Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mattogno's Falsehoods on the Rauff Letter to the Criminal Technical Institute

As shown in Rebuttal of Alvarez on Gas Vans Part V: The Rauff Letter to the Criminal Technical Institute (update) (2nd update) (3rd update), Alvarez has performed the fail to claim that "formally seen, almost everything about this letter is wrong" on a formally authentic document corroborating German homicidal gas vans. In his book Inside the Gas Chambers, Carlo Mattogno has hailed Alvarez' display of his complete ignorance and misunderstanding of RSHA documents as "critical analysis". He further did not want to miss the opportunity to contribute some of his own ignorance of the argument, so here we go.

Bureaucratic Practises in the RSHA

Mattogno argues that "the letter, based on its letterhead ('II D Rf/Hb'), would have come from Walter Rauff ('Rf')" but "[n]onetheless, at the bottom of the document we have Rauff’s signature, preceded by 'i.A.' (im Auftrag, by order)" (p. 146). Our "specialist in text analysis" has apparently fundamentally misunderstood the bureaucratic formalism of letters sent from the RSHA. As pointed out previously, Rauff's letter to the Criminal Technical Institute is a carbon copy from a letter typed on astationery. How did this stationery look like in the RSHA? Did every head of an RSHA office had their own personalized sheets? 

Figure 1.
A standard sheet of writing paper from the RSHA is shown in Figure 1 (from Eichman trial exhibit T-37 88). The main feature is the heading "Der Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und SD" (the head of the security police and security service), i.e. any letters were going out under the name of Heydrich or later Kaltenbrunner. It is for this reason that Rauff - as the subordinate of Heydrich - had to sign his letters with "by order", since he was formally writing on behalf of Heydrich. The letter to the Criminal Technical Institute got this detail entirely right.

Figure 2.

In fact, if Mattogno had checked out one of his own citations and opened Alvarez' book on p. 313 (Figure 2), he would find the internal copy of a letter of Rauff to the Gaubschat company of 30 April 1942, which is regarded as authentic by deniers. This letter was signed by Rauff "by order", too.

Mattogno further insists that "[c]ontrary to normal practise, the typed name of the author of the letter is missing, as are his name [sic!] and rank". What is "normal practice" is indeed not defined by Mattogno, but by what contemporaries did at the time. And as can be seen from numerous other letters from the RSHA, it was a standard practice to sign documents without further typing name and rank, see IV C 1 to Reichstatthalter Wien of 16 October 1941, Heydrich to Security Police and Security Service offices of 25 January 1942, Heydrich to Schmitt of 25 January 1942, Eichmann to Auswärtige Amt of 25 September 1942 (Eichmann trial exhibit T-37 88), IV B 4 to Auswärtige Amt of 15 August 1944 (Eichmann trial exhibit T-37 87) etc. pp.

Likewise unfounded is Mattogno's claim that sending back the "procedure" (i.e. the written request from Mauthausen) to the Criminal Technical Institute "was not standard practice" (p. 147). But in another letter to Hitler's Chancellery of 9 February 1944, the Criminal Technical Institute submitted the same request to sent back a forwarded letter they obtained from the IG Farbenindustrie (BArch B162/822, p. 22).

Mattogno has clearly no clue what was standard practise in the RSHA and what was not. Just because he may claim to have studied thousands of documents from the central construction office Auschwitz, this does not qualify him as an expert on the RSHA bureaucracy, which was used to different practices.

Major Pradel

On Friedrich Pradel, who is referred to as Major in Rauff's letter to the Criminal Technical Institute, Mattogno asserts that "Pradel was not a 'Major' in any way; his SS-rank of Hauptsturmführer corresponded to that of a captain" (p.146). Unfortunately, Mattogno does not provide a source for the claim that Pradel was SS-Haupsturmführer at the time. Most likely, he read in Mathias Beer's classic article on the gas vans that Heydrich "approached SS-Obersturmführer Rauff, head of the group II D 3 (technical matters) early October [1941], whose department II D 3a (motor pool of the security police) was lead by SS-Hauptsturmführer Pradel". Beer was right that Pradel was SS-Hauptsturmführer in October 1941. However, in March 1942 when the letter to the Criminal Technical Institute was written, Pradel had been already promoted to Major and on 3 April 1942, he also received the equivalent SS rank SS-Sturmbannführer (NS Justiz und Verbrechen Band XXIII, Verfahren Nr. 632, p. 602). The letter, therefore, addressed Pradel by his proper police rank. A letter from Pradel of 12 August 1943 designates him as SS-Sturmbannführer und Major der Schutzpolizei (BArch B162/601, p. 4).

