Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rebuttal of Mattogno on Auschwitz, Part 5: Construction Documents, D: Outward Opening Door & Removal of Corpse Chute

Rebuttal of Mattogno on Auschwitz:
Part 3: Eyewitnesses (Supplement)
Part 4: Sonderkommando Handwritings
Part 5: Construction Documents:
A: Introduction
B: Ventilation & Elevators
C: Undressing Room
D: Outward Opening Door & Removal of Corpse Chute

In the previous blog posting, I briefly touched drawing 2003 (ground floor, basement) of crematorium 2 of 19 December 1942, which introduced several changes to the crematorium basement. These modifications - studied in detail by Jean-Claude Pressac in Technique and Operation of the Auschwitz Gas Chambers p. 302 f. - can be largely explained by the transformation into a mass killing site.

Removal of the Corpse Chute

In the drawings of crematorium 2 created after November 1941 (Pressac, Die Krematorien, doc 11; Pressac, Technique, p. 272 - 295), the architects provided the staircase leading down into the basement with a concrete corpse chute. This staircase was accessible from the backyard of the crematorium and its corpse chute was a convenient feature to transport corpses from ground level into the crematoria basement containing the corpse cellars. On drawing 2003 of 19 December 1942, the stair case was moved from the backyard to the front yard of the crematorium, but the corpse chute was no longer realised (see here). Pressac writes:

"The corpse chute has been eliminated (a vital point, implying that since this was no longer required the Leichenkeller could no longer be morgues in any normal sense, or else that the 'corpses' arrived on foot...Replacing a chute designed to take corpses by an ordinary stairway defies all logic — unless the future corpses entered while they were still living and could walk down the stairs" 

(Pressac, Technique, p. 302)

In 1994, Mattogno tried to rebut the argument by suggesting that the backyard stair case with its corpse chute was in fact not really eliminated:

"Actually, Plan 2003 was nothing more than a proposal to transfer the basement access to the street side (Verlegung des Kellerzuganges an die Strassenseite) and not a plan to eliminate the slide. Therefore, the absence of the slide is basically a simplification of a part of the design which is technically irrelevant. The elimination of the slide would have been technically irrational (unless the lift were used to transport the corpses to the mortuary rooms), since the natural mortality at the camp continued."

Actually, this drawing 2003 set up by Walter Dejaco on 19 December 1942 was not a mere proposal but was approved by the head of the construction office Karl Bischoff on 5 January 1943. The hypothesis that the corpse chute was not removed but merely not shown is thoroughly refuted by the corresponding drawing of the ground floor, which shows that a store room was installed instead of the stair case.

In ATCFS (2010), Mattogno realised that the stair case and the corpse chute were not left out, but were replaced by a new room. But he did not go so far as to admit that he was simply wrong back in 1994 and failed to take into account the ground floor drawing. Instead, he stated that "the matter will now be discussed in more detail" (ATCFS, p. 130) - except that this "more detail" entirely refutes what he said earlier. Arguably not the best and most transparent way how to deal with ones mistakes.

The new discovery he claimed to have made is actually an old hat:
"No one has yet pointed out that on the ground floor blueprint, in the area where the slide and the staircase should have been found, there is a new room labeled 'Abstellraum' (store room)"
(Mattogno, ATCFS. p. 130)

This was already pointed out by Pressac more than two decades ago (1989), exactly in the work and even on the page Mattogno was citing on the same page:

"It could possibly be argued that Dejaco, pressed for time, left out the chute which was unimportant in this drawing, the main purpose of which was to show the creation of a stairway from the north yard of the Krematorium to the basements. But the ground floor plan confirms the abolition of the chute, for a storeroom is installed in its place."
(Pressac, Technique, p. 303, my emphasis)

Note that Pressac had already anticipated and rebutted Mattogno's later argument that the corpse chute was simply left out. Some very sloppy reading of Pressac from Mattogno here.

The end of the story is that the elimination of the corpse chute is not explained within the framework of Mattogno's hypothesis of the non-homicidal use of the crematorium:
"Therefore the absence of the slide and the presence of an “Abstellraum” in that drawing are not a project in themselves but simply an unexplained fact."

