C. "The Eyewitnesses" - Part II of "NEGATIONIST TEAM 2nd Response 6/22/2004"
In the next part of their exposition, our opponents try to discredit a few of the dozens of eyewitnesses we mentioned in our Opening Statement and in our first response.
Do they succeed in doing so, which would still leave them with 1) all eyewitnesses they did not address and, 2) the other evidence we adduced (documentary and physical) evidence to deal with?
Or do they only succeed in further discrediting themselves?
Let us see.
The NT start out by trying to guide their readers' thinking with a rhetorical subterfuge, quoting the "Jewish author Josef G. Ginsburg", who is supposed to have said or written the following:
These [German] war crime trials will not be a blessing for the German people. The hanging of those tried and sentenced to death by the International Military Tribunal should have made an end to this sad chapter. The victors were shortsighted and very poorly advised when they subjected the Bundesrepublik to this cruel spectacle, because the continuation of these so called war crime trials was dictated to the Bundesrepublik in the "General Treaty" with Germany. Germans were to sit in judgment against Germans in this vile form. This is no search for justice but a proven anti-German policy.
Gee... we thought this debate was about the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
With all due respect for Mr. Ginsburg and his right to utter his personal opinion - if correctly rendered by our opponents - this author seems to have been woefully misinformed about two things:
1. That it was "the victors" who "subjected the Bundesrepublik to this cruel spectacle, because the continuation of these so called war crime trials was dictated to the Bundesrepublik in the 'General Treaty' with Germany";
2. That the trials conducted by West German criminal judgment made "Germans ... sit in judgment against Germans" in a "vile form", pursuing "a proven anti-German policy" rather than searching for justice.
Regarding item 1, it should be pointed out that according to the provisions of the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch
), which first came into force on 15 May 1871, German criminal law applies to crimes committed against or by German citizens. In other words, what Ginsburg believes the "victors" to have "subjected" the Bundesrepublik to results from German legal provisions that were in force long before there were any "victors" to subject Germans to anything
, and started being gradually applied by West German criminal justice authorities as West Germany regained her sovereignty. The development of the prosecution of Nazi crimes by West German criminal justice is explained on the Justiz und NS Verbrechen
website of the University of Amsterdam, under the link http://web.archive.org/web/200404141505 ... mepage.htm
in an article which we highly recommend to read.
It becomes clear from this article that
i) during the years 1945 to 1952, the victors, far from forcing German to try Germans as Ginsburg would have it, limited the jurisdiction of German courts, which together with a lack of interest by German criminal justice authorities in crimes committed against foreigners led to prosecution being mostly focused on crimes committed by and against Germans on German soil
ii) during the ensuing six years, 1953 to 1959, West German criminal justice, while restored to full sovereignty, lost interest in prosecuting Nazi crimes and limited its activities to a few "chance hits" or "leftovers" from the previous period, which furthermore resulted mostly in acquittals or stayed cases;
iii) The "reorientation" of the judiciary regarding the prosecution of Nazi crimes during the ensuing period resulted not from any foreign imposition, but from a "change in generations and spiritual climate" inside Germany
iv) Prosecution of Nazi crimes was hampered by the West German legislative, which issued or changed legislation in such a way as to make most Nazi crimes fall under the statute of limitations when they could have been prosecuted;
v) The number of defendants whose trial ended without punishment was always considerable - roughly 50 per cent - and considerably higher than the number of defendants who were given a life sentence, even though the German criminal code mandates this sentence in case of murder.
The last of these characteristics leads us to item 2 of Ginsburg's assumptions. Aside from the West German law of criminal procedure (Strafprozessordnung) corresponding to the defendant-friendly principles of a constitutional state, the way in which both the procedural law and the material criminal law have been applied regarding Nazi crimes has been considered benevolent beyond the demands of law even by historians who expressly praise the achievements of German criminal justice, like Martin Broszat.
[...]Often reprimanded for its careful judgments, pleading for the accused or for facts not being provable in case of doubt, the judiciary of the German Federal Republic, with its voluminous investigation apparatus working over many years, has especially in the area of the extermination camps often contributed more to the clarification of this National Socialist crime complex than would have been possible to historians.[...]
The above is our translation from: Ino Arndt/Wolfgang Scheffler, "Organisierter Massenmord in Nationalsozialistischen Vernichtungslagern". Vorbemerkung von Martin Broszat. In: Peter Maerthesheimer / Ivo Frenzel, Im Kreuzfeuer: Der Fernsehfilm Holocaust. Eine Nation ist betroffen
, 1979 Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag Frankfurt am Main, page 174.
Other historians and legal scholars are less gentle in their assessment of West German justice:
[...]If criminal trials nevertheless took place, the courts could not close their eyes before the enormous crimes that were exhibited before them, but they didn't want to make anyone responsible for these crimes. The judges' shyness to even call anyone a "murderer" flourished in a noteworthy manner. The Hannover County Court, for instance, sentenced an NS-perpetrator, who had committed a number of murders with his own hands, as "accomplice to murder", i.e. as a mere assistant of the murderer proper. And his superior, who had given him the corresponding orders, the court convicted merely as an "inciter". As there was no further actor between the two, the murders were factually "deeds without a perpetrator".
Against the actually convicted NS-criminals the courts often issued sentences which, according to the former Hessian General Public Prosecutor Fritz Bauer, came "rather close to mocking the victims". In the early 1960s, the German coordination council of the Christian-Jewish Society observed "since some time and with increasing concern, that the sworn courts [Schwurgerichte] of the German Federal Republic are treating mass murders and violent crimes from the National Socialist era (concentration camps, ghettoes, Einsatzgruppen etc. ... differently from other murders", that the Nazi criminals were given "minimum sentences for >complicity in murder< which, in the eyes of the general public, reduced the participation in mass murder to a crime in the order of magnitude of, say, heavy theft or professional receiving of stolen goods". One or two days imprisonment for every proven murder were not a rarity at these trials, and this was by no means only due to the astronomically high numbers of victims.[...]
The above is our translation from: Ingo Mueller, Furchtbare Juristen
, 1987 Kindler Verlag GmbH, Munich, pages 250 and 257/258.
A cruel spectacle, Mr. Ginsburg? Certainly so - for the survivors of the mass murders testifying in court.
The pursuit of a "proven anti-German policy", Mr. Ginsburg? Nonsense.
The emotional Mr. Ginsburg obviously didn't know what he was talking about. And it speaks volumes for the quality of the NT's "research" that, instead of looking for scholarly assessments of the handling of Nazi crimes by West German criminal justice, they preferred to make an uninformed writer - accurate rendering of Mr. Ginsburg's utterances provided - into the "key witness" of their case against a criminal justice which, if anything, can only be accused of having applied the defendant-friendly procedural rules of a constitutional state in an exceedingly cautious and benevolent manner in favor of the defendants when it came to Nazi crimes.
Following this instructive introduction, the NT invoke their next authority, who lectures their readers about "The Value of Testimony and Confessions Concerning the Holocaust
". The authority is a certain Manfred Koehler.
Who is this gentleman?
Perchance a renowned legal scholar, with experience in the handling of criminal trials?
Cold, very cold, dear readers. Manfred Koehler is one of the many pseudonyms used by "Revisionist" grand dragon Germar Rudolf, who is also known as Ernst Gauss, Dr. Werner Kretschmer, Dr. Christian Konrad, Dr. Dr. Rainer Scholz, Jakob Sprenger, Lennard Rose, etc. Which would be his legitimate prerogative if he made it clear that and when he is using any of these pseudonyms. Alas, he doesn't. We translate what our fellow researcher Juergen Langowski tells his readers on his website under http://www.h-ref.de/personen/rudolf-germar/
[...]Germar Rudolf is one of the most productive authors of the "revisionist" quoting cartel. Under at least half a dozen pseudonyms he writes and quotes - preferably himself. This becomes especially bizarre when Ernst Gauss (Germar Rudolf) edits a book with a contribution by Manfred Koehler (Germar Rudolf), who in turn dutifully thanks Ernst Gauss (Germar Rudolf) for material made available and a few footnotes later refers to Germar Rudolf (Germar Rudolf).[...]
Even more instructive is Rudolf's own explanation for the showpiece of intellectual dishonesty that this network of false academic "authorities" constitutes:
My conclusions were that one obviously had to be at the same time an engineer, a chemist, a toxicologist, a historian and a perhaps even an barrister to be accepted as an expert witness at a German court. The legal process being so perverted in Germany, we decided to mock it by inventing a person with all these features, but then we realized that this would be a bit unrealistic, so we split that person into many. [Source: as above]
It is this source of obviously unimpeachable integrity that our esteemed opponents cite as their sole authority on the proper use of evidence.
Germar Rudolf aka "Manfred Koehler", as translated by our opponents, writes the following:
In academia as well as in the justice system of a state under the rule of law, there is a hierarchy of evidence reflecting the evidential value. In this hierarchy, material and documentary evidence is always superior to eyewitness testimony.
 Cf. E. Schneider, Beweis und Beweiswuerdigung, 4th ed., F. Vahlen, Munich 1987, pp. 188 and 304; additional forms of evidence are "Augenscheinnahme" [visual assessment of evidence by the Court], and "Parteieinvernahme" [the questioning of disputing parties, i.e., prosecution and defense], a particularly unreliable form of testimony.
It would be interesting to know what the scholar invoked by Rudolf, whose book we unfortunately do not (yet) have at our disposal, actually wrote. For while it seems reasonable to assume that material and documentary evidence tend to be less error-prone than eyewitness testimony, and while legal doctrine and practice accordingly consider eyewitness testimony as a source of evidence to be handled and assessed with caution, neither the German Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung
nor the German Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung
) establish a "hierarchy of evidence reflecting the evidential value". On the contrary. Article 261 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure reads as follows:
Ueber das Ergebnis der Beweisaufnahme entscheidet das Gericht nach seiner freien, aus dem Inbegriff der Verhandlung geschoepften Ueberzeugung.
About the result of the taking of evidence the court decides according to its free conviction derived from the trial as a whole.
As Prof. Dr. Bernd Heinrich explains in a lecture of 16 March 2004, published online under http://22.214.171.124:80/search?q=cache ... digung.doc
this means, among other things, that the judge must exhaustively
evidence taken at the trial and is not
entitled to limit his assessment to given sources of evidence. It also means that the judge is not
bound to fixed rules of evidence, and that it is his exclusive task and prerogative - subject, of course, to control by the higher instances of the judicial hierarchy - to decide whether or not the defendant or the witnesses are to be believed.
