Otto Friedrich, a senior editor of Time Magazine, wrote an article in Atlantic Monthly, September 1981, which he stated was based entirely on the writings of survivors of the camps, and which could hardly be accused of painting a rosy picture of their existence.
The Kingdom of Auschwitz
In a remote corner of southern Poland, in a marshy valley where the Sola River flows into the Vistula about thirty miles west of Krakow, Heinrich Himmler decided in the spring of 1940 to build a new prison camp. The site chosen by some of his underlings had little to recommend it. Outside a bleak little town named Oswiecim, there stood an abandoned Austrian artillery barracks, a collection of about twenty single-story brick buildings, most of them dark and dirty. The surrounding countryside, in the foothills of the Carpathians, was beautiful, a mosaic of meadows speckled with wild flowers, but a committee of Himmler's adjutants reported back to Berlin that the prospects for a large prison camp were forbidding. The water supply was polluted, there were mosquitoes everywhere, and the bar racks themselves were virtually useless. Himmler was undaunted. In this first year of the subjugation of Poland, the need for new detention camps to help establish German law and order in the east was overwhelming.
One of Himmler's most dedicated subordinates, SS Major Rudolf Höss, commandant of the "protective custody camp" at Sachsenhausen, disagreed with his skeptical colleagues. He reported to Berlin that hard work could transform the marshes along the Vistula into a valuable outpost of the Reich. The place had two important qualities: it had good railroad connections, but it was isolated from outside observation. Himmler promptly assigned Höss to take charge of the project. On April 29, 1940, Höss and five other SS officers from Sachsenhausen descended from the Breslau train and surveyed the prospect before them.
"It was far away, in the back of beyond, in Poland," Höss later recalled, in the memoir that he wrote shortly before he was hanged in 1947. The Germans had their own name for the place: Auschwitz. Höss was a remarkable man, as anyone who confesses to personal responsibility for the death of more than 2.5 million people presumably must be. (Nobody knows, even to the nearest hundred thousand, how many people died at Auschwitz. Höss said in his memoir that he got the figure of 2.5 million from Adolf Eichmann, but he said that it seemed to him "far too high." Scholarly estimates range from I to 4 million)
It was Höss, apparently, who devised the famous iron sign that mockingly welcomed the trainloads of prisoners to Auschwitz: Arbeit macht Frei. "Work makes you free." He seems not to have intended it as a mockery, nor even to have intended it literally-a false promise that those who worked to exhaustion would eventually be released-but, rather, as a kind of mystical declaration that self-sacrifice in the form of endless labor does in itielf bring a kind of spiritual freedom.
"All my life I have thoroughly enjoyed working," Höss wrote on the eve of his hanging. "I have done plenty of hard, physical work, under the severest conditions,- in the coal mines, in oil refineries, and in brickyards. . . . Work in prison (is) a means of training for those prisoners who are fundamentally unstable and who need to learn the meaning of endurance and perseverance." He was not a mere brute. One of the few surviving photographs shows a man with a high forehead, large, searching eyes, a full-lipped and rather prissy mouth. His devout parents had been determined that he should become a priest. His father and his grandfather had been soldiers, and though the father retired from the army to become a salesman in Baden-Baden, he passed on to his only son his belief in military discipline. And piety: he took his son on pilgrimages to shrines as far away as Einsiedein and Lourdes. "I was taught," Höss wrote, "that my highest duty was to help those in need. It was constantly impressed on me in forceful terms that I must obey promptly the wishes and commands of my parents, teachers, and priests." Such commands sometimes conflicted.
Shortly after Höss's father died, World War I broke out, and despite his mother's pleadings that he continue his studies, he lied about his age and managed to enlist at sixteen in the 21st Regiment of Dragoons. He was sent to Turkey, then to the Iraqi front, then to Palestine. At eighteen, he was already the commander of a cavalry unit. When the war ended, he refused to surrender and marched his troops home through Turkey, Bulgaria, and Rumania to Austria. He found his mother dead, his household dispersed. He took up arms again in one of the Freikorps units that fought in the Baltic states, and when the Freikorps became violently involved in the domestic battles of the Weimar Republic, Höss took part in an absurd political murder. He and a band of his comrades got drunk and beat to death a schoolteacher whom they falsely suspected of having informed on another nationalist Höss was surprised to find himself arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced to life imprisonment He had nightmares in prison of "always being pursued and killed, or falling over a precipice." Freed by an amnesty after five years, Höss passionately wanted to become a farmer. He discovered a right-wing group called the League of Artamanen, which was establishing a network of agricultural communes. He found a girl who shared his views, and they got married and worked the land and had three children (there were ultimately to be five).
One of the leaders of the Artamanen was Heinrich Himmler, scarcely thirty, a thoughtful young man who wore pince-nez, loved birds and flowers, held a degree in agronomy, and owned a chicken farm outside Munich. With the rise to power of Hitler, Himmler became the commander of the Führer's private guard- the Schutzstaffeln, or SS-and when Himmler called for recruits, Höss answered the call. He claims to have had "many doubts and hesitations" about leaving the farm, claims to have known almost nothing about the concentration camps that Hitler was building. "To me it was just a question of being an active soldier again, of resuming my military career," he wrote. "I went to Dachau."
Höss's memoirs provide a remarkable illustration of the process of self-delusion. Having joined the SS for a quasi-military career, Höss seems to have been surprised and strangely thrilled, at Dachau, the first time he saw a prisoner flogged. "When the man began to scream," he recalled, "I went hot and cold all over. . . . I am unable to give an explanation of this." Höss dutifully regarded the prisoners as enemies of the state, regarded their forced labor as a justified punishment, regarded all the beatings and torments as a proper enforcement of discipline. He claims, nonetheless, to have had misgivings, and to have suppressed them. "I should have gone to [Himmler] and explained that I was not suited to concentration camp service, because I felt too much sympathy for the prisoners. I was unable to find the courage to do this. . . . I did not wish to reveal my weakness. . . . I became reconciled to my lot." Höss worked hard, enforced orders, won promotions, first at Dachau, then at Sachsenhausen. Then came the war, and the lightning conquest of Poland. Himmler, who by now gloried in the title of Reichsführer SS, recognized Höss's extraordinary dedication and ordered him to create the first concentration camp beyond the original frontiers of the Reich.
Höss sensed from the start that he was being assigned to a project of unprecedented dimensions. At the outbreak of the war, there had been six concentration camps in Germany, containing about 25,000 prisoners. The first was Dachau, just northwest of Munich, built in the spring of 1933, Hitler's first year. The others were Buchenwald, near Weimar, Sachsenhausen, north of Berlin; Mauthausen, near Linz; Flossenburg, in the Sudetenland, and Ravensbrück, the women's prison, also north of Berlin. Himmler told Höss that he was to build, in the valley of the Vistula, a camp for 10,000 prisoners, and that would be only the beginning. There might someday be 50,000 prisoners, or even more.
At Auschwitz, however, there was no camp, only a few dilapidated barracks and stables. On May 20, 1940, a month after Höss's arrival, an SS officer named Gerhard Pallitzsch, who held the title of Rapportführer, and thus was responsible for camp discipline, brought to Höss thirty German criminals whom he had selected from Sachsenhausen. These thirty men were to start the building of the camp, and Pallitzsch had chosen them partly for their various technical skills. They were also destined to become the camp's first "Kapos," or trusties, the men who carried out the orders of the SS and thus became not only the Nazis' representatives but in some cases the worst of oppressors. The town council of Oswiecim cooperated by ordering a roundup of 200 local Jews and assigning them to start work on the new camp. The SS office in Krak6w sent fifteen cavalrymen to guard the prisoners as they worked. The project had barely begun when the police headquarters in Breslau sent a message to ask when the camp would be ready to take in prisoners. Before the message had even been answered, a passenger train arrived with 728 Polish political prisoners. The date was June 14, 1940.
Most of these first prisoners were young men who had been caught trying to escape across the border into Hungary. There were also a few priests and schoolteachers and Jews. They were assigned to some buildings near the camp that had formerly belonged to the Polish Tobacco Monopoly and then ordered to join in the building of the camp. The first snow fell in early October mists from the Vistula seeped through the unfinished barracks at Auschwitz. SS men with clubs drove the half-starved prisoners to work. Yet Höss nourished grand plans to make his camp a kind of Utopia. As early as January of 1941, he decided to organize an Auschwitz symphony orchestra. Himmler, the former chicken farmer, indulged in similarly benign fantasies about his outpost on the Vistula. "Auschwitz was to become the agricultural research station for the eastern territories," Höss recalled Himmler saying at a meeting in Berlin. "Opportunities were opened up to us, which we had never before had in Germany. Sufficient labor was available. All essential agricultural research must be carried out there. Huge laboratories and plant nurseries were to be set out. All kinds of stock-breeding was to be pursued there." Sufficient labor was available.
In that one sentence, that euphemism for the herds of emaciated prisoners in their tattered blue and white stripes, Höss illuminated the most seductive element of Auschwitz in its first phase. It had been founded as a detention camp, a place to confine undesirable people-Polish army officers, dissidents and heretics of all sorts, people who had to be prevented from infecting the new order that the Nazis were trying to build in the disorganized east. But once these thousands of people were stripped of their possessions and confined behind barbed wire, they represented a resource that Himmler was just beginning to appreciate: labor. That basic unit of human value was now available for any use to which the Reichsführer SS might choose to put it, whether an agricultural research laboratory or a symphony orchestra or an armaments factory. "In Auschwitz," Höss observed, "everything was possible." Though the "sufficient labor" at Auschwitz could never really be sufficient for Himmler's fantasies, his primary imperative was to protect and enlarge this new resource. When he paid his first visit to the year-old camp on March 1, 1941, he told Höss that the facilities he was building were to contain not 10,000 or 50,000 prisoners, as previously agreed, but 100,000. In fact, Auschwitz was too small. A new camp, Auschwitz II, would have to be built in the birch woods outside what had once been the village of Brzezinka, two miles west of Auschwitz. The Germans called it Birkenau.
This expansion was not mere SS imperialism, Himmler told Höss, but a contribution to the war effort. He had brought with him several executives of I.G. Farben, the great chemical cartel, which was proposing to build a synthetic rubber factory near Auschwitz in order to use the prisoners to make truck tires for the victorious Wehrmacht. Höss was appalled, not by the vastness of Himmler's plans but by the lack of means to carry them out. He had been officially warned in advance against reporting anything "disagreeable" to Himmler, but he could not refrain from an outpouring of bureaucratic protest. Auschwitz was already overcrowded by the trainloads of prisoners that kept rolling in, and there were no materials with which to build a new camp at Birkenau. The whole region lacked sufficient fresh water and drainage. There was a serious danger of disease. Himmler was unmoved. He told Höss: "I do not appreciate the difficulties in Auschwitz. It is up to you to manage somehow."
Höss did manage. I.G. Farbon began building its synthetic rubber factory in April in the nearby town of Dwory, and gangs of prisoners trudged there every morning to play their part in the war effort, but that summer changed the whole nature of the war, and therefore of the camp at Auschwitz. On the night of June 22, one of the prisoners first heard on an illicit radio that Hitler's Panzer divisions were streaming across the Russian frontier. For a few days, the prisoners were jubilant, for they thought that the widened war and the now alliance among Hitler's enemies would inevitably lead to their liberation. But an the Wehrmacht swept across western Russia, the prisoners saw their future darken.
Then came the first Russian captives, thousands and thousands of them. "They had been given hardly any food on the march," Höss wrote, "being simply turned out into the nearest fields during halts on the way and there told to 'graze' like cattle on anything edible they could find. In the Lamsdorf camp there must have been about 200,000 Russian prisoners of war. . . . Most of them huddled as best they could in earth hovels they had built themselves. . . . It was with these prisoners, many of whom could hardly stand, that I was now supposed to build the Birkenau prisoner-of-war camp." Höss ascribed the Russians' fate to their own weakness, or to a larger destiny. "They died like flies from general physical exhaustion," he recalled, "or from the most trifling maladies which their debilitated constitutions could no longer resist. I saw countless Russians die while in the act of swallowing root vegetables or potatoes. . . . Overcome by the crudest instinct of self-preservation, they came to care nothing for one another, and in their selfishness now thought only of themselves. Cases of cannibalism were not rare in Birkenau. I myself came across a Russian lying between piles of bricks, whose body had been ripped open and the liver removed. They would beat each other to death for food. . . . They were no longer human beings."
Höss seems to have persuaded himself that this process occurred all by itself, but one of his subordinates, Pery Broad, an SS man of Brazilian parentage, wrote out for the trial of twenty-two Auschwitz officials in Frankfurt in 1964 a vivid account of how the Russians were finally dispatched. "Thousands of prisoners of war were shot in a copse near Birkenau and buried in mass graves," Broad recalled. "The graves were about 150-200 feet long, 15 feet deep, and perhaps just as wide. The camp administration had solved the Russian problem to its satisfaction. Then . . . the fisheries began to complain that the fish in the ponds in the vicinity of Birkenau were dying. Experts said this was due to the pollution of the ground water through cadaveric poisoning. But that was not all. The summer sun was beating down on Birkenau, the bodies, which had not yet decomposed but had only rotted, started to swell up, and a dark red mass began to seep through the cracks of the earth, spreading an indescribable stench throughout Something had to be done quickly. . . . SS Sergeant Franz Hössler was ordered to dig up the bodies in all possible secrecy and have them burned."
Of the I2,000 Russians sent to build Birkenau in the fall of 1941, only about 150 were still alive the following summer. "Those who did remain were the best," said Höss. "They were splendid workers." While the authorities at Auschwitz were killing Russians, the authorities in Berlin were making new plans. In the summer of 1941--the exact date is unknown-Himmler summoned Höss to Berlin for a secret meeting. Not even Himmler's adjutant was present. "The Führer has ordered that the Jewish question be solved once and for all," Himmler said, according to Höss "and that we, the SS, are to implement that order." Himmler had considered using various camps in the east, he said, and only Auschwitz would serve as the center of destruction, only Auschwitz was sufficiently big, sufficiently isolated, sufficiently organized, to carry out Himmler's plan. "I have now decided to entrust this task to you," Himmler said. "It is difficult and onerous and calls for complete devotion, notwithstanding the difficulties that may arise. . . . You will treat this order as absolutely secret, even from your superiors. . . . The Jews are the sworn enemies of the German people and must be eradicated. Every Jew that we can lay our hands on is to be destroyed now during the war, without exception."
Höss, the onetime pilgrim to Lourdes, seems to have reached such a state of official docility by then that he did not even question this incredible order, much less dispute it. The only question in his mind, apparently, was how such a gigantic enterprise could be carried out. And since no official record of Himmler's order was kept, it is only by sifting through the surviving memoirs and trial testimony of both the SS officials and their victims that we can piece together the story of what Auschwitz was. Himmler did not explain his orders. He said he would send Höss an emissary, Major Adolf Eichmann, head of Section B-4 of Bureau IV of the Reich Security Office (RSHA), to discuss the details. Shortly afterward, Eichmann arrived in Auschwitz--a lean, wiry man with a sharp nose and a nervous manner. He and Höss seemed to recognize something in each other that made them friends. Eichmann already had a plan, a geographic sequence for the shipment of Jews to Auschwitz: first those from the eastern part of Upper Silesia then those from the neighboring Polish areas now under German rule, then those from Czechoslovakia, then a great sweep of western Europe. But the two officials seemed unable to decide on the most fundamental question: how to kill the victims.
The first Einsatzgruppen (special action groups) that had prowled through eastern Europe in the wake of the advancing German army had simply shot any Jews they had found, but this was an inefficient way of carrying out mass executions. It was expensive.
Why would Germany, fighting a war on two fronts, desperate for fuel and materiel of every sort, bother to load millions of Jews on railroad cars and transport them hundreds, even thousands, of miles to concentration camps. Camps built specifically to house them, where they would be fed, clothed, even tattooed so they could be inventoried...just to kill them.
If there really was a plan to exterminate all the Jews, then why was it not carried out? Everyone in the concentration camps could have been shot dead if that's what the Germans had wanted, but they weren't dead.
The Russians had been doing it to millions and millions for the past thirty years at the time: with a bullet to the base of the skull, wherever they might be found.
It was also bad for the morale of the executioners. This may seem a minor aspect of the problem, but the Germans gave it a certain amount of consideration. "It would have placed too heavy a burden on the SS men who had to carry it out," said Höss, "especially because of the women and children among the victims." Eichmann and Höss agreed that poison gas was the solution, but the technology of gasing was only beginning to be explored.
As early as 1939, the Nazis had started a series of experiments on the most feared and despised of minorities, the mentally defective and the insane. In a dozen mental institutions in various parts of Germany, the Nazis built fake shower rooms into which they could pipe carbon monoxide. Over the course of a year or more, they killed about 50,000 mental patients in this way, but the technique was generally regarded as unsatisfactory. There were constant breakdowns in the gasing machinery, and the disposal of the corpses caused unpleasant rumors in the surrounding towns. There were also economic problems in applying such techniques on the grand scale envisaged at Auschwitz. Carbon monoxide sprays "would necessitate too many buildings," as Höss put it, "and it was also very doubtful whether the supply of gas for such a vast number of people would be available." The question was left open.
Eichmann told Höss that he would try to find a poisonous gas that was both cheap and plentiful, and then they would meet again. In the meantime, they strolled together through the idle farmlands that had been expropriated in the village of Brzezinka. They were looking for a place where the gas, once it was found, might be applied. They finally saw an abandoned farmhouse that they considered, as Höss said, "most suitable." It was near the northern corner of the still-expanding camp. "It was isolated and screened by woods and hedges," Hoess wrote, "and it was also not far from the railroad. The bodies could be placed in the long deep pits in the nearby meadows. . . . We calculated that after gasproofing the premises then available, it would be possible to kill about 300 people simultaneously with a suitable gas."
The search for a suitable gas took Höss to the other death camps that were now being built. There were five smaller ones put into operation in Poland between December of 1941 and the middle of 1942- Chelmno (Kulmhof), Belzec, Sobibór, Majdanek, and Treblinka.
At Chelmno, about 150 miles north of Auschwitz, the inhabitants of the Lódz ghetto were herded into a crumbling chateau known as "the palace," then loaded onto trucks that had been specially equipped so that the exhaust fumes could be piped up into the backs of the trucks. By the time the trucks arrived at a burial ground in the surrounding forest, the prisoners in the back were dead. This system had its flaws, however. The trucks could not handle large numbers of prisoners, and the gas from the exhaust pipes flowed in so unevenly that some of the victims were still gasping with life when the trucks reached the burial ground. Höss moved on to Treblinka, near Bialystok, where the plan was to park the trucks outside three small gas chambers, each about fifteen feet square, and to pipe the exhaust fumes in among the prisoners assembled there. Höss was still dissatisfied. All these methods were too unreliable, too small in scale.
Höss apparently was not then aware, nor was Eichmann, that the suitable gas was already available. It was called Zyklon B, a commercial form of hydrocyanic acid, which became active on contact with air. (The term "Zyklon" comes from the first letters of the German names for the three main ingredients, cyanide, chlorine, and nitrogen.) It was manufactured by a firm called Degesch, which was largely owned by I.G. Farben, and it had been brought to Auschwitz in the summer of 1941 as a vermin killer and disinfectant. It was very dangerous. Two civilians came from Hamburg with their gas masks to show the
Auschwitz authorities how to use the poison. Prisoners who worked in the munitions plant had to hang up their vermin-infested clothes; then the barracks were sealed, and the gas containers were pried open. On September 3, 1941, while Höss was away on business, Deputy Commandant Karl Fritzsch decided, apparently on his own authority, to experiment in using Zyklon B on 600 Russian prisoners of war and 250 tubercular patients in the Auschwitz hospital. He sealed up some of the underground bunkers of Block 11, headquarters of the Gestapo's Politische Abteilung, or "political department." There he packed in the prisoners, then put on a gas mask and flung one of the disinfectant containers into the midst of the victims. Within a few minutes, they were all dead. "Those who were propped against the door leaned with a curious stiffness and then fell right at our feet, striking their faces hard against the concrete floor," recalled a Pole named Zenon Rozanski, who served in the penal detail assigned to clear out the bunker. "Corpses! Corpses standing bolt upright and filling the entire corridor of the bunker, till they were packed so tight it was impossible for more to fall."
The Final Solution lurched into existence. It was perfectly clear in Himmler's meeting with Höss in the summer of 1941, but there were endless details to be worked out, regulations to be drafted and distributed, meetings and elaborations. The most important of these was the secret Wannsee conference convened in January, 1942. by Himmler's alter ego, Reinhard Heydrich, at a villa in the beautiful lakeside suburb on the southwestern edge of Berlin. Lunch and drinks were served. There were thirteen officials representing the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Polish occupation authorities, and all the main departments of the German government and the Nazi party. Heydrich spoke at length of "the coming final solution of the Jewish question." Everything was explained. Eichmann kept the minutes. Yet there were still further delays. It was not until August 3. 1942, that the working plans for the four great crematoria at Birkenau, which could take in as many as 10,000 prisoners a day, were approved by the Auschwitz authorities and the engineers at Topf A.G. in Erfurt. In January and February of 1943, there were still complaints of work delayed by freezing weather, and not until March 13 was Crematorium II finally ready to operate. Until then, as Himmler had ordered, it was up to Höss "to manage somehow."
Höss managed with the farmhouse that he and Eichmann had discovered. There and in an abandoned barn, about 300 prisoners a day could be gassed. Hundreds more were killed by lethal injections of phenol, or by simple shooting. Throughout the confusions of 1942 the impossible orders kept pouring in, and Hoess kept improvising. "I cannot say," he wrote in his memoir, "on what date the extermination of the Jews began." The first Transport Juden, consisting of 999 Jewish women from Slovakia, arrived on March 26, 1942, at the Auschwitz railroad station. "A cheerful little station," as a prisoner named Tadeusz Borowski later wrote, "very much like any other provincial railway stop: a small square framed by tall chestnuts and paved with yellow gravel." Since the Birkenau gas chambers had not yet been built, the women were stripped, their heads were shaved, and they were confined in Blocks 1 to 10 of the main camp, separated by a high fence from the men's barracks. They were made to stand for hours at roll call, and beaten, and then sent out in work gangs, and beaten again.
