Saturday, September 21, 2013

Viewer's Guide to "Auschwitz - The Surprising Hidden Truth" (Minutes 0 - 10)



Minutes 0 - 10

Introduction


Humor in connection with the Holocaust can work, see Roberto Benigni's tragicomedy "La vita è bella". But it went painfully wrong when sometime in 2011, the twenty minutes video clip "Auschwitz: The Comedy" was released on youtube (now down) produced by the usual suspect for argumentum ad youtubium denierbud aka Mike Smith aka Dean Irebodd (aka Ugly Voice among HC authors). A couple of flat and tasteless jokes on the Holocaust and some misconceptions and distortions mostly copycated from the Revisionists Carlo Mattogno and Germar Rudolf were the main ingredients.



At the time, I submitted a number of comments at youtube pointing out the major flaws in the clip as well as in the respective thread at the CODOH Revisionist discussion forum. The posting was instantly deleted by the moderator aka Hannover with the lame excuse that the video needs "to be addressed in separate threads per specific complaint". Actually Hannover himself has made numerous postings with several specific complaints in the forum - most recently here - so obviously this strange rule is only enforced when it comes to silent his opponents.

No doubt the clip was funny for Neonazis, hard-core antisemites (notably Hannover "had many a laugh watching it"), but let's face it: it's not really clever trying to convince people of any position by making jokes about innocent mass murder victims. A recent re-upload of the clip on live-leak did not perform too well among the audience, with the top rated comment
"I gave it four minutes. Not funny, not clever, not worthy my time and the biggest load of rubbish I think I've seen on here so far."
At some point denierbud realized the clip was not the big hit in the internet and "when the large numbers of 'views' didn’t come, I decided I really didn’t like the comedy part anyway". So away with that dodgy fun about "passing gas" in the gas chamber, he released the reworked and extended version Auschwitz - The surprising hidden truth which is also featured now on what is one of the main Holocaust denial dump sites "Holocaust Handbooks".

The clip had been "peer-reviewed" by Carlo Mattogno, who considered it "superb" according to denierbud. As readers of this blog already know, this is not exactly a quality feature - quite the opposite (e.g. Carlo Mattogno's Scholary Death Certificate). And "peer review" is strong stuff, after all denierbud is reproducing to a large extent Mattogno. "Peer reviewing" your own contribution - welcome in the field of crankery.

Anyway, the following series of blog postings will examine and address each claim made in the documentary point by point and contrast it to the available evidence and historical reality in Auschwitz.


Holocaust Denial and Political & Ideological Beliefs

[0 min] Auschwitz - where the Germans sent the Jews to the gas chambers. Here is a movie to picture. It's considered the most evil thing that ever happened in Europe. But when you get into it, it's not believable...Using this 3D model of an Auschwitz gas chamber, eyewitness testimony, satellite photos and blueprints. But can you think objectively about something so socially unacceptable? Consider this clip:

Obama: "We know that evil has yet to run its course. We have seen it in this century, in the mass graves and ashes and villages burnt to the ground. Children used as soldiers, rape used as a weapon of war. To this day, there are those who insist the Holocaust never happened. Who perpetrate every form of intolerance, racism and antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism and more. Hatred that degrades its victims and diminishes their soul"

Is that logical? That you don't believe in this that you must be hateful with a lot of phobias and isms. And can you think open mindedly about something so heaped with scorn?

You may notice the straw man that Obama supposedly said that you have these -isms because you do not believe in the Holocaust. Actually there is no explicit syllogism here. It may be just an observation.

Political speeches are not known for their clinical correctness and exactitude. There may be some holocaust denier outside in the world not feeling hatred towards Jews. However, most activists of Holocaust denial did and do perpetrate anti-Semitism and/or xenophobia and racism to an extent that we have a hard time to find Revisionists not supporting these agendas. Historically, Revisionism is closely intertwined with right wing extremism. For further reading see also Stephen Atkins, Holocaust Denial as an International Movement.

