Thursday, October 03, 2013

Viewer's Guide to "Auschwitz - The Surprising Hidden Truth" (Minutes 10 - 16)

Minutes 10 - 16
Minutes 16 - 22


Arrangement of the Undressing Room and the Gas Chamber

[10 min] Elongated rooms perpendicular is pretty stupid design. Any thinking person would have elongated rooms side by side...

Let's suppose for the moment that the elongated rooms perpendicular to each other is suboptimal design, and think about the consequences if this assumption holds.

As pointed out in the section "The Underground Gas Chamber" in the first part of this series, crematorium 2 was not planned as mass gassing site from the scratch. It was meant as an “ordinary” concentration camp crematorium (possibly with small scale killings to be carried out) and was only adapted later on at the end of the planning phase or already during its construction for mass gassings of people. The time window when the functional change or addition was decided is considered to be summer - winter 1942. The facility was mainly finished by February 1943. The late implementation of the gassing function would entirely explain if some design were not optimal for mass murder.

Furthermore, it is evident from numerous sources that the elongated, perpendicular underground chambers did not pose a problem for the gassing procedure. There was no difficulty in filling the homicidal gas chamber, there was a low risk of an uprising and it did not substantially slow down the extermination process. In other words, the design of the basement - even if we assume it was not optimal - was already sufficient. Enhancing the supposed suboptimal design would not have resulted in a much higher "throughput". The rate-determining step was the body disposal, which took way more time then the killing.

To be specific, improving the loading time of the gas chamber from say 2 hours to 1 hour did not translate into doubling the extermination rate since the incineration of the corpses lasted the entire day anyway. And since the start of the next extermination batch was usually determined by the arrival time of the following transport and not by the time the previous batch was finished, even this 1 hour gain would have been often irrelevant.

The premise is therefore a toothless tiger not providing any evidence against the reality of homicidal mass gassings in Auschwitz, but it is also not without its problems itself. First, it is important to recognize that the SS was focusing on two decisive points to control the situation: the entrance to the undressing room and the entrance to the gas chamber.

In this supposed enhanced design with the undressing room and gas chamber next to each other with multiple connections between them, also the number of required guards had to be multiplied or conversely with a fixed amount of guards, the actual design of elongated perpendicular rooms with only one entrance allowed to concentrate the guards on fewer decisive locations.

Risk of Revolt + Denierbuds's Own Concept

[10 min] ...this improved design has just 100 Jews going in an undressing room, since 2000 people is too ??? and hard to control, in particularly if there is a revolt.The undressed go into a shower room which in contrast to this is actually a convincing shower room where steel guillotine doors shut, in other words, doors that open towards the sky and shut towards the ground.

[11 min] The gas chamber fills with gas and afterwards steal guillotine doors open at a conveyor belt to a continuously operating oven. The bodies are all ready at short distance to the conveyor belt. The floor's ??? is slightly ??? conceptually a little bit like this. A gassing could happen every hour and a half and the strong point of this design is bodies are put into the oven steadily throughout the day and night. Because cremating the bodies is the hardest part of the process. It could do 13 gassings a day killing 13 hundred people. It is also small and easy duplicable.

The probability of a revolt among the victims with the actual designs of the extermination sites can be estimated from the available data. As a rough estimation derived from the Auschwitz death toll and an assumed average gas chamber loading of 1000 people, we may say that about 800 mass gassings of Jewish people were carried out in Auschwitz. Two serious cases of what one may classify as revolt by victims in the undressing room and gas chamber complex are known:

  • On 23 October 1943, the SS man Schillinger was fatally wounded and as a consequence the victims were gunned down in the basement. The key moment leading to the uprising seemed to be an individual act of resistance by a Jewess seizing the gun of a SS guard probably coupled with misbehavior of the same, but not a collective, concerted revolt that degree of danger was scaling with the number of victims. There is no reason to believe that the fatal shooting would have been prevented by downsizing the crowd from say 1000 to 100 victims. Moreover, the incident shows that striking down a revolt of a mostly unarmed mass of people not familiar with the place was not posing a big problem.