Thus it would seem that postulating a "hierarchy of evidence reflecting the evidential value", as Rudolf does, is a theoretical approach that the legislator of the German Code of Criminal Procedure refrained from adopting, presumably because, just like other legislators on the one hand and historians on the other, he recognized that the sources of evidence our opponents claim to value so highly - material and documentary evidence - cannot on their own provide a complete picture of events and that, whatever its shortcomings, the witness is and always will be the primary unit of evidence in the practice of any criminal trial
This also seems to have been the view of the legal professionals and jurors of the Frankfurt County Court (Landgericht Frankfurt
) at the Auschwitz Trial between 1963 and 1965, from whose judgment we translated the following passages:
[...]Another difference lay in that the witnesses - understandably so - could only rarely make exact statements about the place and time of certain events. Although it often seemed an impertinence [Zumutung] and an overburdening of the witnesses to ask them about concrete details of their experiences, about the looks of the SS-men taking part in certain occurrences and about the place and time or events, and to ask them to provide an exact description of the sites, the sworn court, in order to clarify the severe accusations leveled against the accused, nevertheless considered such procedures necessary to exclude the risk of mistaken identifications and counterfactual claims. For the court was lacking almost all the means of recognition available in a normal murder trial to make itself a true picture of the factual occurrences at the time of murder. The corpses of the victims were missing, as were autopsy protocols, expert reports about the cause and hour of death, the traces of the perpetrators, murder weapons etc. Only in rare cases was it possible to check the witnesses' depositions.[...]
The above suggests that what our opponents' authority would like to be sources of evidence ranking higher in the "hierarchy of evidence reflecting the evidential value" is seen by legal professionals as a means of checking the principal source of evidence at criminal trials, eyewitness testimony
. What does a court do where such means of checking are not at its disposal? Does it pronounce the eyewitness testimony to be unusable and let mass murderers like Baretzki, Bednarek, Boger, Hofmann, Kaduk and Klehr (the defendants sentenced to lifetime imprisonment at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial) go scot-free? Of course not, as this would in many cases bring criminal justice to a standstill. We again translate from the Frankfurt County Court's judgment:
[...]The credibility of the witnesses therefore had to be examined with especial care. Where there were the slightest doubts or the possibility of a mistaken identification could not be excluded with certainty the court did not use such witness depositions.[...]
As we do not expect the legal scholar invoked by our opponents' authority to have been so ignorant of the rules and practice of (German) criminal procedure, we must thus assume that Rudolf, deliberately or not, misread the message that this scholar was intending to convey.
This suspicion is reinforced by Rudolf's ensuing "achievement".
Thus, academia as well as the justice system regard eyewitness testimony as the least reliable form of evidence, since human memory is imperfect and easily manipulated.
 E.g., cf. §373, German Code of Civil Procedure.
What is funny about the above is not so much the statement itself - every historian and legal scholar or professional knows that eyewitness testimony, while a key source of both historical and forensic evidence, is also one to be handled with caution - as the source referred to. For "§373, German Code of Civil Procedure" reads as follows:
Der Zeugenbeweis wird durch die Benennung der Zeugen und die Bezeichnung der Tatsachen, ueber welche die Vernehmung der Zeugen stattfinden soll, angetreten.
Proof through witnesses is offered by naming the witness and designating the facts about which the interrogation of the witness is to take place.
What the hell does this provision say about the German legislator's views on the reliability of eyewitness testimony, Mr. Rudolf?
Can we expect your reading of Mr. Rolf Bender, the German expert on the evaluation of evidence who you claim to have uttered the radical pretension, contrary to all judicial doctrine and practice we know of, that
[...]its unreliable nature renders eyewitness testimony merely circumstantial evidence, in other words, not direct evidence.
 R. Bender, S. Roeder, A. Nack, Tatsachenfeststellung vor Gericht, 2 vols., Beck, Munich 1981, vol 1, p. 173.
to have been equally guided by fantasy and wishful thinking?
The following part of Rudolf's lecture
What standards must be met for eyewitness testimony to be usable in court? 
 Cf. also the detailed accounts of E. Schneider, op. cit. (note 4), p. 200-229, and R. Bender, S. Roeder, A. Nack, op. cit. (note 6), v. 1 part 1.
1. The witness must be credible.
While making no claims to completeness, the following lists a few criteria for determining credibility:
a. Emotional involvement. If witnesses are emotionally too involved in the cases under investigation, this may distort the testimony in one direction or the other, without this necessarily being a conscious process.
b. Veracity. If it turns out that a witness is not overly concerned about truthfulness, this casts doubts upon his further credibility.
c. Testimony under coercion. The frankness of testimony may be limited if a witness is subjected to direct or indirect pressure that makes him deem it advisable to configure his testimony accordingly.
d. Third-party influence. A person's memory is easy to manipulate. Events reported by acquaintances or in the media can easily become assimilated as 'personal experience'. Thus, if a witness has been exposed intensively to one-sided accounts of the trial substance prior to testifying, this can very well affect his testimony to reflect these impressions.
e. Temporal distance from the events to be attested to. It is generally known that the reliability of eyewitness testimony diminishes greatly after only a few days, and after several months has been so severely influenced and altered by the replacement of forgotten details with subsequent impressions that it retains hardly any value as evidence. Cf. esp. R. Bender, S. Roeder, A. Nack, ibid., pp. 45ff.
seems to contain a less distorted rendering of the works of Messrs. Schneider, Bender, Roeder and Nack, except for
i) The reference to testimony being "usable in court". According to the German Code of Criminal Procedure, a court is only barred from using eyewitness testimony where a witness had the right of refusing to testify or the testimony was obtained through illegal methods, especially coercion. The other criteria for determining credibility adduced by Rudolf, while important aspects to be considered for a judge's decision whether and to what extent he will believe the witness, are not a question of whether the judge is legally entitled to use the testimony as evidence.
ii) The statement under item e., which we would like to see in the words of Messrs. Bender, Roeder and Nack themselves. The basis for our suspicion that these sources are being misrepresented is a very simple consideration: if it were "generally known" that several months temporal distance from the events to be attested render eyewitness testimony virtually worthless as a source of evidence, the overwhelming majority of criminal convictions in any country, under any legal system, would be largely, mostly or even exclusively based on virtually worthless evidence. While temporal distance certainly has an influence on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, that influence varies from individual to individual and depends on a number of circumstances to be taken into consideration in each individual case. If Mr. Bender were the author of the categorical generalization that Rudolf attributes to him and other legal scholars, which would invalidate one of the most important sources of evidence in both civil and criminal justice, we would be mighty disappointed in what concerns Mr. Bender's recognized expertise in the field, all the more so taking into account the general considerations of his professional colleagues from the Frankfurt County Court about the handling of temporary distance from the events testified to at a criminal trial. Our translation from the judgment at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial:
[...]If already according to general experience a witness is not always a safe element of proof, this applied all the more at the present trial, because the witnesses had to testify about events lying 20 years in the past.[our emphasis] In addition there were hardly any witnesses who had experienced the events at Auschwitz concentration camps as neutral observers. The witnesses who had been former members of the Waffen-SS at Auschwitz concentration camp were almost without exception involved in the events of the time. This led them to show a noticeable reservation in their depositions, feign memory gaps and be shy to incriminate the accused, obviously in the assumption that after incriminating statements they could themselves be incriminated by the accused. But for a few exceptions, the depositions of these witnesses therefore mostly yielded little results.
With a number of these witnesses it was even obvious that they were telling untruths.
For finding out the truth the court was thus essentially dependent on the depositions of the former inmates. Although a great number of these witnesses made a serious effort to search their memory and tell the pure truth, the court had to take into consideration that many possible sources of error could put in question the value and the truthfulness of these witness testimonies. Almost all witnesses made their observations in a state of unspeakable suffering, tormented by hunger and in constant fear for their own life. The names of the SS-members were often not known to them. In the camp at that time there was much talk about the general occurrences and about the SS-members involved in individual events. Rumors spread fast among the inmates. They often roughened and falsified certain occurrences. The names of participating SS-men were confounded.
For the witnesses it was thus extraordinarily difficult to distinguish between what they had personally experienced themselves and what had been told to them by others, be it in the camp or only later after liberation. There is no question that there was the risk of witnesses in good faith representing events as their own experience which had actually been described to them by others, or which they had read of in the numerous books and magazines about the events at Auschwitz that are available to the public. Furthermore it had to be taken into consideration that after 20 years there might appear memory gaps which the witnesses unconsciously filled in. Especially there was the risk that the witnesses in good faith projected events which they themselves had experienced at Auschwitz concentration camp onto other persons, especially the SS-members accused at this trial. The sworn court never lost sight of this risk, and in regard to all witness depositions containing concrete incriminations of a given defendant carefully examined whether there was not the possibility of a mistaken identification.[our emphasis][...]
So the Frankfurt County Court not only considered eyewitness testimony its principal source of evidence, but also held that even after 20 years such evidence, while problematic and to be handled with great caution, retained a considerable evidentiary value. The court's judgment was confirmed by the German Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof
) on 20.02.1969.
Should we believe that German legal scholars Bender, Roeder and Nack pronounced the jurisdiction of the Frankfurt County Court and the German Supreme Court to have been dead wrong in this respect (something we would have triumphantly pointed out if we were in Rudolf's place)?
Or are we on the safer side if we assume that what Rudolf tells his readers about the opinions of Bender, Roeder and Nack doesn't have much to do with what these scholars actually wrote?
Legal expert Rudolf goes on to falsely postulate the following further criteria for assessing the credibility of a witness's testimonial as "standards" that "must be met for eyewitness testimony to be usable in court":
2. Testimony must be plausible.
a. Internal consistency. Testimony must be free of contradictions and in accordance with the rules of logic.
b. Correctness of historical context. Testimony must fit into the historical context established conclusively by higher forms of evidence (documents, material evidence).
c. Technical and scientific reality. Testimony must report such matters as can be reconciled with the laws of nature and with what was technically possible at the time in question.
Like the criteria "emotional involvement", "veracity", "third party influence" and "temporal distance", the above three are important aspects to be considered for a judge's decision whether and to what extent he will believe the witness, but not a question of whether the judge is legally entitled to use the testimony as evidence.
As to criterion b., it must again be pointed out that "higher forms of evidence" exist in Rudolf's mind rather than in law and judicial practice. When mentioning "correctness of historical context", however, Rudolf involuntarily addressed one of the most important methods of assessing the reliability of eyewitness testimony, applied by both historians and criminal justice authorities: comparing the testimony with other testimony independent thereof and/or with other independent sources of evidence. As Prof. John C. Zimmerman writes in his online article How Reliable are the Hoess Memoirs
, http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschw ... s-memoirs/
[...]How then can the reliability of such testimony be evaluated? One method is to compare it to other testimony on the subject. Is the testimony consistent overall when compared to other testimony on the same event? Another method is to compare the testimony to other corroborative evidence. Is there some documentary evidence that supports the testimony?[our emphasis] For example, Miklos Nyiszli was a Jewish doctor who was part of the Hungarian transports deported to Auschwitz from May to July 1944. His memoirs were written in March 1946 and published in Budapest in 1947. A copy of the original Hungarian is at the UCLA main library. They were translated into English in 1960. Nyiszli served as a prisoner doctor to the notorious Joseph Mengele. He witnessed the bodies of dead gassing victims and the burnings of bodies in the Crematoriums. He also witnessed the burning pits dug by the Auschwitz authorities to dispose of the murdered victims. How can his testimony be evaluated? His testimony can be classified as victim testimony, the essentials of which have been verified by other victims. Perpetrators have also verified the essential aspects of his testimony. 6 But there is other evidence by which the veracity of his testimony can be evaluated.[our emphasis] Nyiszli wrote that while he was at Auschwitz there were 860 special commando prisoners assigned to the four crematoriums to dispose of the murdered victims. 7 This is a very large number and is consistent with what the camp authorities would need to dispose of victims who were being murdered en masse. A camp labor deployment list dated August 29, 1944 shows 874 special workers assigned to the four crematoria. They are evenly divided among those installations and divided again into day and night shifts. 8 Thus, Nyiszli is a very credible witness based on this independent corroboration. [our emphasis][...]