At the little station with the chestnut trees, the trains kept arriving. On April 17, 1942, a shipment of 973 Slovakian Jews appeared at Auschwitz, and on April 19, another 464. The SS men and their snarling guard dogs met them at the railroad ramp. Prisoner Borowski, who was a poet of incandescent talent, appeared at the ramp occasionally to watch the arrivals. (Borowski survived three years in Auschwitz. Three collections of his stories and a volume of poetry were published after the war. He committed suicide in 1951 at the age of twenty-nine.) "The ramp has become increasingly alive with activity, increasingly noisy," he wrote. "The crews are being divided into those who will open and unload the arriving cattle cars and those who will be posted by the wooden steps. . . . Motorcycles drive up, delivering SS officers, bemedaled, glittering with brass, beefy men with highly polished boots and shiny, brutal faces. Some have brought their briefcases, others hold thin, flexible whips. . . . Some stroll majestically on the ramp, the silver squares on their collars glitter, the gravel crunches under their boots, their bamboo whips snap impatiently. . . . The train rolls slowly alongside the ramp. In the tiny barred windows appear pale, wilted, exhausted human faces, terror-stricken women with tangled hair, unshaven men. They gaze at the station in silence. And then, suddenly, there is a stir inside the cars, and a pounding against the wooden boards. "Water! Air!" The SS men routed the starving and terrified prisoners out of the freight cars, ordered them to abandon all their possessions, and then whipped them into line to prepare for the process known as "selection."
Two SS doctors had been assigned by rotation to choose a few of the hardiest prisoners to be preserved for the Auschwitz labor commands. These doctors (the most notable was Josef Mengele, now a fugitive in Paraguay, who liked to wear white gloves and to whistle themes from Wagner's operas as he worked) surveyed each newcomer for a few seconds and then waved him on in one direction or another. A wave to the left-though most of the newcomers did not realize it-meant survival, an assignment to hard labor in the construction gangs. A wave to the right meant the gas chamber. Anyone more than about forty years of age was waved to the right. Most women went to the right. Almost all children under fifteen went to the right. Families that asked to stay together were reunited and sent to the right. Only about 10 percent of each transport, on the average, went to the left-sometimes more, sometimes less, according to the whim of the SS doctors.
According to the official Holocaust story, from spring 1942 at Auschwitz all Jews unable to work were gassed upon arrival without previous registration. If this assertion were true, no names of old Jews or Jewish children would figure in the Sterbebücher of Auschwitz. But a study of these documents, which were published in printed form in 1995, reveals that many old Jews and Jewish children were registered at Auschwitz:
– 2 Jews over 90 years of age;
– 73 Jews from 80 to 90 years of age;
– 482 Jews from 70 to 80 years of age;
– 2,083 Jews from 60 to 70 years of age;
– 2,584 Jews from 0 to 10 years of age.
While the figures quoted are correct, they refer to all categories of inmates at Auschwitz, not only to Jews. However, this does not change the picture radically. The only other category of inmates among whom there were many children and old people were the Gypsies, who were much less numerous at Auschwitz than the Jews. Among the remaining categories of inmates (political prisoners, asocials, homosexuals, criminals, Jehovah's witnesses, Soviet POWs) there were of course very few old people and probably no or only a handful of children.
Of course, new born babies weren't able to work either; were they murdered right after birth? Not at all; the Polish midwife Stanaslawa Lesczczynska, in particular, reports [Comite international d'Auschwitz, Anthologie, vol. II, 2nd part, pp. 164/165]:
I delivered under these [disgusting] circumstances over 3,000 children. Despite the terrible filth, the vermin, the rats, despite the infectious diseases and indescribable horrors, something extraordinary, unbelievable, but true occurred. One day, the camp doctor ordered me to prepare a report on infections in maternity cases, as well as the death rate among mothers and infants. I replied that there had never been any deaths, either among mothers or newborn. The camp doctor looked at me with astonishment, and told me they couldn't have boasted better results even in the best German hospitals.
The conscientious midwife would no doubt hardly have failed to mention it if the infants delivered by her at the cost of so-much dedication and self-sacrifice had been immediately murdered after birth. Many Jews who were to become famous in later life, like Elie Wiesel, Anne Frank, and Roman Polanski lived as children in Auschwitz, without any risk of being gassed.
Considering these statistics, how can one seriously claim that Jews unfit to work were gassed without registration at Auschwitz?
Innumerable documents show clearly how desperately the National Socialists needed manpower throughout the entire war. According to the Holocaust scholars, this is supposed to have been the reason why the Jews at Auschwitz were only gassed if they couldn't work, while those who could work were utilized by the hundreds of thousands. But then why did the Germans gas many hundreds of thousands of able-bodied people in the "pure" extermination camps?
The documents of the Auschwitz camp administration show that there were 85,298 inmates at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on December 31, 1943. No fewer than 19,699, i.e. more than 20%, belonged to the category “unfit to work.” Why were these “useless eaters” not exterminated, as the “Holocaust” legend claims?
Consistent with the Sterbebuch records, other German wartime documents show that a very high percentage of the Jewish inmates at Auschwitz were not able to work, and were nevertheless not killed. 
For example, an internal German telex message dated September 4, 1943, from the chief of the Labor Allocation department of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA), reported that of 25,000 Jewish inmates in Auschwitz, only 3,581 were able to work. All of the remaining Jewish inmates — some 21,500, or about 86 percent — were unable to work. 
This is also confirmed in a secret report dated April 5, 1944, on "security measures in Auschwitz" by Oswald Pohl, head of the WVHA agency responsible for the concentration camp system, to SS chief Heinrich Himmler. Pohl reported that there was a total of 67,000 inmates in the Auschwitz camp complex, of whom 18,000 were hospitalized or disabled. In the Auschwitz II camp (Birkenau), supposedly the main extermination center, there were 36,000 inmates, mostly female, of whom "approximately 15,000 are unable to work." 
The evidence shows that Auschwitz-Birkenau was, in fact, established primarily as a camp for Jews who were not able to work, including the sick and elderly, as well as for others temporarily awaiting assignment to other camps. 
The long-hidden certificates discredit a central pillar of the Holocaust extermination story. As revealing as these documents are, though, there is little doubt that a careful examination of all of the many thousands of documents in the Auschwitz death books — as well as other, still-inaccessible wartime records — would bring us much closer to finding definitive answers to the central questions of Germany's wartime Jewish policy. It is high time for archival officials in Poland, Germany, Russia and Israel to open all their records to independent scholars.
1. This has recently been obliquely confirmed by Auschwitz State Museum official Franciszek Piper. See: F. Piper, "Estimating the Number of Deportees to and Victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp," Yad Vashem Studies (Jerusalem: 1991), Vol. 21
2. Helmut Eschwege, ed., Kennzeichen J (Berlin: 1966), p. 264. Source cited: Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute of Warsaw. German document No. 128.
3. Nuremberg document NO-021. Published in: Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals (Washington, DC: 1949-1953), Vol. 5, pp. 384-385. (This is also known as the NMT "Green Series.")
4. This is also the considered view of Dr. Arthur Butz. See: A. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (IHR, 1983).
At Nuremberg the Soviets undeliberately revealed where the Jews who were not kept for labor, had been temporarily resettled.....
Upon investigations by the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union, it was found that at the front, behind their main line of defense, the Hitlerites had systematically constructed special concentration camps where they kept tens of thousands of children, women who were unfit for work, and old men. I must name the concentration camps of Smolensk (Russia), Stavropol (Russia), Kharkov (Ukraine), Kiev (Ukraine), Lvov (Ukraine), Poltava (Ukraine), Novgorod (Russia), Orel (Russia), Rovno (Ukraine), Dniepropetrovsk (Ukraine), Odessa (Ukraine), Kamenetz-Podolsk (Russia), Gomel (White Russia), Kerch (Ukraine), of the Stalingrad region (Russia), of Kaunas (Lithuania), Riga (Latvia), Mariampol (Lithuania) of Kloga (Estonia) and many others [...]
-– Soviet IMT-Chief prosecutor general Rudenko, February 8th 1946, opening speech [IMT, VII, 180]
Three of those camps were described in detail in document USSR-4:
On March 19, 1944, Soviet forces find in Polesia (White Russia), inside the German defense line three concentration camps in Ozaritschi, between Minsk and Kiev; in those camps there were more than 33.000 children, women, elderly people and people unfit for work.
The Reich even had "special concentration camps" for people "unfit for work" in the Soviet Union, behind the German "main line of defense" on the Eastern front. Why would the Nazis have housed, fed and guarded Slavs "unfit for work" (and probably also unfit for any "resistance activities") in concentration camps during the greatest war the world has ever seen, when most resources were very scarce in Europe and every able bodied man was needed on the battlefields?
The May 12 transport that brought 1,500 Jews from Sosnowiec marked a turning point in the short history of Auschwitz, for this was the first trainload of Jews who were not imprisoned, not shorn, not sent out in work gangs, not beaten or shot. This time, there was no selection on the ramp at the railroad station, no division of families, no separation of those who were fit to work from the old and the sick and the children. These 1,500 Jews from Sosnowiec were the first to be sent directly to the gas chambers-all of them. And with that, Auschwitz finally became what it had always been destined to become: not just a prisoner-of-war camp, not just a slave-labor camp, but a Vernichtungslager, an "extermination camp." Vernichtung means more than thal It means to make something into nothing. Annihilation. That summer of 1942, the trains to Auschwitz began bringing the Jews from France, Belgium, Holland, and Croatia.
'Deported to' and 'arrived at' should not be used synonomously? Jews were detrained at Cosel before their arrival at Auschwitz. This practice happened only during 1942. A survey of the Auschwitz Chronicle suggests a total figure in the region of a few thousand. However, Mr. Zimmerman in his book Holocaust Denial mentions that 'The Red Cross notes that of the 27,503 deportees [of Dutch Jews] from August 28, 1942, to December 12, 1942, 6,078 men were seized for labor purposes before the transports reached Auschwitz.' If a similar proportion were selected from transports of French and Belgian Jews within this time frame, the actual number could be substantially higher than previously thought. In his book Richard Korherr And His Reports Mr. Stephen Challen goes so far as to conjecture that all of the 50,000 Jews listed in the Korherr report as working in the Organisation Schmelt in Upper Silesia at the end of 1942 must have been Western deportees taken from transports bound for Auschwitz.
In November came the Jews of Norway. In March of 1943, when the great crematoria finally began operating, came the first of the Jews of Greece, from Macedonia and Thrace. That same spring, after the destruction of the rebellious Warsaw ghetto, the SS began the systematic liquidation of all the remaining Polish ghettos. Lvow was one of the first, then Bialystok. In September, the ghettos of Minsk and Vilna were destroyed. In October, Auschwitz received the Jews of southern France and Rome-, in December, the Jews of northern Italy; then, early in 1944, the Jews of Athens.
"What for Hitler . . . was among the war's main objectives . . . and what for Eichmann was a job . . .," Hannah Arendt wrote in Eichmann in Jerusalem, "was for the Jews quite literally the end of the world." Despite the annihilation of the 1,500 Jews from Sosnowiec, the selections on the ramp continued, for there was never a consistent policy on anything at Auschwitz, not even on killing. The basic orders from Berlin were completely contradictory. Eichrnann and his cohorts at police headquarters-the RSHA-continually demanded more killings, but the SS administrative officesthe WVHA-demanded just as adamantly that the prisoners be made to work for the war effort. So the Auschwitz authorities carried out their orders, murdering or sparing their victims, by a strange mixture of bureaucracy and impulse. "We were all tormented by secret doubts," said Höss, " [but] I myself dared not admit to such doubts. . . . Often at night, I would walk through the stables and seek relief among my beloved animals."
Some people made their own ways. Even at Auschwitz, Dr. Ella Lingens, a prisoner, recalled at the Frankfurt trial, there was one "island of peace"-at the Babice subcamp, because of an officer named Flacke. "How he did it, I don't know," she testified. "His camp was clean and the food also." The Frankfurt judge, who had heard endless protestations that orders had to be obeyed, was amazed. "Do you wish to say," he asked, "that everyone could decide for himself to be either good or evil in Auschwitz!" "That is exactly what I wish to say," she answered.
Auschwitz was a society of extraordinary complexity. It had its own soccer stadium, its own library, its own photographic lab, and its own symphony orchestra.
The Nazis were technology freaks, to say the least, and filmed and photographed virtually everything they did during World War Two. Hitler even had executions of his political enemies filmed so he could watch them with his cronies. However there has never been a single photograph or film found of any of the alleged gas chambers in operation. The Nazis did film, and photograph, themselves committing many atrocities across occupied Europe so it seems unlikely they wouldn’t film the alleged gas chambers. All the films we are shown of gas chambers are Hollywood recreations made after the war.
It had its own Polish nationalist underground and its own Polish Communist underground-not to mention separate Russian, Slovakian, French, and Austrian resistance groups-whose members fought and sometimes killed each other. It also had its underground religious services, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish.
There was no reason that a death camp should have a hospital at all, and yet the one at Auschwitz grew to considerable size, with about sixty doctors and more than 300 nurses. It had a surgical department and an operating theater, and special sections for infectious diseases, internal injuries, and dentistry.
The foundation of the extensive network of camp hospitals at Auschwitz was the infirmary set up in the second half of June 1940, several days after the arrival of the first transport of Polish political prisoners. As more transports arrived and the number of patients rose, the hospital expanded.
In the final form assumed by the hospital in the Auschwitz I main camp, it was made up of block 19, the Schonungsblock for convalescent prisoners; block 20, the contagious diseases block; block 21, the surgical block; and block 28, the internal medicine block.
In line with the expansion of Auschwitz from 1942 to 1944, new hospitals opened in the Auschwitz main camp (for the Soviet POWs and women prisoners held there at various times), Birkenau (in the camps for men, women, Roma, and Jews from the Theresienstadt ghetto), and in the sub-camps.
Auschwitz even had its own brothel, known as "the Puff," which favored prisoners could enter by earning chits for good behavior. Crafty veterans of the camp would gather at the office where the chits were handed out, and if any model prisoner failed to claim his due, one of the old-timers would quickly step forward to claim it for him.
"Concentration-camp existence . . . taught us that the whole world is really like a concentration camp," wrote Taduesz Borowski. "The weak work for the strong, and if they have no strength or will to work-then let them steal, or let them die. . . . There is no crime that a man will not commit in order to save himself. And, having saved himself, he will commit crimes for increasingly trivial reasons; he will commit them first out of duty, then from habit, and finally-for pleasure. . . . The world is ruled by neither justice nor morality; crime is not punished nor virtue rewarded, one is forgotten as quickly as the other. The world is ruled by power."
The trip to Auschwitz served as a kind of initiation. The freight cars, each carrying about 100 people, came from as far as Bordeaux and Rome and Salonika, voyages of a week or more, stifling in summer, arctic in winter. Sometimes the trains were shunted onto sidings for days on end, nights on end. The prisoners' cries for food and water went unheeded. When they banged their fists on the doors, their guards usually ignored them. Occasionally, they answered by banging the outsides of the doors with their gun butts. Sometimes, by the time the sealed trains finally reached southern Poland, the dead outnumbered the living. (The trip from Corfu took twenty-seven days in all, and when the train came to a stop, no survivors emerged.) To arrive at the unknown town of Auschwitz, then, seemed a kind of liberation.
"A huge, multicolored wave of people loaded down with luggage pours from the train," Borowski continued in his description of the scene on the ramp, "like a blind, mad river trying to find a new bed. But before they have a chance to recover. before they can draw a breath of fresh air and look at the sky, bundles are snatched from their hands, coats ripped off their backs, their purses and umbrellas taken away. . . . Verboten! one of us barks." The arrival on the ramp was a chaos of screams and shouts, barking guard dogs, pandemonium: the Begrüssung ("welcome"), the Nazis called it. Few prisoners protested their treatment. Most were numb with shock and exhaustion and terror.
In one instance, though, a woman saw that one of the SS guards was eyeing her, so she began flirting with him, then reached down and threw a handful of gravel in his face. That made him drop his pistol. The woman pounced on it and shot him several times in the abdomen before the other guards clubbed her to the ground. Sergeant Josef Schillinger lay face down on the ramp, dying, his fingers clawing in the gravel. "O Gott, mein Gott, " he groaned, "wus hab' ich getan dasss ich so leiden muss?" "Oh God, my God, what have I done that I must suffer so?"
Franceska Mann (pol. Franciszka Mann, a.k.a. Rosenberg-Manheimer, Man, Mannówna) (born February 4, 1917, died October 23, 1943 in Auschwitz) - Polish dancer, who is mentioned in the context of a heroic action in Auschwitz concentration camp.
Before the Second World War she was a young dancer located in Warsaw. She studied dance in the dance school of Irena Prusicka. Her friends at that time included Wiera Gran and Stefania Grodzieñska. She was considered one of the most beautiful and promising dancers of her generation in Poland both in classical and modern repertoire.
At the beginning of the Second World War she was a performer at the Melody Palace nightclub in Warsaw. She was a prisoner of Warsaw Ghetto. In several publications she is mentioned as a German collaborator. At the same time she is mentioned in the context of heroic behavior in Auschwitz.
She is mentioned in Filip Müller's eyewitness account "Eyewitness Auschwitz" as well as in the account of Jerzey Tabau, a former Birkenau prisoner. Tabau's report was filed for the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg as Document L-022
On October 23, 1943 a transport of around 1700 Polish Jews arrived on passenger trains at the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, although they had been told that they were being taken to a transfer camp called Bergau near Dresden, from where they would continue on to Switzerland to be exchanged for German POWs. One of the passengers was Franceska Mann. She had probably obtained her foreign passport from the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side. In July 1943 the Germans arrested the 600 Jewish inhabitants of the hotel and some of them were sent to Bergen-Belsen as exchange Jews. Others were sent to Vittel in France to await transfer to South America.
The new arrivals were not registered but were told that they had to be disinfected before crossing the border into Switzerland. They were taken into the undressing room next to the gas chamber and ordered to undress. Different accounts give different details of what happened next, but what is confirmed is that she fatally wounded the roll call officer Josef Schillinger, using a pistol (many accounts say his own) and fired two shots, wounding him in the stomach. Then she fired a third shot which wounded another SS Sergeant named Emmerich.
According to Tabau, the shots served as a signal for the other women to attack the SS men; one SS man had his nose torn off, and another was scalped. However, different accounts say different things; in some Schillinger and Emmerich are the only victims. Reinforcements were summoned and the camp commander, Rudolf Höss, came with other SS men carrying machine guns and grenades. According to Filip Müller, all people not yet inside the gas chamber where mowed down by machine guns. Due to various conflicting accounts, it is unclear what truly happened next; the only things that are certain are on that day Schillinger died, Emmerich was wounded, and all the Jewish women were killed.
Once the selection was finished, the prisoners chosen for the gas chambers were taken by truck to two neat little farmhouses, with thatched roofs and whitewashed walls, surrounded by fruit trees and shrubbery. Teams of Jewish prisoners who had been assigned to the Sonderkommando, or "special command," shepherded the victims onward, urging them to move along quietly into the shower rooms and to take off all their clothes. Here, and later in the four new crematoria at Birkenau, the Final Solution took place. What happened can best be described in the detached words of Rudolf Höss, who was in command of all this: "The door would now be quickly screwed up and the gas discharged by the waiting disinfectors through vents in the ceilings of the gas chambers, down a shaft that led to the floor. This insured the rapid distribution of the gas. It could be observed through the peephole in the door that those who were standing nearest to the induction vents were killed at once. It can be said that about one-third died straight away. The remainder staggered about and begin to scream and struggle for air. The screaming, however, soon changed to the death rattle and in a few minutes all lay still. . . . The door was opened half an hour after the induction of the gas and the ventilation switched on. . . . The special detachment now set about removing the gold teeth and cutting the hair from the women. After this, the bodies were taken up by elevator and laid in front of the ovens, which had meanwhile been stoked up. Depending on the size of the bodies, up to three corpus could be put into one oven at the same time. The time required for cremation . . . took twenty minutes. As previously stated I and II could cremate about 2,000 bodies in twenty-four hours, but a higher number was not possible without causing damage to the installations."
There were some prisoners who cherished the idea that Höss had somehow exceeded his orders and begun these massacres on his own, and that if the authorities in Berlin know what was really happening. they would stop it. Such speculations ended with Heinrich Himmler's visits to Auschwitz in July, 1942 and January, 1943 . On his last trip, Himmler arrived at Auschwitz at 8 A.M. and by 8:45 one of the gas chambers was packed with victims so that the Reichsführer SS could watch a gassing at 9 o'clock sharp. At 8:55, however, a telephone rang, and the executioners learned that Himmler and Höss were still having breakfast. "Inside the chamber itself," according to the recollections of a Czech prisoner named Rudolf Vrba, "frantic men and women, who knew by that time what a shower in Auschwitz meant, began shooting, screaming, and pounding weakly on the door. . . . " Nobody paid any attention. The SS men waited for orders. At 10 A.M., they were told to wait some more. At 11 A.M. an official car finally arrived, bringing Himmler and Hoess, who paused to chat with the senior officers present. Höss invited Himmler to observe through a peephole the naked man sealed inside the gas chamber. Himmler obliged. Then the gassing began. "Höss courteously invited his guest to have another peep through the observation window," Vrba recalled. "For some minutes, Himmler peered into the death chamber, obviously impressed. . . . What he had seen seemed to have satisfied him and put him in good humor. Though he rarely smoked, he accepted a cigarette from an officer, and, as he puffed at it rather clumsily, he laughed and joked." [NOT True - see below]
Historians universally accept that Heinrich Himmler visited extermination camp Birkenau in July of 1942 [his last visit to Auschwitz] and personally witnessed the gassing of the Jews in the gas chambers of Bunker 2. Danuta Czech, Raul Hilberg, Franciszek Piper, Jean-Claude Pressac, Robert Jan van Pelt, Laurence Rees and many others have accepted this only on the basis of testimony of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss.
However, in 1999 Peter Witte et al. published Der Dienstkalender Heinrich Himmlers 1941/42 - Himmler's diary/appointment book. It mentions Himmler's presence in Auschwitz complex on July 17 and 18 (in accordance with Höss' testimony), but, strangely, it lacks any mention of his supposed visit to Birkenau.
On the first day Himmler inspected the agricultural operations and visited the prisoners' camp and women's camp (FKL). At that time FKL was in the main camp, not in Birkenau (cf. D. Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle, p. 211). Birkenau was not a prisoners' camp, but POW camp (KGL, Kriegsgefangenenlager). On the second day he inspected the Buna-Monowitz factory grounds.
Given that the entries are detailed, it is fair to conclude that the probability that Himmler did not visit Birkenau on his second visit is high. [His first visit was on March 1, 1941, during which he ordered Kommandant Höss to begin massive expansion, including a new compound to be built at nearby Birkenau that can hold 100,000 prisoners] Some argue that Himmler wouldn't mention the gassing because of secrecy concern. The point is that he doesn't even mention a trip to Birkenau, which wouldn't be a secret.
[Note: there are many photos of Himmler's visit to Buna-Monowitz sub-camp, but there are no photos of his visit to Birkenau (or to the main camp, for that matter). There seem to be no testimonies mentioning Himmler's visit to Birkenau on the relevant dates, except Höss', nor is there any mention in the records of the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial or in other sources]
Rudolf Vrba is internationally known. A Slovak Jew imprisoned at Auschwitz and at Birkenau, he said that he had escaped from the camp in April 1944 with Fred Wetzler. After getting back to Slovakia, he dictated a report about Auschwitz and Birkenau, and on their crematories and "gas chambers."