  • Sonderkommando researcher Andreas Killian mentions a mass escape of Hungarian Jews in June 1944 because of an improperly closed door (due to the lack of published and properly referenced evidence, the historical reality of the event is unclear, but will be accepted here for the sake of argument). The escape as such would not have been avoided by a reduced number of victims, but only by properly closing the door. There were apparently no causalities among the SS.

The overall statistical risk of a mass revolt was thus about 0.25% (2 on 800). Moreover, at the time the crematoria were planned and constructed (1942 - 1943), the SS had - as far as we know - experienced not a single mass revolt among the gassing victims.

Given the low risk of a revolt and its relatively easy abolition (using bats, guns, machine guns and due to the confinement of the people within the crematorium basement with only few exits and within barbed wire fencing), it stands to reason that the SS would not have gained much by downsizing the number of victims per gassing.

Denierbud's own concept of the killing site does not provide a significant benefit, but it is also actually introducing severe disadvantages for the SS. 

In his concept, the victims stay around in Auschwitz for the whole day and night, which would have required SS men dispatched for their guarding and supervision for the entire day. In contrast, as it was actually done, guarding of the victims was only necessary for the first few hours after their arrival until they were locked in the gas chamber. 

And even worse, in denierbud's concept valuable medical SS personal needed elsewhere is also bound to the killing site for the entire day. In contrast, as it was actually done, the presence of SS medical orderly and SS doctors was limited to something like 1 hour per 1000 - 2000 victims. By needlessly delaying the killing process, denierbud's flawed concept is to some extent actually thwarting a main intention behind the choice of mass gassings as killing technique, to minimize the involvement of German paramilitary forces in the murder.


[11 min] Woman 1: "And when we were in the train we were afraid, we never knew what will be our future."

Among Jews rumors of gas chambers abounded during the war as can be seen in this testimony.

[12 min] Woman 2: "I was standing naked before the doctor and looking very proud into his eyes and so that he is seeing how a proud Jewish women is go into die because most of us knew that in Auschwitz and from the taps there didn't come any water but the gas and from the taps came fine warm water afterwards we dressed up and returned to our train it was a very relieving experience after we were ready to die there"

She soberly accepted her fate but that couldn't have been every person's reaction who didn't believe the shower story. Some would have become hysterical and under proverbial yelling ??? in the crowded theater.


[13 min] Her testimony shows us that gassing rumors existed among Jews.

The degree of foreknowledge among 100,000s of people cannot be reliably decided based on a single account of a Hungarian Jewess given decades after the event (memory fading and memory manipulation is increasing with time).

The German historians Götz Aly and Christian Gerlach have published a comprehensive work on the fate of the Hungarian Jews and according to their study of the testimonies (mostly unpublished accounts given immediately after the war when the memory was still fresh), the Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz
"...did not grasp, where they were. They had heard that the Germans had persecuted the Jews for years and killed many of them, but a lot of this was hopefully rated as rumor. Auschwitz did not mean anything to many of them and the fewest knew about the gas chambers... most of the Hungarian Jews gave the impression of ignorance to prisoners who stayed already for a long time in the camp. Few guards were therefore necessary for the march to the crematoria."
~ Götz Aly and Christian Gerlach, Das letzte Kapitel, p. 289, my translation

Actually, if there had been extensive foreknowledge among the Hungarian Jews as denierbuds presumes that even the body abled Jews believed there will be gassed, and if this had triggered severe resistance among the people as denierbud also presumes, then the Hungarian authorities would have had enourmous trouble to get them on the train in the first place, or the Germans in Auschwitz the able bodied Jews in the real showers. Neither was the case.

Gas Chamber Loading

We thus expect some level of non-cooperation from them. On a football field the Auschwitz gas chamber would be this size, that little flashing white line being the door. To see how crowded it would be, we have this be a head and these are shoulders. We make one row of 14 people across 23 feet. And bring it up into the gas chamber. That would be how crowded the gas chamber would be.