All of this is certainly irrelevant when we examine the validity of Revisionist arguments (unless the specific argument is depending on how credible the person advancing it is; then being known for furiously hating Jews does not exactly help the case). However, the ideological quagmire on which the Revisionist movement was born and is still vegetating can be considered illustrative circumstantial evidence that it is full of rubbish. 


The Underground Gas Chamber

[1 min] First let me explain how it supposedly worked. This is crematorium 2, the main gas chamber facility at Auschwitz. In the distance is chimney smoke from burning bodies. 2000 Jews would gather here in the grass, and would were told going underground to undress and then take a shower. The undressing room and gas chamber are underground. So this the stairway, this is grass, this is an underground room that sticks out above the ground just a little where they got undressed. Jews forced to work in the gassing operation were called Sonderkommando.

[2 min] Dario Gabbai claimed to be a Sonderkommando.

Gabbai: "Working there, undress, going there, the only...one thing I remember the SS was saying this, take your shoes and zusammenmachen, you know put them together as a pair and take it in your hand and walking through a corridor coming to, before going into the gas chamber you had to leave it somebody was taken them"

So we go underground to the undressing room. Men, women and children would get undressed in this elongated room. Back then, lies carried a deadly desease called typhus and taking a shower could help prevent the spread of lice. So there is a poster showing a skull and a lous because getting clean could mean not getting killed by typhus. However, it's a trick, they really go to the gas chamber. So 2000 Jews...

[3 min] ...would go through this corridor and would make a right turn to the gas chamber. Here is the gas chamber. And we see a mesh column. Someone above ground would open a hatch and pour pellets into the room. The pellets were soaked with deadly cyanide liquid and would land here on the floor. The gas would evaporate out of the pellets into the room and kill everybody. Here is a can of the pellets. A product called Zyklon B made by the Degesch company.

Gabbai: "My first observations of tahht was that I saw 2500 to 3000 people going in the gas chamber and they close the doors you know then I knew the SS would through the Zyklon B from above in 3-4 openings."

Everyone would be killed by gas and the dead...

[4 min] ...bodies were then dragged back into the corridor through this same door through which everybody walked in. Making a hard right turn into an elevator. Back up to ground level, where there were 15 cremation ovens on the left. 2000 Jews were gassed at one time in this building known as crematorium 2, the main gas chamber at Auschwitz. We use a 3D model to describe it since the facility was destroyed at the end of the war. But the blueprints were in the Auschwitz archives. Here is a block of 3 out of the 15 ovens and we see a pile of ash inside. This is Filip Müller, a European Jew who claimed to have worked in the gassing operation.

Müller: "The Sonderkommando lived in a crisis sitation. Every day we saw thousands and thousands of innocent  people disappear up the chimney. With our own eyes, we could truly fathom what it means to be a human being. There they came, men, women, children, all innocent. They suddenly vanished, and the world said nothing! We felt abandoned. By the world, by humanity."

[5 min] Let's go over this once more with a physical model. The Jews went down a stairway here and were told to undress to get ready to get a shower. Here is the undressing room. Going this way they went into a corridor. Made a right turn and went into the gas chamber. 2000 Jews made the gas chamber packed to capacity as you can see on this tangle of dead bodies.

Gabbai: "You when after 15 - 20 min they open that thing, the first thing I see I saw the people I saw 15 minutes before alive, I saw the mothers with the children standing up, because the gas chamber will take maybe 500 people was used to make 2500 people everybody standing up, there was no room for anything else than standing up."

[6 min] The bodies were then dragged on the floor out of the gas chamber, into an elevator, back up to ground level and into an room where 15 cremation ovens were. And this whole facility was called crematorium 2, where half a million Jews were supposedly killed. That's a larger number than all American military who died in WW2. This is what it would have looked like during the war. 2000 Jews would assemble back over there. Then they go into the underground undressing room with the gas chamber on the other side of the building.

