Sunday, March 13, 2016

How Reliable is the Statement of Maximilian Grabner?

The post-war statement scripted by the former head of the Political Department in Auschwitz Maximilian Grabner in Vienna, probably in late September 1945, was recently published by Sergey. In this posting, the reliability of his testimony will be assessed in some more detail. As a result, Grabner is a fairly reliable witness on most of the Auschwitz history touched by him, including atrocities. Only anything tangent to his own role and fate in the camp has been distorted and perverted to serve his purpose and discharge himself from any misconduct.

A point for point dissection of his testimony can be found in the appendix. This exercise is meant to assist in gauging the reliability and credibility of his account. A trained historian may do such en passant while studying the source, but it's use full to remind Holocaust deniers that corroboration forms a bond between evidence that needs to be broken first else it is greatly enhancing their mutual strength and that pointing out a few deliberate or undeliberate mistakes in a lengthy testimony (of which typically only some are real mistakes, while others are simply made up by denier's historical ignorance and personal incredulity) is not sufficient to dismiss it as uncredible, nor does it explain anything.


The source is written in poor German with numerous mistakes, often without finishing sentences properly. But in contrast to what one might suppose at first sight, this actually supports that it was authored by no other than Maximilian Grabner. Its style matches how his former subordinate Pery Broad described Grabner's capability and linguistic skills:
"His incoherent sentences and his false German show that, despite the silver epaulettes, one is standing infront of an entirely uneducated person. Insiders used to know that in his civilian trade he was herding cows on some alp."
(Report of Pery Broad of 13 July 1945 [DB101, p. 40226], my translation)


Grabner pictured the camp from its very early days in mid 1940 up to his departure in mid 1943. The statement is mainly focused on atrocities and systematic misconduct in the camp like corporal punishment, corruption, reprisal killings, poor conditions, camp clearings, mass killings. These are well corroborated by other sources (see appendix A; sentences paraphrasing Grabner are marked in italics). Most events are described in the proper sequence and dated with a reasonable accuracy of few months, including the main stages/methods of mass killings: gassing in the Euthanasia facility Sonnenstein, Block 11 gassing, crematorium 1 gassing, Bunker site gassing, crematoria gassing, along with Block 11 clearings and killing by injections.

As much as Grabner is reliable on most of the depicted events in Auschwitz, he is getting quite non-credible on a few issues related to himself. The most striking dissonance between Grabner's own narrative and other sources exists in the perception of his own role in Auschwitz atrocities as well as one of his main Auschwitz opponent, the SS Garrison doctor Eduard Wirths.

Friend of the Prisoners or Coward Nazi Murderer?

Other than "enhanced interrogations" for the Kattowitz drum head court-martial (and this merely as a follower), Grabner does not concede any involvement in atrocities in Auschwitz ("my work had nothing to do with gassings, injections and executions"). In contrary, he even claims to have been openly or secretly opposing misconduct in Auschwitz and was involved in a "steady fight against crimes and actions of these un-men" (see also the list of Grabner's alleged good deeds in appendix B). He further asserts that he was arrested in September 1943 for reporting unauthorized killings and trialed for collecting secret orders (incl. those proving corruption and gold smuggling by Himmler, Pohl, Glücks, Höß and Wirths!) and for disobedience of orders.

His persistent representation as the only decent and righteous leader in Auschwitz does not correspond to the facts, though. For one thing, he was imprisoned and trialed for unauthorised executions by SS investigators, namely for the so called Block 11 clearings, which were small  calibre rifle shootings of prisoners arrested in the camp prison to make space for newcomers. This is borne out by the testimonies of the members of the special SS commission investigating corruption and illegal killings in concentration camps, Wilhelm Reimers [interrogation of 6 June 1961], Kurt Mittelstädt [examination of 28 February 1965; DB101, p. 29388], Gerhard Wiebeck [examination of 1 October 1964; DB101, p. 19601], Helmut Bartsch [examination of 13 March 1964; DB101, p. 5796], the SS prosecutor Konrad Morgen [examination of 9 March 1964; DB101, p. 5587], the proceeding SS judge Werner Hansen [interrogation of 1947; DB101, p. 26006] and two SS witnesses heard at Grabner's trial in October 1944 in Weimar, Franz Hofmann [examination of 9 March 1964; DB101, p. 5663] and Wilhelm Boger [report of 5 July 1945; DB101, p. 3256].

He was one of the leading persons to carry out these Block 11 clearings, aside those sources already mentioned in the previous paragraph, this was also reported by Grabner's staff members Pery Broad [report of 13 July 1945; DB101, p. 40226 ff.] and Klaus Dylewski [interrogation of 24 April 1959; DB101, p. 3620], the Block 11 prisoner's clerks Jan Pilecki [examination of 14 May 1964; DB101, p. 7540] and Gerard Wloch [examination of 16 November 1964; DB101, p. 25230], the corpse carrier Ota Fabian [examination of 6 November 1964; DB101, p. 24210], the Political Department prisoner's clerk Dagmar Bock [interrogation of 4 October 1945, NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 83], the prisoner Franz Kejmar [interrogation of 27 September 1945, NTN 136, volume 53a, p. 70 & 72 f.], the prisoner Eugen Lukawiecki [interrogation of 16 January 1946, NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 103].

While Grabner had all reason to complain that he was a pawn offer to protect the likes of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höß, protective custody camp leader Hans Aumeier and Kattowitz Stapo chief Rudolf Mildner, as pointed out by Aumeier's successor Franz Hofmann [examination of 27 November 1964; DB101, p. 26023] and Grabner's staff members Wilhelm Boger [report of 5 July 1945; DB101, p. 3255], Pery Broad also noted that Mildner, Höß and Aumeier wrongly escaped their prosecution [report of 13 July 1945; DB101, p. 40320], this outright lie and complete denial of responsibility undermines his credibility that he defied any wrong doings.

