Sunday, May 03, 2015

Rebuttal of Mattogno on Auschwitz, Part 5: Construction Documents, G: Gas Chambers

The crematoria in Auschwitz-Birkenau were equipped with gas chambers. Leaving aside testimonial evidence (which also specifies their purpose), this follows clearly and explicitely from documentary evidence from the archives of the central construction office Auschwitz. I will first quote the relevant documents (including a rebuttal of Mattogno's arguments against their homicidal interpretation, which I think is nessecary, but is hidden with the html spoiler code as it may beyond the interest of many readers), followed by a rebuttal of Mattogno's own hypothesis of the nature of these gas chambers and completed by some photographic evidence for a homicidal gas chamber in Auschwitz, which remains insufficiently explained by Revisionists up to this day. 

The Documents
  • Letter from the head of the central construction office Karl Bischoff to his superior Hans Kammler of 29 January 1943:

    "The planking of the reinforced concrete ceiling of the corpse cellar could not yet be removed due to the freezing weather. However, this is not significant, as the gassing cellar can be used for this purpose."

  • Memo from the Topf engineer Fritz Sander of 17 February 1943:

    "Mr. Schultze is calling and reports the following: The aeriation blower number 450 for the gas cellar cannot be found there, although it has allegedly left us."

  •  Work time sheet of 2 March 1943 on work at crematorium 4:

"Ground covered with hard fill, tamped down and floor concreted in gas chamber"

(Pressac, Technique, p. 446)

In addition to these explicit contemporary German documents on gas chambers in the crematoria, there are numerous more on the installation of gas tight doors and windows in crematoria 2 - 5 in Auschwitz-Birkena, see Pressac, Technique, p. 429 ff.

Mattogno's Hypothesis

It is already noteworthy that Mattogno accepts that gas chambers were installed into the Birkenau crematoria. This is not beyond dispute among Holocaust deniers, as a popular theory explains the gas tight doors and gas/gassing cellar as part of the implementation of anti air-raid measures (see Butz, Crowell, most recently an anonymous CODOH article). Mattogno has spent considerable effort to rebut the so called bomb shelter hypothesis in the past. In this debate - which is, simply speaking, resolving around which false Revisionist hypothesis can explain the evidence worst - Mattogno seems to be one-eyed king among the blinds.

According to Mattogno's own hypothesis, the "most reasonable scenario is that toward the end of January 1943 the SS authorities, desperate to get the typhus epidemic under control, planned to use Leichenkeller 1 of crematorium II temporarily as a gas chamber employing hydrogen cyanide" (ATCFS, p. 61), which he infers from a breakdown of some hot air desinfestation facilities in January 1943 and a "resurgence of the typhus epidemic...which reached its peak during the first ten days of February" (ATCFS, p. 60). He assumes that the "gas cellar" in the crematorium was a spontaneous idea by the Amtsgruppe C of the SS-WVHA in late January 1943 (ATCFS, p. 61) and meant to be an "emergency disinfestation chamber" (ATCFS, p. 62).

Were the Gas-Chambers in the Crematoria in Birkenau Emergency Disinfestation Chambers?

Firstly, there is not a single direct and explicit piece of evidence (let it be testimonial or documentary) that the gas chambers in the crematoria were ever intended, implemented or used for delousing. No eyewitness or hearsay witness or document mentions the gas chambers in the context of delousing activities. Note that neither the VEDAG invoice of 28 July 1943 mistakenly mentioning "Auschwitz crematorium" when listing work actually performed on the so called Zentralsauna, the main shower and delousing facility under construction in Birkenau, nor the Topf metal allocation list of 13 April 1943 on "2 Topf disinfestation ovens for Krema II" (which was operated with hot air not with poison gas) are providing such direct evidence, see Mattogno, ATCFS, doc 4 and 5.

Mattogno insists that "nothing tells us that it [the gas chamber in crematorium 2] was later actually used for disinfestation" (ATCFS, p. 64). The crematoria were equipped with something like 8 gas chambers of several hundreds of m² in total. It is rather implausible that such installations with huge high capacity were carried out merely as back up and without ever using them. And further troublesome for the "emergency" hypothesis is the fact that both the gassing cellar letter and gas cellar memo indicate a permanent installation of a gas chamber replacing the corpse cellar function.

If the "gassing cellar" was only an emergency disinfestation chamber anyway and still a corpse cellar in its primary function, it was pointless from Bischoff to call the room a gassing cellar in the first place instead of corpse cellar 1 and to leave out the numbering of corpse cellar 2, as by doing so he only created the problem to explain away that there was no permanent morgue yet finished by 29 January 1943. According to Bischoff, there was supposed to be one corpse cellar and one gassing cellar in the basement, while the gassing cellar was also an emergency morgue when the actual corpse cellar was not operational, i.e. it is the exact other way round as Mattogno would like it to have. Likewise, the Topf memo identifies one gas chamber ("gas cellar") and one morgue ("corpse cellar") in the basement. This also suggests that the "gas cellar" was no longer considered as a morgue and that the corpse cellar 2 was the only possible morgue left in the basement in the eyes of the Topf engineers, making its numbering superfluous.

The nomenclature in both documents strongly suggests a permanent transformation of corpse cellar 1 to a gas chamber instead of the implementation of an "emergency disinfestation chamber" in a morgue. The fact that the terms corpse cellar 1 and 2 were nevertheless used in most documents is easily explained by the rules of secrecy:
"I had received the order of Bischoff that I could never write the word "gassing." I always had to circumscribe it...I believe that Bischoff pointed out to me, that the word "gassing" should not appear. It is also possible that once such an order has come from higher up."
(Fritz Ertl on 21 January 1972 at his trial in Vienna)

Secondly, not only is there no direct evidence these gas chambers in the crematoria were installed for delousing, but there are at least two contemporary German documents on delousing activities and facilities in the camp, which should have mentioned the alleged "emergency disinfestation chambers" if there were real - but didn't.