Back to Rudolf's criteria for the plausibility of testimony. Regarding item c., it should be pointed out that Article 261 of the German Criminal Procedure Code:
About the result of the taking of evidence the court decides according to its free conviction derived from the trial as a whole.
would not be complied with if a judge were to "throw out" an eyewitness testimony as a whole because one or the other detail contained therein contradicts the laws of nature and the contemporary state of technology, without having
i) ruled out the possibility that the witness incurred in an understandable error of observation regarding a scientifically and technically reconcilable feature or circumstance; and
ii) compared all
of the contents of the witness's testimony with other independent eyewitness testimony and/or independent sources of evidence, and concluded on significant contradictions between the former and the latter.
So much for Mr. Rudolf's somewhat-less-than-sound considerations about the rules, principles and reasoning guiding judicial assessment of evidence. How have our esteemed opponents applied this inadequate tool of theirs to the particular case at issue?
In our opening statement, we wrote the following:
Eight former members of the SS admitted to having seen the Birkenau gas chambers in operation with their own eyes: Richard Boeck, Gerhard Hess, Karl Hoelblinger, Dr. Johann Kremer, Dr. Konrad Morgen, Henry Storch, Franz Hofmann and Dr. Gerhard Wiebeck, seven of then as witnesses, Hofmann as defendant. The Birkenau bunkers were often mentioned in the course of the Frankfurt Trial, especially by former inmates Franciszek Gulba, Henryk Porebski, Milton Buki, Dov Paisikovic.
The NT claims that
This is simply not true!
It seems that our opponents don't even read their own sources attentively enough. Otherwise they might have noticed that what is shown in facsimile in Germar Rudolf's article under http://vho.org:80/VffG/2003/2/Rudolf224-229.html
is an excerpt from the record of a deposition made by witness Richard Boeck. Far from showing our statement that this and other witnesses from the ranks of the SS admitted to having seen the Birkenau gas chambers in operation with their own eyes
to be mistaken, Boeck's deposition proves this statement to be accurate at least in regard to Richard Boeck himself. We take the liberty to translate what we consider to be the key parts of the record of this witness's testimony, from the excerpts kindly provided by Mr. Rudolf:
[...]One day, it was in the winter of 1942/43, H[oelblinger] asked me if I felt like going with him to a gassing action. He would present me as his co-driver in the ambulance van, because otherwise it was strictly forbidden for me to be present there. I thereupon went with him to the garage, we sat in the ambulance van and drove directly to Birkenau. The Birkenau camp we didn't touch during this drive. I also cannot say that I saw something of the camp on this occasion.
The transportation train which had arrived stood on the open line between Auschwitz and Birkenau, and the inmates were just being unloaded. It was about 21.00 hours. Broad stairs had been stood against the backs of the trucks with which the inmates were transported. Over these stairs the people climbed onto the trucks. All vehicles were crammed full until they could take no more. The people stood on the vehicles. I didn't watch any SS-doctor or any other SS-member picking people out. They were all loaded up and driven to a former farm house, which was about 1.5 km away from the place of unloading. The crematoria of Birkenau at any rate I did not see, and I am of the opinion that at this time they were not yet in operation. I at any rate also drove in the ambulance, together with H., to this farm house. We were driving behind the trucks. When we arrived, the people had already been unloaded and had to undress in several barracks standing near the former farm house. When they came naked out of the barracks, they were told to go into the building on which there hung a sign reading "disinfections". This building was the former farm house, which at that time had been converted into a gassing room. As far as I can remember it was well clad in concrete all around and had doors on both sides, which in my opinion were made of wood. H. had already told me before that in this room the arriving transports were gassed. Furthermore these gassing actions were generally known among us.
I can still remember that this was a transport of Dutch Jews - men, women and children - who were all well-dressed and gave the appearance of being wealthy people.
I must correct something here. The converted farm house had only one door, which had two wings. Also the sign "disinfections" did not hang on the building but was placed like a signpost a few meters in front of it. This sign had been placed to keep the people believing that here they would be disinfected.
After the whole transport - it must have been about 1,000 people - was inside the building, the door was closed. Thereafter an SS-man, I think it was a Rottenfuehrer (corporal), came to our ambulance van and took out a gas can. With this can he went to a ladder, which seen from the door stood on the right side of the building. I saw that he wore a gas mark when climbing up the ladder. When he had arrived at the end of the ladder, he opened a circular sheet metal cap and poured the can's contents into the opening. I clearly heard the can's clattering against the wall when he hit it while pouring. At the same time I saw a brownish dust coming up from the wall opening. Whether this was gas I cannot say. At any rate I saw that he poured in only one can. When he had again closed the lid, a screaming that cannot be described set in inside the room. I simply cannot describe how these people screamed. This lasted for about 8 to 10 minutes, then everything was silent. A short time later the door was opened by inmates, and one could still see a bluish fog floating above an enormous ball of corpses. The corpses were so entangled into each other that one could not recognize to whom the individual extremities and body parts belonged. I saw, for instance, that one of the gassed had his indicator finger stuck several centimeters into the eye socket of another. From this one could measure how horrible beyond description the death struggle of these people had been. One cannot describe this image with words. I became so sick when I saw this that I almost vomited.
I was surprised, however, that the inmate detachment meant to remove the corpses entered the room without gas masks, although this blue haze, of which I assumed that it was gas, still floated above the corpses. The corpses were loaded onto peasant carts (ladder cards) and pushed away by the inmates. Where the corpses went I did not see. I also didn't notice anything of a crematorium.
At this gassing action SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer (captain) Dr. Entress was present as a physician. Furthermore Hauptscharfuehrer (sergeant) Moll was present at this action. On the whole I hardly saw more than four SS-men as participants.[...]
A meticulously detailed and harrowing testimony, revealing both the witness's deep shock at what he saw and his effort to describe the events he was testifying about as exactly as his memory permitted.
How can one assess the reliability of this eyewitness testimony?
If one is not concerned with finding the facts, one can do it the simple and sloppy "Revisionist" way: mutilate the record of the testimony, highlight the statements that at first sight appear to be odd, make a big bloody fuss about the supposed oh-so-flagrant oddness of these statements, call the witness a liar and high-handedly dismiss his testimony. This is what our NT opponents did with the testimony of former SS-man Richard Boeck (who, under the ignorant heading "Confessions from former SS-men during the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, Germany" - Boeck testified only as a witness, never as a defendant - and in an instructive and self-defeating display of their intellectual dishonesty, they call our "star witness", even though we mentioned him only very briefly in two sentences of our Opening Statement and not at all in our first response).
If one is interested in establishing the facts of the matter, on the other hand, one should take the approach favored by historians and criminal investigators: examine in detail whether and to what extent the testimony is consistent in itself and free of contradictions, fits into the context of the events it refers to and is corroborated by other testimonies independent thereof and/or other sources of evidence.
Let us see, then, to what extent Boeck's testimony is corroborated by other evidence independent thereof.
a) Boeck's testimony described a gassing at the Birkenau "bunker" during the initial phase of mass extermination at Auschwitz, before the four Birkenau crematorium buildings with their incorporated gas chambers were erected. Boeck correctly pointed out that the crematoria of Birkenau were not yet in operation at the time he witnessed the gassing.
b) Boeck stated that gassing took place in the winter of 1942/43, and that the Jews gassed came from Holland. According to the list on pages 162 and following of the 1991 study Dimensionen des Voelkermords
by Wolfgang Benz et al, based on documentary evidence collected and evaluated in the Netherlands, there were the following transports from Holland to Auschwitz in the months December 1942 to February 1943:
Date of Transport; Transit Camp; Number of Deportees
04.12.1942; Westerbork; 812
08.12.1942; Westerbork; 927 (thereof 60 disembarked at Kosel)
12.12.1942; Westerbork; 757
11.01.1943; Westerbork; 750
18.01.1943; Westerbork; 748
22.01.1943; Apeldoorn; 921
23.01.1943; Westerbork; 516
29.01.1943; Westerbork; 659
02.02.1943; Westerbork; 890
09.02.1943; Westerbork; 1,184
16.02.1943; Westerbork; 1,108
23.02.1943; Westerbork; 1,101
c) Boeck stated that the number of people on the transport was about 1,000. As can be seen in the above list, several transports at the end of 1942 were close to 1,000 strong, and the last three transports in February 1943 carried well over 1,000 deportees.
d) Boeck stated that the gassing took place at night. One of the witnesses quoted in our Opening Statement, Dr. Johann Paul Kremer, mentioned several nighttime "special actions" in his wartime diary, the relevant excerpts from which are quoted in the judgment of the Muenster County Court against Dr. Johann Paul Kremer, 29.11.1960, transcribed under http://web.archive.org/web/200402092317 ... Kremer.htm
What follows is our translation of the key entries of Kremer's diary referring to "special actions", which also suggest that Kremer felt the same horror as Boeck when witnessing these actions and their results:
At 3 in the morning for the first time at a special action. Compared to this Dante's Inferno almost seems a comedy. It is not for nothing that they call Auschwitz the camp of annihilation!
Today at noon at a special action from the F.K.L. ["Frauenkonzentrationslager" = women's concentration camp, translator's note] (Muselmaenner [literally "Moslems", camp jargon for prisoners worn out by malnourishment and disease, translator's note]): the horror of horrors. Hauptscharfuehrer Thilo - army doctor - was right when today he told me that here we were at the anus mundi. In the evening around 8 hours again at a special action from Holland. Due to the special provisions granted, consisting of one-fifth liter of booze, 5 cigarettes, 100 grams of sausage and bread, the men are eager to take part in such actions.[...]
In the evening at 8 hours out for a special action again.
Present at a special action in the evening (4th time).
Present at a special action in the morning (5th time).
This night at the 6th and 7th special actions.[...]
This night present at the 8th special action.[...]
Present at the 9th special action (outsiders and Muselweiber [female "Moslems", see above, translator's note].[...]
2nd inoculation against typhus; thereafter strong general reaction (fever) in the evening. Nevertheless present during the night at a special action from Holland (1600 persons). Gruesome scene in front of the last bunker! (Hoessler!) This was the 10th special action.