With help from Jewish organizations in Slovakia, Hungary and Switzerland, his report reached Washington, where it served as the basis for the U.S. Government's famous "War Refugee Board Report," published in November 1944. Since then every Allied organization charged with the prosecution of "war crimes" and every Allied prosecutor in a trial of "war criminals" has had available this official version of the history of those camps.
Vrba later became a British citizen and published his autobiography under the title of I Cannot Forgive. This book published in 1964, was actually written by Alan Bestic, who, in his preface, testified to the "considerable care [by Rudolf Vrba] for each detail" and to the "meticulous and almost fanatic respect he revealed for accuracy." On November 30, 1964, Vrba testified at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial. Then he settled in Canada and became a Canadian citizen. He has been featured in various films about Auschwitz, particularly Shoah by Claude Lanzmann.
Everything went well for him until the day at the Zündel trial in 1985 when he was cross-examined mercilessly. He was then shown to be an impostor. It was revealed that he had completely made up the number and location of the "gas chambers" and the crematories in his famous 1944 report.
His 1964 book opened with a purported January 1943 visit by Himmler to Birkenau to inaugurate a new crematorium with "gas chamber." Actually, the last visit by Himmler to Auschwitz took place in July of 1942, and in January 1943 the first of the new crematories was still far from finished.
Thanks, apparently, to some special gift of memory (that he called "special mnemonic principles" or "special mnemonical method") and to a real talent for being everywhere at once, Vrba had calculated that in the space of 25 months (April 1942 to April 1944) the Germans had "gassed" 1,765,000 Jews at Birkenau alone, including 150,000 Jews from France. But in 1978, Serge Klarsfeld, in his Memorial to the Deportation of the Jews from France, had been forced to conclude that, for the entire length of the war, the Germans had deported a total of 75,721 Jews from France to all their concentration camps.
The gravest aspect of this is that the figure of 1,765,000 Jews "gassed" at Birkenau had also been used in a document (L-022) at the main Nuremberg trial. Attacked on all sides by Zündel's lawyer, the impostor had no other recourse than to invoke, in Latin, the "licentia poetarum," or "poetic license," in other words, the right to engage in fiction.
His book has just been published in France (1987); this edition is presented as a book by "Rudolf Vrba with Alan Bestic." It no longer includes the enthusiastic preface by Alan Bestic, and the short introduction by Emile Copfermann notes that "with the approval of Rudolf Vrba the two appendices from the English edition have been removed." Nothing is said about the fact that those two appendices had also caused Vrba serious problems in 1985 at the Toronto trial.
Those happy few who survived the selections on the ramp were marched off to the quarantine barracks, where they were initiated into a series of rituals designed to destroy their identities and their personalities and thus their capacity for resistance. First they were taken to the yard between Blocks 15 and 16 and ordered to strip off their clothes. All their hair was shaved off. Then they had to run to a nearby bathhouse and take a cold shower. Then they had to run to another yard, where they were provided with ill-fitting blue-and- white-striped prison uniforms and wooden clogs. Their uniforms bore triangles of different colors according to the categories of prisoner-green for professional criminals, red for political opposition, yellow for Jews, black for prostitutes and other "asocials" pink for homosexuals, purple for "exponents of the Bible" (Jehovah's Witnesses and other Christian fundamentalists). Jews who fitted into any of the other categories had their yellow triangle superimposed on the first triangle to form a Star of David. Finally, the prisoners had their Auschwitz numbers tattooed on their left forearms. Henceforth, they were told, they were to be known only by this number, not by name. This whole procedure normally took all day, but if the prisoners had arrived in the afternoon, it took all night. Throughout it, they were given no food or water. Just as the arrival in Auschwitz seemed a relief after days in the crowded freight cars, the arrival in the quarantine barracks seemed a relief after the process of selection and registration. It was however, a new kind of ordeal, designed to test whether the SS doctors on the ramp had been correct in their choice of survivors.
German Camp Regulations
Official German camp regulations make clear that Auschwitz was not an extermination center. They ordered:
New arrivals in the camp are to be given a thorough medical examination, and if there is any doubt [about their health], they must be sent to quarantine for observation.
Prisoners who report sick must be examined that same day by the camp physician. If necessary, the physician must transfer the prisoners to a hospital for professional treatment.
The camp physician must regularly inspect the kitchen regarding the preparation of the food and the quality of the food supply. Any deficiencies that may arise must be reported to the camp commandant.
Special care should be given in the treatment of accidents, in order not to impair the full productivity of the prisoners.
Prisoners who are to be released or transfered must first be brought before the camp physician for medical examination.
-- "Rules and Regulations for the Concentration Camps." Anthology, Inhuman Medicine, Vol. 1, Part 1 (Warsaw: International Auschwitz Committee, 1970)
Roll call was at 4:30 A.K, and sometimes the prisoners had to stand in formation all day long. They wen drilled in camp routine. trained to form ranks of five, to take off their caps on command. to perform such drudgery as digging ditches and moving rocks, and to take part in 'physical training." This physical training, also known as 'sport," consisted of running in position until a Kapo ordered the prisoners to drop to the ground and start hopping like frogs; then a Kapo ordered the prisoners to get up and start running again. "Sport" is a fairly common form of gymnastic drill, but the Auschwitz version lasted for hours, and anyone who faltered was kicked and beaten. After a fifteen-minute break for lunch, the SS training continued with, for example, singing classes. Jews were taught to sing an anti-Semitic song; prisoners of all kinds were taught a song in praise of their own imprisonment. At 3 P.M, the "sport" resumed, and continued until 6:30. Then came another roll call, sometimes lasting two hours. Those who failed to satisfy their guards had to stand at attention all night long.
Lagerführer Fritzsch, the man who had first tried out Zyklon B on the Russian prisoners, liked to tell the newcomers: "You have come to a concentration camp, not to a sanatorium, and there is only one way out-through the chimney. Anyone who does not like it can trying hanging himself on the wires [an Auschwitz slang phrase that described the most easily available form of suicide: the electrified wire that surrounded the camp carried a current of 6,000 volts]. If there am Jews in this shipment, they have no right to live longer than a fortnight; if there are priests, their period is one month-the rest, three months." After four to eight weeks in quarantine, the prisoners came to believe that life might be better if they could only reach the main camp. Once again, they were deluded. Auschwitz was designed, just as Fritzsch warned, to work its victims to death. More than 1,000 prisoners were herded into brick barracks built for 400, according to a plan designed by one of the prisoners in the Auschwitz building office. They slept in three-tiered wooden bunks, half-a-dozen prisoners to a bunk, often with no mattresses or blankets. There was little heat and less ventilation. The place stank. The prisoners' only consolation was that Birkenau was even worse. Instead of overcrowded brick barracks, there were overcrowded wooden huts, with leaking roofs and dirt floors that turned to mud. Auschwitz proper had yellowish running water and a primitive sewage system. Birkenau had only a few privvies; at night, the only facilities were some overflowing buckets. At least halt of the prisoners-and often two thirds or more-suffered the miseries and humiliation of chronic diarrhea. Many succumbed to typhus. And the rats were everywhere. When someone died during the night, according to a prisoner named Judith Sternberg Newman, the rats "would get at the body before it was cold, and eat the flesh in such a way that it was unrecognizable before morning."
In both camps, the first ordeal of the day was, as in quarantine, the Appell, or roll call, which began at about 4:30, somewhat before dawn, rain or shine, frost or snow. Everyone had to stand in line, in rows of fite, while the counting began. No exceptions or excuses were permitted. The sick were dragged from their bunks to take part. Even those who had died during the night had to be carried out and propped up in position so that they could be counted. As the dawn brightened, the kapos sauntered up and down the ranks of the prisoners, counting, and hitting anyone they felt like hitting. Sometimes they insisted that the shortest prisoners fill the ranks at the front; sometimes the positions were reversed, with the shortest prisoners in the back. Anyone who didn't move quickly enough was clubbed. And there were always the dogs, snarling and straining at their leashes. At any interruption or disturbance, any break or error in the counting, the process began all over again. The roll call generally lasted three or four hours (punitive roll calls lasted much longer) and not until about 8 o'clock did the SS officers arrive to review the roll-call numbers and send the prisoners out to work.
The prisoners marched off to the booming accompaniment of the Auschwitz band, but without food, or with only the food they had saved from the previous night's ration, or bought or bartered or stolen during the night. Officially, the prisoners were given just enough food to survive. The rations provided for a breakfast of one half-liter of grain coffee or herb tea. The main meal at noon theoretically consisted of one liter of meat soup four times a week and vegetable soup three times a week. The ingredients were carefully listed in the regulations: The meat soup was supposed to contain 150 grams of potatoes, 150 grams of cabbage, kale, or beetroot, 20 grams of meat At night the ration was 300 grams of black bread, sometimes with a sliver of margarine or a dab of beet-sugar jam. In fact, the prisoners never got more than a friction of their rations. The authorities who bought the supplies regularly saved money by acquiring rotten meat and spoiled vegetables. The guards and cooks took the best share for themselves, to eat or to trade. What the prisoners actually received was a bread made partly of sawdust and a soup made of thistles, or worse. Sometimes, according to Olga Lengyel, a prisoner-nurse in the Auschwitz hospital, it was simply called "surprise soup," because it contained such unexpected ingredients as buttons, keys, tufts of hair, dead mice, and, on one occasion, a small metal sewing kit complete with needles and thread. Awful as the food was, the prisoners fought over their shares, and even over the crude bowls from which to eat.
Among the 1,500 women in Mrs. Lengyel's barracks, the Nazis distributed just twenty bowls, each of which would hold about two liters, and one pail. "The barracks chief ... immediately commandeered the pail as a chamber pot," Mrs. Lengyel recalled. "Her cronies quickly snatched the other bowls for the same use. What could the rest of us do? It seemed as though the Germans constantly sought to pit us against each other, to make us competitive, spiteful, and hateful. In the morning, we had to be content with rinsing the bowls as well as we could before we put in our minute rations.... The first days our stomachs rose at the thought of what were actually chamber pots at night. But hunger drives, and we were so starved that we were ready to eat any food." An average man needs about 4,000 calories per day to perform heavy labor, about 3,600 calories for ordinary work. The average Auschwitz prisoner, by official post-war estimates that remain uncertain, received about 1,500. Many often got no more -than half that amount. Apart from calories, of course, there were gross shortages of vitamins and minerals. Scurvy and skin diseases soon became commonplace. Starving children suffered strange afflictions such as noma, a gangrenous ulceration that creates gaping holes through the cheek.
"I saw diseases which you find only in textbooks," Dr. Lingens testified at the Frankfurt trial. She had been sent to Auschwitz in 1943 for helping Jews to escape from Vienna. "I never thought I'd see any of them-for example, phemphicus, a very rare disease, in which large areas of the skin become detached and the patient dies within a few days." The basic effect of starvation, though, is simply emaciation and exhaustion. The body feeds on itself, first on the fat and then on the which become soft and waste away. "The face looked like a mask," said J. Olbrycht, a professor of nutrition who testified on the condition of these prisoners at Höss's trial in Krak6w, "with a faraway look in the eyes and the pupils unnaturally enlarged. There was apathy and sleepiness, the slowing down and weakening of all life processes." The Auschwitz prisoners easily recognized these marks of coming death, and with the stinging acerbity of the death camps, they likened the numbed victims to the starving beggars of India and named them Muselmänner ("Moslems"). "Such sick people saw and heard badly," Dr. Olbrycht's testimony continued, "perception, thinking, and all reactions were slowed down . . . hence, also, lethargy in carrying out instructions, wrongly interpreted as evidence of passive resistance." What Dr. Olbrycht meant was that the starving "Moslems" couldn't carry out or even understand the orders barked at them by their guardians, and so they were frequently punished for insubordination and beaten to death.
An a self-contained universe, Auschwitz required and provided work of every sort. The camp had its own bakery, tannery, and tinsmithy. Most of the work, however, was simply brute labor, devoted to the constant expansion of the camp for the constant acquisition of new prisoners. The building went on unremittingly until the very end; a new set of barracks, known as "Mexico," was still under construction when the SS dynamited the camp and departed. 'We work beneath the earth and above it," Borowski wrote, "under a roof and in the rain, with the spade, the pickaxes and the crowbar. We carry huge sacks of cement, lay bricks, put down rails, spread gravel, trample the earth. . . . We are laying the foundation for some new, monstrous civilization. . . ." Under the new order such labor could be sold. Many prominent German corporations-among them Krupp, Siemens, and Bayer-were interested in what might be negotiated. Auschwitz began developing a network of outlying subcamps, thirty-four in all. The prisoners worked at a cement plant in Golesnow, a coal mine in Wesola, a steel factory in Gliwice, a shoe factory in Cheimek. In the subcamp called Tschechowitz I, the prisoners' main occupation was to remove the fuses from bombs that had failed to explode during Allied air raids.
The biggest of these Auschwitz subcamps was the 1. G. Farben plant, started at Dwory with headquarters established later in Monowitz. The plant was known by its principal product: Buna, or synthetic rubber. Its other main installation was a hydrogenation plant designed to convert coal into oil at a rate of nearly 80,000 tons a month. The Farben directors were so impressed with the possibilities of their Auschwitz factories-particularly when they contemplated the victorious end of the war and the whole East European market lying open before them-that they insisted on turning aside all government grants and financing the Auschwitz plants themselves. They committed $250 million to the project, which made the Auschwitz factories as largest in the Farben empire. The SS agreed to provide all necessary labor, for a modest fee. It charged Farben four Marks ($I) a day for each skilled worker, three Marks for each unskilled one. Later in the war, the SS agreed to provide-child laborers for one and a half Marks.
Conditions at Monowitz were much like those at Auschwitz-the dawn roll calls the starvation rations, and the labor gangs sent out for twelve hours at a time, forced to work at the double, beaten by guards, and harried by giant dog. The prisoners who died of overwork- dozens of them every day- had to be hauled back to camp at nightfall w that they could be propped up and counted at the next morning's roll call. About 25,000 people, ultimately, were killed in the construction of the 1. G. Farben plant. Although one section of the plant started producing synthetic gasoline early in 1944, it was knocked out by a U.S. air raid that summer. One of the enduring ironies of Auschwitz is that the rubber plant at Monowitz, built at such cost and with ouch suffering, never made one ounce of synthetic rubber. Of the three or four Marks paid daily to the SS for a prisoner's labor, the prisoner, of course, never received a Pfennig. The stripped and plundered Auschwitz prisoners were not allowed to own anything. And, inevitably, the desire to possess things became a passion exceeded only by the desire to eat and the desire to be safe.
They saw a vast black market known as "Canada," a row of thirty barracks where the SS stored the plunder confiscated from prisoners arriving on the ramp. "Canada" had everything: not just the basic supplies of food and clothing but diamonds, tapestries, silk underwear, the finest cognac. In the last days of Auschwitz, in January of 1945, the SS men who were evacuating the camp set "Canada" afire and burned all but six of the barracks, but even in that charred ruin the Russians found an almost incredible quantity of things that had once belonged to the dead: 836,255 women's outfits, 38,000 pairs of men's shoes, 13,964 carpets. Since the SS men were corrupt, and the Kapos were corrupt, and the prisoners who had survived would do almost anything to go on surviving, everything was for sale-to be traded in the currency of food or clothes or services of all kinds. Even the gold bars melted down from the teeth of the victims of the crematoria, supposedly destined for the national bank in Berlin, often came on the black market. But the chief black-market areas were the latrines and the garbage dump, where prisoners bargained over pieces of stale bread. Since the official rations, reduced by thievery, condemned every prisoner to eventual death by starvation, survival depended on a prisoner's ability to "organize" extra supplies for himself and to find himself a sanctuary in the hospital or the kitchens or in some other relatively protected quarter.
'NO Prisoner who came to Auschwitz before the summer of 1944 survived unless he held a special job," Dr. Lingens testified.
In a letter written on December 15, 1942, Himmler suggested an improvement in the prisoner's diet:
Try to obtain for the nourishment of the prisoners in 1943 the greatest quantity of raw vegetables and onions. In the vegetable season issue carrots, kohlrabi, white turnips and whatever such vegetables there are in large quantity and store up sufficient for the prisoners in the winter so that they had a sufficient quantity every day. I believe we will raise the state of health substantially thereby.
The head of the SS camp administration office sent a directive dated December 28, 1942, to Auschwitz and the other concentration camps. It sharply criticized the high death rate of inmates due to disease, and ordered that: "camp physicians must use all means at their disposal to significantly reduce the death rate in the various camps."
Furthermore, it ordered:
The camp doctors must supervise more often than in the past the nutrition of the prisoners and, in cooperation with the administration, submit improvement recommendations to the camp commandants . . . The camp doctors are to see to it that the working conditions at the various labor places are improved as much as possible.
Finally, the directive stressed that: "the Reichsführer SS [Heinrich Himmler] has ordered that the death rate absolutely must be reduced."
-- Nuremberg document PS-2171, Annex 2. NC&A red series, Vol. 4
On January 20, 1943, chief inspector of the camps, Richard Glücks, answered Himmler, "Every means will be used to lower the death rates."
-- Nuremberg Trial Document No. 1523.
The death rate was indeed reduced from 8.5% in July 1942 to 2.8% in June 1943.
On April 17, 1943, Hitler asked Admiral Horthy, regent of Hungary for, "100, 000 Jews to work on a new pursuit plane program."
-- Source, Gerald Reitlinger, Die Endlösung, 1956.
Dr. Franciszek Piper wrote that in 1943 19,859 Auschwitz inmates were transfered to other camps and 139 escaped. And in 1944, a 163,000 were transfered from Auschwitz, 500 were released and 300 escaped. This large number is because people were constantly coming in Auschwitz and then leaving for other camps.
In May 1944 Hitler personally ordered that 200,000 more Jews be put to work in construction and "other important military works."
On 26 October, 1943 -twenty-two days after Himmler’s Posen speech- Oswald Pohl, chief of the SS Economics and Administration Main Office (SS-WVHA), stated in a circular letter to the commanders of all concentration camps [Archiwum Muzeum Stutthof, I-1b-8]:
The work capacity of the detainees has become significant and all measures taken by the commanders, the heads of the food service, and the physicians have to aim for the health and efficiency of the detainees. [...] My first priority is: No more than 10% of all detainees should be disabled because of diseases. This objective must be achieved by the joint efforts of all concerned. Thus, it is necessary to ensure:
1) Good and proper diet
2) Good and proper clothing
3) Use of all natural health agents
4) Avoidance of all unnecessary efforts not immediately connected with the task in question.
A curious “extermination policy”?
On December 9, 1943, Richard Glücks, inspector of the concentration camps, sent a circular letter to the commanders of all camps including Auschwitz in which he stated that Jewish prisoners in urgent need of an operation could be treated in the nearest hospital, but the operation had to be performed by a Jewish doctor. [Archiwum Glownej Komisji Badania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, Warsaw, NTN, 94]
Five days later the directive was modified: In case no Jewish doctor was available, a non-Jewish physician could be used as well.
My dear Pohl! Of course, the Jewish women are to be employed. One will have to worry only about good nourishment. Here the important thing is a supply of raw vegetables. So don't forget to import plenty of garlic from Hungary.
-- Heinrich Himmler to Oswald Pohl, 27 May 27. 1944, from Raul Hilberg, Destruction of the European Jews,
Obergruppenführer Pohl was forced to resort also on Jews who became unfit for work because of the increasing use of prisoners for the armament industry pushed by the Reichsführer-SS. It was ordered to treat and feed all unfit Jews, who could have become healthy and fit again within six weeks, particular well.
-- Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höß, manuscript the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.
Out of this struggle for survival, therefore, a prison hierarchy emerged. a hierarchy in which men and women who lived on the brink of death managed to postpone their fate by edging past other prisoners. The hierarchy expressed itself in symbols, all designed to contradict the symbolism of the SS. Just as the SS degraded the prisoners by ordering them to wear shapeless rags, the most resilient and imaginative prisoners fought back by commissioning captive tailors to dress them in the most beautifully fitted prison costumes. Among the women, similarly, prestige attended anyone whose shaven skull began to grow hair again. or who appeared at work in a handsome skirt. All these self assertions were forbidden, of course, and therefore anyone who appeared in full-grown hair or attractive clothing was assumed to be under someone's protection, a member of the hierarchy. Fania Fenelon, a French girl who played in the women's orchestra at Birkenau, has described an extraordinary night on which the prostitutes, who dominated the prisoner hierarchy in the women's camp, gave a big party for themselves. They hired the whole orchestra to play dance music in exchange for leftover sausages and Sauerkraut. Some of the women, Mlle. Fenelon recalled, had arrayed themselves in their Berlin street finery, black lace underwear and transparent blouses, while others had dressed up as men, sporting silk pajamas. They danced and drank and pawed at each other. "Everywhere women were hugging, kissing, and caressing," she wrote, "lying flat out on tables sliding to the floor. . . ." The hierarchy extended from such privileged prisoners upward through the bellicose block seniors and barracks overseers and on to the mighty Kapos, who had once been, most of them, common criminals.
"These Kapos . . . were the aristocrats of the camps" recalled one Auschwitz prisoner, Rudolf Vrba "They had their own rooms in each barracks and there they entertained their friends to splendid meals. They cooked steak and chips on their stoves while the smell wafted through thin partitions to starving prisoners and they washed it down occasionally with Slivovitz stolen from victims of the gas chambers." The Kapos were never safe, however, from the ferocity of the SS. If one of them faltered, he could be instantly reduced to the rank of common prisoner, and he knew very well what revenge awaited him in the barracks at night ("We . . . dragged him onto the cement floor under the stove," Borowski wrote of one such retribution, "where the entire block, grunting and growling, trampled him to death.") In the eyes of the Nazis, the Kapos, who strutted about in their clubs, remained no more than criminals, useful in performing disciplinary chores in whatever way best suited the camp's reigning aristocracy: the SS. The SS were the self-proclaimed elite not only of Auschwitz but of Nazi Germany and thus of all Europe.
Founded in 1925 as a kind of bodyguard for Hitler, the SS had only 280 members when Himmler took it over in 1929. He emphasized its supposedly privileged status, its preference for blond and blue-eyed recruits, its exotic black uniforms. "I swear to you, Adolf Hitler, loyalty and valor," each of the SS men vowed. "I pledge to you . . . obedience unto death, so help me God." By the time the war began, Himmler had created a private army of 250,000 men, including more than a few of the petty criminals he professed to despise. The SS forces at Auschwitz were never large-about 3,000 men to oversee a prison camp of nearly 150,000-but their immaculate uniforms, their guns and whips, and their guard dog gave them an aura of invincibility. To the SS men themselves, duty at Auschwitz was chiefly an unpleasant assignment that kept them from far more unpleasant combat on the Russian front. In the East, one could get killed; at Auschwitz, one got extra rations-one-fifth of a liter of vodka, five cigarettes, 100 grams of sausage-for taking part in one of the gassings known as "special actions." At more elevated levels of the SS hierarchy, the rewards were even more generous.
