaths among the camp inmates as well as among the German soldiers and their families?
50. On page 281, in note 3, -Vidal-Naquet recalls briefly, and as if it went without saying, that “special action” was the “code word for gassings.”
Response: Once again, enough decoding!
51. In the same passage, Vidal-Naquet writes: “A falsehood that has been changed without informing the reader remains of course a falsehood,” and he remarks that in Vérité …, on pages 109-110, I defined “special action” as being “the sorting out of the sick and healthy,” while later on, in my Mémoire, on page 34, “the special action” becomes, in addition, the cleaning of the railway cars, either third-class coaches or especially freight cars, in which newly detained persons had just arrived.”
Response: It is sufficient to go back to my text in order to see that the accusation by Vidal-Naquet is based on a bad reading. In fact, in Vérité … on pages 109-110, I defined the sorting out of the sick and the well as “ONE of the forms of the doctor’s 'special action.'”
52. On page 286, Vidal-Naquet writes: “Faurisson has been banned neither from the library nor from the public archives.” He recalls that the personnel of the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Paris “after some years of forbearance” have refused to serve me and that to him that “seemed quite normal” since I questioned the Center “in its fundamental activity, that of remembering the crime” (sic). Vidal-Naquet adds that the Center is a “private foundation.”
Response: The staff of the Center, or at least a part of the staff, is paid by the French taxpayer. For some months the staff increased its provocations so that I could no longer come to work at the Center. I was driven away by the director in person, Mr. Meram, who threatened me with physical assault if I tried to return. Thereupon, I received from Georges Wellers a letter in which he informed me of his refusal to let me have access to the library and the archives; all done in the name of the noblest ideals. In doing that, he was, he said, “sure of finding himself in the noblest traditions of this country, where freedom and the respect for human dignity are indissoluble” (27 April 1978).
I have likewise been driven away from an institute in Paris and from a research center and library in Vienna. I state explicitly that in spite of what he supposedly declared to a French journalist, Mr. Simon Wiesenthal has never forcibly shown me to the door of his home. To the contrary, he received me with a very Viennese courtesy. It is true that at the time he did not know my opinion about the “gas chambers"!
But, in fact, does the Vatican Library refuse access to agnostics? I note that, if I am prosecuted like a criminal in the courts by a swarm of organizations, it is likewise done in the name of the noblest ideals; they are not harming the freedoms of thought and expression-they are protecting them! 53. On page 286, Vidal-Naquet writes: “I myself claim, and I prove, that Faurisson, outside of the very limited case of the Diary of Anne Frank, is not seeking truth but falsehood.”
Question: How can that be reconciled in the same man?
54. On the same page, in note 12, Vidal-Naquet obviously does not know what to say in response to the forty pages (pages 181 to 222 of Mémoire en défense) which I devote to the “drastic revision of 1960.” I recall there how the “gas chambers” of the Old Reich went, so to speak, down the chute, and I amuse myself collecting “strikingly true testimonies about the non-existent gassings, for example, at Buchenwald and Dachau.” Here is how Vidal-Naquet gets rid of the thorn. He writes:
In order to be complete, I would say that [in Faurisson’s new book] there is a file about the imaginary or non-functioning gas chambers in the camps in the West, Buchenwald, Dachau. But all that is so badly analyzed historically that even that documentation is usable only with difficulty.
Response: There is no analysis on my part, either historical or otherwise. I content myself above all with a simple enumeration of the false testimonies. The enumeration in and of itself speaks volumes. In it we can read, between the lines, the famous question which no one has yet answered: “What difference do you see between the 'testimonies' about Buchenwald or Dachau and the 'testimonies' about Auschwitz or Belzec?” Had I wanted to do an analysis of each of the false testimonies that I cite, I am sure that my analysis would have been of a biblical simplicity. Let us take a short example. Here is a false testimony about Dachau. It is from Fernand Grenier and I quote it on page 218 of my Mémoire en défense. First I shall give the text and then I shall analyze it.
