HERE: ch. 9 - 13
I. The Line of ArgumentBefore he was deported to Neuengame, Louis Martin-Chauffier was for a while at Compiegne-Royallieu. He knew Captain Douce there, who was then camp elder. Here is his opinion of him:
Captain Douce, "doyen" of the camp and zealous servant of those who had put him in that position, perched on a table, doing his figures out loud, chain-smoking the cigarettes which had been refused to us, against regulations. (p. 51).
At Neuengame, he knew Andre who was one of the important inmates in the camp, an official with authority, chosen from the prisoners by the S.S.. This is the portrait he gives of him:
Narrowly watched by the S.S. a most suspicious sort, he was forced, in order to keep the role he had chosen and gotten with difficulty, to speak roughly to the prisoners, to make a show of being without feeling, unbending and brutal in his language. He knew that the least sign of weakness would inexorably bring denunciation down on him, and his immediate dismissal. Nearly everyone was taken in by his manner, believed him to be working with the SS, their creature, our enemy. Since he was responsible for the sorting out and allocation of posts, he was blamed for all those he sent to the Kommandos, with apparent indifference, deaf to prayers, pleas, recriminations... When a thousand deportees were to go to the Kommandos, and only about 990 were piling into the cattle cars, no one realized how many ruses Andre had used, all the risks he had run, to preserve ten men from probable death... He knew that he was universally detested or suspect. He had chosen it that way, preferring the service he could render to esteem ...
As I saw Andre, he accepted in the same spirit the menacing cordiality of the SS, the corresponding servility of the Kapos and the Block chiefs, the hostility of the mass. I think that he had risen above humiliation, substituted a glacial purity for his own inner courage, a stranger even to himself. He had renounced his being, in favor of a duty which in his eyes was deserving of this submission. (Pages 167-168-169.)
Thus of the two men fulfilling the same function, one gets the laconic severity and contempt of the author, while the other enjoys not only his approving indulgence, but even his admiration. When one examines this inconsistency further, one learns, during the course of reading the work, that Andre rendered considerable service to Martin-Chauffier in circumstances when his life was in danger. I did not know Captain Douce at Compiegne, but it is very likely that, compared with Andre, his only mistake was in not knowing how to choose the people for whom he did favors -- since he, too, certainly had his favorites _ and in having too limited a familiarity with literature to know that there was in his realm a certain number of Martin-Chauffiers, and even Martin-Chauffier himself.
And it is not beside the point to add that this kind of reasoning leads to:
I have always admired, with some fear and some repulsion THOSE who, in order to serve their country or a cause they consider just, are willing to face all the consequences of duplicity: the contemptuous defiance of the enemy employing them, and his confidence when HE deceives THEM; and the disgust of his comrades in battle who see in HIM a traitor; and the abject comraderie of the real traitors or those who have simply sold themselves, who seeing HIM doing the same thing, consider HIM as ONE of them. It requires a self-renunciation that is beyond me, a guile which confounds me and goes against my grain. (1) (Page 168)
One wonders whether Petain's attorneys might not make use of this kind of argument, whose pungency comes from having issued from the pen of one of crypto-Communism's finest ornaments. If Petainism becomes fashionable again, Martin-Chauffier, in any case, will have reason to be proud of it, and perhaps to profit from it...
II. Another Line of ArgumentIn the camp the author was talking with a doctor who said to him:
There are at present in the camp three times as many sick people as I can take care of. The war will be over in five or six months, at the latest. It is up to me to see to it that the greatest possible number hold out. I have decided. You and others, you will get better slowly. If I send you back to the, camp in this state and at this season (we were at the end of December) you will be dead in three weeks. I am going to keep you here. And -- listen carefully --I am going to bring in those who are not so seriously afflicted, those that a stay in the Revier can save. Those who are lost, I am going to reject.(2) I cannot afford the luxury of letting them in just to give them a peaceful death. What I can assure is the care of the living. The others will die eight days sooner: in any case, they would die too soon. It can't be helped, I am not here to be sentimental, but to be effective. That's my job. All my colleagues are in agreement, that's the right thing to do ... Everytime that I refuse to let in a dying man, and he looks at me with stupor, fear, with reproach, I would like to explain to him that I am exchanging his lost life for a life that can be saved. He would not understand, etc... (Page 160)
As far as admittance into the infirmary is concerned, I had the experience that one could get into the Revier and be cared for (in a loose manner of speaking) for reasons among which sickness or infirmity were sometimes only secondary; knowhow, pull, politics and bribery were the common reasons for getting a hospital bed. I attributed this fact to the general conditions of concentration camp life. Further, if some prisoner doctors behaved the way Martin-Chaufrier says this one did, that conduct should be recorded as both a philosophical argument and as a causal element, side by side with the "sadism" of the SS, in explaining the large number of deaths. For it takes a great deal of knowledge, confidence, and also presumption, for a doctor to determine in a few minutes who can be saved and who cannot. And, I am very much afraid that if such were the case generally among doctors, then once having taken this first step toward a new code of professional conduct, they might progressively arrive at another by asking themselves no longer who could be saved but who ought to be saved and who ought not and by resolving this problem of conscience on grounds that have nothing to do with therapeutics.
III. The Regime of the Camps
The treatment inflicted on us by the S.S. was the execution of a plan worked out in high places. It could have refinements, embellishments, flourishes, due to the initiative, the imagination, the tastes of the head of the camp; sadism has nuances. The overall plan was fixed. Before killing us or making us die, we had to be debased. (Page 85)
During the occupation, there existed in France an Association of the Families of Deportees and Political Internees. If a family sent an inquiry to the Association for information about what had become of its deportee, it received, in the return mail, a report coming from those German "high places."
Here is this report. (3)
Weimar camp. -The camp is situated 9 k m. from Weimar and is connected to it with a railroad. It lies at an altitude of 800 m. It consists of three enclosures of concentrically strung barbed wire. In the first enclosure, the prisoners barracks, between the first and the second, the factories and the workshops where T.S.F. accessories are manufactured, pieces of machinery, etc... Between the second and the third lies an area not yet built upon, which has just been cleared of trees, and where they are laying out camp streets and a small railroad.
The first enclosure of barbed wire is electrified and is marked out with a great many watch towers, on top of which there are three armed men. No sentinels in the second and third enclosures, but within the area of the factories there is an SS caserne; during the night they patrol with dogs, likewise in the third enclosure.
The camp spreads over 8 k m. and contains about 30,000 internees. At the beginning of the Nazi regime, its enemies were interned there. The population is partly French, partly foreign, anti-Nazi Germans, but who remain Germans, and who make up most of the Block chiefs. There are also Russians, among them officers of the Red Army, Hungarians, Poles, Belgians, Dutch, etc. ...
The camp regulations are as follows:
4:30 -- Rise, wash, under surveillance, stripped to the waist; washing the body is obligatory.
5:30 -- a half liter of soup or coffee, with 450 gr. of bread (at times they have less bread, but they have an abundant ration of potatoes of good quality), 30 gr. margarine, a slice of sausage or a piece of cheese.
12:00 -- noon - coffee.
18:30 -- a liter of good thick soup.
In the morning at six, leave for work. Assembly is by job, factory, quarry, woodcutters, etc... In each detachment the men line up in rows of five, holding each other by the arm so that the ranks are well aligned and separated. Then they leave, with music at the head (70 or 80 musicians from among the prisoners, in uniform: red pants, blue jackets with black trimming.)
Sanitation in the camp is very good. At the head of this is Professor Richet, deportee. Medical checkup every day. There are numerous doctors, an infirmary and a hospital, just as for a regiment. The internees wear the costume of German convicts made of artificial cloth, relatively warm. Their underclothing has been disinfected on arrival. There is one blanket for two men.
There is no chapel in the camp. There are, however, a number of priests among the internees, but they generally have concealed their calling. These priests gather together the faithful for talks, recitation of the rosary, etc. ... Free time -- Complete liberty in the camp on Sunday afternoon. This afternoon is enlivened by a theatrical group organized by the prisoners. Cinema, once or twice per week (German films), radio in each barrack (German news). Fine concerts are given by the orchestra made up of internees.
All the prisoners agree that they are better off at Weimar than they were at Fresnes or in the other French prisons.
We call attention to the families of the deportees that the Allied bombardment of the factories at Weimar toward the end of August did not find a single victim among the deportees of the camp.
Jean Puissant, who quoted the above, followed it with this appraisal: "a monument of deceit and lies."
Self-evidently, it is written in a benevolent style. It does not say that in the workshops of Buchenwald the pieces of machinery being made were weapons. It does not speak of the hangings for sabotage, the numerous roll-calls, the conditions of work, or the physical punishments. It does not point out that the Sunday afternoon liberty was subject to limitations which depended upon what went on in the place; nor does it say that if the priests gathered together their faithful for talks and prayers, that such gatherings were clandestine and, were held at the risk that they might be taken for a meeting of conspirators. It even lies when it says that the deportees thought they were better off than in French prisons, that the August 1944 bombardment had no victims among the internees, and that most of the trains leaving Compiegne or Fresnes at that date were headed for Weimar.
But, such as it is this text is closer to the truth than the testimony of Frere Birin, particularly with regard to the food. And, it still is a resume of the regulations of the camps as they were established by the higher levels of the Nazi government. That these regulations were not applied often at the local level is certain. History will tell why. Probably, it will consider the war as the major cause as well as the principle of camp administration by the prisoners themselves. The deterioration which, in a hierarchical administration, all orders undergo as they are handed down from the top to the bottom will be listed also. This deterioration can be seen, for example, in a regiment where the orders of the colonel are delivered by the lieutenant to the sergeant who has the responsibility for their execution. Everyone knows that in a caserne it is the sergeant who is dangerous, not the colonel.
For my part, I am convinced that, within the constraints imposed by the condition of total war, there was nothing to prevent the prisoners who administered over us, who commanded us, who supervised us, and who cadred us, from making life in a concentration camp something resembling closely the picture that the Germans presented to the families of prisoners.
IV. MaltreatmentI saw my unfortunate comrades, guilty only of not having strong enough arms, die under blows lavished on them by German political prisoners promoted to overseer, who had become the accomplices of their former enemies. (Page 92)
Those brutes, while striking, did not at first intend to kill; nevertheless they did kill in an access of joyous fury, eyes bloodshot, face scarlet and foam on their lips, because they could not stop themselves, they had to go to the very end of their pleasure.
Here we have a deed which, for change, is imputed to the prisoners without any qualifications. One never knows: it is possible that there are people who kill "in an access of joyous fury" and whose only purpose is "to go to the very end of their pleasure." In the normal world, there are abnormal people; likewise, there can also be some in a world where everything is abnormal, such as a concentration camp. But, I am rather led to think that if a Kapo, a Block Chief, or a camp elder let himself go to that extent, it was for motives arising from more likely reasons: the need for revenge; the desire to please the masters who had given him his choice post; the desire to hold onto it at any price, etc. I believe that even if they had resorted to the brutality which is described above, they usually stopped short of killing a man, since his death might have gotten them in trouble with the SS, at least at Buchenwald and Dora.
In spite of this explanation, Martin-Chauffier must be forgiven for having cited two more actions whose criminal nature can in no way be considered the result of the execution of a plan "worked out in high places":
Each week the Kapo of the Revier made his rounds (he was completely ignorant about it), examined the temperature charts whose margins were covered with remarks about a disturbing diagnosis, looked at the sick: if he didn't like their looks, he stated that they were to leave, whatever condition they were in. The doctor tried to forestall or influence his decision, which was difficult to foresee, since the Kapo whose impressions took the place of knowledge was a lunatic, besides. (Page 185). The frigid draft, the obligatory washing stripped to the waist, were hygienic provisions. Each killing process was thus cloaked in the guise of sanitation. This proved to be most efficacious. All those who suffered from some chest ailment were carried out in a few days. (Page 192).
Nothing obliged the Kapo, the Stubendienst, or the Pfleger of the Revier, to let a draft of ice cold air through, to make the unfortunate patients in their care wash bare-chested in cold water, or to render medical decisions without the concurrence of the treating physicians. Nevertheless, they did do it, with the aim of pleasing the SS, who most of the time knew nothing about it, and of holding on to the positions which saved their lives. One would like to have seen Martin-Chauffier direct his accusations against them with as much vigor as he has done against the SS, or -- at least -- divide the responsibility between them.
V. A Qualified Witness?The following is an account of Martin-Chauffier yjay was written by Dominique Canavaggio (former editor-in-chief of Temps de Paris and son-in-law of Pastor Boegner):
Louis Martin-Chauffier -- who later was to be arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz -- was a contributor to Sept jours, a weekly newspaper of Jean Prouvost. One morning when I was in Lyon he visited me. His face was distorted with anxiety. He said, "My daughter has tuberculosis; her condition is very serious. I have tried to have her treated in France. It is impossible: nowhere here does one find combined the necessary altitude, comfortable accommodations and board: only a sojourn in Switzerland could save her. Do you think that she could obtain a travel pass from Laval?"
I promised him even to attempt the impossible, and upon my return I went immediately to see the head of the government in Vichy. Impossible was truly the right word, for since November 1942 the Germans tightly controlled all travel in and out of France at the Swiss frontier; they allowed, practically, no one to cross the border except some official persons. Besides, the name of Martin-Chauffier was already at that time suspected by Laval and was not likely, for that reason, to make things easier. Laval listened to my request without interrupting me, then when I had finished, he said, "Martin-Chauffier?... He is, I suppose, the fellow who at the time of Munich wrote an article in which he demanded that I should be sent to the gallows?"
"Yes," Mr. President, "that is he."
There was a moment of silence. I looked at him firmly. Finally he spoke, "Tell him that his daughter will go to Switzerland... Arrange the formalities with Bousquet." "Thank you, Mr. President; I was sure that you would do it. And I am not sure that Martin-Chauffier will be grateful ..."
He motioned me back and said, "I want no thanks. I do it from a sense of duty to mankind."
As we have seen, Martin-Chauffier, was especially suited to become one of the leaders of the Resistance Movement in France. He furthermore "honored" with his (episodic) collaboration Le Figaro, Paris-Press, and Paris Match. The biographical reference work, Pharos, writes of him that before the war he made his political opinions clearly recognizable, and his sympathy for Communism during the Civil War in Spain confirmed them. In 1939 he traveled in the U.S.S.R. The year 1945 found him, naturally, again on the side of the Communists in the famous National Committee of Authors and among the most furious of persecutors.
Without doubt, he had to try to be forgiven for what had happened between these two dates. For today, Martin-Chauffier, like Eugen Kogon and David Rousset, holds himself aloof (or acts as if he held himself aloof) from the Communists, whose game he has played and continues to play. But, for how long? I pose this question for a very good reason.
On March 18, 1953, when I had just been sentenced by the Court of Appeals at Lyon, Jean Paulhan, since elected to the membership of the French Academy, wanted to express his sympathy; a 100,000 franc fine, together with an assessment of damages, in the sum of 800,000 francs, and a sentence of eight days in jail (which was suspended) had seemed alarming to him, and being less familiar than I was with such things, he did not know, as I did, that this judgment would surely be reversed by the Supreme Court. This is what he wrote:
I have followed (from a distance) your trial and the iniquitous judgment that ended it. Your book was splendid, and I wish I had written it. Perhaps it is due to it, and to the obvious absurdity of the quarrels they have tried to pick with you, that I am indebted for not having been prosecuted. (4) As for Martin-Chauffier, who indeed understands grammar but poorly, he was busy in 43 getting for the Germans (specifically from Maison Beraud, metallurgy, 315 rue Grimaldi, Lyon, for Captain Schwenn) ferrous and non-ferrous ores. That is what gives him the right to speak. Yours, with all sympathy.
The witness for the prosecution at my trial, Martin-Chauffier had not dared confront me at the bar, and that is easy to understand, but he all the same sent the President of the Court a telegram in which he demanded "a merciless condemnation."
Moral: Ah! These witnesses -- excuse me: Ah! These Resistants! That is all.
- This quotation has not been faked, in spite of the error in syntax that might make one think so, which is emphasized by the words in capital letters. In Le Droit de vivre of December 15, 1950, Martin-Chauffier claimed, in these words, that the text was correctly written: "It is useless to add that there is no error of syntax -- another lie -- but that a comma, inserted by M. Rassinier in place of the colon that I had put there, could deceive those not very sure of their grammar." For Martin-Chauffier is convinced that one nail drives out another. And he is too sure of his grammar" for one to be able easily to count on him for the relations that exist between the verb and its subject or the pronoun and its antecedent. The moral: a gentleman who comes out of the Ecole des Chartes is evidently not obliged to know what is expected of a child of ten to get into the 6th grade. Not wanting to haggle over a penny we re-inserted the colon claimed by Mr. Martin-Chauffier which an unfortunate slip had indeed replaced with a semi-colon in the first edition: the reader who can see that this changes anything is kindly requested to write to us.
- Emphasized in the text.
- As far as I know this has only been cited by Jean Puissant in his book, La Colline sans oiseaux (Editions du Rond-Point, 1945). A generally honest and detailed monograph, one of the best testimonies on the camps.
- On February 20, 1952, Jean Paulhan had written an "Open Letter to the Directors of the Resistance" (Gallimard-Paris) in which he had questioned the prevailing orthodoxy, and which had produced as much emotion as Le Mensonge d'Ulysse.
I am afraid that history will remember his name; but mostly for his literary quality. At this level of history, properly so called, the wrapping outdoes the contents. He was, moreover, aware of this fact and attempted to forestall objections:
I have reported certain things as they took place at Buchenwald, and not as they are described in documents published subsequently...
...Especially are there contradictions in details, not only in the testimonies, but in the documents. Most of the texts published up to the present are concerned only with aspects quite outside life in the camps, or are apologies in the form of allusions which affirm principles rather than assemble facts. Such documents are valuable, but only if one is intimately acquainted with what is being said; in that case they often provide another hitherto unperceived link. I have made a special effort to bring forth the relations between the groups in their actual complexity and in their dynamics. (Les Jours de notre mort, Appendix, page 764.)
This sort of reasoning allows him totally, or nearly so, to ignore the documents, and, in view of the fact that those pertaining to the camps in the East are both very few and very poor, to state that, "Recourse to direct testimony is the only proper way to proceed." He then selects from these direct testimonies those that best illustrate his way of looking at things at the moment. "Given these conditions," he acknowledges, "it was a bold -- perhaps one should say, rash -- venture to want to present a panorama of the whole of the concentration camp world." (Ibid.)
One could not put it better than he does himself. But then, why describe the camps using this method in which all is based on categorical assertion?
L'Univers concentrationnaire (Pavois, 1946) had a deserved success. In the midst of the minor witnesses who howled for vengeance and death on the heels of the defeated Germans, it tried to lay the responsibilities on Nazism and, by so doing, marked a new direction.
By way of illustration of the atmosphere at the time, take Frere Birin, who penned the following warning:
The French should know and remember that the same errors will bring back the same horrors. They should be informed of the character and shortcomings of their neighbors across the Rhine, a race of dominators, and that is why No. 43,652 wrote these lines. Frenchmen, be vigilant and never forget. (16 mois de bagne, p. 117.)
And, that was the tone in all the French press, too. "Le boche" was on everybody's lips, with the snarl that goes with the word when it is pronounced correctly. In this atmosphere of hatred, pacifist France was grateful to David Rousset for having concluded with these words:
The existence of the camps is a warning. German society, both because of the strength of its economic structure, and the ruthlessness of the crisis which crushed it, has experienced a decomposition exceptional in the present situation of the world. But it would be easy to show that the traits most characteristic of S.S. mentality and the social substructures, can be found in many other areas in world society. Less pronounced, however, and certainly not to be compared with the developments we have seen in the Great Reich. But it is only a question of circumstances. One would be guilty of deception if one pretended that it is impossible for other peoples to have the same experience because it is against their nature. Germany has interpreted, with the originality peculiar to her history, the crisis which led her to the universe of concentration camps. But the existence and mechanism of this crisis derive from the economic and social bases of capitalism and imperialism. Under a new guise, analogous results could appear again tomorrow. Consequently there is a very definite battle to be conducted. (Page 187)
With the passage of time, what has happened in Algeria and in Indochina and what is today taking place between Blacks and Whites in the United States and between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, has demonstrated, more than could be expected, how justified Rousset's theory was. Moreover, what was then still going on in Russia demonstrated it no less, but at that time David Rousset was careful not to make use of that argument. On a more mundane level one could find still more justifications; take this one for example:
When several hundreds of thousands of adult "displaced persons" succeeded in getting out of the camps and in leaving for the two Americas, thousands of children remained behind, together with the old people, in the care of the I.R.O.... in the sinister barracks of Germany, Austria and Italy. But the International Refugee Organization is scheduled definitely to cease its activities in a few months, and one wonders what will be the fate of these orphans twice abandoned. Their situation is tragic right now, because in some camps they have not received more food in all than three to four hundred calories a day, and no one can say if even that inadequate ration can be kept up. The death rate under such conditions is terrible. (La Bataille, May 9, 1950.)
The paper said that there were thirteen million living like that, in a Europe that had got rid of Hitler and Mussolini. If an investigation had been made into the treatment that they were subjected to by their guardians, it would be interesting to see upon whom the responsibility would be placed.
Les Jours de notre mort (1947), which takes up the facts as given in L'Univers concentrationnaire and carries them to the limits of speculation, strays far from that profession of faith while Le Pitre ne rit pas (1948) ignores it entirely. From which it must be concluded that David Rousset's thinking went through such evolutions, under cover of going into details, that his books ended up on a note much more anti-German than anti-Nazi in the eyes of the public. This evolution was all the more noticeable in that being shaded with certain weaknesses for Communism at the start, it developed, in the end, into an anti-Communism, which one would not want to say could never turn into Russophobia pure and simple, if the cold war should reach such a point as to turn into a shooting war.