Gabbai: "And after that, you know, when after 15, 20 minutes they open up the 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."

[14 min] This density implies no resistance at all, it implies total cooperation.

Gabbai: "From time to time, we were tell very few words that they are going to die."

It's hard to believe that 2000 people would go in there without resistance or outright rebellion. Because that's a little over 1 feet² per person which would make them skeptical of the shower story in particularly with no soap dispensers anywhere. 

High crowd densities are usually not achieved by total cooperation, since these are near or above what is the critical density, where the individuals are forced into physical contact, loose control over their movement and feel uncomfortable. It is not a state people spontaneously create and sustain on the basis of cooperation, but they are forced into it by pressure and confinement.

We do know from concrete evidence that confining a large number of people at densities of 10 people per m² specifically for mass murder is possible without difficulty, namely from the mass extermination in Auschwitz with its excessive body of evidence and from the mass killings with gas vans. The latter case can be established by strictly relying only on contemporary German documents without any eyewitness accounts whatsoever (not that this would be methodologically reasonable, but it is a damning argument for people frivolously discarding testimonial evidence as historical source). According to one of these documents in total 97,000 people were killed in the gas vans with an estimated average crowd density of 9 to 10 people per m².

Now, if denierbud does not understand how exactly this was possible, he is urged to think harder rather than suggesting it never happened at all (argument from personally incredulity [thanks to Nathan]). Here is some food for his thought:

The victims inside the Auschwitz gas chambers were usually physically and mentally exhausted from a long journey without much food and water, intimidated by a place and environment they did not know, physically the weakest of mankind (mostly children, women, elderly and sick), separated from the fit men and women that ought to protect and lead them, naked (which certainly added to a feeling of defenseless) and they were confronted with strong (Sonderkommando), lightly armed (Kapos) and heavily armed (SS) men.

Given these circumstances, it is no surprise that there was only very limited, if any at all, resistance among the victims, even in the case they had foreknowledge about what was going to happen. They were an easy target for the Germans at the extermination sites. People who looked like troublemakers and potential leaders for a revolt were taken out from the crowd and separately executed with a small calibre rifle.

The victims were told to receive food and water after the alleged shower, which provided a strong driving force for the hungry and thirsty people to enter the gas chamber. According to crowd psychology, leadership is an important issue for crowd behavior. Since the people were separated from their natural strong leaders like husbands, mothers, elderly brothers and sister, they were either helpless or understood the Jewish Sonderkommando, Kapos and SS as new leader for the moment  - who guided them straight into the gas chamber.

If neither the prospect of food and water, nor the authority of those in charge of the extermination, nor herd behavior just following what the others were doing did work, then violence was sufficient to make them entering the gas chamber. Once they were inside the gas chamber, there was no way of escape as the crowd was pushing them deep inside the basement. Even if an individual decided to revolt at this point, it was hopeless, just consider the forces exerted by a single person and by the crowd.

If there was a flight response from the crowd, it would rather push deeper into the gas chamber away from the door where the concrete danger (armed SS, Kapos, Sonderkommando) came from, hoping for an exit in the back, while those in the back had nowhere to go. Generally, flight behaviour is also inducing a higher crowd density on an intentional basis as people sharing the same fate tend to feel more safe close together when they are in a situation of danger.

Jewish "Accomplices" at the Extermination Sites

[14 min] Commentator: "The Nazis had largely increased the number of Jewish prisoners in the Sonderkommando, prisoners who were forced to work in the crematoria, to deal with the massive numbers the Nazis planned to murder. So much so that the crematorium and gas chamber like this was operated by around 100 Jews and just 4 Germans." 

[15 min] It's not believable that Jewish men would do that and not believable that the Germans would assign so few Germans.
1. Argument from personal incredulity.