Dr. Johann Paul Kremer, a professor of anatomy at the University of Münster, kept a diary of his service in Poland in the fall of 1942, devoting only a few sentences to his role in the "special actions," but savoring the good life at Auschwitz, particularly the food served at the Waffen SS Club. Thus: "Sept. 6, 1942: Today an excellent Sunday dinner: tomato soup, one half of chicken with potatoes and red cabbage, and magnificent vanilla ice cream . . . . Sept. 17: Have ordered a casual coat from Berlin . . . . Sept. 20- This Sunday afternoon I listened from 3 P.M. till 6 P.M. to a concert of the prisoners' band in glorious sunshine; the bandmaster was a conductor of the state opera from Warsaw. Eighty musicians. Roast pork for dinner. . . ." The isolation of the SS men, who lived above and beyond all the rules of survival that governed the starving prisoners, enabled them to act on whim, to decide questions of life and death on impulse.
Thus the strange salvation of Sim Kessel, a French boxer, who had been consigned to the gas chambers. "Now we were ordered to take off our clothes and lay them neatly folded along the wall," Kessel later recalled. "We did so. There we skeletons stood barefoot in the snow." A detachment of SS men roared up on motorcycles, simply to oversee the shipment of these walking corpses to the gas chambers. The naked prisoners stood in the snow and waited. Then Kessel noticed that one of the SS men, a noncom, had a broken nose, and ridges of sear tissue over the eyes, and all the other marks of the ring. "I hesitated for a second and then thought, Oh, what the hell! Naked and shivering, I walked up to him [and] simply blurted out in German: 'Boxer?' "Boxer? Ja." "He didn't wait for me to explain. He understood. I too had a broken nose." The SS man asked Kessel where he had fought, and Kessel named a series of second-rate plains: Pacra, Central, Delbor, Japy. The SS man gave a quick smile of recognition, then ordered Kessel to climb aboard his motorcycle so that he could drive him to the sanctuary of the hospital. "It must have been a weird and unforgettable sight," Kessel observed, "the pathetic nude prisoner riding behind an SS on the back seat of a motorcycle, running right through the center of Auschwitz... I never saw him again."
At the top of the hierarchy was commandant Höss, who lived with his wife, Hedwig, and their five children in a tree-shaded stucco house known as Villa Höss. It stood just outside the southern corner of the camp, separated from the neighboring barracks by a concrete wall high enough so that nothing inside the camp could actually be seen by Höss' family. Near the wall, Frau Höss grew rose hedges, and begonias in blue flower boxes. "My wife's garden was a paradise of flowers," the commandant recalled. "No former prisoner can ever say that he was in any way or at any time badly treated in our house. My wife's greatest pleasure would have been to give a present to every prisoner who was in any way connected with our household The children were perpetually begging me for cigarettes for the prisoners . . . The children always kept animals in the garden, creatures the prisoners were forever bringing them. Tortoises, martens, cats, lizards . . . Their greatest joy was when Daddy bathed with them (in the swimming pool. He had, however, so little time for all these childish pleasures."
The image of the Villa Höss as a plantation tended by devoted prisoners is about u accurate as Höss's image of himself as a sternly incorruptible soldier. Stanislaw Dubiel, who somehow managed to remain a gardener to the rulers of Auschwitz from 1940 to IM, testified that the Hösses limited themselves neither to their rations nor to their income but rather extorted everything they wanted from the SS hierarchy. "I took from the [prisoners' food] magazine for the Höss household: sugar, flour, margarine, various baking powders, condiments for soup, macaroni, oat-flakes, cocoa, cinnamon, cream of wheat, peas and other foodstuffs. Frau Höss never had enough of them . . . .Frau Höss would very often also demand cream . . . .The equipment and furnishings of the Höss home were of similar origin. Everything was made by prisoners from camp materials. . . . Höss settled down in such a well appointed and magnificent home that his wife remarked, 'Hier will ich leben und sterben.' " "I want to live here till I die." (In 1964, Frau Höss testified briefly at the Frankfurt trial. She was living in quiet retirement, in Ludvigsburg, West Germany.)
Höss's self-portrait as a devoted paterfamilias is also exaggerated. He had an affair with an Italian prisoner named Eleonore Hodys, who worked for several months in the Villa Höss. He then tried to get rid of her by assigning her to the penal company, in which death within a few weeks from overwork, and mistreatment was taken for granted. Then she was mysteriously transferred to the stifling dungeons of Block 11. There Höss secretly visited her. There she became pregnant. When Höss heard of her pregnancy, he ordered her gassed. "Into the chimney with her," he commanded, according to a witness at the Frankfurt trial. But the chief of Block 11, Max Grabner, who was already being investigated for having an affair with a prisoner, became interested in Eleonore Hodys and informed on Höss to the same judge who was pursuing Grabner's own case The judge apparently rescued Eleonore Hodys from Auschwitz, and sent her to Munich, but the SS killed her in the last days of the war.
The gas chamber was, in a sense, the easiest fate. Life ended quickly there, whereas the various punishments devised by the SS achieved the same end more slowly and more painfully. Aside from the routine starvation and mistreatment, the most standard of these punishments was public flogging, usually a minimum of twenty-five blows on the bared buttocks with a whip or a wooden club. The victim was sometimes forced to count each blow aloud, and if he failed to keep count, the flogging started again from the beginning. When the ordeal ended, the prisoner was often unconscious, and the bruises on his thighs were frequently so severe that he never recovered. Even flogging might be considered preferable to the torments inflicted in Block 11. The Gestapo had endless questions to ask, about the camp underground, about escape attempts, about links to the Resistance movement, and it accepted no pleas of ignorance.
Deputy Chief Friedrich Wilhelm Boger's favorite method involved the so-called Boger swing, a device of his own invention. "My talking machine will make you talk," he used to tell the prisoners The swing consisted of a steel bar to which the prisoner was tied by his wrists and ankles. As Boger lunged at him with his club, usually aiming for the genitals, the prisoner swung head over heels, round and round. One prisoner named Breiden, who came to testify at the Frankfurt trial, burst into tears on the witness stand when he saw a replica of the machine to which he had once been bound. 'Murderer!" he shouted at Boger. "Terrible cries could be heard," said another witness, Maryla Rosenthal, who had to work in an adjoining room. "After in hour or more the victims would be carried out on a stretcher. They no longer looked human. I could not recognize them."
At the so-called Auschwitz Trial in Frankfurt, 1964/65, former inmate Rudolf Kauer suddenly repudiated earlier statements about his one-time SS masters.
In pre-trial interrogation he claimed to have seen defendant Wilhelm Boger brutally beat a naked Polish woman with a horse whip, ripping off one breast and flooding a room with blood.
When asked to repeat his statement in court, Kauer admitted:
"I lied about that. That was just a yarn going around the camp. I never saw it ..."
Another claim that Boger had smashed an infant's skull against a tree trunk was also not true, he claimed. Although Boger was not liked, Kauer told the court, he was actually a just SS man.
One reasonably typical victim was a prisoner from Munich named Gustl Berger. He and another prisoner named Rohmann were accused of having acquired some alcohol from the SS canteen. Rohmann was confined to one of the Stehzelle, or "standing cells." These were vertical tubes, about three feet by three feet across, in which the prisoner could neither sit nor lie. Nor was he fed. "The door never opened," said a Polish prisoner named Josef Kral, who actually survived the standing cells. "One could shout and curse Hitler and everybody else. Nobody would come- Death from hunger is not an easy death. . . . The prisoners screamed, begged, pleaded, licked the walls..." Rohmann lasted nineteen days, according to the testimony of a Munich businessman named Paul Leo Scheidel, and then he "starved to death, finis, gone." But from Berger, the Gestapo wanted to know how the alcohol had been obtained, and so he was tied to the Boger swing. After forty-five minutes, according to Scheidel's testimo- ny, "the skin on his hands was gone, his buttocks were ripped open, his face was smeared with blood." After his interrogation, Berger was led out into the yard outside Block 11, where the Nazis had built a wall of black cork as the background for thousands of summary executions. In front of the wall lay a bed of sand to soak up the blood that gushed from the victims. 'You murderers. You criminals!" Berger shouted. Then Boger shot him.
It might seem that nothing could be worse than Block 11, but Block 10 may have been worse. This was where the SS doctors assembled the prisoners who had been selected for various medical experiments. There seems to have been very little purpose or coherence to these experiments. Anyone in Germany who had some quasi-scientific proposal that might benefit the state could send his suggestion to Himmler's headquarters in Berlin, and in due time authorizations of one sort or another would be issued. Some of these proposals were relatively innocuous, and so we find the pharmaceutical firm of Bayer asking for "a number of women in connection with our intended experiments with a new sleeping drug." Other schemes were both lethal and utterly pointless like the request from a Professor Hirt of the University of Strasbourg that the heads of 150 'Jewish-Bolshevist commissars, who embody a repulsive but characteristic subhumanity," be cut off and sent to Strasbourg for study. Or like Dr. Josef Mengele's obsessive efforts to explore the mysteries of twins. Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a Hungarian prisoner who served as Mengele's pathologist, reported that "several hundred sets of twins" turned up in Auschwitz. Mengele, who seems to have thought that he was seeking methods to increase the German birthrate, ordered each pair carefully examined and then killed. Since twins do not ordinarily die simultaneously, Mengele considered himself blessed with a rare research opportunity, and he rushed the results of all the autopsies to the Institute of Biological, Racial, and Evolutionary Research in Berlin.
The main medical experiments in Auschwitz dealt with sterilization. Officially, the plan was to refine the program of genocide by sterilizing the members of "interior races" and then putting them to work, rather than simply killing them. As early as March 28,1941, before the Final Solution was decreed, an SS official named Viktor Brack was urging Himmler to have all able-bodied Jews sterilized by X-rays. Brack's theory was that the unwitting victims should be made to line up at a counter. "There," he wrote, "they would be asked questions or handed a form to fill in, keeping them at the counter for two or three minutes. The clerk behind the counter would . . .start an X-ray apparatus with two tubes to irradiate the persons at the counter." At Auschwitz, as Höss said, everything was possible. Dr. Horst Schumann of Berlin exposed a batch of several hundred Dutch and Greek Jews to fifteen minutes of radiation of the genital area at a rate of thirty prisoners a day. Many victims suffered severe burns After three months, Dr. Schumann removed parts of the women's sexual organs to be sent to Berlin for analysis. The men were castrated. Records of these experiments were partially destroyed, but one surviving report from one day in the surgical ward, December 16, 1943, records ninety castrations. Himmler had meanwhile met Professor Carl Clauberg of the University of Königsberg, who ran a clinic for the treatment of sterile women. Himmler asked Dr. Clauberg whether he could turn his knowledge to the opposite side of the problem and devise a technique of mass sterilization. Clauberg was delighted with the prospect of official support for his research and unlimited numbers of patients to work on. When he arrived at Auschwitz in the spring of 1943, more than 200 women were installed in Block 10 and placed at his disposal. Clauberg injected various chemicals into their fallopian tubes. His formulas were kept secret, but the main ingredient was apparently a formalin solution. This stopped the women's menstruation. Clauberg pronounced his system a great success. He boasted to Himmler that his method would enable one skilled physician with ten assistants to sterilize several hundred women a day. After the completion of one of Clauberg's experiments, the subjects were generally sent to the gas chambers.
The worst crime that a prisoner could commit at Auschwitz, and therefore the crime most sternly punished, was to attempt an escape. There were more than 600 cases. Once the roll call disclosed that someone was missing, the sirens began wailing, and everything stopped. The prisoners had to stand at attention for hours while detachments of SS men set forth with their dogs to hunt for the fugitive. For as long as three days, the hunt would continue through all the fields and marshes that surrounded Auschwitz. About two thirds of the time. the pursuers soon found their prey. After torturing him to make him confess who had helped him escape, the SS made him parade around the camp with a sign that said.- "Hurrah! I'm back!" Then they gathered all the other prisoners to watch punishment, and they hanged him.
It may seem absurd to report that life in hell could gradually improve, but there is much testimony Ito confirm that conditions in Auschwitz did get somewhat better during 1943 and early 1944. "At the beginning, beating and killing were the rule, but later this became only sporadic," Borowski wrote as he listed the new comforts. "At first you had to sleep on the floor lying on your side because of the lack of space, and could turn over only on command; later you slept in bunks, or wherever you wished, sometimes even in bed. Originally, you had to stand at roll call for as long as two days at a time, later only until the second gang, until nine o'clock. In the early years packages were forbidden, later you could receive 500 grams, and finally as much as you wanted." One reason for the change may be that Rudolf Höss won a promotion in November of 1943 and was summoned back to Berlin to become inspector of concentration camps. SS Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Liebehenschel a rather small, pudgy man with bulging eyes stepped into his place as commandant of Auschwitz and initiated a series of modest changes and reforms.
Another reason for the less-stringent discipline may be that a German victory, on which the Final Solution was predicated, no longer seemed so certain. The retreat from Russia following the surrender of Stalingrad on January 31, 1943 was irreversible. At the other end of Hitler's empire the Americans and the British had invaded Morocco in November of 1942 and conquered all of North Africa by the following May, then invaded Sicily in July. Such events forced even the most dedicated of SS officers to wonder about their own future. The changing fortunes of war did not by any means bring a modification of the Final Solution, however. On the contrary, the difficulties inspired the SS officers in command of the annihilation to to finish their assignment before they could be prevented from carrying it out. What this meant at Auschwitz was that life got better for the camp inmates because about three quarters of the inmates were Gentiles, and after June of 1943, the Nazis stopped gassing Gentiles. They could still be shot of course, for any number of offences from attempting escape to stealing a piece of bread. But the SS now concentrated its efforts on the destruction of the Jews. For this, Auschwitz was reorganized again.
In May of 1944, Höss resumed command of the camp he had created, but he exercised only a general supervision. Direct command over Auschwitz was delegated to Richard Baer, and over Birkenau to Josef Kramer, two killers worthy of the task ahead. The next step was to renovate the giant crematoria, to repair all cracks in the brickwork, to reinforce the chimneys with steel bands, to repaint the "changing rooms," to prepare all the machinery for maximum use. The railroad line was extended into Birkenau, so that prisoners could be unloaded within 200 yards of the crematoria rather than be trucked over from the main camp at Auschwitz. The culmination of the Holocaust the annihilation of the Jews of Hungary, was about to begin. Until the last year of the war, Hungary provided a kind of haven for the Jews of Eastern Europe. The septuagenarian Miklos Horthy, who had served since 1920 as admiral of Hungary's nonexistent Navy and as regent for its nonexistent monarchy, joined the war on Hitler's side mainly in order to expand Hungary's sovereignty over territories to its east. In contrast to Poland during the roundups, Hungary offered some hope of sanctuary to any fugitive who could slip across its borders, and the Jewish population consequently increased from about 500,000 at the start of the war to more than 800,000 (there were also about 150,000 converted Jews, whose status as Christians was recognized by the Catholic Church and disputed by the Nazis.) They lived in a state of constant fear, but they lived. By March of 1944, when the Red Army was only a few days' march from the Hungarian border, the Hungarians began talking of surrender. The Nazis sent troops into Budapest.
By March 19, Adolf Eichmann had already established his headquarters at the Majestic Hotel. He invited the Jewish leaders of Budapest to establish a Judenrat, or "Jewish council" that ugly institution by which the Germans assigned the Jews to organize themselves for the execution of orders from Berlin, assigned them to decide for themselves who should he the first to be deported and who should be spared until the next order came. "Do you know what I am?" Eichmann asked at his first meeting with the Jewish Council of Hungary on March 31, "I am a bloodhound." On May 15, the deportations to Auschwitz began. It was an operation in which Eichmann took considerable pride. In the middle of a major military campaign-in the middle, in fact, of a catastrophic retreat from the battlefields of the East- Eichmann managed to bargain and negotiate for enough trains to ship half a million Hungarian Jews to their death.
"It was ten o'clock one morning that the first of the trains were unloaded," recalled Kitty Hart, a teenage Polish girl who worked among the mountains of confiscated goods in "Canada." "From the distance we could see masses of people standing, waiting. . . . Their column stretched as far as the eye could see. It seemed as though they were disposing of the whole of Europe." Very few selections were made now. The SS men and their dogs herded the prisoners along a cinder path, surrounded by neatly mowed lawns, toward a concrete stairway. A down steps led downward to the brightly lit "changing room." Each of these rooms in the four new crematoria was some 300 square yards in size and could accommodate as many as 1,000 people at a time. There were signs in German, French, Greek, and Hungarian, all saying, "Baths and Disinfecting Room." Other sips warned of diseases: "Cleanliness brings freedom," and "One louse can kill you." There were wooden benches along the walls, and above these benches were pegs and coat hangers. More signs told the prisoners to hang up their clothes, and to tie their shoes together by the laces. The pegs were numbered, and the signs told the prisoners to remember their numbers so that they could retrieve their clothes after the baths. Once the prisoners had undressed, they were herded into another large room, also brightly lit. When they were " inside, the doors were bolted shut, and the lights were switched off. Some of the prisoners embraced each other as they waited. Some simply waited, numb. The gas had a smell of something burning.
"Twenty minutes later, the electric ventilators were set going in order to activate the gas," Dr. Nyiszli, Mengele's pathologist and a medical witness to these scenes recalled in the memoir he wrote in 1946. "The doors opened... The bodies were not lying here and there throughout the room but piled in a mass to the ceiling. The reason for this was that the gas first inundated the lower layers of air and row but slowly toward the ceiling. This forced the victims to trample one another in a frantic effort to escape the gas... I noticed that the bodies of the women, the children, and the aged were at the bottom of the pile; at the top, the strongest Their bodies, which were covered with scratches and bruises from the struggle which had set them against each other, were often interlaced. Blood oozed from their noses and mouths; their faces, bloated and blue, were so deformed as to be almost unrecognizable.... The Sonderkommando squad, outfitted with large rubber boots, lined up around the hill of bodies and flooded it with powerful jets of water. This was necessary because the final act of those who die by drowning or by gas is an involuntary defecation. Each body was befouled and had to be washed. Once the 'bathing' of the dead was finished ... they knotted thongs around the wrists . . . and with these thongs they dragged the slippery bodies to the elevators in the next room."
Even the most elaborate plans proved insufficient for the liquidation of the Hungarians that summer. Though the crematoria worked night and day, there were still too many bodies to be destroyed (the highest number actually gassed within twentyfour hours, Höss estimated, was 9,000). The Nazis had to resort once again to the more primitive means that they had previously abandoned. In the fields of wild flowers that were now blooming behind the crematoria, Höss ordered nine gigantic pits dug. There he had thousand more bodies dumped in and set afire. It is not easy to burn bodies particularly emaciated bodies. The first attempts, long before the crematoria were built, had used up a lot of scarce coke. The Nazis had therefore conducted a series of experiments to find out how to save fuel. They soon found that if a fit man was burned along with a thin one, the fat man's fat would serve as fuel to consume the thin one. In due time, they discovered a still more efficient combination: a fat man and a thin woman (or vice versa) and a child. By the time of the slaughter of the Jews of Hungary, they had reached even higher levels of efficiency. The pits to be filled with corpses, up to 2,000 at a time, had been dug with slanted bottoms so that the fat could flow into containers and be scooped up and poured back over the burning bodies. "The corpses in the pit looked as if they had been chained together," according to Filip Müller, a Czech Jew who worked in the Sondercommando. "Tongues of a thousand tiny blue-red flames were licking at them. . . . Blisters which had formed on their skin burst one by one. Almost every corpse was covered with black scorch marks and glistened as if it had been greased. The searing heat had burst open their bellies: There was the violent hissing and sputtering of frying in great heal . . . Fanned by the wind, the flames, dark red before, now took on a fiery white hue. . . . The process of incineration took five to six hours. What was left barely filled a third of the pit. The shiny whitish-gray surface was strewn with countless skulls. . . ."
While these fires were burning in the summer of 1944-fires that could be seen from as far as thirty miles awaythe advancing Allied armies finally came within bombing range of the railroad lines from Budapest to Auschwitz and, for that matter, within range of Auschwitz itself. Specifically, the U.S. Eighth Air Force, based in Britain, and the Fifteenth Air Force, based in southern filly, were already beginning to bomb military targets in Poland. On April 4, 1944, U.S. reconnaissance planes flying over Auschwitz took some remarkably clear photographs (hidden in the CIA archives until 1979) that show all the essential evidence- the gas chambers and crematoria, the prisoners standing in line-yet even the experts trained to interpret such photographic evidence apparently saw nothing but a large prison camp. What was happening at Auschwitz could not be imagined and therefore could not be believed, not even when photographed; could not be believed even when reported in detail by escaping prisoners, could not be believed, and therefore could not be stopped.
There certainly was nothing secret about the existence of Hitler's concentration camps. The Nazis almost boasted of them. The Final Solution, however, was officially a state secret, and the SS went to considerable effort to keep it a secret. Even though it was widely known that deportation to the East meant great hardship and often death, anyone who spoke of the Auschwitz crematoria faced severe punishment. The prisoners tried, at great risk and sacrifice, to tell the world. As early as November of 1940, a brave Polish officer named Witold Pilecki, who voluntarily got himself sent to Auschwitz in order to organize a resistance movement there, smuggled out a message describing the appalling conditions at the camp. Appalling conditions are not the same as systematic extermination, however. By the summer of 1942, the Allied capitals had received reports of mass slaughters, from the camps themselves, from neutral observers, even from anti-Nazi Germans. In the spring of 1944, finally, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Weczler escaped from Auschwitz, reached Czechoslovakia, and produced a sixty-page report on the gassing and burning at Birkenau, a report that managed to get to the White House, the Vatican, the Red Cross, and the Jewish community leaders in Budapest.
Allied leaders, preoccupied with military strategy, remained skeptical. There was a certain amount of anti-Semitism in Washington, and in the United States at large (not to mention Britain and Russia), and those who heard the recurrent reports from Poland tended to regard them as propaganda, wildly exaggerated. Even those who were inclined to intervene on behalf of the Jews feared being accused of diverting resources from the overall war effort. In January of 1944, President Roosevelt did establish a War Refugee Board (WRE), which was supposed to "take all measures within its power to rescue the victims of enemy oppression," but it had very little power to take any such measures. Proposals for military action against the Hungarian deportations attracted little attention or support. A War Department statement of policy said: "it is not contemplated that units or individuals of the armed forces will be employed for the purpose of rescuing victims of enemy oppression unless such rescues are the direct result of military operations."
