Thursday, September 10, 2015

Peter Winter on the Auschwitz Crematorium 1 Gas Chamber

Revisionist blogger Peter Winter thinks to end the debate on "Auschwitz I’s 'Gas Chamber'" by simply telling us that what is known since more than two decades and common knowledge since many years: that the crematorium in Auschwitz main camp and its gas chamber have been reconstructed by the Poles after the war. The issue might have been exciting in the 70s and 80s, if at all, but it had been settled in 1989, when Jean-Claude Pressac provided a description of the reconstruction of crematorium 1 in his Technique and Operation of the Auschwitz Gas Chamber, p. 133 and it was "mainstream" in the 90s (e.g. Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan Van Pelt explained the reconstruction of crematorium 1 in their Auschwitz, 1270 to the Present in 1996, p. 400 in the German edition). 

Peter is coming a decade or two too late with his "revelation". 

Besides, he doesn't understand that a reconstruction is supposed to mean to restore what is assumed to be the original state - and not to build what did not exist before. He quotes an extract from Van Pelt's The Case for Auschwitz on the reconstruction to support his fallacious position, but which is ripped into pieces by Van Pelt in the very next paragraph (omitted by Peter, of course): 
"When one compares our text to Irving's interpretation of it, it was clear that he was once again involved in a case of misconstruction. We did not 'confirm that there was never a gas chamber at Auschwitz I, and that the one shown to tourists since the war was a fake built by the Polish communists.' Instead, we clearly stated the crematorium was a 'reconstruction,' which is a representation of a situation that had existed earlier that disappeared. As such, a reconstruction was clearly different from a fake, which is would have been a representation of a situation that had never existed. Because the chimney was 're-created' and because 'two of the three furnaces were rebuilt using original parts,' neither the chimney nor the furnaces were fakes either. Given the context of the sentence of all postwar construction at the crematorium as 'restitutions,' it ought to have been clear to Irving that the clause 'four hatched openings in the roof, as if for pouring Zyklon-B into the gas chamber below, were installed' also referred to an attempt to reconstruct the earlier situation."
(Van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz, p. 121)

Recap what just happened here: Irving misinterpreted a rather clear paragraph from Van Pelt and Dwork's Auschwitz, 1270 to Present, which Van Pelt rebutted in The Case for Auschwitz, from which Peter quotes this paragraph, previously misinterpreted by Irving, just to misinterpret it again, even though it is refuted in the next sentences. Revisionist scholarship at its best.  

Peter further claims that the Auschwitz State Museum "has been steadily forced to retract its position on this 'gas chamber' over the years". Yet, the Auschwitz State Museum explained in 2001 that crematorium 1 was used for homicidal gassings of Soviet POWs and Jews and that it was reconstructed after the war, and it explains the same today (multiple links). They are merely more restrained on the number of killed Jews in crematorium 1 ("These transports, however, did not appear in official registration and were most probably sent to their deaths on verbal orders. This is why we do not know how many Jews were then killed"), something unrelated to Holocaust denier activities.

Note that the Auschwitz State Museum did not conceal the reconstruction of the crematorium towards investigators and researchers, far more relevant than what may have been presented to tourists. The former director of the Auschwitz State Museum Kazimier Smolen testified on the reconstruction of crematorium 1 on 22 April 1964 at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial. Robert Faurisson was told about it 1975/76. Pressac was able to get to the info in 1979-1984. Franciszek Piper explained the reconstruction thing to David Cole in 1992.

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