2. There is whole bunch of possible explanations for why Jewish prisoners would not refuse in assisting in the extermination procedure of innocent Jewish people, the most important one being the instinct of self preservation, the idea that the more smooth the killing procedure means less suffering for the victims and emotional blunting.

Once the German SS men had established a reliable team of Kapos and foremen that could do most of the job inside the basement for them, it is clear they would dispatch as few as possible Germans for this unpleasant duty. However, it should be also kept in mind that they could quickly call for reinforcement from outside the crematorium yard in case of problems.


[15 min] Interviewer: "Why were you doing this, who was overseeing all this who was there?

Gabbai: "Well, the Kapos of the crematorium."

A Kapo was a Jewish worker put in charge.
Only some of the Kapos were Jewish. Many Kapos, in particular head Kapos (Oberkapos) were German and Polish prisoners.

It should be noted that while Kapos may have assisted in getting the naked victims inside the gas chamber, the actual killing, i.e. what actually led to the victims death (the closing of the door and the pouring in of the poison gas), was done by German SS men. 

Some Repetition

[15 min] Gabbai: "We only had 1 or 2 guards there. Wasn't too many SS...outside the crematorium heavily ??? 3, 4 ??? about half a dozen well equipped SS just moving around but inside the crematorium were only a couple of SS 2 or 3 SS. The Kapos were doing the job."

[16 min] And in a layout like this, it's hard to believe that they could get people to move all the way to the back in particulary if you find out that it was Jewish workers running the operation.

1. Argument from personal incredulity.

2. Already addressed above.


  1. Elsewhere, Nick Terry mentioned another factor that would severely hamper any attempts at organized resistance: the prisoners were not a homogeneous group. Groups of prisoners were often set against each other. Even Jews: Greek Jews and Dutch Jews found it hard to communicate with other inmates, on account of the language barrier.

    The UV also seems to ignore an actual revolt that took place: the Sonderkommando revolt. If I'm not mistaken, this didn't happen overnight. Rather, it was the culmination of a lot of factors building up over a long time.

    - It's not believable that Jewish men would do that and not believable that the Germans would assign so few -

    Personally, I find it hard to believe that Jews would "lie" about being Sonderkommando. Of course, I understand that they were victims of circumstance and usually coerced. Even so, admitting to being a Sonderkommando - to leading one's fellows to their deaths - is essentially an admission of complicity. I find it hard to believe that Jews - i.e. Sonderkommando witnesses - would manufacture a "hoax" to "malign" the "Germans" and gain sympathy for themselves while simultaneously admitting to selling their fellows out to save their own skins. I honestly think that such self-incriminating testimony with no obvious gain increases the reliability of such testimony.

    The UV has no evidence, so he's essentially reduced to blaming the victims. Pathetic.

    Great comments as usual, Hans.

  2. "Personally, I find it hard to believe that Jews would "lie" about being Sonderkommando. Of course, I understand that they were victims of circumstance and usually coerced. Even so, admitting to being a Sonderkommando - to leading one's fellows to their deaths - is essentially an admission of complicity. I find it hard to believe that Jews - i.e. Sonderkommando witnesses - would manufacture a "hoax" to "malign" the "Germans" and gain sympathy for themselves while simultaneously admitting to selling their fellows out to save their own skins. I honestly think that such self-incriminating testimony with no obvious gain increases the reliability of such testimony."

    True. That's an excellent point I never thought about.

  3. There are equivalent examples, like a book by a ghetto policeman who had to send his own family off to be killed. Not something you would admit to unless making a true confession of conscience.

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  5. Personally, I find it hard to believe ..."

    Argument from incredulity, a fallacy in informal logic.

  6. Hoess, Memoirs:

    "... the eagerness with which they [the Sonderkommando} carried out their duties never ceased to amaze me. Not only did they never divulge to the victims their impending fate, and were considerately helpful to them while they undressed, but they were also quite prepared to use violence on those who resisted. Then again, when it was a question of removing the trouble makers and holding them while they were shot, they would lead them out in such a way that the victims never saw the non-commissioned officer standing there with his gun ready, and he was able to place its muzzle against the back of their necks without their noticing it. It was the same story when they dealt with the sick and the invalids, who could not be taken into the gas chambers. And it was all done in such a matter-of-course manner that they might themselves have been the exterminators."

