Friday, March 24, 2006

Carlo Mattogno and interrogations of Topf engineers

Author: Sergey Romanov

In March of 1946 the Soviet counterintelligence agency SMERSH arrested four men directly responsible for the ovens and gas chambers of Auschwitz. They were engineers Kurt Pruefer, Karl Schultze, Fritz Sander and Gustav Braun, employees of "Topf und Soehne", the German firm specializing in construction of crematoria. All of them were interrogated at length. Sander soon died, and the rest were sentenced in 1948 to 25 years of labor camps. Pruefer died in 1952, Schultze and Braun were amnestied in 1955 and deported to East Germany.

Protocols of their interrogations were gathering dust in the archives until the beginning of 1990s. In 1992 Russian prosecutor's office refused to rehabilitate Pruefer, Schultze and Braun, confirming their sentence. In 1993 and 1994 British historian Gerald Fleming published several short excerpts from the interrogations.

One particular passage from these excerpts caught Holocaust deniers' attention.

The leading "revisionist" Carlo Mattogno in his response to Prof. John Zimmerman wrote:

During the interrogation of 19 March, K.Pruefer declared:

"I spoke about the enormous strain on the overused furnaces. I told Chief Engineer Sander: I am worried whether the furnaces can stand the excessive usage. In my presence two cadavers were pushed into one muffle instead of one cadaver. The furnaces could not stand the strain." [my italics]

[...]

The attempt to simultaneously cremate two cadavers failed because "the furnaces could not stand the strain."

When the topic came up at The Cesspit, I e-mailed Mattogno and asked if he had the scanned images of the protocols. He answered that he couldn't deliver them to a third party, but he was kind enough to send a scanned excerpt from Pruefer's interrogation in question, which you can see below.

He admitted:

As far as I knew the Russian language, I understand that the passage you point out is ambiguous.

And also added:

However it is important to consider that both Pruefer and Sander stated that the crematory ovens in Birkenau could incinerate one corpse per muffle per hour.

Information from the second quoted sentence, while strange, does mean that the testimonies weren't simply concocted by the Soviets. After all, if the Soviets would coerce these engineers, the latter would testify about miracle crematoria destroying 1,500 to 3,000 corpses per day, as the Polish-Soviet act of Roman Dawidowski et al., and the official Soviet Nuremberg report had stated. It should be noted that this low estimate was contradicted by Pruefer himself, who testified about witnessing the succesful cremation of two bodies per muffle (more about it here, see part VIII for extensive quotes and analysis), and also by Pruefer's memo of September 8, 1942.

The first quote is crucial, since Mattogno admits that the passage is "ambiguous", and thus cannot be used as evidence for "revisionist" case. So, what does the passage really say?

I told Sander that I was present at a test run of the ovens in the crematorium in Auschwitz concentration camp; that I came to a conclusion that the crematoria [sic] do not cope with such an amount of corpses that were there for incineration, because the crematoria ovens were of low capacity.

With this I gave Sander an example - that in Auschwitz, in my presence, two-three corpses were being pushed into crematoria openings /muffles/ instead of one per opening, and even then the crematorium's ovens did not cope with that load, because there were too many corpses for incineration.

So what was actually said is that there were too many bodies in the camp for furnaces to effectively cope with (those were 6 muffles of the old crematorium - Birkenau crematoria with 46 muffles had not been built yet), not that several bodies couldn't have been burned at the same time. This is also confirmed by testimony of Sander, taken on March 13, 1946:

Pruefer then gave me an example that in his presence two-three corpses were being put into each muffle, and even then they did not cope with the load, because there were too many corpses for incineration in the concentration camp. (Emphasis mine - SR)

Thus, these passages do not support "revisionist" argument about impossibility of multiple cremations in Auschwitz. The corpses, according to the engineers, were being cremated in batches of two or three. As we have seen, Pruefer also testified that the ovens worked succesfully after burning two corpses per muffle. Neither Sander, nor Pruefer have mentioned any oven failures resulting specifically from multiple cremations. And, in fact, a document from "Topf" archive supports these testimonies. Fritz Sander wrote on September 14, 1942 (transl. by Roberto Muehlenkamp; emphasis mine):

