Friday, December 13, 2019

Correction Corner #9: Höß on how long the crematoria could work continuously.

In his methodologically brilliant rebuttal of the Auschwitz Holocaust denial of the David Irving variety The Case for Auschwitz, 2002, Robert Jan van Pelt quotes an excerpt from Rudolf Höß' testimony during his Cracow trial (p. 262):
Even as we added another 1,000 additional inmates to the squads sorting the luggage, there was no way to speed up the action. We had not enough space to store all these things, and this is why we failed in our effort to faster send out of the camp all the clothing and belongings these people had brought to Auschwitz. No improvements could be made to the crematoria. After eight to ten hours of operation the crematoria were unfit for further use. It was impossible to operate them continuously. As Eichmann had mentioned that we should expect by the end of the year 1944 and in 1945 more transports, we planned a larger crematorium. It was to be a huge, circular brick furnace, to be built underground. Due to lack of time, it was never designed.”
This quote was seized upon by the semi-revisionist Fritjof Meyer, whose pretty pathetic 2002 article on the number of the victims of Auschwitz misused various sources to severely reduce the number of the Jewish Auschwitz victims. The quote was one of the cornerstones of Meyer's argument, signifying to him that the ovens couldn't be used 24/7 and thus the number of the victims had to be lower.

Meyer's overall thesis was soundly debunked, but when responding to this particular point, Meyer's opponents merely appealed to Höß' other statements indicating that the ovens could indeed be operated longer than the 8-10 hours in the quote. This was done by Albrecht Kolthoff, John Zimmerman and Franciszek Piper. While this response did its job, it is necessary to check the Polish transcript in question.

Here is the relevant page (AIPN NTN 108, p. 170):

Höß testified about 8-10 "tygodni", i. e. weeks, not hours.

Meyer's argument had already been null and void, but this simply destroys any possibility of it having been correct. Höß merely claims that the operation couldn't be literally continuous since after a few weeks of use crematoria would have to have some repair work done (which doesn't mean they wouldn't be made operational very soon, just that the operation was not contunous - but that's nothing new, we already knew about the regular breakdowns of the crematoria due to heavy use, among other things).

While both Zimmerman and Kolthoff did not have an easy access to the transcripts, Piper did, but for some reason never bothered to check the correctness of the citation.

(For fairness' sake I will mention that this mistranslation was first pointed out by the otherwise deceptive and ignorant Holocaust denier Mattogno in his article "Über die Kontroverse Piper-Meyer: Sowjetpropaganda gegen Halbrevisionismus", VffG, 2004, Heft 1, p. 76, though it was his second attempt, in his earlier article on the Meyer affair he merely speculated about a translation mistake without however going to the original text.)

Lesson: try to go to the original sources as much as possible.

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