Grabner was also involved in homicidal gassings: he was in charge of the crematoria and its personnel, and his activity during mass extermination was claimed by a number of people (his staff member's Pery Broad [report of 13 July 1945; DB101, p. 40277 ff.] and Hans Stark (interrogation of 23 April 1959; DB101, p. 2582], the protective custody camp leader Hans Aumeier [manuscript of 25 July 1945; Aumeier's incriminating testimony is of course likewise self serving in that he omits his own major role in Auschwitz killings], the SS driver Richard Böck [examination of 3 August 1964; DB101, p. 14169], the Sonderkommando prisoner Filip Müller [examination of December 1947; Mattogno, Auschwitz Crematorium 1, p. 34]). The prisoner Dounia Ourisson employed in the Political Department wrote that Grabner spoke of "having ordered the gassing of hundreds of thousands of people" at the time [Ourisson, Les secrets du bureau politique d'Auschwitz, p. 10].

He seems to have personally shot prisoners (according to Hans Stark [interrogation of 23 April 1959, DB101, p. 4534] and Jakob Sebastian Kronauer [examination of 23 March 1964, DB101, p. 6184]),  ordered shooting of prisoners (Witold Pilecki [Freiwillig nach Auschwitz, p. 91] and Wilibald Pajak [Shelley, Secretaries of Death, p. 311]), selected prisoners for killing (Franz Hofmann [interrogation of 22 April 1959; DB101, p.3865, interrogation of 27 April 1959; DB101, p. 3941, interrogation of 24 October 1961; DB101, p.3981], Jerzy Berkoski [interrogation of 2 April 1962; DB101, p. 21840]), approved selection lists (Emil de Martini [interrogation of 1 August 1946, NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 107 & examination of 4 June 1964; DB101. p. 9681], Witold Pilecki [Freiwillig nach Auschwitz, p. 154], ordered phenol injections (Eugen Lukawiecki [interrogation of 16 January 1946, NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 103 f.] and got a Jewish prisoner executed, who witnessed a killing action (Langbein [examination of 6 March 1964; DB101, p. 5385], also Edward Pys [examination of 12 June 1964; DB101, p. 10781]).

Grabner aimed to wipe out the Polish intelligentsia (Pery Broad [report of 13 July; DB101, p. 40316], along a similar line Jan Sikorski [examination of 19 June 1964; DB101, p. 11197]), ordered and approved so called "enhanced interrogations" (Wilhelm Boger [interrogation of 8 December 1958; DB101, p. 3287], Pery Broad [interrogation of 1 May 1959; DB101, p. 3450], Karl Broch [examination of 2 November 1964; DB101, p. 23375], Franz Kejmar [interrogation of 27 September 1945,  NTN 136, volume 53a, p. 72], Dagmar Bock [interrogation of 4 October 1945, NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 83]) and denied the release of numerous prisoners and prevented the release of Croatian Gypsis (according to Pery Broad [report of 13 July 1945; DB101, p. 40307 & 40314].

He is characterised negatively by many former prisoners, such as "master of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people" [Seweryna Szmaglewska, Smoke over Birkenau, p. 290], "fanatical brute" [Lingens-Reiner, Prisoners of fear, p. 149], "infamous and dreaded" [Oszkar Betlen, Leben auf dem Acker des Todes, p. 134], "the worst Jew-hater in all of Auschwitz" [Irene Weiss, in Shelley, Secretaries of Death p. 60], "he did not differ from the worst oppressors in his cruelty" (Raya Kagan, in Adler et al., Auschwitz, Zeugnisse und Berichte, p. 178), "generally feared appearance" [Dagmar Bock, interrogation of 4 October 1945, NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 84], "greatly feared" [Sonia Fischmann/Kernmayer, interrogation of 4 October 1945, NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 87], "mostly feared SS man in the camp" [Eugen Lukawiecki, interrogation of 16 January 1946, NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 103], "one of the most feared persons" and "master over life and dead" [Emil de Martini, interrogation of 1 August 1946, NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 107 & 108]

It is quite possible that Grabner had moments in Auschwitz were he helped some prisoners (especially Germans). Erna Krafft remembered that "when Grabner was there, [Aumeier] was more moderate" and that he once protected her against Aumeier [examination of 2 November 1964; DB101, p. 23483]. Also, he might have changed somewhat towards his end of his time in Auschwitz. Franz Danimann stated that while Grabner "ran a destruction campaign against the Polish population in Upper Silesia", he then changed his attitude towards the prisoners in 1943 to "utterly friendly and jovially" (interrogation of Danimann, NTN 136, volume 53a, p. 37 f.). However, the courageous fight for the Polish, Russian and Jewish prisoners he alleged in his statement is entirely absent from other sources and was therefore most probable made up by him as post-war defense.

Grabner is eager to blame other SS men of atrocities and to point out how they were decorated with honours for their actions (see also appendix B). Yet, in September 1942 Grabner himself received the honour Kriegsverdienstkreuz II, something he conveniently left out from his account and which he hardly got for opposing and undermining the camp leaders and commandant and siding with the prisoners. Quite the opposite, it suggests that Grabner went hand in hand with Aumeier, Höß and Mildner.

Höß had, in fact, nothing too bad to say on Grabner that would support his claimed opposition. He wrote that the Stapo Kattowitz "could not provide me with anyone better" as head of the Political Department in Auschwitz and that "Grabner's biggest mistake was his goodnaturedness towards comrades", which is why "he did not report countless, often the wildest incidents and excesses by SS leaders and men" (Broszat, Anatomie des SS-Staates, cited from DB101, p. 41391, my translation). Höß only complained about the large number of prisoners working in the Political Department leading to leakage of information. Grabner confirmed this dispute with Höß [NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 137], but maintained he did so by purpose in order to spread the secrets of Auschwitz. In the light of Grabner's systematic distortions to exculpate himself, it is more likely true what Höß suggested, that the SS staff of the Political Department was simply too lazy or incompetent to do the paper work themselves.

Grabner on Wirths

Grabner does not miss the opportunity to incriminate the commandant, the protective custody camp department, the labour force department and the camp doctors. As a simple rule, if one blames any leaders from the first years in Auschwitz of atrocities, one is usually hitting the right one, whether Höß, Fritzsch, Aumeier, Palitzsch, Hössler, Mandl or Schwarz - or Grabner himself for that matter.

But in Grabner's account, there is one who doesn't get his just deserts (because he is not mentioned at all) and another one, who gets one of the most, though he deserved less than most of the Germans in charge in Auschwitz in 1942/1943. The former is the camp doctor Friedrich Entress, the latter the camp Garrison doctor Eduard Wirths.

