Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Holocaust deniers, Gerhard Maurer and Jews unfit for work in Auschwitz

In his "classic" denial pamphlet "Auschwitz: Myth and Facts" the IHR official and later director Mark Weber published the following claim:
In fact, a very high percentage of the Jewish inmates were not able to work, and were nevertheless not killed. For example, an internal German telex message dated Sept. 4, 1943, from the chief of the Labor Allocation department of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA), reported that of 25,000 Jews held in Auschwitz, only 3,581 were able to work, and that all of the remaining Jewish inmates — some 21,500, or about 86 percent — were unable to work.[11]
11. Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute of Warsaw, German document No. 128. Cited in: H. Eschwege, ed., Kennzeichen J (Berlin [East]: 1966), p. 264. 
Several notable deniers followed Weber's lead. Germar Rudolf in his Lectures on the Holocaust (the 2010 edition, but the claim also appear earlier) writes (p. 207n167), relying on Weber:
For example, an internal German telex message dated September 4, 1943, from the chief of the Labor Allocation Department of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA), reported that of 25,000 Jewish inmates in Auschwitz, only 3,581 were able to work... 
David Irving links to the image of the document on his site with a comment:
Berlin complains Sep. 1943 to Auschwitz commandant Höss that of 25,000 Jews at Auschwitz in August 1943 only 3,581 are fit for work
A former denier (and later a distinguished mainstream scholar) Joel Hayward wrote in his M.A thesis The Fate of the Jews in German Hands (p. 72 of the Internet edition), which he by the way has since renounced as a very immature work:
Mark Weber cites a document that appears to support this claim. It is an internal telex message of September 4, 1943 from SS-Standartenführer Gerhardt Maurer, the chief of Amt D-II (Arbeitseinsatz der Häftlinge – Prisoner Labour Allocation) of the WVHA. This document stales that only around 3,500 of the 25,000 Jews interned in Auschwitz at that time were able to work. [269] 
269 / German Document No. 128, Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute of Warsaw (H. Eschwege (ed.), Kennzeichen J (East Berlin: 1966), p. 264). Cited in M. Weber, Auschwitz: Myths and Facts, p. 3. Maurer, as head of Amt D-II, was superbly informed about the labour situation in Auschwitz. Of all the WVHA leaders, he would have known best who was and who was not working in that camp. Cf. Broszat, et al., Anatomie des SS-Staates, Band II, pp. 134-137; Höß, Kommandant in Auschwitz, p. 132, 138ff, 143ff, 158-164, 170, 181.
Finally, Carlo Mattogno in Healthcare in Auschwitz (2016) writes (p. 74), no longer relying on Weber:
On September 4, 1943 SS Obersturmbannführer Gerhard Maurer, head of Agency DII of the WVHA (Prisoner Deployment), wrote the following letter to Höß (Berenstein 1960, p. 365):
“There are at this time about 25,000 Jewish prisoners in CC Auschwitz. On Aug. 25, 43 I told SS Hauptsturmführer Schwarz that I must know the number of fully work- and deployment-capable Jews, because I had in mind to transfer Jews from the concentration camp in order to put them work to in  the Reich in arms production. I renewed this inquiry by teletype on Aug. 26, 43. According to the reply teletype message of Aug. 29, 43, of the 25,000 Jews in custody, only 3,581 are fit for labor. These, however, are in constant utilization in arms production and cannot be given up. What are the other 21,500 Jews doing? Something here doesn’t add up! Please review this situation once more and report back to me.”
Since the number of prisoners in Birkenau who were unfit for labor or deployment in June 1943 lay at about 34% of the total camp population, the number mentioned by Maurer was probably correct: of the 25,000 Jews in Auschwitz at the end of August 1943, only about 3,581 were fit for labor, from which follows that about 21,400 were unfit for labor.
The deniers cite this document with an obvious intent: they think that if they can show that not only at some point in Auschwitz's history, already after the start of the "claimed" Jewish extermination, there were some Jews unable to work that were kept alive, but also that in this period the majority of the Jews were unable to work, then the "orthodox version" is false.

Now, it is actually wrong to claim that at all times Jews unfit for labor in Auschwitz were quickly murdered. For example, someone unable to work today may recover tomorrow, so especially in times of workforce deficit there was an incentive to keep more people alive, even Jews. Yes, according to the Nazi policy all Jews had to die - but not all of them had to die immediately. Ideology and practical needs had to be balanced against each other.