In late June, when the killing of the Hungarians had been going on for more than a month, the U.S. legation in Bern reported that both the Jewish deportations and some considerable German troop movements followed five specific railroad lines. "It is urged by all sources of this information . . ." the Bern cable said, "that vital sections of these lines, especially bridges along one, be bombed as the only possible means of slowing down or stopping future deportations." John W. Pehle, executive director of the War Refugee Board, sent a copy of this message to John J. McCloy at the War Department. On July 4, after most Hungarian deportations had already ended in the Auschwitz gas chambers, McCloy sent Pehle a message saying that the War Department was opposed to any raid on the railroad lines to Auschwitz. "it could be executed only by the diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations and would in any case be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not amount to a practical project." As it happened, U.S. bombers actually did raid Auschwitz, in August and again in September, aiming at the synthetic oil plant affiliated with the camp. They accidentally dropped a few bombs on Auschwitz itself, and killed fifteen German soldiers.
Though the Allies refused to strike at the gas chambers of Auschwitz, this was one of the rare occasions when strong-words partially made up for the lack of action. The first protest came from the papal nuncio to Budapest, Angelo Rotta, who warned the Hungarian government on the day that the first train left for Auschwitz: "The whole world knows what the deportations mean in practice." The Hungarian bishops complained too, partly because Eichmann's forces were making no distinctions between Orthodox Jews and those who had converted to Christianity. Finally, Monsignor Rotta delivered a gentle protest from Pope Pius XII. The next day, June 25, the aged Admiral Horthy issued instructions that the deportations were to end. Horthy's authority, particularly over the Germans, was limited. Eichmann's roundups continued. U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull delivered a note via the Swiss legation on June 26 threatening reprisals and President Roosevelt publicly warned that "Hungary's fate will not be like any oither civilization . . . unless deportations are stopped." Sweden sent Raoul Wallenberg as a special envoy to Budapest, authorized to issue thousands of Swedish visas to the threatened Jews, and the Swiss and Portuguese joined in establishing shelters where Jews could find haven.
Hungary itself stood at the edge of collapse. The Red Army was at its frontiers, and the various authorities in Budapest issued contradictory orders. Premier Döme Sztójay assured the papal nuncio on July 8 that all transports to Auschwitz had stopped. Eichmann still commanded a unit of 150 men, and he sent them to round up another 1,400 Jews on July 14 and pack them aboard a train. An order from Horthy stopped the train before it left Hungary, but two more of Eichmann's trains carried more than 2,000 Jews to Auschwitz on July 19 and 24. They were the last. By now, the Nazi regime itself was crumbling. When a Polish resistance group seized control of the Majdanek death camp on July 24 and turned it over to the advancing Russians, Allied war correspondents got their first look at gas chambers, crematoria. and piles of human bones.
In August 1944, a few weeks after the liberation of the Majdanek concentration camp by the Red Army, a Polish-Soviet commission wrote an “expert report” about the camp in which they claimed that no fewer than 1.5 million prisoners had been murdered there.  This document was presented by the Soviets as evidence at the Nuremberg trial.  As early as in 1948, Polish historian Zdzislaw Lukaszkiewicz reduced the Majdanek death toll to 360,000.  A further reduction took place in 1992 when Polish historian Czeslaw Rajca spoke of 235,000 victims.  Another 13 years later, in 2005, Thomas Kranz, director of the research department of the Majdanek museum, stated that 78,000 prisoners had perished in the camp.  For a comparison: In their 1998 book KL Majdanek. Eine historische und technische Studie the revisionist authors Jürgen Graf and Carlo Mattogno came to the conclusion that approximately 42,200 people died at Majdanek. So the new figure of the Majdanek museum is still higher by 35,800 than the revisionist one, but lower by 1,422,000 than the one claimed at Nuremberg and lower by 157,000 than the official figure of the Majdanek museum until 2005.
 Communique of the Polish-Soviet Extraordinary Commission for investigating the crimes committed by the Germans in the Majdanek concentration camp, Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow 1944.
 Zdzislaw Lukaszkiewicz, “Oboz koncentracyjny i zaglady Majdanek,” in: Biuletyn Glownej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Niemieckich w Polsce, Volume 4, Warsaw 1948, p. 63-105.
 Czeslaw Rajca, “Problem liczby ofiar w obozu na Majdanku,” in: Zeszyty Majdanka, IV, 1992, p. 122-132.
 Tomasz Kranz, “Ewidencja zgonow i smiertelnosc wiezniow KL Lublin,” in: Zeszyty Majdanka, 23 (2005).
 Jürgen Graf und Carlo Mattogno, KL Majdanek. Eine historische und technische Studie, Castle Hill Publishers, Hastings 1998, chapter 4.
At Auschwitz the halting of the trains from Budapest did not halt the gassings, not yet. The apparatus of extermination appeared to be running on its own momentum, and the camp was crowded with prisoners ready to be put into the machinery. First came the destruction of the so-called Family Camp, originally at Theresienstadt, where distinguished prisoners who couldn't simply be made to disappear had been interned. When the now orders decreed the extermination of the Family Camp, the victims couldn't believe it. Even inside the changing room, they shouted their disbelief- "We want to live! We want to work!" The SS men, with their truncheons and their police dogs herded them toward the gas chambers There, according to Filip Müller, who watched as a member of the Sonderkommando, one group sang first the Czechoslovak national anthem and then the Hebrew song "Hatikvah." Four thousand people from the Family Camp were killed on March 9, the last 4,000 on July 12. Höss turned over his command to Richard Baer on July 29 and returned to Berlin, but the gassing went on.
Next came the turn of the Gypsies. Himmler had originally rounded them up and sent them to Auschwitz not for extermination but for scientific examination. He had been fascinated for years by the imagery of prehistoric Germany, it's Nordic gods and runic inscriptions, its legends of unconquerable Goths and Vandals, and he somehow imagined that the mysterious Gypsies were the descendants of these lost tribes. Many of them were shot and beaten in the course of the roundups, but when they finally reached Auschwitz, they were isolated and observed and encouraged to carry on their folk traditions. The men were not required to work. An orchestra was formed, and everybody danced. The women tended the children, and the children clambered all over each other. They too felt themselves immune. Nobody was immune. As that last summer ware on, Himmler lost interest in the Gypsies and decreed their annihilation. On the night of August 2, all of them, some 4,000, went to the gas chambers. As the Nazi defeat became inevitable, Auschwitz swarmed with rumors that the SS would end by killing everyone in the camp.
This prospect seemed particularly ominous to one group of prisoners, the Sonderkommando. Its whole function, its whole existence depended on the crematoria, and each new squad began by taking part in an essential ritual, the killing of its predecessors. For performing their degrading work in the gas chambers, the men of the Sonderkommando were remarkably well treated. They lived in special quarters in the crematoria buildings, and all the plunder of "Canada" was theirs. "The table awaiting us," one of the few survivors later wrote of his arrival at the Sonderkommando barracks, "was covered with a heavy silk brocade tablecloth; fine initialed porcelain dishes; and place settings of silver. . . . all sorts of preserves, bacon, jellies, several kinds of salami, cakes and chocolate." They drank fine cognac until they could no longer stand up, and then they fell into bed on linen sheets. Some members of the Sonderkommando went mad, and some committed suicide, but most of them struggled on for three months or so, and then they ended as they had begun, in a ritual of replacement. Their successors, on orders from the SS, steered them, unprotesting, willing and perhaps even eager to die, into the gas chambers. The last of the Sonderkommando, however, were not ready to die. The prospect of their imminent annihilation in the final days of the camp suddenly filled them with a passion to rebel. This Sonderkommando had been expanded, in order to deal with the Hungarians, from about 200 men to 700, and as these men realized that they themselves were doomed, they began to arm. By theft and bribery, and with infinite stealth, they smuggled into their luxurious quarters, one by one, a pistol, then a grenade, then more grenades.
As early as June, the Sonderkommando planned a full-scale uprising. The prisoners would attack their SS guards, seize their weapons and uniforms, then bluff their way past the sentries, escape into the woods, and join forces with Polish partisan units. On October 7, Polish underground agents in the Auschwitz administrative office sent word to the Sonderkommando that the SS had decided on their liquidation, and that it might come at any moment. The ringleaders gathered inside Crematorium IV to decide what to do. That same day, an SS officer named Busch had told the Kapos of Crematorium IV that he needed 30 men from the Sonderkommando to go and clear rubble in a town in Upper Silesia. The Kapos suspected that this was a ruse that would lead to their death. Filip Müller, who was one of the prisoners standing at roll call in the yard, noted that some prisoners didn't answer when their numbers were called. Busch sent several guards into the crematorium to look for them. "The guards were just leaving," Müller recalled, "when quite suddenly from out of the ranks of selected prisoners they were pelted with a hail of stones. Some SS men were wounded, but others managed to dodge the stones and were drawing their guns and starting to shoot wildly into the crowd of prisoners. Two more SS men had managed to get away to the camp street where they grabbed two bicycles leaning against the camouflage fence and sped off." Inside the crematorium itself, the assembled ringleaders had been surprised by a Kapo who was not in on the plot, and so they killed him. Then they packed the hated crematorium with their precious store of explosives and some oil-soaked rags, and blew it up.
The explosion signaled to the Sonderkommando in the other installations that the revolt had begun. In Crematorium II, the rebels quickly seized control. They threw one SS man and one German Kapo into the furnace and burned them alive. They also beat one German soldier to death. Then they poured out into the prison yard, cut holes in the surrounding fence, and fled toward the woods. But they ran in the wrong direction, not northeast toward the Vistula but southwest toward the Rajsko subcamp. That kept, them within the confines of the camp's outer fences. In fact, the Sonderkommando did almost everything wrong. The uprising had originally been planned for the night but started in broad daylight. All the crematoria were supposed to rebel at once, and in silence, so that the rebels could secretly organize a maw escape, but the shooting at Crematorium IV warned the SS men of trouble, and they quickly secured the three other crematoria. And since the uprising had not been coordinated with the Polish underground, there were no partisan units to help anyone who escaped. When the hunt was over, more than 200 of the Sonderkommando had been killed. The SS casualties: three dead, twelve wounded. The remnants of the Sonderkommando, 198 men, still hoped that they could somehow survive. The SS had other plans. At about two o'clock in the afternoon of November 17, they were all marched to Crematorium II, and the doors were locked behind them. They were not ordered to undress, for there was no need for any pretense of showers. They " knew they were going to die, and they attempted neither protest nor revolt.
At some point during the early Fall of 1944 probably between mid-September and mid-October-Himmler decided to end the gassings. He seems to have hoped that he could somehow replace Hitler and negotiate a truce with the onrushing Allies.
As is well known, no order or any other of kind directive from Hitler or Himmler exists that call for the extermination or gassing of the Jews. On the other hand, allied propaganda alleges that there exists an order from Himmler to stop the gassings. If such an order indeed existed, it would provide strong evidence that gassings actually took place.
No such order was ever recovered, and no-one could prove that it had existed.
The killings did not end immediately, for the machinery was not easy to stop, but on October 28 when 1,700 Jews from Theresienstadt were crowded into the gas chambers and put to death, they became the last transport to be put to death with Zyklon B. On November 26, an order from Himmler declared. "The crematoria at Auschwitz are to he dismantled." He must have deluded himself that all evidence of what had happened at Auschwitz and the other Polish death camps could be destroyed.
On January 6, 1945, when the camp was covered with a heavy blanket of snow, the prisoners in the women's camp at Birkenau were assembled to watch a hanging. The SS had been working for three months to discover who had provided the explosives used in the revolt of the Sonderkommando, and after subjecting certain suspects to torture, they had identified four young Jewish girls who worked at 1. G. Farben's Union munitions factory. These four were thereupon convicted of smuggling and sentenced to death. Two of them were marched up to a specially erected gallows. "They were wearing their regular clothes, except that they did not have their coats on," recalled Judith Sternberg Newman, an eyewitness and a good friend of one of the victims, Aline Gartner. "They walked calmly, their faces composed . . . .An SS man bound their hands behind their backs . . . Aline was then pulled up on the table, and her last words were "You'll pay for this. I shall die now, but your turn will come soon." The executioner fixed the noose around her neck, and she was pulled up by the rope. Now a noose was put around the other girl's neck. . . . All she said when they lifted her up on the table war. "I hope all my comrades will get their freedom." They hung there like two marionettes, turning in the breeze." The second girl, a Pole, had a younger sister who was also among the condemned, but her hanging had been delayed. "She had been left behind in her block, for she had suffered a complete nervous breakdown," Mrs. Newman reported. "Her wild screams could be heard from afar." The execution was not delayed for long. Just after dark, that same night, the mad girl and the fourth prisoner were taken out to the gallows and hanged.
Those were the last official executions at Auschwitz. The Red Army, which had been stalled for weeks within about fifty miles of Auschwitz, finally launched a surprise offensive on January I2, 1945. Within a week, its artillery was pounding the outskirts of the camp, and shortly after midnight on January 18, the Nazis ordered a general evacuation. They dynamited the brick waII of Crematorium V, the last one still standing. They set fire to "Canada." It was about 10 degrees below zero when the SS began routing the ragged prisoners out onto the snowocovered fields and bullying them into the customary ranks of five. Even then, there were long delays, roll calls, shouts and confusion. Several thousand prisoners in the camp hospital argued about whether to join the evacuation, and those who wanted to flee fought over the few pairs of wooden clogs that the authorities had left them to use in going to the latrines. Among the SS, too, there were arguments about whether to kill everyone who couldn't march. There had been various plans drawn up for the complete annihilation of the camp and all remaining prisoners, but nobody had ever formally issued the orders to carry out this final massacre. By now, the SS men were thinking mainly of flight from the dreaded Russians, so they decided simply to leave the sick and injured behind. Or perhaps no one decided anything, and the sick were just abandoned in the chaos of the four-day evacuation.
At 3 P.M. on January 27, 1945, more than a week after the SS evacuation, some white-caped reconnaissance scouts for the First Ukrainian Front emerged from the woods and saw the rows of barracks, the miles of barbed wire, the empty guard posts. Inside the camp, they found some 7,650 of those half-dead prisoners whom the SS had judged too feeble to be worth evacuating. (This number, like so many Auschwitz statistics, is hardly more than an official approximation. Indeed, the total number of Auschwitz survivors is almost as cloudy as the number of dead. The estimates generally run around 30,000, which means that of all the prisoners shipped to Auschwitz, fewer thin one percent lived.) "There was a mad rush to shake them by the hand and shout out our gratitude," said one of the survivors, Karel Ornstein. "Several prisoners waved red scarves. The shouts of joy [could] have gone on forever."
Soviet forces occupied Auschwitz on January 27, 1945. What they found there was so contrary to what had been spread by propaganda that one may imagine they were left with mouths agape. Alone in its organization and in its sanitary facilities, so modern in the eyes of the Soviets, the camp was the complete opposite of an "extermination camp." Consequently, for several days the leading Soviet daily Pravda remained silent, and, for the moment, no Allied commission of inquiry was invited to determine, on the spot, the truth of Auschwitz. On the 1st of February, Pravda broke its silence, but only to put the following words in the mouth of a single prisoner:
The Hitlerites killed the children and the ill by means of gas, as well as the men and women who were unfit for work. They cremated the cadavers in special furnaces. There were twelve of these furnaces in the camp.
The official Soviet paper added that the number of deaths was reckoned at "thousands and thousands" (not millions). The next day, Pravda's chief reporter, Jewish journalist Boris Polevoi, affirmed that the main method used by the Germans to exterminate their victims was ... electricity:
[They utilized] an electric conveyor belt on which hundreds of persons could be electrocuted simultaneously; the dead bodies would then fall on to a belt driven slowly by a chain and in this way move on into a blast furnace.
[Report by B. Polevol, Pravda, February 2, 1945, p. 4. In the National Archives, Suitland (Maryland) branch, there is a brief report from the Washington (DC) Daily News of February 2, 1945, pp. 2, 35 ("'Ageless, Sexless Ghosts' Rescued From Murder Mill," United Press dispatch by Henry Shapiro from Moscow), which was based, more or less, on the Pravda article.]
Soviet propaganda was in disarray, and in its newsreels could show only the dead or dying whom the Germans had left behind in their retreat. And, as contemporary newsreels of the camp's liberation reveal, there were also numerous live children, as well as adults in good health.
In the spring of 1944, two Jewish escapees from Auschwitz had found refuge in Slovakia. There, with the aid of co-religionists, they began to put together a history of Auschwitz, Birkenau (subsidiary camp of Auschwitz), and Majdanek, three camps they described as "extermination camps." The best known of these Jews was Walter Rosenberg, alias Rudolf Vrba. Their highly fanciful story then spread, always by way of Jewish circles, into Hungary, Switzerland, and finally to the United States. It took the form of a typewritten report published in the United States in November of 1944 by the War Refugee Board, under the official stamp of President Roosevelt. The War Refugee Board (WRB) owed its creation to Henry Morgenthau, Jr. (1891-1967), the Secretary of the Treasury who was later to become famous for the "Morgenthau Plan," which, had it been followed by Roosevelt and Truman, would have resulted in the physical annihilation, after the war, of millions of Germans.
The WRB report served as the model for the official "truth" concerning Auschwitz. The Soviets took it as a pattern for their own official Commission report of May 6, 1945, which the Nuremberg Tribunal deemed to have "probative value." Along with the Soviet Commission report on the Katyn massacre, the Tribunal took "judicial notice" of the Soviet report on Auschwitz, which meant that it could not be questioned. According to this report (Nuremberg document USSR-008), the Germans had killed more than four million people at Auschwitz, notably by gassing them with the insecticide known as "Zyklon B."
This official "truth," at least regarding the number of victims, was to collapse in 1990.
The 60,000 prisoners who were marched off into the snow and darkness had been issued only one day's ration of bread. Most of them had no coats or blankets. They were heading vaguely toward the Gross-Rosen camp, some 150 miles to the west, but most of the prisoners did not know where they were going, and many of their guards did not know how to get there. As the first dawn broke, Dr. Nvyiszli's unit had gone about ten miles from Auschwitz. "All along the way I noticed pots and blankets and wooden shoes that had been abandoned by a convoy of women who had preceded us. A few miles farther on we came upon a much sadder sight: every forty or fifty yards, a bloody body lay in a ditch beside the road. For miles and miles it was the same story: bodies everywhere. Exhausted, they had been unable to walk any farther: when they had strayed from the ranks an SS man had dispatched them with a bullet in the back."
In the opposite direction came, of all people, Rudolf Höss, the creator of Auschwitz, now frantic and enraged at this spectacle of disorderly flight. Since Himmler had by now issued stern orders against the wanton killing of prisoners, Höss claimed that he too had become an upholder of the law. When he heard a pistol shot, he stopped his car and accosted a German sergeant who had just killed a prisoner. 'I shouted at him asking him what he thought he was doing, and what harm the prisoner had done him. He laughed impertinently in my face and asked me what I proposed to do about it. I drew my pistol and shot him." About one third of the prisoners who marched west from Auschwitz died along the way. And for the survivors, survival meant to arrive, starving and frozen and exhausted, at some destination such as Mauthausen, a hilltop fortress near Linz, where tens of thousands of prisoners had been worked to death in the nearby granite quarries. Yet, in a way, the 8,000 Auschwitz prisoners who reached Mauthausen were lucky. Most of them got some food and new clothing and were then shipped to smaller camps in the area. A far worse fate awaited the largeest contingent of evacuees, perhaps 10,000 in all, which finally arrived at Bergen-Belsen.
Bergen-Belsen, near the old Hanseatic town of Hanover, was once a Wehrmacht camp for wounded prisoners of war. It was quite small, designed for 7,000 men, who lived in a series of neat little buildings connected by neat little pathways. Not until 1943 did the SS get control of half the camp, and even then it remained, relatively, a "model" camp. But in the spring of 1945, its population suddenly increased to 50,000. There was absolutely no food, and almost no water, and there were just a few latrines. Within weeks, typhus and dysentery were everywhere, and so were rats. Thousands of prisoners simply starved to death. The rest, who knew the war was almost over, ambled about or sat in a stupor, waiting for someone to rescue them. The first man from the outside world to enter this inferno was a British psychological-warfare officer, Captain Derek Sington, who had been ordered to negotiate the takeover of the camp. He could hardly believe what he saw. Along with 28,000 women and 12,000 men, all haggard and emaciated, there were 13,000 unburied corpses, some stacked in piles like pieces of firewood, many just lying around wherever they had fallen. (Among the dead was Anne Frank, who succumbed here during the last weeks of the war.) The half-mad commandant, Josef Kramer, proved to be "genial and friendly." said Sington. He described his prisoners to the British as "habitual criminals, felons, and homosexuals." He accompanied Sington an a tour of the camp in a British armored car, and the British repeatedly announced through bullhorns that the camp was now liberated.
The prisoners, too, could hardly believe what they saw. Many of them simply stared numbly at their liberators. Some of the women began sobbing. A few ceremoniously scattered twigs and leaves in the path of the armored car. Kramer became alarmed. "Now the tumult is beginning," he said to Sington. The orderly camp had been "disrupted." Behind him, Sington heard the sound of gunfire as the Germans attempted even after their surrender to enforce their authority. Sington strode up to a Wehrmacht officer who was firing just over the heads of some prisoners and ordered him at gunpoint to stop. Sington then told Kramer that if any prisoners were shot for any reason whatever, the British would immediately shoot an equal number of SS men. Kramer grudgingly acquiesced. "Feed the living and bury the dead," the Marquis of Pombai had proposed as his prescription for healing the ravages of the Lisbon earthquake. The British did just that As gently as soldiers could, they fed and cared for the starving prisoners and brought most of theni back to life. Many of them, however, were beyond all help. It is estimated that 10,000 inmates liberated at Bergen-Belsen died shortly after their liberation. As for the mountains of decaying corpses, the British simply brought in bulldozers to push the bodies into vast pits and covered them with lime. Then they bulldozed the rest of the camp - everything. All that is left of Bergen- Belsen today is a series of swollen graves, covered with grass.
Auschwitz remains. It is a Museum now, and marshy grass grows tall alongside the rusting railroad tracks that end at the haunted ramp of Birkenau. The Poles wanted to keep everything just as it was-"a Monument of the martyrdom of the Polish nation," according to the official decree, "and of other nations"-and so they left the giant brick crematoria in ruins, just as the SS men had left them in their frenzy to escape. At the same time, the Pules wanted to preserve and demonstrate and explain, and so they repaired and repainted some of the grimmest barracks and filled them with educational exhibitions. Here, in Block 4, is a "Hall of Nations," outfitted with the flags of all the occupied lands that gave up their citizens to Auschwitz; here an artfully constructed model of the destroyed gas chambers; and here a mountain of the hair cut from the women who were murdered. The Soviet troops who liberated Auschwitz found more than 15,000 pounds of this hair awaiting shipment back to Germany for use as pillow stuffing. And here, in Block 5, is a display can containing the artificial arms and legs dozens and dozens of them, that were stripped from crippled prisoners before their execution. Here, in Block 6, is another glass case, in which the tattered rags of the prisoners are neatly hung up for observation, like the costumes of a tribe that has long since vanished. And here, forever preserved. is the daily food ration that so many prisoners never got: the bowl of soup, the chunk of bread, the dab of margarine, the shriveled slice of sausages. Here, in Block 7, are the three-tiered human bunks, neat and clean now, and empty. In the cellar of Block 11, the "standing cells" are available for inspection, and the benches on which prisoners were flogged, and the clubs that were used to flog them. And here, next to the camp kitchen, is the long wooden gallows, where Rudolf Höss, having confessed and testified and explained, was brought back to be hanged. "I, too, must now be destroyed," he had written. "The world demands it."