The originality, therefore, of L'Univers concentrationnaire lay in drawing a distinction between Germany and Nazism in the determination of responsibilities. But, this originality was more than matched by the sensational theory that justified the conduct of the prisoners who were in charge of running the affairs of the camps, on the basis that it was necessary to preserve, for the post-war period, the elite of the revolutionaries at the expense of all of the others. David Rousset embraced this theory by justifying the policy of saving a certain kind of prisoner, that he defined in terms of certain extra-humanitarian imperatives. As evidence of that policy, the malicious could point out that David Rousset was probably saved from death by the German Communist Kapo, Emile Kunder, who considered that he belonged to that revolutionary elite, who showed him great friendship for that reason, and who, today, disowns him.
I. The Postulate of the TheoryIt is normal, when all the active forces of one> This statement is unassailable. His conclusion, set forth without transition, is much less so: "The purpose of the camps is indeed physical destruction." (Ibid.) One cannot but notice that, in the postulate itself, physical destruction is subordinate to necessity, and is envisaged only in cases where the extent of internment is not enough to prevent the individual from doing harm.
After a leap, or an off-hand deduction, of this kind, there was no reason to stop, and he could write:
The order bears the mark of the master. The commanding officer of the camp knows nothing. The Block-Fuhrer (S.S. responsible for the livelihood of a Block) knows nothing. The Lageraeltester (camp elder, prisoner selected by the S.S.) knows nothing. Those who carry out the order know nothing. But the order prescribes death and the kind of death and how much time it shall take to cause death. And in this desert of knowing nothing, that is enough. (Page 100, emphasis added.)
With this assertion he found a way both of placing the responsibility of the camps on those "high-places" of Louis Martin-Chauffier, and of allowing him to conclude in favor of a pre-established plan for the systematizing of terror, justified by a philosophy.
The enemy, in the philosophy of the S.S., is the force of evil, intellectually and physically expressed. The Communist, the socialist, the German liberal, the revolutionaries, the foreign Resistants are the active representations of evil. But the objective existence of certain races: the Jews, the Poles, the Russians, is a static expression of evil. It is not necessary for a Jew, a Pole, or a Russian to act against National Socialism; they are by birth, by predestination un-assimilable heretics, dedicated to the apocalyptic fire. Death therefore has no complete meaning. Only expiation can satisfy and appease the lords. The concentration camps are the astonishing and complex machinery of expiation. Those who are to die go to their deaths with a slowness calculated so that their physical and moral downfall, by degrees, shall finally make them conscious of thefact that they are accursed, the expressions of evil, and not men. And that priest-administrator of justice feels a sort of secret pleasure, a deep-seated sensation of delight, in ruining bodies. (Pages 108-109, emphasis added.)
From this excerpt it can be seen that, starting from concentration camps as places to put enemies where they can do no harm, one can easily make of them institutions of extermination and one can elaborate to infinity on the purpose of that extermination. From the moment that one reaches that stage, it becomes no more than an intellectual exercise where one can demonstrate his aptitude for mental constructions and his talent for writing. But, the literary effort which produces such a fine description of sadism is perfectly useless, and one need not have lived through the experience to describe it like that; one need only consult Tomas de Torquemada and copy down the arguments of the Spanish Inquisition.
I shall not waste time with a discussion of the first part of the explanation which ties the Russians and the Poles together with the Jews in the minds of the Nazi leaders; it is obvious fantasy.
II. The LaborBy labor is meant a means of punishment. Concentration camp manpower is of secondary interest, a preoccupation foreign to the nature of the concentration camp universe. Psychologically, it was connected by that sadism that forced the prisoners to strengthen the instruments of their bondage.
"It was because of the accidents of history that the camps also became public works enterprises. On the extension of the war to a world scale, calling for the total employment of everybody and everything, the lame, the deaf, the blind, and the PGs, the S.S., with lashes of the whip, enrolled the blind mob of the concentration camps for the most destructive tasks . . . The work of the concentration inmates did not have as its ultimate object the carrying out of specific tasks, but the keeping of the "protected prisoners"  in the strictest most debasing confinement. (Pages 110- 112.)
Since it has been decided that the purpose of the camps was to exterminate, it is quite obvious that the work that was performed there is hardly more than an element, negligible in itself, in the theory of the extermination mystique. Eugen Kogon, who will be considered in the following chapter, starting from the same idea but with much less refinement in form, writes regarding this issue in his L'Enfer organise.
...It was decided that the camps should have a secondary purpose, a little more realistic, a little more practical and more immediate; thanks to them, they were going to collect and make use of a manpower composed of slaves, belonging to the S.S., who, for as long as they were permitted to live, should live only to serve their masters ... But, what were called the secondary aims (keeping the population in fear, the use of slave manpower, keeping the camps up as training and experimental stations for the S.S.) these aims little by little rose to the first level, insofar as they were the true reasons for consignment to the camps, until the day when, the war, unleashed by Hitler, envisaged and prepared by him and the S.S., in an ever more systematic way, brought about the enormous expansion of the camps. (Pages 27-28, emphasis added.)
By setting these two passages side by side it appears that for the first it was the historic accident of the war, and then only at the moment that it became world wide, which made the use of the prisoners as manpower the important purpose of the camps, while for the second, this result had been achieved before the war, and the war only emphasized it.
I choose the second interpretation for the following reason: the division of the camps into these categories -- i.e., Konzentrationslager (concentration camp), Arbeitslager (work camp), and Straflager (punishment camp, where the labor and living conditions were harder) -- was an accomplished fact when the war broke out in 1939..The operation of internment, before and during the war, was accomplished in two stages: the prisoners were concentrated in a central camp that was planned for or already was organized for labor, and which served, in addition, as a sorting station; from there the prisoners were sent on to other camps, according to the demands for manpower. There was a third stage for those who had committed offenses during the process of being interned; assignment as punishment to a camp generally still in construction, which was considered a punitive camp (Straflager), but which, from the moment that construction was completed, became in its turn an ordinary camp (Konzentrationslager).
I shall add that, in my opinion, the use of prisoner labor had always been anticipated. This is part of the universal code of repression: in almost all countries of the world, the State makes those that it imprisons sweat for their livelihood by laboring for the State; there are a few exceptions -- e.g., fallen government officials in the democratic nations and distinguished deportees in dictatorships. The contrary practice is inconceivable. It would be nonsense for a State to support those who break its laws and undermine its foundations. It is only the conditions of labor that vary, depending upon whether one is free or interned, and the margin of benefits to be earned.
For Germany, there was an added factor which needs to be noted: the camps had to be built under the imperatives of a total war. During the war, one could only think that the sole purpose of the camps was to kill people off and one was quite inclined to think so even afterwards. The erroneousness of this impression was all the less obvious since, as the war made necessary an even greater number of camps, the construction period never came to an end, and the two circumstances, superimposed in their effects, led to a generalized continuation of the Straflager stage, seemingly deliberate.
III. The HaeftlingsfuehrungWe know that the S.S. delegated to the prisoners the direction and administration of the camps and that this practice of self-administration was called Haeftlingsfuehrung. There were, for example, Kapos (who headed Kommandos), Blockaeltester (Block supervisors), Lagerschutz (prisoner police), Lageraeltester (camp supervisors) along with other prisoners who composed a whole concentration camp bureaucracy which in fact wielded all of the authority in the camp. This practice also follows a pattern that is part of the code of regression all over the world. If the prisoners to whom fell all of those administrative posts had the slightest notion of solidarity with the common prison population, they would have worked everywhere to alleviate the hardships for everyone. Unhappily that is never the case. Everywhere, on taking over the post that is placed in his command, the designated prisoner (often called a "trusty") changes his outlook. It is a phenomenon too well known to dwell on and too universal to impute solely to the Germans or the Nazis. David Rousset's error was to believe that it could be any other way in a concentration camp and that, in fact, it had been otherwise -- i.e., that the political prisoners were beings superior to the common mass of prisoners and that the laws they obeyed were nobler than the laws of the individual struggle for life.
This error led him to lay down as a principle that the prisoner bureaucracy of the concentration camps, not being able to save large numbers of men, deserved credit for saving the "best" of the prisoners: "With the close collaboration of a Kapo one could make life much easier, even in the Hell." (Page 166.) But he does not tell how one could get the close collaboration of a Kapo. Nor that this collaboration, except when the Kapo was a political prisoner, ever went beyond the kind of relationship that one would expect to exist between a patrician and his dependent. In any case, he fails to mention that only a tiny number of prisoners could hope to achieve this relationship, regardless of its precise nature.
Obviously, the positions within the Haeftlingsfuehrung were eagerly sought after, since to hold one improved the relative conditions that one faced in the camp. David Rousset writes that:
The holding of those posts was therefore a prime interest, and the life and death of many men depended on it. (Page 134)
Then trying to link everything together, Rousset asserts that those who held those posts organized, and most of those who organized were Communists: then they worked out regular political plots against the S.S.: then they drew up programs for action after the war:
At Buchenwald the secret central committee of the Communist faction was composed of Germans, Czechs, a Russian and a Frenchman. (Page 166)
From 1944 on they were preoccupied with the conditions that would be created by the end of the war. They were greatly afraid that the S.S. would kill them all before that. And it was not an imaginary fear. (Page 170)
At Buchenwald, besides the Communist organization that without doubt achieved there a degree of perfection and efficiency unique in the annals of the camps, meetings took place more or less regularly among the political elements, from the socialists to the extreme right, which ended in setting up a program of joint activity for when they returned to France. (Page 81 )
All of this activity is a possibility, but it is factually questionable that such organization ever occurred. Certainly, in all of the camps, the prisoners gathered together in numerous and unobtrusive and informal group alignments for various reasons: to better endure their common fate; to promote their self-interest; to get appointed to the Haeftlingsfuehrung and, once appointed, to hold that position. But, these prisoner alliances were a far cry from the picture that Rousset paints.
After the liberation, as David Rousset corroborates, the Communists were able to make people believe that the bond of their association was their doctrine, to which their acts conformed. In reality, the bond was the material advantages that were to be gained by those in the association. In the two camps which I knew, the general view was that, political or not, Communist or not, all of the so-called "Committees" were first of all associations of food thieves regardless of whatever form they took. Nothing has been uncovered to change this view. On the contrary everything has confirmed it: the small groups of Communists affronting each other over the various spoils of the system e.g., the composition of the clique which held power; the manner in which the spoils of pillage were to be divided up; the distribution of camp assignments, etc., etc... For example, during the few weeks that I spent at Buchenwald in Block 48, at the suggestion of the Blockaeltester, or with his authorization, a group of prisoners, new arrivals, had decided to bolster the group morale. Little by little they acquired a certain degree of authority. In particular, contact between the Blockaeltester and ourselves in the end could only be made through them. The group regulated life in the Block, organized discussions, assigned the duties, and divided up the food, among other things. It was pitiful to see the toadyism toward the omnipotent Blockaeltester that developed among them. One day, the principal mover in this group was caught in the act of dividing up with another the potatoes that he had stolen from the common ration...
Eugen Kogon relates that the French at Buchenwald, who were about the only ones to receive parcels from the Red Cross, had decided to share them equally with the whole camp:
When our French comrades said they were going to share a large part of them with the entire camp, this act of fellowship was received with gratitude. But the distribution was organized in a scandalous manner for weeks; there was in effect only one parcel for every ten Frenchmen... while their compatriots in charge of the distribution, having at their head the chief of the French communist group in the camp , reserved for themselves piles of parcels, or used them for the benefit of their friends of the same stamp. (L'Enfer organise, Page 120.)
David Rousset sees a harmful aspect in this state of things, if not a principal cause of the horror, when he writes:
The bureaucracy does not serve only in the management of the camps; it is, at the top, all involved in the deals of the S.S. Berlin sends cases of cigarettes and tobacco to pay the men. Truckloads of food arrive at the camps. Every week the men are to be paid; they get paid every two weeks or every month; the number of cigarettes is reduced and lists are made of bad workers who get nothing. The men are dying for want of a smoke. What does that matter: The cigarettes go into the black market. Meat? Butter? Sugar? Honey? Jam? A bigger portion of red cabbage, beets, rutabagas, touched up with a little carrot, that will do well enough. It is even pure kindness... Milk. Lots of whitened water, that will do perfectly. And all the rest: meat, butter, sugar, honey, jam, milk, potatoes, on the market for the German civilians who pay and are proper citizens. The people in Berlin will be satisfied to learn that everything arrived all right. It is enough that the records are in order and the bookkeeping verifiable ... Flour? Of course, the bread ration will be reduced. Without even covering it up. The portions will be a little less carefully cut. The records are not concerned with such things. And the S.S. masters will be on excellent terms with the tradesmen of the area. (Pages 145-146-147)
Here, support is given, at least as far as the food is concerned, to the legend that a plan was drawn up "in high places" to starve the prisoners. Berlin supplied everything that was needed to provide the prisoners with adequate rations, in conformity with the reports that were written to the families, but, without the knowledge of the officials, it was not distributed to the mass of prisoners. And, why not? Who does the stealing? The prisoners who were in charge of the distribution. David Rousset tells us that such theft was done under the orders of the S.S. to whom was turned over the proceeds. No, the prisoner trustees stole for themselves first, and took all that they required. Then, they paid some of it to the S.S. to purchase their complicity.
Incidentally, the same phenomenon was brought to light in May 1950 during the trial instituted against the "Oeuvre des meres et des enfants" at Versailles, whose ring leader was headmistress Pallu. Preliminary investigation revealed that:
The children were badly clothed, left in a repulsive state of filth, in a room crawling with vermin. The straw mattresses were foul with excrement and urine, crawling sometimes with maggots. There was but one sheet, one blanket. All the toilets were stopped up. The children relieved themselves just where they were. They were covered with impetigo and lice. That was the setting. There 13 children died of hunger. And yet they were supposed to have received, in addition to their normal rations, supplementary allocations. The children saw nothing of this: the milk was half watered.
"The children were getting too much," said a sister. "The headmistress had a liter and a half of milk delivered to her every day, chocolate, rice, meat -- and of the best quality."
"The headmistress, a little brunette, sent twenty-kilo packages to her family, out of her personal reserves. All those people were well nourished, and did not wonder at that choice food during times when the daily rutabaga was the rule. And the children? Oh! that was so easy, they didn't ask for anything..." (Le Populaire, May 16, 1950.)
This account is in a class with the best accounts covering the German concentration camps. The drama took place in France, and neither the public nor even those in the administration of "L'oeuvre des meres et des enfants" knew anything about it, The children died there like inmates of a concentration camp, under the same conditions and for the same reasons... and in a democratic country, to boot!
So, to return to the subject at hand, these famous "revolutionary committees" never defended the interests of the common prisoners or prepared political plans for use after the war, the Communists were able to delude the public on these points. Rather, they existed merely to promote the well-being of their members. I shall add that those persons who succeeded in forming them, kept alive a spirit of subservience vis-a-vis the S.S., a kind of collaboration, without which the camps could not have operated.
Regarding the discussions organized in Block 48, and to which reference has been made, David Rousset has this to say:
So I organized a first discussion; a Russian Stubendienst twenty-two or twenty-three years old, worker in the Marty Factory at Leningrad, gave us a long exposition of the condition of labor in the U.S.S.R. The discussion which followed lasted for two afternoons. The second talk was given by a Kolkhosian on Soviet agricultural organization. I myself, gave a little later a talk on "The Soviet Union, from Revolution to War"... (Page 77)
I was present at that talk; it was a masterpiece of Bolshephilism, rather unexpected for one familiar with David Rousset's earlier Trotskyite activities. But Erich, our Blockaeltester, was a Communist and was in very good standing with the "cell" which exercised the preponderant influence in the Haeftlingsfuehrung at the moment. It was artful to get his attention and to predispose him for the day when he would have favors to dispense. "Three months later," continues Rousset, "I would certainly not have begun this endeavor again. The game was played out. But at the time we were all still very ignorant. Erich, our Block chief, grumbled, but didn't oppose the business..." (Page 77) To be sure. Furthermore, three months later, it was Kapo Emil Kunder on whom siege had to be laid. The time of the talks was over, and the emphasis was on the Red Cross packages from France. If I have correctly understood Les Jours de notre mort, Rousset used these packages to his advantage, and I do not reproach him for it; I myself owe my return to France to them, and I never made any secret of it.
It could be, and perhaps it will be, maintained that it was not important to establish the fact that the Haeftlingsfuehrung made the common prisoners suffer a treatment that was substantially more horrible than that which had been planned for them by the higher circles of Nazism and that nothing forced the Haeftlingsfuehrung to do it. If such a contention were made, I would then observe that it has seemed to me to be indispensable to determine exactly the causes of the concentration camp hell in all their aspects, if only to place the contentions of the Haeftlingsfuehrung apologists in the proper context, and to orient a little more toward the true nature of things the inquiry of the reader in whose mind this problem remains unresolved.
IV. ObjectivityBirkenau, the largest city of death. The selections on arrival; the trappings of civilization set out like caricatures to deceive and subdue. Regular selections in the camp, every Sunday. The inevitable destructions in Block 7 long drawn out. The Sonderkommando (special Kommando assigned to the Crematory) totally isolated from the world, condemned to live every second of its eternity with tortured and burned bodies. Terror breaks the nerves so decisively that the death agonies know all the humiliations, all the betrayals. And when, ineluctably, the strong odors of the gas chamber close, everyone rushes forward, crushing each other in a frenzy to keep alive, so that, when they are opened the bodies inextricably tangled fall forward in cascades onto the rails. (Page 51)
In such a fictionalized panorama as Les Jours de notre mort, this passage will cause no shock. But, in L'Univers concentrationnaire, which has in so many aspects the character of a true story, it would be out of place. David Rousset was not, actually, ever present at this scene of torture of which he gives so exact and so gripping a description.
In 1950, it was still too soon to pronounce a definite judgment on the existence of gas chambers in the camps; documents were wanting and those that existed were incomplete, inexact, and obviously apocryphal or falsified. But, the historian has no right to bring forth gratuitous hypotheses. Therefore, I limited myself to pointing out obvious anomalies. For example, Eugen Kogon, who in his L'Enfer organise, said that "a very small number of camps had their own gas chambers," (Page 154), was careful not to say which ones. Or again, concerning those which allegedly were installed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Kogon told how the Germans effected the extermination by this method, according to the testimony:
...of a young Jew from Brno, Janda Weiss, who belonged in 1944 with the Sonderkommando (crematory and gas chambers) from whom come the following details, confirmed, moreover, by others. (Page 155)
To my knowledge, this Janda Weiss was the only person in the whole of the concentration camp literature who was said to have been present at such exterminations and whose exact address was given. Unfortunately, by an unhappy chance, he was in the Russian zone and only Eugen Kogon has profited by his statements. Given the historical and moral significance of the use of gas chambers as a method of repression, further steps could possibly have been taken to acquaint the public with his precise testimony, other than through a third party, and at the same time to extend its length to a little more than that of a paragraph that appeared to have been incidentally included in Kogon's comprehensive study.
There was another doubtful element in Eugen Kogon's thesis regarding the gas chambers, and it lay in this:
In 1941, Berlin sent to the camps the first orders for the formation of special transports for gas extermination. The first ones chosen were prisoners in for breaches of the common law, prisoners sentenced for immoral behaviour, and certain political figures in bad odor with the S.S.
These transports left for an unknown destination. In the case of Buchenwald one could see being returned the next day, clothing, including the contents of the pockets, dentures, etc... Through an under-officer of the escort it was learned that these transports had arrived at Pirna and at Hohenstein and that the men who made up the transports had been subjected to tests of a new gas and had perished.
During the winter of 1942-1943, all the Jews had been examined with regard to their capacity for work. Instead of the above-mentioned transports, it was then those Jews, who, in groups of 90 men, took the same road, but ended up at Bernburg near Kothen. The doctor-in-chief of the nursing home of the district, a certain Doctor Eberl, was the docile tool of the S.S. In the files of the S.S. this operation bore the reference "14F. 13." It seems to have been carried out simultaneously with the annihilation of all the sick in the nursing homes, which little by little became the general practice in Germany under National-Socialism. (Pages 225-226)
Now, I had already studied the matter enough to know that the extermination orders to which he alludes stem from a program of euthanasia, not of extermination. The two documents that he quoted in support of his contention -- and he was careful not to reproduce the orders themselves -- amply proved the point. They consisted of a couple of pieces of correspondence between the camp officials at Buchenwald and the directors of a nursing home at Bernburg. In his letter dated February 2, 1942, Dr. Hoven, the camp physician states, with regard to Jewish prisoners who are unfit for work in the camp:
Referring to our personal conversation, I send you, attached, in copy, and to be used for all purposes, a list of those Jews sick and unable to work, now in the camp at Buchenwald.
At this point, it must be noted that the list which is mentioned is not published. The second document is a letter from the nursing home at Bernburg, dated March 5, 1942, in which the writer refers to a letter of March 3, 1942. The text of this letter is as follows:
Subject 36 prisoners, list no. 12 of February 2, 1942.
In our letter of the 3rd current, we asked you to make available to us the last 36 prisoners of the last transport, March 18, 1942.
Because of the absence of our physician-in-chief who is to examine medically these prisoners, we request you not to send them to us on March 18, 1942, but to add them to the March 11, 1942, transport, together with their papers which will be returned to you March 11, 1942.
One must agree that the meaning of the text has to be strangely distorted to deduce from this exchange of correspondence that extermination by means of gas chambers was involved.
