Sunday, February 07, 2016

Mattogno and Grabner's Statement

Having posted Maximilian Grabner’s 1945 statement, it is now time to examine Carlo Mattogno’s conspicuous omission of this document from his body of work.  

The statement touches on many topics dear to Mattogno: the first gassing, the Krema I gassings, the Bunkers, the Krema capacities, the holes in the Krema I roof and the wire-mesh Zyklon B introduction columns... 

And yet, seemingly, there is not a single mention of it in any of his major works. I couldn’t check everything of course, but I did check all the relevant books.

In some cases taking into account the information contained in the statement should have influenced Mattogno's reasoning.  

Example 1: Auschwitz: Crematorium I, p.74 (also cf. Auschwitz: The Case for Sanity, vol.2, pp.622ff):
[Van Pelt] insinuates that SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch had had openings for the introduction of Zyklon B inserted in the flat roof of that room, but this is mere conjecture without any documentary foundation, similar to the claim that the Political Department used the morgue for executions.
The claim that “Fritzsch realized that such a ventilation system could deal with poisonous gas” is another arbitrary assertion without documentary basis, as is the assertion that follows:
“Fritzsch’s men punched three square portholes through the morgue roof and covered them with tightly fitting wooden lids.” 
Here, van Pelt’s dilettantish superficiality exceeds all bounds: no document establishes a link between Fritzsch and the alleged openings for the Zyklon B. To be precise, no document speaks of their installation. Van Pelt takes his reference to the “three square portholes” from an essay by Pressac, who, however, adduces as proof a photograph from 1945!  
I don't know what van Pelt's source was, but his description sure looks a lot like Grabner's:
Since the gassings in the detention block 11 apparently went not so smoothly or were too cumbersome, and could be seen, Fritzsch, whether on order or acting on his own, had 3 rectangular openings made in the morgue of the mentioned crematorium in the main camp and then used the morgue as a so-called gas chamber for continual gassings.
Could van Pelt have read Grabner's statement (in an Austrian archive or in BStU)?

In any case, Grabner's statement does lend decent (if, of course, not conclusive) support to Pressac's, and especially to van Pelt's conjectures. Mattogno's whining about there being no "documents" connecting Fritzsch to the holes misses the point: historians work not only with documents, but also with witness testimonies.

And they usually work with them better than Mattogno, who, on p.89 of the same book entirely omits Grabner from the list of witnesses who had told anything about the number of the holes in Krema I roof. Just as he never mentions him whenever he discusses the witnesses who mentioned the wire-mesh introduction devices in Kremas II and III.

Example 2: Auschwitz: The First Gassing, p.74:
Without giving any details, Rudolf Höss affirms in a general way that the above-mentioned special commission arrived at Auschwitz “in 1941.”

Maximilian Grabner, too, mentions this alleged gassing, but places it eight months later:
“The first gassings, ordered from Berlin under the designation 14f13, signed by Glücks, took place in March of 1942. I have seen this order myself and have made a copy. The matter was handled by Obermedizinalrat Schumann and concerned the ridding of the camp of incorrigibles, professional criminals, physically disabled, contagious persons, and incurables. There were some 600 altogether. The detainees in question were not gassed in the Auschwitz camp, but near Dresden, I believe.”
However in the statement published by us Grabner puts this event in 1941, probably in September.

As a side note, in his 05.09.45 interrogation (GARF f.7021, op.108, d.34, l.34ob) he says that the Russian POWs arrived in winter of 1941 and 2000 of them were immediately sent to gas. During 02.10.45 interrogation (NTN 136, vol.53a, p. 79) he put the arrival of the Russian transports in Nov. 1941, again saying that 2000 were sent to gas immediately. Thus the 14f13 gassings had to have started even earlier - this is broadly compatible with the timeline of the statement we’re discussing.

While for Mattogno this would probably mean a mere “one more contradiction”, it is still important that Grabner did mention a much earlier date. While this could indicate bad memory, it is more probable that Grabner was fudging the dates and certain other facts (like his claim of not having been a direct witness to the Block 11 gassing, another point Mattogno makes a fuss about on p.89 without much contemplation) as a matter of defense strategy and simply got tangled in his own half-truths.

