The Holocaust Historiography Project


Damning Documentary Evidence

To the Editor:

You were good enough to send me the Winter 1990-91 issue of your Journal of Historical Review, which contains a piece by Mr. David Irving under the title “Battleship Auschwitz.” Readers of his “remarks presented to the Tenth International Revisionist Conference” might conclude that there is no tangible and damning documentary evidence relating to mass gassing of human beings at Auschwitz — Birkenau. They would be quite wrong.

On the 88th day of the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, 11 September 1964, the Presiding Judge, Dr. Hofmeyer, questioned the signatory of one of the “Fahrgenehmigungen” — [i.e. travel] authorization — to fetch “materials for the resettlement of the Jews” at Dessau in a 5 — ton truck with trailer, dated 2. 10. 1942. The travel order (Fahrbefehl) is identical with the “Funkspruch [radio message] Nr. 13” from WVHA [the SS “Economic and Administrative Main Office"] at Oranienburg to the Kommandantur Auschwitz, received at the SS Standort-Funkstelle [garrison radio center] Auschwitz on the same 2. 10. 1942, signed bottom left by “F. D. R. Selle Funkstellenleiter” ["Certified by Selle, radio center chief"]:

Fahrgenehmigung für einen 5 To. LKW mit Anhänger nach Dessau u. zurück, zwecks Abholung von Materialien für die Judenumsiedlung, wird hiermit erteilt. Dem Kraftfahrer ist diese Fahrgenehmigung mitzugeben.

signed: Liebehenschel. SS-Oberstubaf. ständiger Vertreter des Leiters der Dienstst. im Range eines Gen. Leutnants d. Waffen SS

[Travel Authorization is hereby given to go to Dessau and back, in a five — ton truck, with trailer, for the purpose of obtaining material for the resettlement of the Jews. This travel authorization is to be given to the driver.

signed: Liebehenschel. SS Lt. Colonel, permanent representative of the chief of the agency with the rank of a Lt. General in the Waffen SS.]

When R. Mulka (camp adjutant), who signed the “Fahrgenehmigung” (authorization for the truck driver) was asked by Judge Hofmeyer on the 11 Sept. 1964: “Also, Mulka, was verstehen Sie nun unter Material für die Juden umsiedlung?” ["So, Mulka, what is your understanding of the words 'material for resettlement of the Jews'?"], Mulka’s reply was: “Na, ja. ["Well, yeah.] Zyklon B.”

Mulka was given 14 years, and he was lucky at that!

The written authorization from WVHA at Oranienburg to Kommandantur Auschwitz of the 26.8.1942 states:

Betr.: Fahrgenehmigung

Bez.: Dort. Antrag v. 26. 8. 42

Fahrgen. für einen LKW nach Dessau zur Abholungvon Material Für Sonderbeh. wird hiermit erteilt. Farhgen. istdem Kraftf. mitzugeben.

[Subject: Travel Authorization

Ref.: Request of 26 Aug. 1942

Travel authorization for a truck to go to Dessau to pick up material for special treatment is hereby given. Travel authorization is to be given to the driver.]

Signed as in the WVHA written authorization of the 2. 10. 1942

“F. D. R. Selle funkstellenlieter” [Certified by Selle, radio center chief.].

These 2 authorizations and Mulka’s confession and admission in court on the 11 September 1964 require no further comment from me. None of the similar messages was ever decoded by the British decoders at Bletchley Park. I have discussed this matter with my colleague Prof. Sir Harry Hinsley, who confirmed this.

These wartime documents have been available for a good many years, of course, and more have been found by me very recently.

Gerald Fleming
Emeritus Reader in German
Department of Linguistic and
International Studies
University of Surrey
Guildford, Surrey

Editor’s Response:

As Prof. Fleming notes, the documents of 26 August 1942 and 2 October 1942 that he cites here are indeed well known. They are quoted, for example, in: E. Kogon, et al, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas (1986), pp.223-224.

They are also cited by the prominent anti-revisionist historian Jean-Claude Pressac in his important 1989 study, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, pp. 556-577. In the case of the authorization of 2 Oct. 1942, Pressac gives the complete text in both facsimile and translation (p. 557).

According to Pressac, less than five percent of the Auschwitz supply of Zyklon B was used for homicidal gassings. He maintains that more than 95 percent, and perhaps as much as 97 or 98 percent, was used at Auschwitz for disinfestation delousing of clothes and buildings. Zyklon gas was used overwhelmingly to kill the vermin that spread disease. That is, it was used to save lives. (J.-C. Pressac, Auschwitz, 1989, pp. 15, 188. See also: R. Faurisson, JHR, Spring 1991, p. 38, and, JHR, Summer 1991, 140.)

The real meaning of “material for the resettlement of the Jews” and “material for special treatment” becomes clear when these travel authorization papers are considered along with another in this same series. The very similar authorization of 22 July 1942, which Fleming does not cite, likewise permits a five-ton truck to go from Auschwitz to Dessau. But in this case the document specifically mentions that the purpose is “to pick up gas [Zyklon] for gassing in the camp, to combat the epidemic that has broken out.” This transport of Zyklon was actually meant to save lives because, as Pressac acknowledges (p. 556), “a typhus epidemic was in fact raging in the camp.”

In view of all this, it is difficult to agree with Prof. Fleming’s comment that Mulka was “lucky” to receive a 14-year prison sentence for his role in delivering Zyklon to Auschwitz.

What is perhaps most remarkable about Prof. Flemings' letter is his implicit suggestion that the two travel authorization papers he cites are the most “tangible and damning documentary evidence” in existence for “mass gassings of human beings at Auschwitz-Birkenau.” Prof. Fleming has unintentionally confirmed that documentary evidence for homicidal gasings at Auschwitz simply does not exist.

In spite of our very different views, we appreciate Prof. Flemings' letter as a contribution to fruitful dialogue on this complex issue. We look forward to continuing this useful exchange of views.

— Mark Weber, Associate Editor

Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 375-379.