The high demand of incineration ovens for concentration camps - which lately has shown especially in what concerns Auschwitz, and which according to Mr. Pruefer's report again led to an order of 7 three-muffle ovens - led me to examine the question whether the current oven system with muffle for the above-mentioned entities is the right thing. In my opinion things don't go fast enough in the muffle ovens to remove a huge number of corpses within a desirably short time. Thus one helps out with a multitude of ovens or muffles and by stuffing full the individual muffle with several corpses, without thereby solving the basic source [of the problem], i.e. the deficiencies of the muffle system.

(To overcome the difficulties of the muffle system Sander proposed a super-crematorium for mass cremation of corpses, which would far surpass Auschwitz ovens. Fortunately, his plan was never implemented.)

When I first received the excerpts from Mattogno, I thought that he had them at the time when he wrote a response to Zimmerman, in 2000, and accused him of being deceptive. I didn't know that his colleague Juergen Graf got the protocols only in February of 2002, so I was wrong.

However, it turns out that even after stating that the passage in question was ambiguous, Mattogno still peddles the same old argument! In Auschwitz Lies [large PDF] he simply reiterates the argument on p. 111, in order to show that Zimmerman used Fleming's translation dishonestly. In fact, Fleming's incorrect translation is simply vague and ambiguous, so it cannot be stated that Zimmerman's use of it was dishonest. On p. 112 Mattogno adds:

I later found out that Fleming's translation ("enormous strain," "the furnaces could not stand the strain") is wrong, too. Particularly the sentence "pjeci nje spravljalis' s toi nagruzkoi" does not mean "the furnaces could notstand the strain" but "did not cope with that load," that is to say, to the load of two to three corpses inserted into one muffle; "nagruzka" designates in fact the "load" of the oven. Pruefer therefore meant that the ovens did not succeed to cremate such a load in an economically advantageous manner if compared to a load of merely a single body per muffle. This does, of course, not alter the fact of Zimmerman's own manipulations.

Here Mattogno obviously refers to our brief exchange. What he doesn't mention is that he himself branded Pruefer's statement as "ambiguous" (although actually, it is not; but it is clearly useless for deniers). The "load" meant is emphatically not the load of 2 or 3 bodies in a muffle, but rather the "load" of all the corpses in the camp, as demonstrated above. It is flabbergasting that Mattogno could misinterpret the plain meaning of the text in such a manner.

Predictably, his buddy Germar Rudolf also uses faulty translation and misinterprets the text badly in the same book (pp.274, 275).

And these are two best "revisionists" out there!

Update: It is really not surprising that lemmings at The Cesspit swallow Mattogno's and Rudolf's arguments, hook, line and sinker.

26 comments:

Scott Smith said...

I doubt the Hoaxsters are going to treat us to unexpurgated affidavits and interrogations any time soon--assuming that we should trust anything that was collected or said in Allied captivity, and from the Soviets no less.

Sergey Romanov said...

Quite a typical and expected non sequitur response, which misses the point anyway :-)

Scott Smith said...

Well, regardless, a lot of electromotive force is given to such non-evidence. You've actually called it "data," I believe, but it is in really hearsay and anecdotal at best, and cherrypicked too, obviously.

Nick Terry said...

Do keep on missing the point. A leading revisionist claimed this evidence supported his conclusions. Mattogno cited these transcripts when it suited him, he (and revisionism as a whole) cannot come crying back to mommy when he is exposed as mis-quoting and mis-translating the original.

Scott Smith said...

So what? Regardless of who uses it, unless we can get full disclosure of the affidavits and interrogations--which I don't think will happen any time soon--it is not even real evidence as far as I'm concerned. One might as well survey aerospace data at the airport barbershop.

Sergey Romanov said...

"So what?"