And of course from time to time there were exceptions to the general policy on various scales (e.g. the so-called family camp), so finding an exception in, say, 10% of cases doesn't mean that as a rule, Jews unfit to work were not murdered in Auschwitz. So, for example, if some Jewish transports, like the so-called "Philips transport" on 06.06.1944, were spared the selection upon arrival and thus all children and ill adults were registered in the camp due to exceptional circumstances, it does not mean that most transports did not undergo selections.

That said, it is true that if out of 25,000 Jews about 21,400 were unable to work and still were in the camp and were not killed, this would indeed look somewhat strange in context of an extermination camp. But is the claim true?

The problem with the denier treatment is that they never attempt to put Maurer's message into the immediate historico-documentary context. So let's do their job for them and restore this context. First of all let's quote all the relevant documents.

26.08.1943: Maurer to Höß

Germant text (spelling irregularities left intact; APMO, D.Au I-3a, k. 357; cf. D. Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle, 26.08.43 entry; also published in J. Balcke, Verantwortungsentlastung durch Organisation.: Die 'Inspektion der Konzentrationslager' und der KZ-Terror, 2001, S. 133):
+ Oranienburg Nr. 5294 26.8.43 1500=GR=.
An den Kommandante KL. Auschwitz SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Hoess.
Betrifft: Abgabe von Judenhaeftlingen.
Wie ich bereits am 25. ds. M. SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Schwarz gesagt habe, benoetige ich baldigst die Zahl derjenigen juedischen Haeftlinge die an andere KL abgegeben werden koennen. Es kommen nur voll arbeits- und einsatzfaehige Juden in Frage und zwar vornehmlich Westjuden.
Baldige Nachricht erwarte ich.
+ Oranienburg No. 5294 26.8.43 1500=Top secret=.
To the commandant of CC Auschwitz SS-Obersturmbannführer Hoess.
Subject: Handing over of Jewish prisoners.
As I have already told SS-Hauptsturmführer Schwarz on the 25th of this month, I need as soon as possible the number of those Jewish prisoners that can be handed over to other CCs. Only fully work- and deployment-capable Jews are eligible, and that means above all Western Jews.
I expect a report soon.
28.08.1943: Sell to Maurer

Germant text (APMO, D.Au I-3a, k. 358; the text in brackets stricken out in the original document; cf. D. Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle, 28.08.43 entry; also published in J. Balcke, op. cit, S. 134):
3143 28.8.43.
Betreff: Abgabe von Juden-Häftlingen
Bezug: DortFS v.26.8.43. Nr.4294
Von den im KL Auschwitz einsitzenden Juden sind 446 deutsche, 700 französische, 198 slowakische, 162 tschechische, 37 kroatische, 127 holländische, 184 belgische, 5 norwegische, 1722 griechische Juden arbeitsfähig und restlos bei den Rüstungsbetrieben beschäftigt (und können nicht abgegeben werden.) 
3143 28.8.43.
Subject: Handing over of Jewish prisoners
Reference: your teletype message from 26.8.43. No. 4,294
Of the Jews in the Auschwitz concentration camp 446 are German, 700 French, 198 Slovak, 162 Czech, 37 Croatian, 127 Dutch, 184 Belgian, 5 Norwegian, 1722 Greek were fit for work and all engaged in armaments plants (and can not be handed over).
31.08.1943: Maurer to Commandant's office

Germant text (APMO, D.Au I-3a, k. 359; cf. D. Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle, 31.08.43 entry):
+ Oranienburg Nr. 5420 31.8.43 1520 =KOE=
An die Kommandantur KL. Auschwitz.=
= Betr.: Abgabe von Juden-Haeftlingen.=
= Bezug.: Dort, FS,- Nr. 20329 vom 29.8.43.=
Es ist mir zu melden, in welchen Ruestungsbetrieben (zahlenmaessig)  die insgesamt 3,581 arbeitsfaehigen Juden eingesetzt sind.==
+ Oranienburg No. 5420 31.8.43 1520 = KOE =
To the commandant's office of CC Auschwitz
Subject: Handing over of Jewish prisoners
Reference: your teletype message No. 20329 from 29.8.43
It is to be reported to me in which armaments plants (numerically) a total of 3,581 Jews fit for work are employed.
01.09.1943: Sell to Maurer