    Hoess, Final Solution:

    "They [the Sonderkommando] carried out their grisly task with dumb indifference. Their one object was to finish the work as quickly as possible so that they could have a longer interval in which to search the clothing of the gassed victims for something to smoke or eat. Although they were well fed and given many additional allowances, they could often be seen shifting corpses with one hand while they gnawed at something they held in the other. Even when they were engaged in the most gruesome work of digging out and burning the corpses buried in the mass graves they never stopped eating."

  7. The Black Rabbit of Inlé said:

    "Hoess, Memoirs: [...]

    Hoess, Final Solution: [...]"

    And your point/argument is what?

    Is there anything in Höß' accounts (which should be taken with some caution as it may be a selective and biased description of the scene) that would contradict or challenge what I wrote in the blog posting?

  8. By the way, I notice that you have taken the Höß' quotes from some English publication without crediting the source.

    Do you agree that you have just committed plagiarism?

  9. "Argument from incredulity, a fallacy in informal logic."

    Nathan is not arguing that because he cannot imagine Jews would "lie" about being Sonderkommando or because it is impossible that Jews would "lie" about being Sonderkommando, that therefore the Sonderkommanos were speaking the truth, even if there were concrete evidence to the opposite. THIS would be committing a fallacy.

    Nathan is actually arguing (implicitly) that in addition to the concrete evidence (namely, testimonial evidence of prisoners, SS men and civilians, German contemporary documents, resistence reports, photographic evidence, demographics etc.) showing that the Sonderkommando were speaking the truth that there was mass extermination in Auschwitz, it is also unlikely - and thus corroborating the concrete evidence - to assume that so many prisoners would place themselves in the grey zone close to the perpetrators (instead of making up a story where they were passive bystanders) if the mass extermination in Auschwitz was not true.



  11. - - Personally, I find it hard to believe ..."

    Argument from incredulity, a fallacy in informal logic -

    I was having my dinner when I read this idiocy earlier. It was very hard to resist the urge to laugh.

    Here's a tip: don't think. It's very clear right now that you're not built to think. Your head might explode if you think too much.

    Here's the reasoning behind my argument, which the dumbass was kind enough to completely ignore:


    (3) Statement Against Interest. A statement that:
    (A) a reasonable person in the declarant’s position would have made only if the person believed it to be true because, when made, it was so contrary to the declarant’s proprietary or pecuniary interest or had so great a tendency to invalidate the declarant’s claim against someone else or to expose the declarant to civil or criminal liability; and

    (B) is supported by corroborating circumstances that clearly indicate its trustworthiness, if it is offered in a criminal case as one that tends to expose the declarant to criminal liability.

    Exception (3). The circumstantial guaranty of reliability for declarations against interest is the assumption that persons do not make statements which are damaging to themselves unless satisfied for good reason that they are true. 

    The context, of course, is that rule 804 talks about hearsay from witnesses who aren't available. There's no reason why the underlying principle - what I said earlier about self-incriminating testimony with no obvious gain increases the reliability of such testimony should apply to all witness testimony.

    So, no, dumbass, it's not an argument from incredulity. No failures of the imagination on my part. Not even a nice try.

    You are a complete Joke. Thanks for the laughs.

  12. - The context, of course, is that rule 804 talks about hearsay from witnesses who aren't available. There's no reason why the underlying principle - what I said earlier about self-incriminating testimony with no obvious gain increases the reliability of such testimony should apply to all witness testimony. -

    A correction: There's no reason why the underlying principle should not apply to all witness testimony in general.

  13. Do you agree that you have just committed plagiarism?


    I will do the honourable thing, and do a Bernheim


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