Friday, October 11, 2019

Vincent Reynouard And The Franke-Gricksch Report (Part 3)

Vincent Reynouard And The Franke-Gricksch Report Part 1Part 2 , Part 3


The Franke-Gricksch report claimed a "current capacity of the 'resettlement'-furnaces: 10,000 Jews in 24 hours". The figure was provided by the Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höß and probably included not only all crematoria but also the Bunker 2 extermination site.

Reynourd replies to this as follows:
"I note, however, that in his report Alfred Franke-Gricksch spoke of the current capacity of the Auschwitz ovens. However, according to the official thesis, the use of the bunkers was abandoned in the spring of 1943, when the crematoriums were commissioned. The cremation pits would have been filled and then leveled. [...]

If it did not work anymore, then adding 3000 burned bodies daily is illegitimate. Or it was still working, and Alfred Franke-Gricksch should have visited it. However, at no time does it mention the bunker 2 with its cremation pits. In short, even accepting the official thesis, one must conclude that at the time of his visit, the bunker 2 was no longer working. However, the SS speaking of current cremation capabilities, the figure advanced could not include the bunker 2. I would add that the Krema III was delivered on 24 June 1943. If we believe Jean-Claude Pressac, on 4 May the daily capacity of ovens would have reached 2000 bodies. We stay far, far from the mentioned 10,000. There remains the famous document Jährling. But again, with an undelivered Krema III, we arrive at around 3000 incinerations per day.

Jährling's figures do not allow to reach the desired 10,000, so the site Holocaust Controversies said that with the bodies of children, the SS could significantly increase the estimates. These are the methods used by these people. When the figures do not suit them, they inflate them, and they decontextualize to add others, in this case those of the bunker 2. "

Let's sort things out here. The subject at hand is the extermination capacity as told by the Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höß to visitors of the camp. The question is: Could Höß explain to Franke-Gricksch on 4 May 1943 that Auschwitz had a killing capacity of 10,000?

The short answer:

Yes, of course. Already because he was the commandant of the camp, he could have told his visitors such number. It does not matter if the figure was true or not, as far as the credibility of Franke-Gricksch is concerned. In the latter case, the commandant was bragging with an inflated "output".

The long answer:

According to Höß' post-war statements cited in the blog article, Auschwitz had indeed a maximum theoretical capacity of 10,000 per day taking into account crematoria 2 & 3 (each 2,000), crematoria 4 & 5 (each 1,500) and Bunker 2 (3,000).

By 4 May 1943, the crematoria 2, 4 & 5 had been already completed. So what about crematorium 3 and Bunker 2?

Crematorium 3 was handed over to the camp administration on 24 June 1943, but Reynouard confuses the administrative completion (the handover negotiation between the central construction office Auschwitz and the Auschwitz camp administration) with its operative completion as a killing site. Both were not necessarily identical. For instance, crematorium 2 was handed over on 31 March 1943 but it was already employed as killing facility for more than two weeks earlier.

Here is quick review of the state of the construction of crematorium 3:

On 29 January 1943, the construction office reported that the outer walls were done, the chimney was erected and to be finished within the next three days. On 31 March 1943, the construction office reminded the Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke of the "especially urgent" order for the "gas door 100/192 for corpse cellar 1…with double 8 mm glass and peephole". By 20 April 1943, the fittings for the "gas door" of crematorium 3 were available.  Between 1 to 22 April 1943, the Topf technician Messing mounted the ventilation devices of the furnace room, the undressing room and the homicidal gas chamber. The installation of the furnaces was first scheduled for the first week of March 1943, but apparently postponed to the first half of April 1943. The final invoice of the Topf company for crematorium 3 was issued on 27 May 1943 (Mattogno, The Cremation Furnaces of Auschwitz, p. 237 & 369), i.e. the ovens had been installed before this date.

So for all we know, crematorium 3 might have been technically completed as an extermination site on 4 May 1943 (with further construction taken place e.g. on the ventilation of the washing, dissecting and laying out rooms, on the elevator and the waste incinerator). According to Jean-Claude Pressac, on 11 May 1943, "Kr III, although not completed, could have been operational" if the elevator had been installed.