Leading denier is exposed as an ignoramus (at best). Do I need to draw you a picture?

Scott Smith said...

No, but anybody that uses OGPU evidence in the place of real scientific data is barking up the wrong tree, for sure.

Sergey Romanov said...

"No"

Yes, as shown above. You have not addressed the points, as usual.

Roman Werpachowski said...

assuming that we should trust anything that was collected or said in Allied captivity, and from the Soviets no less.

It depends. There was a lot of honest effort in post-1945 Poland to preserve the truth about the fate Jews. Did you read the books of Zofia Nałkowska, Władysław Bartoszewski, Tadeusz Borowski or Hanna Krall?

Scott Smith said...

No, and I wouldn't trust the Poles on anything regarding the Germans. The Poles are still peddling Human Soap, for example.

Sergey Romanov said...

"No, and I wouldn't trust the Poles on anything regarding the Germans. The Poles are still peddling Human Soap, for example."

Good, old-fashioned racism :-)

Scott Smith said...

Polish chauvinism is racism?

;-)

Well, there is some more information on the Danzig soap and the Polish claims in the latest German Studies Review 29:1 (FEB 2006). "The Danzig Soap Case: Facts and Legends," by Joachim Neander (of Krakow, Poland). I'll put the article online at RODOH when I get around to it.

Since the journal is about German studies you can bet that there is no nationalism in it--no German nationalism, that is.

The article also refers to the IMT documents that I was the first to put online, but RODOH gets no credit.

Roman Werpachowski said...

So a Polish writer discussing a supposed Polish myth critically is a proof of Polish chauvinism? How funny.

What is mythical is, in reality, the assertion that Nazis *were* seriously accused of fabricating human soap on a large scale:
Discussion
It's absurd to hold serious historians responsible for the existence of some urban legends. It is also patently absurd to single out Poles as especially "guilty" of pushing the legend around. Hollywood is in Poland? I never knew. I know that Poles are especially inconvenient for Nazi apologists, since they were closest to major Nazi atrocities, but that is life and you have to live with it.

BTW, picking on one "controversial", blown out of proportions matter is a nice way of doing away with a plethora of well-documented evidence on the German WWII crimes, gathered by Polish historians and eye-witnesses. Nice try, but no cookie.

Scott, you're not only a "revisionist" but a pure-breed Nazi apologist as well.

Scott Smith said...

Roman said:

<< So a Polish writer discussing a supposed Polish myth critically is a proof of Polish chauvinism? How funny.

What is mythical is, in reality, the assertion that Nazis *were* seriously accused of fabricating human soap on a large scale >>

The point is that the author sources some official Polish publications about this gospel that was taught in Polish schools and is still believed by Poles in modern times. I'm not talking about Hollywood.

But Hollywood and the press can lie about it because the International Military Tribunal said so. One occasionally still finds reference to this myth--and Holohistorians have been incredibly shy about authoritative corrections unless Revisionists have made hay by pointing out the mendacity.

Also, anybody who boiled some laundry at Auschwitz sincerely believes that they were making soap out of their relatives, as was demonstrated on the Phil Donahue TV program with the guests Professor of History Michael Shermer, and Revisionists Bradley Smith and David Cole.

I was the first to put the IMT soap documents online with the comment "putting these scans online allows people to actually see the junk that was submitted as evidence." Although the scans were used by the Revisionist Forum and my comment was paraphrased there, Mr. Neander apparently takes exception and believes in the infallible sacrosanctity of these Victor tribunals.

<< Scott, you're not only a "revisionist" but a pure-breed Nazi apologist as well. >>

Well, I'm certainly a critic of the great Holy Crusade that the Allies waged from 1914-1945, particularly the misguided American Intervention--just as I am a critic of Internationalism and Interventionism today.

Roman Werpachowski said...

The point is that the author sources some official Polish publications about this gospel that was taught in Polish schools and is still believed by Poles in modern times.

