Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Revisionist Fabrication of the Myth of an Original Treblinka "Steam Narrative" (Part C)

Author: Statistical Mechanic

The Case of Friedrich Jansson and His Ball of Confusion 

Part C. Rabinowitz, Krzepicki . . . and the burden of the early reports on Treblinka

In this short series examining Jansson's case for a "Treblinka steam narrative," we've looked so far in depth at two of Jansson's key witnesses, Jacob Rabinowicz and Abraham Krzepicki. In this concluding section we will broaden our view to the range of early testimonies and reports about Treblinka and draw some conclusions about these early reports on mass murder at Treblinka and the viability of the revisionist claim that they show early witnesses and observers settling on murder by means of steam.

- - - - - 
“In summary, Nick Terry attempted to neutralize the November 15 steam chamber report by appealing to the steam chamber witnesses Rabinowicz and Krzepicki.” (Jansson)
Of course, the aim is not to “neutralize” a so-called “steam chamber” report but to understand that report in context. The context does not reduce to Rabinowicz and Krzepicki, neither of whom, nor taken together, are useful to supporting Jansson’s case for a dominant “steam narrative.” Nor does the context reduce to reports of steam, as Jansson tries to have it by stacking the deck. As we will see, during July-October 1942, thinking in Warsaw ghetto about the method of killing at Treblinka gravitated toward gas but was characterized most of all by uncertainty. That uncertainty in turn was due to at least two factors.

First, few of the witnesses reporting on what was happening to Jews at Treblinka were in a position to observe directly the method of death; as Krzepicki explained, even workers who extracted corpses from the murder installation were unable to say exactly how the victims had been murdered. And most reports about the killing came from escapees or others who were not nearly as close to the murder process as corpse handlers.

Second – and this is why I’ve stressed that the Wasser-Gutkowski-Ringelblum report is not aptly described as “the steam chambers report,” a description which is itself wholly polemical – the Jewish activists had more immediate concerns, and thus points of focus, than the precise manner by which their family members, friends, and neighbors were being murdered. The reports of this time pay a great deal of attention to very basic issues: where were deportees taken, would there be further deportations and when, were different parts of the Jewish population to be treated differently by the Germans and were there strategies for escaping deportation, how did Jews fare where they were taken and was there truth to what the Germans stated, what tactics did the Germans use in rounding up and deporting Jews, what kind of force did the Germans apply, and so on. These were urgent questions – perhaps questions of life and death. Method of death, once activists had determined that in fact deportees were being subjected to murder, was one among many urgent questions – and, judging from the extant reports, not the most urgent.

Jansson has written that his intent is to trace “the genealogy of Treblinka extermination stories,” by which he means, I take it, reports and testimonies. His flawed treatment of Rabinowicz and Krzepicki doesn’t help build this kind of understanding, nor does his grab-bag of latter-day steam references[73] in part IIb of his “memo.” In part IIb Jansson lists various reports on reports echoing steam, without attention to origins and relationships among the documents – quite the opposite of the genealogy he calls for. Notably in his eagerness to list echoes of steam, Jansson seems to have entirely forgotten about a series of important reports on the camp, notably those by Grossman,[74] Auerbach[75], Łukaszkiewicz [76], and Muszkat[77], all of these reporting concluding that the Treblinka's victims were mostly killed in gas chambers.

1. An understanding of the reports of Treblinka escapees from summer-fall 1942 is the first building block of a useful genealogy of information about the camp. Below is a simple table listing in chronological order (based on date of escape) Treblinka escapees from this period –  and who gave testimonies of the camp through the end of 1942. Table 1 below shows what each testimony reported about the method of killing at Treblinka.

This tabulation does not include additional contemporary references to information about the camp – references like those in Lewin’s diary (a rumor about a “crematorium near Sokolow and Malkinia”; Natan Smolar’s phone call – those deported are "deported to Tr., are going to their 'death’”; a report from a Jew named Slawa that deported Jews were being taken to a barracks and, after “heart-rending screaming” could be heard, they fell silent – with references to “horribly swollen” corpses and prisoner-gravediggers who were killed after a day of work)[78] or what the Polish underground publication Information Bulletin reported about Treblinka (e.g., in September that Jews were being murdered with gas from “an internal combustion engine” in a bath-house[79] and in October that the murder operations at Treblinka had resumed and utilized “exhaust gases”[80]). In fact, the Delegatura, in reporting on Treblinka, mentioned gassing repeatedly (see below).

Even a German officer, Wilm Hosenfeld, recorded a sketchy report about gassing at Treblinka by September 1942.[81] Finally, Jansson ignores that the reports of “steam” all come from escapees who fled the camp early on – indicating that an erroneous explanation from early in Treblinka’s history was picked up during August-early September 1942 but over time replaced with better information. An example for this is the 1947 testimony of Joseph Gutman[82]; Gutman in 1947 was still reporting steam as the murder method – but he escaped Treblinka in August 1942.

As we will see below, the testimonies from those who were in the camp after this early period – like Strawczynski, Wiernik, Rajchman and many others – nearly all state that killing was done by means of gas.