In the above quote, Beer incorrectly designated Rauff's group as II D 3, whereas it was actually II D. He used the proper term on three other occasions in the article. Now, Mattogno also mentions Rauff's group by its correct name at first but writes a paragraph later that Rauff was "head of group II D 3 (Technical matters) of RSHA", just like Beer. He obviously relied on Beer on this and on Pradel's rank, yet without naming his source. This is insofar telling as "plagiarism" seems to be one of Mattogno's favourite smearing against the Holocaust Controversies White Paper refuting him on Aktion Reinhard.

Writing Mistake

When Rauff's letter stated that "I request that you initiate the acquisition of steel bottles with carbon monoxide or respectively other remedies for the implementation", it was overlooked by Rauff and his secretary to add a term of what is to be implemented (e.g. the "action). Mattogno declares that this "can only stem from an error in translation. It seems that the letter was drawn up in English and that on translation into German the English word “execution” was rendered as 'Durchführung' = implementation" (p. 147). 

His argument that this forgery hypothesis was the only explanation for the mistake is utterly false. Let aside that this would hardly be the first German document with some writing error (like these inconspicuous letters of Harald Turner here), it can be also well understood how the term slipped out from the text due to some sort of inner self-censorship.

It is moreover unlikely that a hypothetical forger, who would have prepared the document very carefully, would commit such a mistake on an extremely crucial point for him, whereas the error was something entirely irrelevant for Rauff. Apart from being not the only explanation, Mattogno's conspiracy theory not backed up by any evidence is also far inferior to assuming a simple mistake by Rauff or his secretary (cf. Occam's Razor). And already the odd but nevertheless utterly authentic form of the document makes a forgery extremely unlikely. 

Documentary Evidence on Carbon Monoxide Steel Bottles
"The proposal to supply Mauthausen with 'steel bottles with carbon oxide or other auxiliary agents' (what agents?) is nothing but yet another attempt to produce a document using this infamous term which otherwise does not appear in any document."
 (Mattogno, Inside the Gas Chambers, p. 148)

Along the same line, Jürgen Graf writes in the foreword to the book that "the allegations that the killings were carried out by means of carbon monoxide gas supplied in steel bottles – there is no documentary proof for this" (p. 11). If Mattogno and Graf had done some basic research on the Euthanasia, they could have found out how dead wrong this is. 

Ernst Klee's classic monograph on the Nazi Euthanasia first published in 1985 quotes two German documents from the T4 official Friedrich Lorent on the return of 51 carbon monoxide steel bottles to the IG Farbenindustrie (Klee, "Euthanasie" im NS-Staat, 2009 p. 445 f.). These documents have also been reproduced in the judgment against the two Euthanasia officials Hans-Joachim Becker and Friedrich Lorent published in 2005. Two further letters from the IG Farbenindustrie to the Criminal Technical Institute of 1943 and 1944 on carbon monoxide bottles are cited in Kogon et al., Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, 1995, p. 307 (first edition from 1983). Yet another document represents the film script of a Nazi documentary according to which "the patients are subjected to the effect of carbon monoxide" after "opening of the valve". The document has been quoted - amongst others - in Hans-Walter Schmuhl, Rassenhygiene, Nationalsozialismus, Euthanasie, 1987, p. 290, Götz Aly, Aktion T 4, 1989, p. 92, Michael Burleigh, Death and Deliverance: 'Euthanasia' in Germany 1900 to 1945, 1995, p. 202.

Mattogno was only aware of the citation from Kogon et al., but brushed it away with his absurd explanation that if those documents were proving CO supply to the Euthanasia they "would have published them right away" and that "the extremely late dates of these letters raise suspicions about their authenticity" (p. 46). It is telling how easy Mattogno suspects documents, he has never seen and does not know in context, as a forgery because they may challenge his denial. Of course, since historians can establish the Euthanasia gassing with carbon monoxide beyond reasonable doubt already from the testimonial evidence from the various Euthanasia trials, there was never any reason to publish the IG Farbenindustrie letters "right away". Mattogno projects his own obsessions to real historians, to whom such docs are just a historical detail not worth more than a mere footnote.

To put the matter to rest, none less than 16 contemporary German documents on the existence, use, filling, delivery, the return of carbon monoxide gas bottles in the context of the Nazi Euthanasia have been compiled here.

The relatively late dates 1943-45 of the 15 documents on the CO bottles are explained by two reasons. Most docs deal with empty bottles obtained and used much earlier - at least seven CO bottles had been delivered on 3 January 1942. However, on 19 April 1944, a Euthanasia official requested from the Criminal Technical Institute of the Security Police to obtain 15 filled CO bottles, which suggests that it was at least intended to continue carbon monoxide gassings as late as 1944.

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