Saturday, December 29, 2018

Mattogno, his Einsatzgruppen book and the Gas Vans. Part III: Genesis and Pictures That Say it All

 Mattogno, his Einsatzgruppen book and the Gas Vans

The genesis of the Einsatzgruppen gas vans can be traced back to Fort VII in Posen. Here, the Nazis conducted mass gassing experiments for the Euthanasia action in Winter 1939/40. One branch developed to stationary gas chambers in the Altreich, the other developed to a gas van in the Warthegau, both types operating with carbon monoxide (CO) from gas cylinders. A killing commando of the Gestapo Posen, Sonderkommando (SK) Lange, employed the CO gas van. The war against the Soviet Union with its extermination policy pushed the development of a new mass killing technique since the mass shooting of people not fit for military service posed a considerable strain on the German paramilitary forces. The method had to fit the use in the wide Russian territory. The carbon monoxide gas cylinders already in use were considered not suitable for logistic reasons. In September 1941, gassing with engine exhaust was tried on a large scale in mental asylums in Minsk and Mogilev, followed by the testing of a prototype gas van with engine exhaust.

This is a condensed representation emphasising the main topics, which are interwoven to the genesis of the gas vans. Each topic can be expanded with numerous contemporary and testimonial evidence. The result is a large network of directly or indirectly corroborating evidence spun around the subject. The challenge for Holocaust denial would be to deconstruct the network, put forward new evidence and interpretations, establish new connections and show superior properties (explanatory power and scope) of their result. In reality, the sole action of deniers is axing a few connections of a complex network established by decades of historical research and leave the loose ends open or attach some free hanging premises.

To illustrate some of the evidence, I have prepared a number of diagrams. In the middle are statements, which are linked to evidence above and below. A blue box is a document, a grey box is a testimony and a red box is a statement from a previous diagram (thus, connecting the diagrams). Keep in mind that this is a simplified representation. For examples, boxes pointing on a statement should often be mutually linked to each other creating a network of corroborating evidence.

In addition, I have marked with dotted boxes how the Holocaust denier Carlo Mattogno has dealt with the evidence. It will not surprise that he has ignored most of it.

Diagram 1: Euthanasia by Carbon Monoxide Gassing 

Diagram 1: Euthanasia by carbon monoxide gas

The Euthanasia is an integral part of the genesis of the gas vans. It proves that the Nazis systematically executed people without death sentence and without the consent of victims or their relatives. Secondly, it shows that the Nazis used pure carbon monoxide to kill people, which was a pre-stage of the gassing with engine exhaust. Thirdly, a homicidal gas van with carbon monoxide cylinders was developed for the Euthanasia in the Warthegau.

This is obviously an important issue, so how did Mattogno address it in his treatment of the genesis of the gas vans? (section 6.2 and 6.3 in Mattogno, The Einsatzgruppen in the Occupied Eastern Territories, hereafter Einsatzgruppen). To begin with, he failed to recognize the importance of the Euthanasia in this context. He writes that the “orthodox Holocaust theory on euthanasia, the present context, is only important due to the alleged criminal function of the Kriminaltechnisches[sic] Institut” (p.296). But the role of the Kriminaltechnische Institut of the Security Police (KTI) in Berlin, which disguised the delivery of poison gas cylinders for the Euthanasia and assisted in developing the technique, is only one element of the picture.

On Mathias Beer's Die Entwicklung der Gaswagen beim Mord an den Juden, Mattogno comments that "this reconstruction [of the Euthanasia], as far as the use of steel cylinders of carbon monoxide for homicidal purposes is concerned, is based exclusively on testimonies". However, there exist numerous documents on carbon monoxide gas in the context of the Euthanasia. Mattogno ignores this evidence in Einsatzgruppen. Was it really too much to consult specialist literature, such as Klee, Euthanasie im NS-Staat (or our blog for that matter)?

Moreover, Mattogno seems to have forgotten that he already knows about the existence of two documents on CO gas cylinders and Euthanasia from Kogon's Nazi Mass Murder, see Figure 1 and here.

The letter by Walther Rauff to the KTI of 26 March 1942 is likewise ignored in this context, although it directly attests the "criminal function" of the KTI. The document is only briefly mentioned in a footnote of a later section, which cites his forgery allegation in Inside the Gas Chambers - refuted on this blog in January and October 2016.