(ATCFS, p. 131, my emphasis)

The modification is, however, to some extent explained if mass murder was taken place in the basement. Since the new stair case was mostly used by living people to climb down the basement to enter the gas chamber and since the crematorium would have received much less corpses (if any, in case crematorium 3 was meant to dispose the corpses of prisoners who died in the camp) from the outside than if there was no mass extermination, the corpse chute was of less use for the operation of the crematorium - to the point that it may have been regarded as not necessary for the few numbers of corpses (if any) coming from outside the crematorium.

Mattogno wonders why the elimination of the corpse chute on drawing 2003 of 19 December 1942 should have a "criminal significance", if it was already lacking on the first drawing of the crematorium from the Auschwitz architects of 24 October 1941 (it was added shortly afterwards in November 1941):

"The blueprint of the new crematorium which Dejaco drew on October 24, 1941, shows two underground morgues (the future Leichenkeller 1 and 2) accessible via a staircase without a slide (“zum L.-Keller”) or by way of the freight elevator (“Aufzug”), exactly as on blueprint 2003. Following Pressac’s line of thought – leaving aside the freight elevator – the stairs also on this blueprint were “the only access to the morgues which meant that the dead would have had to walk down the stairs,” but this conclusion is in glaring disagreement with his central thesis that the crematorium was planned as a normal hygienic installation. Hence, if this arrangement could not have a criminal significance on the blueprint of October 24, 1941, why should an identical arrangement on blueprint 2003 of December 19, 1942, be judged differently?"

(ATCFS, p. 132)

The significance is not the arrangement that there is no corpse chute as such, but that it was removed after it was in the blueprints already for almost a year. It's because of their different context why the two blueprints have to be judged differently. In the one case, you don't have the corpse chute in the first place (because it obviously escaped the architects in Auschwitz that if you build a crematorium with a daily capacity of 1440 corpses per day you need an efficient way how to bring the corpses into the basement). In the other case, such a solution - the corpse chute - was already implemented for almost a year, but then eliminated from the blueprint without any substitution. It's the elimination of the corpse chute - rather than its lack - on the drawing that smells suspicious.

Anyway, the stair case with its corpse chute was actually build at crematorium 2. It's possible to presume that the modification reached the construction site too late (Pressac's explanation in Technique, p. 303). It was also build at crematorium 3, but here the construction was not that far advanced in late 1942 (see Mattogno, ATCFS, p. 131). The first evidence for the transformation of crematorium 3 into a mass murder site is dated as late as 6 March 1943 and one may speculate that crematorium 3 may have been reserved for the deaths among the registered prisoners of the Auschwitz complex before this. Alternatively, the SS might have changed their mind about the usefulness of the extra stairway and corpse chute to the basement, and cancelled the modification for crematorium 3. Interestingly, stair cases + corpse chutes were closed off by a "wooden partition in cellar in front of slide" with doors (orders from central construction office of 18 March and 10 April 1943, Mattogno, ATCFS, p. 133), probably to prevent the victims taking the staircase to the ground floor but to guide them straight into the gas chamber instead.

 Change from Inward to Outward Opening Door

In November 1941, the civilian architect Georg Werkmann (working for the SS-WVHA) created a blueprint detailing the basement level of the future crematorium 2. According to his concept, the corpse cellar 1 (the later gas chamber) received a double door opening inward. This opening direction of the door is rather incompatible with a homicidal gas chamber, as the corpses of the gassed victims may block the door making its opening impractical. On 19 December 1942, Dejaco reversed the opening direction of the double door in drawing 2003 (see also here). The outward opening door could now be opened also in the case it was blocked by corpses -  a crucial feature for a homicidal gas chamber. Later, the double door was reduced to a single door (see letter of 31 March 1943 in Pressac, Technique, p. 436).