At Birkenau, a rough stone pathway leads past a series of plaques that attempt to commemorate the dead. "Four million people suffered and died here," they say in a score of languages, "at the hands of the Nazi murderers between the years 1940 and 1945." It is a great place for wreaths, for official visits by statesmen bearing wreaths. They pause to write worthy sentiments in the official visitors' book. West German Foreign Minister Walter Scheel, who was a Luftwaffe navigator during World War II, was the first German cabinet minister to make the pilgrimage and deposit a wreath. "It will be our task to preserve these highest values-dignity of man, peace amongst people," he wrote in the visitors' book. Gerald Ford was the first American President to come, and. two U.S. Marines deposited his wreath of red and white carnations. "This monument . . ." he wrote in the official book, "inspires us further to the dedicated pursuit of Peace, cooperation and security for all peoples." The first Polish Pope, John Paul II, who was studying in his seminary during most of the Auschwitz years, arrived at the camp by means of a white helicopter and then a limousine, its path strewn with flowers. He fell to his knees in prayer. "Peace!" he cried. 'Only peace! Only peace!"
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June 7, 1979. Pope John Paul II praying for the
"4 million" lie and blessing 2 1/2 million non-existent victims. The Poles bestowed "Holocaust" medals posthumously to non-existent martyrs.
Gerald Ford, the President of the United States, also paid homage to the lie, as have hundreds of Presidents, Prime Ministers and dignitaries from around the world - for years!
The Polish purpose in all this commemoration is to make sure that the world remembers what happened at Auschwitz and that it learns the lesson of what happened. To Polish officialdom-Josef Cyrankiewicz, who became premier in 1947, had been a prisoner at Auschwitz from 1941 to 1945-what happened and what it meant appeared perfectly clear. That is evident in the plaque mourning "the martyrdom of the Polish nation" and warning against "international fascism."
August 29 2001
Gitta Sereny has spent a lifetimes exploring the worst aspects of humanity, and has faced many terrible truths. Yet she has never lost her belief in the possibility of redemption. She talks to Erica Wagner:
Her ruthless desire to stick to the facts -- that, say, Auschwitz was not a "death camp" -- has not always won her friends. She is particularly scathing about the identification of Hitler's evil with the death of the Jews and only the Jews. She deplores the use of the word "holocaust", she says.
I deplore it because what happened to the Jews was the worst thing that was done -- but it has now become the only thing. And that is totally wrong. If one wants to be disgustingly numerical, one would have to say that Hitler killed more Christians than Jews. But we don't want to be like that. It's all wrong. But if we concentrate entirely on what happened to the Jews, we cannot see its parallels -- and you know many in the Jewish community refuse to see such parallels because they think it diminishes their suffering. But it's not just terrible to kill Jews -- it's terrible to kill anybody. This whole thing of the murder of the Jews -- we must never forget it, it is part of history, children as long as the world lasts must know that this happened -- but we badly need to accept it now as part of a terrible history, not the terrible history. I don't want anyone to think that I diminish it, I don't diminish it. It was the worst thing. But it was not the only thing.
"Untruth always matters," she writes, "and not just because it is unnecessary to lie when so much terrible truth is available. Every falsification, every error, every slick rewrite job is an advantage to the neo-Nazis." She is puzzled, too, by what she perceives as a reluctance to confront the truth by those who seem to have the most interest in it:
Why on earth have all these people who made Auschwitz into a sacred cow. . . why didn't they go and look at Treblinka (which was an extermination camp)? It was possible. There were survivors alive when all this started. Nobody did. It was an almost pathological concentration on this one place. A terrible place -- but it was not an extermination camp.
Then she sighs; and suddenly the fierceness leaves her. "The distinctions are important," she says more quietly. "But -- death is death."
To others, neither the meaning of the event nor the lesson to be learned from it is quite so obvious. None of us can approach Auschwitz-neither the museum standing in the ruins nor the very idea of the great death camp on the Vistula without all the intellectual and spiritual burdens that we carry with us. We see Auschwitz and we judge Auschwitz according to the way we see and judge the human race, and life, and God. Auschwitz was a world unlike any other because it was created and governed according to the principles of absolute evil. Its only function was death. The first question, then, is whether we see Auschwitz as the epitome of life itself, in incarnation of the darkest expectations of Machiavelli and Hobbes, or whether we see it as a mirror image of the true life, a Satanic version of some divine plan that we have not yet discovered. From that central enigma flow all the lesser contradictions that still bedevil anyone who seeks to understand the mystery of Auschwitz. Did it represent the ultimate evil of the German nation, and was that the evil of German rationality or of German irrationality? Or did it represent, conversely, the apotheosis of Jewish suffering? And was that suffering simply the result of centuries of anti-Semitism, or was it part of the fulfillment of the prophecy that the tormpnted Jews would some day return to Palestine; return, as Ezekiel had written, to "the land that is restored from the savages of the sword, where people are gathered out of many nations upon the mountains of Israel"?
It can be argued that Auschwitz proves there is no God, not for the Jews nor for the Catholics nor for the Jehovah's Witnesses, who died as bravely as any others. "If all this was possible," wrote one Hungarian survivor, Eugene Heimler, "if men could be herded like beasts toward annihilation, then all that I had believed in before must have been a lie. There was not, there could not be a God, for he could not condone such godlessness." But such declarations have been made at every moment of extreme crisis by those who see God only in success and happiness. Since all efforts to prove or explain God's purposes demonstrate only the futile diligence of worker ants attempting to prove the existence of Mozart. Auschwitz can just as well prove a merciful God, an indifferent God, or, perhaps best, an unknowable God. William Styron, in Sophie's Choice suggested the answer as a riddle: "At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?" The answer is only another question: "Where was man?"
The evidence of Auschwitz has demonstrated many things about humanity. It has demonstrated that men (and women) are capable of committing every evil the mind can conceive, that there is no natural or unwritten law that says of any atrocity whatsoever: This shall not be done. It has demonstrated that men can also bear and accept every evil, and that they will do so in order to survive. To survive, even just from one day to the next they will kill and let kill, they will rob and betray their friends, steal food rations from the dying, inform on neighbors, do anything at all. The evidence of Auschwitz has demonstrated just as conclusively that men will sacrifice themselves for others.
Franciszek Gajnowiczek, for example, is a stooped, gray-haired man, who survived Auschwitz to testify that when he was selected at random for execution one day in 1941, a Franciscan priest named Maximilian Kolbe stepped forward and volunteered to take his place and did take his place and did die. The evidence has demonstrated, moreover, that those who are ready to sacrifice themselves for one another, those who share a commitment to some political or spiritual purpose, are as likely to survive as those who make survival their only goal. The evidence, in other words, is as contradictory as human nature itself. "The truth about Auschwitz?" Josef Cyrankiewicz once reflected. "There is no person who could tell the whole truth about Auschwitz."
Elie Wiesel, who managed to survive being sent to Auschwitz as a boy, remembered the place as hellish, but when he returned in 1979, he was overwhelmed by its beauty. "The low clouds, the dense forest, the calm solemnity of the scenery,' he wrote. "The silence is peaceful, soothing." When Wiesel tried to decipher the meaning of that serene graveyard, he was helpless. "How was it possible?" he wrote. "We shall never understand. Even if we manage somehow to learn every aspect of that insane project, we will never understand it. . . . I think I must have read the books-memoirs, documents, scholarly essays and testimonies written on the subject. I understand it less and less."
That is the survivor's message on the mystery of survival, but the nameless dayyan may have been preaching a richer variation of the same message when he urged the men of the last Sonderkommando not to be afraid but simply to accept the fulfillment of God's incomprehensible will.
In July 1990 the Auschwitz State Museum in Poland, along with Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Center, suddenly announced that altogether perhaps one million people (both Jews and non-Jews) died there. Neither institution would say how many of these people were killed, nor were any estimates given of the numbers of those supposedly gassed.
-- Yehuda Bauer, "Fighting the Distortions," Jerusalem Post (Israel), Sept. 22, 1989; "Auschwitz Deaths Reduced to a Million," Daily Telegraph (London), July 17, 1990; "Poland Reduces Auschwitz Death Toll Estimate to 1 Million," The Washington Times, July 17, 1990.
Why did Elie Wiesel and countless other Jews survive the Holocaust if it was the intention of the Third Reich to eliminate every Jew they got there hands on? Elie was a prisoner for several years; other Jews survived even longer.
Most of these "survivors" were ordinary people who did not have any unique expertise that the Germans could have exploited for their war effort. There was no logical reason for them to be kept alive. The very existence of more than a million survivors even today, some sixty years later, contradicts one of the basic components of the holocaust i.e. that the Germans had a policy to eliminate every Jew they got their hands on.
In January 1945 Elie Wiesel became seriously ill in Auschwitz. A "Jewish" doctor examined his foot and told him that an operation would be necessary. Elie was put into a hospital. He reports that the hospital beds were provided with white sheets, and that he was served "good bread and thicker soups." He even tells us that the rations in the hospital were so ample that he had extra bread that he was able to send to his father.
After a successful surgery, this unskilled Jewish labourer who had been separating parts in a warehouse was given two weeks to recuperate in the hospital.
When the Russians were about to overrun Auschwitz in January 1945, both Elie and his father "chose" to go west with the retreating 'Nazis' and SS rather than be "liberated" by America's greatest ally. They could have told the whole world about Auschwitz within days--but, both Elie and his father as well as countless thousands of other Jews chose instead to trek west with the 'Nazis' on foot at night in the middle of one of the coldest winters and continue working for the defense of the Reich thereafter. In effect, they chose to collaborate.
Some of Wiesel's exact words in his book Night are:
The choice was in our hands. For once we could decide our fate for ourselves. We could both stay in the hospital, where I could, thanks to my doctor, get him [the father] entered as a patient or nurse. Or else we could follow the others. 'Well, what shall we do, father?' He was silent. 'Let's be evacuated with the others,' I told him.
Why would Elie risk further injury or infection to his foot in the dead of winter by going with the Germans?
Other tales tell us that the prisoners who could not keep up were shot on the spot...how is it that Elie, with a bandaged foot and his elderly father were able to keep up?
What was it that compelled them to leave with the Germans under such terrible circumstances?
Elie's tale in this regard is corroborated by other "survivor" accounts including that of Primo Levi who was in the infirmary due to illness. He must have been there at the same time as Otto Frank (Anne's father).
Perhaps the best known Auschwitz inmate was Anne Frank, who is known around the world for her famous diary. But few people know that thousands of Jews, including Anne and her father, Otto Frank, "survived" Auschwitz.
The 15-year-old girl and her father were deported from the Netherlands to Auschwitz in September 1944. Several weeks later, in the face of the advancing Soviet army, Anne was evacuated along with many other Jews to the Bergen-Belsen camp, where she died of typhus in March 1945.
Her father came down with typhus in Auschwitz and was sent to the camp hospital to recover. He was one of thousands of sick and feeble Jews who were left behind when the Germans abandoned the camp in January 1945, shortly before it was overrun by the Soviets. He died in Switzerland in 1980.
If the German policy had been to kill Anne Frank and her father, they would not have survived Auschwitz. Their fate, tragic though it was, cannot be reconciled with the extermination story.
In Levi's book Survival in Auschwitz, we have his words for January 17, 1945
It was not a question of reasoning: I would probably also have followed the instinct of the flock if I had not felt so weak: fear is supremely contagious, and its immediate reaction is to make one try to run away.
But he's talking here about running away with the 'Nazis'--and not 'Nazis' who were mere rank and file party members but supposedly the worst of the worst. He's talking here about running away with the same 'Nazis' and SS who had supposedly carried out the greatest imaginable mass murders of Jews and others in the entire history of the universe. He's talking about running away with the people who supposedly did the actual killings of thousands daily for several years. But, according to his own words he would probably have gone with them nonetheless, except that he was not feeling good that day; he was feeling weak.
The "fear" that he overcame was clearly fear of the Russians and not the 'Nazis;' there is no mention of fear of what the 'Nazis' and SS might do when the evacuees entered the forest or sometime later.
In a biography of Anne Frank, author Melissa Müller wrote
Between December 1, 1944, and mid-January 1945, more than half a million people were evacuated from Auschwitz.
Could this possibly be correct? Half a million people? This number must include the three Auschwitz camps and all the sub-camps for miles around. Even then, it is unbelievable.
According to Carlo Mattogno, Dr. Franciszek Piper, Senior Curator of the Polish government's Auschwitz State Museum, has admitted the same number also. How could all those Jews have been taken in by those evil Nazis after so many Jews, almost a million, had been gassed to death practically in front of their eyes? Such a riddle!
On 27 January 1945 Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army. The Soviet soldiers found 8,000 prisoners whom the Germans had left behind, because they were too weak to be evacuated with the others. On 2 February the Soviet daily Pravda published an article by the well-known Soviet-Jewish war correspondent Boris Polevoi entitled “The Death Factory at Auschwitz.” In this article, Polevoi spoke of a conveyor belt on which prisoners were killed by means of electric current. This conveyor belt was never heard of again. Polevoi also mentioned “gas chambers,” but located them neither at Birkenau nor at the main camp Auschwitz I, but in the “east” of Auschwitz, were nobody has located them either before or after him.
How to explain that:
a) the Germans had not killed these 8,000 weak prisoners as “useless eaters;”
b) that the Germans, who allegedly destroyed the evidence of their genocidal crimes, allowed 8,000 witnesses to survive so that they could tell the world what they had seen;
c) that the witnesses did not tell Polevoi about crimes they had seen but about crimes they could not have seen, as there was neither an electrified conveyor belt at Auschwitz, nor were they gas chambers in the eastern sector of the camp?
1. U.S. and German top-level government officials talked with each other through Swiss and Irish consuls in 1944 and '45 about the condition of inmates in German-operated camps,
2. In 1944 German officials denied any intention to mass-murder inmates,
3. Germany guaranteed to evacuate inmates ahead of Soviet advance,
4. Former camp inmates confirmed inmates were being safely evacuated.
Benedikt Kautsky, a Jew who was a spiritual personality in the Socialist-Marxist world movement was in Birkenau during the war doing office work.
His mother, aged 79, was also sent to Birkenau. When she became sick she got a separate room and a special diet ordered by the doctor. This was "special treatment" given so the woman's life could be prolonged if not cured. She died when she was 80 years of age. When he was liberated, Dr. Kautsky returned to Vienna, Austria where he continued his scientific work. In 1946, immediately after the liberation, Dr. Kautsky was one of the first to publish a book. It had the German title Teufel und Verdammte (Devil and Damned), but the whole edition was burned. One and a half years later, he published another edition in which he rewrote portions and made changes.
If the National Socialists had really intended to exterminate the Jews, almost no Jewish concentration camp inmates would have survived. But the “survivor reports” fill whole libraries. Many of these former Jewish prisoners had been transferred from one camp to the other without ever being exterminated. An extreme case is the Polish Jew Samuel Zylberstztain who survived ten camps: The “extermination camp” Majdanek, the “extermination camp” Auschwitz and eight “normal concentration camps” into the bargain. 
The Austrian Socialist and Jew Benedikt Kautsky spent six years in the camps (Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz, and again Buchenwald) before being liberated in spring 1945. 
No living, authentic eye-witness of the "gassings" has ever been produced and validated. Benedikt Kautsky, who spent seven years in concentration camps, including three in Auschwitz, alleged in his book Teufel und Verdammte (Devil and Damned, Zurich, 1946) that "not less than 3,500,000 Jews" had been killed there. This was certainly a remarkable statement, because by his own admission he had never seen a gas chamber. He confessed:
I was in the big German concentration camps. However, I must establish the truth that in no camp at any time did I come across such an installation as a gas chamber.
The only execution he actually witnessed was when two Polish inmates were executed for killing two Jewish inmates. Kautsky, who was sent from Buchenwald in October, 1942 to work at Auschwitz-Buna, stresses in his book that the use of prisoners in war industry was a major feature of concentration camp policy until the end of the war. He fails to reconcile this with an alleged policy of massacring Jews.
The Jew and anti-Nazi resistance fighter Arno Lustiger is “a survivor of the concentration and extermination camps” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27 April 1995). The newspaper did not reveal which “extermination camps” Lustiger had been interned in, but he cannot have been exterminated in any of them, because he was still very much alive in 1995. These examples can be multiplied. How does this square with the assertion that the aim of the German leadership was the physical annihilation of the Jews?
In its English language edition, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported on 18 April 2004 that 687,000 Jews who had lived in the countries under German control during the Second World War were still alive at that moment. Consequently, there must have been several million Jews in the same countries in May 1945. How does this figure square with an extermination policy?
Notes Samuel Zylberstztain, “Pamietnik wieznia diesieciu obozow,” in: Biuletyn Zydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Polsce, Nr. 68, Warsaw 1968, p. 53 ff.  Benedikt Kautsky, Teufel und Verdammte, Büchergilde Gutenberg, Zürich 1948.
There was not a single German military field hospital near any combat front as sizeable or as well-equipped as the hospital at the "death camp" of Auschwitz. The purpose of the large modern hospital has never been satisfactorily explained, since the Jews now claim that within hours after arriving at Auschwitz, the Jews were hurried to the "gas chambers".
On October 1, 1943, SS-Obersturmführer Werner Jothann, chief of the Central Construction Office of the Auschwitz concentration camp, drafted a preliminary cost estimate for the enlargement of the prisoners’ hospital (Häftlingslazarett) of the camp. The enlarged hospital was to comprise 114 hospital barracks (Krankenbaracken), 11 barracks for patients in need of care (Pflegebaracken) and 12 barracks for critically ill patients (Baracken für Schwerkranke). The combined cost of these 137 barracks was estimated at 5,161,329 Reichsmark (about 50 million Euro at current rates).
-- “Erläuterungsbericht zum Ausbau des KGH der Waffen-SS in Auschwitz OS.” [Rossiskij Gosudarstvenny Vojenny Arkhiv, Moscow]
Quite a lot of money, especially if one considers that all these sick detainees were soon to be exterminated by gassing or lethal injection?
As Polish historian Henryk Swiebocki has documented, 11,246 prisoners underwent surgical operations at Auschwitz between 10 September 1942 and 23 February 1944.  What kind of “extermination camp” was this where more than 11,000 prisoners were not only not exterminated, but operated on in a period of just 18 months?
German wartime documents in the archives of the Auschwitz State Museum in Poland show that 15,706 wartime camp prisoners, nearly all of them Jewish, received medical care at the hospital of the Auschwitz III (Monowitz) camp between July 1942 and June 1944. Of these prisoners, 766 died in the hospital, while the rest of them were released. 
On 27 July 1944 the administration of the Auschwitz camp compiled a statistics about the prisoners “temporarily quartered in the camp of the Hungarian Jews.” The document shows that until that date 3,138 Hungarian Jews had received medical treatment at the camp hospital. 1,426 of them had undergone surgical operation.  According to the “Holocaust” story, a huge number of Hungarian Jews were gassed at Auschwitz between 15 May and 9 July 1944.
While not a single of these alleged gas chamber murders is confirmed by a German document, the medical treatment of 3,138 Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz until 27 July is indeed documented.
Primo Levi states that after having been notified that the Germans were in fact leaving Auschwitz, two ill Hungarian inmates made the decision to go with the SS.
It was obvious that they were afraid to stay with the patients and were "deciding" to go with the healthy ones.
-- Survival In Auschwitz and the Reawakening, - two memoirs, Summit Books, 1986
Mainstream “Holocaust” historians are unable to present even a shred of documentary evidence for the alleged “gassing” of Hungarian Jews between May and July 1944. The whole accusation rests on “eyewitness testimony.” Two of the most prominent “witnesses” to these alleged mass murders are the Hungarian Jew Miklos Nyiszli and the Slovak Jew Filip Müller. In his book about Auschwitz, which first appeared in Hungarian in 1946  and later was translated into German, English, and French, Nyiszli claims that 20,000 people were gassed and burned every day in the Auschwitz crematoria, and that another 6,000 people were shot or burned alive every day in the nearby forest. In his 1979 book Sonderbehandlung,  Filip Müller describes how he had to undress the bodies of the gassed Jews in the gas chamber. Once he found a piece of cake in the pocket of one of the victims, which he devoured greedily. As Müller cannot have devoured this cake with his gas mask donned, we cannot but conclude that he was immune to Prussic acid. Müller states furthermore that three bodies were simultaneously burned in a crematoria muffle within 15 minutes. In 1975 a group of British cremation experts came to the conclusion that the minimum duration of the cremation of an adult corpse in a crematoria muffle is 63 minutes,  so Müller’s figure is nine times too high.
According to the French Jew Georges Wellers, the number of Hungarian Jews gassed at Birkenau between May and July 1944 amounted to 409,640,  while leading Jewish “Holocaust” historian Raul Hilberg contents himself with “over 180,000.” 
Where were the bodies of the victims cremated?
a) At the time, there were four crematoria in Birkenau (Krema II, III, IV, and V; crematorium I at the main camp Auschwitz I had been inactive since July 1943).
b) Crematoria II and III had 15 muffles each, crematoria IV and V 8 muffles each. So the 4 crematoria had altogether 46 muffles.
c) If we assume that the incineration of a body in a muffle took 60 minutes, that the crematoria were active 20 hours per day, and that they functioned perfectly during the whole period (a rather unrealistic assumption!), they could thus burn 920 corpses a day. In order to allow for the presence of children’s bodies, we will increase this figure to 1000.
d) In the 55 days between 15 May and 9 July, the crematoria could thus theoretically incinerate 55,000 bodies. If Wellers’ figure of murdered Hungarian Jews is correct, there were therefore (409,000 – 55,000 =) 354,000 unburned human bodies at Birkenau after 9 July. If Hilberg’s figure is accurate, there were still (180,000 – 55,000 =) 125,000 unburned corpses. The “Holocaust” historians can not claim that these bodies were burned after 9 July, because according to them, the gassings continued until late October 1944, albeit on a lesser scale. Furthermore, the bodies of prisoners who had died from natural causes at Auschwitz-Birkenau had to be incinerated too. So how did the Germans make these mountains of corpses disappear?
Based on the declaration of “eyewitnesses,” such as Filip Müller and Szlama Dragon, the “Holocaust” historians claim that the corpses of the gassed Hungarian Jews were partially burned in huge ditches near the crematoria. During that critical period Birkenau was photographed several times by allied planes. None of these pictures show any “incineration pits” or large open fires. 