What emerges from the body of these testimonies is the following:
  • The witnesses gave remarkably similar accounts of the arrival process, with victims herded through the reception camp through the “chute” to the bath-house – and of how corpses were removed from the death chambers and disposed of; these parts of the process were its most visible elements
  • There is no dominant “steam” narrative but rather a great deal of uncertainty along with a bias toward gas as the method of killing, the part of the process which witnesses were unable to observe directly     
Killing Methods in Reports of Treblinka escapees, 1942
Escapee Date of escapeDate of testimonyMethod of killing
Uziel Wallach[83], worked cleaning freight cars27 July 1942Late July
to Zalmen Frydrych

Bund reports
first report published early August
then in Oyf der Wach 20 September 1942
Gas or electrical current
Unnamed escapee (clothing sorter)
(information on killing method from local peasants)[84]
September 1942 (?)Not clear
 reference to being cut off
from world for 3 weeks
but also report describes Lalka – given to Puterman
Dowid Nowodworski[85]10 August 1942 (?)28 August 1942None stated
Jacob Rabinowicz
(clothing sorter)[86]
28 August 1942 (probably)2 September 1942 – Seidman

27 September 1942 – Lewin, Wassers
Gas (Seidman); steam (Lewin/Wasser)
Jew from Landau shop
September 1942
21 September 1942 – to LewinNone stated
Unknown AR II/298
(misidentified as Rabinowicz)[88]
Early September 1942 (?)Dated late September 1942
by Shapiro & Epsztein
but not clear
None stated
Abraham Krzepicki[89]13 September 1942Short
After September 1942

After 16 December 1942

Per Shapiro & Epsztein
None stated in short testimony,
10 references to gas chambers (works)
 2 references to steam in long testimony
Anonymous grave-diggers
 number not known[90]
September 1942During September 1942
entry of 1 October 1942
in MM Kon’s Warsaw diary
Unknown clothing sorter
AR II/297[91]
September 1942
After September 1942 per Shapiro & EpszteinNone stated (“komory smierci”)

    • The uncertainty and conjecture in the early reports comes from the lack of first-hand observation of how the killing chambers worked; there is not a single confirmed testimony that comes directly from workers assigned to the upper (death) camp while it was in operation[92]
    • As a result, the two most formal and complete reports – the Bund’s and the Oyneg Shabes – diverged on the methods used to murder deported Jews – and the Bund’s report gave two possible methods
    • Some of the witnesses themselves were uncertain and had difficulty settling on an answer to the question how their fellow Jews were being put to death
    Even so, with most witnesses not recorded as stating a method of killing and with more testimonies saying gas than steam (or electricity[93] or mobile chambers), Jansson argues that the predominant narrative during these “formative” months explained the method of killing as steam.[94]

    2. Out of 83 Treblinka testimonies from camp survivors, I have been able to identify references to method of death in about half (number=43).[95]

    36 witnesses reported murder by means of gas only
    1 reported steam only (Gutman)
    2 reported gas and/or steam (Krzepicki, Rabinowicz) 
    1 reported gas or electricity (Bund report, presumably U. Wallach)
    3 reported some combination of gas with air pumped out, chlorine, ether, or Zyklon B (A Kon, S. Rajzman, S Goldberg)

    (Mattogno & Graf also cite a report describing the killing method as steam; this was in a report sent to London in March 1943 but the information was not attributed to a particular escapee, an underground source or other informant.)
    • Every single report of “steam” killings comes from the pre-Stangl period in the camp, that is, from a Jew deported to the camp during July and August 1942. The witnesses show a good deal of variation, two of them mentioning multiple methods, during this time. Looking at reports from prisoners from this period, ignoring escape date, we see that 2 mentioned both gas and steam (Krzepicki, Rabinowicz), 1 mentioned steam (Gutman), the Bund report mentioned gas and electricity, and 5 witnesses didn't say.
    • Conversely, none of the “eyewitness” reports in the sample for those brought to Treblinka after August 1942 mentioned steam as the method of killing. Escapees from the camp from September 1942 onwards generally identified gas chambers as where the murders occurred.[96] The only mention of steam made after fall-winter 1942 in the sample came from Gutman, an August 1942 escapee, in his 1947 testimony.
    • Every prisoner in the sample who escaped during the revolt in August 1943 and who mentioned a killing method (sample=29) referred to gas chambers; every prisoner in the sample who was assigned to the upper, or death, camp (sample=10, excluding Krzepicki from the sample) gave gas chambers as the method of killing.
    • The obvious conclusion is that “steam murder” circulated as a rumor only during the chaotic Eberl period, in the opening weeks of Treblinka’s existence, when workers from the work squads were routinely executed in selections. As prisoners gained experience in the camp, and Kommando membership stabilized, the means of killing became clearer to prisoners and rumors were tamped down.
    Jansson's "case" for a dominant “steam” narrative ignores the overwhelming number of testimonies from both the early and later periods citing gas chambers – 41 of the 42 witnesses whom I had in my sample mentioned gas chamber murders. The data contradict his "theory": the idea that the "steam narrative" came from an organized effort to promote a contrived and false story, and accounts for the "steam" references scotched by so many "gas" testimonies- given in spite of the first fleeting thoughts some had about killing in the camp. The "gas" testimonies came not in contradiction to contemporary views of life and death in the camp but were one way the supposed myth-promoters clarified what was happening.