Actually, Polish mainstream press dealt with this a few years ago and wrote that there was no large scale production of human soap in Auschwitz (it seems extracting human hair and gold teeth was enough even for the Nazis). And if I remember correctly, there is no mention of human soap production in Polish state school curriculum.

Well, I'm certainly a critic of the great Holy Crusade that the Allies waged from 1914-1945

To "launch a crusade" implies "to attack". Who launched a crusade on 1/9/1939, then?

particularly the misguided American Intervention

They should've let Hitler and Stalin sort it out, yes? It seems that Americans wanted to still have some Europe worth visiting.

USA did quite an efficient job of helping to defeat Hitler. They screwed Eastern Europe in Yalta, but that's another story.

Scott Smith said...

Roman said:

<< USA did quite an efficient job of helping to defeat Hitler. They screwed Eastern Europe in Yalta, but that's another story. >>

They screwed the rest of Europe too, because Churchill knew that Uncle Sugar would be there to bail him out if it ever came to that, and therefore Albion did not have to negotiate its differences honorably with Germany. Hitler wanted peace with the British. Britain stubbornly refused and Europe paid the price.

All the war settled was who got to be the top poodle in Europe, Britain or Germany, although it easily could have been the Communists.

joachim neander said...

To roman werpachowski -
You write that if you "remember correctly, there is no mention of human soap production in the Polish state school curriculum." Maybe not explicitly. But the "Danzig soap" legend is still a topic in Polish high schools thru compulsory reading matter, such as "Profesor Spanner" by Zofia Nalkowska and "U nas w Auschwitz'u" by Tadeusz Borowski. Google for pages in Polish with the keywords "Profesor Spanner" and "mydlo". You will find several hundreds (!) of Web pages with material for essays and matura examinations presenting the human-soap-making as a prime example of German war crimes and of the degradation of science. This is a clear indication of the topicality of this issue in Polish schools. Or look into Norman Davies' history of Poland, a highly praised (and in general, excellent) book recommended by the Ministry of National Education for use in high schools (Boze igrzysko, Krakow 2003, p. 919). Teaching aids for high school teachers also address this issue, in general in connection with the Holocaust. I agree with you that, from the point of view of a professional historian, the "human soap" myth is a fringe phenomenon. But such myths shape the public perception of history far more than hundreds of scholarly articles in peer reviewed journals do. I did not meet a single adult Pole who was not convinced that the Germans boiled their victims to soap and made lampshades from their skin, and they always told that they had learned this at school. And are "serious historians" really "not responsible" for spreading those "urban legends"? Who wrote the history textbooks and encyclopedia articles?

Roman Werpachowski said...

Joachim, I think this is not as present in schools as it was in the past. There were popular press articles debunking the human soap myth a few years ago.

Roman Werpachowski said...

All the war settled was who got to be the top poodle in Europe, Britain or Germany, although it easily could have been the Communists.

It also settled the question whether there was going to be a Master Race ruling the Untermenschen or not.

joachim neander said...

Roman, in principle, you are right - in Poland, at the moment the "human soap" issue isn't as "hot" any more as it was in communist times. Students do not only learn of Auschwitz, but also of Katyn. But they still learn historical myths as "the truth." "Profesor Spanner.," e.g., still today is compulsory reading matter for high school students. The short story deals with the alleged soap-making from Nazi victims at Danzig in 1944/45. All relevant teaching aids as well as hundreds of "sciagi" present it as a "prime example of German war crimes," and most of them, in addition, as "typical for the German national character." My wife teaches Polish at a liceum, and neither she nor I could find a single critical remark, neither in the above mentioned material nor in the editions for use in school teaching.
Three years ago I prepared a manuscript about the soap legend for a journal addressing teachers of Polish. The editor told me that it was quite convincing, but that they could not print it. "Maybe in 30, maybe in 50 years. At the time being, it is impossible. Our readers would crucify us." I had a similar experience with comments sent to Web discussion forums where "the Germans" - always generalizing and using extreme hate speech - were accused of having made "human soap." The moderators would never (!) admit a comment explaining that this is only a legend. So in the end I gave up and do no more participate in any Polish Web forum.
As to your remark on the "popular press articles" - I know only of some critical articles in Gdansk local newspapers in 2000/01. Interestingly, those Gdansk scientists who 5 years ago agreed that the "Danzig soap" is only an urban legend, today are afraid of speaking out for fear of losing their jobs. That is today's climate - after the 2005 elections - in a country that never had a First Amendment. (I'm on nobody's payroll, so I can speak out.)