In wet and cold weather present today, Sunday morning, at the 11th special action (Netherlanders). Grisly scenes with three women who begged merely to have their lives spared.
Present tonight at 2 special actions, in rainy and dusky autumn weather (12. und 13.)[...]Another special action in the afternoon, i.e. the 14th I have participated in so far.[...]
e) Boeck stated that he drove to the gas chambers in an ambulance van with his comrade Karl Hoelblinger, who at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial confirmed having been the driver of that ambulance van. A similar ride with Hoelblinger was also described by Kremer during his trial in Krakow, quoted in our Opening Statement:
[...]Already at three o'clock in the morning on 2 September I was ordered to take part in a gassing of human beings. This mass murder was carried out in small houses located in the forest outside Birkenau camp. These houses the SS-men called "bunkers" in their jargon.[...] My participation as a physician at these gassings, which were called "special actions", consisted in standing at ready at a place near the bunker. To this place I was taken with a car, where I sat next to the chauffeur while an SS medical orderly sat in the back with an oxygen device for saving the SS men in charge of the gassing in case one of them should suffer poisoning.[...] I rode behind such a transport up to bunker. There the prisoners were first driven with cars to the barracks where the victims undressed, and then they went already naked into the gas chambers. Most of the time all this happened quietly, as the SS-men calmed down the people by telling them that they were going to be bathed and deloused. After all had been pushed inside a gas chamber the door war locked and an SS-man with a gas mask threw the contents of a Zyklon - can through an opening in the side wall. Through this opening the screams and lamentations of the victims came out of the gas chamber, one heard these people in their death struggle. The screams were only heard for a short time, however. I designate this time as a few minutes, but I cannot indicate it exactly.[...]
f) Boeck states that an SS-doctor was present at the gassing site. From Kremer's above-quoted statement it becomes apparent that and why gassings at the Birkenau bunker were always attended by an SS-physician.
g) Although completely independent from Kremer's deposition, Boeck's testimony describes the location of the "bunker" (outside Birkenau camp), the transportation of the victims to the bunker, the undressing, the introduction of the gas and what followed in coincidence with Kremer, and also with Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Hoess, who in his memoirs, quoted in our Opening Statement, wrote the following:
[...]In the spring of 1942 the first transports of Jews, all earmarked for extermination, arrived from Upper Silesia.
They were taken from the detraining platform to the 'Cottage' - to Bunker I - across the meadows where later Building Site II was located. The transport was conducted by Aumeier and Palitzsch and some of the block leaders. They talked with the Jews about general topics, inquired about their qualifications and trades, with a view to misleading them. On arrival at the 'Cottage', they were told to undress. At first they went calmly into the rooms where they were supposed to be disinfected. But some of them showed signs of alarm, and spoke of death by suffocation and of annihilation. A sort of panic set in at once. Immediately all the Jews still outside were pushed into the chambers, and the doors were screwed shut.
During the spring of 1942 hundreds of vigorous men and women walked all unsuspecting to their death in the gas chambers, under the blossom-laden fruit trees of the 'Cottage' orchard. This picture of death in the midst of life remains with me to this day.[...]
The reasonable conclusion to be drawn from all this coincidence between independent elements of evidence is that it is no mere coincidence, that Boeck, Hoelblinger, Kremer and Hoess witnessed the same events or events of the same kind independently of each other and described them independently of each other, each in his own personal way. Far from being "voellig unglaubhaft" ("completely untrustworthy"), as Germar Rudolf and our esteemed opponents proclaim it to be, Boeck's testimony is thus to be considered highly reliable
in what concerns the details mentioned above.
There are details, for sure, in which Boeck's testimony differs from those of other witnesses. He stated that the doors of the bunker were opened a "short time" after the gassing. Rudolf Hoess, in his depositions in Polish captivity recorded in the document "The final solution of the Jewish question in Auschwitz concentration camp", mentioned in our Opening Statement, stated that the doors were opened half an hour after the gassing - which, considering subjective differences in the perception of time, may, of course, have been what another witness considered a "short time". Boeck mentioned that - to his surprise - the men of the special detachment taking out the bodies wore no gas masks. Former special detachment member Szlama Dragon, in his deposition before the examining judge in Cracow quoted on page 231 of the study Nationalsozialistische Massentoetungen durch Giftgas
, expressly stated that all members of the body disposal squad received gas masks before entering the cottage. Boeck also mentioned a "blue haze" above the bodies, which he thought to be gas and which, to our knowledge, is mentioned by no other witness.
Do these at first sight odd features, which our opponents take as a pretext to call Boeck a liar or a lunatic, shatter the credibility of who independent corroboration has shown to be quite reliable in what concerns other features of his testimony?
Hardly so. Boeck may have been mistaken about the "blue haze" and the absence of gas masks, but this doesn't warrant the suspicion that he lied, on the contrary: if he had been out to sell a story, he would probably have taken care to avoid details that his interlocutors would regard as odd, instead of - as he did - expressly pointing out the perceived oddity of such details.
How, then, can these two apparently odd features of Boeck's testimony - the absence of gas masks in the body disposal squad and the "blue haze" - be explained?
The first of these features leads us to an old "Revisionist" herring, which is dealt with as follows in Nizkor's commentary to the Leuchter Report:
The claim is often heard that it takes 20 hours to air a room which was disinfected with Zyklon-B, and therefore the eyewitness accounts giving a time of 20-30 minutes from when the gassing started to when the bodies where carried out is impossible, because the people carrying out the bodies would perish.
It is true that if one disinfects a building in ordinary commercial use, it should not be reentered within 20 hours. That figure, however, has no meaning relative to the extermination chambers, which were forcibly ventilated. Fifteen minutes was ample time to replace the air after a gassing. When ventilation was not used, the Sonderkommando (prisoners used as forced labor) who removed the bodies wore gas masks. The Germans had plenty of experience with gas, especially HCN, which was widely used for delousing. They knew how to work with it safely. It is absurd to use the 20 hour figure in this context, as it does not assume forced ventilation and takes a huge safety factor into account. The SS didn't care much for the safety of the Sonderkommando who had to enter the gas chambers to take the corpses out in any event. In some cases, these people did suffer from the remaining gas (see, for instance, Pressac, p. 473).
Furthermore, what makes ventilation difficult and lengthy is the presence of rugs, furniture, curtains, etc. Needless to say, these were not present in the gas chambers - there was just bare concrete, making ventilation very fast and efficient.
If the "20 hours ventilation period" above was true, this would mean that the corpses of people executed using cyanide gas in US prisons would remain tied to the chair 20 hours after they were killed...clearly nonsense, as Fred Leuchter, who claims expertise in gas chamber operation, knows full well.
"Cyanide (HCN gas) is notorious as a poison (Gee, 1987) but also is ideal as a chemical weapon. It kills rapidly, dissipates quickly, and leaves no toxic residue."(Somani, Satu M. "Chemical Warfare Agents," Department of Pharmacology, Southern Illinois University, School of Medicine. Academic Press 1992, p. 211)
Source: http://www.nizkor.org:80/faqs/leuchter/ ... aq-06.html
The above suggests that Boeck, who described a gassing at an installation without
forcible ventilation, was mistaken about the absence of gas masks in the body disposal squad, that occasion having presumably become mixed up in his memory with what he later witnessed at or heard about the body disposal procedure at the forcibly-ventilated gas chambers of the Birkenau crematoria. There is also another possibility, however. In his expert report submitted at the Irving - Lipstadt libel trial, one of the documents transcribed on the site http://web.archive.org/web/201312200053 ... fense.html
, Robert Jan van Pelt wrote:
[...]Likewise Faurisson misrepresented the Zyklon B instruction manual.The rule for spaces to be aired for 20 hours applies to rooms without any special ventilation system. After 20 hours of natural ventilation, and another hour with closed windows and doors, the room should be available for all activities except sleeping: this should wait another day. The situation in the gas chambers was different. With its powerful ventilation system, and with the fact that most of the hydrogen cyanide was absorbed by the victims' bodies [our emphasis], the time could be reduced to 20 minutes.[...]
Forcibly ventilated or not, the gas chambers were always filled to bursting with naked, scared, screaming, fast-breathing people, whose lungs would accordingly take up so much of the poison - of which, as we already pointed out, one mg per kg of body weight is enough to kill a human being - that the amount left might be so low as to render gas mask protection for the body disposal squad unnecessary, at least under certain favorable circumstances - one might think, for instance, of a strong outside wind aiding the airing of the chamber after a gassing. The above-mentioned quick dissipation of cyanide once released into the atmosphere might also have been a factor:
If the gas chambers were ventilated, the gas would kill people outside.
Nonsense; it is all a question of concentration. Once the gas is released into the atmosphere, its concentration drops and it is no longer dangerous. Also, HCN dissipates quickly. The execution gas chambers in US prisons are also ventilated directly into the atmosphere. Furthermore, if this argument would hold for the extermination chambers, it would hold for the delousing chambers as well, and one would have to conclude that no delousing chambers existed either.
Source: http://www.nizkor.org:80/faqs/leuchter/ ... aq-12.html
So there remains the "bluish fog" or "blue haze" described by Boeck as floating above the bodies after the gassing, which he thought was gas. What could that have been? We remember that the gassing described by Boeck took place at night on a cold winter day, and that Boeck was badly shaken by what he saw. It doesn't seem improbable, therefore, that the haze resulted simply from the difference between the temperature of the dead bodies and the victims' last breath on the one hand and the outside air on the other, and that it was the artificial light necessarily illuminating this night scene which made the haze appear "bluish" or "blue" to Boeck's shocked mind.
Our conclusion therefore is that the snippets quoted out of context by our opponents in order to shatter the credibility of witness Boeck can well be considered understandable mistakes of observation, which enhance rather than diminish the credibility of a witness who, as we have seen, provided a testimony mostly consistent with corroborative evidence independent thereof.
Our opponents apparently were not confident that the "blue haze" and the special detachment without gas masks would be sufficient to wipe Richard Boeck from the long list of incriminating witnesses, so they reinforced their observations in this respect with the following fuss:
"In any case, during the entire time of my presence in Auschwitz I could observe that inmate corpses were cremated in the old crematorium. This decreased somewhat only toward the end of 1944. I could see every day how the flames shot two meters high out of the chimney. It also smelled intensively like burned flesh."
The old crematorium in the main camp was taken out of operation after the new crematoria in Birkenau went into operation in spring 1943. In early 1944, the old crematorium was converted into an air raid shelter. Thus, Boeck cannot possibly have witnessed cremations at the main camp until the end of 1944.
If so, Boeck may have mistaken the end of 1943 for the end of 1944 in the above-quoted passage. Mistakes regarding the time or duration of an event, as any legal professional dealing with the subject knows, are frequent in eyewitness testimonial, without this being a reason to assume that the witness's account is inaccurate in every other respect as well.
NT: For technical reasons, no flames can come shooting out of a crematorium chimney. Either Boeck lied, hallucinated, or he talked himself into believing things he had heard from elsewhere.