    A better interpretation of these data is obvious: during August-October the ghetto activists were trying, without uniform success, to utilize uncertain and contradictory reports about how Jews were being killed. At the same time, they were reaching other urgent conclusions: the trains taking Jews from Warsaw were going to a camp at Treblinka (in itself, this was a significant discovery), the Jews taken to Treblinka were being killed en masse immediately after arriving - with very few survivors, the Germans used a combination of reassuring words and force to process the deported Jews, a deportee’s fate was not dependent on whether he or she went voluntarily or by force, women and men alike were killed but after being separated, the killing took place in the upper part of the camp in so-called “bath-houses,” many of the small number of surviving Jews were involved in work emptying the death chambers, in mass burials of corpses and in cremations whilst others worked in the reception area of the camp processing goods taken from arriving Jews, and so on.

    3. There is one more serious problem with Jansson's claim to an ur-steam narrative for mass murder in Treblinka, which concerns reports on the camp made by the Polish underground during 1942.  A sampling of such reports follows:

    30 July 1942 Biuletyn Informacyjny: lack of specifics on fate of deportees with the “most pessimistic speculations”[97]

    6 August 1942 Biuletyn Informacyjny: so far, nearly 70,000 Jews deported from Warsaw; “While precise details and certainty is still being determined, first-hand accounts give no doubt that the transports of Jews are being directed via routes towards two main death camps in Bełzec and Sobibór.”[98] [About this time the Bund mission, which discovered that the deportations went to Treblinka and heard that the killing was by gas or electricity, was completed and 1st Bund report was published in underground newspaper in Warsaw.]

    10 August 1942 Home Army’s Jewish Affairs Bureau: Henryk Woliński (bureau chief) 150,000 Jews deported from Warsaw (7,000 per day), Treblinka II had been added to Sobibór and Bełzec death camps; also liquidation of Radom[99]

    17 August 1942 Informacja Bieżaca: “After the departure of the steam engines, the Jews are forced to undress, supposedly for the bath; then they are led into the gas chamber and executed. . . . the gas chamber is mobile and moves back and forth over the pits . . .”[100]

    18 August 1942, analysis of Department of Information (division of Home Army’s Bureau of Information and Propaganda): report on Warsaw deportations; “The physical liquidation of the Jewish people that has been taking place for the last few months . . .”[101]

    20 August 1942 Biuletyn Informacyjny: approximately 200,000 Jews deported to Treblinka; Jews being put to death in Treblinka, in “gas chambers”[102]

    Probably late August 1942, Department of Information and Press, Delegatura, report covering 16 July - 25 August 1942): “more and more intelligence about the cruel murder of the Jews by the Germans in every area of Poland,” citing specifically Bełzec, Sobibór, Treblinka, camps in which Jews were being murdered “in gas chambers specifically built for this purpose”; Radom cited[103]

    31 August 1942, letter by Leon Feiner to Zygielbojm, Polish government in London: “the complete extermination” of the Jews underway, “un-heard of mass murders” in occupied USSR now extended into General Gouvernement in ongoing actions – 1,250,000 Jews murdered in Bełzec, Sobibór, Treblinka[104]

    8 September 1942 Informacja Bieżaca: “The Ukrainians pull the Jews out of the cars and lead them to the ‘bath’ in the bathhouse. This is a building surrounded by barbed wire. They enter in groups of 300 to 500 persons. Each group is immediately locked up hermetically and gassed. Of course, this gas is not immediately effective, for the Jews have to walk to the pits afterwards.”[105]

    17 September 1942 declaration on Warsaw ghetto liquidation issued by the Polish Underground’s Directorate of Civil Resistance, Delegator, printed in Biuletyn Informacyjny: “Jews who, for no reason other than the fact that they belong to the Jewish nation, are mercilessly slaughtered by poison gas, by being burned alive, thrown out of windows . . .” (no specific reference to Treblinka listed in Zimmerman’s summary)[106]

    1 October 1942 Biuletyn Informacyjny: “Death camps in Bełzec, Treblinka and Sobibór are working day and night. In Radom only about 7% of the Jewish community remains. About 1000 people were shot on the spot and the remaining 22,000 deported to Treblinka. In Kielce, the entire ghetto was liquidated in a single night (Aug. 19th) with 1200 shot on the spot and 16,000 deported. . . .”[107]

    5 October 1942 Informacja Bieżaca: “Treblinka. The death camp is once more in operation. . . . The gas chambers function as follows: Outside of the barracks is a 20 HP internal combustion engine, which is in operation around the clock. The end of its exhaust pipe is mounted in a wall of the barracks; the exhaust gases, with the admixture of toxic fluids, which have been specially mixed into the fuel of the engine, kill the people locked up in the barracks . . .”[108]

    8 October 1942 Biuletyn Informacyjny: “the vast majority [of the 300,000 Jews deported from Warsaw] were murdered primarily in the gas chambers of the Treblinka concentration camp”[109]

    10 October 1942 situational report of the Delegatura: conclusion that “resettlement to the east” was a euphemism for mass murder; deportees from Polish ghettos being sent to Bełzec and Treblinka and there “being subjected to horrific mass murder in gas chambers”[110]

    1-15 October 1942 Niepodleglosć: on mass murder of Warsaw’s Jews, about 300,000 murdered, according to Zimmerman, mostly by gas[111]

    No date, report forwarded to Polish government in exile in London: “[The Jews] are brought into a sealed chamber, a barrack, approximately 100 people at a time. Outside of the barrack stands an internal combustion engine of 20 HP, which runs around the clock. The mouth of the engine’s exhaust leads through the barrack’s wall, and the people locked up in the barrack are killed by exhaust gases channeled through it that contain toxic fluid additives, which have been especially mixed with the engine fuel.”[112]