Entress was the leading figure for camp selections and phenol injections, yet he is ignored by Grabner despite covering precisely these issues (see also appendix A - injections). On the other hand, these atrocities as well as the introduction of the Bunker extermination site and the planning/decision for crematoria in Birkenau are attributed to Wirths, who was not in the camp at the time these things started off and who opposed and disapproved at least the camp clearings and phenol injections to considerable extent when he learnt about it (according to Hermann Langbein, Die Stärkeren, p. 86 f. & 104). It's getting most absurd when Grabner claims that he reported the unauthorized killing of 1000 to 1500 gypsies and 2000 female prisoners by Wirths to Berlin, and that this is allegedly what he was arrested for in September 1943 (NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 133). In reality, it was Grabner himself who carried out numerous "illegal" killings - he was trialed for at least 2000 cases by a SS court and there is sufficient evidence to support this (see above), while there is no ground for his own allegation.

It's not that Wirths was not responsible for mass murder in Auschwitz (camp selections and the extermination of Jews) ordered by Berlin. He did, however, at least disapprove and oppose the rather arbitrary killings carried out by the Auschwitz SS including Grabner and Entresss largely on their own, which were too dubious even for some in Berlin (for Wirths' ambiguous role in Auschwitz see also Beischl, Dr. med Eduard Wirths und seine Tätigkeit als SS-Standortarzt im KL Auschwitz and more favourable for Wirths: Völklein, Der 'Märchenprinz').

Grabner's gross distortion on Entress and Wirths can be understood when considering he was Entress' accomplice in the camp clearings (or vice versa, Entress was his accomplice) and that Wirths was the big opponent of their practice. These were transparent and self serving falsehoods to build up his own defense while arrested in Vienna and possibly to take revenge of Wirths.


Grabner's account is a broad description of Auschwitz history from SS perspective. It captures a large range of Auschwitz atrocities and events, from the poor living conditions for the prisoners in Birkenau and corporal punishment to the Budy revolt and penal company escape attempt to all sorts of killings, by shooting, injection, gassing.

He testified on all gassing sites that existed during his time in Auschwitz - from the first gassing of Auschwitz prisoners at Sonnenstein to the first Auschwitz gassing in Block 11 to the gassings in crematorium 1 to the Bunker extermination sites and open air cremation to the crematoria in Birkenau. Although his descriptions of the sites are relatively short (compared to Sonderkommando testimonies or Pery Broad's report), his extensive insider knowledge enriched with some very detailed snippets (e.g. his description of the gas openings in crematorium 1 and gassing devices in crematorium 2 & 3) as well as his rejection of some common false beliefs (e.g. exaggerated Auschwitz death toll and crematoria capacity) verifies he was a witness to his narrative.

Furthermore, Grabner did not describe events dated after he left Auschwitz (other than those he heard during his trial, e.g. the Hungarian deportations), which also supports the authenticity of the testimony and rebutts the possible Revisionist claim that he was fed with the "hoax" by interrogators. Such would have likely resulted in a screwed up time line and some serious anachronism, let aside there is no hint where this input should have come from to begin with.

Indeed, the knowledge displayed in the statement is far superior to that of common Auschwitz prisoners and specifically to those who were interrogated by the Vienna police at the time (including Hermann Langbein). The most serious falsehoods or uncertainties that crept into Grabner's narrative are related to his own role, which is explained by his situation as accused in police arrest and which does not affect most of his credibility on atrocities in Auschwitz.

I'm gratefull to Sergey for providing me the files obtained by the Polish investigators from the State Police in Vienna (cited as NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 25 ff.). DB101 denotates the DVD Digitale Bibliothek 101, Der Auschwitz Prozess


Appendix A: 

Point for Point Dissection of Grabner's Statement

Camp Foundation

As of Grabner's arrival on 27 May 1940, there were already 30 prisoners to be employed as Kapos previously brought to Auschwitz from Sachsenhausen concentration camp (confirmed by Rudolf Höß [Broszat, Kommandant in Auschwitz, p. 137, see also Czech, Kalendarium]. Aside these Kapos, the first prisoners were Political prisoners from Cracow and Lodz interned in July 1940 (according to the list of registered men, the first prisoners interned in Auschwitz were deported from Tarnow and Nowy Wisnicz, East of Cracow, in mid June 1940; the first transport of Polish prisoners from Cracow was in mid July 1940; however, 40 prisoners, mostly from Lodz, were temporarily brought from Dachau to build up the camp on 29 May 1940 [Czech, Kalendarium, p. 34 f., 37 & 43]). The first prisoners had to erect barbed wire fence at the site (corroborated by Edward Flakiewicz [Czech, Kalendarium, p. 34]) and were housed in one of the so called Monopoly buildings [see also Piper, Auschwitz, 1940-1945: The establishment and organization of the camp, p. 66]

The Auschwitz SS 

Grabner provided a number of names, ranks and honours of key figures of the Auschwitz complex:

Bach-Zelewski (misspelled Bach Zilesky; correctly identified as Higher SS and Police leader), the head of the concentration camps Glücks (with his subsequent ranks SS-Brigadeführer and SS-Gruppenführer), the Kattowitz Sipo/SD commander Thümmler (misspelled Tümmler; with his proper rank Obersturmbannführer), the Auschwitz commandant Höß (with his promotions from "Hauptsturmführer to Obersturmbannführer"; AFAIK he was never Standartenführer though as claimed by Grabner), the protective custody camp leaders Fritzsch (misspelled Fritsch; with his proper rank SS-Obersturmführer back in 1940 [Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Standort- und Kommandanturbefehle des Konzentrationslagers Auschwitz 1940-1945, p. 33) and Aumeier as well as Fritzsch's deputies Mayer (misspelled Maier; with his proper rank SS-Untersturmführer [DB101, p. 225]) and Seidler (with his proper rank SS-Obersturmführer and place of residence in Saxony [DB101, p. 226]) and as Höß' "most reliable  followers" Palitzsch (misspelled Palitsch; incorrectly mentioned as SS-Obersturmführer) and Hössler (as SS-Scharführer [?] back in 1940) and as heads of the labour department Schwarz (incorrectly remembered as Sturmbannführer; Grabner was correct he received the Kriegsverdienstkreuz II [Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Standort- und Kommandanturbefehle des Konzentrationslagers Auschwitz 1940-1945, p. 172]) and Sell [DB101, p. 255].