The latter of these possibilities, with Boeck's having "talked himself into believing things" an unconscious rather than a conscious process, may be a contender indeed, as in the case of one of David Olere's drawings discussed at the Irving-Lipstadt libel trial, from the judgment of which we quote:
[...]7.110 [...]Van Pelt agreed that no flame would have been visible since the chimney was 90 feet tall. Irving suggested that Olere's drawings may have been based on post-war reports, adding the gratuitous comment that he appears to have taken a prurient interest in naked women.[...]
Rather than "post-war reports", a confusion in the witness's memory with the open-air pyres of the Birkenau forest in 1942, described by Hoess and Pery Broad as quoted in Part II of our Opening Statement under http://rodoh.info/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=139
seems to be a more likely possibility, however. Yet another possibility, which is the most likely, is that Boeck actually did
witness flames coming out of the chimney. As "Revisionist" guru Carlo Mattogno informed his readers in an article that we will have a closer look at in a later section of the present response, flames may in fact be occasionally seen shooting out of a crematorium chimney as a result of thick layers of soot, deposited on the walls of the smoke ducts, igniting during cremation.
But even assuming that Boeck did not observe such a phenomenon and was dead wrong about the flames, should we conclude from this and his above-mentioned timing mistake that Boeck never saw the crematorium of the Auschwitz I main camp in operation, or that he did not see it in operation on a regular basis?
Do these mistakes affect the accuracy of his above-mentioned, independently corroborated observations about the gassing of a transport from the Netherlands at one of the converted Birkenau cottages in the winter of 1942/43 ?
We leave it to our readers to decide this for themselves.
When trying to "eliminate" witnesses from the record of inconvenient evidence by nitpicking about mistakes of observation or inaccuracies in their description, "Revisionists" indulge in a fallacy that Prof. Zimmerman mentioned in his above-mentioned online article about the reliability of Hoess's memoirs:
[...]One of the issues that has arisen in connection with the Holocaust is the reliability of eyewitness testimony. Holocaust deniers are forever attacking eyewitnesses as liars or people prone to exaggeration. There can be no doubt that not all eyewitness testimony is reliable. Also, it is true that some witnesses lie or exaggerate.
The main problem with such testimony, however, is that there will often be inconsistencies with regard to details. This is not unusual. Any prosecuting attorney knows that there are differences in the way witnesses view an event. But even though witnesses may differ as to the details of an event, they are seldom wrong as to the event itself.
[our emphasis] Thus, witnesses to the number of people who could be gassed in the gas chamber of Crematorium I at Auschwitz gave such varying amounts as 600, 700, 900, and 1000. 1 Holocaust deniers exploit the differences in this type of testimony by claiming that if there are differences as to the number of people who could be gassed, then there must be doubt as to whether the event occurred.[...] http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschw ... s-memoirs/
The nonsensical nature of such reasoning is illustrated in Prof. Zimmerman's book Holocaust Denial
, page 69, on hand of a classic example:
[...] Anybody familiar with the John F. Kennedy assassination is acutely aware of the problems which surround eyewitness testimony. There were 178 eyewitnesses who gave testimony to the Warren Commission about what they saw and heard in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. Forty-nine heard shots from the Book Depository, 21 from the now well known Grassy Knoll, 30 heard shots from other sources, while 78 did not know where the shots came from. Only four witnesses heard shots from more than one direction.
By applying the techniques of Holocaust denial to the Kennedy assassination it could be argued that since there was so much contradiction as to the source of the shots, President Kennedy was not really shot at all. The important thing to keep in mind is that while witnesses may make errors as to certain factual occurrences of an event, they are often correct as to the occurrence of the event itself. Thus, even though there was a wide divergence of opinion among the witnesses as to the source of the shots, nobody would seriously claim that they did not see Kennedy being shot.[...][our emphasis]
As the above makes clear, a witness - any witness - can be right about certain details of an event and dead wrong about other details, without the latter errors of observation affecting the correctness of the witness's overall notion of the event he or she witnessed.
Thus, whoever tries to dismiss a witness on account of certain mistakes in the witness's testimony, rather than evaluate the testimony as a whole, is likely to be interested in getting rid of evidence inconvenient to a certain pre-conceived notion rather than finding the facts of the event in question.
When nitpicking about real or alleged inaccuracies in eyewitness testimonies does not seem sufficient to such people, they may take recourse to complementing their "plausibility" considerations with misrepresentations of the contents of such testimonies. It should become clear from the depositions quoted above that the series of "humorous" cartoons offered by our esteemed opponents in this section of their "response", regarding what "virtually all the witnesses" are supposed to have said "concerning the ventilation of Zyklon B", is a classic example of such misrepresentation. We therefore see no need to comment further on their claims, written next to drawings which we consider a brilliant demonstration of what a bunch of sick puppies - to put it plainly - our opponents' "Revisionist" gurus are.
However, before we turn to our opponent's "assessment" of the testimonies of other SS-witnesses at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, we would like to take note of this amusing source reference:
Source: Staatsanwaltschaft beim LG Frankfurt (Main), Strafsache beim Schwurgericht Frankfurt (Main) gegen Baer und Andere wegen Mordes, ref. 4 Js 444/59; vol. 3, pp. 325-494, vol. 29, pp. 6677-6903. Lanbein ommitted this in his Auschwitz book.
If - as the source reference suggests - one of our opponent's gurus was granted access to the archives of the Public Prosecutor's Office at the Frankfurt County Court to look up the files of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, what does this tell us about the recurring "Revisionist" claims - apparently pioneered by good old Wilhelm Staeglich - that "Revisionist researchers" are barred access to archives where the "Bundesestablishment" fears they might find their "inconvenient truth"?
As to the accusation of Hermann Langbein, author of the two-volume, ca. 1,000 - page long documentation Der Auschwitz-Prozess
, first edited in 1965, having purposefully "omitted" a part of Boeck's testimony, this is a rather silly finger-pointing exercise, revealing of the fantasy world full of conspiratorial (Jewish, "Leftist", "Democracy-Capitalist", whatever) scoundrels that our esteemed opponents live in. First of all because, as Langbein points out in the introduction to the second edition (1995) of his book, the sheer volume of the records of depositions at the trial in question - where the depositions of 409 witnesses were made before the court or (exceptionally) read from previous records, and the interrogation of a witness often lasted hours - would have filled many books of the size of Langbein's documentation if the author had wished to include them all. And secondly because, whereas the record of Boeck's deposition digitalized on Rudolf's website apparently comes from a pre-trial interrogation of the witness, Langbein's book only includes statements that were made during the sessions of the trial. In what concerns Boeck, we translated the following passages from pages 74 and following of Langbein's book, which contain further particulars - about the trucks used to drive the deportees to the Birkenau "bunkers" and the luxuries, such as booze, that SS-men taking part in "special actions" were entitled to - that are independently confirmed by other witnesses:
Substitute Judge Hummerich: Were you once present at a gassing action?
Boeck: Yes, it was on one evening, when I went there with the driver Hoelblinger. A transport from Holland had arrived, the inmates had to jump down from the wagons. They were better Jews, women with Persian robes were among them. They arrived in express train cars. Trucks were already standing at ready, a wooden stair in front of them, and the people climbed up. In the area where the town of Birkenau had been there was now a long peasant cottage, with four or five huge barracks next to it. Inside the people were standing on pieces of clothing piled high on the floor. Block leaders and a sergeant (Unterscharfuehrer) with a stick were there. Hoelblinger told me: "Let's go over there." There stood a signpost: To disinfections. He said: "Now they also bring the children." Then they opened the door, threw in the children and closed the door again. A terrible screaming could be heard. An SS-man climbed onto the roof. The people screamed for ten minutes. Then inmates opened the doors. It was all entangled and cramped. It came out very hot. The corpses were loaded onto ladder carts and taken to a ditch. The next were already undressing in the barracks. At that time I wasn't able to look at my wife for four weeks.
Public Prosecutor Kuegler: When were those six trucks acquired?
Boeck: That was about in the spring of 1942, when this gassing thing really started. They were heavy trucks, five to six tons. The fellows who took part in these actions had ten to twelve bottles of booze in their closet.[emphases ours]
We remember that the luxuries granted to SS-men taking part in "special actions" are also mentioned in the diary of Dr. Johann Paul Kremer, who, as we shall see, again confirmed this detail when testifying before the Frankfurt court. As to what Boeck calls "this gassing thing" ("das mit dem Vergasen"
) having "really started" in the spring of 1942, the witness coincides with camp commandant Rudolf Hoess, who in his above quoted memoirs wrote that
[...]In the spring of 1942 the first transports of Jews, all earmarked for extermination, arrived from Upper Silesia.[...]
In what concerns the number of trucks taking the deportees from the train to the gassing cottages, Boeck's testimony coincides with the testimony of SS-Rottenfuehrer Karl Hoelblinger
at the same trial, regarding which our opponents tell us the following:
NT: This SS-man was driver of an ambulance car and claimed to have witnessed the gassing in a bunker. He observed a medic who climbed up a ladder and emptied a can of Zyklon B into the chamber.
Q: How long did the gassing last?
A: About one minute. After the gas was poured in a horrible scream was heard. One minute later everything was quiet. The SDG brought the gas in tins.
So, what is this rendering of and excerpt from Karl Hoelblinger's testimony at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial supposed to tell us?
That Hoelblinger confirmed the depositions of Boeck and Kremer, both of whom described how they drove to one of the Birkenau "bunkers" in Hoelblinger's ambulance van and witnessed a homicidal gassing there?
That his observation of the killing coincided with those of Kremer and Boeck regarding the screaming that started inside the chamber after the gas was poured in?
That his description differed from Boeck's as to how long that screaming lasted (which difference may be attributable to the fact that on the occasions described by Hoelblinger the gas killed faster than on the occasion described by Boeck, due to circumstances like e.g. the external temperature being higher, or simply to differences in the subjective perception of time by each individual)?
We don't see how any reasonable conclusion to be drawn from comparing Hoelblinger's testimony with those of other witnesses to the same or similar events could possibly help our opponents' argument. It seems to us that, like so often, they have shot themselves in the foot.
What follows is our translation of the rendering of Hoelblinger's pertinent statements on page 73 of Langbein's Der Auschwitz-Prozess:
Hoelblinger: I was in the driving service and drove the ambulance van that was meant for inmate transports.
Presiding Judge: Did you also drive at night?
Hoelblinger: Yes, when Jew transports arrived at the ramp in Birkenau. Then I had to drive the medical orderlies and the physicians to the ramp. Then we also drove on to the gas chambers. The orderlies there climbed upon a ladder, they had a gas mask on and emptied the cans. The inmates I could see while undressing; it was always quite peaceful and unsuspecting. It happened very fast.
Presiding Judge: How long did the gassing last?
Hoelblinger: About one minute. When the gas came in one heard a scream of horror. After one minute all was quiet. The gas was brought by the medical orderlies in sheet metal cans.