These two documents, moreover, call for comment, since they apparently refer to the practice of euthanasia, and since they bear the dates of February 2 and March 5, 1942. Here is the story of operation Gnadentod:
On September 1, 1939, Hitler signed the Gnadentod order, the text of which is given as follows:
Reichleiter Bouhler and Doctor Brandt are instructed, on their own responsibility, to extend the authority of physicians to designate by name, after a critical examination of their condition, those sick persons who can humanely be called incurable, so that a merciful death may be assured.
When this decree -- which was not restrictive -- was signed, the installation of crematoriums was begun in six sanitariums: that of Hadamar near Limbourg, that of Grafeneck in Wurttemberg, that of Hartheim near Linz, and the homes for the aged at Pirna, Bernberg and Brandenburg. After January, 1940, the transfer of the terminally ill to these establishments began.
During July, 1941, the rumor began to spread in German Catholic circles that some 30,000 ill persons had been subjected to euthanasia contrary to Church doctrine. The priests were aroused, and on July 6, 1941, a pastoral letter of the bishops was read aloud in all of the Catholic churches of Germany, dated June 26, 1941, of which the essential passages are the following:
Most certainly there are commands which do not call for action on our parts if their execution would involve too many difficulties or dangers. But there are also duties of conscience from which no one can free us and which we must carry out, even at the cost of our lives. Never, in any circumstances outside of war and legitimate self defense may an innocent man be killed!
When this pastoral letter which he had energetically promoted had no effect, and the removal of the terminally ill was renewed in his diocese, Monseigneur von Galen, Bishop of Munster, lodged a complaint on July 28, 1941, with the public prosecutor of the Munster Court, invoking articles 139 and 211 of the code which put an obligation on everyone to denounce murder and to oppose it. When this complaint had no effect, Monseigneur von Galen ascended the pulpit on August 3, 1941, in his church Saint-Lambert of Munster, and delivered a ringing sermon.
After recalling earlier protestations of the bishops, and also of his own, and after denouncing a recent removal of one thousand six hundred sick persons from the homes for the aged at Marienthal and Warstein, the Bishop of Munster stated:
Why should these poor defenseless sick people die? Simply because according to the verdict of some doctor or commission they belong in the category of the "unfit to live." It is stated that they can no longer be productive. They are like an old machine that no longer works, an old paralyzed horse, a cow that no longer gives milk! What becomes of an old machine: it is put on the scrap heap. What is done with a paralyzed horse? Unproductive cattle? . . . But it is not a question of old machines, horses or cows. It is a question of men like us, our brothers and our sisters. Woe to man! Woe to our German people if the sacred Commandment: 'Thou shalt not kill' which our Creator engraved from the beginning in the minds of men, is transgressed, and if this transgression is tolerated and goes unpunished...
This sermon had a profound echo all over Germany and started a movement before which Hitler retreated.
Less than a month afterwards, August 20, 1941, Hitler gave the order to suspend operation "Gnadentod." All the historians, even the most anti-Nazi, are today agreed on this version of the affair. Even Mr. Gerhard Jaeckel, a specialist on Nazi atrocities and war crimes, in the illustrated Munich weekly Quick (June 25, 1961), has confirmed it in every detail as it is reproduced above. And, in Paris, the newspaper Le Monde (May 3, 1963) has also accepted the story as it is set forth in the preceding paragraphs.
Now, the two documents that are produced by Eugen Kogon bear the dates of February 2 and of March 5, 1942, when operation "Gnadentod" had been terminated for more than six months. A third document that was published by Eugen Kogon in support of these two letters, which is a report from Dr. Hoven, but which has no date, has this to say, according to Kogon:
The obligations of the contracting physicians and the negotiations with the burial services have often led to insurmountable difficulties ... This is why I am at once getting in touch with Doctor Infried-Eberl, head physician of the nursing home of Bernburg-sur-Saale, Post Box 252, telephone 3.169. This is the same physician who carried out operation "14 F 13." Doctor Eberl has shown the greatest kindness. AU the bodies of the prisoners deceased at Schoneberg-Wernigerode will be transported to Doctor Eberl at Bernburg and will be cremated, even without a death certificate. (Page 227)
The least one can say is that this report does not excuse one from the obligation of verifying the authenticity of the three documents . . . if only to find out if, in the Germany of 1942, it was possible to contravene the orders of the Fuehrer to this extent.
A procedure called the "Selektion", which was periodically performed in all the camps, contributed in no small measure to the dissemination of the notion that executions were common occurrences in the camps. What actually happened was this:
Periodically, the health services of the camps received the order to make up a list of all sick persons who were considered to be unfit for fairly sustained work or for any work at all, and to gather them in a special Block. Then, trucks arrived -- or a line of railway cars -- and they were put in, and they departed for an unknown destination. The rumor in the concentration camps had it that they were taken directly to the gas chambers; as a consequence, with a sort of cruel sense of humor, these assemblings were called Himmelskommandos, meaning that they were composed of persons bound for heaven. Naturally all of those who were sick tried to escape the Himmelskommando.
I saw two or three "Selektions" carried out at Dora; I even escaped being included in one of them. Dora was a small camp. Although the numbers of unfit sick were always greater than the means available to care for them, those numbers only very rarely reached proportions so large as to interfere with the operation or the administration of the camp. Auschwitz-Birkenau, which David Rousset speaks about in the quotation in question, was different. That camp was very large, a human ant-heap, so to speak. The number of unfit was considerable. The "Selektions", instead of being made through the health services, often were made on the spot whenever the trucks or rail cars arrived. They took place at a rate of about one a week, and decisions as to who was to be included were made just on appearances. Between the S.S. guards and the concentration camp bureaucracy on the one hand and the mass of prisoners trying to escape selection on the other, one can imagine the confusion of what amounted to manhunts in an atmosphere of universal panic. After each "Selektion" ' those who were left behind felt that they had for the time being escaped the gas chamber.
But, there is nothing to prove conclusively that any of the unfit, or those so designated as unfit, who were selected in this way, either at Dora or at Birkenau, were sent to gas chambers. In support of this statement I want to record a personal experience. In the "Selektion" which I escaped at Dora was included one of my comrades who did not have the same luck. I saw him depart, and I was sorry for him. In 1946 I still believed that he was dead and that he had been asphyxiated together with the entire convoy of which he was a part. In September of the same year, to my astonishment, he showed up at my house to invite me to attend some official demonstration. When I told him what my fears for him had been all this time, he told me that the convoy in question had been sent to Bergen-Belsen, a convalescent center for the sick deportees from all the camps. This story is verified by a former deportee, a fellow named Mullin who is now an employee at the Besancon railway station. After a trip that was made under appalling conditions, he arrived at Bergen-Belsen, to which had converged convoys of the unfit from all over Germany. There were so many Prisoners that the camp administration didn't know where to Put them or how to feed them. He spent many horrible days there and was finally sent back to work. At Buchenwald, moreover, I had already encountered in Block 48 a Czech who had returned to Birkenau from Bergen-Belsen in the same way.
My view on the gas chambers? Some probably did exist; but not as many as is believed. Moreover, there probably were exterminations by gas, but not as many as has been claimed. The number, of course, does not in the least diminish the nature of the horror, but the fact that the practice might have been a measure that was decreed by a State order in the name of a political doctrine would singularly add to the horrible nature of it. Was that the case? The statement of Dr. Aryeh Kubovy, Director of the Center of Jewish Documentation at Tel-Aviv, which is discussed in Chapter 13, Note 8, concerning the nonexistence of orders for the extermination of the Jews has definitely settled the question in the negative.
Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that there appears to have been no official Nazi policy of gas exterminations, the factor that has played the greatest role in promoting the contrary belief, seems to have been the "Selektion" practice about which there is not a deportee who cannot speak as a witness in one way or another, and who does so, mainly, in terms of all that he feared at the moment.
Two other documents that are quoted by David Rousset in Le Pitre ne rit pas (1949) in support of the existence of mass exterminations by gas do not strike me as any more convincing than those of Eugen Kogon. The first is a deposition of a certain Wolfgang Grosch at Nuremberg and is about the construction of gas chambers, but not their use. The second, concerning trucks that had been fitted with asphyxiating mechanisms which were to have been used in Russia, bears the signature of a second-Lieutenant and is addressed to a Lieutenant. Neither one of them allows one to accuse the leaders of the Nazi regime of having given orders for the extermination by gas. The text of both documents will be found in Appendix C at the end of this book.
Speaking of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Eugen Kogon had said that toward the end of 1942 the Third Reich was contemplating the installation of a branch of I.G. Farben Industries at the camp, in which the use of chemical gasses would be indispensable, and I suggest that from this fact might have sprung the accusation that the Reich had decided to exterminate Jews in this way.  Of course, it is only a supposition. But in history as in the sciences, have not most discoveries stemmed, if not from supposition, at least from doubt?
It may be objected that there is nothing to be gained in exonerating National-Socialism in this way, whose misdeeds in other respects are definitely established. In response, I believe that there is nothing more to be gained in supporting a doctrine or an interpretation, perhaps correct, but which rests on falsities. All of the great principles of democracy die, not because of their substance, but from being too exposed in details considered as insignificant in their scope as in their substance, and dictatorships generally only triumph to the extent that insufficiently studied arguments are brandished against them. In this connection, David Rousset gives an example which in a masterly manner illustrates this way of looking at things:
I was talking with a German physician ... He was obviously not a Nazi. He was fed up with the war and did not know where his wife and four children were. Dresden, which had been his home, had been cruelly bombed, "Look here," he said to me, "did we go to war for Danzig?" I answered no. "All right then, Hitler's policy in the concentration camps was frightful (I bowed); but, for the rest, he was right." (Page 170)
So, by this little detail, because it was felt to be wrong to be told that they were going to war for Danzig, and that that turned out to be false, this doctor pronounced judgment on Hitler's entire policy and approved of it. I wonder in fear what he thinks of that policy now, now that he has had a chance to read David Rousset and Eugen Kogon.
V. Traduttore, TraditoreThis small detail is without great significance; David Rousset sets forth his opinion as to the etymology of the word "Kapo" as follows:
The expression Kapo is probably of Italian origin and means the head: there are two other possible explanations: Kapo, abbreviation of Kaporal, or a contraction of the phrase Kamerad Polizei, used during the first months of Buchenwald. (Page 131)Eugen Kogon on the other hand is more positive:
Kapo: Il capo, the head, the chief ... (L'Enfer organise, page 59)I suggest another explanation: the word is derived from the phrase Konzentrationslager Arbeit Polizei, using the initials of each word, just as Schupo comes from Schutz Polizei and Gestapo from Geheim Staat Polizei. The haste of David Rousset and Eugen Kogon to interpret, rather than analyze, prevented them from thinking of it.
- In German, the camps were called Schutzhalflager, camps for prisoners being protected (against the people's fury.)
- He was given this title by the Ruling Clique; his name was Marcel Paul.
- [Auschwitz and its satellite camps became, by the end of the war, a huge industrial complex where both prisoner and free labor worked in a variety of industrial enterprises, among which were extensive chemical works which manufactured from the coal of the region synthetic gasoline and "Buna" (synthetic rubber.) For a detailed discussion, see Arthur R. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (Richmond,Surrey: Historical Review Press,  ), pages 47-52.]
L'Enfer Organise has had more success than any other concentration camp memoir. It covers a considerable number of facts and events, most of which were experienced by the author himself. Although Kogon is to some extent naive and is somewhat prone to exaggerate, his main weakness lies in his explanations and interpretations. These weaknesses are the result, on the one hand, of Kogon's insistence at looking at things "in their political light" (Preface, page 14) and, on the other hand, of his desire to justify the conduct of the Haeftlingsfuehrung. His vindication of the concentration camp bureaucracy is done in an even more categorical and explicit manner than the "whitewash" that was done by David Rousset.
Otherwise, Eugen Kogon writes his report, so he says, "without any regard for the consequences... as a man and a Christian" (Preface, page 14), and without any intention of writing a comprehensive "history of the German concentration camps" or "a compilation of all of the horrors that were found in them; but rather a work essentially sociological in character, whose human content, both political and moral, established in its authenticity, has the value of an example." (Introduction, page 20).
The intention was good. He believed himself to be qualified for that mission, and, perhaps, he was. He describes himself as, " ...having spent at least five years in captivity... having climbed up under the most painful circumstances, little by little reaching a position where he could see things clearly and exercise influence... as never having belonged to the camp police stooges... as never having dishonored himself in his conduct as a prisoner." (Page 20)
After having been detailed for one year to the Effecktenkammer Kommando (the workshop where clothing was made), a privileged job, he became secretary to the S.S. camp physician, Doctor Ding-Schuller, an even more privileged job. In this job he was in a position to become acquainted in detail with all of the intrigues of the camp which occurred during the last two years of his internment.
After reading it, I closed the book. Then I opened it again, and under the heading of the title page I wrote, as a subtitle: Plaidoyer pro domo (plea in self-defense).
I. The Prisoner Eugen KogonAt Buchenwald there was a "Section for the study of typhus and viruses." It occupied Blocks 46 and 50. In charge of this laboratory was the S.S. camp physician, Doctor Ding-Schuller. This is the way it operated:
In Block 46 at Buchenwald camp which was a model of cleanliness, and very well managed experiments were not only carried out on the men, but all the typhus cases were isolated, those who had contracted it in the camp as a matter of course, and those who had been brought to the camp when they were already affected. They were cured there, insofar as they could weather this terrible sickness. The running of the Block had been put in the hands of Arthur Dietzch... one of the prisoners...who had gotten his medical knowledge only through this experience.  Dietzch was a Communist who had been a political prisoner for nearly twenty years. He was a very hardened person, naturally one of the most hated and feared at Buchenwald.
Since the S.S. and the under-officers of the camp had an unconquerable fear of contagion, and since they thought typhus could be picked up simply by contact, in the air, from the cough of someone sick, etc... they never went into Block 46... The prisoners took advantage of that, in collaboration with Kapo Dietzch: the illegal management of the camp made use of this, on the one hand, to get rid of those who were collaborating with the S.S. against the prisoners (or who seemed to be collaborating, or who were just plain unpopular), on the other hand, to conceal in Block 46 certain important political prisoners whose lives were threatened, which was sometimes very difficult and very dangerous for Dietzch, since his servants and nurses were all "greens." (Page 162, emphasis added.)
In Block 50, a vaccine was made up for exanthematous typhus, from the lungs of mice and rabbits, in line with the procedure of Professor Giroud (of Paris). This was begun in August 1943. The camp's best specialists, doctors, bacteriologists, serum specialists, chemists, were chosen for this work, etc... (Page 163)
And this is how Eugen Kogon got assigned to his position.
One of the crafty political aims of the prisoners, from the beginning, was to bring into this Kommando comrades of every nationality, whose lives were threatened, since the S.S. had as respectful a fear of this Block as of Block 46. This fetishist fear on the part of the S.S. was sustained as much by S.S. Dr. Ding-Schuller, as by the prisoners, but for different reasons (for example, by posting bulletins on the barbed wire that isolated the Block). Candidates for death, such as the Dutch physician Van Lingen, the architect Harry Pieck and other Netherlanders, the Polish doctor, Dr. Marian Ciepielowski (production chief in this service), Professor Dr. Balachowsky, of the Pasteur Institute at Paris, the author of this work, in his capacity as an Austrian publicist, and seven Jewish comrades, found refuge in this Block, with Dr. Ding-Schuller's approval (Page 163, emphasis added.)
It must be admitted that Eugen Kogon had put himself in serious pawn to the "Communist" nucleus that was preponderant in the camp -- in the face of other "green" groups, politicals and even Communists! -- in order to get assigned by them to this position of confidence. And, that assignment was made "with the approval of Doctor Ding-Schuller" it must be remembered. Now this is what he could do in this position:
As a result of the requests which, every time, I suggested, drew up, and presented for signature, they were protected from sudden roundups, extermination transports, etc...(Page 183)
During the last two years which I spent as secretary to the doctor, I wrote out, with the help of the specialist of Block 50, at least half a dozen medical communications on exanthematous typhus ...which were signed by Dr. Schuller. I will mention only in passing that I was also assigned to take care of a part of his private correspondence, including love and condolence letters. Often, he did not even read the answers; he threw me the letters after having opened them, and said to me, "Fix that up, Kogon. You know what to reply. It's some widow looking for consolation..." (Page 270)
And, he could state, "I had Dr. Ding-Schuller in the palm of my hand," (Page 218), and to such an extent that the fact that he was "on bad terms with the Kapo of Block 46" did not disturb him at all.
Clearly, on the basis of the preceding quotations, Kogon knew how to get into the graces of the influential clique in the Haeftlingsfuehrung, while, at the same time, staying in the graces of one of the highest S.S. authorities of the camp. All of those persons who have lived in a concentration camp will agree that such a position could not be engineered without infringing upon the rules of morality which are customarily observed outside the camps.
II. The MethodIn order to dispel certain fears, and to show that this report [that is what he calls his Enfer organise ] cannot be construed as an accusation against certain prisoners who held dominant positions, I read it aloud, at the beginning of the month of May 1945, as soon as it was down on paper, lacking only the last two chapters out of a total of twelve, to a group of fifteen people, who had been members of the clandestine government of the camp, or who represented certain political alignments among the prisoners. These persons approved its accuracy and its objectivity. Present at the reading were:
- Walter Bartel, Communist from Berlin, president of the international committee in the camp.
- Heinz Baumeister, Social, from Dortmund, who for years had been a member of the Buchenwald Secretariat; second secretary of Block 50.
- Ernst Busse, Communist, from Solingen, Kapo of the prisoners' infirmary.
- Boria Banilenko, head of Communist youth groups in the Ukraine, member of the Russian committee.
- Hans Eiden, Communist, from Trier, first camp elder.
- Baptiste Feflen, Communist, from Aix-la-Chapelle, washhouse Kapo.
- Franz Hackel, Left independent, from Prague. One of our friends, without position in the camp.
- Stephan Heymann, Communist, from Mannheim, member of camp information office.
- Werner Hilpert, Centrist, from Leipzig, member of the international committee in the camp.
- Otto Horn, Communist, from Vienna, member of the Austrian committee.
- A. Kaltschin, Russian prisoner of war, member of the Russian committee.
- Otto Kipp, Communist, from Dresden, assistant Kapo of the prisoners' infirmary.
- Ferdinand Romhild, Communist, from Frankfurt am Main, first secretary of the prisoners' infirmary.
- Ernst Thappe, Social, head of the German committee.
- Walter Wolff, Communist, head of the camp information office. (Page 20-21)
And, besides, the fifteen persons listed who passed judgment on his "accuracy and objectivity" are suspect. They are all Communists or fellow-travelers, and if, by chance, there was an exception, he could only be under obligation to the others. Lastly, the list is made up of the highest functionaries of the Haeftlingsfuehrung of Buchenwald who, naturally, are likely to share Kogon's point of view.
I consider such titles as "president" or "member" of this or that "committee" with which they are tricked out to be meaningless. They awarded such titles to themselves at the time of the liberation of the camp by the Americans, or even afterwards. And, I pay little attention to the notion of "committees", for reasons which I have dealt with elsewhere. As I see it, these fifteen persons were only too happy to find in Eugen Kogon an artful pen with which to free them from all the responsibility for their actions in the camp in the eyes of posterity.
III. The HaeftlingsfuehrungIt had the following duties: to maintain order in the camp; to maintain discipline in order to avoid the intervention of the S.S., etc...this made it possible to do away with the S.S. patrols in the camp; their task was to receive the new arrivals, this little by little eliminated the brutal wrangling of the S.S. It was a difficult and thankless job. The guards of Buchenwald camp very rarely struck blows, although there were often savage rows. The new arrivals, who came from other camps, were terrified at first when they were met by those who were guards at camp Buchenwald, but later they always came to appreciate how much better their reception had been than in other places...To be sure there was always this or that member of the camp guard who, judging by his way of expressing himself, aught to have been an S.S. But that didn't matter much. The aim alone counted: To keep a nucleus of prisoners against the S.S. If the camp guard had not seen to an impeccable appearance of order in front of the S.S., what might not have become of the entire camp, and its thousands of prisoners, in the line of punitive labors and, last but not least, during the last days before liberation? (Page 62, emphasis added)
Looking back on my personal experience and on the reception that my convoy received at the two different camps, it is not possible for me to concede that it was any better at Buchenwald than it was at Dora. But, I must also acknowledge that conditions in general at Buchenwald and at Dora were not to be compared: the first was a sanatorium when compared to the second. But, to conclude that the relatively better conditions of Buchenwald were due to a difference in the make-up, the nature, and the political and philosophical convictions between the two Haeftlingsfuehrung would be an error. If they had been transposed en bloc, the result would have been the same. In both cases, their behavior was governed by the overall conditions of existence in each camp, and over these factors they had no control.
At the time of which Eugen Kogon is speaking, Buchenwald was at the end of its evolution. Almost everything had been completed: the various services were installed and things were in order. The S.S. guards themselves, having to face fewer of the worries that always accompany disorder, settled into a routine that was almost without mishaps; in short, their nerves were much less on edge. At Dora, on the other hand, the camp was in full construction; everything had to be built and put into place with the limited resources of a country at war. Disorder was the natural state of things. Everything was in a jumble. The S.S. were unapproachable, and the Haeftlingsfuehrung, not knowing what to do to please them, often exceeded their desires. But, at Buchenwald, the exactions of a Kapo or a camp elder, identical in their motives and aims, were less comprehensive, because, with conditions in every way better, the consequences were not so serious for the mass of the prisoners.