    6 November 1942 Home Army’s Jewish Affairs Bureau: Jewish communities outside Warsaw being liquidated and Jews sent to Bełzec, Sobibór, Treblinka (including Siedlce, Biala Podlaska, Łukow)[113]

    The point here is not the accuracy of these reports – they contained inaccurate as well as accurate information – but of course their overwhelming "gas chamber narrative." It is incomprehensible how Jansson hopes to fabricate a "steam narrative" against the burden of so many reports saying the opposite right from the outset. What is inescapable, however, is why Jansson decided to give scant mention of these Polish reports about the early days of Treblinka death camp. It becomes clear, from the various sources, that escapees from Treblinka, and others who were aware of the camp, did not know how those taken to the "bathhouses" were being murdered inside. The SS did not give informational tours or provide handy brochures. So people working in the camp made conjectures, compared observations, thoughts, and rumors, and eventually formed a consensus that engine exhaust was the means of murder.

    Along with these rather numerous reports, all undermining Jansson's attempt to create a "Treblinka steam narrative," are other "gas" sources like perpetrator testimonies, for example, the 1950 interrogation, conducted by "Senior Lieutenant Yevstigneyev, Senior Investigator of the Ministry of State Security of the Ukraine, Voroshilovgrad Region," of Dmitriy Nikolayevich Korotkikh, a Ukrainian Trawniki stationed at Treblinka. In his statement to Yevstigneyev, Korotkikh said that "Mass extermination of Jews in special gas chambers took place in this camp" and even discussed the addition of the new gas chambers to the three original chambers.[114]

    4. But why did the official Oyneg Shabes report opt for the “steam” explanation while some Oyneg Shabes leaders like M.M. Kon (whose informants were “grave-diggers”[115]) and the Bund leadership did not? Given the uncertainty and the difficulties of observation, steam isn’t a far-fetched guess. Recall that Krzepicki’s short testimony explained that even the workers in the upper camp weren’t able to observe enough of the exact process of murder to know how it was carried out. The Germans created an expectation around showers with their reception speeches and labeling of the gas chambers as “bath-houses.” The Germans seemed to have been able to orient the victims toward thinking of “showers” – yet people were being killed and fumes were likely seen: a leap to steam is not a very big one under the circumstances: “What’s going on in there? It’s not water, the people are dying – they must be heating the water and killing them with steam.” This is really not so mysterious – not when we have Peretz Opoczynski, another member of Oyneg Shabes (a transplant from Lodz noted for his reportage), speculating in October about a giant electric chair.[116] Confronted with extreme situations, with unusual violence or shocking surprise, people can be expected to speculate and reach for explanations, even where they are not obvious.

    Despite Jansson’s best efforts to twist the facts, “steam” testimonies simply do not predominate in the early reports. Jansson creates an appearance of “steam” in part by ignoring important, contradictory testimonies (as listed in the table above). He seems surprised to discover that Auerbach and another leading Oyneg Shabes figure, Adolf Berman, promoted the very views expressed in their organization’s major report! Jansson even claims that Polish Home Army bulletin, released shortly after the deportations began, inevitably reported “a story of killing” – Jansson himself writing tautologically of the deportees as “resettlers” despite the lack of evidence for their resettlement. Jansson seems incapable of considering that the reason for the Home Army report’s conclusions about murder might not have been a “given” at all but would have come from alarming reports reaching the underground’s agents. Jansson characterizes the few contrary references he admits to as, on their face, the result of embarrassment over the so-called steam story. At the same time, Jansson fails even to mention significant later eyewitness reports that leave no question that their authors concluded that the murders at Treblinka occurred by means of gas – summarized above but notably Jankiel Wiernik[117] and Oscar Strawczynski[118] (also Chil Rajchman,[119] Richard Glazar,[120] and others) – or similar reports like the 1943 “Plotnicka letter”[121].

    Jansson brushes aside the efforts of Jews and Poles to understand what was becoming of deportees as a propaganda contrivance rather than the result of the need and desire to know: “What killing method would be claimed took some time to determine.” It is rather that, as one would expect, it took some time even for Jews kept alive in the camp to determine exactly what was going on behind the walls of the gas chambers. The few "steam" reports were part of the process - and helped confirm that Jews were being murdered in the camp.

    The realistic alternative to the sort of conspiracy thinking in which Jansson is trapped is to consider the situation in which Warsaw’s Jewish community found itself, what sources of information and tools were available to community members, and how those threatened with deportation and death proceeded, and with what degree of success; consideration of all such factors helps us understand the situation of Jews in Poland during 1942 and to frame their responses in a meaningful way.

    But let’s conclude with a point of agreement with Jansson: an interest in a fully worked-out genealogy of the understanding and concepts of the Einsatz Reinhard camps. Only let that genealogy embrace the full nature of the early reports about the Treblinka camp and the rather rapid agreement of escapee and survivor testimony on the murder of Jews there in gas chambers.


    [73] A good example of the shoddiness of Jansson’s deck-stacking of “steam” references is his inclusion on his list of “a December 1942 poem written in the Warsaw ghetto”; Jansson is careful to omit mention of poems by Warsaw ghetto poet Wladyslaw Szlengl that refer to gassing. Kassow, for example, discusses Szlengl’s poem “Reckoning with God,” which includes a garbled reference to the fate of the Jews: “When I go under the Prussian gas” (p 319). In his poem “Little Station Treblinka,” Szlengl was more explicit about Treblinka: “Here you cook with gas,” he wrote (quoted in Perochodnik, p 50).