Germant text (APMO, D.Au I-3a, k. 361; cf. D. Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle, 01.09.43 entry):
3242 Betreff: Abgabe von Juden-Häftlingen 1.9.43.
Bezug: DortFS vom 31.8.43, Nr.5420
Die mit hiesigem FS v.28.8.43. gemeldeten 3.581 arbeitsfähigen Juden teilen sich, wie folgt, auf:
Buna                  1.996
Eintrachthütte         83
Jaworzno              606
Krupp                     22
Jawischowitz        726
Golleschau            148
3242 Subject: Handing over of Jewish prisoners 1.9.43.
Reference: your teletype message from 31.8.43, No.5420
The 3.581 Jews fit for work, reported in our teletype message from 28.8.43, are distributed as follows:
Buna                  1.996
Eintrachthütte         83
Jaworzno              606
Krupp                     22
Jawischowitz        726
Golleschau            148
04.09.1943: Maurer to Höß

Germant text (from T. Berenstein, A. Eisenbach, A. Rutkowski, Eksterminacja Żydów na ziemiach Polskich w okresie okupacji hitlerowskiej, 1957, s. 253;  also published in J. Balcke, ibid.):
Im KL Auschwitz sitzen zur Zeit rund 25.000 jüdische Häftlinge ein. Ich habe am 25.8.43 SS-Hauptsturmführer Schwarz gesagt, dass ich die Zahl der voll arbeits- und einsatzfähigen Juden wissen muss, da ich beabsichtige, Juden vom KL Auschwitz abzuziehen, um sie bei Rüstungsfertigungen im Reich einzusetzen. Am 26.8.43 habe ich dies durch FS noch einmal mitgeteilt. Nach dem dortigen FS vom 29.8.43 sind von den einsitzenden 25.000 Juden nur 3.581 arbeitsfähig. Diese sind aber restlos bei Rüstungsvorhaben eingesetzt und können nicht abgegeben werden.
Was machen die restlichen 21.500 Juden?
Irgend etwas kann hier nicht stimmen! Ich bitte den Vorgang erneut zu überprüfen und mir zu berichten.
In CC Auschwitz at this time there are about 25,000 Jewish prisoners. On 25.8.43 I told SS-Hauptsturmführer Schwarz that I must know the number of the fully work- and deployment-capable Jews, as I intend to withdraw Jews from CC Auschwitz in order to put them to use in the armaments production in the Reich. On 26.8.43 I communicated this once more by teletype. According to the 29.8.43 teletype message from there, only 3,581 of the 25,000 Jews there are capable of work. All of these however are used in armaments projects and can not be given up. 
What are the remaining 21,500 Jews doing? 
Something isn't right here! Please check the situation again and report back to me.
Now that we see the full context, several things become clear.

First of all, Maurer depended on Auschwitz to provide him with the actual number of Jews fit for labor. Weber omitted this crucial nuance and thus misled his readers into thinking that these are some sort of objective final numbers from Maurer himself. In reality, Maurer was shocked by the numbers and was demanding an explanation! Most blatantly, Weber presented the number 21,500 as "reported" by Maurer, whereas it was merely Maurer's logical conclusion based on the data provided by Auschwitz - the conclusion that was based on a false assumption about the data, as we'll see shortly.

Hayward's comment about the "superbly informed" Maurer who "would have known best" looks pretty comical in this context. Of course, Hayward fully relied on Weber without having checked the original text. Mattogno cited the full text but did not stop to think what it meant.

Second, from Sell's 28.08.43 message it becomes painfully clear that he only provided the numbers of the non-Polish Jews. Polish Jews are simply absent from his statistics. Basically, he mostly provides the statistics for the "Westjuden" (incl. in this instance the Czech Jews, who were often seen as different from the typical "Ostjuden"). This is especially significant given the influx of Polish Jews in August (cf. Czech's Auschwitz Chronicle).

Why? Well, for starters, Maurer himself wrote that he wanted above all the Western Jews. True, he didn't say "only", but Sell chose to interpret it more or less this way because obviously the Auschwitz administration wanted to have their work Jews for themselves, so it's a good example of a bureaucratic craftiness. Sell could always say, "Well, as I understood it, you didn't really want those Polish Ostjuden, so I didn't report them". Maybe that's how he explained this in the end - we don't know since a response to Maurer apparently didn't survive.

