Sunday, August 13, 2006

What the Soviets knew about Auschwitz - and when. Part IV: deniers and Boris Polevoi's article

Even before studying these books, I read the German translation of an article I also had got from Vogt. It had appeared in the Soviet Communist Party's newspaper Pravda on February 2, 1945, one week after the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Red Army. (Four years later, in Moscow, I got hold of the Russian original.) The author of that article, Soviet Jewish reporter Boris Polevoi, who had visited Auschwitz immediately after its liberation, wrote about an "assembly line killing installation where hundreds of people were killed simultaneously with electrical current". Polevoi also mentioned gas chambers in the eastern sector of the Auschwitz camp. Nowadays, nobody claims that the German made use of electric current to kill people, and according to the official Holocaust version, the Auschwitz gas chambers were at Birkenau, west of the main camp, and not in the eastern sector. Having read this article, I knew that the revisionists were right: The gas chamber and mass extermination story had been fabricated by propagandists, and the first versions did not tally with the later ones.

On that day, April 29, 1991, I decided to dedicate my life to the struggle against the most monstrous fraud ever concocted by human brains.
Thus the turning point for Juergen Graf was Boris Polevoi's article about Auschwitz. I don't know why Graf calls Polevoi Jewish (I haven't found any evidence of this), and why his ethnicity should matter. We can examine the supposed significance of his article on its own "merits".

Read more!

Polevoi's article in Pravda. Click to enlarge. Courtesy of Carlo Mattogno.

In the "revisionist" circles the article has been "discovered" by Robert Faurisson and translated into English by "Samuel Crowell" (Alan Buel Kennady) and can be found here. "Crowell" describes its significance for "revisionists" thus:
What is most striking about this press report is that it is totally at variance with the version of Auschwitz that we have come to know, substituting the traditional atrocity record with another, completely imaginary one. That the first non-anonymous observer at the Auschwitz camp could be so far from the current narrative speaks not only to the inaccuracy of this initial report, but also to the artifice of all subsequent ones.
This is the usual "revisionist" modus operandi. If some journalist or even scholar makes a mistake, count it against the "Holocaust story". If the interpetation is wrong, then the underlying facts must be wrong too!

Fortunately, we have enough Soviet documents to decisively debunk this "revisionist" drivel. I have cited many of them in this series and noted that they generally correspond to the established version (taking into account the usually inevitable mistakes, exaggerations, etc.). The Red Army was getting more or less accurate information about Auschwitz. So did the Soviet intelligence services. Obviously, Polevoi's incorrect description doesn't matter.

There is another report about Auschwitz written at the same time - the report of Komsomol'skaja pravda correspondent Sergey Krushinsky, who travelled to Auschwitz with Polevoi. I'm not sure if Krushinsky's report has been published, but that is of no consequence - deniers should have found it in archives, e.g. in USHMM. A copy of the report that I have is addressed to major-general Yashechkin, but it is written as if it were a newspaper article. It is misdated, but we know from another report of Krushinsky to Yashechkin on 31.01.1945 that he was in Auschwitz on January 29 and 30. In a short 31.01.1945 report Krushinsky notes, among other things, that:
Inmates are in a state of ignorance about the most painful questions - order of dismissal from the camps, return to their Motherland, etc. Since all of these people are more or less mentally ill, the wildest rumors are floating around here, and even the German libel according to which in Majdanek the sick inmates have been exterminated by the Soviet troops, is remembered here.
Some of these rumors might have been a source of Polevoi's description, in addition to his rich fantasy and also misunderstanding of what people might have been saying.

In a longer (misdated) report to Yashechkin Krushinsky cites several testimonies of inmates, and a part of his description of the extermination process in crematoria mostly corresponds to what we know now about the gassings in crematoria II and III:
A group of prisoners was driven into a chamber. The door was hermetically sealed, gas was introduced. After 8 minutes ventilation of the chamber and cremation of corpses commenced.

Here the gas was used which is known under a name "Zyklon B". This is a product of prussic acid. Several cans of this poisonous material were left in storerooms, and inmates who worked on the destruction of the plant of death before the camp evacuation [i.e. the members of crematoria Abbruchkommando - SR] remember how the chambers were equipped. Cans of gas were thrown in through an opening in the roof and smashed on the floor. So that the inmates wouldn't be able to go for the smoking material to slow the spreading of the gas, cans didn't fall freely, but inside metal mesh columns.
Although his description of the Zyklon-B introduction columns is not entirely correct (actually Zyklon-B was not thrown on the floor, but rather lowered or poured into an inner movable part, so it could have been withdrawn afterwards), the mention of such a detail is remarkable.

As Krushinsky noted, numerous rumors were floating around, and he himself reported some of them as facts (e.g. he briefly described a gas chamber built above a crematorium, in which the bodies after gassing were thrown down through openings to the ovens). The accuracy of information would depend on the "degree of separation" of the person reporting the rumor from the primary source. Obviously, the longer the "distance" between the two, the more information will tend to be distorted. Thus incorrect rumors don't discredit Krushinsky's report - parts taken from eyewitnesses (immediate witnesses) like the bit about the columns from members of Abbruchkommando have more credibility than a rumor about an absurd gas chamber from an unnamed source.

From the reports of Krushinsky and Polevoi we can see that these Soviet correspondents were confronted with a mass of information of differing credibility upon their arrival to Auschwitz. They "sorted" and reported it according to their own biases, intuition, common sense, and, yes, propaganda purposes. Krushinsky's report with all its faults is several times more credible than Polevoi's, but the latter was published in the main Soviet newspaper, and thus attracted the attention of deniers, who didn't fail to create much hype around its blatant mistakes, ignoring (or, rather, being completely ignorant of) the more credible Red Army and NKGB internal reports.

Indeed, were he acquainted with the documents published in this series, "Crowell" wouldn't have written the following:
There is one major surprise to this narrative: first, it is completely different from the report of the Soviet Special Commission on Auschwitz. That report, in turn, would show the influence of the War Refugee Board (WRB) Report of November 26, 1945[sic!]. An obvious inference is that the Soviet Auschwitz narrative was revised subsequent to this report to make it harmonize with the various anonymous messages which comprised the WRB report. Nevertheless, Polevoi's report shows other influences and connections.
Of course, the "Soviet Auschwitz narrative" wasn't revised, and the report of the Commission of the Political Department of the 1st Ukrainian Front, which investigated Auschwitz from 1 to 5 February, 1945, generally corresponds to the later Extraordinary Commission report.

Pompous post-modernist blather should not hide the fact that deniers simply didn't do a good research on the topic.

As usual.

[I'd like to thank Dr. Joachim Neander for supplying me with the documents used in this installment.]

Previous << Part III: the Liberation reports.

Next >> Part V: Auschwitz death toll

1 comment:

Berenice said...

For anyone who wants further evidence to debunk the deniers, I suggest you pick up a memoir. One that really does justice to the survivors is Gray by Hanna Nowak. I don't know how easy it would be to find, though. I think only a small number were published. But it's worth reading, if you can find it!