    [74] Vasily Grossman, “The Hell Called Treblinka” (1944) - (found here)

    [75] Rachel Auerbach, “In the Fields of Treblinka” (1947), in Donat, pp 17-77

    [76] Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz, a judge who was a member of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland, published on the basis of his findings in 1946 in an article "Obóz zagłady Treblinka" (The Extermination Camp Treblinka) and in a book Obóz straceń w Treblince.

    [78] Lewin, p 149 (7 August 1942: crematorium), p 153 (11 August 1942: Smolar, Slawa).

    [79] Quoted in Carlo Mattogno and Jurgen Graf, Holocaust Handbook Series, Volume 8: Treblinka: Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?, (Washington, DC: The Barnes Review, 2004, 2005, 2010), pp 48, 116 (report dated 8 September 1942)

    [80] Quoted in Mattogno and Graf, p 47 (report dated 5 October 1942). Mattogno and Graf also quote from a Polish underground report of 17 August 1942 (pp 48, 116) which surmised that Jews were being gassed at Treblinka “the gas chamber is mobile”; like other early reports, the August and October reports quoted here by Mattogno and Graf refer to the pits for corpse disposal at the camp. Note that the earlier, August report contains the reference to mobile barracks whilst the report from the following months do not. These 1942 Home Army reports are also cited here; along with other reports mentioning gassings in the camp (notably Information Bulletin for 23 October 1942).

    [82] Gutman testimony of 27 February 1947, AZIH 301/2226, information supplied by a colleague.

    [83] Frydrych’s mission for the Bund, during which interviewed Wallach, is widely discussed, for example, in Arad, pp 244-246, 261; Goldstein, p 118; Engelking & Leociak, p 714; Yisrael Gutman, Jews of Warsaw: The Jews of Warsaw, 1939-1943: Ghetto, Underground, Revolt, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1989), p 222; Paulsson, p 74; Marek Edelman, Warsaw Uprising. Blatman, En direct . . . for French translation of the Oyf der wach article; a German version is Dok. 43, “Oyf der vakh: Beschreibung des Lagers Treblinka vom 20.September 1941,” in Klaus-Peter Friedrich, Die Verfolgung, p 443. According to Bernard Goldstein, Wallach had informed Frydrych that victims “were led into large hermetically sealed chambers and gassed.” The Bund report itself was more cautious, mentioned gas and electricity as possible methods of murder. (Goldstein quoted here.) 

    [84] Samuel Puterman, “The Warsaw Ghetto,” in Grynberg, Words to Outlive Us, pp 206-212

    [85] Nowodworski gave an account (AR II/296, see Shapiro and Epsztein, p 394, dated 28 August 1942) that was described by Lewin in his diary. There Lewin noted that on 28 August 1942 “we had a long talk with Dowid Nowodworski, who returned from Treblinka. He gave us the complete story of the sufferings that he endured from the first moment that he was seized to the escape from the death-camp and up to his return to Warsaw. His words confirm once again and leave no room for doubt that all the deportees, both those who have been seized and those who reported voluntarily, are taken to be killed and that no one is saved.” The diary mentions the Radom and Siedlce actions and describes Nowodworski’s account as a “testimony of stark anguish.” Lewin also notes that he and others took Nowodworski’s testimony. Lewin, p 170. This diary entry shows the primacy which Oyneg Shabes collaborators gave to discovery of the purpose of the deportations and the fate of the deportees – what the Germans intended and their “rules of engagement” – over matters such as manner of death. As we will see, during August and September Lewin became aware of other escapees and what they reported, and he participated as discussed above in the extensive Oyneg Shabes interview of Jakob Rabinowicz.

    [86] See above – Seidman, pp 101-107; Lewin, pp 185-186

    [87] Lewin, pp 183-184

    [88] Shapiro and Epsztein, p 394; “Some Information about Treblinka” in Kermish, pp 709-710

    [89] Donat, pp 77-147 for short version, Kermish, “Reminiscenses,” pp 710-716 for long version

    [90] Menahem Kon, “Fragments of a Diary (Aug. 6, 42 – Oct. 1, 42)” in Kermish, pp 85-86 (AR II/208)

    [91] Shapiro and Epsztein, p 394; the author of this report, a Treblinka escapee, was from Czestochowa and, upon escaping, made his way to Warsaw ghetto where he provided testimony including “4 sketches of map of the camp in Treblinka (with explanations).” He also made reference to "komory smierci" without specifying a method of killing.

    [92] Menahem (Mendel) Kon, in his diary, and Abraham Krzepicki, in his testimonies, referred to gravediggers at Treblinka. In Kon’s case, the reference was to his source for information about the camp and gas chambers – gravediggers who’d been able to escape the camp – but is not specific as to where in the camp the informants worked; Krzepicki, as we’ve seen, specified that the gravediggers were not burying gassing victims – thus implying that they worked in other parts of the camp than near the gas chambers. Other references to gravediggers were made by Lewin (mentioned by the unnamed escapee referenced in the diary entry for 21 September) and Ringelblum (“the news about the gravediggers” adding parenthetically and elliptically “Rabinowicz, Jacob”; “the Jewish gravediggers with yellow patches on their knees,” likely a conflation of the Jews performing craft-labor in the lower camp – as mentioned by Krzepicki and Wiernik – with gravediggers); these references fail to point to a specific location at which the prisoners worked but suggest the lower, not death, camp.