As additional support for this contention, is the fact that in the fall of 1944, when Dora was, in its turn, almost completed, and with the Haeftlingsfuehrung having in no way modified its conduct, the material and moral conditions there could stand comparison with Buchenwald. Unfortunately, at that moment the end of the war was imminent, the bombings had interfered -- with the getting of supplies, and the advance of the Allies on two fronts had caused the overpopulation of Dora with prisoners who had been evacuated from camps in the East and the West. As a consequence, everything in the camp was in turmoil again.
There remains to be discussed the line of reasoning according to which it was important, in order to maintain a nucleus against the S.S., to substitute a prisoner bureaucracy for them. But, since the whole camp was naturally against the S.S., I do not understand this reasoning. It could be argued that it would have been better to keep everyone alive to oppose the S.S. guards, and not just a nucleus of prisoners who were under their orders, if only to create extra difficulties for them... Instead of that, a method was used which, while it saved that precious nucleus, it killed the mass. As Eugen Kogon recognizes, after David Rousset, urbanity was not the only thing that came into the discussion:
In fact, the prisoners never received the scant rations which were in principle meant for them. First, the S.S. took what they pleased. Then the prisoners who worked in the food storehouses and in the kitchens worked it so they could set apart an ample share. Then the heads of the barracks diverted a good lot for themselves and for their friends. The rest went to the miserable ordinary prisoners. (Page 107)
There is room here to point out that everyone who had a shred of authority in the camp was by that very fact in a position to "set apart": the camp elder who delivered the rations in bulk; the Kapo and the Block chief who helped themselves copiously in the first place; the foreman and the ward keeper who cut the bread or put soup into the bowls; the police; the secretary, etc... It is strange that Kogon does not mention this fact. All of these people literally gorged themselves on what they stole, and walked around the camp with prosperous appearances. Not the slightest scruple stopped them:
In the prisoners' infirmary in the camps there was special food for the sick, which was called "the diet." It was very much sought after as a supplement, and most of it was diverted to the profit of the camp personages: Block elders, Kapos, etc... In every camp could be found communists or criminals who for years received in addition to their other advantages, the extras for the sick. It was above all a matter of good relations with the kitchen for the sick, composed exclusively of people belonging to that category of prisoners who dominated the camp, or of an exchange of services rendered: the Kapos of the sewing shop, cobbler, clothing storehouse, tool house, etc..., turned over, in exchange for this food, what was asked of them. In Buchenwald, from 1939 to 1941, nearly forty thousand eggs were made away with in this way, right inside the camp. (Pages 110-112,emphasis added.)
Meanwhile, the sick in the infirmary were dying from the lack of this special food which the S.S. had intended for them. In explaining the mechanics of the thievery, Kogon just calls it an aspect of "system D", indiscriminately used by all of the prisoners who were involved with the distribution of the food. Such a characterization is both inaccurate and charitable, with regard to the Haeftlingsfuehrung.
The worker, in whatever Kommando, could not steal, because the Kapo and the foreman, all set to denounce him, watched him very closely. At the most when the distribution of rations was made, he could risk taking something from one of his fellow sufferers. But, the Kapo and the foreman, working together, could set aside something from the supply of rations, before distribution, and this they cynically did. And this "setting aside" was done with impunity, too, because they could not be denounced except through the chain of command, that is, through themselves. They stole for themselves, for their friends, for those in authority to whom they were indebted for their positions, and, in the higher ranks of the hierarchy, for the S.S., from whom they hoped to keep or get protection.
As for the diet of the sick, the Kapo of the infirmary -- the very one who attested to the accuracy and the objectivity of Kogon's testimony -- expropriated a considerable quantity for the benefit of his colleagues and the accredited Communists.  During my stay at Buchenwald, every morning he set aside some milk, about a liter, and some other delicacies, for Erich, chief of Block 48. Multiply this example of plunder by the number of persons in the whole camp, who also had the opportunity to steal, and one can see the amount of milk which the sick in the infirmary never received. Compared to this kind of theft, the petty scroungings along the food distribution circuit were insignificant.
Thus, whether it is a question of the normal rations or the "diet" for the sick, the common mass of prisoners had two reasons for dying of hunger: the food that was taken by the S.S. and the food that was taken by the Haeftlingsfuehrung. The rank and file prisoners also had two reasons for being beaten and for being maltreated in general: the Kapo who stole extra, also hit harder to please the S.S. and it was rare when a simple reprimand from a S.S. guard did not bring on, in addition, a whole rain of blows from the Kapo. Given these conditions, there were few prisoners who did not prefer to deal directly with the S.S.
IV. The ArgumentsThe arguments that are used to justify the protection of a nucleus of "elite" prisoners at the expense of the common masses of prisoners are in no way more convincing than the facts. Without this prisoner elite, "what would have become of the entire camp, especially at the moment of liberation?" Kogon asks himself fearfully. From what has been said, it is already clear that the common prisoners would have had one less reason to die ("crever") at the rate they were dying. It is not enough of an answer for him to add, "It was thus that the first American tanks, coming from the Northwest, found Buchenwald liberated," (Page 304) and to give the credit for that liberation to the Haeftlingsfuehrung. To make such an assertion does not make it true. With such an argument, one could also say that the American Army entered a liberated France, and that, too, would be ridiculous. The truth of the matter is that the S.S. withdrew before the American advance, and, trying to take with them as many prisoners as possible, they set the Haeftlingsfuehrung personnel, bludgeons in hand, to round up as many prisoners as possible throughout the camp.
Thanks to the willing cooperation of the Haeftlingsfuehrung, the manhunt took place with a minimum of disorder. And, if by some miraculous chance the American offensive had been stopped before the camp, and a vigorous German counteroffensive had reversed the outcome of the war, this reasoning would offer a sure advantage as revealed in these lines:
The S.S. staffs of the camps were not capable of enforcing on tens of thousands of prisoners more than an outward and sporadic control. (Page 275)
In other words, with a victorious Germany each member of the Haeftlingsfuehrung of the camp could have pleaded his personal contribution to the maintenance of order and his loyalty, in an effort to obtain his liberation. And, the lines that we have just read could have appeared without the changing of a comma.
Through ceaseless struggle, the system of the S.S., to mix together the various categories of prisoners, to encourage natural antagonisms and to provoke artificial ones, had to be broken and made inoperable. The reasons for that were clear to the reds. With the greens it was not at all political reasons; they wanted to be able to have a free course for their customary practices: corruption, extortion, the seeking of material advantages. Any control was insupportable to them, especially that from within the camp itself. (Page 278)
It is obvious that no matter what system the S.S. used it had to become inoperable from the moment when, used by others for the same purposes, it was applied to the same object and in the same way. Even more: it was useless. The S.S. no longer had any need to hit men, since those to whom they had delegated their power did the hitting better; nor to steal, since their minions stole better and the benefits were the same, if not more substantial; nor to kill slowly to make order respected, because others did that for them, and order in the camp was all the more perfect for it.
In spite of what Kogon says, I never observed that the intervention of the camp bureaucracy had any effect on the "natural antagonisms" between prisoners or that the various categories of prisoners were less "mixed together" than had been intended by the S.S.
Moreover, the integration of the whole prisoner population was not the objective of the Haeftlingsfuehrung, rather, to divide and rule, a principle that holds for any power wanting to maintain itself, was just as valid for the camp bureaucracy as for the S.S. In practice, while the latter vaguely set the mass of prisoners against those they had chosen to rule them, the former played with political nuances, with the nature of the crime, and with the selection of a nucleus of men of a certain mentality.
What is amusing -- from a distance -- in Kogon's thesis, is the distinction he drew between the "reds" and the "greens" concerning the manner in which each group exercised its power, accusing the latter of corruption, bribery, and self-seeking. What did the "reds" do that was not all of that? And, for the ordinary prisoner, what difference did it make to him who was in power, when it was impossible for him to see any resulting difference.
What happened in the concentration camps was that in the struggle to keep alive, appetites more or less understandable took precedence over all moral principles. At the bottom of everything was the basic desire to survive. Along with this desire, among, the less scrupulous, went the need to steal food, and then the need to clan together in order to steal food better. Those who were the most skillful at organizing in order to get better nourishment -- i.e., the politicals, since under the circumstances the task of organizing called more for cleverness than strength -- were then the most able to obtain power, because they were better fed. And once in power, they were also better able to hold onto it, because they were intellectually more adept. But, no moral principle, in the sense that it is understood in the world outside of the concentration camps, played any part in this evolution, except by its absence. And, then to write:
In every camp the political prisoners tried to take in hand the internal administrative machinery or, as the case might be, struggled to hold onto it. This in order to defend itself by every means against the S.S., not just to fight the hard battle for life, but also to further, insofar as possible, the disintegration and crushing of the system. In more than one camp, the leaders of the political prisoners, for years, worked at this end, with admirable perseverance, and complete contempt for death. (Page 275, emphasis added.)
This statement is only pap, whose laudatory tone fails to hide the fact that it puts all of the political prisoners -- even those who never wanted to exercise any authority over their fellow sufferers -- in a> When the S.S. asked the politicals to make a selection of those prisoners "unfit to live,"  in order to kill them, and that a refusal might have meant the end of the control of the reds and a return of the greens, then they had to be prepared to take the burden of that transgression. Their only choice lay between taking an active participation in that selection, or a possible withdrawal of their responsibilities in the camp, which, after all that had already been experienced, could have had even worse consequences. The more tender the conscience, the harder it was to make this decision. But since it had to be made, and without delay, it was better for it to lie in the hands of those of strong constitution, so that we would not all be made martyrs. (Page 327)
I have already remarked that it was not a question of selecting the unfit to live, but, rather, the unfit for work. The difference is considerable. If one wants to overlook it at any cost, I submit that it would have been better to "risk a possible (10) withdrawal of their responsibilities in the camp" than to have burdened their collective conscience with this "active participation" that was always so zealously carried out. Maybe, the "greens" would have come back to power? But, so what? In the first place, they were not likely to have retained it. And, in the second place, the "greens" would not have behaved any worse than the "reds" with regard to the mass of the prisoners. They would not have selected any greater number of prisoners as unfit; nor would they have taken any less account of the background of the designated prisoners, because, in these selections, the "reds" were no less concerned than the "greens" over political caste. The fact was that the Haeftlingsfuehrung, whether "green" or "red," used the selection procedure as a method of getting rid of potential rivals.
Consequently, and, if it meant assuming the same moral burden, why take power away from the "greens," or seek to prevent them from holding it? It is possible that with the "greens" in power, the selection of the unfit, with a few exceptions, might not have been the same. But, nothing would have been changed as far as the number of unfit was concerned, since that figure was determined by the general work statistics and the amount of provisions available in the camp for the support of non-working prisoners. Under such circumstances, Eugen Kogon himself might perhaps not have been in a position to become, or to remain, the secretary and aide-de-camp to the S.S. camp physician Dr. Ding-Schuller, and, once returned to the mass of common prisoners, and once beaten and starved, perhaps he, too, might have been included among the number of those found to be "unfit." Probably the same thing could have happened to the fifteen others who sanctioned his testimony. Then, had this most unthinkable of catastrophes actually occurred, only this could have happened: these fifteen would have been "made martyrs," while others would have continued to live as witnesses.
As if it mattered to History whether Kogon and his associates or some others were witnesses, like Michelin de Clermont, Fernand, Francois de Tessan, Doctor Seguin, Cremieux, Desnos, among others... When Kogon said "so that we would not all be made martyrs," he was referring, of course, only to the privileged prisoners among the Haeftlingsfuehrung, and not to all of the politicals who, in spite of what has been said, made up the majority of the prison population. Not for an instant did Kogon think that by being satisfied with eating less and with beating less, the concentration camp bureaucracy could have saved almost all of the prisoners; if that had happened, today we would reap only benefits in that they too would be witnesses.
How could a man as informed as Kogon, and affecting a degree of culture, have arrived at such garbled conclusions? The reason may be seen in the fact that he tried to judge the prisoners and guards, and the events that took place in the world of the concentration camp, by the standards of the outside world. We do the same thing when we form an opinion about what is taking place in the Soviet Union or in Red China, based on the moral codes of the western world, and the Russians and the Chinese do the same to us. On both sides of the "Iron Curtain," an Order has been created, and making it function has given rise to a type of men whose conceptions of social life and of individual conduct are different and, indeed, even opposite in nature.
The same is true of the concentration camps: ten years of existence were enough to create an Order within the camps, and all must be judged on its terms. In particular, this Order gave rise to a new type of man, who can be classed somewhere between the common prisoner and the political prisoner. The characteristic feature of this new type of man resulted from the fact that the common prisoner corrupted the political prisoner, made him almost like the former, without troubling his conscience very much. It was to this level that the camp was reduced by those who had conceived of it. The camp gave direction to the reactions of all of the prisoners, "green" or "red," and not the reverse. With this fact established -- and to the extent that one is willing to admit that it is not a mental fabrication -- the moral code of the world outside the concentration camps can pardon what happened in the camps, but it can in no case justify what happened there.
V. The Conduct of the S.S.I put side by side two statements:
Those prisoners who maltreated their comrades, or even beat them to death, were certainly never punished by the S.S. but were turned over to the justice of the prisoners. (Page 98)
One morning a prisoner was found hanged in a Block. An investigation was started and it was seen that the "hanged" man had died after having been horribly beaten and trampled on, and that the barracks man, under the direction of the Block elder Osterloh,  had then hanged him to make it look like a suicide. The victim had protested against a misappropriation of bread by the barracks man. The S.S. staff succeeded  in hushing the matter up and put the murderer back in his post so that nothing was changed. (Page 50)
It is true that the S.S. personnel did not usually intervene in the disputes among the prisoners and that one waited in vain for any pronouncement of justice from them. It could not be otherwise, since "they did not know what was actually happening behind the barbed wire." (Page 275) The reason for this ignorance on the part of the S.S. was that the Haeftlingsfuehrung made every effort to see to it that they were kept in the dark concerning the day to day happenings in the camp. By setting itself up as a veritable "court of prisoners," and by profiting from the fact that no appeal could be made against its decisions, the Haeftlingsfuehrung never had need for recourse to the S.S. except to strengthen its own authority if it felt that it was weakening. In any case, the camp bureaucrats did not like to see the intervention of the S.S. for fear that the S.S. would be less severe, a situation which would have brought their authority into question with the mass of prisoners. In addition, such intervention might have caused the S.S. to question their ability to govern, which, in turn, might have caused them to be relieved from their duties and to be returned to the rank and file. As a practical matter, there existed an implicit operating procedure between the Haeftlingsfuehrung and the S.S.: the Haeftlingsfuehrung "avoided trouble" by preventing the various camp happenings from seeping through the screen of its own edifice, and the S.S. made no attempt to know what was going on in the camp as long as order was maintained.
In the specific case which Kogon mentions, if Block Chief Osterloh had been a "red," nothing concerning the matter would have reached the ears of the S.S. other than the fact that the victim had been a suicide, a fact which would not have resulted in any difficulties. But, he was a "green", and he represented one of the last elements of power which his category still held in the camp. The "reds" denounced him in the hope of getting rid of him. However, the S.S. did not settle the matter in the way that they had hoped. This is the way of the Order: a Block Chief, even guilty, could not be questioned or punished except by some higher authority, and, in no case, could he be punished from the prisoner masses. Whether a "green" or a "red," that is the way that it was.
One can reverse the facts of the preceding example and make Osterloh the victim, and his victim the murderer. In such a case, the Haeftlingsfuehrung itself would have reacted this way: without worrying about Osterloh's color, it would have felt itself attacked or threatened in its prerogatives and would have sent for the S.S. -- demanding an exemplary punishment unless, which is more likely, it had first given the punishment -- in which case it would only have asked the S.S. to approve it. In the first situation, the S.S. would forward the matter to a higher echelon and would wait for a decision. In the meantime, blows would rain down from everywhere on the murderer as he would be taken to the Bunker (13) where he would be subjected to further corporal punishment. In the second situation, the S.S. would endorse the action of the Haeftlingsfuehrung, precisely to avoid the demands for explanations, and the sundry other difficulties, that would be forthcoming from that higher echelon. In both cases, nothing would happen that was not compatible with the Order.
The authorities in Berlin had to intervene in the Osterloh affair, to which the "reds" had imprudently given the character of a matter of conscience in which honesty attacked the Order; this intervention stirred up so many difficulties that the S.S. staff at Buchenwald had no choice but to succeed in hushing the matter up. Besides, generally speaking, the S.S. staff personnel did not like to refer matters to Berlin. They feared the delays, the unaccustomed attention, indeed the scruples, which could cause troubles, the chief one being the transfer to another unit, which in war time could be most consequential. In order to hush things up, Berlin was kept in almost complete ignorance of what was happening and was informed only of what could not be concealed. The S.S. staff of Buchenwald exercised maximum control on the spot.
To the reader who might think that I have exaggerated with regard to the state of ignorance of the authorities in Berlin, permit me to point to the present situation in France. There, the Ministers of Justice and of National Education do not know what really takes place in the prisons, and the so-called houses of correction. For example, the disciplinary practices of the minor prison authorities are generally in constant and flagrant violation of the official regulations, and no one -- either in the Ministries or among the general public -- knows anything about it, except when there is an occasional scandal. And so it is in every country in the world that there is a "universe" of delinquents living on the fringe of the other, lifers, of whom the chaouch is king. Within the limits of that "universe" are also the colonial peoples; and the Colonial Ministers and the Ministers of War, to whom they are subject, are also generally ignorant of the conduct of their adjutants, unless, and until, some particularly abhorrent behavior on the part of their subordinates comes to light which, because of political considerations, cannot be ignored.
And, here is another citation from Kogon which is just as significant:
Visits of the S.S. frequently took place in the camps. When this happened, the S.S. staff went through an astonishing procedure: on the one hand they concealed all side structures; On the other they organized regular displays. Anything that might have led anyone to suspect that the prisoners were tortured was passed over in silence by the guides, and they were concealed. It was in this manner that the famous torture rack which was on the mustering grounds was hidden in one of the barracks until the visitors left. It seems that once they overlooked these prudent measures: when a visitor asked what the thing was, one of the camp chiefs answered that it was a carpentry model for making special forms. The gallows and the stakes on which the prisoners were hanged were also put out of sight each time. The visitors were conducted through "model - installations:" infirmary, cinema, kitchen, library, stores, laundry, and the agriculture section. If they actually went into a block, it was where the barbers and the servants of the S.S. and a few privileged prisoners lived "detached," blocks which for that reason were never over crowded and were always clean. In the kitchen garden as well as in the sculpture workshop, the S.S. visitors sometimes received presents as souvenirs. (Page 258)
This description is of Buchenwald. If one wants to know who these visitors were, we have this:
There were group visits, and visits of individuals. The latter were especially frequent during the vacations, when the S.S. showed the camp to their friends or relatives. These were also for the most part S.S. personnel or heads of the S.A., sometimes also officers of the Wehrmacht or the police. The group visits were of different kinds. We frequently saw batches of police or gendarme promotions from a near-by station, or batches of S.S. aspirants. After the war began, visits from officers of the Luftwaffe. From time to time, we also had visits from civilians. Once to Buchenwald there came youth delegations from the Fascist countries, who had come together at Weimar for some "cultural congress." Groups of the Hitler youth also came to the camp. Distinguished visitors, such as Gauleiter Sauckel, police commissioner Hennicke of Weimar, Prince Waldeck Pyrmont, Count Ciano, Italian minister of foreign affairs, commanding officers of military divisions, Doctor Conti, and other visitors in that.
Thus were carefully hidden all traces of brutality not only from the general run of visitors, but also from those visitors who held the highest positions in the S.S. and in the Third Reich. I imagine that when these personages inspected Dachau and Birkenau, as well as other camps, explanations as pertinent as that which was given for the alleged torture rack at Buchenwald would have been given them for the alleged gas chambers at Birkenau. And, I ask this question: how can it be maintained after all this, that all of the horrors of which the camps were the stage were part of a plan that had been conceived "in high places?"
When, in spite of all that was kept hidden, the authorities in Berlin discovered something awry in the administration of the camps, the S.S. staffs were called to account. An example is provided by a directive coming from the Chief of Section D, dated April 4. 1942:
The Reichfuehrer of the S.S. and Chief of the German police, has directed that concerning his orders for the bastonade (this applies to men as well as to women in preventive detention) it will be proper in cases where the word "aggravated" is attached, to apply the punishment on the naked posterior. In all other cases, the method customary up to the present will be used in conformity with previous instructions from the S.S. Reichfuehrer.
Eugen Kogon, who cites this circular, adds:
In principle, before applying the bastonade, the camp staff had to ask approval from Berlin, and the camp physician had to certify to the S.S. W.V.H. that the prisoner was in good health. But it had been the custom for a long time in all the camps, right to the end in a great many of them, to send the prisoner first to the "rack" and to give him as many blows as was judged good. Then, after getting approval from Berlin, they began again, but this time officially. (Page 99)
It goes without saying that the bastonade was almost always applied to the naked posterior, and that it was to combat this abuse, and not to aggravate the punishment, that the directive in question was sent to all of the camps.
One can certainly be astonished and find it barbarous that the bastonade played any part in the punishment of the prisoners in the camps. But, the reason for its use is another story: in a country like Germany where until the end of the First World War it was prescribed as the most lenient of punishments, under the name of "Schlag," it is not so surprising that its use was retained by the National Socialists for the punishment of major criminals, especially when we remember that the government of the Weimar Republic was not disturbed by its use. On the other hand, it is more astonishing -- in view of the reams of French governmental circulars that have denied the use of the bastonade for almost a century -- that thousands of Negroes in the French colonies continue to suffer such punishment, and in actual fact suffer it "with naked posterior," since they have the misfortune, in addition, to live in those regions of the earth where they would have no reason to clothe themselves except for protection from the bastonade.