Indeed, it's hard to see any logical evolution of Grabner's testimonies: on Sep. 1 he puts the Block 11 gassing at the beginning of 1942 (GARF f.7021, op.108, d.34, l.26), then on Sep. 5 he puts the beginning of gassings in 1941, as mentioned above, then puts it in March 1942 on Sep. 26, as mentioned by Mattogno, then again in 1941, as mentioned above for Oct. 2. The “coercion” hypothesis can hardly explain such chaos. The "Nazi trying to weasel out of responsibility for his crimes", however, might, especially considering Grabner's statement before his arrest (June 3; NTN 163, vol. 53a, pp.22ff.), in which he not only never mentions Auschwitz, but basically presents himself as an anti-Nazi fighter and an Austrian patriot, who had been arrested by the Nazis in 1943 not because of his "illegal" murders in Auschwitz, but because he had been gathering material about Nazi crimes!

Mattogno is only satisfied with mentioning a single data point, which makes his discussion superficial, as usual.

If Mattogno’s lack of use of the statement in this case is not hugely surprising – after all he also failed to use the other two interrogations indicating different dates – the next example would certainly cause howls of “fraud!” on Mattogno's part, had it come from any mainstream historian.  

Example 3: The Bunkers of Auschwitz, pp.132-133:
But it also happens that – as in the case of Maximilian Grabner – the interrogators knew nothing of the ‘Bunker’ story and that, therefore, the witnesses has nothing to say about it either.
6.5.1. Maximilian Grabner
Maximilian Grabner was head of the Political Department of the Auschwitz camp between May 1940 and September 1943. In his first deposition after his arrest, that of September 1, 1945, he relates the history of the mass extermination allegedly perpetrated at Auschwitz in the following way:
[long Grabner quote skipped]
The Police Directorate of Vienna, which interrogated Grabner, had not yet been informed about the propaganda story of the ‘Bunkers.’451 Therefore the witness, in spite of his obvious eagerness to collaborate and his wondrous ‘confessions,’ said nothing of these. As Reitlinger would say, the assertion of the alleged extermination of three to six million people at Auschwitz is laughable, as is his claim that “during 1941–42 alone, some 300,000 dead were interred in one go,” or his claim to have sabotaged two crematoria at Birkenau by pouring motor oil into the chimneys.
451 As we have seen in the preceding section, the self-styled member of the “Sonderkommando” Milton Buki, knew nothing about the so-called ‘Bunkers’ when he was questioned about Maximilian Grabner by the Vienna police directorate on January 7, 1946.
(Side note regarding the last sentence of the main text: in Auschwitz: Crematorium I, p.61 Mattogno in all seriousness tries to debunk Grabner’s boasts of sabotage – as if anybody has ever taken these transparent fibs seriously in the first place!)

So Mattogno proposes a conspiracy theory: both Grabner and the witnesses were influenced in all particulars by the Police Directorate of Vienna, which was writing the scenario in the first place, and since the Bunkers are absent in the testimonies at least up to (and including) Buki’s 01.07.46 statement. He doesn’t offer any evidence whatsoever for this conspiracy theory.

The first problem is that one witness does mention the Bunkers gassings. In his testimony given on 27.09.45 the former prisoner Franz Kejmar stated (NTN 136, vol. 53a, p.71):
Im Herbst 1942 als die Vergasungen noch in einem Bauerhaus[sic] in der Umgebung von Birkenau stattfanden, liessen Grabner, in Anwesenheit von Untersturmf. Schwarzhuber und des Lagerarztes die Häftlinge antreten.
In autumn of 1942, as the gassings were still taking place in a peasant house in the vicinity of Birkenau...
But the real death of this theory is obviously contained in Grabner’s 1945 statement, which goes on at some length about the origin of the Bunkers and of the pits near them.

Mattogno’s behavior here is very hard to explain in any benevolent way. He certainly had access to the two versions of this statement – one from GARF, one from the Auschwitz garrison trial. He quotes extensively from the two relevant files. So how can it be that he doesn’t know about this statement? Yet from example 1 it appears that he indeed does not know about it.

