In the mockumentary "Probing the Holocaust", the transcript of which is available here, Germar Rudolf presents the footage of the Balard shooting range in order to "prove" that the Allies were engaged in an outright Holocaust-related fraud.
The Balard shooting range was built in 1938 in Issy-les-Moulineaux, at the boulevard Victor in the XVth arrondissement of Paris for training police offcers. It was demolished in 1964. During the Nazi occupation it served as a place of torture and executions.
In his mockumentary Rudolf brings up the postwar footage of the shooting range during his segment on the gas chamber of Dachau (which will be dealt with at a later date). He tries to prove that the footage proves that the Allied Psychological Warfare divisions were faking evidence of Nazi atrocities, and thus wants to dismiss the Dachau gas chamber as another such fake.
Let's take a look at his arguments.
This footage was recorded on October 25, 2017 from the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. When searching their video archive for the term “gas chamber” the first result is this video. It’s titled “Exhumation; inspection of gas chambers; Lt. Hodges.”
This is footage taken after the liberation of Paris of an alleged Gestapo Torture Chamber near the Eiffel Tower. In the description, we read:
“World War II interiors of gas chamber used by the Germans in the execution of prisoners. Demonstrating method of securing prisoners in gas chambers. Various Close-ups, pipes leading into room.”And
“hand prints and scratches dug into cement wall of gas chamber by the victims.”
|Fragment from the video.|
Here are those ominous pipes. They are rather fancy, but not very functional. Most of all, they would have been within reach of the victims, and wouldn’t have survived very long, because they would have been demolished very quickly. Also notice all those windows illuminating this room. How long would those window panes have lasted if the victims inside trashed the place and tried to break out?
|Fragment of the video.|
For that footage, they even pumped some innocuous, but dramatic-looking smoke through the pipes.
|Fragment of the video.|
Here are the handprints in the cement, allegedly created by gassing victims during their death throes. Needless to say, handprints can only be made in fresh mortar, and only insane people would use a room as an execution chamber whose walls had just been plastered.
|Fragment of the video.|
These gas pipes and handprints are not evidence of Nazi atrocities, they are evidence of a deliberate Allied psychological warfare campaign to demonize the defeated Germans. Because this hoax is so obvious, no mainstream historian has ever taken that claim seriously. That does not prevent the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum from presenting it to an unsuspecting audience, though. Unfortunately, most people just accept whatever the government, media, or religion tell them to believe.Now that we've seen Rudolf's presentation, let's pick it apart.
So, what was necessary for the Americans, who had liberated Paris several months earlier, to create that footage? First of all, they must have had a plan. Then, they must have had at their disposal the necessary hardware to create the film set: pipes, smoke-generating devices, and some workers able to install that hardware and to create a cement wall with handprints.
In contrast to that utterly unknown Gestapo torture chamber in Paris, Dachau was one of the best-known German concentration camps.
1. Rudolf's main deception consists in applying the description by unknown persons of unknown competence in charge of writing film descriptions as the last word on and the only true interpretation of what is shown in the footage.
(Side note: the original description already contains the cement reference but qualifies the gas chamber description with "what appears to be" - these words disappear in the USHMM description; the end result is therefore the work of several individuals.)
For Rudolf's arguments apply solely to the description, and if they are valid and sound, then it does not follow that the Allies faked anything; it only follows that the descriptions are false.
2. Case in point: the handprints on the wall. The description claims they are in cement. Rudolf runs with this. He never asks: how does the author of the description even know that? Does the footage claim this? Of course not. It's just what some incompetent archive employee wrote, nothing more. This has zero bearing on the interpretation of the footage itself.
Indeed, had Rudolf done even minuscule research, he would have found that the handprints were in the asbestos layer which covered the wall in order to make it sound-proof (makes sense at a shooting range, no?).
Adam Rayski, author of the small book Au stand de tir. Le massacre des résistants. Paris 1942–1944, quotes from the report by the police commissar Henri Danty dated August 31, 1944, shortly after the liberation of Paris:
Behind the premises of the Ministry of Air, Boulevard Victor in Paris XV arrondissement, there are two shooting ranges, one 200 meter long, the other 50 meter long.Already from the first newspaper items about this wall the matter is clear, they talk of the asbestos-covered wall or "a wall covered with a thick, fibre-like material"
Yesterday the Air Force unit occupying the premises under the command of Commander Marette conducted excavations at the first range and has already exhumed 4 voluminous coffins appearing to contain several bodies each.
The second range was the place of execution and I made the following observations:
At the firing point and over a length of ten meters, and over their entire height, the walls are lined with a thick layer of asbestos and exhibit hundreds of hand prints up to the height of 2,5m.
This part of the range appears to have been closed by a partition isolating it from the rest of the range.
It is impossible to imagine after what tortures the people who were brought there jumped against the wall and left the imprint of their hands in the asbestos.
At the firing slope there are 3 execution posts bearing countless bullet marks; one of them is cut in half by bullets. On these posts hang the bands and the ropes intended for the tortured [...]