The Holocaust deniers simply haven't done their homework. And Mattogno's example is the most egregious one since he, of all people, had to have studied these documents. Indeed, even the information summarized in Czech's book would have been enough to understand what's going on. Berenstein, on whom he relies, also lists the nationalities of these Jews, from which it follows that there were no Polish Jews among them. This is not scholarship.

One further consideration: on 31.05.1943 there were 58,584 prisoners in Auschwitz, of them 14,743 unable to work (25,2%), on 01.11.1943 there were 87,573 prisoners, 14,548 of them unable to work (16,6%) (AGK, NTN, 134, k. 254, 258). We don't know the exact numbers in-between, but this indicates that in August-September probably about 20% of all prisoners, give or take several percentage points, were unable to work (as a side note: assuming an average of 74,000 for August, as per PS-1469, and 15,000 unfit for labor gives us the same result as the ballpark averaging of the percentages). Notably, the number of the prisoners unable to work was pretty stable in this period: around 14-15,000. And at least a few thousand of these prisoners had to be non-Jewish. Therefore the number of 21,400 Jews alone(!) unable to work in August-September 1943 is completely and utterly unrealistic.

Indeed, Mattogno, who cited numbers from the same source, should have noticed this anomaly, but instead he incoherently and incomprehensibly used the numbers to "support" the ridiculous statistic!

Since we're on this topic let's quickly take a look at yet another argument about the Jews unfit for work in Auschwitz. Weber, in the pamphlet cited above:
This is also confirmed in a secret report dated April 5, 1944, on "security measures in Auschwitz" by Oswald Pohl, head of the SS concentration camp system, to SS chief Heinrich Himmler. Pohl reported that there was a total of 67,000 inmates in the entire Auschwitz camp complex, of whom 18,000 were hospitalized or disabled. In the Auschwitz II camp (Birkenau), supposedly the main extermination center, there were 36,000 inmates, mostly female, of whom "approximately 15,000 are unable to work." [12] 
12. Nuremberg document NO-021. Nuremberg Military Tribunal (NMT) "green series," Vol. 5. pp. 384-385;
This was parroted by Rudolf (in the same footnote cited above). The document (also known as NI-317) was also cited by Arthur Butz in The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (p. 175) and was then repeated by Hayward (same page as cited above). So these two distortions go hand in hand, more or less.

The supposed "problem" here though is even more pathetic than the alleged one with the Maurer letter: Pohl never says or implies that all of those 18,000 were Jews. Since it was Jews who were, as a rule, to be exterminated upon becoming so sick that there remained no chance of recovery (and, to repeat, such a chance - a couple of weeks in the hospital - was often given, Jewish workforce being valuable)  and extermination didn't apply to most non-Jews at that time (cf. the Kinna report as well as NO-1007) one tries in vain to understand what exactly the deniers want to prove with this document.

All of this is very illustrative: deniers not checking the original sources, parroting each other, taking documents out of context and severely misinterpreting them. Pretty typical. Some of them are quite industrious, visiting numerous archives and publishing books at astounding rates. But they show no sign of being able to actually analyze what they find in the archives and the books, they're utterly incompetent when it comes to history, so their industriousness in the end produces nothing but a big pile of nonsense.

PS: I would like to thank Nick Terry for providing me with the documents from the Polish archives.


  1. The presence of 21,400 unfit Jews would also refute the resettlement thesis, as would the total absence of resettlement from these docs (or any docs)

  2. I do not know if it is right to call Mark Weber Holocaust denier anymore?

    It was quite a few years ago now, he was talking about Treblinka, etc. as death camp and that millions of Jews were shot to death by the Germans.

    Denier like carolyn yeage dont like him:

    Same with David Irving, David Cole etc.

  3. There are "deny everything" deniers and those who make tactical decisions about selective denial. Weber made his switch because denial simply was not persuading anybody so it made more sense to focus on other political strategies that had higher dividends.

    The key to Holocaust Denial is the motive (e.g. to insult Jews and minimize Nazi criminality) not the details, which can be switched for strategic purposes.

  4. As Jon said, Weber has simply shifted focus. Every single denial item is still on the IHR website. He may have come to accept more Jewish victims than previously, but that's that.

  5. I'll grant though that we may need a new category, provisionally called a "semi-denier", for the likes of Cole and Irving.


Please read our Comments Policy