[7 min] Currently it looks like this. There are the stairs leading into the undressing room. There is the undressing room with the stairway in the distance. And there is the gas chamber. The roof is partially caved in but can still be entered. Here is what it looks like inside. Here is a blueprint of crematorium 2 from the Auschwitz archives. There is the undressing room, there is the passage, there is the gas chamber, there is the elevator coming up to 5 blocks of three ovens each, there the vents sneaking up to the chimney, which you saw on the beginning. You can see that the undressing room and the gas chamber are fairly elongated. The gas chamber a little smaller. So the first thing to notice is incredibly bad design. 2000 Jews going here. Go through this narrow passage, into the gas chamber.

[8 min] Why not have it be above ground? This is the undressing room, and this is the gas chamber. And have four large door in between so that 500 people can go through each door a total in 2000. Then four large doors open up on the right side where there is a convoyeur belt that takes the bodies to a blast furnace.

First of all, there is actually a possible technical reason for burying the execution sites under the earth - you dampen the screams of the victims. In fact, one of the concern with the gassings in the old crematorium in the main camp was the noise from the victims. Motor vehicles were started during the gassing operation to drown down the noise (see How Reliable and Authentic is the Broad Report?)

Secondly, the crematorium was not intended for mass murder from the scratch. Corpses were to be stored in the morgues that had to be kept cool and were thus placed underground. When in summer to autumn 1942 it was decided to install a homicidal gas chamber into the crematorium, it had to go down into the basement, where there was available space and electrical ventilation.

Of course, it would have been possible to move the basements on ground level. But only with additional efforts, time, costs (possible work for the underground site was already started) and with possible drawbacks such as more noise from the victims and that long term corpse storage in the crematorium in case of a stop of the extermination policy would be more difficult. In the sum, the SS obviously did not see a significant benefit from taken the basement on ground level. Indeed, the bottleneck of the extermination in Auschwitz was not bringing the victims down in the basement and the corpses up to ovens, but the body disposal in the oven room was the limiting step.

 

Dragging of Corpses

[8 min] When the bodies here are removed, carts on wheels are then brought in for the heavy job of moving the 1700 remaining bodies to the conveyor belt. Carts on wheels because even a smaller man of a 135 pounds is equal to three plates in the gym, which is dragable but slow going and one would get tired quickly. Of course with wheels it's much easier. So how did they do it in this 100 foot elongated room? If say they had 700 bodies left to ??? out down in the end in the gas chamber and had to...

[9 min] ...move them 70 feet to the door.

Interviewer: "So when they would open doors to the gas chambers whose job was it to take the bodies out?

Gabbai: "They gave us some canes, you reverse the cane and put it and you drag them up. When you gas they get very tight and it takes a lot of force to be able to drag the bodies from the gas chambers to put it in the elavator going on the second floor."


Dragging with canes instead of using wheels? Not believable.

To begin with, the comparison is moot, as the video shows pulling of 135 pounds of iron weight plates on a rough rubber mat, but very likely wet corpses were dragged on a wet concrete floor; certainly a pairing with a lower friction coefficient. The corpses and the floor were wetted by body fluids of the victims, but also intentionally by the Jewish Sonderkommando men, according to Shaul Chazan "whenever we noticed that the floor was getting dry, we let some more water from the water tap" (Greif, Wir weinten tränenlos..., p. 313, my translation).

For example, dragging a person of 60 kg on a smooth surface like parquet for a few meters is physically not a challenge (try it at home). Suppose there were 10 Sonderkommando men in each shift clearing the big gas chamber, then every man had to drag 100 corpses (mostly women and children) over a distance of a bit more than 15 meters in average - in 12 hours. Denierbud utterly failed to demonstrate that this was physically not possible.

