Wednesday, September 07, 2016

More evidence converges on the homicidal Auschwitz gas van

In my 2006 article "How the convergence of evidence works: the gas van of Auschwitz" I illustrated the convergence of evidence principle on an example of the Auschwitz gas van.

Long story made short: Auschwitz resistance messages mentioned a gas van operating in Auschwitz in late 1944, mentioning its registration number; several witnesses after the war mentioned gas vans operating in Auschwitz; finally, I discovered that the same registration number was mentioned in a 1942 Einsatzgruppe B report as belonging to a "Gaswagen". Thus all the evidence converged to the conclusion that a homicidal gas van was operating in Auschwitz for smaller execution actions, and while separate pieces of evidence might not be deemed sufficient on their own to reach such a conclusion, these pieces of evidence taken together mutually reinforced and corroborated each other, like pieces of a puzzle.

Deniers did respond in their own way by trying to obfuscate the issue and largely ignoring the arguments I had made in my article. Their attempts at erasing the evidence will be examined in  detail by Hans in later posts. Meanwhile I wish to report on a new find of mine that makes the deniers' task of falsifying history even more difficult and reinforces the convergence of evidence principle once again.

During the investigation of the Auschwitz car pool (Fahrbereitschaft) personnel, Karl Hirschmann (camp number 116818), a former scribe and storekeeper in the tools and spare parts warehouse of the so-called Prague hall (Prager Halle, Praga-Halle) which belonged to the Fahrbereitschaft, made the following claim as a part of a larger statement made in Vienna (02.04.1963; BArch B162/2825, Bl.169ff):
In the camp Auschwitz there were also several box-type vans [Kastenkraftwagen], so-called gassing vans [Vergasungswagen], that were also brought to the Prague hall for repairs and cleaning. One gassing van always stood before the Prague hall with the other trucks in the yard. I don't know on what occasion these gassing vans were used. It was told that inmates were gassed during the ride. During my stay there a gassing van arrived in the Prague hall at least once per week for cleaning. In the last year before the dissolution of the camp it happened often. The box of the van was stained with excrements and blood. We also found teeth and earlobes. On the floor of the box a connecting piece was installed (diameter about 10 cm) that in the box interior was covered with a perforated metal plate. From the exhaust pipe led a flexible metal hose, which could be screwed on the above-mentioned connecting piece.
Once again, a testimony that is hardly sufficient to establish facts on its own actually becomes a significant piece of evidence when observed not in isolation, but together with other evidence. Consider the following points:
  • George Goiny-Grabowski, the Fahrbereitschaft's head scribe, who also was in a perfect position to know such things, confirmed the existence of gas vans too (without, however, providing the kind of technical details that Hirschmann did). His statement has been quoted in the article above (it can also be found in BArch B162/2835, Bl. 160ff., 25.09.1963, Adelaide).
  • There existed various gas van modifications, however here is the one that matches Hirschmann's, from a 30.03.1963 judgment in the Chelmno case (LG Bonn 30.03.1963, JuNSV Lfd.Nr.594b, Bd.XXI, S.277):
    These gas vans were massive gray-painted trucks, foreign-manufactured, with a closed box body, which was separated from the driver's cabin and was about 2 meters wide, 2 meters high and 4 meters long. The interior was lined with galvanized iron. On the floor lay two wooden grates, under which in the first period there was an opening in the car floor, which was covered with a perforated steel plate, and later two tubes with small holes. To this opening or pipes a hose was connected under the car floor, which had a tapered tip. The hose end could be inserted into the exhaust pipe and firmly screwed with a union nut.
    The difference here is where the hose was attached firmly, and where it could be screwed on - on the exhaust pipe or inside. It is possible that in this modification the hose was actually connected with union nuts on both ends (that would certainly have been helpful when replacing a defective hose). Whether or not this was the case, even if it was a minor slip of memory, that wouldn't diminish the testimony's value.  One detail in Hirschmann's testimony that is not mentioned in the judgment, but is also confirmed by other testimonies, is that the hose was a flexible metal hose.
Moreover, both Hirschmann's and Goiny-Grabowski's statemens were unprompted. Curiously enough the Frankfurt investigators were not interested in the gas van aspect. While the members of the Fahrbereitschaft were asked about other aspects of these two witnesses' testimonies, as far as I could establish they were never interrogated about the gas vans (see esp. BArch B162/2715, 2825-2831, 2837).
In the end, Hirschmann's descriptions confirm that witnesses did not simply confuse a wood gas generator truck (Holzgaswagen) with a homicidal gas van, as some deniers claim.

1 comment:

Hans said...

Some very nice finding corroborating the Auschwitz gas vans, thanks!