Among the Auschwitz Garrison doctors, he recalled Popiersch (with his proper rank SS-Hauptsturmführer [DB101, p. 307]), Schwela (misspelled Schweler) and Wirths (misspelled Würz; Grabner correctly recalled his promotions to SS-Hauptsturmführer and SS-Sturmbannführer within "1.5 years" [more precisely, 1 year and 10 months] and his honors Ehrenkreuz II and Kriegsverdientkreuz I & II [Beischl, Dr. med Eduard Wirths und seine Tätigkeit als SS-Standortarzt im KL Auschwitz, p. 49]). Note the anachronism and false relationship that Schwela was the deputy of Wirths, whereas he died before Wirths arrival in Auschwitz [DB101, p. 309] (from the context, it seems as if Grabner's Wirths and Schwela were historically actuall the camp doctor Entress and his paramedic Klehr). He also mentions the SS doctors Schumann [misspelled Schuhmann] and Clauberg [misspelled Glauder].

The Political Department

From his own staff in the Political Department, Grabner mentioned Boger, Lachmann (misspelled Lachmund) and Clausen.

Boger introduced the so called "swing" to abuse prisoners (the use of the swing is confirmed by Oswald Kaduk [DB101, p. 4019], Klaus Dylewski, who stated it was there before Boger was in the camp, [DB101, p. 3615], Pery Broad, who wrote that the idea for the swing was brought to Auschwitz by an external Stapo officer, manuscript of 13 July 1945 [DB101, p. 40240] and Boger himself, who stated it was already practised when he came to Auschwitz but admitted to have ordered the construction of its wooden rack [DB101, p. 3290, 3301 & 3340]) and employed the prisoners Smolinsky and Malorny as snitches (the former is corroborated by Curt Posener [DB101, p. 2524], but not remembered by Boger in 1958 [DB101, p. 3308], that the latter was a snitch of the Political Department is confirmed by Georg Severa [DB101, p. 14254], Wladyslaw Fejkiel [DB101, p. 9517], Czeslaw Sowul [DB101, p. 27239], Henryk Bartoszewicz [DB101, p. 32679], Boger stated that Malorny was a snitch of Wosnitza [DB101, p. 27240]).

However, Grabner sounds rather non-credible when he asserts that these three subordinates of him were carrying out interrogations "directly at the order of Höß", that he had "often no insight at all into what these were doing and that they did not listen to me". That there was such a corrupt command structure in the Political Department by-passing its head is dubious and to the best of my knowledge not supported by the available evidence.

Corporal Punishment

According to Grabner, corporal punishment (beating of prisoners) was enforced in Auschwitz (corroborated by Johann Paul Kremer, diary entry of 9 September 1942, DB101, p. 40362; Pery Broad, manuscript of 13 July 1945, DB101, p. 40229; Wilhelm Boger, Political Department interrogation of 9 April 1959, DB101, p. 3338; Franz Hofmann, interrogation of 22 April 1959, DB101, p. 3838 f.; Oswald Kaduk, interrogation of 21 July 1959, DB101, p. 4010; Kapo Emil Bednarek, interrogation of 28  November 1960, DB101, p. 3134; Karl Höcker, interrogation of 16 February 1962, DB101, p. 3814; Klaus Dylewski, cross-examination of 10 January 1964, DB101, p. 4797;  Kurt Leischow, cross-examination of 17 July 1964, DB101, p. 12674).

Polish prisoners could have been beaten upon their admission to the camp at the order of Bach-Zelewski (this practice is evidenced for the first transport from Cracow [Czech, Kalendarium, p. 43]).

Block 11

Grabner mentioned the camp prison in Block 11, which had "standing cells" (confirmed by Pery Broad [report of 13 July 1945, DB101, p. 40274], Wilhelm Boger [DB101, p. 3338], Franz Hoffmann [DB101, p. 3930], Bruno Schlage [DB101, p. 4828], Kurt Leischow [DB101, p. 12674] and was cleared by shooting the prisoners (the Block 11 clearings are confirmed for instance by Pery Broad [report of 13 July 1945, DB101, p. 40227 f.], Klaus Dylewski [DB101, p. 3653 f.], Franz Hofmann [DB101, p. 3946 f.], Bruno Schlage [DB101, p. 4465 f.], Helmut Bartsch [DB101, p. 5877 f.] and Karl Broch [DB101, p. 23393 ff.]).

Concentration Camp Euthanasia in Sonnenstein

In course of the "action against cripples, terminally ills, incorrigible people, especially career criminals", Dr. Schumann (misspelled Schuhmann) and Dr. Müller selected "400-500 prisoners" in Auschwitz gassed "near Dresden" in September 1941. The victims were brought to the site by the "troops and the Schutzhaftlagerführung".

Schumann and Müller were indeed examining people to be euthanasized [see list of "surveyors" made by the medical head of the Euthanasia Paul Nitsche, reproduced in Klee, 'Euthanasie' im NS-Staat, p. 228]. The incident mentioned by Grabner took place end of July 1941, when 575 prisoners were transported under the command of Hössler (Schutzhaftlagerführung) to the Euthanasia facility Sonnenstein near Dresden [Czech, Kalendarium, p. 105] and is confirmed by Horst Schumann himself [Schilter, Unmenschliches Ermessen, p. 164].

First Gassing

The next batch of selected prisoners was supposed to be deported for killing "about 2-3 months later", but their transport was stopped and instead Höß and Schwela carried out their "experimentally gassing in the cells of the camp prison" (i.e. Block 11) with "blue gas" in "two subsequent shifts".