For the Auschwitz commandant, crematorium 3 could have been operational when its gas-chamber and furnaces were functioning. He hardly cared about "minor" issues like an elevator (which was not necessary to get corpses from the basement to the furnaces if enough man power was employed) or the waste incinerator. The commandant might have counted crematorium 3 as "operational" (with limitations) on the day the officers from the SS Personnel Main Office came to his camp, especially since there were not enough Jewish transports at the time to exploit the capacity anyway.

How about Bunker 2? Reynouard cites Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp that "in the spring of 1943...the two bunkers were shut down". Now, the month May is still in spring in the northern hemisphere, so that the statement says nothing about if the site had been shut down or not in early May. And even if it had been in the sense that the pits were filled and levelled, the gas chamber building still existed and pits are quickly dug if its capacity was to be exploited.

Reynouard claims that "Alfred Franke-Gricksch should have visited" Bunker 2 if it was still working. Just why? Bunker 2 was a primitive, laboursome, stinky extermination site. It is entirely counter-intuitive that Höß would have shown his ugly duckling when he had the most modern mass killing facility of the Third Reich at hand. However, even the ugly duckling could contribute to the camp's killing capacity when required. And precisely because Franke-Gricksch was not shown Bunker 2 and its open air cremation site, he spoke only about "'resettlement'-furnaces".

Adding up his figures, the Auschwitz commandant passed on the capacity of 10,000  people per day to visitors of the camp since May 1943. It is another issue if the individual figures are reliable. But this is independent of the question if Franke-Gricksch was credible (see short answer).

Jean-Claude Pressac maintained that the Auschwitz SS had massively inflated the number:
"On 28th June, following the handover of Krematorium III, the last one to be completed, Jährling calculated the overall throughout for the five Krematorien as 4,756 people in 24 hours, and sent this information to SS General Kammler in Berlin [Document 68]. This “official” figure, coolly doubled when explaining operations to high ranking visitors (cf. SS Major Franke Gricksch’s report above, giving a figure of 10,000 in 24 hours), had no basis in practice, and probably has to be divided by two or three to arrive at the true figure. The different visitors, SS, political leaders or others, were obviously unable to check the figures given by the camp SS, but accepted them as true and went away praising the Auschwitz SS for having found such a splendid solution to the “Jewish question”."
I beg to differ with the French researcher on this point.

The figures provided in the report of 28 June 1943 written by Janisch (not Jährling) have to be understood as  a minimum given how the ovens were operated in practise (reloading with 2-3 corpses every 20 to 30 min). Janisch's figure assumed male adult corpses, as it was given back in 1941 when the camp was envisaged for Soviet POWs, but not women (with a higher fat content), and children and elderly with a lower body weight. These were the majority of victims.

For this reason, the actual cremation capacity should be indeed closer to the numbers provided by the Auschwitz commandant than those in the letter of 28 June 1943. As persons, who were responsible for the construction of the ovens, Janisch and his superior Bischoff were wise to stick to the figures estimated in 1941, as the high-throughput cremation actually enforced by the camp administration, the crematoria commanders and the Kapos lead to tremendous strain and damage of the brickwork. In his lower estimation for the SS-WVHA from September 1942, the oven builder Kurt Prüfer even refrained from considering multiple cremations, possibly also because of regulations against this practise.

The killing capacity of 3000 people per day for Bunker 2 sounds feasible if the Auschwitz SS left out the proper ventilation of the gas chamber by providing gas masks to the Sonderkommando prisoners.

In conclusion, the commandant of Auschwitz could have claimed a theoretical maximum killing capacity of 10,000 people per day for the camp. In practise, the capacity was often not reached because of breakdown of the facilities and mostly not needed anyway except for some days in summer 1944 during the extermination of the Hungarian Jews. In this sense, it was more a propagandistic figure to impress the SS visitors and to compete with the extermination camps operated by the Police and SS Leader of Lublin district, Odilo Globočnik, than a realistic picture of the available and used capacity.

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