Text of the False Testimony
To the side of the four crematory ovens which never stopped working there was a room: some showers with sprinkler heads in the ceiling. In the preceding year [19441 they had given a towel and a piece of soap to 120 children, from 8 to 14 years of age. They were quite happy when they went inside. The doors were closed. Asphyxiating gas came out of the showers. Ten minutes later, death had killed these innocents whom the crematory ovens reduced to ashes an hour later.
Analysis Of The False Testimony
Since it is admitted that nobody was ever gassed in Dachau, the false witness Fernand Grenier has totally made up:
- The four crematory ovens which never stopped working;
- The room with the false showers and shower heads;
- The year in which the event took place (in contrast to many witnesses, he does not go so far as to give the month, the day, and the hour);
- The children;
- The number of those children;
- The ages of those children;
- The 120 towels and pieces of soap;
- The complete joy of the children on entering;
- The closing of the doors (in the plural);
- The asphyxiating gasses;
- The 10 minutes it took for death to occur;
- The record time for the cremation of 120 children’s bodies in four ovens-only one hour, when today, with more modern means than those of 1944, four ovens of the kind that function at Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris would need 225 hours, or about nine days (45 minutes per body without antibiotics; if not, 50 to 60 minutes per body).
My analysis will stop here. To continue would serve no other purpose than to measure the candor of all who believe that such stories are not made up.
With regard to false testimony, I would be happy if Vidal-Naquet would give me his opinion on Sachso (op. cit.). There, on numerous occasions, the “gas chamber” of that camp is discussed, although it was located 30 kilometers from Berlin; that is to say, in the Old Reich, where, as we have known officially since the drastic revision of 1960, there was no homicidal gassing.
In 1968, Olga Wormser-Migot, in her thesis on Le Système concentrationnaire nazi 1932-1945 (The Nazi Concentration Camp System 1932-1945) wrote in note 2 on page 541, in the midst of a chapter significantly entitled, “The Problem of the Gas Chambers,” that the Oranienburg “gas chamber” appeared to her to be “on the order of myth.”
In Sachso, which is presented as a collective work, the authors reproduce for us two photos of Soviet origin tending to support the existence of a homicidal gas chamber. One does not see in them the least bit of the alleged “gas chamber.” The first caption reads as follows:
One of the butchers of the camp, Paul Sakowski, in the presence of an officer of the Soviet Commission of Inquiry, repeats in 1945 the movements which released death into the gas chamber.
The second caption reads as follows:
To the left of the heavy, armored, and air-tight door to the execution room he activates the lever which seals all the ventilation openings. Then, with a slap of his palm on a hammer, he breaks the ampule of Zyklon-B. the deadly vapors of which spread throughout the interior.
But it is interesting to know that Zyklon-B, invented in 1917 (the license dates from 1922) and still currently in use today throughout the world, never existed in ampules. Zyklon-B is hydrocyanic acid absorbed into an inert porous base — diatomaceous earth, for example. The funny thing about the plan of the camp which they have drawn is that it very clearly says “Industrie Hof (sic)/Crematory/Gas Chamber/Execution Chamber,” but all that is accompanied by an arrow pointing toward the open, so that it is impossible to distinguish the shape, the proportions, or the location of the “gas chamber.”
I would likewise hope that Vidal-Naquet will tell us his feelings about the “Exhibition on the Deportation, 1933-1945” which took place in late April and early May of 1982 on the Place du Trocadéro in Paris. On 30 April, in a “Supplement to the Quarterly Review Les Amis de Paul Rassinier, No. 1, June, 1982,” I wrote an article about it which ends as follows:
In a general way, the 1982 exhibition marks an interesting evolution of the myth of the homicidal gas chambers. The fragments they show us of the alleged homicidal gas chambers are smaller and smaller. They are tending toward the infinitesimal, toward zero, toward nothing. Many gas chambers are no longer shown at all! They content themselves with showing us the building which is supposed to have contained them.
