Friday, March 31, 2006

Mattogno's special treatment of evidence

In a 100+ page treatise Special Treatment in Auschwitz. Origin and Meaning of a Term [large PDF] leading Holocaust denier Carlo Mattogno argues that the terms like "Sonderbehandlung" (special treatment) and "Sonderaktion" (special action) had an innocent meaning when used in Auschwitz documents. Mattogno concedes that outside of Auschwitz the term "Sonderbehandlung" could have meant execution, so I won't dwell on this well-known fact here, noting only that it meant execution in the absolute majority of known documents [old link no longer works; see this for examples].

Mattogno discusses lots of Auschwitz documents which contain the code words, and an unsuspecting reader might be duped into believing that Mattogno really did discuss (and rip to shreds) all the Auschwitz-related documentary evidence containing the code words. However, Mattogno deceptively omits the most crucial source on the use of the code word. Before discussing Mattogno's deception, I should say that I agree with Mattogno that "Sonderbehandlung" did not always mean "murder" in Auschwitz. Cost estimate for expansion of Birkenau [1, 2], first published by F. Freund, B. Perz and K. Stuhlpfarrer ("Der Bau des Vernichtungslagers Auschwitz-Birkenau", Zeitgeschichte, Jg. 20/1993, H. 5/6) mentions the following buildings:
16a) Delousing facility 1. for special treatment [...] Extra charges for heating, shower and disinfestation facilities RM 73,680.00 310,000.00 16b) 2. For the guard troops [...] Extra charges for heating, shower and disinfestation facilities RM 7,920 RM 30,000"

Building 16a, "delousing facility for special treatment", was actually the so-called Central Sauna, the purpose of which was not murder, but rather disinfestation of deportees and their belongings. Mattogno ties the term "Sonderbehandlung" to hygienic measures on this basis, but there is no justification for doing so. By this logic, not only the designation "delousing facility for special treatment" is tautological, but the second delousing facility is also for this "special treatment", so why the first one was called such, but not the second? The meaning of "special treatment" in this case can probably be explained on the basis of Eichmann's testimony. Eichmann claimed during his trial:
A. I would like to say the following about this. The term "special treatment" (Sonderbehandlung) has various meanings. As Poliakov says, in Poliakov - Black or Red - I can give the page number right away...I have it in my files somewhere...he reproduces forms. On these forms it says, "Re: Special Treatment" - first of all for Poles suitable for Germanization (eindeutschungsfaehig), and the same word, special treatment, is also for Poles not suitable for Germanization, that is those to be sent from the Eastern Occupied Territories to the Generalgouvernement. So that is one meaning of special treatment (Sonderbehandlung). Special Treatment also means - I want to say this here in this context as well, although I know that it is known - also means all transports of Jews, the deportation transports.
Taken alone, this claim might be seen as a defensive lie. But if we assume that Eichmann was telling the truth, everything clicks into place: Central Sauna was a delousing facility for the deportees (perhaps specifically Jews), i.e. those who came into the camp as a part of "Sonderbehandlung". The second delousing facility is strictly for the guard troops. Thus, "Sonderbehandlung" was probably roughly synonimous with the term "Final Solution", which included not only immediate murder, but also deportation to the labor camps. (I should also note that in an earlier interrogation by Less, Eichmann claimed that everybody knew that "special treatment" was killing; this claim does not actually contradict Eichmann's later testimony. Eichmann did not claim that it meant only killing. However, it follows from this early interrogation that killing was the primary meaning of "Sonderbehandlung").

This hypothesis is certainly much more plausible than Mattogno's baseless musings about "hygienic measures". But it also shows that one must be careful not to make hasty conclusions about any document containing this term. For example, historians Goetz Aly and Heinrich Schwendemann both mistook "Entwesungsanlage fuer Sonderbehandlung", i.e. (relatively) innocent Central Sauna, for homicidal gassing facility, hinting that Speer, to whom the cost estimate had been sent, must have known about the gas chambers...

Given this, each document containing the code words should be examined on its own merits. And it so happens that there is a crucial group of documents in which "Sonderbehandlung" meant killing. The documents which Mattogno chose not to mention in his book despite their significance. These are the so-called prisoners' strength reports (Staerkemeldungen) of the women's camp at Birkenau. The typical Staerkemeldung looks like this:
Frauen-Lager, KL. Au. II
Abteilung III/a
BIa-b/B.II b.g.c/B.III                  Birkenau, den 8.10.1944

S t ae r k e m e l d u n g

Staerke am 7.10.1944                            38792 Hftl.
[Strength on 7 October 1944                     38792 prisoners]

Zugaenge am 7.10.1944
[Arrivals on 7 October 1944]

Einlieferungen                     7
[Entries                           7]