Sources: Contemporary German Documents on Carbon Monoxide Gas and Bottles Employed for the Nazi Euthanasia and Contemporary German Documents on Homicidal Gas Vans Doc 4

Figure 1: Mattogno's omission of evidence on CO gas cylinders and Euthanasia cited in Kogon's Nazi Mass Murder, he knew earlier (top and right). He also seems to wonder why not doing any research results in not knowing something (left side).

Diagram 2: SK Lange (Killing Commando)

Digram 2: SK Lange (Killing Commando)

The next topic is the nature of SK Lange. As pointed out in the first part of this series, Mattogno is helplessly confused, does not know about its headquarters and where it was operating in 1941 (not Soldau). On the activity of the commando, he writes something about "real transfer" (p.298) and "the evacuations were real" (p.299). 

The only "real" thing is that he has no clue what the commando was doing. It was not a transport enterprise specialized on mentally ill people, as one might decipher his mumbling above. 

According to contemporary German documents (mostly ignored by Mattogno), it was a killing commando of the Security Police and Service in the Warthegau to carry out Euthanasia operations.

Sources: Sonderkommando Lange in German Documents: Euthanasia 1940/41

Diagram 3: SK Lange (Killing Commando with CO Gas Van)

Diagram 3: SK Lange (Killing Commando with CO Gas Van)

The conclusion that the Nazi Euthanasia employed carbon monoxide cylinders and that SK Lange was killing people can be combined with numerous testimonial evidence on its operation (ignored by Mattogno) to obtain the new information that its men used a gas van with carbon monoxide gas cylinders.

Sources: Sonderkommando Lange in German Documents: Euthanasia 1940/41

Diagram 4: SK Lange (Killing Commando with CO Gas Van with Kaiser's Kaffee-Geschäft inscription)

 Diagram 4: SK Lange (Killing Commando with CO Gas Van with Kaiser's Kaffee-Geschäft Inscription)

The result of Diagram 3 can be further refined with testimonial evidence to find that the trailer of the gas van had previously belonged to the company Kaiser's Kaffee-Geschäft (colonial goods business). The sides of the mobile gas chamber were inscribed with the companies' name.

Mattogno writes that "the story of the 'gas vans' is unfounded from the very start" - but why did he not start to address the issue then? Instead of dissecting the known evidence, he prefers to lecture about the Kaiser's Kaffee-Geschäft company, which is surely interesting, but not relevant, and makes up the absurd explanation - not backed up by any evidence - that "the name in question was a distortion of "LC-Koffer'" (p.292).

Sources: Sonderkommando Lange in German Documents: Euthanasia 1940/41

Diagram 5: Engine Exhaust Gassing in Minsk and Mogilev

Diagram 5: Engine Exhaust Gassing in Minsk and Mogilev

The knowledge about SK Lange clearing asylums with carbon monoxide gas can be plugged to the topic of the mass killing trials on mentally ill people in Mogilev and Minsk in September 1941. The killing commando of the Warthegau was called to White Ruthenia to "demonstrate" its procedure but was busy in his home province with the extermination of the sick and unfit Jews, see also this document missed so far in the discussion and probably published here for the first time.

Intercepted radio signal by Wilhelm Koppe to Polizei-Regiment Mitte of 3 September 1941:

An Pol.Regt. Mitte Russland. Zu Ft. Nr 19 vom 2.9.41. LANGE ist zur Zeit mit der Durchführung grösseren Aufgaben des Gauleiters stark in Anspruch genommen. Zeitpunkt des Freiwerdens lässt sich zur Zeit nicht bestimmen. Der Höhere SS und Pol.führer Posen.
To Police Regiment Central Russia. On telex no. 19 of 2.9.41. Lange is currently heavily involved in carrying out major tasks of the Gauleiter. The date when he becomes available can not be determined at the moment. The Higher SS and Police Leader Posen.
(PRO HW 16/32, ZIP/GPD 348, traffic 3.9.41, item 7)

The leader of Einsatzgruppe B, Arthur Nebe, grabbed the opportunity to test explosives and engine exhaust on patients of the asylums in Minsk and Mogilev. He called a commando from the KTI in Berlin for this purpose. The results led to the implementation of gas vans on engine exhaust dispatched to the East.