It is urgent to proceed with methodical excavations in the ground of these ranges and also to explore the nearby maneuvering area and the sewers, as it is likely that many corpses are buried there.
I think I have to suggest that, in the aftermath of the incredible atrocities that probably occurred in these places, it would probably be appropriate to invite a neutral body to attend the findings.
|Combat, 31.08.1944, p. 2.|
|Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 03.09.1944, p.2.|
|Beckley Post-Herald, 20.09.1944|
Same was mentioned in some of the "newsreels" in which the footage was used.
What kind of measures were applied to the people in this room is a matter of a debate, but it is a secondary issue in the context of Rudolf's methodology, so we will just state that there is zero evidence of fakery as far as the handprints are concerned, and leave it at that.
3. Same applies to the room with the pipes. There is nothing in the footage that says this room was a gas chamber. This is, once again, a groundless interpretation of some archive employee of unknown qualifications.
What was this room? Rayski has the following photo of the room with a comment that according to numerous specialists the objects on the photo are furnaces (also confirmed in this testimony).
An alternative explanation might have been offered by some of the French that the pipes could introduce hot air into the room for torture purposes.
|The Winnipeg Tribune, 04.09.1944, p. 1.|
|The Winnipeg Tribune, 20.01.1945, p. 23.|
Those may be references to the furnace room and the pipes in the footage. This is confirmed in the 05.09.1944 edition of France Libre Actualités, which has a short segment on Issy. While the furnace room is shown the narrator says:
These warm air blowers would first get their victims exhausted.This claim was a mere hearsay/speculation, as is made clear in the articles cited above. The total lack of the gassings in the reporting is telling though. The room was clearly not presented as a gas chamber to the journalists or in the films.
What about the smoke (or steam)? We don't know the context here, and this lack of knowledge obviously doesn't automatically lead to a conclusion of foul play.
First of all, it is not at all clear that the smoke is coming from the pipes. The smoke is in fact seen in the frames where it is (seemingly) not coming from the pipes.
See the footage at the times specified below, since the presence of smoke is better seen in motion. This is seen even better in this wider-frame footage.
The claim is apparently based on a few frames in which the smoke moves relative to the diffuser, thus creating a misleading impression for some that it comes from the diffuser, whereas actually the movement from within the diffuser cannot be observed when one looks carefully.
It can be hypothesized that the investigators were trying to start up the equipment in the room (whether the ventilation or something else) and due to, say, a faulty wire some motor (etc.) caught fire. Or, again, was it just steam coming from some faulty boiler?
We simply lack the crucial context to answer the question with certainty. From this lack of context intellectually honest people cannot jump to "the smoke was staged" conclusion. For that claim there is zero evidence.
(As a side note, there were indeed rumors and hearsay about both the furnace room and the shooting range room having been used for gassings, which cannot, however, serve as a basis for positively claiming that such did indeed take place there. These rumors never entered any official record and are thus irrelevant to the current issue in any case.)
4. All the footage was most probably shot not later than 31.08.1944. In the 31.08.1944 report quoted above the commissar Danty wrote about the exhumation of 4 voluminous coffins on the previous day. We see these coffins in this footage.
As well as in this footage, which is explicitly dated to 31.08.1944.
Same people appear in most of the films.
The films certainly weren't shot "months" after the liberation, contrary to Rudolf's fraudulent assertion.
It is completely implausible that immediately after the liberation of Paris the Americans would have rushed to install fake walls and pipes somewhere and presented them to the members of the French police and the French Forces of the Interior, whom we see on all the footage. (Or were the latter supposed to be the collaborators in this "hoax"? Even less plausible. Especially in light of Danty's request to invite a neutral commission.)
5. Rudolf's "fakes for propaganda" claim does not make sense anyway. Professional propagandists are usually not dumber than the average folks.
Yet Rudolf wants us to believe that they created a cement wall with handprints (up to 2.5m height, at that) and would not have realized the stupidity of this during the (undoubtedly onerous) creation of this wall?
That they went to great lengths to install the pipes and staged a gassing (which, had it been an actual gassing, would have actually looked more impressive than mere handprints on a wall) but then, crucially, never, ever used it for propaganda (but did use the wall)? And never actually brought up the gassing claims anywhere?
I think it is clear that Rudolf lacks the basic common sense.
So let's sum up. Rudolf used video descriptions (an unreliable tertiary source) to dispute the authenticity of the footage (primary source), instead of relying on the primary source itself (which claims to show neither cement handprints, nor a gassing apparatus). Rudolf failed to do any research, which would have established that the handprints were made in asbestos, that the footage is extremely early and that the French police investigated the scene on the day of the discovery. He failed to investigate the early reports about the site, which contain many rumors and speculations but not once mention any gassings.
Instead he claimed with certainty that Americans installed a fake wall with handprints and fake pipes, and staged a fake gassing months after the liberation.
Then again, what else can one expect from a guy who used half a dozen fake PhDs in lieu of having a real one?
Update 11.11.18: added the FLA reference among other things.