    [93] A colleague has brought to my attention a “secondhand” report of a meeting with a purported Treblinka escapee from Kielce that mentioned electricity, the misinformation presumably coming from “inside the camp.” This colleague points out that other electricity reports could have been hearsay swirling around the surrounding countryside. The influence of prior hearsay based on erroneous reports about Bełzec is certain. 

    [94] This blog post was prepared for time reasons without access to the originals of important Kon and Puterman documents to ascertain exactly how the method of killing was stated.

    [95] I offer this tentative analysis despite certain limitations, such as my inability to consult archives for original and full testimonies, data available to me for only about half the testimonies I've listed, use of English language and excerpted versions of testimonies, and reliance on a variety of secondary sources for information as to method of murder identified in most of the testimonies. A small number of survivors (e.g., Krzepicki, Nowodworski, Rabinowicz) gave multiple testimonies, each of which was included in the survey. In this survey also counted were cases of unnamed escapees cited in diaries or other writings. A more complete survey and refinement of these data are needed but beyond the scope of this reply.

    [96] Stanislaw Kon, Szymon Goldberg, and Samuel Rajzman believed that the killings were effected in two steps – first by pumping air out of the chambers, then by pumping gas in. Goldberg noted, “Then there was also chlorine” (Mattogno & Graf, Treblinka, p 67).

    [97] Joshua D. Zimmerman, The Polish Underground and the Jews, 1939-1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), p 157

    [98] Zimmerman, p 157

    [99] Zimmerman, p 152

    [100] Mattogno & Graf, Treblinka, p 48

    [101] Zimmerman, p 152

    [102] Zimmerman, p 158

    [103] Zimmerman, p 154

    [104] Zimmerman, p 155

    [105] Mattogno & Graf, Treblinka, p 48

    [106] Zimmerman, pp 158-159

    [107] Zimmerman, p 161

    [108] Mattogno & Graf, Treblinka, p 47

    [109] Zimmerman, p 161

    [110] Zimmerman, p 166

    [111] Zimmerman, p 160

    [112] Mattogno & Graf, Treblinka, p 48, the authors give no further information

    [113] Zimmerman, p 153

    [114] Found here; there is a 1943 Soviet reference by I. Sergeeva in Pravda to killing at Treblinka by means of "steam," this reference reliant on information from Polish underground radio, thus out of sync with the vast majority of Polish underground reports on the camp (Karel C. Berkhoff, "'Total Annihilation of the Jewish Population': The Holocaust in the Soviet Media, 1941-45," in Michael David-Fox, Peter Holquist, and Alexander M. Martin, eds., The Holocaust in the East: Local Perpetrators and Soviet Responses (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014), p 106

    [115] Menahem Kon, “Fragments,” in Kermish, pp 85-86

    [116] Kassow, p 192 (Kassow cites AR II/289); Opoczynski’s note was in a diary entry for 9 October 1942, according to Kassow, commenting on a rumor he’d heard

    [117] “A Year in Trebinka” in Donat, pp 147-188 (written in Warsaw beginning in 1943 and first published the following year); Wiernik would testify at the Eichmann trial in 1961.

    [118] “Ten Months in Treblinka,” in Israel Cymlich and Oscar Strawczysnki, Escaping Hell in Treblinka, (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2007), pp 117-282.

    [119] Rajchman’s memoir, published in English as The Last Jew of Treblinka, (New York: Pegasus Books / W.W. Norton, 2011), was written during 1944-1945, most of it while in hiding as the Soviets advanced toward Germany.

    [120] Richard Glazar, Trap with a Green Fence: Survival in Treblinka, (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1995); Wolfgang Benz says that Glazar’s account was written “immediately after the war” (p ix).

    [121] Found here; this letter, from ZOB members, dated 17 July 1943, said of Treblinka that “The extermination was carried out by gas in Treblinka near Malkinia.”


    «Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 228 of 228
    bhigr said...

    No Red herring! Completely demolishes your theory.if the victims suffocated usually and were thus not colored Red, then there is no point in constructing Gas installations. The Gas is dangerous, explosive,lethal,volatile,... and useless! No sane Person would Act in this way!

    Sergey Romanov said...

    You are of course wrong, and it has been fully debunked above, but once again a red herring because it's a separate topic. We are not talking about whether it was reasonable to construct gas chambers. We are talking about how many would have been poisoned by CO2 and how many by CO in the already constructed petrol gas chambers.

    So unless you are claiming that if you cram a few hundred people in a small sealed room they won't suffocate, you better start answering the question from the previous comments, or you're just spamming.

    bhigr said...

    Moderate anemia Effects less than 10% of the Population world wide, this would be inconsequential for your cause! Strong forms are much more seldom. Jews are no different from other people! Therefore your anemia theory is wishful thinking.

    J Kelly said...

    Are you saying that exhaust fumes are dangerous, explosive, lethal, volatile?
    Why? Exhaust fumes are dangerous, certainly. Certainly not useless.
    Definitely lethal, but, explosive?

    Sergey Romanov said...

    "Moderate anemia Effects less than 10% of the Population world wide, this would be inconsequential for your cause! Strong forms are much more seldom. Jews are no different from other people! Therefore your anemia theory is wishful thinking."