Mattogno dedicates a whole section to the testimony of the Higher SS and Police Leader Erich von dem Bach-Zewelski. He dismisses his most detailed account on a show shooting for the Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on 15 August 1941 in Minsk as falsification of the "Jewish editors" of Aufbau. In the Italian edition of the same book he showed that the exact opposite is true (see part 2 of this series on Mental Degeneration or Dishonesty, Your Choice!).

The essence of the detailed account also appears in a short handwritten manuscript of von dem Bach-Zewelski. The forgery allegation is, therefore, not only false but also irrelevant for the subject at hand.

Mattogno forgets between his full quotes, smearing of the newspaper Aufbau and mocking historians - all of whom have contributed orders more to our knowledge of the fate of the European Jews than himself - to explain the manuscript on Himmler's visit in Minsk and his order "to make use of a more human method of killing" for clearing the asylum.

Himmler attended the show shooting and subsequently visited an asylum in Minsk. Von dem Bach-Zewelski tried to get a killing commando the next day. The asylums in Minsk and Mogilev were cleared within the next weeks. All of this follows from documents and corroborates that Himmler had issued an order to kill the mentally ill people other than by shooting, as explained by von dem Bach-Zewelski (omitting his own responsibility, of course).

On the gassing with engine exhaust in Minsk and Mogilev in September 1941, Mattogno ignores the film footage of the action in Mogilev in the English edition of Einsatzgruppen. In the Italian edition p.290-293 the footage is dismissed as Soviet forgery largely referring to an article debunked on this blog in September 2016.

The testimony of the KTI chemist Albert Widmann is the only one discussed by Mattogno in Einsatzgruppen. The Italian edition adds the testimony of one more witness, the Novinki asylum staff member Natalia Akimova. Thus, he ignores most accounts on the events in Minsk and Mogilev.

His critique of Widmann's testimony consists of a mix of misinterpretation, guesswork and not considering evasion as defence strategy of perpetrators. For example, he argues "why would Nebe have expected any effect from the exhaust gas of an ordinary automobile after just five minutes, when in the euthanasia centres the presumed gassing with pure carbon monoxide in possibly much smaller rooms required 10-15 minutes?" (p.303).

The argument is comparing apple with oranges. The figure of 10-15 minutes comes from witnesses' estimates of gassing times at the Euthanasia facilities in the Altreich. It is not the time after which the gas showed "any effect". In fact, the gassing expert August Becker explained that "you saw the people collapse after about 2 minutes" after carbon monoxide was let in (interrogation of 28 January 1960, BArch B 162/5066, p.39).

In Kalkulierte Morde, the German historian Christian Gerlach proposed to consider a revision of the view that it was Nebe who directly received the order kill the mentally ill people in Minsk - based on the intercepted radio message on von dem Bach-Zewelski calling SK Lange the next day.

One may suppose that a true Revisionist would acknowledge Gerlach's open mind and excitement to revise a piece of Holocaust related history. Too bad Mattogno is just a Holocaust denier and all that comes to his mind is alleging Gerlach's "embarrassment" (p.294). Somebody is projecting. Indeed, it seems like Mattogno is too embarrassed to openly revise false allegations he and his fellows have written in the past.

And frankly, if anything is embarrassing, then submitting the wrong manuscript for publication and not spotting the glaring differences upon proof-reading would be.


  1. More mass graves/remains monomania from 'Chick Fil-A' was removed. Since sections 6.1-6.3 of part I of Mattogno's Einsatzgruppen book do not rely on mass graves/remains arguments, raising mass graves/remains (a) concedes Hans's criticisms of Mattogno and (b) is off-topic for this post.

  2. Hans do you know if Mattogno is aware of the articles you have produced on gas vans ? Considering you virtually demolished all denier arguments in the series you posted on here a while ago , I would have thought he would have had something to say on the matter, even if it was just an apology for presenting rubbish arguments.

    As for your fine work above, I noticed that most of the documents you present re euthanasia and the bottled CO are from 1944-45. What euthanasia operations were being carried out during those years ? ( I must admit my knowledge on T4 isn't really that great ).

    PS - thanks for the time and effort you put in to produce these articles. They are always a good read.