Another directive, dated December 28, 1942, emanating from the central S.S. office concerned with economic administration and bearing the signature of General Kludre of the S.S. and the Waffen S.S., says:
... The camp doctors should supervise the food of the prisoners more than they have up to the present, and in agreement with the administration, they should submit to the commanding officer of the camp their suggestions for improvement. The latter should not just remain on paper, but be regularly checked by the camp physicians. It is necessary that the mortality rate be appreciably lowered in each camp, since the number of the prisoners must be brought back to the level required by the Reichfuehrer S.S. The head doctors of the camp shall do everything possible to achieve this. The best doctor in a concentration camp is not the one who thinks it helpful to call attention to himself through uncalled for harshness, but the one who maintains to the highest possible degree the capacity for work in every shop, by keeping an eye on the health of the workers, and in making adjustments. (Pages 111, 141)
As was mentioned in the previous chapter, David Rousset published a collection of documents relating to alleged German atrocities of all sorts under the title Le Pitre ne rit pas; however, Rousset does not discuss the second of the two documents that are cited above because it destroys much of his argument. He does cite the first document, but he does so in a completely twisted sense. In this respect, although there are reasons for distrusting Kogon's interpretations, we must rejoice in the fact that he was objective enough to include the second. Perhaps, there may exist more documents which support my thesis and which lie still in German archives, or in those of the Allied victors, and which have not been brought to light yet ...
VI. Health PersonnelIn the first years the hospital staff was incompetent. But little by little it acquired a great deal of practical experience. The head Kapo of the infirmary at Buchenwald was a printer by trade; his successor, Walter Kramer, was a strong and courageous person, a hard worker, and with a sense of organization. With time he became a remarkable specialist in wounds and operations. Through his position, the Kapo of the infirmary exercised, in all the camps, a considerable influence on overall living conditions. So the prisoners  never put a specialist into that position, although it might have been possible in numerous camps, but rather a person who was completely devoted to the ruling clique in the camp. When, for example, in November 1941, the Kapo Kramer and his closest collaborator Peix were shot by the S.S., the post of head of the infirmary did not go to a doctor, but was given, on the contrary, to a former Communist deputy to the Reichstag, Ernst Busse, who, with his assistant Otto Kipp from Dresden, concerned himself with the purely administrative side  of that service, whose activity never ceased growing, and played a large part in the greater stabilization of living conditions. A specialist put at the head of that service would, without any doubt, have brought catastrophe on the camp, because he never would have been able to dominate all the complicated and far-reaching intrigues, the outcome of which was very often fatal. (Page 135, emphasis added.)
One trembles at the thought that such a line of reasoning could have been advanced by Kogon, without batting an eye, and broadcast to the public, without rousing waves of indignant protest. To understand the full horror, it is important to know that in his turn the Kapo chose his assistants for reasons that had nothing to do with their competence as medical practitioners. And, to think that these so-called "leaders of the Prisoners," who exposed thousands of miserable men to various brutalities and who stole their food, had them treated, without being forced to do it by the S.S., by people who were absolutely incompetent.
The drama began at the entrance to the infirmary:
When the sick man finally got there, he first had to stand in line outside, no matter what the weather, and with his shoes cleaned. Since it was not possible to examine all the sick, and since there were always among them prisoners who only had the understandable desire to escape work, a sturdy doorman, a prisoner, proceeded to make the first basic selection of the sick. (Page 130, emphasis added.)
The Kapo, chosen because he was a Communist, picked out a doorman, not because he was capable of telling the sick from the malingerers, or of distinguishing those who were more sick from those who were less, but because he was husky, and was able to give a good thrashing to anyone who tried to get past him without permission. It goes without saying that he was kept in good shape with extra food rations. The reasons for the choice of the nurses and the doctors, if not quite the same, were just as nobly inspired. When, finally, there were prisoners who were medical doctors in the camp infirmaries, it was because the S.S. insisted on it. I pass over the humiliations, even the retaliatory measures, which these doctors were made to suffer every time that the demands of their consciences came into conflict with the demands of politics and intrigue.
Eugen Kogon saw benefits in the procedure: Kapo Kramer had become "a remarkable specialist in wounds and operations," and he adds:
A good friend of mine, Willi Jellineck, was a pastry cook in Vienna ..... At Buchenwald he was undertaker, a zero in the camp hierarchy. As a Jew, young, tall, and uncommonly strong, he had small chance of surviving during Koch's time. And yet, what did he become? Our best tuberculosis expert, a remarkable practitioner who helped many a comrade, and, in addition, was the bacteriologist of Block 50 ... (Page 324)
I am willing to disregard the use made of, and the fate of, the professional doctors whom the Haeftlingsfuehrung considered, individually and collectively, less useful than comrades Kramer and Jellineck. I am also willing to disregard the number of the dead who paid for the training and the remarkable expertise of the latter. But, if it can be conceded that these considerations are of negligible significance, then there is no reason for not extending this practice into the non-concentration camp world. In pursuit of this goal, one could issue two decrees at once: the first would disband all of the schools of medicine and replace them with training centers for pastry cooks and machinists, the second would dispatch to the kitchen or factory all of the doctors who are practicing, and would replace them with pastry cooks and machinists who are Communists or fellow-travelers. I do not doubt that the latter would emerge from such a reversal of roles in an honorable fashion; instead of blaming them for the deaths that they would cause, they would be credited for their adroitness in surviving all of the intrigues of political life. That is one way of looking at it.
VII. DevotionFrom the beginning, the prisoners attached to the dental staff tried to help their comrades as much as possible. In all the dental centers they worked clandestinely, running great risks, and in a way hard to imagine. They made dentures, artificial parts, bridges, for those prisoners whose teeth had been broken by the S.S., or who had lost them because of the general conditions of life. (Page 131)
This statement is correct. But the "comrades" who were helped were always the same: a Kapo, a Block chief, a camp elder, a secretary, etc ...Those among the mass of prisoners who had lost their teeth for the reasons given above died without having recovered their loss with artificial teeth, or, if they survived, they had to wait for the liberation to be cared for. But, the clandestine nature of this work was very peculiar in view of the fact that it had the previous consent of the S.S.:
During the war, 1939-1940, they managed to set up a clandestine operation ward, thanks to the close collaboration of a series of Kommandos, and with the secret consent of the S.S. Doctor Blies... (Page 132)
The scope and the impact of this revelation can be appreciated when one realizes that the dental and medical installations in the camps were intended for the benefit of all of the prisoners in all of the camps and, that, thanks to the complicity of certain well placed S.S. personnel, these facilities were diverted to the sole benefit of the Haeftlingsfuehrung. In my opinion, if those who proceeded to misuse those facilities "ran great risks," that was only very just ... as seen from below.
Eugen Kogon himself feels the weakness of this reasoning:
In the last year, the internal administration of Buchenwald was so closely organized that the S.S. no longer had any say over certain very important internal matters. Tired, the S.S. was now accustomed to "let things go," and on the whole the politicals had a free hand... Most certainly it was always the directing clique, which identified itself more or less with the active anti-fascist forces, that most profited from the state of affairs: the mass of prisoners benefited only at times, and indirectly, mostly in that they no longer had to fear the intervention of the S.S., since those running the prisoners had taken steps on their own authority in the interests of all. (Page 284)
Obviously, it can be explained that if the S.S. "... let things go, and on the whole the politicals had a free hand," it was because the S.S. were "tired" or "accustomed to doing so." This is a way of looking at things. But, I am more persuaded to believe that this delegation of authority by the S.S. was due to the fact that the politicals had proven their devotion to the maintenance of order, on numerous occasions, and thus had established a "track record" from which the S.S. deduced that they could be trusted to assume a great deal of responsibility.
As for the "steps [taken] ...in the interest of all," they might have prevented the intervention of the S.S., but it was precisely this lack of intervention by the S.S. which gave a free hand to the Haeftlingsfuehrung a fact which, in turn, had a catastrophic effect on the mass of prisoners. It is better to be dealt with by God than by his saints. Furthermore if power becomes consolidated to the degree that it succeeds in neutralizing the possible opposition, reciprocally, it grows weaker from dissensions among those who share it. Looked at in this way, the S.S., by exercising a constant and meticulous control over everything that took place in the camp, would have substituted mistrust for an attitude of connivance in all of its relations with the Haeftlingsfuehrung. That the S.S. did not want that is easily understood. But, the Haeftlingsfuehrung did not want it either; this prisoner bureaucracy had deliberately crossed the Rubicon, and, although it might have shared the common lot with the mass of the prisoners of the concentration camps, it preferred, whatever the rancor of the mass, to collaborate with the S.S. and to enjoy the benefits derived from such collaboration.
VIII. Cinema, sportsOnce or twice per week, sometimes after quite long intervals, the cinema offered entertaining and documentary films. Given the frightful condition of life which prevailed in the camps, more than one comrade could not make up his mind to go to the cinema. (Page 128)
A strange thing, there was in the camps something that resembled sports. Yet the conditions of life did not lend themselves very well. There were, nevertheless, young men who thought they still had energy to expend, and they managed to get the authorization of the S.S. to play soccer. And, the weak who could just barely walk, those emaciated, exhausted men, half dead on their trembling legs, the starved, went with pleasure to this spectacle! (Page 124-125)
These weak, starved, half dead men who Eugen Kogon reports watched a game of soccer with pleasure, although standing, are the same who he thought, given the frightful conditions of existence, did not have the heart to go to a movie where one could sit down.
The truth is that the common prisoners did not go to the movies because every time that there was one, all of the seats were reserved by the Haeftlingsfuehrung people. It was different for soccer: the field was out in the open where everyone could see, and the surrounding grounds were big. Everyone could go. And, even so, some Kapo might take it into his head to break up the crowd of spectators and, with bludgeon in hand, chase all of those miserable men back toward the Blocks, on the pretext that they would profit more from their Sunday afternoon by resting!
As for the "young men who thought they still had energy to expend" and who made up the soccer teams, they were men of the Haeftlingsfuehrung or their proteges, who were stuffed with food that had been stolen from those who were watching them play; moreover, they did not have to work and were in good shape.
IX. The BrothelThe bordello was known by the modest title, Sonderbau [special house] .... For those who did not have connections high up, the length of visiting time was set at 20 minutes... The aim of the S.S. in this enterprise was to corrupt the politicals... The illegal management of the camp had given the order not to go there. On the whole, the politicals obeyed the order, so much so that the intentions of the S.S. were thwarted. (Pages 170-171)
Like the movie theater, the brothel was accessible only to the members of the Haeftlingsfuehrung, the only ones, in any case, who were in any state to find any use for it. No one complained about it, and there is not much point in any lengthy discussion about it. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that, according to Kogon "Some of the prisoners without morals, and among them a fairly large number of politicals, get themselves involved in frightful relations, after the arrival of the boys." (Page 236.) My view is that the politicals would have done better by using the brothel, since they were given the opportunity to do so. Kogon's praise for their refusal to use the brothel in order to avoid its "corrupting" influence becomes hollow when it appears that -- instead of normal sexual relations -- numerous politicals preferred the corruption of the young boys in the camp. I shall add that it was precisely to eliminate any excuse or any justification for this pederasty that the S.S. established brothels in all of the camps in the first place ...
X. InformingThe S.S. staff put spies in the camps in order to be informed about what was going on inside... The S.S. only got results with spies selected within the camp itself: common criminals, the asocial, and sometimes the political also .. (Page 276)
It was very rare for the Gestapo to pick out prisoners in the camps to be spies and informers... The Gestapo probably had such bad experiences with this sort of thing that fortunately it only resorted to it in very rare cases. (Page 255)
It seems quite surprising that a procedure which brought about results when it was used by the S.S. should come to nothing when used by the Gestapo. It is, nevertheless, a matter of fact that the Gestapo very rarely resorted to the use of informers in the camps; it did not need to. Everyone in the concentration camps who occupied any position of power was more or less an informer who reported directly, or through an intermediary, to the S.S. When the Gestapo wanted some information about someone in the camps, it only had to ask the S.S...
Looked at closely, the camps were all caught in the web of a gigantic network of informers. Among the mass of prisoners were the little men, the professional cheats, who kept the Haeftlingsfuehrung informed, out of congenital servility, for a bit of soup, a piece of bread, a stick of margarine, etc... or even unwittingly. Above these petty informers was the entire Haeftlingsfuehrung which spied on the mass for the S.S. when there was the need. Finally, the Haeftlingsfuehrung people informed on each other. Under these circumstances, denounciation often assumed strange aspects:
Wolf (former S.S. officer, homosexual, camp elder in 1942) began denouncing other comrades for the benefit of his Polish friends (he was the lover of a Pole). On one occasion he was crazy enough to make threats. He knew that a German Communist from Magdeburg was to be freed. When he told him that he knew how to keep him from being freed, by telling on him for political activity in the camp, he was answered that the S.S. would be informed of his pederasty. The quarrel grew so bitter that the illegal direction of the camp forestalled action by the Fascist Poles by turning them over to the S.S. (Page 280, emphasis added.)
In other words, denunciation which was ignominous when it was done by the "greens," became a virtue, even a preventive measure, when it was done by the "reds." Happily, the "reds" could justify it by putting the label "Fascist" on the foreheads of their victims! And, this is a better example:
At Buchenwald in 1941, the most famous and most sinister case of voluntary denunciation was that of the white Russian emigre, Grogorij Kushnir-Kushnarev who claimed to be a former Czarist general, and who, for months, won the confidence of various groups, then proceeded to deliver into the hands of the S.S. comrades of all kinds, especially the Russian prisoners. This agent of the Gestapo, responsible for the death of hundreds of prisoners, also dared to denounce, in the most infamous way,  all those with whom he had any conflict, even for minor reasons... For a long time it was not possible to catch him alone, to kill him, because the S.S. watched over him very carefully. Finally they made him the director, in fact, of the secretariat of the prisoners. Once in that position he was not satisfied just to bring about the downfall of all those who failed to please him, he clogged the wheels of the prisoners' autonomous organization. Finally, at the beginning of 1942, he felt sick and was stupid enough to go to the infirmary. Thus, he put himself in the hands of his enemies. With the authorization of S.S. Doctor Hoven, who had long been mixed-up in this affair, and was on the side of the politicals, Kushnir was at once declared to be contagious, he was isolated, and a few hours later he was killed with an injection of poison. (Page 276, emphasis added.)
This Grogorij Kushnir-Kushnarev was probably guilty of all that he was accused of, but everyone who climbed the ladder in the hierarchy of power in the concentration camps and who occupied the same position, before or after him, behaved in the same way, and their consciences are charged with the same crimes. The only difference in the case of Mr. Kushnir-Kushnarev was the fact that he did not have Eugen Kogon's approval... In any case, it is difficult to believe that the S.S., in the person of the S.S. Doctor Hoven, gratuitously took so active a part in his elimination.
Eugen Kogon adds: "I still remember the sigh of relief that went through the camp, when like lightning the news went around that Kushnir had died in the infirmary." (Page 276, emphasis added.) The members of the clique that Kogon belonged to doubtless sighed with relief, and that fact is understandable since Kushnir's death meant the assumption of more power. But, the sigh was only one of hope in the rest of the camp, since a death by execution of no matter what influential member of the Haeftlingsfuehrung was always greeted with some hope of finally seeing the common lot improved. After a short time, it was evident that nothing had changed, and, until the next execution, it was a matter of indifference to everyone whether they were sacrificed on the altar of truth or of lies.
XI. TransportsIt is known that in the camps the office of labor statistics, composed of prisoners, directed the use of manpower, subject to the instruction of the head of the labor force, and the labor office. As the years went on, the S.S. was overwhelmed with enormous demands. At Buchenwald, S.S. Hauptsturmfuhrer Schwartz tried only once himself to make up a transport of a thousand prisoners. After having kept almost the entire camp on the grounds for half a day, to review the men, he managed to collect 600 men. But those who had been examined and selected out, slipped away in all directions, and not one remained in Schwartz's hands... (Page 286)
In my opinion, there was no drawback in having Schwartz's experience repeated every time that the organization of a transport to some work area was attempted; if the S.S. had never succeeded, all the better. But, unfortunately, "from that moment, the head of the labor force turned over to the prisoners in the labor statistic bureau all questions of the distribution of labor." (Ibid.) And, once that happened, it was no longer possible "to slip away in all directions" after the work force had been assembled on the mustering grounds, as had been the case with Schwartz. With rubber truncheons in hand, all of the Kapos, all of the Block Chiefs, all of the Lagerschutz (prisoner police), as well as others, set up a menacing barrier to any attempted flight. Compared with them, Hauptsturmfuehrer Schwartz seemed innocuous. The Haeftlingsfuehrung people were Communists, anti-Fascist, and anti-Hitler, among other things, but, they could not bear to have anyone disturb the Hitlerian order of things or to weaken the war effort of the Third Reich by trying to escape from it. As compensation for their service to the Fuhrer, they were given power to designate those prisoners who would make up a transport, and they exercised their power with a zeal beyond all praise.
XII. TableauOne result of "power gained through corruption" was the enrichment of one or several men at the expense of the others. Sometimes this reached shameful proportions in the camps, even in those where the politicals were in power. More than one who took advantage of his position lived the life of a prince, while his comrades died by the hundreds. When the cartons of food for the camp, containing fats, sausages, jams, flour, and sugar, were smuggled outside the camp by S.S. accomplices, to be sent to the families of the prisoners in question, one can hardly say it was justified. But most exasperating was when, at a time when the local S.S. were no longer wearing high boots but only regular army shoes, the members of the small clique of "caids" walked proudly around in stylish clothes, custom tailored, like dandies, some of them even with a little dog on a leash! That is a chaos of misery, filth, disease, famine and death! In this case, the "instinct for self-preservation" was carried beyond all reasonable limits and ended in a phariseeism, ridiculous to be sure, but hard as rock, badly out of tune with the social and political ideals proclaimed at the same time by these persons. (Page 287)
It was like that in all of the camps. And, with certain reservations, the reason for the horror could hardly be better described, or in fewer words: the instinct for self-preservation.
If one can end the commentary on this tableau, with the preceding observation, therein also lies the basis for pointing out that the instinct for self-preservation, an ancient conception, is quite another thing altogether from that taught by a puerile moral. From the fierce Guitton, besieged at La Rochelle by Richelieu, who had himself bled in order to feed his son on his cooked blood, to Saturn who devoured his children at birth to escape the death which the Titan threatened, self-preservation is susceptible to the most varied human reactions. In a culture which promotes the value of human life, one might think that there are more Guittons than Saturns. And, under normal conditions, the conduct of the majority of individuals would not allow one to affirm the contrary. But, this behavior is only part of the veneer of civilization, and one has only to scrape it a little -- i.e., to change brutally the social conditions -- in order to show what price human nature attaches to human life.
In the voices of all of the children of France, the good sense of the people cries out and echoes Il etait un petit navire... (There was a little ship...) and consoles itself, insofar as it believes, that it lessens the horror of the situation, by affirming that in order to find out who will be eaten, On tira a la courte paille (we will draw straws), rather than to leave the decision to a democratic majority. But, public opinion was not less indignant when it learned that that little ship had become the airplane of the Italian General Nobile, which had crash landed on the polar ice, and that the General could be said to have survived, until the arrival of the rescue expedition, only because he had eaten one or more of his comrades. If public opinion does not react violently against the self-serving accounts of the concentration camps by former Haeftlingsfuehrung people, it is because the fact is not clearly made that the concentration camp bureaucracy -- using every method of corruption, keeping for itself all of the straws, and having the drawing done by the S.S. -- did "eat" the mass of the prisoners.
Before the 1939 war, I myself knew many people who "preferred to die on their feet than to live on their knees." Without doubt, they were sincere, but in the camps they lived prostrated in order to insure their survival. After returning to civilian life -- or simply to life -- they are still just as uncompromising about this precept, unaware of the defeat that they suffered. They keep making the same speeches, and now they are ready to collaborate with the Communists like they did with the Nazis.
In reality, one sees very clearly that except for the instinct for self-preservation which played a role at all levels (e.g., the ordinary prisoner in the face of the Haeftlingsfuehrung, the Haeftlingsfuehrung in the face of the S.S., and even the S.S. staff in the face of its superiors), there is no valid explanation for what went on in the concentration camp world. The instinct for self-preservation is very obvious, but one does not want to admit it. So one turns to psychoanalysis: Moliere's doctors talked to their patients in Latin, which they knew no more about than they did about their profession, and the public meekly approved.
XIII. EvaluationsThe happenings in the concentration camps were psychologically very singular, as much for the S.S. as for the inmates. In general, the reactions of the prisoners seemed more comprehensible than those of their oppressors. Actually the first were of a more human kind, while the others were markedly inhuman. (Page 305)
In my view, it would be more correct to say that the reactions of both groups were all of the human kind, in the psychological sense of the word, and that with regard to the Haeftlingsfuehrung, especially, and to the S.S., they were all markedly inhuman in the moral sense.
Further on, Eugen Kogon points out:
Those who were the least affected in the camps were the asocial and the professional criminals. The reason is to be found in the parallel between their psychic and social makeup and that of the S.S. (Page 320)
Perhaps, this may be a correct analysis. But, it must also be agreed that the concentration camps were not the place to cultivate a political consciousness in the common criminals. On the other hand, the camps did provide the appropriate atmosphere for turning the political prisoners into rogues. This phenomenon is hardly unique to the concentration camps. It can be observed constantly in all of the reformatories and in all of the prisons in every nation of the world, where men are perverted on the pretext that they are being rehabilitated.