I add, under the heading “N.B.,” the book by Georges Wellers, entitled Les Chambres à gaz ont existé (Gallimard, 1981), containing 12 photographs; not one shows a homicidal gas chamber.
I know several academic historians who no longer believe in the Nazi “gas chambers.” They have confided that to me but dare not state it publicly. They feel the time has come to abandon the pious lie, but they don’t know how to go about it.
To them I suggest a trick devised by one of my lawyers, who, after having believed firmly in the academic dogma, suddenly realized that he had been deceived. The means he devised in order not to appear to have changed his mind too much is as follows:
He described the “gas chambers” as “metaphorical.” No doubt those horrors had not really taken place, but they conveyed very well all the real horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, and all in all they were a faithful image of the sufferings of the deportees and a moving representation of what some suffering minds really believed they knew. After all, the figure of 6 million Jews dead has become a “symbolic number,” eine symbolische Zahl, since 3 May 1979 in a court in Frankfurt (case 50 Js 12 828/78 919 Ls, against Erwin Schönborn) where Dr. Broszat, once again, testified as an expert witness, based on his position as director of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. The alleged gas chambers are “metaphorical,” the alleged number of 6 million dead “symbolic.”
All that remains is to find an adjective of the same kind for the alleged “genocide.”
55. On page 288, Vidal-Naquet assures us that my “freedom of expression, subject to existing laws, has never been threatened.”
Response: His “subject to” is something to be relished. Vidal-Naquet has respect for law-for the law, for example, which, as a result of my having stood up for my idea about the “gas chambers” and the “genocide,” led to my being condemned to a suspended sentence of three months in prison and to 360 million old francs in various fines plus the expenses of publicizing the decision. I have against me a pack of organizations and a mob of lawyers. I have been crushed by the debts from all those trials. I no longer have the right to teach. I have been attacked and physically beaten on several occasions. I have been the object of real lynching attempts. My health has become such that I had to be hospitalized three times in one year, for one month each time. My family life is completely upset. One of my children has had to give up his studies because of the name he bears. I am insulted in the French and international press as no one else, to the best of my knowledge, has ever been. The right to reply is almost systematically refused to me since a judge declared that to put “gas chamber” in quotes is to cast a slur upon some kind of holy thing. The Council of State has declared that there is nothing “materially inexact” in declaring me to be an academic who has never published anything in his life! The administrative court of the département of the Seine has never investigated a complaint I made in January 1975. I have encountered serious problems when I've had to find a lawyer. All of them have avoided the job. One of them was expelled from the MRAP [Movement against Racism and for Peace between Peoples] for having had the audacity to defend not my ideas, but my right to freedom of expression. A portion of my books was destroyed in the warehouse. A unit of the Jewish Defense Organization called for an attack against us in a hall of “La Libre Pensée” ("Free Thought") and smashed 12,000 francs worth of property.
One night at 9:30 p.m. a sheriff’s officer came on behalf of the MRAP to seize a video-cassette which the Jewish Defense Organization had just seized. We are the objects of never-ending threats. The vigilantes flourish in Paris, as in the provinces. Because of all this my wife has been sick for four years and lives in constant fear.
We have had some of our furniture repossessed while awaiting the possible seizure of a house that I have not yet completed paying for (purchased for 105,000 francs in 1968); our car has been seized, and most of my salary (my sole source of income) taken.
I have paid for all my research, and related travel expenses, out of my own pocket. When, for once, I won a court case (against Le Matin de Paris, which had written that I had received a reprimand for anti-Semitic remarks at the lycée in Clermont-Ferrand), the judge-Mme. Simone Rozès-did not want to publicize the decision because of the “special character of the case.”