 Miklos Nyiszli, Boncoloorvosa voltam az Auschwitz-i krematoriumban, Vilag, Budapest 1946.  Filip Müller, Sonderbehandlung, Verlag Steinhausen, Frankfurt a.M. 1979.  “Factors which affect the process of cremation,” in: Annual Cremation Conference Report, Cremation Society of Great Britain, 1975, p. 81.  Georges Wellers, “Essai de détermination du nombre des juifs morts au camp d’Auschwitz,” in: Le Monde Juif, Octobre-Décembre 1983.  Raul Hilberg, Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1997, p. 1000 (Volume 3).  John Ball, Air Photo Evidence, Ball Resource Services, Delta, Canada 1992.
 Henryk Swiebocki, “Widerstand,” in: Auschwitz. Studien zur Geschichte des Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslagers, Band IV, Verlag des Staatlichen Museums Auschwitz-Birkenau 1999
Panstwowe Muzeum w Oswiecimiu (Auschwitz State Museum archives), Syg. DAuI-III-5/1, 5/2, 5/3, 5/4.
 Gosudarstevenny Arkhiv Rossiskoj Federatsii, Moscow, 7021-108-32
Revisionist interpretations have been based, on the one hand, on thorough knowledge of the documents dealing with Auschwitz -- including Allied air photos -- as well as their context, and on expert knowledge in various fields of engineering and architecture on the other.
That approach, applied to a great number of documents on Auschwitz, has yielded important results that shed revealing light on the history of the Auschwitz camp system.
Samuel Crowell has unearthed material on air raid shelters built by the SS to protect inmates from Allied air raids.
Air raid shelter door at Auschwitz
The German "Air Raid Guide Emergency Program" (Luftschutz Führer Sofort Programm) of November 1940 specifically required that:
All new constructions, especially in buildings of the armaments industry, are henceforth to be equipped with bomb-proof air raid shelter rooms.
Sources: Joachim Stahl, Bunker und Stollen für den Luftschutz im Raum Siegen (Kreuztal: 1980), and, Georg Wolfgang Schramm, Der zivile Luftschutz in Nürnberg, 1933-1945 (Nuremberg: 1983)
The wording in German is:
Bei allen Neubauten, insbesondere bei den Bauten der Rüstungsindustrie, sind von vorneherein bombensichere Luftftschutzräume auszuführen. Sie sind in die gleiche Dringlichkeitsstufe wie die Bauvorhaben selbst aufzunehmen.
This unquestionably applied to Auschwitz. During the course of the war, the concentration camps -- of which Auschwitz was one of the largest -- played an increasingly important role in the German war economy.
In February 1943 Himmler issued an order on measures to be taken in the concentration camps in anticipation of Allied air bombing raids.
German authorities had good reason to be concerned about Allied air attacks against Auschwitz. In fact, in mid-November 1943, Auschwitz commandant Arthur Liebehenschel issued an order on measures to be taken in the camp against Allied air raids. [Order (Standortbefehl) Nr. 51/43 of November 16, 1943].
Because of its critical importance as a major gasoline production center, Auschwitz III (Monowitz) was a target of several Allied bombing raids, and was consequently heavily defended with anti-aircraft flak batteries. Bombers of the Allied Mediterranean Air Force carried out four major raids against Monowitz in 1944: On August 20, September 13, December 18, and December 26.
During the September 13 attack, for example, 96 US air force B-24 heavy bombers dropped almost a thousand 500-pound bombs. Besides Monowitz, the Auschwitz main camp and Birkenau were also hit.
Source: R. Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (1985)
Hans Lamker and Hans Nowak have shown in detail how the SS installed modern (and highly) expensive microwave delousing facilities to protect the lives of inmates. 
As part of the struggle against typhus, the cyanide-gas delousing method (using Zyklon-B) was partially replaced by micro-wave delousing process in May, 1943. State-of-the-art technology was thus taking place at Auschwitz, developed by the Siemens company, described by Germar Rudolf as ‘the world’s first technological predecessor to the microwave ovens in common use today.’ Birkenau was the largest labour complex in the Reich and therefore received this special treatment. Owing to Allied bombing its implementation was delayed and it did not become operational until the summer of 1944. It turned out to be highly effective, rendering clothing sterile and vermin-free in minutes.
Together with Michael Gärtner and Werner Rademacher, they are currently working on a comprehensive history of the Auschwitz camp, equipped with all means necessary to ensure the survival of tens of thousands of prisoners: hospitals, dentists, kitchens, laundries, butchers, as well as recreation facilities like sport fields and gardens.
This building, just inside the main gate was used during the war as a brothel for the inmates. It was not a secret that the camp had a brothel; it was mentioned in books and its existence was confirmed by the Auschwitz Museum officials.
It was established in the summer of 1943 on Himmler's order, was located in Block 24 and was used to reward privileged prisoners.
The camp kitchen - one of the largest service buildings in Auschwitz, with state-of-the-art cooking facilities.
There were twelve of these throughout the camp.
The caloric content of the diet was carefully monitored by camp and Red Cross delegates. It only deteriorated in Auschwitz and other camps towards the end of the war when German railroads and the entire transport system collapsed under constant aerial attacks.
Together with the fact that the overall costs of erecting this camp complex were on the order of magnitude of some five hundred million dollars, these facilities clearly contradict an intention by the German authorities to use this camp as an extermination center. There are cheaper ways of killing humans than to spend 500 dollars per capita. 
Compare it to the postwar American death camps along the river Rhein in Germany, where German POWs were held captured and died by the thousands between 1945 and 1947 due to lack of food, water, and medical care. All you need for an extermination camp is barbed wire and a few guards, just a few thousand dollars in materials.
1. H. Nowak, "Kurzwellen-Entlausungsanlagen in Auschwitz," VffG 2, no. 2 (1998); English version in Gauss, ed., Dissecting the Holocaust (Capshaw, AL: Theses & Dissertations Press, 2000); H. Lamker, "Die Kurzwellen-Entlausungsanlagen in Auschwitz, Teil 2," VffG 2, no. 4 (1998) see also Mark Weber, "High Frequency Delousing Facilities at Auschwitz," JHR 18, no. 3 (May-June 1999).
2. W. Rademacher, M. Gärtner, "Berichte zum KL Auschwitz", VffG 4, no. 3-4 (2000)
In German cities, up to the end of the war, there were hospitals or homes reserved for Jews. We may take the example of Vienna: according to a German document published in English translation by Raul Hilberg himself, on October 17, 1944, that is, several months before the end of the war, the Council of Elders of the Jews in Vienna was responsible for Jewish hospitals, a children’s home and day school, a community kitchen, a bathhouse, a poor people’s home (for the elderly), a clothes and furniture depot, a relief (or welfare) division, a library, cemetery administration and grounds, a technical column with its workshop. The whole was spread out in eleven different points in the city. On October 17, 1944 an Allied bombing raid completely destroyed the children’s hospital. In the night that followed, a new makeshift hospital had to be installed (“as an emergency measure a new hospital had to be set up overnight”) and, in agreement with “the Secret State Police (Gestapo) Main Directorate for Vienna and the City Construction Office”, “the Council handed the supervision of building and carpentry to a competent architect against payment of a lump sum”. The community kitchen, reserved primarily for Jewish workers (43,892 meals served in 1944), was hit during the raid of November 5, 1944 but the damage was very quickly repaired.
-- Yad Vashem document O 30 / 5, Excerpts from the Annual Report of the Director of the Council of Elders of the Jews
The Himmler order to stop the gassing of the Jews
By Göran Holming
Translated by Thomas Kuess
As is well known, no order or any other of kind directive from Hitler or Himmler exists that call for the extermination or gassing of the Jews. On the other hand, allied propaganda alleges that there exists an order from Himmler to stop the gassings.  If such an order indeed existed, it would provide strong evidence that gassings actually took place.
The allegation is question is based upon a written statement made by SS-Standartenführer Kurt Becher before the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal:
Between the middle of September and October 1944 I caused the Reichsführer SS Himmler to issue the following order, which I received in two originals, one each for SS Generals Kaltenbrunner and Pohl, and a carbon copy for myself: 'Effective immediately I forbid any liquidation of Jews and order that, on the contrary, hospital care should be given to weak and sick persons. I hold you (and here Kaltenbrunner and Pohl were meant) personally responsible even if this order should not be strictly adhered to by lower echelons.' I personally took Pohl's copy to him at his office in Berlin and left the copy for Kaltenbrunner at his office in Berlin. 
No such order was ever recovered, and no-one could prove that it had existed.
This caused Raul Hilberg to write:
In November 1944, Himmler decided that for practical purposes the Jewish question had been solved. On the twenty-fifth of that month he ordered the dismantling of the killing installations. 
In a footnote he states as his source:
"Witness statement by Kurt Becher on March 8, 1946, PS-3762."
The witness statement however does not say anything like this.  Other Holocaust writers have thereafter copied Hilberg, using his book as their source.
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler met secretly near Vienna with Dr. Jean-Marie Musy, President of the Swiss Altbund, to discuss the fate of the remaining Jews held in Nazi concentration and death camps. At the meeting, Himmler declared that he was ready to release all Jews held in German custody and allow them to travel to Switzerland. Following the meeting, Himmler dictated a memorandum to SS-Obergruppenführer Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the chief of the RSHA, Sipo and SD, to spare the lives of all Jews being held in concentration camps. According to SS-Standartenführer Kurt Becher, the message read: "I forbid any extermination of Jews and order that on the contrary care should be given to weak and sick persons."
-- Heinz Höhne, Order of the Death's Head: The Story of Hitler's SS
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler sent an order to SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl, head of the SS Economic Administration of the concentration camps, and to SS-Obergruppenführer Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of the Reich Central Security Office, ordering them to stop killing the Jews.
-- Nora Levin, The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry 1933-1945
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler telegraphed Kurt Becher: "The crematoria at Auschwitz are to be dismantled. The Jews working in the Reich are to get normal eastern workers' rations. In the absence of Jewish hospitals they may be treated with Aryan patients."
-- Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews
Thus in the summer of 1944, the combined capacity of all the incineration installations reached the staggering number of 20,000 victims. A few months later, in light of Germany’s deteriorating situation on the war fronts, and possibly in connection with negotiations launched on Himmler’s instructions, gassing of prisoners was discontinued. The last victims to undergo selection was a transport from Theresienstadt, which arrived at Auschwitz on October 30, 1944. The next transport, from Sered, which arrived on November 3, 1944, was registered in the camp in its entirety.
Three weeks later, on November 25, 1944, Himmler ordered the demolition of the Auschwitz gas chambers and crematoria. The same day, work began on dismantling the installations of crematorium II at Birkenau. After the furnace, the chimneys, the roof, and all the installations in the walls of the crematorium building were taken apart, openings were made for dynamite charges to blow up the entire structure. In connection with the halt in the influx of mass transports, a quarantine camp for male prisoners (BIIa) was liquated on November 3.
Crematorium V, the last to remain in operation, as late as January, was blown up on January 26, 1945, one day before the liberation of the camp.
-- Franciszek Piper. Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp Gas Chambers and Crematoria. Indiana University Press 1998
A demonstrative example may be found in the work of Berenbaum and Gutman. There we read once again of the alleged November 25 Himmler order to "demolish the gas chambers and crematoria in Auschwitz". In the note to this passage however, we find the following:
According to the testimony of the leader of the Hungarian Zionists, Reszo Kastner, the Himmler co-worker Kurt Becher had shown him the copy of an order to destroy the gas chambers and the crematoria. This order was dated to November 25, 1944. 
This date is also found in the notes of an anynomous author, a prisoner and a member of the Sonderkommando, who wrote, that the dismantling of Krematorium II had begun on November 25.
To me as an officer, it seems very peculiar that the formidable SS colonel Kurt Becher went around showing top secret Himmler orders to Jewish leaders. The order was so secret that only three copies were made and no record of it was preserved – yet Jewish representatives were allowed to read it!
Already back in 1972 I had made the acquantaince of an older German cavalry officer, who was married to a very famous dressage rider. During the years that followed I met Mr. Becher on a number of occassions in connection with riding events in Germany, but it was not until relatively late, probably in 1993, that I realized that he was the same person as the famous SS colonel. I know asked him for a meeting, and on October 26, 1994, he received me at his home in Bremen, where he – visibly amused by my curiosity – told me in detail of his time as an officer in the Waffen-SS, and of his service during the war in the 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer.
Between summer and autumn of 1944 Becher was in Hungary to buy horses for his own division as well the German army. In connection with this he came into contact with leading Hungarian Jews, among them the aforementioned Kastner. Through Himmler Becher managed to see to that 1,000 of the wealthiest Budapest Jews, among them the arms industry tycoon Weiss, later a resident of New York City, in the autumn of 1944 were given the opportunity to travel to enemy-controlled territory via Bergen-Belsen. There next followed the notorious negotiations between Kastner and Becher about letting another 100,000 Budapest Jews travel to Palestine in exchange for 10,000 US made trucks.
During this conversation the leading Jews expressed their concern for what would happen to their co-religionists once the front of the war reached the German concentration camps such as Auschwitz in the east and Natzweiler and Neuengamme in the west. Surely the guards would not start killing off the Jews when this happened? Remarkably, none of them showed any greater concern for what would happen to the Jews in the camps before the war reached those places.
Becher calmed the Hungarian Jews by assuring them, that he would soon see Himmler and that he would then tell him of their concerns. Becher met with Himmler at the end of September or in early October, most likely on September 25, thus giving rise to the date recurring in literature. Himmler immediately issued an order stating that: "as enemy troups reaches the concentration camps, these are to be surrendered without fighting. Necessary measures are to be taken in order that this may take place in good order and without the loss of prisoner lives."
To my question why he had made a diametrically opposite statement at Nuremberg, Becher merely replied ambiguously, that I did not understand what the situation had been like during the Nuremberg trial.  Kurt Becher later made a large fortune through business with the Israeli State. As our conversations were broken off by the death of Becher in August 1995, I unfortunately never received any clarifications regarding this matter.
The cheerful laughter of Becher's that I got as an answer to my question concerning the alleged November 25 order to demolish the Auschwitz gas chambers would clearly indicate that this claim is to be ascribed to the usual falsifiers of history.
The order which Kurt Becher in fact received from Himmler was, according to Becher, issued in three copies: one for the head of Gestapo, Kaltenbrunner, one for the head of the SS Department of Economical Administration (WVHA), SS-General Oswald Pohl, and one which was kept by Becher, but never shown to anyone. Becher personally delivered the orders to the mentioned other two. Why the order was only issued in three copies and kept so secret that it had to be handed over in person by a colonel, is easily explained: what Himmler had written in it constituted a clear admission, that the war was lost and that enemy forces would advance and reach the inner parts of Germany. It thus was a clearly defeatist piece of writing, for which the author could expect the death penalty, should it fall into the wrong hands. The mere idea that such a secret paper would be shown to an enemy person such as Kastner is laughable, the claim bearing the traits of an Oriental rather than European way of thinking.
As Kurt Becher showed himself to be enjoying our conversation and made the impression of being honest, I finally asked him:
What then is the truth about the gassing of European Jews, and what do you know about it? After all you spent much time together with the best informed and leading Hungarian Jews.
To this, Becher replied:
I heard about these things for the first time when I was brought to Nuremberg as a prisoner. What the truth really is, I don't know, but the allegations are in any case enormously exaggerated, as we all know.
This means that at the end of September/beginning of October 1944, Kurt Becher received an order that the concentration camps should be peacefully surrendered to the approaching enemy in order to save human lives. Out of this, the falsifiers of history at Nuremberg made up the allegation, that on November 25, 1944 Himmler had issued Kurt Becher an order to cease the gassings and destroy the Auschwitz gas chambers. 
 The author of this article for many years served as an officer in the Royal Swedish Navy. Translator's note.
 IMT Document PS-3762; IMT Volume XXXII, p. 68. [The original German text reads: Etwa zwischen Mitte September und Mitte Oktober 1944 erwirkte ich beim Reichsminister SS Himmler folgenden Befehl, den ich in zwei Originalen, je eins für die SS-Obergruppenführer Kaltenbrunner und Pohl und einer Copie für mich erhielt: "Ich verbiete mit sofortiger Wirkung jegliche Vernichtung von Juden und befehle im Gegenteil die Pflege von schwachen und kranken Personen. Ich halte Sie (damit waren Kaltenbrunner und Pohl gemeint) persönlich dafür verantwortlich, auch wenn dieser Befehl von untergeordneten Dienststellen nicht strikt befolgt wird!" Ich überbrachte Pohl das für ihn bestimmte Exemplar persönlich in Berlin in seiner Dienststelle und gab das Exemplar für Kaltenbrunner in seinem Sekretariat in Berlin ab.]
 Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Quadrangle Books, Chicago 1961, p. 631.
 That is, it does not mention the dismantling of any gas chambers or other kinds of killing installations. Translator's note.
 Israel Gutman, Michael Berenbaum (eds.), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Indiana University Press, Bloomington/Indianapolis 1994, p. 174 and 181, note 74.
 Cf. Germar Rudolf (Ed.), Dissecting the Holocaust, Second edition, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2003, pp. 85-132.
 This article was originally published in German in Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, No. 1(4) (1997), p. 258ff.
Raul Hilberg and Telepathy
By Robert Faurisson
Raul Hilberg now explains that the genocide of the Jews was carried out by telepathy
Raul Hilberg, the most prestigious of the authors who defend the case for the physical extermination of Jews by the Germans during the Second World War, began his investigation of the subject in 1948.
In 1961, after more than a dozen years’ labour, he published The Destruction of the European Jews. In this work, he presents “the destruction of the European Jews” as a vast undertaking ordered by Hitler in person who, he says, gave two orders to that effect; then various German administrative, police and military bodies, in abidance with those orders, coordinated their efforts duly to prepare, organise, monitor and carry out that vast criminal undertaking.
In 1976 there appeared a work by the most prestigious of the revisionist authors: The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. In it Arthur R. Butz, who teaches at Northwestern University near Chicago, shows that the alleged extermination of the Jews is a swindle.
In 1978-1979 I published two articles in the prominent daily Le Monde demonstrating that the alleged Nazi gas chambers could not have existed, and this for reasons essentially physical and chemical in nature . Those pieces caused something of a stir. In France, Raymond Aron and François Furet announced that an international gathering of specialists would be held to demonstrate to the world that the extermination of Jews and the Nazi gas chambers had really existed. Amongst the specialists would be Raul Hilberg.
Shortly before the start of the conference, Guy Sitbon, permanent US correspondent for the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, had a lengthy interview with Hilberg . The latter said some astonishing things, basically amounting to an admission that, with regard to the destruction of the European Jews and the Nazi gas chambers, there were not really any documents but only testimonies that “concur, just about”. Although Hilberg, of course, maintained his general argument, his explanations were radically different from those that he had given till then. It is obvious that the revisionist argument had something to do with this change. Besides, the interviewee conceded as much, even if only reluctantly, in stating:
I will say that, in a certain way, Faurisson and others, without wanting to, have done us a favour. They have raised questions that have the effect of engaging historians in new research. They have obliged us once again to collect information, to re-examine documents and to go further into the comprehension of what took place. 
The international gathering took place behind closed doors at the Sorbonne from June 29 to July 2, 1982. A press conference giving an account of the discussions and conclusions was expected. It was then that, to the general surprise, only Raymond Aron and François Furet appeared, declaring, on the one hand, that “despite the most erudite research” it had not been possible to find any order from Hitler for the extermination of the Jews, and, on the other hand, that taking the revisionists to court was like conducting a witch-hunt. Not one word was uttered about the gas chambers.
Even months later, in New York, before an audience of nearly 2,700 at Avery Fischer Hall, Hilberg summed up his new argument: the entire German policy of physical destruction of the Jews was to be explained by… thought transmission. If no document attesting to that criminal policy was to be found, this was because no such document existed. The entire German bureaucratic machinery had, for years, operated by thought transmission or telepathy. He put it in these words:
But what began in 1941 was a process of destruction not planned in advance, not organized centrally by any agency. There was no blueprint and there was no budget for destructive measures. They [these measures] were taken step by step, one step at a time. Thus came about not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus-mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy .
Let us note again those final words: “an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus-mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy” .
On January 16, 1985 Hilberg confirmed those words and that explanation at Ernst Zündel’s trial in Toronto. He did so under oath during his cross-examination by Zündel’s barrister, Douglas Christie, whom I was assisting .
The ‘meeting of the minds’ hypothesis cannot account for the prescient German decision to not take exterminationist action against Jews on German soil. That would require both explicit directions rather than general ones, and direct foreknowledge of future events
That same year the “revised and definitive” edition of his book appeared. In it, he did not use the expression “consensus-mind reading” but wrote:
In the final analysis, the destruction of the Jews was not so much a product of laws and commands as it was a matter of spirit, of shared comprehension, of consonance and synchronization .
He spoke of “countless decision makers in a far-flung bureaucratic machine” without “a basic plan”. He evoked “written directives not published”, “oral directives and authorisations”, and “basic understandings of officials resulting in decisions not requiring orders or explanations”. There had been “no one agency”, and “no single organisation directed or coordinated the entire process”. He concluded that the destruction of the Jews was “the work of a far-flung administrative machine” and that “no special agency was created and no special budget was devised to destroy the Jews of Europe. Each organisation was to play a specific role in the process, and each was to find the means to carry out its task”. he concluded .
For me, this is tantamount to explaining by the workings of the Holy Spirit something that was allegedly a formidable criminal undertaking of industrial proportions, carried out particularly with a weapon (a chemical slaughterhouse employing an insecticide for the killing of human beings) designed and created through a phenomenon of spontaneous generation.
I refuse to believe the unbelievable. I refuse to believe in what Hilberg himself calls “an incredible meeting of minds”. I refuse to believe in thought transmission or telepathy, just as I refuse to believe in the workings of the Holy Spirit and in spontaneous generation. I reject any historical argument, any system of historical explanation, that relies on such nonsense. Raul Hilberg is not a historian.
On November 23, 1978 the French historian René Rémond stated to me:
As far as the [Nazi] gas chambers are concerned, I am ready to follow you; as for the genocide, I have the deep conviction that Nazism in itself is sufficiently perverse for that genocide to have been part of its intentions and actions, but I acknowledge that I have no scientific proof of that genocide.
That is indeed the least one may say when one cares about the historical truth.
1. “‘Le problème des chambres à gaz’ ou ‘la rumeur d’Auschwitz’”, Le Monde, December 29, 1978, and “Une lettre de M. Faurisson”, Le Monde, January 16, 1979, reprinted in R. Faurisson, Écrits Révisionnistes (1974-1998), produced in four volumes in 1999; vol. 1
2. “Les Archives de l’horreur”, Le Nouvel Observateur, July 3-9, 1982
4. Quoted in George De Wan, “The Holocaust in Perspective”, Newsday (Long Island, New York), February 23, 1983, p. II/3.
5. In the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, “mind reading” is defined as “the faculty of discerning another’s thoughts through extrasensory means of communication; telepathy”.
