Monday, December 28, 2009

An interesting testimony about the gassing of Gypsies on August 2, 1944

This is one of DEGOB testimonies, protocol no. 308. The witness is S.M. (K-Sz. M.), a medical intern, born in 1922 in Budapest, was in Birkenau from 30.6.44 to 15.9.44. On 4.7.45 he had this to say on the liquidation of the Gypsy camp:
The next morning, they put us in freight cars and after three days of horrible travel, on the 30th of June 1944, I arrived in Birkenau. In Birkenau, after the usual selections and bath I got into quarantine for two weeks. There were around 850 of us, mostly doctors, lawyers and pharmacists, living in a barrack that was originally meant to be a stable. [...] After these two weeks I got into the camp hospital as a nurse. That time the hospital had a Jewish and a Gypsy ward. It remained like this till the 2nd of August 1944, when several trucks appeared in front of the hospital, which took away all the Gypsy patients including elderly people, patients with tuberculosis, with pox and starving children. At the same time they took away all Gypsy inhabitants of the camp, and as I came to know later from a reliable source, all of them, exactly 3540 of them, were gassed.
An article at DEGOB site states:
Based on his reminiscences, K-Sz. M. proved to be a highly acute observer: in the earlier parts of his testimony he gives the accurate date of the Gypsy camp's liquidation (August 2, 1944), with some error he puts the number of those killed at 3451 (the actual number killed that night was 2897) and he is also right when he states that inmate doctors intentionally misdiagnosed those suffering from tuberculosis to save their lives (automatically condemned to death). K-Sz. M. is also an important witness because he knew Mengele personally and not only by hearsay.
This statement contains two mistakes. First of all, witness M. claimed that 3540 Gypsies were gassed, not 3451. The article thus repeats the mistaken online transcription, which, however, can be checked against the original scanned version. It also claims that "the actual number killed that night was 2897", which is simply not true, as has been shown at length in the article "Auschwitz Museum and the number of Gypsy victims".

The traditional number 2897 is based on the absolutely incorrect calculation by Danuta Czech, 1) which was based solely on the statistics for males in the Gypsy camp, 2) which probably mistook the Jews from Radom temporarily residing in the Gypsy camp for Gypsies, 3) which probably incorrectly specified the origin of 1408 transferred Gypsies as Stammlager rather than Birkenau. If we take into account the female statistics for the Gypsy camp and subtract both the 1298 Jews from Radom and 1408 transferred Gypsies, we get the maximum number of Gypsies that could have been gassed on that day - 3613. It is remarkably close to the number given by witness M.


  1. I generally don't even bother with witness testimony in regards to numbers, but it does appear fairly reliable (although it is hearsay).

  2. Same here, but the coincidence is pretty remarkable, though I wouldn't go as far as to say that the matter is settled, of course.


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