Uberstellungen                     1              8    "  
[Transfers                         1              8    "]

Abgange am 7.10.1944
[Departures on 7 October 1944]

Gestorben nat. Todes               7
[Natural deaths                    7]

S.B.                             1229

Entlassungen                       8
[Releases                          8]

Ueberstellungen                  1150           2394    "
[Transfers                       1150           2394    "]

SA.:         36406 Haeftl.
[Total:      36406 prisoners]
Only a handful of reports exist for the women's camp, all of those for 1944. I have most if not all of them in possession thanks to Prof. John Zimmerman. I also have several strength reports for camp BIIe in Birkenau. It seems that the reports for other parts of Birkenau have been destroyed. So, how do these reports help us? Note that the meaning of all entries is clear with one exception. What could S.B. mean? Prof. van Pelt argues, repeating the argument used in the book Nazi Mass Murder : A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas:
Rudolf asks at the bottom of this picture the question "'Sonderbehandlung' or 'Schonungsblock'?" The obvious answer is "Sonderbehandlung." The document Rudolf introduced lists two sub-classes of "Departures." The first lists "Died a natural death." The second category, S.B., is not defined. It seems plausible that it refers to "Died an unnatural death."
Prof. van Pelt's response is not fully satisfying. Since the reports cover only the women's camp, he cannot exclude that S.B. meant a special kind of transfer into into a block for convalescents (Schonungsblock) in another part of the camp (for example, because this block in the women's camp was full). Obviously, this alternative looks implausible, and yet it still should be excluded before proceeding further. So the first question we should ask is whether "S.B." meant "Sonderbehandlung" or "Schonungsblock".

There are three conclusive lines of evidence which establish that "S.B." meant nothing but "Sonderbehandlung" and killing.

1) The first argument is based on comparison of several documents mentioning the phrase "der Sonderbehandlung zugefuehrt" ("sent to special treatment") or variations thereof. In March 5, 1943 report of SS-Obersturmfuehrer Schwarz there is a mention of a number of arrived Jews who were "sent to S.B." ("der S.B. zugefuehrt"). The report was published in 1946 in Dokumenty i materialy, edited by Nachman Blumenthal. Unfortunately, there was a typo made by the publisher - the line which begins "Davon 200 Frauen..." has been accidentally typed instead of the first line of the second paragraph. According to information from Danuta Czech's Auschwitz Chronicle (1990 edn., p. 344), the first line contained the information about 632 men, of whom 517 were registered. The second line of the second paragraph, which contains the words "der S.B. zugefuehrt", pertains to those Jewish men who had not been selected. In another report by Schwarz, written on March 8, 1943, we read:
Am 5. und 7. Maerz trafen folgende juedische Haeftlingstransporte ein. Transport aus Berlin, Eingang 5. Maerz 43, Gesamtstaerke 1128 Juden. Zum Arbeitseinsatz gelangten 389 Maenner (Buna) und 96 Frauen. Sonderbehandelt wurden 151 Maenner und 492 Frauen und Kinder. Transport aus Breslau, Eingang 5.Maerz 43, Gesamtstaerke 1405 Juden. Zum Arbeitseinsatz gelangten 406 Maenner (Buna) und 190 Frauen. Sonderbehandelt wurden 125 Maenner und 684 Frauen und Kinder.
The structure here is the same: some people are selected as fit for labor, and the rest are "specially treated" (Sonderbehandelt). Thus it is proven that "S.B." was abbreviation for "Sonderbehandlung" and not "Schonungsblock". There are more documents which use the phrase "sent to special treatment", or its variations. One is Liebenschel's 28.3.1942 letter to concentration camp commanders concerning "Sonderbehandlung 14 f 13" (which was the name of "euthanasia" program in the camps):
Through the report of a camp commander it became known, that 42 of the 51 inmates selected for special treatment 14 f 13 became "fit for work" again after some time wich made their transfer for special treatment unnecessary [der Sonderbehandlung nicht zugefuehrt]. This shows that the selection of these inmates is not being effected in compliance with the rules laid down. Only those inmates who correspond to the conditions laid down and, this is the most important thing, who are no longer fit for work, are to be brought before the examining commission.In order to enable the concentration camps to carry out the tasks they are set, every inmate fit for work is to be put at the disposal of the camp. The camp commanders of the concentration camps are asked to give their special attention to this matter.
The second document is Liebenschel's 10.12.41 letter to concentration camp commanders on the same topic:
After the checks are finished, submit a report to the inspector of the concentration camps, the number of prisoners sent to Sonderbehandlung '14 f 13' [der Sonderbehandlung '14 f 13' zugefuehrten] is to be reported. The exact date of the arrival of the doctor-commission will be announced at time.
The third document is a telex from the Stapo office Nuernberg-Fuerth to the Stapo central office in Munich received on 24.1.42:
To the Stapo central office - to the hands of H[err?] Reg. Rat Schimmel Munich . ::-:: Secret = U R G E N T ::-:: present immeadiately. == Re.: Check of Soviet-Russian POWs - So far 2009 Soviet-Russians (652 officers and 1357 troops) were selected and sent to Sonderbehandlung [der Sonderbehandlung zugefuehrt] by the Einsatzkommandos of the Stapo office. - The coorperation with the commandant of the POWs in the Wehrkreis Roem. 13, Generalmajor Schemmel, is excellent, there were no difficulties whatsoever so far. == STAPO office Nuernberg-Fuerth. signed Otto Krim[inal]-Rat
Finally, it should be noted that "S.B." in Schwarz's telegram cannot mean "Schonungsblock" for purely linguistic reasons: since "Schonungsblock" is masculine (as opposed to "Sonderbehandlung", which is feminine), the phrase would have read as "dem S.B. zugefuehrt". Case closed. Note: This line of evidence has been single-handedly developed by Hans at RODOH.