Dr. Marc Aron, the president of the consultative committee of the Jewish organizations in Lyon, declared one day that I would never again teach in Lyon, and organized demonstrations on the premises of my university by persons from outside the university. My case was the subject of administrative inquiry. The rector concluded it as follows: “Professor Faurisson is unassailable; he has not committed any professional error.” That meant nothing, nor did the moving support of my students, nor the qualities which I seem to have shown up to that time ("Very brilliant professor; very original researcher; exceptional personality"). Not one of my colleagues came to my defense. Some of them went so far as to write to the president (socialist) of my university to assure him of their support against the black sheep. I have the letters. There are 25 of them.
I was warned by the Disciplinary Council to disappear from circulation. They assured me that, since the Council was constituted as it was, the opinion of the rector was of no importance. As a result of this pressure, I asked for a position teaching in the correspondence division. There they told me that they would have nothing to do with me, and that anyway my belonging to Group A of Higher Education prevented me from being used.
As regards my union, the SNESup (a leftist union) did not delay in showing me the door without letting me be heard in any way. I belonged to the SNES and to the SNESup for more than 20 years.
I won’t mention the threatening letters, the anonymous telephone calls, the times that I was spat upon, the minor problems. I must admit that I feel like a hunted animal, and that I have often wanted to be done with my life. I do not know whether I will survive much longer what is happening to me and to my loved ones. But I feel myself torn by the duty to struggle against such horrible lies and so much cowardice.
If I must struggle in this way, with the bit between my teeth, it is also for all those who have supported me up to now. First, those of the Vieille Taupe publishing house, and then all those strangers in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Australia, and other places as well, who collect protests and manifestos.
56. On page 288, Vidal-Naquet writes:
Noam Chomsky, in a letter of 6 December 1980 to Jean-Pierre Faye, retracted, if not his text (appearing as a preface to my Mémoire en défense), then at least the use which had been made of it, without his agreement, as the preface to a book by Robert Faurisson.
Response: That is quite simply false.
That letter was written, but its content has been seriously misrepresented.
One comment by way of conclusion:
Vidal-Naquet spreads the idea, even in court, that he is convinced that I am an anti-Semite.
I will share a secret with you. When I hear talk about the Jewish question, I fall asleep. I understand that such indifference on this matter might offend the people who see anti-Semites everywhere, as others see Jews everywhere-but I demand the right to be indifferent on that point and on several others.
- In section 10 I wrote: “( … ) concentration camps are a modern invention that we owe not to the British in their war against the Boers, but to the Americans during their Civil War” and I went on to mention “the horrors of Andersonville.” Recently Mr. Mitchell A. Abidor (from Brooklyn, NY), reading the French version, noticed my mistake and reminded me that Andersonville had not been a “concentration camp” but a camp for prisoners of war. He is right. I should have mentioned instead Mark Weber’s article: “The Civil War Concentration Camps,” Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1981, p. 137-153 in which we read inter alia:
In addition to camps for captured soldiers, the North also established concentration camps for civilian populations considered hostile to the Federal government. Union General Thomas Ewing issued his infamous Order Number 11 in August 1863, whereby large numbers of civilians in Missouri were relocated into what were called “posts.”
In Plain Speaking, “An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman,” the former president tells what happened:
Everybody, almost the entire population of Jackson County and Vernon and Cass and Bates counties, all of them were depopulated, and the people had to stay in posts.
They called them posts, but what they were, they were concentration camps. And most of the people were moved in such a hurry that they had to leave all their goods and their chattels in their houses. Then the Federal soldiers came in and took everything that was left and set fire to the houses.
That didn’t go down very well with the people in these parts; putting people in concentration camps in particular didn’t. (pp. 78-79)
President Truman’s grandmother loaded what belongings she could into an oxcart and, with six of her children, among them the President’s mother, made the journey to a “post” in Kansas City. Martha Ellen Truman vividly remembered that trek until she died at the age of 94 [p. 143].