Nick Terry said...

Joachim, could you contact me please? I'd like to discuss your German Studies Review article on the blog 'up top' but it is not yet available in the UK.

Perhaps you can send it over in some form, with any clarification as to the difference between it and the German version online elsewhere. You can get my email address from someone at CAHS, USHMM (Gelb, Dean, Megargee, etc).

tommaso said...

(NON ridere,per favore! ...TOMBA di alcune casse di SAPONE d'EBREO! )

http://auschwitz.myblog.it/media/00/01/575991647.jpg

http://auschwitz.myblog.it/media/00/01/405870798.jpg

six gun said...

One of the most convincing pieces of evidence against the gas chamber theories is the muffle capacity. That the muffles could not deal with the number of bodies if there were millions killed.

Firstly when larger muffles were available why weren't these installed if the plan was to kill millions?

If the muffles could not cope with more than one body or the muffles could not cope with the total number of corpses is the same thing.
The muffles could not burn the number of bodies produced by the alleged gas chambers.
So where are these bodies? They aren't there.
But the muffles could not cope, so they must be there. But they are not there. So they never were there and the number "killed" never were.

Has anyone considered that typhus was an epidemic in Europe. If and when it did hit the camps it would knock people down like flies. There are all these rotting bodies that have got to got rid of. The muffles would be running round the clock.

The Jews should never have been uprooted and transported across Europe to be put in what were slave camps. Many died because of this.
Many were killed on the Eastern front by the SS and by others. No problem with those facts - that is obvious. But the death camp idea, there is too much evidence showing it is just not true.

dragonfish said...

Actually, "ne spravlyalis s toy nagruzkoy" is exactly "could not withstand that enormous strain", so Flemming's translation is correct, you can not translate Russian word to word into English, so "nagruzka" is not the one you think "a load" even thou it has the same root, in this contest it means "strain", I'm saying as a person who speaks both languages.

Sergey Romanov said...

Are you a native speaker? Because I am. And the translation is correct as I gave it. Fleming's translation strongly implies that this "strain" is somehow related to the individual batch of 2 corpses (thus Mattogno's early claim about the alleged failure of multiple cremation). Fleming simply chopped off the crucial part of the sentence which gave context to that load or strain, whichever way you put it.

I'm afraid you've missed the point here. Which is not whether we use the word "load" or the word "strain".

Sergey Romanov said...

> One of the most convincing pieces of evidence against the gas chamber theories is the muffle capacity.

Maybe only for utter morons like yourself. I mean, in Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka there were no muffles at all, yet there were gas chambers.

> That the muffles could not deal with the number of bodies if there were millions killed.

Muffles dealt with several hundreds of thousands at most, so this is neither here, nor there.

> Firstly when larger muffles were available why weren't these installed if the plan was to kill millions?

Uh, the plan was to kill millions in Auschwitz? I don't think so.

> If the muffles could not cope with more than one body or the muffles could not cope with the total number of corpses is the same thing.

No, it's not.

> The muffles could not burn the number of bodies produced by the alleged gas chambers.

Muffles are not the only way of body disposal.

> So where are these bodies? They aren't there.

They've been cremated, one way or another.

> But the muffles could not cope, so they must be there.

False. See above.

> But they are not there. So they never were there and the number "killed" never were.

Let's turn the tables: if they were never killed, where, exactly, they went?

> But the death camp idea, there is too much evidence showing it is just not true.

Then why nobody has been able to present even a single piece of evidence showing it is not true?