The large scale homicidal gassing took place in early September 1941 (about 1 months after the killing in the Euthanasia site Sonnenstein) and included not only unfit prisoners but also Russian POWs. It was also described by Rudolf Höß [Broszat, Kommandant in Auschwitz, p. 188], Hans Stark [DB101, p. 4548], Henry Storch [DB101, p. 12121 ff.], Kurz Leischow [DB101, p. 12700; note that Leischow later attributed the gassing to crematorium 1], Erwin Bartel [DB101, p. 15952 ff.], Franciszek Brol [DB101, p. 32697], Leon Czekalski [DB101, 6948 f.], Emil de Martini [DB101, p. 9707 ff.], Wladyslaw Fejkiel [DB101, p. 9533 ff.], Stanislaw Glowa [DB101, p. 10239], Czeslaw Glowacki [DB101, p. 6502 f.], Michael Kruczek [DB101, p. 22185 ff.], Alesandr Lebedev [DB101, p. 19861], Eugeniusz Motz [DB101, p. 25681 ff.], Bartosz Oziemkowski [DB101, p. 10907 ff.], Walter Petzold [report of 17 May 1945, DB101, p. 2846 ff.], Edward Pys [DB101, p. 10819 ff.], Franciszek Targosz [DB101, p. 32674].

Blaugas (blue gas) is a misnomer for Blausäure (hydrogen cyanide). Grabner used both terms in his statement (NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 142). The term Blaugas was also employed by the central construction office in a list of hygienic facilities in Auschwitz of 30 July 1943 [Swiebocka, Architektur des Verbrechens, p. 69], which shows that this misnomer was floating around the camp personell supporting the authenticity of Grabner's testimony.

The Gassings in Crematorium 1

Fritzsch got 3 square openings broken into the roof of the morgue of crematorium 1 to use it for homicidal gassings.

The gassing of people in crematorium 1 through openings in the roof is confirmed by the former SS men Rudolf Höß, Hans Aumeier, Maximilian Grabner, Pery Broad, Hans Stark, Richard Böck and Martin Wilks. The figure of 3 openings was also mentioned by Fritzsch's successor Hans Aumeier ("2-3"), while Hans Stark and Stanislaw Jankowski remembered 2 openings (see Rebuttal of Mattogno on Auschwitz, Part 2: Gas Introduction at the Crematoria). 

The gassings were supervised by the SS garrison doctor and the camp commandant/camp leader, the gas was introduced by the "sanitary assistants"

The latter are obviously the SS paramedics who poured the poison gas into the gas chambers according to numerous testimonies (but Grabner uses the term mistakenly in relation with the SS Garrison doctor Schwela in the next paragraph).

Russian POWs

10 - 12,000 Russians were brought to Auschwitz from the army POW camp in Neuhammer and a camp near Oppeln to build up Birkenau. The POWs were subjected to a high death rate because of poor provisions and the climatic conditions, like thousands per week.

The extremely high fatality among Russian POWs is documented in the death register book of the Russian POWs, which lists 8,320 deaths between 7 October 1941 and 28 February 1942 from about 10,000 brought to Auschwitz [Auschwitz State Museum, Sterbebücher von Auschwitz 1, p. 140]. By April 1944, the registration number of Russian POWs reached 11,526. The POW camp near Oppeln mentioned by Grabner was Lamsdorf. Auschwitz indeed received its POWs  from Neuhammer and perhaps also Lamsdorf [Czech, Kalendarium, p. 126 f. on two transports from Neuhammer; Auschwitz 1940-1945: Studien zur Geschichte des Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslagers Auschwitz. Widerstand, p. 137 on Neuhammer and Lamsdorf].

Grabner ceased the registration of the Russian POWs to cause confusion, so that "nobody knew how many Russian were in the camp" and that "Russians escaped every day in mass" and that he "helped hundreds of Russians to get the possibility to escape". As a result of the mass escapes, the Russian POWs were tattooed their prisoner number.

The tattooing of the Russian POWs is well documented (see Tattoo Denial), but the remaining statements are dubious if not outright false. There is no evidence that Grabner deliberately caused confusion to do any Russian POWs a favour or that he helped them to escape. There was only one mass escape among the Russian POWs taking place in the second half of 1942 when 99% of the Russian contingent was already dead (mentioned by Rudolf Höß [DB101, p. 40045], Pery Broad [DB101, p. 40265] and Andrej Alexandrowitsch Pogoshew, one of the escaped prisoners [DB101, p. 22744 ff.]). Accordingly, the practise of tattooing the Russian POWs was not introduced because of mass escapes among them but rather because of the extremely high death rate and difficulty to identify the dead prisoners (see also testimony of Erwin Bartel [DB101, p. 16189]).


The killings by injections carried out in Auschwitz are corroborated by the war-time diary and post-war testimony of the SS doctor Johann Paul Kremer [DB101, p. 40369 & 40467], Rudolf Höß [DB101, p. 40038], Pery Broad [DB101, p. 40262], Emil Hantl [DB101, p. 3737 ff.], Josef Klehr [DB101, p. 4087 f.], Hans Nierzwicki [DB101, p. 4345], Herbert Scherpe [DB101, p. 4407 ff.], Kurt Leischow [DB101, p. 12708 f.], Franz Hofmann [DB101, p. 3853]).

Grabner blames Wirths for having "carried out so called injections" on prisoners from Block 11 and the camp hospital. The killing of prisoners with phenol injections was practiced well before Wirths duty in Auschwitz and the driving force was the camp doctor Friedrich Entress [Emil Hantl, interrogation of 20 September 1961, DB101, p. 3769 f.; Josef Klehr, interrogation of 24 May 1961, DB101, p. 4103; Herbert Scherpe, interrogation of 7 September 1961, p. 4428; Hermann Langbein, Die Stärkeren, p. 81 f.; Ludwig Wörl, examination of 6 April 1964, DB101, p. 6344 ff.; Stanislaw Klodzinski, examination of 15 May 1964, DB101, p. 8032; Emil di Martini, examination of 4 June 1964, DB101, p. 9658 ff.; Karl Lill, examination of  18 September 1964, DB101, p. 1831; Ladislav Polednik, examination of 12 November 1964, DB101, p. 24544]. In fact, Wirths was opposing Entress' practice and intervened to achieve a decrease or cease phenol injections according to his prisoner clerk Hermann Langbein (Die Stärkeren, p. 86 f. & 104).

Death Certificates

The prisoners "gassed", "injected", "shot" were registered as "normal deaths" in the death notifications with "truly invented death causes", which is strongly corroborated by testimonial and documentary evidence (see Evidence on the systematic falsification of death causes in Auschwitz).

Mass Escape Penal Company

The penal company consisted of 300 prisoners working at the Königsgraben, mostly Poles and attempted a mass escape. 9 prisoners were shot on escape, the remaining Poles were gassed.