Dr. Sigmund Freud's theory of repression explains all of this very well, and it would be childish to dwell on the point. In all of the penal institutions, the mentality of the whole group, as a result of systematic restraint, shapes itself at the lowest level, usually typified by the guard, the link between all of the prisoners. This fact should not be surprising. The social environment in which we live, in which the idea of the concentration camp is rejected with so much righteous indignation, but in which, at the same time, it is carried out to various degrees, has given the political, turned scoundrel, the right -- momentarily, I hope -- to play the hero!
It is, without doubt, because he anticipated some reproach for this kind of thinking that Eugen Kogon wrote in his Foreword:
It was a world in itself, a State in itself, a lawless condition into which was thrown a human being, who from that moment on, turning to his advantage the virtues and vices -- more vices than virtues! -- ceased struggling except to save his miserable existence. Did he struggle against the S.S.? Certainly not! He had to struggle as much, if not more, against his companions in captivity... 
Tens of thousands of survivors made to suffer more, perhaps, by the reign of terror of arrogant companions in captivity than by the infamies of the S.S., will thank me for having also shed light on this other aspect of the camps, for not having feared to unveil the role played in the various camps by certain political types, who, today, make a big noise over their uncompromising anti-Fascism. I know that some of my comrades have despaired at seeing the injustice and brutality dressed up with an aureole of heroism by good people who suspected nothing. Such profiteers of the camps will not emerge enhanced in my study: it provides grounds to dim these usurped glories. What camp were you in? What Kommando? What job did you do? What color did you wear? What party did you belong to? etc... (Page 17)
One can only say that the witness has not kept his promise: one looks in vain, throughout the whole "report" for the condemnation of anyone who was distinctly a political. On the other hand, from the beginning to the end, he pleads for the Communist group, either indirectly or expressly:
That elastic wall erected against the S.S..... It was the German Communists who furnished the best means to realize that task... The anti-Fascist elements, that is, first and foremost the Communists... (Page 286)
There are almost countless other examples where he defends the Communists or the Haeftlingsfuehrung. Actually by defending the Communists, he was also defending the bureaucracy of the concentration camps, because only those who called themselves Communists could claim to get into it and, once in it, stay there. To a certain extent Kogon is making a plea for himself, and I very much fear that, after even the least informed reader has finished reading the book, he will feel an irresistible urge to ask Kogon the very question that he suggests: what positions did you hold?
The conclusion of all this? Here is what Kogon gives us: "Accounts about the concentration camps usually evoke, at the most, astonishment or a shaking of the head; they hardly ever touch the comprehension, and in no case, do they wring hearts." (Page 347) Clearly, this is true, but whose fault is it? In the intoxication of the liberation, and in giving vent to a resentment pent-up during the long years of the occupation, the French public opinion believed everything. However, as social relations became progressively more normal, it became more and more difficult to influence it. Today, accounts of the concentration camps seem to everyone more like justifications than testimonies. The public now wonders how it got itself caught in the trap, and for two cents it would put everyone on the defendants' bench.
XIV. StatisticsIn 1945, when Kogon's book was published in Germany, there was still not enough data at hand to allow one to say with accuracy how many persons of all nationalities had been imprisoned by the Germans in the concentration camps. Eugen Kogon acknowledges this and warns that the figures he was able to get are only approximate:
Without the slightest doubt, thousands of persons went through the camps during the twelve years of the National-Socialist regime. If we take as a basis for an estimate the number of dead at Auschwitz, which alone seems to come to between three and a half million, as well as the number of dead in the other camps of that kind, it is easy to see that the total number of interned came to at least eight or ten million. (Page 34)
Then, going into detail (Page 147), he produces precise statistics for this period; the total for all the camps and for the sum of the deportees, racial or not, is the following:
Total number of prisoners: 8,000,000
Total number of dead: 7,500,000
This figure of 7,500,000 means that about 94 percent of the total number of prisoners died in the camps. But, if the rest of his statistics are studied carefully, we see: (1) that the number of non-racial deportees comes to 606,000, up to 1939 (Germans only), and to 3,538,000 from 1939 to 1945, for a total of 4,144,000; and (2) that Kogon does not give the total number of racial deportees, but only that of those deportees who died, or the sum of 5,620,000. These two sums add up to 9,764,000 deportees. The margin of approximation is therefore quite broad: about 2,000,000. But, Kogon warned us of that fact. (Page 34)
On the other hand, if we take into consideration the non-racial deportees, the figures show that out of a total of 4,144,000 deportees, about 1,827,000 are estimated to have died, leaving 2,317,000 survivors, about 56 percent of the overall total. Conversely, the number of dead amounted to about 44 percent. Naturally, in the press, it was the manifestly false figure of 94 percent that served to illustrate the horror, or some very similar percentage that had been pulled out of thin air; in France, it was usually 82 percent, and I have never learned just how the statisticians arrived at that figure.
What puzzled me most of all at the time was the total number of deportees: 9,764,000-or even only 8,000,000. For the Germans to have deported that number of persons during a twenty-seven month period (March 1942 to August 1944) (19), it would have called for transportation facilities which, from the facts, the Germans in the midst of war did not have at their disposal. The magnitude of such an operation can be seen upon reflection: three to four hundred thousand persons per month, or ten to thirteen thousand per day, needed to be transported without fail. To do this would have required a minimum of six to nine trains a day, assuming that each train could transport about fifteen hundred persons (plus the accompanying guards and their equipment), as was the case for those trains that left from France. If Kogon is correct, that was quite a lot of rolling stock to divert from the German war effort. Although I am not a railway expert, I made some calculations that were based upon the duration of these trips by train. The deportees from the West, like those from the East, all said that their trips had lasted from four to six days, which would mean, taking five days as the average, that for the entire period of the deportation, there were between sixty to ninety trains, constantly, day and night, going back and forth at this job. When spare equipment is added into the picture, the amount of necessary rolling stock would include between eighty to a hundred locomotives and between three to four thousand railway cars. And, I did not estimate the huge number of personnel, both railway workers and guards, that would have been required.
After the appearance of Kogon's book, other means of estimating the number of deportees appeared. For example, at Nuremberg, the Attorney General Charles Dubost, representing France, stated on January 29, 1946:
The census taking which we have carried out in France allows it to be affirmed that there were more than 250,000 deportees from France: only 35,000 have returned. Document F. 497, filed under the number R.F. 339. indicates that, out of the 600,000 arrests made by the Germans in France, 350,000 were made with internment in France or in Germany in mind. Total number of deportees: 250,000. Number of deportees returned: 35,000. (IMT, VI. p. 338)
The percentage of survivors, was, therefore, 14 percent and the percentage of the dead was 86 percent. But, to a question put to him by the Minister for Veterans and War Victims of the French Government, Dubost answered, through the official journal, Debats parlementaires, on February 24, 1962, in this way:
According to statistical information released on the first of December 1961 in the multi-copy card file of the deportees and internees of the 1939-1945 war, kept by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, the number of cards given out to deportees and internees, or to their beneficiaries, is as follows:
Deportees (Resistants) 16,702 9,783
Deportees (Politicals) 13,415 9,235
Internees (Resistants) 9,911 5,759
Internees (Politicals) 10,117 2,130
TOTALS 50,145 26,907
From Dubost's figures, it can be seen that the total number of deportees was 49,135 and that the total number of dead was 19,018. This means that about 38 percent of the deportees died while 62 percent (or 30,117) survived. Obviously, it is difficult to determine from these figures the exact number of survivors and of dead that existed during the month of May 1945. Returning from the camps, even after having spent only short periods of time there, the survivors were a very frail lot whose annual mortality rate was understandably way above normal. Consequently, I would not be surprised to be told that out of the 19,108 who were dead on February 24, 1962, 35 to 45 percent died after their return to France. In that case, one would have to concede that on May 8, 1945, the proportions of living to dead were the following: 75 to 80 percent were survivors and 20 to 25 percent were dead. While tragic enough, this latter estimate is quite a different thing from 86 percent dead and 14 percent living as deduced from the figures that were brought forth at Nuremberg by the Attorney General Dubost; in fact, this estimate is so different that it almost represents inverse proportions!
What supports my opinion that these proportions, which I have noted for France, are valid for all of the camps, is my detailed study of the statistics of the Buchenwald camp, where I was deported myself. As a result of my study, I came to the following conclusions: to Buchenwald and its satellite camps there seem to have beep deported, from 1939 to 1945, a total of 238,980 persons, of whom statistics show that 56,545 died or 23 percent. But, I cannot vouch for this rate of 23 percent, for the following reasons: the incoming prisoners were registered just once, while the outgoing, being dead, were often subject to double registration, the first time in the satellite camp in which they died (Dora, for example) and a second time at Buchenwald, where, until the time that each of the satellite camps was equipped with a crematorium, they were cremated. In the statistics that were produced, those who died in the camps like Halberstadt, Ellrich, Beuchow, and Dora, among others, were, in fact, added to the number of persons who were cremated at Buchenwald. The mortality rate might, then, have been a little less, but not much; even 20 percent for example, would still be enormous, The Assistant Bishop of Munich, Mgr. Neuhaussler, did the same sort of research that I did, but concerning the Dachau camp where he was interned. For Dachau he came to the same conclusions as I did for Buchenwald: there were between 199,519 and 206,206 internees (the uncertainty arises from the fact that there were two numbering systems on the camp register) of whom 67,665 died, or 28 percent. The same observation applies for Dachau as for Buchenwald with regard to the adding of the dead in the satellite camps to those of the central camp. Still, it must be noted here that the card index of the S.S. camp staff showed only about 26,000 dead, according to Mgr. Neuhaussler, in his book So war es in Dachau. But, Pastor Niemoller claimed, in a speech given on July 3, 1946, and published with the title Der Weg ins Freie by Franz M. Helbach at Stuttgart, that "238,756 were cremated at Dachau," or a greater number than there were internees. On a visit to Dachau in 1945, I was able to take a photograph of a sign that had been put up between two trees at the entrance of the camp; the inscription on the sign read as follows: "This area is being retained as a shrine to the 238,000 individuals who were cremated here." Without a doubt, this sign which had been prepared for the benefit of the tourists was based on the conclusions of Pastor Niemoller who was interned in that camp, and who then became its authority.
I must add that since he published So war es in Dachau in 1969, Mgr. Neuhaussler has made new discoveries which have caused him to modify his first conclusions and that he had the honesty to make them public, on March 16, 1962, in a speech that he gave at Dachau to the representatives of some 15 nations that had gathered there to commemorate the liberation of the camp. Le Figaro of March 17, 1962, reported the statistical data that was contained in that talk as follows:
This afternoon in bitter cold and in spite of a snow storm, pilgrims gathered together at Dachau camp where thirty thousand men were exterminated, out of the two hundred thousand from thirty-eight countries who were interned there from 1933 to 1945.
Moreover, all of the other newspapers of the day printed the same figures. So it was 30,000 deportees who were cremated at Dachau (or 13 percent, which is still enough), and not 67,665, which was the number that Mgr. Neuhaussler had calculated initially. In other words, the card index that had been maintained by the S.S. staff reflected the truth, but very good care has been taken not to take it into consideration. It is possible that some day similar figures will be determined for Buchenwald.
Such is the extent of the exaggerations which no one doubted in 1950, which Mr. Eugen Kogon did not hesitate to authenticate and to disseminate, and which the world press still echoes on a daily basis in spite of all of the new information that has come to light. Moreover, in France, no commemoration of war events takes place that does not loudly reaffirm that 250,000 French nationals were deported to Germany, that only 35,000 came back, and that six million Jews were exterminated in the gas chambers.
Concerning the Jews, Kogon gives the number of dead as 5,620,000, as we have seen. In the camps where the Jews were interned, the mortality rate -- while far from the percentages that have been published by tile press for propaganda purposes -- was certainly as high as that suffered by other prisoners. Although we do not yet have reliable documents concerning these camps, we shall see in the following chapters what one may think, both of the means that were used allegedly to exterminate the Jews and the number of alleged Jewish victims.
XV. Nota bene...There are a number of the most unlikely tales, as well as certain examples of journalistic sensationalism, that I must point out before I finish with Mr. Kogon.
Among the unlikely tales must be included most of Kogon's statements concerning the listening to foreign broadcasts. I sincerely doubt that it was possible for anyone to set up and to use a secret radio receiver inside any of the concentration camps. If the Voice of America, the B.B.C. or Radio Free France were occasionally heard in the camp, it was with the consent of the S.S.; moreover, only a very small number of privileged prisoners could have been among the listeners, and, then, mainly by chance. Thus it happened to me personally at Dora during the short period that I served as the Schwung (orderly) for the Oberscharfuhrer who commanded the Hundesstafel (the company of guard dogs).
My work consisted in cleaning a whole barrack which housed the more or less ranking members of the S.S. staff; among other things, I waxed their boots, made their beds, cleaned their mess kits, etc....all things that I did most humbly and conscientiously. In everyone of the rooms in this barrack was a radio. For all of the gold in the world, I would not have taken the risk of listening to one, even when I was absolutely certain of being alone. However, at about eight o'clock in the morning, when all of his subordinates had left for work, it happened two or three times that the Oberscharfuhrer called me into his room, where he had tuned to the B.B.C. that was broadcasting in French, and asked me to translate for him, which I did under my breath.
In the evening, back in my Block, I passed on the news in a whisper to my friends Delarbre (from Belfort) and Gourguet (from the Creusot) urging them either to keep it to themselves or to repeat it only to comrades of whom they were very sure, and even then to do so in such a way so that it could not be traced to its source.
We did not constitute a "committee," and not one of us claimed that we were in touch with the Allies. Moreover, nothing happened to us. But during that same time, there was a stir that centered around the listening to foreign broadcasts in which, I believe, Debeaumarche was mixed up. I never knew exactly what it was all about. One of the members of that group approached me one day saying that there was a secret listening post in the camp, that a political movement was getting orders from the English, etc.... He backed up what he was saying by telling me the news that I had listened to that very morning, or the evening, before, with the Oberscharfuhrer. I expressed my skepticism in such terms that thereafter he considered me someone to be avoided. It was just as well for me. A few days later, there were massive arrests in the camp, and among those arrested were the fellow who I just mentioned and Debeaumarche himself. The to-do ended with a few hangings. In all likelihood, it began with a prisoner in my situation who had talked too much, and what he had said was imprudently bruited about, until it reached the Sicherheitsdienst (S.S. secret police) through an informer in the Haeftlingsfuehrung.
When Eugen Kogon writes:
I spent many a night, with a very few who were in on it, before a 5-tube receiver which I had taken from the S.S. Doctor Ding-Schuller to have it repaired in the camp. I listened to the Voice of America in Europe as well as to the Soldatsender, and I copied down the important news. (Page 283)
I am willing to believe that he may have listened to foreign broadcasts; but I am inclined to think that he listened to the broadcasts in question in the company of Doctor Ding-Schuller. As for all of the rest, it is only an embellishment which is intended both to make believable the revolutionary activity on the part of those in the Haeftlingsfuehrung, and to better excuse their monstrous exactions.
I believe that Kogon listened to these broadcasts in the company of his S.S. patron Doctor Ding-Schuller, or at least with his connivance and consent, because Dr. Francois Bayle reports in his Croix Gammee contre Caducee this curious testimony that was given by Kogon at Nuremberg: Doctor Ding-Schuller asked him to take care of his wife and children in case Germany was defeated! >From this testimony, I gather that their relations were surely more cordial than Kogon has admitted. And. I shall add that if this request implies a quid pro quo which Kogon would not admit in any case! -- the privileged position of this singular prisoner would be explained by a mutual collaborative understanding whose inspiration and aims would appear to be much less noble than it has so far been convenient to concede.
Further speculation along these lines is not likely to be productive, nevertheless, the record may reflect that the collaboration between Kogon and the S.S. was. by his own admission, profitable, friendly, and often intimate. There was also the collaboration between Kogon and the Communists, as has been mentioned in earlier sections of this chapter.
As for Kogon's journalistic sensationalism, I quote the following example which should provide the reader with an idea of what I mean:
Let us recall the taking of oath of those aspiring to the S.S., at midnight, in the cathedral at Braunschweig. There, before the bones of Henry the First, the only German emperor on whom he set any value, Himmler was fond of expatiating on the mystique of the "Communaute de conjures." Then, after that, in the gay sunshine he would go to some concentration camp in order to watch the political prisoners being whipped  one after the other. (Page 24, emphasis added.)
Mme Koch who previously had been stenographer in a cigarette factory sometimes took baths in a tub filled with madeira. (Page 266, emphasis added.)
Statements of this sort abound concerning all of the important personages of the Nazi regime, and they produce pleasant sadistic reactions. They also exhibit some of that same state of mind that made Le Rire publish, in September 1914, a photograph of the child with his hands cut off or Le Matin describe, on the 15th of April 1916, the Emperor William II as being a paranoiac with cancer, with at the most just a few more months to live, when, in fact, he had neither of those afflictions. Furthermore, the state of mind seems to have caused Henri Desgranges in L'Auto, in September 1939, to "thumb his nose" at a Goering and say that the Reichsmarschall was without soft soap with which to wash himself. The banality of the method is equalled only by the credulity of the public and by the imperturbability of those who make use of it and keep repeating it about all enemies in all wars.
- La Jeune Parque, November 1947. It was published in Germany in 1945 under the title: Der S.S. Staat.
- During this time, for example, a Doctor Seguin never succeeded in getting himself recognized in his professional capacity by the Haeftlingsfuehrung. Having never been acknowledged as a medical doctor by the Communists, they sent him to work in the quarry where he died.
- It seems that the National Socialists took him over from the Weimar Republic. This fact is not without its humor because it shows that the jailing of Communist troublemakers was a policy which was common to both regimes.
- He does not seem to have encountered a Martin-Chauffier.
- The "disposal" of "troublesome" prisoners by the Haeftlingsfuehrung was often done for reasons much more base than those that are mentioned by Kogon. For example, those prisoners who got in the way of the ruling clique or those who might possibly get in the way by being placed in influential positions by the S.S. were often marked for death. The argument of collaboration is, moreover, worthless; this "illegal management" -- i.e., the Haeftlingsfuehrung -- collaborated openly with the S.S., as is shown elsewhere in this book.
- Eugen Kogon sometimes uses the word "illegal" and sometimes the word "clandestine" to describe the operation of the Haeftlingsfuehrung. Actually, there was nothing the least illegal or clandestine about it inasmuch as it had been set up by the S.S.
- There were many Communists who were not "accredited", and they were, above all, decent people. They were lost in the mass and shared the common lot.
- It is well to note that the S.S. generally did not steal from the prisoners. First of all, they enjoyed better rations to begin with and, thus, had no pressing need to obtain more. Secondly, when they did desire to supplement their rations, they let other prisoners do the stealing for them and were thus better served.
- These quotation marks appear in the original text.
- I want to emphasize the word "possible."
- Osterloh was a "green," and that is why the incident is described as having been a "good example."
- Emphasis added.
- The Bunker was the prison within the camp. If Kogon is to be believed, "it was not the S.S. but the first elder of the camp, Richter, who invented it," (p. 174) when the S.S. had not even thought of it.
- This is an improper generalization. It was a question only of those who had made themselves their leaders, thanks to the authority that they derived from the S.S.
- All of the Buchenwald prisoners can testify that his main concern was for the actual delivery of health and medical services to the prisoners.
- Since this way of thinking doubtless admits a denunciation ... involuntary! As we see, ways to get out of things are not lacking!
- It seems that there are other ways of denouncing which are less infamous or which are not infamous at all, evidently!
- This statement is an improper generalization. As a common prisoner, one had to struggle against those who exercised power on behalf of the S.S., while distrusting his fellow prisoners among the common lot.
- This twenty-seven month period is generally recognized as being the time period during which the vast majority of the foreign internees who were incarcerated in the German concentration camp system were deported by the Germans from whatever locale in which they had been arrested.
- If the rack at Buchenwald (if, indeed, there was one) was hidden from the Chief of Police of Weimar during his inspection of the camp, it is hardly likely that it would be shown to his superior Reichfuehrer-S.S. Himmler.
His Doctrine and His Methods
Having admitted that neither in their persons nor in the value and influence of their respective works are the two men comparable, if thought of, Saint Thomas Aquinas nevertheless came to mind after having read Mr. Raul Hilberg, there were good reasons. The most important reason of all is this one, which is the central theme of this chapter: the Nuremberg documents that Mr. Raul Hilberg used to prove to us that 5,100,000 (p. 767) or 5, 407,500 (p. 670) Jews were exterminated by the Germans during the Second World War -- 1,000,000 in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, 950,000 in five other camps much less well equipped, 1,400,000 (if I have understood correctly his complicated and often contradictory calculations) by Einsatzgruppen, and the rest, either 1,750,000 on page 767, or 2,069,500 on page 670, in camps and in ways which could be called pottering compared to the others -- are of the same kind and the same worth as those in which Saint Thomas Aquinas, like all the Church Fathers before him, found the proof that the first act in the creation of the world, the separation of light from darkness, took place exactly 4,001 years before the birth of Christ, that Joshua had stopped the sun in its course, that Jonas sojourned in the belly of a whale, etc.