Presiding Judge: How were the victims taken to the gas chambers?
Hoelblinger:The Jews unable to work were taken to the gas chamber with trucks. Five or six trucks were used, which then made several trips.
Presiding Judge: Were the bunkers illuminated with vehicle search lights?
Public Prosecutor Kuegler: Was the defendant Klehr the chief of the medical orderlies?
Hoelblinger:I don't know. We only called them the gassing dudes (Vergaserfritzen).[...]
Our opponent's next intended victim is SS-Hauptscharfuehrer Gerhard Hess.
NT: He observed dead "gassed" bodies in the morgue of Krema I. How did he know that these bodies were gassed? Said Hess: "This was in Auschwitz an open secret."
Why didn't our esteemed opponents quote the deposition of Mr. Hess, which they state to have at their disposal? Are they afraid that the wording of the testimony might be found not to coincide with the rendering thereof they are trying to sell?
We, on the other hand, have no problem with giving our readers as much information as our sources permit, so that they may judge for themselves. The brief rendering of Hess' testimony regarding the "old crematorium" in the Auschwitz main camp, on page 86 of Langbein's book, we translate as follows:
Presiding Judge: Were you in the crematorium once?
Hess: Yes, I was in the old crematorium. Once when I was walking by, the wooden door to the anteroom was opened, and I saw people moving inside. An Oberscharfuehrer [SS-sergeant first class] came and asked me if I had already been inside once, he would show me the crematorium. In a room to the right there lay gassed people, ovens could be seen, and a room with lorries leading directly to the ovens could also be seen. I went back outside immediately. That gassings went on there was an open secret in Auschwitz.
Quick to jump to the conclusions fitting their preconceived notions, our opponents seem to have a rather strange idea of what "hearsay" is and when its use in court is problematic.
n. the basic rule that testimony or documents which quote persons not in court are not admissible. Because the person who supposedly knew the facts is not in court to state his/her exact words, the trier of fact cannot judge the demeanor and credibility of the alleged first-hand witness, and the other party's lawyer cannot cross-examine (ask questions of) him or her. [...]
Hess was not incriminating a particular defendant, so there was no need to ponder over the application of the above-mentioned hearsay rule in the first place. He was also not merely recalling what a third person had told him, but describing a circumstance he had personally witnessed and explaining on what basis he had drawn which conclusions about the nature and origin of what he had witnessed. Whether his explanation was sufficient to conclude on the accuracy of his conclusions about what he had seen was for the judge to evaluate, within the scope of his attributions according to the above-quoted Article 261 of the German Criminal Procedure Code.
Let us now see what our opponents made of the depositions of SS-Untersturmfuehrer Henry Storch
NT: He saw through the open door in the morgue of a crematorium hundreds of naked dead bodies and that they were "gassed". He did not explain how he knew that they were gassed.
At another occasion he was requested to test chemically a room for rest HCN gas. He found in the room many dead people which were dressed. There was no trace of HCN.
and compare this with the rendering of what Stoch, then the first SS-pharmacist at Auschwitz, actually stated about what he had seen on occasion of the first experimental gassing at Auschwitz, on pages 71 and following of Langbein's book:
Presiding Judge: What do you know about gassings?
Storch: Once I learned about them on duty. The gassing took place in basements in the camp.
Presiding Judge:What do you know about it?
Storch: The next morning the site physician Dr. Popiersch sent for me. I should establish that there were no longer any traces of gas in the rooms.
Presiding Judge:Did the gas have an irritant agent?
Storch: This I don't know.
Presiding Judge:How, then, were you to establish whether there was still gas in the room?
Storch: Dr. Popiersch said that it was a prussic acid preparation which smelled of bitter almonds. I went into the cellar. The dead were lying on the floor. I remember individual rooms with door frames, the doors themselves were unhinged. The corpses were lying about. They were dressed, all of them in grey-brown, I think, but I cannot say what uniform it was. They were only men. There no longer was any smell. All windows were opened. My task had been accomplished. The action ran as "Secret Reich Matter" - at the time they still complied with this.
Presiding Judge: Did you notice something of the gassings on any other occasion?
Storch: In the crematorium a small pathological section had been installed. I supplied it with alcohol and phenol and had to inspect it. When I was there once the door to the corpse room stood open. I saw that gassing had been done there. Unclad corpses were lying in the room, very many of them, the room was full to bursting.
Presiding Judge: Did you notice anything on the corpses?
Storch: I didn't look at them. I went by. I am no scientist, and the sight was much too unpleasant for me. I don't like dead people.
Incidental Action Representative Ormond: About how large was the number of the gassed?
Storch: The iron doors were standing open, the dead presumably fell out. There were very many, maybe a hundred.
The above raises the question, first of all, where our opponents got their rendering of Storch's deposition from. Langbein's book it can't have been, even though they so claim.
What, now, did they make of the testimony of Dr. Johann Paul Kremer
NT: Kremer confessed having witnessed the gassing in old farm houses which were remodelled into bunkers. They were provided with a sliding door and the gas was introduced into the building through a hatch above by an SS-man who climbed up a ladder and had a gasmask on.
Kremer gives no further details!
Why, how frightfully shocking!
Assuming Kremer gave no details beyond those he had already given in his previous depositions quoted in our Opening Statement, why should he have?
And why should the court have insisted in such details, unless - which we would like our opponents to show us - they were essential to establishing the presence of one of the defendants or a particular action of that defendant at the site of the killing?
The pertinent statements of Dr. Johann Paul Kremer at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, as rendered on page 72 of Langbein's book, our translation:
Presiding Judge: Where did the gassings take place back then?
Kremer: Old peasant houses had been converted as bunkers and outfitted with a firmly lockable sliding door. On top there was a hatch. The people were taken in unclad. They went in quite harmless, only a few resisted, these were taken aside and shot. The gas was thrown in by an SS-man detached for this purpose. He climbed upon a ladder to do this.
Presiding Judge: On previous occasions you said that screams were heard.
Kremer: Yes, that was the survival panic [Lebensangst. They kicked against the door. I was sitting in the car.
Presiding Judge: Were there special rations for those who took part in such an action?
Kremer: Yes, this was common, a little brandy and cigarettes. They were all after that. Coupons were issued for this. I also received such coupons - quite automatically.
Incidental Action Representative Ormond: You wrote in your diary that the SS-men were eager for duty at the ramp.
Kremer: But this is quite understandable from a human point of view. There was a war, and cigarettes and booze were rare. If one is addicted to cigarettes ... The coupons one collected and then one went to the canteen with the bottle.
The coincidences between the above statements of Kremer and those of Boeck, Hoelblinger and camp commandant Hoess quoted above are so obvious that we don't see the need to expressly point them out.
So we turn to our opponents' rendering and "analysis" of the statements of one of the defendants at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, Schutzhaftlagerfuehrer Franz Hofmann
NT: Hofman confessed that he was present at a homicidal gassing:
"The Jewish commandos drove the inmates with beatings and thrashings into the gas chambers which were camouflaged as shower rooms. The commando was afterwards also gassed. It was always a big mess, and I had to pay attention that the working inmates were also gassed. Yes, and sometimes we helped pushing. But what could we do? We were ordered to do this!"
This is all what the accused Hofmann could say about "gassings" and "gas chambers". It is not much and should have challenged the court for further detail questions.
Where was the gas chamber? How large was it? How was the gas introduced? How long did the gassing last? How was the chamber ventilated? Did the "Sonderkommando" wear protective suits and/or gasmasks while dragging out the corpses?
Assuming the court did not feel "challenged" to ask such "detail questions", why should it have?
What would the answers to such questions have contributed to establishing what the trial was about in this respect - Hofmann's individual actions and guilt?
Contrary to what our opponents seem to believe, the purpose of a murder trial is not to satisfy anyone's morbid curiosity about the details of a killing mechanism, but to determine what each individual defendant did at the site of the crime.
The NT adds that
When attorney Kuegler asked for more details, Hofman answered:
"I cannot give any further information."
To which the defendant was entitled according to German law of criminal procedure. Presumably a legal counselor advised the defendant to shut up. What we wonder about is where our opponents got this statement of Hoffmann's from, for in Langbein's book - at least the edition we have at our disposal - it is not mentioned in connection with Hoffmann's account of his participation in gassings on pages 240/241, and neither is a question by Public Prosecutor Kuegler. The prosecutor is quoted on page 228 as having asked Hofmann whether a Schutzhaftlagerfuehrer
- commander of the protective custody camp, Hofmann's rank and function at Auschwitz - could on his own, without the participation of a physician, carry out selections to send inmates or arriving deportees to their deaths. Hofmann replied as follows (our translation):
A Rapportfuehrer and also a Schutzhaftlagerfuehrer could not on their own carry out selections. Selections only took place under the supervision of a doctor. Afterwards those chosen were gassed.[...]
From the record of his depositions on pages 231 to 247 of Langbein's book, Hofmann - who at the time he stood on trial at Frankfurt had already been convicted at Dachau concentration camp and was later also prosecuted on account of his activity at Natzweiler concentration camp - comes across as a self-pitying whiner seeking understanding and condescension. Even our opponents seem to have noticed this, for they pointed out that
NT: According to Langbein Der Auschwitz-Prozess, Hofman allegedly said "loud and shouting" the following:
"If I have to do it again, I would say nothing. I am going through trial after trial. If I would have known then what lay before me, I would not say anything. Everywhere they scream for Hofman: this is Hofman and that is not Hofman, everyone shouts that Hofman is guilty. I don't even know what they want from me."
Unfortunately the NT forgot (?) to quote the ensuing two sentences of the record, which in our opinion contain the key to establishing the reason for Hofmann's "loud and indignant" (laut und aufbrausend
) response to the Presiding Judge's remark - which our opponents also left out - about the insufficiency of what the defendant had told him so far:
[...]I almost have the feeling that always I and I alone had been the driving force. Eight procedures there have been against me, three of which have been stopped.[...]
In response to a previous question why he had done nothing to ease the lot of the inmates of the Gypsy camp (despite a ruling from Berlin to handle inmates with more care because they were a valuable labor force), Hoffman had - with visible commotion, wiping off his tears, according to Langbein - stated the following:
Yes, that's right. But what were rulings good for? Who knew Hoess, who knew Aumeier and Schwarz, knows what was going on. Those were the people who brought us here. Those you could tell nothing. What a shame that they are no longer here. This had to be said once!
So this was Hofmann's problem: not that he felt innocent let alone pressed to admit to deeds he had not committed, as our opponents are probably insinuating, but that he, a small cog in the big machine rather than the "driving force" behind all the horror, was going through the ordeal of trial after trial, instead of those who had ordered him "to do this".
Assessing the meaning of the statements they quote in the context in which they were made is too demanding for our esteemed opponents, of course. They are much too eager to jump to their spectacular conclusion, which reads as follows:
NT: The insignificance of his "confessions" as a contemporary historical source can hardly be more unambiguously emphasized.