According to Czech's Kalendarium, the incident took place on 10 June 1942. The escape attempt is corroborated by Pery Broad [interrogation of 1 May 1959, DB101, p. 3453] and the penal company prisoner Karl Bracht [interrogation of 15 October 1959, DB101, p. 14061 f.]. Bracht also mentions that Moll was in charge of the detail at the time, but according to him the remaining Poles were shot, not gassed. According to Czech's Kalendarium (citing former prisoners), some were shot while the majority of 320 prisoners was indeed gassed.

Budy "Revolt" [extended report]

Early 1943, 95 female Jewish prisoners of the Budy detail were killed by the Germans to cover up sexual relations between German prisoners and SS men. Survivors were killed by injection at Höß' order.

The Budy "revolt" is mentioned in the contemporary war-time diary of the SS doctor Johann Paul Kremer [Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, p. 161, also DB101, p. 40369] and was also reported by Rudolf Höß [Broszat, Kommandant in Auschwitz, p. 174, also DB101, p. 40063], Josef Klehr [DB101, p. 4152], Pery Broad [DB101, p. 40256] and Elenore Hodys, who talked to imprisoned Germans involved in the massacre [Perry, Dachau liberated, p. 75 f,]. The killing of survivors with phenol injection is confirmed by Broad and Tadeusz Paczula [examination of 8 May 1964, DB101, p. 6684]. 

Medical Experiments [extended report]

Medical experiments on prisoners were performed by Schumann (sterilization with rays), Clauberg (experiments with women), Wirths (typhus experiments).

This is corroborated by the testimony of Rudolf Höß [manuscript of January 1947, SS im Einsatz, p. 368 f.], Willy Frank [interrogation of 18 September 1959, on Clauberg and Schumann, DB101, p. 3688 f.] and Pery Broad [report of 13 June 1945, on Clauberg and Schumann, DB101, p. 4025].

Bunker Extermination Sites

Two farmhouses in Birkenau were cleared of their Polish residents by Schwarz and homicidal gas chambers were installed by the construction office at Wirths's instructions and Höß's order. The gas chambers were called "bathing facility".

These killing sites were also described by the SS men Rudolf Höß [DB101, p. 40164 ff.], Pery Broad [DB101, p. 40282], Hans Aumeier [deposition of Aumeier of 25 July 1945], Josef Erber [interview by Steiner and Bierbrauer of 12 July 1977], Hans Stark [DB101, p. 28220], Johann Paul Kremer [DB101, p. 9855], Friedrich Entress [Mattogno, The Bunkers of Auschwitz, p. 141 f.], Horst Fischer [Mattogno, The Bunkers of Auschwitz, p. 150 f.], Oswald Kaduk [DB101, p. 32727], Karl Hölblinger [DB101, p. 11664 ff.], Richard Böck, [DB101, p. 14144 ff.], Willy Wildermuth [DB101, p. 18074], Franz Tomaszewski [DB101, p. 19411 ff.], Anton Siebald [DB101, p. 18000 ff.].

The reference to Wirths is another anachronism, because the Bunker extermination sites were completed and operated before his arrival in September 1942. The construction office was involved with auxiliary work at the Bunker extermination site (e.g. erection of the undressing barracks and power supply), but I'm informed by N. Terry that testimonial evidence from the 1972 Dejaco trial in Vienna shows that the actual conversion of the farm houses to homicidal gas chambers was done by the protective camp leaders with improvising work details.

The designation "bathing facility" for the Bunker gas chambers apprears also in this contemporary German document from the central construction office Auschwitz.

The cremations of the corpses from the farmhouses was carried out on pyres with wood and gasoline  by Höß and Hössler.

Open air cremations at the Bunker extermination sites are corroborated by Rudolf Höß [manuscript of November 1946, Broszat, Kommandant von Auschwitz, p. 243, also DB101, p. 40166; mentions oil and methanol as additional fuel], Pery Broad  [report of 13 July 1945, DB101, p. 40290; mentions methanol as additional fuel], Hans Aumeier [manuscript of 25 July 1945], Sonderkommando Milton Buki [interrogation of 14 January 1965, DB101, p. 27842 ff.].

Both Höß and Hössler "inspected an experimental facility for field ovens Aktion Reinhard" in September 1942. Hössler's leading role in the open air cremation was also pointed out by Aumeier (as above).

Selections at the Ramp

Transports with prisoners arrived from Slovakia, the Reich, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Holland, Belgium, France, Norway (corroborated by transport data [Piper, Die Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz, p. 187 ff.]; Polish transports are omitted by Grabner and Greece transports are put after his departure from Auschwitz, though most already arrived before).

The first selection of people unfit for work after arrival was done on a transport from the Reich, but according to Czech, Kalendarium this was a transport from Slovakia on 4 July 1942.

The transports subjected to selection first arrived at the Monopoly building (anachronistic?)  and later at a side track. The selections were carried out by the SS doctors, protective custody leaders and the labour force leaders (corroborated by Franz Hofmann [interrogation of 27 April 1961, DB101, p. 3940 f.], Hans Stark [examination of 16 January 1964, DB101, p. 4820], Stefan Baretzki [interrogation of 12 April 1960, DB101, p. 3073], Hans Münch [examination of 2 March 1964, DB101, p. 5276], Oswald Kaduk [examination of 29 May 1964, DB101, p. 9487], Josef Hofer [examination of 4 December  1964, DB101, p. 26679], others e.g. Höß, Aumeier, Broad stated that the SS doctors were selecting the people).  

Those Jews selected unfit for work were gassed, while those considered fit for work were registered and tattooed (corroborated by Rudolf Höß [Broszat, Kommandant in Auschwitz], Hans Aumeier, Pery Broad, Josef Erber, Hans Stark [interrogation of 23 April 1959, DB101, p. 4539], Stefan Baretzki [DB101, p. 3073], Heinrich Bischoff [interrogation of 24 November 1961, DB101, p. 3207], Wilhelm Boger [interrogation of 8 October 1959, DB101, p. 3295], Franz Hofmann [interrogation of 22 April 1959, DB101, p. 3872 f.].