2) Let's analyze what "S.B." could and could not have been. "S.B." is a kind of departure.
  • a) But it cannot cover transfers out of Auschwitz camp complex, because this is covered by "Transfers".
  • b) Neither can it cover natural deaths, because this is covered by "Natural deaths".
  • c) Neither can it cover releases, because this is covered by "Releases".
  • d) Neither can it cover transfers to another Auschwitz sub-camp like Auschwitz I or Monowitz.
  • This is proven by the fact that such transfers were either included in the "Transfers" category, or were mentioned explicitly. In the 8.11.44 report about the situation in Birkenau women's camp on 7.11.44 we read:
    gest. nat. Todes 2 S.B. 8 Ueberstellungen 86
    According to the Auschwitz Chronicle for that date, 30 of these transferred women were deported to other camps and 56 - to Auschwitz I (Czech relies on one of Auschwitz I strength reports). This means that transports to Auschwitz I (and, by induction, to other sub-camps) have been included in the general category "Transfers". In the 29.11.44 report about the situation in Birkenau women's camp on 28.11.44 we read:
    gestorben nat-Todes 4 S.B. 5 Ueberstellungen 141 Verlegt nach Auschw. 148
    This means that sometimes transports to Auschwitz I (and, by induction, to other sub-camps) had their own separate entries. All this means that "S.B." cannot cover these transfers.
  • e) Neither can it cover internal Birkenau transfers from one section to another.
  • In the 21.7.44 report about the situation in Birkenau women's camp on 20.7.44 we read:
    gestorben nat.Todes 6 S.B. 1 Entlassungen 17 verl. b.BII/e 7
    Reproduction quality is not the best here, so, just to be sure, here's an excerpt from the strength report of section BII/e for that date, in which you can see that 7 women did arrive from the women's camp:
    Note that the transfer of 7 women to section BII/e (also part of Birkenau) is covered explicitly. This means that S.B. cannot cover these transfers.
Since all the possibilities have been exhausted, "S.B." can only mean an unnatural death. Case closed, for the second time now.

3) Edwin Black in his book IBM and the Holocaust mentions a decode key for concentration camp card index files (p. 365; the archival reference is in the notes). I wrote to Mr. Black and he kindly supplied me with a copy:
SB = Sonderbehandlung. Case closed once and for all. Notably, this list contains the entry "Exekution", which obviously means a legal execution. "SB", thus, was an extrajudicial execution.
We have established that "S.B." in the prisoner's strength reports meant extrajudicial execution (i.e., simply murder), and was an abbreviation for "Sonderbehandlung", not "Schonungsblock".

What does Mattogno say about these reports in his book? Absolutely nothing.

It cannot be argued that he doesn't know about them - everybody with a real interest in Auschwitz history knows about them. It cannot be argued that he thought that "S.B." meant "Schonungsblock", and thus chose not to include these documents. Obviously, since "S.B." in these documents has always been assumed to be "Sonderbehandlung" by the historians, he should have mentioned these documents if only to refute such an interpretation.

Therefore, by omitting any mention of these prominent documents Carlo Mattogno has engaged in a gross and unforgivable deception. We hope to treat Mattogno's other arguments from this and other books in the future, but it has already been established that one cannot rely on him to present the evidence fairly.


  1. People who deny the holocaust happened or that a Jew's "special treatment" was anything other than being treated like a "less-than-human" thing by being abused, killed, and experimented on are either EXTREMELY ignorant or just wanting that part of history to be put behind us...BADLY.

    It shouldn't come down to denying history. Denying history would be denying future;without knowledge and understanding of what has happened before our time, we are inviting this type of event to educate us.

  2. Quanto ti paga il tuo governo israeliano per perdere tutto questo tempo?


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