- In my introduction and in Section 13 of my “Response …,” I mentioned Ms. Nadine Fresco and her attempt to answer the Revisionists' arguments. Recently, in December 1985, she was quoted by Michael May in an article against the Revisionists: “Denying the holocaust/The background, methods and motives of the 'revisionists,'” Index on Censorship (London), December, 1985, p. 29-33. Below is what Michael May said against me and what I answered him.
Nadine Fresco in her admirable article “The Denial of the Dead” (Dissent, Fall, 1981) relates the following discovery about perhaps the most meticulous and dedicated of the 'revisionists', Robert Faurisson, in his treatment of the diary of the Auschwitz doctor Kremer, an important document.
'In his letter to Le Monde on January 16, 1979, Faurisson cites the diary that Johann-Paul Kremer, SS doctor, kept during his tenure at Auschwitz. Kremer recounts, on October 18, 1942 that, for the eleventh time, he was present at a “special action” (Sonderaktion). Faurisson, who can’t be had and who, like no one else, knows how to decipher a text, decides that this “special action", which the exterminationists [the deniers' name for the established historians] insist on taking for a mass gassing, refers very simply to the executions of those condemned to death. He writes, “Among those condemned are three women who arrived in a convoy from Holland; they are shot". This sentence is accompanied by a very impressive note that indicates the seriousness of Faurisson’s work. The note consists of a biographical reference: “'Auschwitz as Seen by the SS', published by the Museum of Oswiecim [the Polish name for Auschwitz], 1974, p. 238, note 85".
'Can one imagine a more scrupulous concern for reference, precision, and scientific rigor? But then perhaps Faurisson thinks it would be rather surprising if readers of Le Monde had access to such a book, published so far from France and behind the Iron Curtain. Unfortunately for Faurisson, I have the book. And note 85 on page 238, which reports the official transcript of Kremer’s testimony in 1947, indeed indicates that three Dutch women were shot on that day. But the text of the note to which Faurisson refers reads: “At the time of the special action which I described in my diary on October 18, 1942, three Dutch women refused to enter the gas chamber [emphasis mine] and pleaded for their lives. They were young women, in good health, but despite this their prayer was not granted and the SS who participated in the action shot them on the spot.'”
So there were gas chambers and people were put in them-and Faurisson relies on the very testimony which shows this. But he conceals all mention of gas chambers. The truth is not his goal …
At the time of the Faurisson affair, thirty-four of France’s leading historians issued a declaration in Le Monde attesting to the historical truth of the Holocaust and protesting the Nazi attempt to erase the past. They concluded:
'Everyone is free to interpret a phenomenon like the Hitlerite genocide according to his own philosophy. Everyone is free to compare it with other enterprises of murder committed earlier, at the same time, later. Everyone is free to offer such or such kind of explanation; everyone is free, to the limit, to imagine or to dream that these monstrous deeds did not take place. Unfortunately they did take place and no one can deny their existence without committing an outrage on the truth. It is not necessary to ask how technically such a mass murder was possible. It was technically possible, seeing that it took place. That is the required point of departure of every historical inquiry on this subject. This truth it behooves us to remember in simple terms there is not and there cannot be a debate about the existence of the gas chambers.' (Le Monde, Feb 21, 1979)
Letter to the Editor, Index on Censorship (for publication)
Subject: Michael May, “Denying the Holocaust” (Index on Censorship, December 1985, pp. 29-33)
My name is Robert Faurisson. I am a professor at the University of Lyon-2, in France. I have said and I still maintain that there was never a single homicidal gas chamber in the German concentration camps prior to or during World War II. I have arrived at that conclusion, as have many Revisionists, at the end of a very long investigation and I have expressed that conclusion in books, articles, and one videotape presentation. In my response to Michael May’s article, I will refer only to two books: Serge Thion, Vérité historique ou vérité politique? (Le dossier de l'Affaire Faurisson, La question des chambres à gaz), Paris, La Vieille Taupe Publishing Co., April 1980, 352 pages; Robert Faurisson, Mémoire en défense contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'Histoire (La question des chambres à gaz), with a preface by Noam Chomsky, same publisher, November 1980, xx-iv + 280 pages.
