Saturday, May 24, 2014

Auschwitz-Birkenau selection list of 21 August 1943

If you've never heard a phrase like "give the name of just one gassing victim" - you are lucky enough that you did not come across Revisionist extremists such as Gred Gerdes yet. Their obsession, that only evidence for individual gassings victims known by name establishes the reality of homicidal gassings, aims to exploit the anonymous nature of the mass murder. 

Most victims were treated as an anonymous mass and only total number of people killed were recorded, but not the individual names anymore. In some cases, however, name lists of Jews sentenced to the gas chamber were actually produced in Auschwitz.

This was the case for Jewish victims already properly registered in the camp books as detainees at the time they were subjected to mass murder. It should be noted that this accounts only for a small fraction of the victims, since most were killed directly after the arrival of their transport in Auschwitz without registration in the camp records.

These selections lists have been destroyed by the Germans, with the exception of carbon copies smuggled out by the Auschwitz resistance movement during the existence of the camp. One such carbon copy is dated 21 August 1943 and has the names of 498 female prisoners.

The document (or at least some page of it) has been already published in 1957 in Jan Sehn's "Concentration Camp Oswiecim-Brzezinka" (according to here). The first page of the document is also reproduced in the publication "Death books from Auschwitz" (1995). The document consists of pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (scans from the Auschwitz State Museum). The last page is signed by the female Auschwitz guard Maria Mandel (Mandl).

The subject line on the first page reads "G.U. v. 21.8.43", followed by the list of 498 names with prisoner's registration numbers. Without further context, the purpose and meaning of the list is entirely unclear. This is already suspicious. There was enough space in the reference line to write out "G.U." and the list contains the full names of 498 people, so that writing out "G.U." would have been very little additional effort. 

A comparison with documents from the Auschwitz labour deployment department on the fate of incoming transports in Auschwitz (here and here) and from SS officials of the special squad Zeppelin (Nuremberg War Crimes Trials documents NG-5220 to 5223) shows that G.U. is most likely the abbreviation of "gesonderte Unterbringung" (special accomodation), which was a variant of "Sonderbehandlung" (special treatment). The abbreviation fits linguistically (gesonderte Unterbringung) and contextually (description of the fate of selected prisoners in Auschwitz). Furthermore, also the variant "Sonderbehandlung" was used as obscuring abbreviation in numerous Auschwitz documents (e.g. here).

The meaning of "Sonderbehandlung" in the files of German police and paramilitary forces is well established. It was used to designate killings without juridical decisions. It was also used in concentration camps and specifically in Auschwitz in this sense, see here. According to this, the document of 21 August 1943 is a list of 498 female Jewish prisoners selected for killing. The German authorities had employed several killing methods in Auschwitz, but only homicidal gassings were suitable for such a large number of people.

This interpretation is supported by a clandestine message of the Polish Auschwitz prisoner Stanislaw Klodzinski of 21 November 1943 on the document (Auschwitz 1940-1945: Studien zur Geschichte des Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslagers Auschwitz. Widerstand, p. 347, my translation):
"Use the two original lists of gassed people as good as you can. You can sent them as originals to London to get the matter moving; the first list was signed by the sadist camp leader of the female camp Mandel, we don't know who has signed the second list."
It can be discarded that the document has been forged by the Auschwitz resistance precisely because the mass murder is not spelled out explicitly, but can only be understood taking into account other evidence.

Numerous eyewitness accounts corroborate the selection of registered prisoners and transport to the killing sites, e.g. former Auschwitz prisoner Helene Cougno on 17 July 1964 at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial (my translation):
"I know this from my own experience, since I was in Birkenau for some time....The female guard Mandel...walked by and selected the people according to the personnel discretion to the right for work or to the left....Then the block elderly had to write down numbers, names and nationalities. These lists were typed in the office with the machine and were sent to the Political Department, where we had to check there were no Aryans...these [selected] people were sent to the isolation block and were only gassed when we could confirm that there had been no Aryan relatives. Or no Gestapo prisoners."

Revisionist Carlo Mattogno has published his own, very special interpretation of the document in his book "Auschwitz: Assistenza Sanitaria, 'selezione' e 'Sonderbehandlung' dei detenuti immatricolati", a book consisting of "bizarre arithmetic based on false assumptions" as a reader has put it. Unfortunately, it is available only in Italian. Here is my translation of the relevant paragraph (powered by babelfish),  p. 130-131:
"Returning to our document, it must be noted that it does not come from the prisoner's hospital of the women's camp Birkenau, so that nothing proves that the listed prisoners were really  sick and not capable of work. And nothing demonstrates that they died in August 1943. Indeed, it can be proven otherwise. For 1943, Sterbebücher number 19 and 20, with up to 3,000 deaths, covering the period from 20 August to 7 October are missing, therefore it is impossible to ascertain whether the 498 prisoners with the names in question were indeed killed. However, according to the well-known letter of Pohl to Himmler of September 30, 1943, a total of 2380 deaths, in 1442 male and  938 females, occured in August in Auschwitz.. According to this document, the mortality rate of women was 3.61% (938 deaths with an average strength of 26,000), while the previous month it had been 5.15%; in contrast to this, the men's camp had recorded a mortality rate of 3% in August and 2.96% in July. In this month the average strength of the women's camps was approximately 20,000 and 3255 new registrations occurred, so the average strength in this month was not higher, in round numbers, than 23000 prisoners and the mortality was not exceeding (23000 x = 0.0515) 1200 prisoners. The mortality of August (938 deaths) with a rate of 3.61% is therefore perfectly compatible with this data. This means that it is not possible that these 938 deaths contain the alleged gassed 498, because in that case the natural mortality would have been dropped from a minimum of (20000 * = 0.0515) 1030 (938-498 =) to 440 deaths. According to Czech, there were no selections made in the women's camp in July, so all the deaths were natural. Therefore, these 498 prisoners did certainly not die in August 1943, and the necessary conclusion is: they were transferred to other camps."

a) Mattogno provides not a shred of direct, positive evidence that the people "were transferred to other camps".

b) Mattogno provides no evidence/reason/explanation that a drop of > 1030 to 440 deaths among the female prisoners is supposed to be "impossible". While such a reduction in the mortality would be unexpected and unexplained and therefore may be regarded as not likely, it is certainly within the range of what is possible. Hence, Mattogno has not "proven otherwise" anything. At best, he has shown that the interpretation of the document as killing list suffers some unlikelihood. But its worse, see c)

c) Mattogno assumes that those female Jewish prisoners selected for killing would have death certificates issued by the Auschwitz authorities and would have been necessarily included in the official camp death rate reported to Berlin. But as even Revisionist Nick Kollerstrom is close to grasp here, many Jewish deaths among registered prisoners were not registered anymore at the registrar's office in 1943. If the figures in the report from Pohl to Himmler of 30 September 1943 are based on the death certificates, they are unreliable with regards to Jewish death. And arithmetic with unreliable figures yields an unreliable result. 

In short, Mattogno failed to demonstrate that these "498 prisoners did certainly not die in August 1943".

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