Grabner omits to describe the activity of the Political Department at the ramp: securing the scene, confirming the receipt of the transports, selecting people for gas and counting those for work and those to be killed.

Women's Camp

The peak strength of the women's camp in Birkenau was 27,000 prisoners. Mandl carried out radical clearings in the camp, with Block 25 reserved for those selected for gassing. 

According to Czech's Kalendarium, the strength of the women's camp was 20,542 and 32,066 as of 31 May 1943 and 1 October 1943, respectively (Grabner left in between). Maria Mandel was indeed in charge of the women's camp, where she carried out selections for gassing (see Auschwitz-Birkenau selection list of 21 August 1943).

The use of Block 25 as gate to the crematoria is confirmed by Franz Hössler, Hilde Lohbauer, Erika Schopf, Gertrud Diament, Renee Erman, Zlata Kaufmann, Edith Trieger, Luba Triszinska, Sonia Watinik, Helena Koper, Josephine Singer, Dora Szafran, Ewa Gryka, Maria Swiderska-Swieratowa [DB101, p. 8928], Anna Palarczyk [DB101, p. 21492], Barbara Pozimska [DB101, p. 29803], Henryk Porebski [DB101, p. 18587].

Clearing of the Gypsies Camp [extended report]

The gypsies camp was cleared of 2000 people from Lublin area by Wirths, for which false death certificates were written.

The incident took place on 25 May 1943. According to Czech's Kalendarium, 1,045 gypsis from Bialystok and Austria, sick of typhus or suspected of typhus, were gassed. According to the Gypsies's camp leader Franz Hofmann, Grabner, Boger, Sell, Wirths and Fischer participated in the selection of the people [interrogation of 22 April 1959, DB101, p. 3867].

Hodys [extended report]

The 45 years old Viennese prisoner Hodys (misspelled Hody) was imprisoned by Höß in Block 11 because she talked about Höß' defalcation of Jewelry.

Elenore Hodys was born in 1903 in Vienna [DB101, p. 19690]. According to her own account provided to the SS investigators during the war, she was imprisoned in Block 11 for her sexual relationship to Höß (see  War-time German document mentioning Auschwitz gassings: testimony of Eleonore Hodys). This motive of Höß to put Hodys into Block 11 - to cover up her pregnancy - was also agreed upon by the SS investigators [examination of Konrad Morgen of 9 March 1964, DB101, p. 5587]. There is no confirmation for Grabner's story. It has only some plausibility in so far that the Birkenau Kapo Hugo Breiden stated that Hodys was in charge of Jewelry in Birkenau [Langbein, People in Auschwitz, p. 413]. However, the smuggling of jewelry and gold by SS leaders, which Grabner claimed to have documented and that made the SS persecuting him, also neatly fits into his transparent attempt to deflect from his own atrocities in Auschwitz.

Human Soap [extended report]

Schwela suggested to Höß to produce soap of human fat, but it is unknown if it was implemented. 

There is no direct corroboration for such a discussion, but it cannot be ruled out either. There is no strong motive why Grabner should have made this up. If he just wanted to incriminate Schwela and Höß, he could have gone forward to claim that such production of human soap was actually done, instead of relativating that "I did not notice such a procedure" (NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 140).

The talk between Schwela and Höß had to take place between summer 1941, when Schwela was first sent to Auschwitz, and May 1942, when he died there of typhus. In between this, he was also camp doctor in Stutthof concentration camp, not far from the Danzig Anatomical Institute suspected for producing human soap after the war. Rumors of Nazi human soap were circulating since mid 1942 and on Jewish human soap since September 1942, which seems to have prompted Heinrich Himmler to demand from his Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller that "you have guarantee me that the corpse of these deceased Jews are either burned or burried at any place and that nothing else can happen to the corpse" (see Neander, „Seife aus Judenfett“ – Zur Wirkungsgeschichte einer urban legend). It is possible that considerations and trials to produce soap from human fat were made by people like Schwela, stimulated by already existing rumours or independently, and that might have leaked outside to fuel them further.


Höß and Wirths went to Berlin to discuss the construction of the big crematoria for Auschwitz in spring 1942.

Such a meeting could have taken place only after Wirths arrival in Auschwitz, i.e. after September 1942. Since the planning of the crematoria was already quite advanced at this time, and even more so after Wirths became used to his duties, Grabner is either inventing the participation of an Auschwitz Garrison doctor or putting Wirths into the role of Oskar Dienstbach or Siegfried Schwela (or even one level down Friedrich Entress).

The "company Topf & Söhne I think from Erfurt had to build with the construction office the large facility, 2 with 15 heaters [means ovens] and 2 with 4 to the camp Birkenau...finally completed in the summer of 1943" (fairly correct, except that crematoria 4 & 5 had 8 muffles, not "4 heaters"). The layout of the crematoria (here probably crematorium 2 as can be inferred from the details) included a "dissection room", a "coke room", a "recreation room" and an "elevator" next to the "cremation ovens". He also mentions "rail tracks" from the coke room to the ovens and from the elevator to the ovens. The installation and use of rail tracks to transport the corpses to the ovens was planned [order confirmation of 4 November 1941 on "rail tracks for 15 ovens", reproduced in Schüle, Industrie und Holocaust, p. 434], but it is questionable if this was really implemented and used.

Grabner omits the undressing room in his description (or the "recreation room" is a misnomer for it). The gas chamber is estimated as 5  x 10-12 m (correct is 7 x 30 m) and it had "four pipes from the upper ceiling down to the floor...bared with wire grid" (strongly corroborated by multiple documentary and testimonial evidence, see Rebuttal of Mattogno on Auschwitz, Part 2: Gas Introduction at the Crematoria). 

The gas chamber of crematoria 2 & 3 could hold 1000 people, which is half the capacity attributed to it by other witnesses. On the cremation capacity, Grabner says that "according to the calculation of the company Topf & Söhne the large crematorium facilities should have burned 1000 corpses per day and the two smaller ones each 400 corpses". The figure for crematorium 2 & 3 is below what is reported by most witnesses, but close to what was supplied by the Topf engineer Kurt Prüfer in an early contemporary German document (note that the figure of 800 in the document seems to refer to both eight-muffle ovens later installed in crematorium 4 & 5, which is then matching the figure cited by Grabner). His claim that "these facilities were not properly in operation at my time" is understating the killing activities of the crematoria up to July 1943, when he claimed to have left the camp, but it might reflect their extensive damage and down-time. 