Michael May, on the other hand, believes that the gas chambers did exist. In his article he mentions a French woman, Madame Nadine Fresco, who has fought vigorously against the Revisionist thesis and, in particular, against my own publications in Le Monde ("Le problème des chambres à gaz/La rumeur d'Auschwitz,” 29 December 1978, p. 8, and “Une lettre de M. Faurisson,” 16 January 1979, p. 13) as well as against Serge Thion’s book.
Nadine Fresco criticized us in a fierce and mocking way in a long article in Les Temps Modernes (the magazine of Jean-Paul Sartre and of Claude Lanzmann, famous later as the director of the film Shoah). Her article was entitled: “Les redresseurs de morts/Chambres à gaz: la bonne nouvelle/Comment on révise l'histoire” (Les Temps Modernes, June 1980, pp. 2150-2211).
Michael May does not refer to that article but rather to an English text: “The Denial of the Dead” (Dissent, Fall 1981), which, judging from the excerpt that he has cited, could be either a translation or an adaptation of the Temps Modernes article. He describes that article as “admirable,” especially since Ms. Fresco supposedly shows what kind of trick I used to hide from Le Monde’s readers the existence of an “important document": the testimony of Professor Johann-Paul Kremer about the gassings at Auschwitz.
Unfortunately for Nadine Fresco and Michael May, I, far from having hidden that testimony from anyone, have often mentioned it and, noting the interest that has been shown in it by those who sued me for “falsification of history,” have devoted numerous pages to it for some time. Here I will limit myself to listing only the five occasions on which I talked about that testimony, a date approximately one year before Nadine Fresco in Dissent, in spite of so many warnings, went on to repeat and to persist in her initial serious mistake.
Here are the five dates on which I talked about the testimony that Johann-Paul Kremer made to his Polish Communist jailers:
- On 16 January 1979, in the same letter to Le Monde in which Ms. Fresco said that I had concealed Kremer’s testimony from my readers, I expressly mentioned “'the testimony' (in quotes) after the war by J.-P. Kremer” and the context clearly shows that it was testimony about the alleged gassings (that letter is reproduced in my Mémoire, pp. 84-88);
- On 26 February 1979, in a text sent to Le Monde in connection with my “right to reply” to Georges Wellers, I referred to the testimony and its content (that text is reproduced in my Mémoire, pp. 96-100);
- In April of 1980 Serge Thion announced on page 338 of his book that I was soon going to publish a Mémoire in which I would deal, among other items, with the question of Kremer’s testimony;
- In June of 1980 Nadine Fresco published her article in Les Temps Modernes; it mentioned me 150 times. In accordance with my legal “right of reply,” I sent a response to her article. In it I pointed out, among other items, that it was wrong for Ms. Fresco, repeating Georges Wellers’s error, to reproach me for having been silent about the testimony of J.-P. Kremer; I told her that Le Monde had refused to publish my response to Wellers and I made it clear that I was soon going to publish a Mémoire in which I would once more talk about J.-P. Kremer (a photograph of Le Monde’s refusal letter is included in my Mémoire, p 101);
- In November of 1980 the Mémoire that had twice been announced to Ms. Fresco appeared; in it I reproduced in facsimile 20 pages of the Communist publication in whose footnotes are found fragments of Kremer’s confession. And I had no trouble in showing the vagueness and the absurdity of that testimony, which is also quite typical of Stalinist trials.