And, then there is the problem of misuse. Mr. Raul Hilberg in making the documents say what they do not say, except after having been removed from their context and rewritten, is an example on a small scale of what Saint Thomas Aquinas did on a large scale in giving to the writings of Aristotle that interpretation which oriented the entire intellectual work of the Middle Ages in Europe to the celebrated formula, Aristoteles dixit, when Aristotle had, in fact, not said it. In this respect, they both, each at about the same distance in time, illustrate that moral which was quite well defined by Saint Ignatius Loyola, according to which, since the end justifies the means, all means are good to justify the end. But here again, to permit a fair appreciation of both, the coordinates of the point which they have in common must be given. Saint Thomas Aquinas found himself in the presence of the writings of Aristotle, which at that time were spread about Europe with so much success by Jewish rabbis and Arab clerks that they were threatening to unsettle Christian thought, and for him it was a purely philosophic problem. But, in the case of Mr. Raul Hilberg, it is a question of justifying by a proportional number of cadavers the enormous subsidies which Germany has paid annually since the end of the war, and which she continues to pay, to the State of Israel as reparations for a wrong which she did not do to Israel, either morally or legally, since at the time these wrongs for which she is charged were taking place, the State of Israel did not exist. In short, it is only, purely and very basely, a material problem.
Here I would like to point out -- in order to underline the extent of this swindle, which has no other name in any language -- that the State of Israel was not founded until May 1948 and that the Jewish victims of the Nazis were the nationals of various states but not of Israel. Nevertheless, Germany pays to Israel sums calculated on the basis of about 6,000,000 dead. In addition, since at least four-fifths of these 6,000,000 were very much alive at the end of the war and countable, she pays to those still living in the other countries of the world, aside from Israel, and to the beneficiaries of those who have since died, substantial reparations as victims of Nazism. This means that for the enormous majority, she is paying twice.
All of these indemnities that are so generously granted to the Jews seem, moreover, to have made the gypsies desire to cash in on this "bonanza" in a manner similar to that of the State of Israel and Zionism. If Le Monde of December 29, 1961, is to be believed, the gypsies have now given themselves a king with the name of H. M. Vaida Voievod III, who claims to be the "Supreme and spiritual head of the gypsy people" and who expects to obtain from the United Nations a corner in the world, where the great wandering of their caravans will come to an end, just as, theoretically, the State of Israel was to end the Diaspora. When he is asked what corner of the world he lays claim to and where it is, he answers that it is Romanestan, and he places it, now on a Pacific Island, now in a country near Israel. Furthermore, he specified that the number of his subjects strolling along all the roads of Europe add up to 12 million, and that the reason there are not more is that between 1939 and 1945 the Nazis exterminated three and a half million. Unfortunately, for him, in this case, there are statistics to put the number of gypsy victims of Nazism between 300 and 350,000 only, which is, of course, quite atrocious enough. Things have not come to a point where one can be accused of anti-Romanestanism as easily as one can be accused of anti-Semitism, every time the fantastic statistics of the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation are mentioned, and one does not run the risk of being accused of the same low intent if one speaks of the 3,500,000 Nazi victims of H. M. Vaida Voievod III in a humorous tone. If, then, the U. N., let us say, should grant the gypsies the right to regroup in this Romanestan, which only needs to have its geographical location determined, Germany will have no choice but to subsidize them. Having granted the State of Israel an appreciable and substantial indemnity for the victims of Nazism among the Jewish people, it would be difficult to refuse the same to Romanestan, whose claims the U. N. could not fail to support as they did those of the State of Israel. Then the 3,500,000 gypsies exterminated by the Nazis would dispute the 6,000,000 Jews for the limelight in the world press. But, the Reverend Father Fleury, Chaplain of the gypsies of France, already warns that H.M. Vaida Voievod III is only an impostor, and many agree with him. It must be acknowledged that the number of people is much smaller who have the same opinion of the leaders of the State of Israel and their supporters, whose policy, while in every point similar, and just as poorly grounded, has nevertheless succeeded. To the extent that it has shown post-war Zionism to be very closely related to what can be called Romanestanism, the burlesque story of the hero of this adventure deserved to be cited here, if only to give the reader as exact an idea as possible of the worth of the work to which Mr. Raul Hilberg has devoted himself.
But I would like to return to the problem of misuse, and on this subject to be well understood. Having spent an appreciable number of months in the horrible physical and moral conditions of a concentration camp, I know what I am talking about. What I am discussing is only the degree of the horror, since the truth -- without further exaggeration -- is quite enough. The fact that some poor uneducated devil of a fellow like the cure and the other witness to whom I have referred elsewhere tell us that they have seen, the one, thousands enter the gas chambers in the camp where we were interned together and where there were none, and the other, the heads of human beings buried up to their necks, crushed by the wheels of barrows pushed by the prisoners on order of the SS, is understandable. They are victims who are fired by a resentment in proportion to what they suffered, and the guilty one is the judge who believed them. That a general of an Einsatzgruppe, testifying under threat of death, tells what he thinks will be most likely to save his life, and that Hoess, a former commandant of Auschwitz, does the same, like many others, is easily understood and calls for no explanation. The fact that in order to get into the good graces of his captors, some poor SS private, attached to an Einsatzgruppe, reports that his unit exterminated "thousands" or "tens of thousands of Jews," as is seen in the documents cited by Mr. Raul Hilberg, is not at all astonishing. Nor, is it strange that a Martin-Chauffier, guilty of many things, tries to have them forgiven by howling with the wolves and that a David Rousset, whose main concern in the camp was to obtain the protection of the communists, and a Eugen Kogon, who had no other concern than to establish as comfortable a balance as possible between the SS and the communists, have recounted what they did. The background and motivation of the witness is an important factor when considering the amount of weight that should be given to his testimony. And, it is the business of the judge and of the specialists in the human sciences to establish this credibility as a step toward distinguishing whether the testimony is likely to be true or false. If I am struck by the fact that the judges at Nuremberg did not pay much attention to the credibility of the prosecution witnesses -- especially since they had already decided upon a verdict prior to the trials and only required the testimony to support it -- I am much less impressed when a journalist believes all of these people right from the start. It is well known that journalists are generally supposed to be more skeptical and questioning than most people.
I shall go even further. A man like Dr. Francois Bayle, the author of Croix Gammee contre Caducee, to whom I have referred, when faced with the documents and testimonies of Nuremberg, is only half responsible for the conclusions he drew from them.
Dr. Francois Bayle is a doctor in the Navy and is, therefore, a military man. On reading his work one perceives that he has a passionate interest in psycho-somatology and psychoanalysis. The defendants at Nuremberg strike him, above all, as being sick men, or at least, tainted, which amounts to the same thing. How he would have liked to have had the chance to write up their cases! He is a brilliant fellow, and circumstances assisted him. On October 19, 1946, he was appointed to the scientific commission on war crimes, and soon he was at work with the original documents and transcripts of the Nuremberg Trial, at which he was present, and where he had free behind-the-scenes access. As a military man, he did not question the authenticity of the documents that were made accessible to him by the authorities on whom he depended. In the military more than anywhere else the fundamental principle on which the system of hierarchy rests is that "every subordinate owes complete obedience to his superior and submission at all time," and he himself relies on the postulate that a superior may not misuse his subordinate. In this state of mind, Dr. Francois Bayle could not ask questions. And if any questions had occurred to him, not having been prepared for the work in which he was left to orient himself, he would not have been able to answer them correctly. Anyway, he can, therefore, be excused. Those who cannot be excused are his superiors, the ones who allowed him and encouraged him to direct his efforts along the line that is mentioned above. In the main, everything happened as it does in the Figaro of Beaumarchais, where the role of mathematician was assigned to a dancer. A historian was needed for the job, and it was given to a medical doctor. Was a doctor also needed because it was a matter of medical analysis? Perhaps, but what I maintain is that the doctor, if he had not been present during the medical experiments and if he was not at the same time a historian, absolutely could not study the documents correctly unless assisted by a historian who would have, previously, verified all of the testimonies and documents which attested to the facts and which described, not the scientific environment -- since for this a historian would not have been qualified -- but the social environment, the historic moment in which they had been performed, particularly, in times as emotional as those in question, and the criminal nature -- if any -- which could be imputed fairly to such conduct. Who was responsible for all this? No one, unless it is whoever is responsible for the distribution of knowledge and the forming of the elites of our times and whoever -- while pushing specialization greatly to the detriment of culture in general on the pretext that an industrial civilization needs more than anything good technicians in well defined and narrowly limited fields -- lets it be believed and, when necessary, sees to it that it is believed that any specialist at all is qualified to speak excathedra on all specialties.
Mr. Raul Hilberg's case is quite different from that of all these people. He was not deported, he was not a victim of Nazism, and he has no apparent reasons for having a guilty conscience such as Martin-Chauffier, David Rousset, and Eugen Kogon. In addition, he is neither uncultivated, as was that poor cure mentioned above - who invented gas chambers at Buchenwald and Dora, nor a stumbler of hit or miss education like adventurers in the search for subsistence, rather ill-defined before the war, as were David Rousset and Eugen Kogon, who, besides their need to clear their conscience, probably recounted all that they did in order to assure themselves of the best and most lasting post-war livelihood, a goal which they both achieved remarkably well. He is not even like Dr. Francois Bayle, a medical doctor led astray in the study of historical documents. He is a "political scientist," who is properly sheep-skinned, as his biographical note says, who specialized in international relations, and who worked in the "War Documentation Project" of the American government. It is unfortunate that his education in the field of "public law and government," which prepared him to work in a profession in which the science of statistics plays such an important part, did not better equip him for the study of documents and testimonies on which his profession is based and for the study of history in which the social phenomena, which are the subject matter of statistics, have their roots. If, therefore, Mr. Raul Hilberg acts as though he had no idea as to whether a witness and his testimony can be regarded as creditable, or under what conditions a document should be admitted as evidence, he has only one excuse, and that excuse is dishonesty. I say "excuse" because, as I continue to read his biographical note, I find that he is a collaborator in the Jewish Encyclopedia Handbooks and, in my judgment, that fact explains everything. And, this particular interest, of course, applies not only to Mr. Raul Hilberg, but to many others. It applies to Mme. Hannah Arendt, for example, who has the same intellectual outlook, who often refers to Mr. Hilberg in her reports of the Eichmann Trial which the New Yorker published in five issues (February-March 1963), who was -- or still is -- Forschungsleiterin (Research directress) of the Conference on Jewish Relations, Verwaltungsleiterin (Directress of administration) of the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Stipendiatin (Fellow) of the Guggenheim Foundation, and who coolly informs us (New Yorker, February 23, 1963) that "3 million Polish Jews were massacred during the first day of the war," the one explaining the other. Mme. Hanna Arendt would do well, in my opinion, to ask Mr. Raul Hilberg where he found the "about 2,000,000 Polish Jews, who were transported to their deaths in 1942 and 1943" of whom he speaks on Page 311 of his book. (Emphasis added.) It would be a good thing to come to an understanding: were there in Poland 3 to 3.3 million Jews before the war, as all statisticians unanimously claim, including those who are Jewish, or were there 5,700,000 as Mme. Hannah Arendt is obliged to claim, since here are 5,000,000 exterminated, and, since Mr. Shalom Baron, brandishing his title of Professor of Jewish History at Columbia University, claimed on April 4, 1961, before the Jerusalem Tribunal, that 700,000 of them were still living in 1945 when the country was liberated by Russian troops? Really, one would like to invite all of these people -- these three and the multitude of others in the same boat -- to please get together and agree on their figures, before undertaking to explain us to ourselves. But, Particularly to Mr. Raul Hilberg, one could advise him to agree with himself. On page 670 of his book, he in fact points out to us that of the 9,190,000 Jews, who he says were living in territories occupied by German armies during the war, only 3,782,500 survived, which makes 5,407,500 dead; but on page 767, by some mathematical mystery, these 5,407,500 dead become 5,100,00; It must also be pointed out that for Poland, which together with Russia and the Danubian countries is the Crux of the problem, he finds only 50,000 survivors, where his colleague Mr. Shalom Baron found 700,000. However, a journal, in French, published in Switzerland (Europe Reelle, Lausanne, No. 44, December 196 1) claims that the Israeli periodical Jedoth Hazem, issued in Tel Aviv (No. 143 of 1961) states, without turning a hair, that "the number of Polish Jews at present living outside of Poland approaches 2 million." By way of compensation, for that part of Russia occupied by German troops, the Paris and Tel Aviv Centers of Jewish Documentation both agree in placing the number of Jews exterminated at 1,500,000 (Figaro Litteraire, June 4, 1960), while the Institute of Jewish Affairs and the World Jewish Congress (Eichmann's Confederates and the Third Reich Hierarchy, already cited) give the figure of 1,000,000; Mr. Raul Hilberg finds only 420,000. This inconsistency is all a little irresponsible, and it is embarrassing that the supporting documents, which are the same for all, speak so different a language to each of these specialists.
Having said this, let us render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. As far as I know, of all of this kind of writing, (which has been published until now) in which the Nuremberg documents and the appended testimonies have been endlessly hashed and rehashed and in which they have been perverted more and more in order to support the contention that about 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated by the Germans in the Second World War, The Destruction of the European Jews is without any doubt the most precise and the most complete in the number of references it contains. For that very reason, without being more convincing than all that has been published in this line, it is the more vulnerable. Moreover, an analysis of Mr. Hilberg's book has one advantage: in displaying all of its weaknesses, those of all the others show up, too. I have, therefore, decided to take The Destruction of the European Jews as the point of reference for much of the following discussion. It will, of course, be understood that I will not examine each of the 790 pages one by one, although there is hardly a page that could not be used for illustration. To put each one to the test in detail would require as many pages as Mr. Raul Hilberg needed to present his thesis, and it would be tedious. I have already said that Mr. Raul Hilberg has succeeded in making his documents reveal what he wants them to reveal simply because he accepted them just as they were -- that is, rewritten, picked over, and taken out of their context. It is this context that I shall try to reconstruct by comparing the documents with others and by dwelling only incidentally on the grossest manipulations.
To make myself clearly understood I must make a brief digression, the theme of which is the following: History is a sequence of historical moments. Self-evident? In form, yes. But in implications, quite something else. Some historians think that each moment in history posits to man only those problems which allow a single solution, a Hobson's choice. It then follows that since the beginning of time, all the moments of history, each an exact prolongation of the other, are arranged in a sort of straight line, which is the meaning of history, and that by correctly analyzing each one of them, one arrives at historical determinism. Pursuant to the concept of historical determination, the only question man can possibly ask is, not where he wants to go nor what he should do to get there, but simply, where he is going. For an answer to that question he has only to look behind him and to project the historical line, and then turning forward he sees before him Socialism. At the most, he might hesitate (as before the picture of the turn which Socialism has taken in Russia, for example) and slow his step. In no case can he stop or change directions. The ground burns under his feet, and on each side of his road are deadly precipices. And, so he goes toward Socialism, but not very fast. Such historians are Marxists, and they were in favor in the nineteenth century. But, by reducing to nothing or almost nothing the role of the individual in history, this theory was so over simplified that it has lost favor in the twentieth century: consequently, Marxian historiography is disappearing today.
On the whole, most historians believe, in fact, that each moment of history presents man with an infinity of problems; that for man each moment holds an infinity of solutions -- even though, without any doubt, only one is rational and good: and that between the good solution and the more or less bad ones, man's choice depends upon a more or less correct conscientious appraisal of the aspects of the problem. Modern historians also think that in this infinity of problems there are some that man can skirt all his life without even suspecting their existence; that among those which he perceives there are some that are more or less important, more or less momentous, and more or less urgent; that, not being able to resolve them all at once, man is obliged to take them one by one in fixed order; and that the very determination of this order already presupposes a correct and conscientious appraisal of the choices among the possible solutions. Depending on the quality of his appraisals -- and, here, we must note that it is a question of collective problems and that the mental age of the group is in inverse proportion to the number of individuals who compose it -- the man in each historic moment sees a more or less large number of problems presented to him. Those that he does not see, however, are not necessarily the most negligible ones.
Returning to Mr. Raul Hilberg, he begins his study several historical moments behind and announces Luther dixit, in 1963 no less! I am inventing nothing. In the introduction to The Destruction of the European Jews, he seriously explains to us, in substance, that National Socialism descends in a straight line from the anti-Semitism of the Germans in the Middle Ages, from their Catholicism, and from Martin Luther. This assertion calls for a few remarks:
1. Luther was not anti-Semitic, but was anti-Jewish, which is quite a different thing. Historians are of the opinion that there have been eight Semitic peoples (Assyrians, Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Samaritans, Syrians, Arabs, and Ethiopians) of which three are in existence today (Arabs, Hebrews or Jews, and Ethiopians). Catholicism in the Middle Ages and Luther were only against the Jews.
2. This anti-Judaism was of a religious nature only. Equally universalist, both the Roman church of the time and Luther thought that all of the people of the earth except the Jews were pervious to the seductions of their system of propagating the Faith. It went no further.
3. During the Middle Ages all of Europe was religiously anti-Jewish, and to the same degree everywhere. In countries like Holland, where Lutheranism has remained the same as it was in Luther's time, and in other countries like Spain and Hungary, where the Roman church has remained what it was in the Middle Ages, anti-Jewish feeling has been considerably attenuated during the past six centuries. Nevertheless, neither Holland, Spain, nor Hungary was the theater of a phenomenon similar to that of National Socialism. Indeed, in our days it is in Germany that the Church, Lutheran as well as Roman, is the most open to the problems of science!
4. National Socialism itself was anti-Semitic, but only because it was racist. It maintained, for example, the best relations with the Arabs. It would also have maintained good relations with the Jews if they had not, claimed to be a distinct people -- chosen besides! -- in Germany itself. (Its relations with the Arabs would not have been much better had they made the same claim.) The attitude of the Nazis on this point was clearly defined, doctrinally, on the one hand, through its conception of the idea of a people (in one specific area, one race protected against crossbreeding), and, on the other hand, through the international Zionist movement, to which National Socialism attributed a determinant role in the unleashing of the First World War (to get Palestine, it claimed) and in the formulation of the Versailles Treaty (which would permit, it claimed again, the Jewish people, after having gotten Palestine, to take over the Middle East with the help of Bolshevism).
Thus, it was from its very beginning that National Socialism held the Jews responsible for all of Germany's troubles after the Treaty of Versailles. Once in power, the Nazis unceasingly accused them of wanting to provoke a Second World War, in permanent collusion with Bolshevism, in the hope of destroying Germany and, at the same time, of gaining the help of Bolshevism in the Middle East.
These were the two main, fundamental reasons for the policy of National Socialism with regard to the Jews. Anti-Semitism? That is saying both too much and too little; racism is the right word. These reasons, in any case, bear no relation, either by association or affiliation, to the anti-Judaism of the Roman Church in the Middle Ages or to that of Martin Luther, and it is a little embarrassing to have to recall this, if not to teach this, to an American professor of political science, with his university degrees and his apparently solid credentials. But, since 1933 (when Mr. Raul Hilberg was a youngster) and, especially, since 1945 (when he was just leaving adolescence) so many papers and journals have explained, for the benefit of public opinion, that National Socialism traced its roots to Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages and to Martin Luther, and that, therefore, anti-Semitism and racism were a fundamentally German tradition, that Mr. Raul Hilberg, preeminently a man of preconceived ideas and dogmas, accepted the idea without feeling the need to verify it. In Hilberg's case, it is not even Luther dixit, but rather Vox populi dixit. To have been correctly informed on this issue, it would have sufficed for him to have read Das Weltbild des Judentums: Grundlagen des Antisemitismus by the Austrian Bruno Amman (Vienna, 1939) or Warum-Woher-Aber Wohin by the German Hans Grimm (Lippoldsberg, 1954). Although the first was written by a partisan of National Socialism and the second by an independent, they are two of the most serious studies on the origins of National Socialist racism and the answer it expected to find for the Jewish problem because they are the best documented. But, Mr. Raul Hilberg does not seem to find it necessary to read anything more than what comes from the prophets and the political friends.
Once having been caught in this mesh, the only thing that has to be done is to prove that the prophets and the political friends are right. However, since the position of these prophets and political friends is grounded upon various historical inaccuracies, an attempt to justify it historically results in error upon error, because everything is linked together. For example, having a false idea of the origins of National Socialist racism, Mr. Raul Hilberg could not possibly have a correct idea of its historical form. Thus, he states theoretically that Hitler had decided to exterminate the Jews; Chaim Weizmann and Ben Gurion dixit. To support this contention he cites (p. 257) a passage from a famous speech that Hitler made before the Reichstag on January 30, 1939:
Today I want to be a prophet once more: if international finance Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed once more in plunging nations into another world war, the consequence will not be the Bolshevisation of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewry race in Europe.
I have already had occasion to remark (with regard to the Hossbach document) that threatening observations of this kind abound in the writings of statesmen the whole world over. Historians usually consider them as representing the kind of defiance that was hurled by the ancient heroes and, as a consequence, attribute little significance to them. Between the two wars Russian statesmen addressed such threats in profusion toward capitalism, and, at the United Nations General Assembly of 1960, Mr. Khrushchev once more bellowed, word for word, the same threat to the Americans while hitting his desk with his shoe. At Nuremberg only once was this passage from the speech cited (T. III, p. 527), but without attaching importance to it. It does not figure in the prosecutor's charge. Mr. Raul Hilberg, doubtless, thinks that was by mistake and heavily insists on citing (p. 266), by way of confirmation of the decision for extermination, another passage from another speech, given in the Sport Palace on September 30, 1942:
At one time, the Jews of Germany laughed about my prophecies. I do not know whether they are still laughing or whether they have already lost all desire to laugh. But right now I can only repeat: they will stop laughing everywhere, and I shall be right also in that prophecy.