Our opponents try to impress by bolding their nonsense, but bolded nonsense is still nonsense. For what did they show to support their claim that Hofmann's statements are insignificant or the quote marks around the word "confessions" are justified? Nothing, we would say. The image they managed to convey is that Hofmann tried to extract himself from the noose by playing down his own role and refusing to provide further details about it.
What follows is our partial translation of what the Frankfurt County Court wrote about Hofmann in their judgment:
[...] II. Findings of Fact
1. The defendant Hoffman's participation in the mass killing of Jewish people at Auschwitz (Inauguration Order Item 1)
As third Protective Custody Commander of the Main Camp and as first Protective Custody Commander of the Birkenau camp, the defendant Hofman took part in the massive killing of the so-called RSHA-Jews (see above 2. Section VII.5.; 3. Section A.II.).
He was repeatedly ordered to duty at the ramp as "duty leader". In this function he repeatedly went to the ramp for handling the RSHA transports. There he commanded and supervised the division of the Jewish people getting off the railway cars and the transportation of the people meant for gassing to the gassing rooms. He himself also went to the gas chambers on several occasions. As duty leader he there supervised the extermination action. When taking the people into the gas chamber he helped when there were stagnations, by "shoving" the people into the gassing room together with other SS-men. He furthermore watched the pouring of the Zyklon B. After conclusion of the actions he issued the coupons for additional food and luxuries to the SS-men participating therein.
It could not be established how often the defendant Hoffman was on ramp duty. It is certain, however, that he was active in the manner described of at least three RSHA transports. In each of these three cases at least 750 Jewish people were killed by gas.
The defendant Hofmann knew that the extermination actions were being carried out under observance of strictest secrecy provisions and under use of camouflage designations, and that the Jewish people were being deceived until the last about their imminent fate in the manner described above under A.II. It was also known to him - as to all other SS-men - that the Jewish people were being killed only on account of their descent. The death struggle of the victims locked in the gas chamber after the pouring in of the Zyklon B he noticed himself when he went to the gas chamber and supervised activities there.[...]
2. Regarding II.1.
The findings under no. II.1. are based on the defendant Hofmann's confession. After initial denial, the defendant admitted that as duly leader he had carried out ramp service in the manner mentioned and also driven to the gas chamber, where he carried out supervising functions and also helped to "shove" inmates into the gassing room. He himself no longer knew, however, how often he had taken part in such extermination actions. He admitted, however, that he had participated in at least three such actions. The witnesses who had seen the defendant Hofmann at such actions also could give no numbers. The court therefore could use only the minimum number stated by Hofmann himself, although it must be assumed that he was ordered to ramp duty much more often. For findings of fact cannot be based on uncertain estimates.
As during the activity of the accused not only huge transports arrived, but also smaller ones with a strength between 1,000 and 3,000 persons, the court assumed that in the three cases the transports were only 1,000 people strong. Of these the ones "able to work", who were taken into the camp, must be deducted. The resulting finding therefore is that of every transport at least 750 people were killed.
The findings about the inner part of the deeds result from the fact that the defendant Hofmann, like all other SS-members, had been informed about the secrecy provisions and furthermore experienced the whole of the extermination actions from beginning to end and saw all that happened. Like all other SS-members, he was also informed that the Jewish people were being killed only on account of their descent.[...]
The above shows that:
a) Hofmann stated a lot more about the mass exterminations by gassing he took part in and his activities related thereto than is rendered on pages 240/241 of Langbein's book;
b) Hofmann initially denied his deeds but was eventually moved to confessing them, presumably after having been confronted with eyewitnesses who saw him doing what he did;
c) The court took care to base all its conclusions only on evidence taken at the trial and never on assumptions not supported by the evidence, and where the evidence allowed for several possible conclusions, it always took the conclusion most favorable to the defendant.
On page 82, Langbein summarizes further statements of Hofmann's as follows, our translation:
Hofmannn testified that the physicians had been instructed by the commander and the labor service about how many people able to work were to be selected at the ramp. Some trains went wholly into the gas, he can report. And the Protective Custody Camp Commander should know.
On page 137, Hofmann is quoted testifying about the special rations granted to staff members doing service at the ramp, also mentioned by Boeck and Kremer.
On page 144, Hofmann is mentioned by Langbein as having made himself recognized as the SS-officer who, according to the deposition of Dr. Konrad Morgen (our translation):
[...]led me through the whole camp and also explained the death machinery to me in all its details.[...]
Yet the NT would have us believe that the statements of Hofmann about his activity at the gas chambers, which they generously translated, were
NT: [...]all what the accused Hofmann could say about "gassings" and "gas chambers".[...]
Our readers may decide for themselves what this reveals about the accuracy and reliability of our opponents' rendering and assessment of evidence.
Now to the next SS-witness our opponents make a fuss about, SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Konrad Morgen
. This witness, according to the NT, had already been discredited by a grievous fallacy when testifying at the Frankfurt Trial:
NT: We remember that he testified during the IMT trial that Monowitz was the "extermination camp." In the meantime he evidently adjusted his memory to the current version, which of course did not cause the court to question the man's believability.
Or so our conspiracy-minded opponents - who are kindly invited to show us that there ever was a "current version" in historiography or criminal investigation with Monowitz as the extermination camp - would like to believe and/or have their readers believe. As becomes clear from the IMT's judgment, the parts of which relevant to this subject are transcribed under the link http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/judwarcr.asp
, the tribunal's findings about gassings at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex were based on the depositions of camp commandant Rudolf Hoess, the record of whose testimony before the IMT on 15.04.1946 is transcribed under http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/04-15-46.asp
Hoess stated the following:
[...]The Auschwitz camp as such was about 3 kilometers away from the town. About 20,000 acres of the surrounding country had been cleared of all former inhabitants, and the entire area could be entered only by SS men or civilian employees who had special passes. The actual compound called "Birkenau," where later on the extermination camp was constructed, was situated 2 kilometers from the Auschwitz camp.[our emphasis][...]
Which means that our opponents - once again - made royal fools out of themselves with their high-handed "current version" nonsense.
What, now, did outsider witness Dr. Konrad Morgen, a judge who during the war had investigated cases of corruption at various concentration camps, state before to IMT to make the credibility of his deposition at the Frankfurt trial, almost twenty years later, seem doubtful?
Morgen's deposition at the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, 8 August 1946 is transcribed under
from where we quote the following excerpts:
[...]THE PRESIDENT: Which is the witness talking about when he talks about extermination camps? Which are you talking about? Which do you call extermination camps?
HERR PELCKMANN: Please answer the question, Witness.
MORGEN: By extermination camps I mean those which were established exclusively for the extermination of human beings with the use of technical means, such as gas.
THE PRESIDENT: Which were they?
MORGEN: Yesterday I described the four camps of the Kriminalkommissar Wirth and referred to the Camp Auschwitz. By "Extermination Camp Auschwitz" I did not mean the concentration camp. It did not exist there. I meant a separate extermination camp near Auschwitz, called "Monowitz."[our emphasis]
HERR PELCKMANN: Then you were in Auschwitz proper?
MORGEN: Yes, I went to Auschwitz, and before I started with the investigation itself ...
THE PRESIDENT: When did you go there?
MORGEN: I cannot give the date exactly, but it must have been the end of 1943 or the beginning of 1944.
HERR PELCKMANN: The method of extermination there was probably similar to the one you described yesterday?
MORGEN: I thoroughly investigated the entire stretch of territory and studied the layout and installations. The prisoners arrived on a side track in closed transport cars and were unloaded there by Jewish prisoners. Then they were segregated into* able-bodied and disabled, and here already the methods of Hoess and Wirth differ. The separation of the disabled was done in a fairly simple way. Next to the place of the unloading there were several trucks and the doctor gave the arrivals the choice to use these trucks. He said that only sick, old persons and women with children, were allowed to use them. Thereupon these persons swarmed toward the transportation prepared for their use, and then he needed only to hold back the prisoners that he did not want to send to. destruction. These trucks drove off, but they did not drive to the Concentration Camp Auschwitz, but in another direction to the Extermination Camp Monowitz, which was a few kilometers away. This extermination camp consisted of a number of crematories which were not recognizable as such from the outside. They could have been taken for large bathing establishments, and that is what they told the prisoners. These crematories were surrounded by a barbed wire fence and were guarded from the inside by the Jewish labor details which I have already mentioned. The new arrivals were led into a large dressing room and told to take their clothing off. When this was done ... [our emphasis]
HERR PELCKMANN: Is that not what you described yesterday?
MORGEN: Of course,
8 Aug. 46
HERR PELCKMANN: What precautions were taken to keep these things absolutely secret?
MORGEN: The prisoners who marched off to the concentration camp had no inkling of where the other prisoners were taken. The Extermination Camp Monowitz lay far away from the concentration camp. It was situated on an extensive industrial site and was not recognizable as such and everywhere on the horizon there were smoking chimneys. [our emphasis] The camp itself was guarded on the outside by special troops of men from the Baltic, Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians, and also Ukrainians. The entire technical arrangement was almost exclusively in the hands of the prisoners who were assigned for this job and they were only supervised each time by an Unterfuehrer. The actual killing was done by another Unterfuehrer who let the gas into this room. Thus the number of those who knew about *these things was extremely limited. This circle had to take a special oath...
The above-quoted excerpts from Morgen's deposition clearly show that, contrary to what our opponents would like to believe and/or have their readers believe, Morgen did not accommodate to an interrogator's suggestion when speaking of the "Extermination Camp Monowitz". The coincidence of Morgen's description of the process of selection upon arrival and transportation of those meant to die to the crematoria with the descriptions of numerous other witnesses independent thereof also shows that Morgen's description is accurate, except that he - apparently an unforgivable mistake even for an outsider witness by "Revisionist" standards, an understandable and hardly relevant error, in the context in which Morgen's deposition was made, by the standards of historiography and criminal investigation - he confounded the Monowitz and the Birkenau sections of the Auschwitz complex and thought that the mass exterminations took place in the former when actually they occurred in the latter. The fuss our opponents make about this mistake of Morgen's doesn't make a dent in the witness's essential credibility, but is again quite revealing in what concerns our opponents and their handling of evidence.
Let us now look at Dr. Morgen's oh-so-outrageous statement at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, as rendered and commented by our opponents:
NT: [...]Testified "Everything was mirror like clean in this huge crematorium. Nothing indicated, that in the night before thousands of people were gassed and cremated. Nothing was left of them, not even a particle of dust on the oven hardware."
Morgen's testimony is clearly a lie. It is clearly impossible to destroy thousands of people in one night with leaving a trace, without a particle of dust.
Oh boy. How enthusiastic our esteemed opponents are to pin the label "lie" on the statement of a witness inconvenient to their pre-conceived notions, quoted out of context!
Could it be that a propensity for untruths of their own is the reason for their seeing or suspecting lies everywhere?
Is that tendency so strong that they didn't even bother, as a judge or historian would have, to consider the possibility that Dr. Konrad Morgen might have i) been mistaken about the numbers involved, as witnesses often are, and ii) used hyperbole to more vividly transmit the impression conveyed by the relative cleanliness of the crematorium during a break in its activity following a night of body disposal?