I will therefore make the following remarks about that whole affair and about Michael May’s article:
- It is astonishing that I have been accused in this way of hiding something that I had myself taken the initiative to point out. Georges Wellers was the first one to make this false accusation. The others have only repeated what he said. They have been, first of all, the group of nine organizations which sued me; then Nadine Fresco, and today Michael May. They have not been able to respond to the scholarly arguments of the revisionists and instead have leaped at the first accusation that occurred to them. And, lacking anything better to say, they have persisted in their error;
- Those who defend the thesis about the existence of the gas chambers are amateurish. We have an example of that amateurishness in Nadine Fresco: in my letter to Le Monde I said that three women coming from the Netherlands had been shot rather than gassed at Auschwitz; as my source I gave a classic book, a special issue of the Hefte von Auschwitz (Auschwitz Notebooks) published by the very official State Museum of Auschwitz; this special issue was also in French, and I gave the exact citation in the French version. What did Ms. Fresco do about that? She deduced from it that this was a trick on my part and that, having done that, I counted on the fact that no reader of Le Monde would take the trouble to verify the reference to a work “published so far from France and behind the Iron Curtain.” Could Ms. Fresco find anyone who, writing as a specialist about Auschwitz, would be unaware of the existence of the Hefte von Auschwitz?
- Do we know of very many Communist-conducted trials that have not had confessions by the accused?
- Michael May wrote his article in a publication called Index on Censorship. I therefore supposed that he is opposed to censorship. In this whole affair there have been two examples of censorship: first by Le Monde, then by Les Temps Modernes. In both cases they prevented me from reminding the public that I had indeed mentioned the Kremer testimony and that I even knew the subject very well. The result was that Nadine Fresco thought she could repeat a baseless accusation that is today coming back to haunt her. Therefore, it seems that it is, at least sometimes, unwise to censor things.
- Michael May ends his article with the final excerpt from the declaration by 34 French historians who, in February 1979, published a text protesting against my denial of the existence of the gas chambers. He talks about “thirty-four of France’s leading historians.” He fails to mention that not one of those historians, except Léon Poliakov, was a specialist in the period under consideration; they included Egyptologists, Hellenists, specialists in the 16th or the 18th centuries, specialists in the study of customs or of societies, etc. In France today people still laugh at that declaration which seems to please Michael May; here is how it concluded:
“It is not necessary to ask how technically such a mass murder was possible. It was technically possible, seeing that it took place. That is the required point of departure of every inquiry on this subject. This truth it behooves us to remember in simple terms: there is not and there cannot be a debate about the existence of the gas chambers” (Le Monde, 21 February 1979, p. 23).
This kind of reasoning is an example of a rhetorical construction known as “tautology.” And it raises three questions: Apart from the alleged mass murder of Jews by the Nazis, what other mass murder in history could a historian research without having to ask himself how “technically” it was carried out?
You say that there cannot be any debate about the existence of the gas chambers; does that mean that if there is actually such a debate it is necessary to forbid it-for example, by means of censorship or law suits?
Supposing for a moment that the gas chambers were actually nothing more than a wartime rumor turned into an historic lie. Should we call it that or cover it up? In this case what, in your opinion, should a scholar do?
3. In section 28 I wrote: “A thesis is presently being prepared which will expose the Gerstein 'confessions' and what Léon Poliakov has made of them.” The viva voce of this thesis was on 15 June 1985. Its author, Mr. Henri Roques, received his Ph.D. (doctorat d'Université) with distinction from the University of Nantes. This long and very technical thesis will be mimeographed in February, 1986. The conclusions are humiliating for Léon Poliakov. Quite recently, in November 1985, Carlo Mattogno published Il Rapporto Gerstein: Anatomia di un Falso/II “campo di sterminio” di Belzec (The Gerstein Report: Anatomy of a Fraud/The Extermination Camp at Belzec), ed. Sentinella d'Italia (Via Buonarotti 4, Monfalcone, Italy), 243 p., 15,000 lire. His findings are the same as Dr. Roques' findings.
ROBERT FAURISSON is an associate professor of French literature, specializing in the appraisal and evaluation of documents and texts, at the University of Lyon-2 in France. He has been a frequent contributor to the Journal of Historical Review.
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