    The modern stats affected by peaceful times do not matter. Provide the stats for the war-torn Europe, esp. for the ghettos.

    Sergey Romanov said...

    OK, that's it. You are banned from this thread until:

    1. you either provide the numbers of those who would have suffocated from CO v. those who would have suffocated from CO2;

    2. or you admit that you don't know.

    J Kelly said...

    So is your transit camp theory.

    Statistical Mechanic said...

    Does bhigr know where the victims who came to Treblinka in summer and early fall 1942 came from? Let us just start by saying, most of them were not healthy. Many, indeed most of those brought to Treblinka suffered from hunger and exposure to diseases. Among the victims were many weakened by epidemics of typhus and other diseases, and diseases due to malnourishment were prevalent among these victims. A study on their condition was published in 1942 - The Disease of Starvation: Clinical Research into Starvation Performed in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, by Drs. Braude-Hellerowa, Fliederbaum, Apfelbaum, Milejkowski, and others based on their work with starving ghetto inmates.This study was made possible only by the "gift" of starvation given to the ghetto by the Nazis, whose contribution in this case to medical research was stinting on food rations for Jewish subjects. The persecution of the Jews and their undernourishment made possible the assembly of a research team of Jewish doctors using widely available starving “ghetto material” for a breakthrough examination of the various aspects of starvation (skin changes, anatomical patterns, clinical and biomedical aspects, impact on children, circulatory impact, and bone marrow - among the results of starvation is anemia, due to vitamin deficiencies). It is sheer idiocy to type out words like "most people aren't sick" without regard for the situation we're discussing

    In addition to the factors that Sergey and others have mentioned, there are the conditions of the camp, under which the witnesses were held, and of the gassing process, which meant that corpses were smeared with excrement and bodily fluids, rushed to mass graves, and disposed of under duress and with violence. The witnesses whose testimony we have a record of for this period did not observe the process close up - and the reports based on those who did are brief and not detailed.

    This discussion, which is far afield from Jansson's arguments, has been done to death and replaying it here only serves to deflect from the weaknesses in Jansson's argument. The fact-free smoke bhigr is blowing around here makes for tedious reading - his witterings aren't worthy of a place even at the table, so to speak. That said, I do wonder why bhirg won't answer J Kelly's request for evidence about resettlement and why bhigr misstated what I wrote about the witnesses who mentioned "steam."

    Sergey Romanov said...

    The Lancet, Volume 240, No. 6202, p32–33, 11 July 1942

    Pages 32-33
    Helen M.M Mackay, Lucy Wills, R.H Dobbs, Kaitilin Bingham

    "Between September, 1941, and January, 1942, haemoglobin estimations were made by the Haldane method on 1074 persons living in London and the Home Counties.
    These comprised 364 children aged 6 months to 5 years, 128 school-children aged 5-15 years, 38 factory girls aged 14-18 years, and 544 women aged 18 years and upwards (229 hospital nurses, 124 medical students, 159 factory hands and 32 housewives). Our results reveal a disquieting increase in anaemia among the women and children examined.


    The nurses and women medical students studied fell into two groups. The first consisted of women at a London teaching hospital; their mean haemoglobin level was 90,6%. The second, strictly comparable, group of women had been away from the hospital in London for two months and upwards when examined at a base hospital in the country ; their mean haemoglobin level was, in contrast to that of the former group, 84,1%. These figures are both low in comparison with Price Jones’s (1931) mean of 98-2% for a strictly comparable group of nurses and women students in London, and with Jenkins and Don’s (1933) mean of 99,7% for representative groups of supposedly healthy British women before this war.


    There was a high incidence of anaemia among children aged 6 months to 5 years, the mean haemoglobin values being: at 6-12 months 75,4%, at 1-2 years 72,8% and by 4-5 years 81,8%. These values are similar to those of working-class children of a decade ago, who received
    no prophylactic iron treatment. Such figures must be considered pathological, for it has been established that by raising the mean haemoglobin level of such children by iron administration their resistance to infection is much enhanced (Mackay and Goodfellow 1931, Mackay 1933). In the immediate prewar period the mean haemoglobin values of this age-group in many parts of the country had probably been raised considerably as a result of widespread prophylaxis."

    And these are not members of a persecuted minority living in a ghetto.

    Sergey Romanov said...

    Heh, seems like bhigr doesn't have an answer and can't admit he's wrong.

    J Kelly said...

    Thanks for posting that, that pretty much takes care of the whole "red coloration" issue.

    Statistical Mechanic said...

    Anyone who would write of the Jews transported to Treblinka that they were all healthy is just typing whatever comes into his little head in a vain attempt to head off disaster.

    Sergey Romanov said...

    Mindless deniers like bhigr, who can't even answer simple questions posed to them, have to make up stuff to defend their Nazi heroes.

    J Kelly said...

    For one thing bhigr would have a hard time explaining Gauleiter Kube's express order to halt any further deportations of Polish Jews to Belorussia. This was just over 1000 healthy males sent to assist the Wehrmacht. Also, Kube issues that order on July 31st, 1942 just as the deportations were cranking up.
    He'd also have to ignore the fact that Kube spent most of the document showing the numbers of Jews "liquidated."

    J Kelly said...

    I enjoy watching deniers squirm trying to prove their "transit camp' theory.

    Sergey Romanov said...

    The "best" (hehe) denier minds have searched for evidence of an actual resettlement - and have come up completely empty.