Are we to conclude, despite the above-mentioned coincidence of Morgen's observations with those of other witnesses in other respects, that this hyperbole necessarily means he didn't see what he stated to have seen, a crematorium on the day after?
Wouldn't a lying Dr. Morgen have avoided such a simplified-hyperbolic rendering of his impressions, to make his description seem more plausible?
What follows is our translation of Dr. Morgen's description of what took him to Auschwitz and his impressions of the killing machinery he saw there, as transcribed on pages 143 and following of Langbein's book:
Dr. Morgen: The investigation against SS-men of Auschwitz concentration camp was unleashed by a field mail package. It was confiscated due to its unusually great weight and contained three lumps of gold, one the size of two fists and two smaller ones. It was high karat tooth gold, which a medical orderly on duty at Auschwitz was sending to his wife. According to my estimates this amount of gold corresponded to about 100,000 corpses, if one takes into account that not all people carry gold fillings. The incomprehensible thing was that the perpetrator had managed to put aside such amounts unnoticed. It was clear to me: I must take a look at Auschwitz.
I reported to Commandant Hoess and told him that I had to carry out an investigation. He was not very talkative and merely said that many of his SS-men did not have enough character to match the difficult task.
An SS officer (later the defendant Hofmann makes himself recognizable as having been the one [Langbein's note]) led me through the whole camp and also explained the death machinery to me in all its details. The crematoria did not make themselves greatly noticed, the ground was diagonally deepened, and an outsider could only notice that the cars disappeared in a hollow in the ground. A huge door led to the so-called undressing rooms. There were numbered places there and also clothes' keeping marks. Arrows on the wall pointed to the shower rooms. Inscriptions there were in six or seven languages. In the gigantic crematorium everything was mirror-clean. Nothing there indicated that even the night before thousands of people had been gassed and burned there. Nothing was left of them, not even a particle of dust on the oven hardware.[...]
Why didn't our opponents quote the whole of Morgen's description of what the witness called the "death machinery", as it was shown to him by the defendant Hofmann? Were they afraid that readers might notice coincidences between Morgen's description of the undressing room and the description thereof by other witnesses, like camp commandant Hoess himself? Why didn't they mention the not unimportant detail that Hofmann eventually admitted to having been the SS officer who took Dr. Morgen on a tour of the camp? Why do they allow their readers to see only what they consider oh-so-outrageously-implausible about the witness's statements, and then high-handedly dismiss the whole testimony as a "lie", instead of letting their readers look at as much of it as their source - which in this case is the same as ours, or so they tell us - permits? Why this self-serving selectiveness, this withholding of information and selective rendering of evidence, on the part of individuals who claim to be students of history out to establish historical facts?
We leave it to each of our readers to find his or her own answer to these questions.
Last but not least on our opponents' list, we have the passage of Dr. Gerhard Wiebeck's testimony and interrogation that they obviously considered most suitable to make a fuss about:
NT: Q: Were you once together with Dr. Morgen in a gas chamber?
A: Yes, Dr. Morgen took me once to a crematorium and showed me a gas chamber. A SS-Unterfuhrer asked us: "What will happen to us when the war is over?" Dr. Morgen used this during the trial against Grabner. He called this statement as tragic.
Q: Did you investigate those who were responsible for the gassings?
A.: This did not interest us at that time. These were acts outside of the jurisdiction.
Unfortunately our opponents chose to leave out some interesting parts from the rendering of Dr. Wiebeck's statements on page 337 of Langbein's book (as usual, we had to roam through the source in search of the passages our opponents, who never bothered to mention a single page number, were referring to). We thus consider it our duty to our readers to again provide our own translation, in which we will highlight the parts the NT preferred to hide behind dot marks in square brackets:
Presiding Judge: Were you in a gas chamber once with Dr. Morgen?
Dr. Wiebeck: Yes, Dr. Morgen once took me to a burning installation (Verbrennungsanlage) and showed me a gas chamber. An SS-Unterfuhrer approached us and asked: "What will happen with us when the war is over?" This case Dr. Morgen reported at the trial against Grabner. He called this statement a tragic one.
Public Prosecutor Kuegler: Did you see the undressing room there?
Dr. Wiebeck: Yes, I saw the undressing room with the clothes' hooks.
Kuegler: Did you see the burning rooms (Verbrennungsraume) for the corpses and the ovens?
Dr. Wiebeck: I saw the installation, but it was not in operation. At that time the burning was done outside. A whitish-yellow cloud hung over the whole camp, and a penetrating smell spread over the place.
Kuegler: Did you investigate the competence (Zustaendigkeit) of those who were responsible for the gassing?
Dr. Wiebeck: At that time this did not interest us. These were acts of state authority (Hoheitsakte) outside judicial control.
Why, we must ask, did our opponents leave out the passage highlighted above, especially Dr. Wiebeck's statement about the whitish-yellow cloud and the penetrating smell?
And why didn't they tell us what sinister conspiratorial conclusions we are supposed to draw from the incomplete - and not very ably translated - excerpt they dished up?
Instead of they jumped right to their audacious, bolded final conclusion of this section:
NT: To sum up it can be said that not a single accused or witness during the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, Germany could confirm believably the existence of "gas chambers" in this camp.
We don't see how the excerpts from depositions loosely thrown around by our opponents supported this conclusion, even before our exposition of what is to be thought of our opponents' lame attempts to defuse inconvenient evidence. What is furthermore amusing about the above statement is our opponents' claim to have demonstrated that "not a single accused or witness during the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, Germany" could "believably" (whatever that is supposed to mean) confirm the occurrence of mass killings in gas chambers, even though they addressed neither the depositions they referred to as a whole nor all or even the most important eyewitness depositions on which the court based its conclusions about the mass extermination procedure at Auschwitz Birkenau. Perhaps our opponents should have read the judgment - available online on the IDGR website[site no longer exists; a transcription of the judgment can be found on the THHP
site – RM] under http://www.holocaust-history.org/german ... teil.shtml
before triumphantly revealing the woeful shortcomings of their "analysis". They might have stumbled on the passages our translation of which is transcribed hereafter, and thus avoided further damage to their badly depleted credibility.
[...]IV. Assessment of Evidence
1. General Preliminary Remark about the Assessment of Evidence
When establishing the defendants' individual participation in the murders committed at Auschwitz concentration camp, be it mass murders of individual killings, the sworn court saw itself placed before extraordinarily difficult tasks. The defendants themselves only contributed very little to clarification. Insofar as they admitted to participation, they played down the same, represented it in a distorted manner or had a number of excuses at hand.
The few available documents essentially served only for clarifying general issues, but could hardly provide information about the defendants' individual guilt.
For clarifying the crimes committed by the defendants, the court therefore depended almost exclusively on witness depositions. [...] [The translation of the court's ensuing general considerations about the reliability of eyewitness testimony and the impact of temporal distance was transcribed above, translator's note.]
The defendants' attorneys again and again pointed out that the witnesses had conspired against certain defendants and agreed to unjustly incriminate them. They further claimed that the witnesses had in a non-permissible manner been influenced to make incriminating depositions against certain defendants. This the sworn court also had to keep in mind. There were no indications, however, that such conspiracies and influences had occurred. Insofar as individual witnesses made the impression that due to a certain eagerness for importance or another character feature they tended to tell fantastic tales, or that for reasons which could not be clarified they seemed to unjustly incriminate certain defendants with concrete events, the court did not use the depositions as a whole.
2. Sources and Assessment of Proof regarding the General Findings about the Handling of the so-called RSHA - transports
The general findings about the arrival and handling of RSHA transports at the old ramp and later at the new ramp of Birkenau camp, the tasks and activities of the various SS-members in charge of ramp service, the deceit of the people destined to die about their imminent fate, the details about their killing at the various gas chambers and crematoria, the build and inner outfitting of the gas chambers and crematoria, the removal of the corpses, the tasks and activities of the SS - special detachment at the four crematoria and finally the work of the Jewish special detachment, are based on the depositions of the defendants Boger, St., Dylewski, Broad, Hofmann, Kaduk, Baretzki, Dr. L., Dr. Frank, Dr. Sc., Dr. Capesius and Klehr, insofar as they could be taken at face value, and the credible testimonies of the witnesses O., Wal., Wil., N., Schl., Hu., Dr. M., To., Lei., H., Dr. Kremer, Ch. (who had all been former SS - members at Auschwitz concentration camp) as well as the credible testimonies of the witnesses Ka., Cou., Ja., van V., Vr., K. Erich, Pa., Sw., Bac., Buk., Boe., furthermore on the handwritten notes of the first camp commandant Hoess about the "final solution of the Jewish question" and the so-called Broad report.
The defendants do not dispute that countless Jewish people were brought in RSHA - transports to Auschwitz in the years 1941-1944 for extermination, that there they were subject to the described selection procedure at the ramp and, insofar as they were not selected as able to work and taken into the camp, killed in the gas chambers in the manner described. They also do not dispute that SS - members of various units participated in this. The defendants who are charged with having participated in the extermination of these RSHA - transports only dispute - as will be described in the assessment of their deeds - that they had anything to do with the killing of these Jewish people (like for instance the defendant Mulka) or took part especially in the selection of those able to work at the ramp.[...]
So, what were the sources of the court's general findings related to the mass extermination of the Jews arriving at Auschwitz on RSHA transports (as opposed to their specific findings regarding the individual actions and guilt of every individual defendant)?
The sources were:
a) The depositions of the defendants Boger(1), St.(2), Dylewski(3), Broad(4), Hofmann(5), Kaduk(6), Baretzki(7), Dr. L.(8), Dr. Frank(9), Dr. Sc.(10), Dr. Capesius(11) and Klehr(12);
b) The testimonies of the witnesses O.(13), Wal.(14), Wil.(15), N.(16), Schl.(17), Hu.(18), Dr. M.(19), To.(20), Lei.(21), H.(22), Dr. Kremer(23), Ch.(24) (who had all been former SS - members at Auschwitz concentration camp);
c) The testimonies of witnesses Ka.(25), Cou.(26), Ja.(27), van V.(28), Vr.(29), K. Erich (30), Pa.(31), Sw.(32), Bac.(33), Buk.(34), Boe.(35);
d) Furthermore on the handwritten notes of the first camp commandant Hoess about the "final solution of the Jewish question" (36) and the so-called Broad report (37).
elements of evidence, thereof 35
defendants or witnesses who made depositions directly before the court.
Having rather unconvincingly rambled about selected excerpts from 8
depositions of former SS-men - which, as the court expressly pointed out, were not
the principal source of the court's findings - our esteemed opponents think they can high-handedly claim that "not a single accused or witness during the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, Germany could confirm believably the existence of "gas chambers" in this camp."
That's what our opponents call "Revisionist research".
That's what we call sloppy charlatanism and wishful thinking - to put it mildly.