If he does know about it, but dismisses it because he thinks it was made in Poland rather than Vienna, he’s an awful researcher, because in both cases the document is embedded into sets of the Viennese documents, and in the Polish file it is clearly listed among the documents from the Police Directorate of Vienna.  (And that still wouldn't explain the lack of use in relevant cases, as mentioned above.)

If he did know about the statement, accepted its origin in Vienna, but dismissed it as undatable (despite the good argument for it originating in 1945), this still cannot serve as an excuse: for even an undated document that originated from Grabner’s time in Vienna puts a stop to Mattogno’s conspiracy theory, because he can no longer claim that “the interrogators knew nothing of the ‘Bunker’ story and that, therefore, the witnesses has nothing to say about it either” as late as Jan. 7, 1946 without first proving that the report is dated later than that! (And, once again, that still wouldn't explain the lack of use in relevant cases, as mentioned above.)

Whatever the truth of this case is, one thing is clear: at the very least Mattogno is an extremely poor researcher, on whom nobody, not even the “revisionists”, can rely to produce a full and truthful picture of even the most mundane events.

(Once again I'm indebted to Nick Terry for the NTN files.)


J Kelly said...

Odd, I thought the 14f13 killings started in the Spring of 1941. Did I miss something?
I think it is funny that Mattagono describes Van Pelt as "dilettantish." Is that perhaps the green monster of jealousy creeping out? Van Pelt is very well respected.
WTF did the whole 3-6 million exterminated bit come from? I don't remember seeing that.

Sergey Romanov said...

> Did I miss something?

Note that we have not yet evaluated the testimony as a whole, like we did e.g. with Broad and Bendel. Keep in mind that dates are one of witnesses' weaknesses, and it shows with Grabner. The action he describes - the gassing of a few hundreds in Sonnenstein near Dresden - actually took place in July, the Block 11 gassing in September. (Grabner talks of two gassings in Block 11, but so far we have credible evidence for 1). So he got it wrong by a few months. The point was to show that the info Mattogno furnishes is not complete, he doesn't present the whole picture.

> WTF did the whole 3-6 million exterminated bit come from? I don't remember seeing that.

It's from his first interrogation. He then reverted to 800000-1000000. Then to 3000000. Then, in Poland, again to 800000-1000000. Note that these figures are with reference to his own stay in Au. and don't include e.g. the Hungarian action.

Why the variation is anyone's guess. Like Hoess, in Poland Grabner complained about his treatment in Vienna. In light of this it is my personal opinion that the figure in the first interrogation is best explained as having been given under, ahem, influence. Others may disagree.

That doesn't diminish the credibility of the statement, which not only has the lower figures, but also provides the very low crematoria capacity estimates (which are, by the way, extremely close to the letter from T&S discovered by Pressac - which probably means that G. had seen it in '42). Not something we would expect if G. was merely forced to regurgitate the exaggerated propaganda of those days.

Sergey Romanov said...

PS: "Note that we have not yet evaluated the testimony as a whole" is likely to be taken out of context, so, to clarify: we have, of course, evaluated it per se, we haven't yet written such an assessment analysis as in the case of Broad. This post is about Mattogno's methods, not about Grabner's credibility. One can dismiss the statement as a tissue of lies and still admit that Mattogno is a shitty "scholar".

J Kelly said...

I think, reading what Graubner said, is that there is a combination of telling his interrogators what they want to hear and trying to diminish his own responsibility about what happened.
I think, keep in mind this is my opinion, that the numbers go up and down according to his circumstance. So, the numbers are higher in his initial interrogation and then lower as Graubner attempts to minimize.
We see the truth amidst all of the confusion. Graubner witnessed/participated/heard about these killings and then passed this information on. While some of this is contradictory the basics remain the same, that there gassing actions against both Soviet POWs and Jews that happened while he was stationed there.
Naturally I agree that Mattagono is a shitty scholar. I applaud you for having the patience to wade through his twaddle, I simply can't.

Eric Danielski said...

Mattogno released his new book in December 2015.

J Kelly said...

Luckily for me I don't have to read Mattagono's garbage. I really did try, I did, but I simply can't swallow the garbage.