Saturday, May 09, 2015

Sehn's Mistake, Bellinger's Gaffe

In 2001, Joe Bellinger, writing as Ross McCullough, wrote this review of Jan Sehn's book on Auschwitz. Bellinger accurately quoted Sehn's claim that, in the verdict against Degesch MD Gerhard Peters, the Frankfurt court stated that "although Peters did voluntarily agree to supply the camp with poison gas, it is impossible today to prove beyond doubt that people were really killed in Oswiecim with cyclon B."

Bellinger kicked up a fuss over this quote without realising, or bothering to check, that Sehn was misquoting the primary source, which he had only seen via a secondary source, a newspaper article (Trybuna Ludu 9.6.1955). The primary source here actually says
Hieraus folgt, dass eine Feststellungen dahin, dass das von dem Angeklagten gelieferte Zyklon B nicht zu Tötungen benutzt worden ist, nicht getroffen werden kann. Es kann aber nicht bewiesen werden, dass mit dem von dem Angeklagten gelieferten Zyklon jemand getötet worden ist
which Valerie Hébert translates as "From this it follows, that a conclusion, that the Zyklon B delivered, by the accused was not used for killing, cannot be made. It can, however, not be proven, that with the Zyklon delivered by the accused someone was killed."

In addition to the trial verdict and Hébert's thesis, a contemporary report of the trial can be read here. I am grateful to Maximus Olson for his help with this piece.

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