  3. DasPrussian, as Hans has pointed out, some of the CO bottle docs refer to orders dating back to January 1942.

    The one site still using bottled CO gas in 1944-45 was Hartheim; the other T4 centres were dismantled by then, or had switched to using lethal injections (eg Hadamar). In 1942, after the suspension of the main T4 operation, various T4 centres continued to be involved in Aktion 14 f 13, the euthanasia of concentration camp inmates, but 14 f 13 was formally suspended in April 1943. The WVHA opted to transfer weakened inmates to Majdanek and Auschwitz for a time, but in 1944 there were transports from IIRC Dachau and Ravensbrueck to Hartheim, as reconstructed by Pierre Choumoff in his book on Nazi gassings in Austria (which also covers the Mauthausen-Gusen gas chambers and use of the gas van operating between these two camps). Hartheim was only dismantled and covered up in 1945.

  4. DasPrussian: "Hans do you know if Mattogno is aware of the articles you have produced on gas vans ? Considering you virtually demolished all denier arguments in the series you posted on here a while ago , I would have thought he would have had something to say on the matter, even if it was just an apology for presenting rubbish arguments."

    What Mattogno did and didn't absorb has become quite hard to follow.

    Hans showed in part I of this series that the October 2016 Italian edition, as well as the 2018 English edition of the Einsatzgruppen book, omitted an argument about Saurer vehicles all being diesels, which would suggest that he took notice of Hans's criticisms of Alvarez on this issue.

    The silent dropping of 'diesel' is a major admission of defeat, sotto voce

    But as Hans showed in part II, Mattogno made the English edition of the Einsatzgruppen worse on the subject of vom dem Bach-Zelewski's testimony about Himmler's visit to Minsk in August 1941. So we wondered whether the English edition was based on the wrong draft or there was some kind of goof in the editing.

    Since Mattogno likes to recycle his own writings, totally revising his arguments on the gas vans was likely not going to happen, even with all of the posts Hans made on gas vans in the run-up to the October 2016 Italian edition of the Einsatzgruppen book vol. 1 (with the chapter on gas vans). He clearly ignored nearly every post on gas vans since autumn 2016 for the 2018 English edition.

  5. NT >>> "... as reconstructed by Pierre Choumoff in his book on Nazi gassings in Austria (which also covers the Mauthausen-Gusen gas chambers and use of the gas van operating between these two camps)."

    That would be his 1987 book in which he apparently published a photo of one of the two metals doors of the Mauthausen GC but mentioned nothing of them being post-war additions. See p.138. The therein quoted caption also appeared alongside a photo of one of the doors in a 1986 article.

    Here's Choumoff claiming they were originals back in 1969. The photo caption reads: "Chambre à Gaz de Mauthausen, telle qu'on peut toujours la voir. Des milliers de visiteurs ont constaté que les portes avec joints d'étanchéité, fermeture uniquement de l'extérieur, oeilletons de contrôle, n'ont rien à voir avec l'équipement d'une salle de douches."

    March 1973 saw the release of Dark Side of the Moon, and, far less notably, a Jacques Delarue's review of an earlier Choumoff book which claims the gas chamber and its doors [inc pix] are originals:

    "Les 3 sortes de Preuves
    Tout cela s'appuie solidement sur trois sortes de preuves: les documents qui, indiscutablement, constituent des pièces capitales ; les témoignages, ceux des victimes et ceux des bourreaux, car Serge CHOUMOFF a traqué chacune de leurs phrases et les a admirablement explicitées ; et sur les preuves matérielles enfin, puisque la chambre à gaz du camp principal de Mauthausen existe toujours, la fausse salle de douches dont il suffit de regarder la porte à fermeture étanche, munie d'un judas, pour comprendre quel en était le véritable usage. Tout cela est présenté au lecteur à l'aide d'excellentes photographies. Comment discuter tout cela? Il fallait évidemment prendre la peine d'aller le regarder de façon parfaitement objective."

  6. BRoI, you really do have a problem with staying on-topic, don't you? It's kind of cute that we don't even need to say 'Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman' but can just mention a name once, and you materialise to regale everyone with a point of disagreement or error somewhere else in the book/article, even if it's of no relevance to the topic under discussion.

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