    Really, guys, the "they're on Mars" theory is worth exploring. At least it's not as far-fetched as yours. *snicker*

    Sergey Romanov said...


    Statistical Mechanic said...

    So one more point needs to be made: bhigr didn't even try defending Jansson - I tried to show in this short series that Jansson, to make believe that steam "testimonies" were invented and promoted, distorted and bungled testimonies from Rabinowicz and Krzepicki and ignored an array of testimonies and reports from other escapees, Oyneg Shabes, and the Polish Underground. Instead of defending the revisionist claims on this, espoused by Jansson, bhigr took to writing that if some victims died from CO others could not have suffocated in the chambers and that everyone was healthy, just fine and dandy in Warsaw ghetto . . .

    Sergey Romanov said...

    He sure likes to change the topic of the discussion.

    Sergey Romanov said...

    So I guess the silence is a tacit admission that bhigr doesn't know how many people in a chamber would have suffocated before being poisoned with CO and thus the color musings are totally useless.

    Statistical Mechanic said...

    To tie together Sergey's comment on anemia in Europe, and my general comment on the state of Jews' health in Warsaw ghetto - In Paul R. Bartrop, Steven Leonard Jacobs, Modern Genocide: The Definitive Resource and Document Collection [volume IV ) the appendix includes excerpts from Raphael Lemkin’s survey of Axis rule in Europe and genocide: In a passage on “racial discrimination in feeding,” Lemkin discussed the impact of the reduced quantity of food which the Germans made available for people in the occupied areas of the East as well as the quality of food supplied. Lemkin has a table showing that Jews received the lowest quantity of food of any national group - about a quarter of what Germans received in carbohydrates, a fifth in proteins, and less than 1% in fats. Lemkin concluded that because of a lack of calories and nutrients, people living in these occupied areas saw “a decline in health” and “an increase the death rate.”

    “In Warsaw,” he wrote, “anemia rose 113 percent among Poles and 435 among Jews.” (p 2173, also here:

    In The Holocaust Encyclopedia (edited by Walter Laqueur and Judith Tydor Baumel), in the article on ghettos, hunger and disease, we can read that vitamin deficiencies “resulted in a number of conditions,” among them “anemia and neurological dysfunction (B12) . . .” (p 263)

    On the other hand, bhigr has declared that "Most people aren't sick and therefore do not suffer from anemia!" What are his sources for this exclamation regarding the ghettos from which Jews were deported to Treblinka? Voices in his head insisting on this and other fantasies?

    Jeff said...

    "Yes, I know this! Most people aren't sick and therefore do not suffer from anemia!"

    Please tell me that you are joking. Most starving, ill, mistreated people develop anemia. There exists medical reports from Jewish physicians in the Warsaw ghetto which state that the average deportee had about half of the cardiovascular capacity of a normal person due to the starvation. This is not the first time I have posted this. If you continue to dodge and act like an obtuse little twat I will petition to have you banned.

    Jeff said...

    "Moderate anemia Effects less than 10% of the Population world wide, this would be inconsequential for your cause! Strong forms are much more seldom. Jews are no different from other people! Therefore your anemia theory is wishful thinking."

    See above. You are either trolling or you have done no research whatsoever. You know nothing about the conditions in the Warsaw ghetto. Do you propose that the Jews were eating schwarma and garlic bread every day?

    Jeff said...

    "No Red herring! Completely demolishes your theory.if the victims suffocated usually and were thus not colored Red, then there is no point in constructing Gas installations. The Gas is dangerous, explosive,lethal,volatile,... and useless! No sane Person would Act in this way!"

    Motherfucker, how do you not understand that suffocation was a secondary cause of death.

    Let me break it down for you again.

    most would not have shown Postmortum discoloration due to anemia. A number would have suffocated. The number that would have shown it would have been a minority and FYI the pinkish coloration is not all that stark or noticeable, see my earlier posts on Eric Hunt's shot in the foot-photo on rodoh.

    And let us not forget that at least one witness described it.

    Jeff said...

    and finally, the actual red lividity is not present until several hours after death, by which point the victims would have been buried under a layer of sand.

    Sergey Romanov said...

    "suffocation was a secondary cause of death"

    Actually we don't know that. If you think about how they loaded the chambers, hundreds of people would have been spending from 10 to 30 minutes (if not more) in sealed rooms before the last chamber was loaded and the engine was started. It can easily be that suffocation was a primary cause of death.

    Nathan said...

    As I understand it, the main purpose of the gas chambers was to kill people with gas. In that sense death by suffocation, while still very possible and good for the killers, was only a side effect. A "positive" outcome for the killers but not something they expected or intended. It can be compared to the situation wherein at least several thousand Jews died in the overcrowded and cramped train cars because Treblinka couldn't process them fast enough. We could call them "secondary causes" because they weren't the intended, primary means of killing.

    Very clear cut and easy to understand, unless your name is Bhigr.

    Really, Bhigr's obsession over the killing methods is sick. He's insinuating that the Jews "starving to death" or "committing suicide" as direct results of Nazi policies as opposed to being murdered in gas chambers makes everything okay and absolves his heroes. Whether they died by CO poisoning or suffocation is as relevant as the type of bullet or rifle used to Assassinate JFK. Still murder no matter how you spin it.

    Sergey Romanov said...

    The troll tried to spam some trash by well-known frauds and ignored the condition for returning in this thread: answering the question posed to him.

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