Secondly, the argument assumes that the German SS personell in Auschwitz would have cared about how hard the physical work of their slave laborers was. But according to the head of the concentration camp system Oswald Pohl, the labour deployment had to be "exhausting in the true sense of the word". And from what is generally known about the concentration camps, there was only little awareness among the SS to make the life of Jewish prisoners comfortable. As long as the work was done within the required time and the gas chamber was cleared within 24 hours, there was no reason whatsoever for carts to remove the bodies from the basement.


Body Disposal

[9 min] But the worst design of all is individual ovens. Individual ovens are for saving individual ashes to give to relatives.

[10 min] If that is not a requirement, then you don't use individual ovens. The Germans would have used a large brick cylinder furnace where bodies and coal are thrown in a the top creating a pile inside with air being blown from beneath the pile.

Except that the Topf ovens in Auschwitz were not operated to keep the individual ash of the corpses separate.

According to the SS explanatory report of 30 October 1941 (Mattogno, Auschwitz: The Case for Sanity, p. 336), each oven opening of the new Topf model Auschwitz was supposed to be loaded with “2 men” at the same time. The operating manual of the oven specified that new corpses were supposed to be introduced while the previous batch was still burning in the ash chamber, which necessarily resulted in mixing of the ash - also the construction principle of muffles next to each other with openings connecting the chambers already excluded any strict ash separation.

On 8 September 1942 the Topf engineer Kurt Prüfer estimated the cremation capacity of three 2-muffle furnaces in the Auschwitz main camp as 250 corpses per day and that of the new crematorium in Birkenau as 800 corpses per day. In the temperature range the ovens could operate, such figures were only achievable with multiple cremations. The week later, on 14 September 1942, another Topf engineer Fritz Sanders noted that their ovens in the concentration camps are operated by “stuffing the individual muffles with several corpses” and that "ash separation...is arguably [not] the case with the operation of the numerous muffle-ovens".

Hence, from contemporary German documents, it is already clear that the cremation ovens in Auschwitz were not intended and not used to keep the ash of the corpses separate, but that multiple corpses were introduced in the muffle openings. Denierbud did not check his claim against a single contemporary German document on the issue.

Actually, for deceased German inmates some ash - inevitable mixed with other deceased prisoner's ash - was sent to relatives, but Auschwitz-Birkenau was originally planned for Russian POWs and later for Jews - saving individual ashes was pointless here, since it was thrown away as bulk anyway. If denierbud’s claim were true, the Auschwitz SS would have never equipped the crematoria in Birkenau with individual ovens in the first place – also in the case there had been no mass extermination in Auschwitz.

On top comes the woulda-could-shoulda fallacy. We are supposed to believe that the Germans did not carry out the homicidal gassings and mass cremations in the crematoria in Auschwitz-Birkenau, since if they had done it, they would have done it differently. Roberto Muehlenkamp has dedicated an entire posting on this what seems as denierbud's most favorite fallacy.

It assumes that one can predict how individuals and collectives act in a certain situation and how situations develop based on little (or even no) or very simplified understanding of the context or worse by ignoring the actual context according to the sources, and that a deviation between ones's own speculative prediction and narrative would refute the direct evidence of the narrative. The argument is reducing some complex historical event to a certain technical question without taking into account other aspects that may play a role. If anything, it only suggests poor or inconclusive understanding of the circumstances. The argument belongs to the weakest types of objections that can be brought forward against a narrative established by multiple direct evidence.

Denierbud is falsely assuming that a problem is always and directly solved in the assumed best technological and technical way. However, in reality a problem can be attempted to be solved by modifying and adjusting concepts that are already approved, known and one is used to before jumping to a new conceptional solution.

Up to summer/autumn 1942, the state of the art of stationary body disposal facilities among German cremation specialists for German paramilitary forces were individual ovens derived from civilian cremation technique. It should be considered that there was a moral barrier to construct mass incinerators for human corpses. This barrier might have been easily overcome by on-site executor like Rudolf Höß in Auschwitz or Paul Blobel in Chelmno, but more difficult by civilian engineers.