  • On 22 July 1943, a report on delousing activities in the Birkenau men's camp since May 1943 was drawn up (Architektur des Verbrechens, p. 60). The take home message of the report is that the delousing capacities in Birkenau are inadequate. There was only a single delousing facility in the camp section B I b, which had to be used for the Gypsies camp B II e as well. Additional delousing capacity was desperately needed according to the report, but it does not mention any "emergency disinfestation chambers" in the crematoria - obviously, because there were none.

  • On 30 July 1943, the construction office wrote a list of the "installed delousing facilities, baths and desinfection apparatus" in Auschwitz (Architektur des Verbrechens, p. 69). For Auschwitz-Birkenau, only the construction sites 5a and b located in the camp sections B I a and B I b as well as "four pieces portable steam desinfection facilities" are mentioned, but not the crematoria -  not even as back up and "emergency disinfestation chambers".

The lack of any reference to the supposed "emergency disinfestation chambers" in the crematoria in these documents is powerfull evidence these are existing only in Mattogno's mind. 

In addition, there is a report on an "inspection of disinfestation and sauna units at KL" of 2 February 1943 (ATCFS, p. 61), i.e. four days after Bischoff mentioned the gassing cellar towards Kammler and two weeks after the gas tight doors for crematorium 4 were ordered. I don't have access to the full report (only the snippet quoted by Mattogno), but in case this report also commented on disinfestation sites planned or under construction, it would be another document contradicting his disinfestation chamber hypothesis. This has to be checked with the full doc.

Thirdly, there is an ovewhelming amount of evidence (from testimonies from SS men, prisoners, civilian workers corroborated by material, photographic and documentary evidence) that the gas chambers in the crematoria were actually intended and used for homicidal gassing.

In conclusion, a) the complete absence of direct evidence for the "emergency disinfestation chambers" and b) the presence of numerous direct testimonial evidence refuting the "emergency disinfestation chambers" and confirming homicidal gassing and c) the presence of indirect documentary evidence refuting the "emergency disinfestation chambers" establishes beyond reasonable doubt that the gas chambers in the crematoria were used to mass murder people.

The Homicidal Gas Chamber Door

The gas tight doors installed into in crematoria 2 and 3 were equipped with "double 8 mm glass and peephole" (letter of 31 March 1943, Pressac, Technique, p. 453). The presence of a peep hole in a gas tight door as such is not a suspicious feature. It can be a safety feature to make sure the work inside a delousing gas chamber can be observed by another person. Some gas tight doors installed into delousing chambers in Auschwitz did have peep holes even with protection grids (see Pressac, Technique, p. 46). During the delousing with Zyklon-B, one did not want somebody breaking the glass of the peep hole, so it was reinforced with a metal grid on the outside.

Mattogno even goes a step further, and claims that the delousing chamber door illustrated in Pressac, Technique p. 46 - 49 "had a round inspection opening with a metal grid on the inside which obviously protected also the glass" (ATCFS, p. 71). As much as I try, I cannot see any metal grid at the inside of the peephole. He argues that this supposed inside grid was used to prevent some "metal carts from which were hung the garments to be disinfested ...while they were being pushed in or out" to "strike the inner side of the door and break the glass of the inspection port". Actually, I would not even know how to strike the peephole with this or these devices not even by purpose. The cart could hit the metal fitting of the peephole, but not the glass. With all due respect, but the whole explanation of the metal grid on the inside to prevent prisoners pushing in carts destroying the peephole is entirely far-fetched.

And yet, there is something that urged Mattogno to make up his inside grid (or maybe it's really there and I just can't see it) and why he made up his far-fetched explanation for why the grid was supposed to be there. This 'something' can be found in Pressac's Technique on p. 486. Here we have a gas tight door found after the liberation of the camp in the construction yard. It is not known from which gassing site the door was dismantled. There may or may be not an outside reinforcement in front of the peephole glass, this is hard to tell from the photograph. But what can be clearly seen is that there was a big protection grid on the inside of the door.

Such a configuration makes little sense for a delousing chamber (or bomb shelter), where the greatest risk was to break the glass from the outside during the gassing (or bombing). It does, however, make a lot sense for a homicidal gas chamber, with the greatest danger to break the glass being from the inside by the victims, not from the outside. The following argument can be made:

Gas-tight door + peep hole + no or only flimsy reinforcement on the outside + massive protection grid on the inside ==> (probably) room to gas people

This gas-tight door with its big fat protection grid on the inside of the peep hole (as opposed to no or only flimsy reinforcement on the outside) is strong inferential evidence that homicidal gassing was carried out and further corroborates the abundant evidence on homicidal gassing in Auschwitz.


Reactionary said...

Intresting. Hans how can I email you in private and you other guys in this blog?

Hans said...

Hi Reactionary,

you can contact me via this e-mail:

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

"Some gas tight doors installed into delousing chambers in Auschwitz did have peep holes even with protection grids (see Pressac, Technique, p. 46). During the delousing with Zyklon-B, one did not want somebody breaking the glass of the peep hole, so it was reinforced with a metal grid on the outside."

How do you explain the peep hole on the door of Pressac, Technique, p. 48 then? There we can see both sides of the door, and both sides of the peep hole look identical.

All the four different peep holes Pressac produces photos of (pages 46, 48, 49, and 486) look identical. The only difference being: the wire contraption sat over the one on page 486.