Saturday, December 19, 2015

Rebuttal of Alvarez on Gas Vans: The Ford Gas Wagon

Rebuttal of Alvarez on Gas Vans
Part IX: The Just Memo

The verdict of the regional court Kiel on the former member of Secret Field Police Heinz Rie. of 14 June 1974 claimed the use of a Ford chassis as a homicidal gas van. I've ignored this in a previous part discussing the chassis of the German gas vans since the Holocaust denier Santiago Alvarez presented the case as somewhat unreliable - and I believed him! But after reviewing the full verdict, it becomes clear that the construction and use of a Ford gas van by the German forces is actually conceivable. And too bad for Revisionists that the truck is supposed to have had a gasoline engine, and so the Diesel issue continues to be irrelevant for the gas vans. 

Here's how Alvarez rated the evidence on the Ford gas van:
"The source of this story is not known. The verdict merely states that the defendant did not contradict this description, which probably means that he didn’t say anything about it at all. Six other witnesses mentioned in the verdict merely claimed to have “heard” about this makeshift gas van from others. Hence the entire story sounds more like a rumor than an established fact." 
(Alvarez, The Gas Vans, p. 234)

This blog's readers should forgive me that in a weak moment I trusted in Alvarez that he would at least present the court judgement more or less correctly with the most essential information, an exercise which is after all one of his main contributions to the book since most of the rest have been taken over from people like Pierre Marais and Ingrid Weckert. Won't happen again.

Now, Santiago, which part of "[Heinz Rie.] admitted the following:...The general recommended him to construct and use a gas wagon for execution. He followed the recommendation. The wagon was used for one week, but no longer than two weeks" (Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, volume 29, p. 663 f.) do you not understand? It means that the defendant himself admitted having ordered the construction and use of the gas van. No hearsay here.

Let's go on, which part of "the witness Se. indeed remembered a trip of the gas wagon. But since the witness was merely driving behind the gas wagon with a car and didn't see the occupants..." (Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, volume 29, p. 663) do you not understand? It means that a member from the German paramilitary forces remembered to have seen the gas van. 

Finally, which part of "the co-defendant Mei. [...] admitted towards the police to have driven the gas wagon several times"  is too difficult to grasp? What part of "the trip of the gas wagon described by the witness Han." (Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, volume 29, p. 663) is not comprehensible? None other than the gas van driver and the guy sitting next to him in the cab testified about this vehicle.

The "entire story" as recalled in the court judgement does not sound "like a rumour" but as something established by the witness accounts of several members of the German forces made towards West-German police and investigators only further corroborated by at least five more Germans who also heard about this gassing vehicle. 

Alvarez asserts that "it is doubtful, though, whether the Germans could have located the required amount of sheet metal for such a project". How does he know the Germans could not obtain enough sheet metal say from scrap metal in the East to line the wooden box? Alvarez provides no evidence to support the claim. He also "think[s] it can be excluded with certainty that a complex lever mechanism operable from within the driver’s cabin would have been designed and constructed for such a makeshift gas van". Except that the lever mentioned in the judgement did not have to be very complicated if it was say just blocking a tube welded to the exhaust tube nor is it clear why say a Wehrmacht vehicle repair site in Belarus shouldn't have been able to do this.

The most exciting information in the description of this gas van (from Mei., Rie., or Han.; most of the narrative is probably based on Han. since he "described the process in detail") is that it was a captured Ford truck with a gasoline engine. Unlike the homicidal gas vans previously supplied to the SS and police forces in the East, which were based on Opel, Diamond T, Renault, Saurer chassis, this Ford gas van was not constructed and delivered by the RSHA. If it existed, it was put into service in 1944 by the Secret Field Police of the Wehrmacht to liquidate partisans in Mogilev.

So Alvarez claims "the entire story sounds more like a rumour" but which explains nothing. Even if it was true (for the sake of argument) that there were only hearsay witnesses on the existence of the gas van, why would five members of the Secret Field Police have heard from other members of the Secret Field Police about a gas van to execute people by the Secret Field Police, if there was no such gas van? Does that make sense to anyone?

Already the hearsay knowledge from the perpetrator side is some good indication that the gas van existed, but it is moreover verified by several perpetrator eyewitnesses. The investigators learnt about this from the former members of the Secret Field Police. Why would these Germans not even incriminated by victims testify about this atrocity at all if it were not true? Why would policemen and investigators in West-Germany even make up an atrocity story in the 1960s and 1970s story involving the killing of Soviet partisans, whose murder may have been viewed as legal under the circumstances and force numerous other seasoned men with access to legal assistance into admitting this? And where's the evidence for this?

Alvarez makes his demonstrably false rumour allegation and entirely fails to explain the issue. Not what happened, not how, not who and not why. Nor did he properly understand the judgement, what evidence it relied on or has anything to offer other than his personal incredulity trumped by superior evidence. This is exemplary for his poor treatment of German trials on gas vans throughout his book - recall one of his main original contributions.


06/05/2016: abbreviated Rie. for reasons of privacy protection.
16/01/2017: minor corrections


  1. What I think happened here was as follows: Alvarez was caught by a series of incriminating testimonies and attempted to bail out via spamming buzzwords weakly and murmuring about "sheet metal". A truly uninspired performance.

    Keep up the good work Hans!

  2. I say the same.

    This is not the only occasion, by the way, on which "Alvarez" and Marais demonstrably lied about a German court judgment. Readers are well advised to take their renderings of such judgments with a big grain of salt.

  3. Jeff, there will be more such let's call it extremely "creative" readings of German court verdicts from Alvarez coming. We already wonder what problem this person has that he cannot read a couple of pages without raising issues that are clearly already answered or rebutted in the text --> Holocaust denier syndrome.


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