Initially, the Auschwitz SS tried to solve the problem of excessive corpse accumulation (whether due to “natural causes” or murder or mass murder is not relevant here) by adjusting the existent concept of corpse cremation in the civilian area, which was a single oven for a single corpse.

The output was increased by multiple cremations, multiple muffles in one oven and by multiplying the number of ovens. At this point the limit of cremation ovens derived from civilian crematoria was reached and different concepts of body disposal facilities were explored.

In September 1942, the Topf engineer Fritz Sander addressed the flaws of the regular cremation ovens in Auschwitz for mass body disposal experienced mainly in Auschwitz and designed a “continuously operating corpse cremation oven for mass use” for German camps (patent draft of 26 October 1942, reproduced in Schüle, Industrie und Holocaust, p. 450). Note also that this concept came way too late for an implementation in Auschwitz instead of the crematoria.

Others had to have benn less convinced of Sander’s approach. Topf offered the Auschwitz SS instead “an open cremation chamber with the dimensions 48.75 x 3.76 m” as addition to the four crematoria already under construction (letter of Bischoff to Höß of 12 February 1943, reproduced in Schüle, Industrie und Holocaust, p. 455). By the way, what this also shows, people may actually disagree on what is the best technical solution for a problem – quite obvious anyway except to denierbud who assumes that if it did not happen like he would do it, then it did not happen at all.

It is not far fetched that the next generation of cremation devices in Auschwitz would have been a large continuously operating mass incineration facility. It was not implemented in the end, likely because of the slow downed deportation of Jews (in 1943 to first half of 1944), the Auschwitz SS lacking the resources to carry out non-war armament projects on this scale (1944) or because of lack of time (prior Hungarian deportations in 1944). Again, it is essential to look at the issue in its historical context or what may be the context in case of a lack of sources, but not to isolate it as a pure technical and technological matter.

7 comments:

Alan Rembach said...

Thanks for this excellent point by point destruction of this fabled attempt to undermine gassing operations at Birkenau. The narrator's voice is so monotonous and boring and clearly the ramblings of strange a difficult individual...really annoying and so overtly misguided.

Nathan said...

Lots of appeals to incredulity there, too. Appropriate - "The Argument from Incredulity is a failure of the imagination".

Good comments, Hans. Looking forward to the next one.

Hans said...

Seems to me like that "should-coulda-woulda fallacy" is a package consisting of argument from incredulity and argument of ignorance. I try using these terms in future, thanks Nathan.

Chainsawmillerman said...

Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author LOL what a joke you and your blog is. Like most places on the web trying to shield the truth yours is no different trying in the death throws to maintain the lie.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Actually moderation is just meant to keep out publicity ads and other spam, whereas even worthless bitching like yours gets published, as it is marginally on topic.

Bisha Moten said...

Just a clarification. There were incinerators (to call them crematoriums is a bit of a misnomer, given that the design was based off of industrial incinerators for the meat packing industry) at AB which were not used for Jewish Inmates. These incinerators were a pair of small incinerators located in what later became used as an air raid bunker by the SS. In the case of political prisoners, and non Jewish inmates, it was these incinerators which were utilized, with the remains being taken from there.

Bisha Moten said...

Just a minor clarification here on two points. First, though utilized as crematoria, the "muffles" used in AB were based off of a prewar design by Topf and Sons which, in part, had originally been intended for use by the meat packing industry to dispose of diseased animals and offal. Second, in the case of political prisoners, and non Jewish inmates, the crematoria in the three (four? I forget how many) main extermination locations near the gas chambers were not used. According to the AB museum, a pair of smaller (relative size) retorts located in what became an Air Raid bunker later in the war were utilized. (forgive me if this is a double post, your proof thing is a touch buggy.)