Mattogno was helplessly confused in his treatment of this issue (not only because he wrote "blueprint 932" when he actually meant blueprint 2003):

"As we have seen in chapter 2.5.5., van Pelt surmises that a blueprint of crematorium II dated October 22, 1942, which has not been preserved (how convenient for van Pelt!), presents the locations of the openings for the introduction of Zyklon B on the roof of Leichenkeller 1. Blueprint 932 shows a section of Leichenkeller 1, some 10 m long, both for the half-basement and for the ground floor, on which at least one of the four alleged Zyklon B openings should appear in the same way as the two ventilator shafts are indicated between the room designated for “gold works” (Goldarb.; for the recovery of dental fillings and crowns) and the vestibule (Vorplatz).
On this blueprint is thus no indication of the use of Leichenkeller 1 as a homicidal gas chamber, and therefore the door’s opening direction into this hall has, per se, no criminal connotation."

(ATCFS, p. 145 f.)

Mattogno completely forgot that he recalled just 15 pages earlier that he was arguing on the same drawing (on the missing staircase with corpse chute, see above), in 1994, that it was left out as "technically irrelevant simplification of an irrelevant part of the drawing" (ATCFS, p. 130) without objecting to the structure of his previous argument. Now, if the stair case with its corpse chute could have been left out as "technically irrelevant simplification of an irrelevant part of the drawing", as Mattogno thinks, then even more so (since it was even more technically irrelevant for relocating the basement access and since it was in an even more irrelevant part of the drawing) the gas introduction opening.

Furthermore, drawing 2003 and its main drawing 932 do not show the first ventilation opening in the ceiling of the furnace room on the ground floor either. Obviously, these kind of drawings were not meant to picture free openings in the ceiling of rooms only partially shown anyway (and not attached to the walls like the ventilation shafts of the gold working room and the vestibule, see ATCFS, p. 144). As pointed out by Van Pelt in The Case for Auschwitz, p. 370, there were separate drawings detailing the ceiling with its steel reinforcement, where such openings should have been realised. This drawing is lost for the gas chamber (how convenient for Revisionists!).

His explanation of why the inward opening door of the gas chamber was changed to open outward, Mattogno takes from Germar Rudolf's Rudolf Report:

"Germar Rudolf has pointed out that changing the door’s orientation may have had a technical, albeit entirely innocuous reason (2003b, p.106):

'The change in orientation of the doors was probably caused by the design of this morgue’s ventilation system. Since the air inlet of this system had a higher resistance than the outlet […], a considerable subpressure was caused in morgue 1, constantly sucking air in from the rest of the building. This is a desired effect for a morgue where many corpses had to be stored, so that unpleasant smells would not reach other parts of the building. A double door opening to the side with a lower pressure (inside morgue 1) would open automatically, whereas a door opening to the side of higher pressure closes automatically.'"

(ATCFS, p. 145)

Rudolf's hypothesis is, however, untenable, as the double door of the future undressing room remained opening inward, despite the fact that its ventilation had only an air extraction and was therefore definitely operating with subpressure. Or the gold working room or the dissecting room, all of which had air extractions and inward opening doors. Clearly, the architects did not consider a slight subpressure in the rooms as a problem for double doors opening towards the inside. 

The reason for the modification was thus a different one. And it had to be very serious and pressing. This can be deduced from the fact that the modification resulted in an obvious architectural flaw, which could have hardly escaped Dejaco. In the new arrangement, the right door leaf of the outward opening door of corpse cellar 1 is now blocking the left door leaf of the elevator (see also Pressac, Technique, p. 303). This suggests that there was no way that the door of the corpse cellar 1 could remain opening inward. It just had to open outward, whether or not blocking another door. The installation of a homicidal gas chamber in corpse cellar 1 certainly provided for such a reason.


Both the elimination of the corpse chute and the change in the opening direction of the gas chamber's door in drawing 2003 of 19 December 1942 (approved on 5 January 1943) remain unexplained by Mattogno and are furthermore technically or architecturally irrational within the framework of the Revisionist thesis.

In contrast to this, these modifications can be explained by the implementation of a homicidal gas chamber in corpse cellar 1 and a shift from a crematorium only receiving corpses to a mass killing facility creating them.

Thus, the thesis of mass extermination clearly has the greater explanatory power on Dejaco's drawing 2003.

22 February 2015: addition on single door with link

1 comment:

Jonathan Harrison said...

Mattogno mentions the Goldarb twice on p.146 of ATCFS, acknowledging its appearance in drawings 1311 and 2003, but he does not account for the Goldarb's importance.