6. Hilberg’s testimony on January 16, 1985 (Toronto): trial transcript.
7. Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York, Holmes and Meier, 1985, 3 vols.)
There is no disagreement that, until the middle of 1941, the terms “emigration,” “evacuation,” “transfers,” and “deportation” meant what they say. How, then, could it have been made clear to the recipients of official orders after mid 1941 that these same terms had suddenly become code words meaning something altogether different from what they say, namely mass murder? We must keep in mind that during the Third Reich, government officials are considered to have been obedient and subservient. They were expected to carry out orders literally and unquestioningly. Whether that was really the case is a different matter. It is a fact that disobedient conduct was severely punished. This would have been all the more true if the orders had been to transport and force prisoners to labor at vital wartime production, and the recipients of these orders had murdered them instead. The point is: how could the people giving orders have made it clear to those receiving orders that they suddenly, at a specific instant, had to reinterpret their orders and do something entirely different from what the orders instructed? Furthermore, how could those giving orders have hindered those receiving them from re-interpreting them when they were not meant to be re-interpreted?
The problem is quite simply that in connection with the “Final Solution,” there are no documents stipulating definition and “re-interpretation” of presumed code words. Such orders would have undermined secrecy, and secrecy was the claimed reason for the alleged use of coded language in the first place.
in those days, the punishment for unauthorized killings, like the punishment for sabotaging the war effort, was always death. In view of the extremely harsh penalties exacted during the Third Reich, one could only have expected that such offenses would be severely punished.
The fact that to this very day no document has been found, which orders the mass murder of Jews or which gives directives about when and how to reinterpret certain “code words,” has caused a real headache for established historiography. In fact, not even a bureaucratic trace of such an order or directive exists.
The alleged crime was the greatest genocide of all time. It involved six million people over a period of three years, extending over an entire continent and involving countless agencies and minor officials.
Prof. Raul Hilberg’s absurd explanation of telepathic commands within the Third Reich is precisely what would have been required for the implementation of such monstrous orders that were never written down, contradict all the documents that were written, and were allegedly disseminated without leaving a bureaucratic trail.
The Germans under Hitler were a nation of moral cowards, who looked for alibis and cover whether they needed it or not -- what I call Deckungsschreiben proliferate in the archives, a letter somebody has obtained from his superiors to cover him, just in case. In the case of the extermination of the Jews, had Hitler given such a verbal order, one would have expected Himmler, or Heydrich, or Müller, or somebody of that ilk to make a Note for the Record, "just in case"; or, less formally, to have mentioned it in a letter-home, or in a private diary (Göbbels!). Even a cypher-clerk or telegraphic operator might have written a letter home about a message he had seen. Or we British could have intercepted and decoded such a reference to a verbal order. Even the recent discovery of Himmler's pocket diary for 1941-1942 has not helped them, merely confused the issue further ("Judenfrage. Als Partisanen zu behandeln.")
I questioned in the 1960s every surviving member of Hitler's staff, whose confidence I had indubitably gained, on precisely this issue: did they ever hear him even discuss the extermination of the Jews, let alone give any orders for it? The Americans carried out similar interrogations, particularly of his staff stenographers, in 1945-6. All of these staff members stated quite sincerely that they had heard no such thing. (They could undoubtedly have profited highly from saying the opposite, particularly in latter years). His SS adjutant Richard Schulze, now dead, was in the audience of the Frost Programme on June 9, 1977, on my invitation, and he confirmed what I have just said above: Hitler had ordered him to be present during every secret Führer conference 1941-1944, including those "unter vier Augen" with Himmler, so he too might be expected to have heard something. He did not. I may add that they heard other things of an atrocious nature, which they did not hesitate to relate to me.
This extremely well-preserved echo from the Nazi Holocaust is an original postcard sent from by one of the very first Polish inmates interned in Auschwitz. It was written on an official formulary Auschwitz postcard. The front bears the original Hitler stamp cancelled at the Auschwitz 2 post office on February 2, 1942. In the middle, vertically written section the inmate, Johann Klausa, signed his name, indicated his prisoner number (#1124), birthdate (November 22, 1908), block number (13) and postal address (K.L. Auschwitz O/S Postamt 2). Auschwitz archives indicate he was one of 100 prisoners sent from the police prison in Sosnowitz to Auschwitz on June 25, 1940, barely one month after the camp had opened. The historical value of this item is increased significantly by the fact that Klausa was one of the inmates to be released from Auschwitz. [Johann Karski's brother was also released from Auschwitz during the war]. Archives of the State Museum of Auschwitz indicate Johann Klausa’s release occurred on November 27, 1943 after he surviving nearly 3 and one-half years in the camp. The card was written on January 18, 1942 to a brother living in Hohenlinde, Kreis Kattowitz, Oberschlesien (occupied Poland). The message contents are written in German in the older cursive style. The face of the letter is imprinted "Konzentrationslager Auschwitz" along with the camp commandant’s regulations for sending and receiving mail. Also on front appears the boxed red 3-line handstamp, "Postzensurstelle K.L.Auschwitz...Geprüft" applied and initialed by the SS censor.
- Johann Klausa
- geboren am 22.XI.08, Block 13
- Gef. Nr. 1124,
- KL Auschwitz O/S.
- Postamt 2
Auschwitz, Oberschlesien, 10.5.42
Krs Kattowitz O/S.
Auschwitz den 10.V.42
Liebster Bruder und Schwägerin!
Schreibe wieder zu Euch paar Wörter und theile mit, daß ich mich bei bester Gesundheit befinde und auch von Euch dasselbe hoffe. Wie gehts dem Bruder [.] Wilhelm befindet sich noch in Witebsk oder ist schon weiter hat er die letzte Zeit geschrieben? Warum schreibt Ihr so wenig? Könnt ja jede 14 Tage schreibe und öfters. Was macht denn der Fernes kommt er oft zu Euch? Besten Gruß an Euch alle und Bekannte.
[Translation (the punctuation is sparse)]
- From convict Johann Klausa
- born Nov 22, 1908,
- Block 13,
- Prisoner No. 1124, Auschwitz Prisoner of War Camp ...
Auschwitz, Upper Silesia, May 10, 1942
Dear brother and sister in law
I'm writing you a few words again and inform you that I am in best of health and hope the same of you. How are things with brother Wilhelm is he still in Witebsk or is he already further on than that has he written in recent times? Why do you write so little? You can write every fourteen days and more often. What is Fernes (?) doing, does he often come to see you? Best wishes to you all and acquaintances.
The late Tadeusz Iwaszko, chief archivist at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, determined that 1,500 inmates were released from Auschwitz. All of these were so-called Erziehungshäftlinge (re-education inmates)--some 9,000 Polish men and almost 2,000 Polish women who had been arrested for problems in the workplace, and who were brought to Auschwitz for a six-to eight-week long introduction to German work habits. Of these inmates, who were not given a tattoo and whose prison uniform was marked with an "E " instead of with a coloured triangle, ten percent died before the end of their "course," and most were kept in the camp after completion of their six-month re-education course. Initially the Erziehungshäftlinge were housed in a special block in Auschwitz I. From early 1943 onwards, they were assigned four barracks in Auschwitz III, the labour camp adjacent to the Buna works in Monowitz. In short, these prisoners were lodged at a considerable distance from the centre of killing in Birkenau.
-- See Tadeusz Iwaszko, "Les Détenus 'E ' d 'Auschwitz," Bulletin d'Information. Comité internationale d'Auschwitz (1977), issue 9/10,4;(1978), issue 1,4 and issue 2,4.
More than 200,000 prisoners were transferred from Auschwitz to other camps, and about 8,000 were in the camp when it was liberated by Soviet forces. In addition, about 1,500 prisoners who had served their sentences were released, and returned to their home countries.
-- Franciszek Piper essay in: Y. Gutman & M. Berenbaum, eds., Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, 1994
The official number of prisoners released is at least 1,400, and the official number of inmates transferred to other camps is around 200,000, although Carlo Mattogno has shown that the total for the years 1944 and 1945 alone is at least 250,800.
-- Germar Rudolf, Lectures on the Holocaust, 2nd revised edition
The following derives from the prisoner records of Auschwitz camp from May 1940 through December 1944 in the Glücks complete Concentration Camp microfilm records now located in the Russian Central Archives, Central State Archives No. 187603l'
Also, a good deal of corroborative material from the German Archives concerning the German State Railways has been located in the German State Archives (Bundesarchiv) and utilized. The railroad was responsible for the transportation of inmates to and from concentration camps and these figures from the Russian files are accurately reflected in the Reichsbahn documents.
Another avenue for confirmation exists in the wartime radio intercepts which are known to have been made. British wartime intelligence was eavesdropping on the radio traffic as Auschwitz (and other camps) sent regular reports to the relevant government department in Berlin. These messages were either in plain text or a low-level encrypt and consisted of lists of numbers corresponding to the various prisoner categories.
Total transferred from Auschwitz, 1940-1944: 121,453
Total number of Jews transferred from Auschwitz, 1941-1944: 100,743
Micheels, Louis J. Doctor 117641: a Holocaust Memoir. Yale University Press, 1989
This book was published in 1989, before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the release of the Auschwitz death books, which required exterminationists to take the line that only unregistered prisoners were sent to the gas chambers.
It is by a Dutch doctor, and he constantly writes about how registered prisoners he worked with or came into contact with as patients were selected for removal by camp staff and never seen by him again. According to him, they've "gone up the chimney", although he makes no claim to have any real knowledge of what happened to them.
And yet, according to the current state of exterminationist "expert" opinion, registered prisoners weren't selected for the gas chambers.
How many other survivor stories published before 1990 talk about registered prisoners going to the gas chambers, and whether those published more recently have stopped making those claims?
The doctor is working in the Stammlager, not Birkenau. As someone who has been shipped there for being Jewish, he's constantly nonplussed by the facts that he's put to work as a doctor, the SS let him move to other jobs in better circumstances without difficulty, the SS officer at the lab he ends up working at is a very nice man, the Stammlager looks very pleasant in spring and summer, he walks past a brothel and a swimming pool.
Other SS personnel let him have contact with his wife, twice he gets food packages from his relatives, he treats sick and injured inmates, he gets appendicitis and is operated on quickly and skillfully etc. And yet, at the same time, over in Birkenau, there is this constant mass murder of Jews going on (sometimes when he's outside the camp he can see the Birkenau crematorium chimneys in the distance churning out smoke, perhaps he iss looking towards Monowitz by mistake.
How can it possibly be that everything seems entirely normal where he is and yet this genocide is going on only a short distance away? This never once seems to occur to him.
When he is evacuated from the camp in 1945 - he is convinced the SS are marching them off somewhere just to kill them, yet strangely enough it never happens, they just get marched to a station and shipped to Dachau. At Dachau lots of people are dying of typhus, and it is interesting to note that he describes Auschwitz as having successfully overcome typhus by controlling the lice, unlike at Dachau - but of course he doesn't make the connection that at Auschwitz they were controlling the lice using gas chambers with Zyklon B, a use of gas chambers he doesn't seem to have thought about.
How to reconcile these stories with the current state of exterminationist historical thinking?
Did the Inmates in Auschwitz know?
Traditional Holocaust historiasns claim in many of their arguments that in Auschwitz nobody knew what was going on 24 hours a day at the other side of the fence. That is the only way to explain many passages of what survivors tell about their experiences in the camp, mainly a common life in a work camp. But...
According to Eliezer Hauser, the brother of a Sonderkommando, the smell of burning bodies from the crematoria was constantly in the air.
When Elie Wiesel stepped off the cattle car at the Auschwitz subcamp Birkenau, "he smelled the stench of burning human flesh and saw the crematorium throwing its flames into the sky..."
Sonderkommandos were inmates and had contact with other inmates. Innmates were taken out to work in the manufacturing facilities in nearby towns, transferred out, escaped and were released.
So it is impossible to say that someone did not know what was supposedly happening there. Such a thing should be known by everybody... and that doesn't match at all with MOST of survivors tales.
The story says: 'two thousand per batch waited outside the gas chambers while two thousand inside were being gassed, they went in and never came out'
... impossible for other inmates to miss that....
The story says: 'screams of those being gassed could be heard'
... so then, other inmates did 'know'....
The story says: 'bodies were piled high outside the crematoriums'
... impossible for other inmates to miss that....
The story says: 'trainloads of in coming Jews were immediately sent to the gas chambers, they were gassed on arrival'
... impossible for other inmates to miss seeing the trains unloaded and the contents disappear....
The story says: 'after being gassed, luggage, shoes, and hair were left behind, it's proof of extermination'
... piles of hair & possessions left behind, the people are nowhere to be seen, but the inmates curiously wouldn't have noticed....
The Germans left thousands of Jews behind when they evacuated. This was after the Jews were given a CHOICE to leave with them or stay and await the advancing Soviets. MOST CHOSE TO RETREAT WITH THE GERMANS.
How many Jews were deported to Auschwitz?
Franciszek Piper, the head of the History Department of the Auschwitz museum wrote a book about this, The Number of Victims in Auschwitz. In 1983, Mr. Georges Wellers concluded that there were over 1.6 million deportees sent to Auschwitz of whom 1.43 million were Jews. In his study Dr. Piper reduced these figures to ‘at least’ 1.3 million deportees including 1.1 million Jews.
Carlo Mattogno in The fate of the missing Jews, comes up with 1,111,100 deportees, including 914,600 Jews and 196,500 non-Jews: About 401,500 inmates were registered, of these were about 205,000 Jews. The number of transferees from the transfer camp of Birkenau to other camps is at least 98,600, and at least 250,800 prisoners were transferred or evacuated in 1944 and 1945..
The number of dead in Auschwitz is about 135,500. (Piper estimates 200,000).
The number of dismissed, transferred and liberated from 1940 to 1945 is at least about 364,600.
The difference (1,111,100 – 364,600 – 135,500) = about 611,000. This is the number of victims which were according to the official history “non-registered gassed”.
Neither F. Piper nor any other historian has ever furnished even a trace of proof of gassings of non-registered inmates. On the other hand it can be shown with absolute certainty that two in the literature widest exploited alleged gassings – the one of the Gypsies in Birkenau and the one of the inmates of the ghetto in Lodz are actually history falsifications. Of the other alleged gassings there does not exist a single documentary proof.
It is also a fact that the official historiography considers at least 79,200 non-registered Hungarian Jews who were admitted to the transfer camp of Birkenau, were considered gassed. Piper reduces this to 54,200.
Concerning the fate of the 611,000 missing Jews, several documentary sources indicate, that they were deported to the East. Reichsminister Albert Speer talked in this connection, specifically referring to Auschwitz in an important document of “Ostwanderung” (Eastern emigration).
Dr. Piper, basing himself on lists published by a Mr.Andrjez Strzelecki, posits a figure of 187,800 persons transferred or evacuated from the camp in 1944-45, but this includes the unregistered transit-prisoners, estimated as 25,000. In addition, must be counted 1,500 released prisoners, 500 escapees and the 8,000 liberated inmates. He also cites an estimated 25,000 prisoners transferred in the years 1940-43 whereas Mr. Mattogno seems to be using a much lower figue of several thousand. Perhaps the fact that some transferees returned to Auschwitz could be significant.
Piper's grand total of camp survivors then is 222,000 compared to Mattogno’s 364,000.
He calculated: (1,300,000 – 222,000 – 200,000) = about 878,000 ‘non-registered gassed’.
However, there is and still no substantiation that 'unregistered' equals murdered.
Important [Auschwitz] Documents Found in Moscow Archives
Searching in Russian archives through tens of thousands of long-suppressed documents, two revisionist historians have dug up revealing German documents confiscated by the Soviets and kept secret for decades. Swiss educator Jürgen Graf and Italian author Carlo Mattogno together made two lengthy research visits in Russia in 1995, the second lasting four weeks.
In the Archives of the Russian Federation, Graf and Mattogno found voluminous records about Auschwitz and other German concentration camps liberated 50 years ago by Soviet forces. These include Russian-language eyewitness reports and investigative documents, and reports by Soviet investigative commissions, as well as some German documents confiscated from various camps (but not Auschwitz). Graf and Mattogno photocopied about 1,000 pages of documents from these Moscow archives, which are now being evaluated and translated.
70,000 Pages Screened
The team carried out much more extensive research at the Central State Special Archives on Viborg street, located in an outer area of the Russian capital. Among the voluminous original German records stored there are tens of thousands of pages from Auschwitz camp alone. Here Graf and Mattogno spent nearly every day of their visit screening an estimated 70,000 pages of Auschwitz records.
Less than five percent of these documents are of relevant interest, Graf estimates. They spent little time, for example, going through the 100-page file of construction records of horse stables at Auschwitz, or the 300 pages concerning the payroll of camp gardeners.
At a cost of one dollar per page, Graf and Mattogno photocopied more than 3,000 pages of Auschwitz documents from these Archives. Their investigations are far more extensive than the modest researches there by Prof. Gerald Fleming and Jean-Claude Pressac, two major anti-revisionist Holocaust researchers. As their signatures on the control sheets show, they saw perhaps 50 of the 650 dossiers there. (It was in this same Viborg street archives where British historian David Irving located the handwritten diaries of Minister Josef Göbbels for his new biography of the wartime propaganda minister.
A Preliminary Evaluation
From the outset Graf and Mattogno assumed that they would probably not find anything of really sensational importance.
Any documents confirming gas chamber killings or an extermination program certainly would have long ago been triumphantly heralded. Similarly, any documents showing clearly that no prisoners were killed in gas chambers, or which disprove the existence of a wartime German extermination program, would probably have been removed or destroyed.
All the same, they did find documents that conflict with the orthodox extermination story. One refers specifically to a "delousing chamber for crematory II" ("Entlausungskammer für ein Krematorium") in Birkenau. This document apparently clarifies the real meaning of one or more of Pressac's so-called "criminal traces," as well as of the widely-cited letter of Jan. 29, 1943 that refers to a "gassing cellar" ("Vergasungskeller") in Birkenau crematory II. It is often claimed that this must be a reference to a homicidal gas chamber. This long-suppressed German document, which was overlooked by Fleming and Pressac, suggests instead that this "gassing cellar" was installed to save life, by killing typhus-bearing lice.
Two German wartime documents quoted by Carlo Mattogno in one of his articles  definitely prove that the morgues of the Birkenau crematoria were not used as homicidal gas chambers, as the official historians claim. On 20 July 1943 SS physician Dr. Wirths asked the Central Construction Office of Auschwitz to set up provisional morgues in several sectors of the Birkenau camp. At that time, the bodies of prisoners who had died in the camp were stored in wooden sheds before being taken to the crematoria. As Birkenau was infested with rats, these rodents were attracted by the bodies and feasted on them. In his letter Dr. Wirths stated that the rats were the carriers of fleas which could spread plague, and an outbreak of this disease would have dire consequences for the staff and the prisoners. On 4 August 1943 Karl Bischoff, chief of the Central Construction Office, answered that no provisional morgues were needed, as the corpses of deceased prisoners would henceforth be taken to the crematoria twice a day.  This proves that the morgues of the crematoria could be used as such any time and were not used as homicidal gas chambers.
In May 1944 the problem arose again. On the 22th of that month the new chief of the Central Construction Office of Auschwitz, Jothann, wrote a letter in which he stressed that the corpses of prisoners who had died in the camp would be removed every morning, so that there was no need for the construction of provisional morgues.  Jothann did not state explicitly that the corpses would be taken to the crematoria, but the context allows for no other explanation. The date of this letter is especially important. According to Danuta Czech’s Kalendarium,  62,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau between 17 and 22 May 1944, 41,000 of them were “gassed without registration,” which means that the morgues of the crematoria must have been used as gas chambers day and night during the whole period. How could any bodies of prisoners who had died from natural causes during the same time be stored in these same morgues?
 Carlo Mattogno, “Die Leichenkeller der Krematorien von Birkenau im Licht der Dokumente,” in: Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, Nr. 3, 4/2003.
 Rossiskij gosudarstvenny voyenny arkhiv, Moscow, 502-1-170.
 Rossiskij gosudarstvenny voyenny arkhiv, Moscow, 502-1-170
 Danuta Czech, Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Rowolt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989.
Between January 18 and March 10, 1972, two architects responsible for the design and construction of the crematoria in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Walter Dejaco and Fritz Ertl, were put on trial in Vienna, Austria  During the trial, an expert report on the possible interpretation of the blueprints of the alleged gas chambers of the Auschwitz and Birkenau crematoria was presented to the court. The report concluded that the rooms in question could not have been gas chambers, nor could they have been converted into gas chambers.  Thanks to this first methodologically sound expert report on Auschwitz, the defendants were acquitted.
1. Ref. 20 Vr 6575/72 (Hv56/72)
2. See Michael Gärtner, "Vor 25 Jahren: Ein anderer Auschwitzprozess," Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung (VffG)1, no. 1(1997
Also found were documents showing the roster of sick and chronically sick people at Birkenau over extended periods. According to the extermination story, of course, all such persons were immediately put to death as unfit for work. Other documents confirm the strict rules that prohibited SS camp personnel from mistreating Auschwitz prisoners.
Additional documents unearthed by Graf and Mattogno establish that remarkably large numbers of prisoners were released from Auschwitz. (This is in addition to prisoners who were transferred to other camps.) During just a few days in June and July 1944 alone, 186 short-term prisoners were set free. (Over the entire period of the camp's existence, there must have been thousands) Most of these were Poles who had been sentenced to "re-education by labor" at Birkenau for terms of four to ten weeks for breaking employment contracts. After serving their sentences, says Graf, these prisoners returned to their factories. Nothing has so far been published anywhere about these large-scale prisoner releases. As Graf notes, if many tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews were actually killed in Auschwitz in May-June 1944, as alleged, the released prisoners could easily have told the world about it.
Numerous valuable documents relating to the Auschwitz crematories were also found, says Mattogno, who is sorting out and evaluating them.
Incidentally, an enormous quantity of confiscated German documents dealing with other areas are also held in the Central State Special Archives. These include, for example, about 9,000 pages of records of the wartime Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Such documents may shed new light on key aspects of Second World War history. Unfortunately, the future of these archival treasures is uncertain.
Graf and Mattogno searched in vain for Soviet wartime aerial reconnaissance photographs of the Auschwitz area, including research at the former Soviet military archives in Podolsk, east of Moscow. They similarly failed to turn up records detailing deliveries of coke to the Auschwitz crematories in 1944 -- documents that would finally nail down the maximum number of corpses that could have been cremated in the facilities there. Perhaps these records are located in one of the ten or twelve other archives in Europe where scattered Auschwitz documents are stored.
David Irving claims that Russian documents reveal that from start to finish, 2188 kg of coke were delivered and used at Auschwitz, enough to cremate 70,000-80,000 bodies total.
As a result of these two 1995 research visits (which were financed by sympathetic friends), says Graf, "we now know not only what documents are in these two archives, but also what documents are not there. That's also important."
From The Journal of Historical Review, November/December 1995 (Vol. 15, No. 6)