Death Toll

The number of gassed people was "800,000 to up to 1,000,000" up to July 1943, which is inflated by a few 100,000s given that it excludes the extermination of the Hungarian and Lodz Jews in Auschwitz.

Grabner's End in Auschwitz [extended report]

Grabner writes that he became sick and was replaced by Hans Schürz in July 1943 and imprisoned in September 1943.

His official replacement was on 1 December 1943 [Standort- und Kommandanturbefehle des Konzentrationslagers Auschwitz 1940-1945, p. 371], though he might have been relieved of his job already before that. His sickness is confirmed by Höß [DB101, p. 41393]. As remarked in the main part of this posting, the reasons for his arrest provided by Grabner are self serving and false.

Appendix B:

Grabner's Alleged Good Deeds in Auschwitz

According to his own account, Grabner
  • complained about beatings and shootings of Polish prisoners, insisted in orders that these have to be properly approved from Berlin, for which he was "picked on" by the protective custody camp leaders and threatened by Höß. Upon reporting the misconduct in Auschwitz to Berlin, he was secretly observed by informers and his post was retained and reviewed by Höß.

  • campaigned in favour of the poorly treated Russian POWs, and was told to "shut up" or he will be among them. He deliberately caused confusion what Russian POWs were in the camp and gave hundreds the possibility to escape in order make their suffering an end and to take revenge on Höß.

  • complained about the poor conditions in Birkenau towards Höß, which was meat with "more bullying".

  • assigned prisoners subjected to the drum head court-martial for labour re-education so they can more easily escape. 

  • was accused by Höß of being responsible for the escape of prisoners from the penal detail (Strafkompanie). 
[in the extended report]
  • he campaigned in favour of the prisoners of the women's camp in Birkenau, as a result it was forbidden to him to speak and interrogate any female prisoners. 

  • he removed incriminating accusations (from Höß or the protective custody camp leaders) in the files of prisoners.

  • he reported unauthorised killing of Gypsies by Wirths to Berlin


Aaron b said...

Thank you for your impressive work ! However, I have one question: How to explain Mattogno’s documents about projects of installations of real showers in the crematoria?

Jeff said...

^ I assume you are referring to the Sauna? That was a different building altogether.

A shower in the crematoria would be for the SK's to clean up after their work presuambly. That does not account for

- The fact that the doors were sealed

- the fact that the rooms were labeled as "corpse cellars" as opposed to "showers"

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

Schwela suggested to Höß to produce soap of human fat, but it is unknown if it was implemented.

There is no direct corroboration for such a discussion, but it cannot be ruled out either. There is no strong motive why Grabner should have made this up. If he just wanted to incriminate Schwela and Höß, he could have gone forward to claim that such production of human soap was actually done, instead of relativating that "I did not notice such a procedure" (NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 140).

Is the first statement also from NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 140? And am I correct in the belief that he made no claims about soap in the original version of his statement given to Dürmayer? Any chance you can post the full context in which these two statements were given?

Hans said...

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said:

"Is the first statement also from NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 140? And am I correct in the belief that he made no claims about soap in the original version of his statement given to Dürmayer? Any chance you can post the full context in which these two statements were given?"

Both the short and the long statement are original from Grabner. It's just that he took a break after scripting the short statement, which was passed on the Soviets, and that he finished to the long statement, which was passed on to the Poles. The short was clearly an unfinished manuscript, because he already announced to write something on his SS trial, but which only appears in the long statement.

The soap issue is in NTN 137, volume 53a, p. 140 (long):

"Zur Sache der Seifenerzeugung im Lager aus menschlichen Leichen. Der ehemalige Standortarzt Dr.Schweler sprach einmal mit Höss, es wäre doch möglich aus Leichen feines Öl erzeugen zu können. Er hätte darüber in Berlin gesprochen. Höss erklärte, dass er sich bei der nächsten Besprechung in Berlin darüber erkundigen werde. Dies habe ich durch einen Kommandanturschreiber in Erfahrung gebracht. Ein Verfahren solcher Art habe ich nicht festgestellt."

Hans said...

Aaron b said:

"Thank you for your impressive work ! However, I have one question: How to explain Mattogno’s documents about projects of installations of real showers in the crematoria?"

I think there are three things to consider to explain these plans:

1.) the previously expected masses of Jews did not arrive, so that most homicidal gas chambers were superfluous and could be used for other purposes.

2.) tackling sanitary conditions in Birkenau became a pressing policy, so that shower rooms in the crematoria not needed anyway for the original purpose seemed feasible.

3.) obfuscating the previous mass murder.

The Auschwitz commandant Höß had explained already well before the docs were known that the "gas and undressing rooms [of the crematoria] were to be used as bathing facilities after ceasing the extermination actions" (Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, p. 84, my translation)

Jeff said...

^furthermore, said plans imply that such measures had not been carried out at the time they were drafted.

Aaron b said...

Thank you for your answers. Shouldn't you write an article about this topic in order to answer to the Mattogno's supporters shot claim that you have deliberately ignored theses shower arguments? And so, the 14 showers on the inventory of Krema III, real or fake?
Sincerely yours

Hans said...


yes, I had in mind to post on this as part of the Rebuttal of Mattogno on Auschwitz series. I just paused this series to go for gas vans, IIRC this was even your request ;-) There is too little time to deal with everything produced by Holocaut denial at once. But the crematoria-shower thing is definitely on the to do list.

For the 14 shower heads, I will have to review the docs and arguments again before I want to express an opinion or even a tendency.

Aaron b said...

Of course, I understand perfectly. Good luck for the future , you have my full support !

Joachim Neander said...

To Hans:
Your idea that Schwela could have heard something about Danzig soap-making when on duty at Stutthof seems to me far-fetched. Human soap could not have been produced at the Danzig Anatomical Institute before January 1944, as the necessary equipment - built, intended, and used for making anatomic preparations, a process where the "soap" originated as a by-product - was installed not before Christmas 1943. At that time, Schwela had already been dead for a long time.
Of course, both Grabner and Schwela could have heard the "Jewish soap" rumors, current in occupied Poland since the beginning of 1940.