But, not only was this passage not sustained at Nuremberg, it was not even cited: in short, it was not serious evidence. On January 30, 1939, the concentration of Jews in camps had not yet begun (according to the Jewish historian Til Jarman, there were only six concentration camps in Germany at the beginning of the Second World War, and they contained, all together, 21,300 internees, of which 3,000 were Jews; The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany, New York, 1956), and, on September 30, 1942, the concentration of Jews which until then had taken place only in Poland (1940-41) was just beginning (March 1942), on a scale similar to that of Poland in other parts of Europe that were occupied by German troops.
Without doubt, Mr. Raul Hilberg had foreseen this objection, since, in nearly 700 pages, he sets before us a methodical plan in four stages: Definition of the jew; Expropriarion; Concentration; and, finally, Extermination. Mr. Raul Hilberg could then reply that to carry out an enterprise of such a scope took time, and that in 1942 they could not have gotten very far with the work, but that that does not mean it was not planned. What the basis for that conviction is we do not know. Mr. Raul Hilberg does not offer a single document corroborating this plan, which allows us to presume, in any case, that during peacetime much more time was necessary (1933-1939) to define and expropriate the nearly 600,000 Jews (the total for Germany in 1933. Austria from 1938 on, and Czechoslovakia in 1939) on hand in Germany during that period, than to transport and exterminate 6,000,000 during total wartime conditions (1941-1944). Not less surprising is this contradiction: after having told us (p. 177) that the intentions of National Socialism were to exterminate the Jews along this methodical plan, Mr. Raul Hilberg then tells us (pp. 2572-58) that "Hitler hesitated in his policy of extermination, until he was convinced that there was no other alternative. >From 1938 to 1940 he made the most extraordinary efforts to work out a vast plan of emigration." In another place in his book (p. 256) he wants to prove to us that 1.4 million Jews were exterminated by the Einsatzgruppen, but after having used all means to prove it (reports of unit leaders, testimonies of victims who survived, etc.) he is still lacking 500,000 bodies, to come up to his total, so, coolly he adds, on his own authority, 250,000 for "omissions" and 250,000 more for "gaps in our sources." I do not think a better example of this kind of harebrained thinking could be found.
Moreover, light has today been shed on these extermination orders which were allegedly given by Hitler, which show up every fifty or hundred pages in The Destruction of the European Jews and which bear all sorts of dates. As I have already stated, in La Terre Retrouvee (Paris) of December 15, 1960, Dr. Kubovy, Director of the World Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation at Tel Aviv, has agreed that no extermination order by Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, Goering, or any other member of the ruling circle of the Third Reich, exists.
If we were to go into further detail, we would find that there is no end to the factual distortions of which Mr. Raul Hilberg is guilty. The following list is a sample of some of them: his presentation of the so-called "Crystal Night" (November 9 and 10, 1938) as having been planned by the high authorities of the Third Reich through the citation of telegrams (all dated November 10, 1938) from minor officials within the ranks of the police and the N.S.D.A.P. (pp. 19 and 655); the Einsatzgruppen which he shows as having been in action in Poland in 1939 when such units were not created until May 1941 (see, the testimony of Ohlendorf, N.M.T. IV, p. 322); his interpretation of the German expression "Judenfrei" to mean to be "free of Jews" by means of "extermination" when, in reality, the term was applied to a given territory to mean that it was to be "free of Jews" by their transfer into concentration camps or other areas; his distortions of such documents as the "Wannsee Protocol" in which he translates the expression "weitere Losungsmoglichkeit" (meaning, "new solution possibility") as further solution possibility (p. 264); his statistical errors where he has some Jews die twice, like the ones at Simferopol, where the city was "freed of the 10,000 Jews who were living there in December 1941, so that the army could have a quiet Christmas" (p.192) and who then were "exterminated in February 1942" (p. 245); his failure to deduct from the total of the exterminated all of those Jews of whom he says (p. 192) that "on the road from Smolensk to Moscow [and] ... in many towns, the Soviets had evacuated the entire Jewish population" (to behind the Urals from which on their own they proceeded on their way to HongKong, or southward to Turkey and the Middle East); the 10,000 Jews of Chemigov who numbered only 300 when the Germans arrived (ibid.), the 100,000 of Dniepropetrovsk who were only 30,000 (ibid.), those of Mariupol and Taganrog who were evacuated to a man by the Soviets (ibid.); there appear to be 1,500,000 Jews in all (p. 190) who seem not to have been deducted from the general statistics of total Jewish losses, because otherwise it would not be possible to arrive at a total of 5,407,500 (P. 670) or even of 5,100,000 (P. 767); his crude errors in figuring such as: 3,350,000 Jews given as living in Poland in 1939 (p. 670), 3,000,000 dead in 1945 (p. 767) but only 50,000 survivors (p. 670), etc.
Of what use is it to continue? I think that I have given a good enough idea of the doctrine and of the method of Mr. Raul Hilberg to convince the reader that he cannot regard The Destruction of the European Jews to be an objective piece of scholarship. Now, the time has come to examine Mr. Hilberg's source materials: his witnesses, his testimonies, and his documents.
I. GeneralitiesUnfolding my usual newspaper on May 17, 1963, my eye was caught by the following: "Legal error uncovered in Austria: innocent persons have been in prison for fifteen years." Then followed the explanation, in the form of a press dispatch from Vienna, dated the day before:
Sentenced sixteen years ago to hard labor for life, two Austrians, Hubert Ranneth, 43, and Joseph Auer, 30, were yesterday set free.
Following a new investigation ordered last November by the Austrian Minister of Justice, light was thrown on one of the worst legal errors of the century.
In 1947 Ranneth and Auer were sentenced for having murdered with iron bars three workmen in a steel works. But it was only last November that an important fact became known. The "complete confession" of Auer, on which the accusation had been based, had been extorted by means of a shot of scopolamine, a euphoric medicine, paralyzing in big, doses. Finally the medical experts have established that the iron bar, at the time, the item that led to conviction, could not have been used to murder the victims.
Many good people think that this information offers an explanation for the sensational confessions in the celebrated Moscow trials. It does not seem that this method of Austrian justice was used at Nuremberg, at least not during the thirteen big trials. That drugs might have been used in the multitude of minor trials which have taken place since, against former S.S. or petty bureaucrats of the Third Reich, is quite possible. Most of these cases never came to a hearing except after a long period of imprisonment of the defendants, after having been many times postponed, and that fact raises all sorts of suspicions. The drugging of the defendants seems to have been the case, for example, in the trial of the "Death busses," March 1963, where the accused gave technical details of the operation which experts cannot accept. This could be the case again in the trial of the second commandant of the camp at Auschwitz, where the matter has been under preliminary investigation for three years and where the trial has been postponed four times already. As of the date of this writing, the Prosecutor has still not succeeded in proving that 437,000 Hungarian Jews were gassed at Auschwitz between the 16th of May and the middle of October 1944. Perhaps, that is why the defendant, instead of committing suicide like Gerstein (whose case will be discussed farther on), decided to die of a "heart attack"; in 1963 it has become very difficult to have suicides. This could be the case with Eichmann. Once the first injection is admitted, one is permitted to think that others may have come later, a fact which would explain a lot of things.
Additional means at the disposal of justice include compulsion through bad treatment and physical torture (Streicher, Pohl, Ohlendorf), intimidation (Sauckel, whose wife and nine children in the hands of the Russians were, according to his statement at the Trial of the Major War Criminals, used to exert pressure on him, by the Soviet examiners), psychological torture or "brainwashing," and, finally, the situation that the defendant found himself in with regard to the charges (Höss, Kurt Becher, Hoettl, Wisliceny, von dem Bach-Zelewski).
Next followed the witnesses who were not brought to the bar by any charges and who gave evidence without any pressure being exerted on them: the partisans of guilty conscience. One easily understands why the Czech communist, Doctor Blaha, saw a gas chamber in action at Dachau where none existed. It was communist doctrine to say so. Furthermore, as a prisoner belonging to the Haeftlingsfuehrung of the Dachau camp, this individual could not have had a clear conscience. One can just as easily understand an analogous declaration of the S.S. Hoellriegel concerning other imaginary gas chambers at Mauthausen. It is an example of a guilty conscience in its pure form on the part of a man who had to get himself pardoned for his participation in the drama, and who, furthermore, might have to jump, from one day to the next, from the role of witness to that of defendant. I have explained this factor in connection with the cases of Louis Martin-Chauffier. David Rousset and Eugen Kogon. I could have added to their names the names of others such as the Reverend Father Riquet of the Society of Jesus. Professor Pierre Bertaux and many others who, having given during the German occupation certificates of good conduct to collaborators or Gestapo agents, later became fierce upholders of the Resistance orthodoxy in order to excuse their former actions.
The most typical case of this kind of guilty conscience seems to me to be that of the German Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
In short, he is a man who could have been at the defendants' bench at Nuremberg under the charge of "Crimes against peace," for having participated in the Nazi "Plot," which the indictment included, from 1920 until 1936. Such a conclusion is inescapable when one reads his own book. Vom U-Boot zur Kanzel which came out in Germany in 1935, when Hitler had been in power for two years, and which was written on the theme "Damals versank mir eine Welt." It is the harshest of any indictment of Bolshevism that I have yet read it is also a narrow and chauvinistic profession of faith in nationalism, and it shows the most complete adherence to the general policies of the N.S.D.A.P.
To get pardoned for all that, Pastor Niemoeller, President of the Council of the German Protestant Church, in a speech which he gave on July 3, 1946, and which was published under the title Der Weg ins Freie (F.M. Hellbach, Stuttgart, 1946), testified that 238,756 persons had been exterminated at Dachau, although we know today that in reality there were only about 30,000 deaths there; he confirmed the existence of a gas chamber, and we know today there was not one there; and since 1945, every time he has opened his mouth to speak, he has preached the unilateral responsibility of Germany, and the collective responsibility of the German people, in the war of 1939-1945. He is today at the head of a pacifist movement, and he defends without exception all of the contentions which are the basis of Soviet Russia's foreign policy. There is no doubt that if he had not conducted himself in the way that he has, he would have been one of the chief objects of the accusations that the Soviets incessantly make against the Germans. Pastor Niemoeller, in short, has the same attitude as all of those people of the Parisian gentry, or of the world of arts and letters, who led a Dolce Vita in the company of the highest German personages of occupied Paris, rejoicing in the champagne of Hitler's victories, and who, as soon as the wind turned, gave their allegiance to the communist party and became the most severe denouncers of the collaborators, in postwar France, solely with an eye to escaping the defendants' bench.
It was people like that who gave the prosecutors and the judges at Nuremberg their most striking evidence and who continue to enrich the archives of Rehovot (Israel) and of Warsaw with all those documents, as fanciful as they are new, which are discovered from time to time and which are published to the sound of trumpets in order to keep alive in the world those anti-German feelings on which the world policy of Bolshevism and Zionism depend.
At Nuremberg, the Prosecution and the Judges got sensational results by this method. Notice this curious document P.S. 3319 (N.M.T. XXXII, pp. 159-92) which Mr. Raul Hilberg cites and comments upon (pp. 502-709). In question is the organization, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Third Reich, of an anti-Jewish congress at Krummhuelbel on April 3 and 4, 1944, with all the representatives at foreign posts participating. In 27 Pages a certain Ludwig Kohlhammer, Landesgruppenleiter, reports very exactly on the number of participants -- 31 persons -- and their names and what each one said.
Now, this congress never took place. This is how the matter was presented to the Nuremberg Tribunal:
March 27, 1946, von Steengracht (Secretary of State, Foreign Affairs, Third Reich) is interrogated by Colonel Philimore, deputy prosecutor-general for the English, who asks him:
"I would now like to bring up the question of the Jews. You told us yesterday that you yourself and Mr. Ribbentrop had prevented the anti-Jewish Congress of 1944 from taking place. Is that true?
"Yes," answered von Steengracht. (TX., p. 137.)
And this is what he stated the day before in reply to a question put by Dr. Horn, von Ribbentrop's counsel:
"Our liaison with Hitler informed us that the latter, informed by Bormann, had ordered Rosenberg's office to organize an anti-Semitic congress. Ribbentrop did not want to believe it, but after having had a conversation with the liaison agent, he had to believe it. Since this decision made it impossible for us to prevent the congress through official channels, we tried to prevent it with a policy of hesitation, delay and obstruction. And, although the order had been issued in the spring of 1944, and the war was still not over in April 1945, the congress never took place." (T.X., p. 125.)
On April 2, 1946, von Ribbentrop is interrogated by Mr. Edgar Faure, who at the time was deputy prosecutor-general for France, and who later was to become President of Council in France:
Mr. Edgar Faure (to Ribbentrop): "During the examination of your witness Steengracht, the English prosecutor brought forth document P.S. 3319, which has the English No. G.B. 287. I would like to refer to this document just for one question: In this document appear the minutes of a congress, of a gathering at which were present all the reporters on Jewish matters in the various diplomatic missions in Europe. This congress was held at Krummhuebel on April 3 and 4, 1944. It had been organized by Schleier. That was read the other day. You knew about this congress, I suppose?"
von Ribbentrop: "No, I am hearing about it for the first time. What was that congress? I have not even heard that such a congress took place. What sort of a congress was it?"
Mr. Faure: "The document has been filed with the Tribunal, and I simply want to ask you one question. You have testified that you did not know about this gathering at which were present thirty one persons, almost all of them diplomatic personnel. I point out to you that during this reunion Counsellor of Embassy von Thadden made a declaration which was reported in the following terms:
'The orator is showing why the Zionist solution of Palestine and other similar solutions should be rejected, and why there are grounds for the deportation of the Jews to the eastern territories.'
I suggest that this declaration made by a Counsellor of Embassy before thirty one persons in your department represented your own thesis on the subject."
von Ribbentrop: "Yes, but I do not know at all what you are trying to say. Will you please put the document at my disposal so that I may answer?"
Mr. Faure: "I have no intention of showing you this document .... (T.X., p. 420)."
That was the proof of forgery. It was also a typical breach of the Rule of Procedure No. 2 of the Tribunal itself which provided that "all the documents appended to the Indictment shall be put at the disposition of the defendants not less than 30 days before the trials" (T.I., p. 2 1 ). This matter was never spoken of again. If one looks in the Index of Names (T., 24) for information on Landesgruppenleiter Ludwig Kohlhammer, he is not listed. But, Document P.S. 3319 was admitted into evidence. One can hardly understand why. If Mr. Edgar Faure wanted to prove that the Zionist and other similar solutions, according to the thesis of the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, were rejected in April, 1944, there was no need to invent a document. It was common knowledge that the main obstacles to these solutions derived from the strategic operational situation, and that, as the affair of Joel Brand proved the following month, the Allies turned them down, through neutrals. One understands even less how it is that seventeen years later, Mr. Raul Hilberg still does not know that this document was a common forgery.
Shall I speak to Mr. Raul Hilberg about his principal witness on the missions of the Einsatsgruppen, Gruppenfuehrer Ohlendorf? On January 3, 1946, in the morning session, he said, "On the subject of Jews and communist commissars, the heads of the Einsatzgruppen received verbal [sic] orders before each mission," and that "on Russian territory [we admire the precision] that meant that they were to be assassinated" (T. IV, p. 322), and in the afternoon session, to the question as to whether this had been arranged in the agreement between the O.K.W. and the R.S.H.A., he replied that "he did not remember, but that in any case that job of liquidation was not mentioned" (T. IV, p. 319). Every two hours he was asked if "most of the heads of the Einsatzgruppen came from the R.S.H.A.," to which he replied that "they came from all over the Reich," (op. cit. p. 325); then, again to the same questions, he stated that "they were furnished by the State police, the Kripo, and to a lesser extent by the S.D." (op. cit. p. 332). The poor fellow, with the threat of a death sentence hanging over him, had completely lost his head and did not know what Saint to turn to for help to escape his destiny. He was hanged in 1951 in spite of his willingness to please, and after having suffered such treatment! At his trial in 1948, when all that he had said at Nuremberg was brought up against him, he said that all previous declarations had been extorted from him under pressure and were worthless.
The preceding paragraphs are concerned only with the witnesses, testimonies and earlier documents on which Mr. Raul Hilberg bases his work. At Rehovot (Israel) and Warsaw (Poland) the Zionists and Communists have for fifteen years been concentrating on a search for new documents to back up the earlier ones so as not to halt the wave of hatred against Germany, which is playing both Zionism's and Bolshevism's game. The most famous of all these testimonies which have their place on the shelves of the libraries of these two centers is surely the Diary of Anne Frank (Paris, Ger. tr. 1958, Calmann Levy). This document did not capture the attention of Mr. Raul Hilberg, but some day he might be drawn to consider it. Far from me to claim that it is a forgery. A teacher who lives near Hamburg did this, and he received a heavy sentence. Furthermore, I must admit that this matter did not engross me very much, although I followed it closely enough. What immediately struck me as being most peculiar was the handwriting itself of the unfortunate child. Aside from the fact that if the text is read in the different languages in which it has been printed in none of them are the same things found, the two specimens of the child's handwriting, one is presented by her father in the German edition and the other as shown by Life (September 15, 1958), appear to be quite different -- i.e., written by different persons.
I want to be clearly understood. I do not say that the Diary of Anne Frank is a forgery . I do not want to make any trouble! I only ask if these two writings are by the same person of the same age, since I am not a graphology expert. After that, I shall decide about the authenticity of the document. Perhaps, Mr. Raul Hilberg will take this problem up ....
And now, moving from the general to the particular, let us speak a little about the late Messrs. Rudolf Höss, Kurt Gerstein, and Miklos Nyiszli, who, in varying degrees are the stock witnesses of Mr. Raul Hilberg.
II. The Witness Rudolf HössDer Lagerkommandant von Auschwitz spricht
Born in Baden-Baden on November 15, 1900, Rudolf Höss was a soldier in the First World War. As a member of the N.S.D.A.P. from 1922 on, in May 1923, he and two accomplices killed Walter Kadow who had turned over to French occupation troops in the Ruhr Leo Schlageter, a sabotage organizer in the occupation area. Höss was sentenced to ten years but was paroled after serving six.
Höss was a member of the S.S. from 1934 on; while in the S.S., he became a block chief (Blockfuehrer) at Dachau at the end of 1934; later he was promoted to manager of the prisoners' belongings and, then, deputy to the commandant of the Sachsenhausen Camp. He served as Commandant at the Auschwitz camp from May 1940 (the camp was not ready for prisoners until June 14) until the end of November 1943. He was arrested for the first time at Heide (Schleswig) in May 1945 by the English, who released him almost immediately, and was arrested again in May 1946 at Flensburg (Holstein), where he was interrogated with "whip and alcohol," as he says in his book, Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle, (p. 211, French ed.). He was then transferred after a few days "to Minden on the Weser, an interrogation center in the British zone," where he suffered "the most brutal treatment from the military prosecutor, an English commander." (ibid.) He came to Nuremberg at the beginning of April as a defense witness for Kaltenbrunner. He testified at Nuremberg on May 15, under threat of being turned over to the Soviets. Knowing what treatment they had in store for him, it was quite natural that he said what he thought was best calculated to keep the Americans from doing that. Professor Gustav Gilbert, a psychologist attached to the prosecution staff, was at the Trial and, encouraging this hope, adroitIy suggested what he should say. He did not complain about his treatment at Nuremberg: on the contrary, he said it was a "health cure" (p. 21 1) when compared with what he had undergone at Heide and Minden. Unfortunately for him, he was claimed as a war criminal by Poland, and was transferred there on May 25 where, on July 30, he was incarcerated in the Krakow prison. At Krakow he experienced a change of scene that was much worse than Heide and Minden, and "without the intervention of the Prosecutor they would have finished me off," he said (p. 214). His case was heard from the 11th to the 29th of March, 1947. He was condemned to death on April 2 by the Warsaw Supreme Court and was hanged on the 4th at Auschwitz.
In prison, while waiting his trial, he wrote his memoirs. For this purpose, he was given not a pen and ink but "a pencil." The advantage, for those who wish to exploit it, is that facsimiles -- and surely the originals, too -- from pencil writings are almost illegible. It follows that authenticity can only be attested by experienced specialists, the kind who work on Egyptian palimpsests, and so far the original manuscript has not been submitted to one, if my information is correct. The original document is in the Auschwitz Museum where the International Committee of the camp has custody of it, and where its inspection by scholars has been carefully restricted. Just try to examine it there! To my knowledge, one part of it has been published in German entitled Autobiography (1951), but it does not seem to have been translated into any other language except Polish. As far as I know only a few fragments, cited by authors more fortunate than I (for example, Michel Borwicz, Revue d'histoire de la seconds guerre mondiale, October 1956, pp. 56-87) have appeared until now. Another part was published with the title, Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle (1959) in French, English, German and Polish. It seems that the whole manuscript has not yet been published and that, at the present time, specialists are studying and preparing the rest for publication, doubtless in "pencil" too. It looks like there are many fine days ahead for the historians. In short, together with the testimony of the author at Nuremberg, on the same subject, we have at hand three texts from the same person. What do these texts say?
The judgment of the Supreme Court at Warsaw which sentenced Höss to death and which served as the introduction to Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle (pp. 9-13, French ed.) charges him with taking part in the killing of:
-- about 300,000 persons confined in the camp as prisoners, and listed in the camp register.
-- a number of people, whose exact number is difficult to determine, but at least 2,500,000 mostly Jews brought to the camp by wagons from all over Europe for immediate extermination, and not in the camp register for that reason.
-- at least 12,000 Soviet prisoners of war held in the concentration camp contrary to the law of nations with regard t o the treatment of prisoners.
Therefore, the Polish court claimed that 2,912.000 persons in all for the period from May 1940 to the end of November 1943 died at Auschwitz. By assuming that this figure was correct, and by adding those who were exterminated from the end of November 1943 to January 1945, witnesses at Nuremberg spoke of 4,500,000 dead. In October 1956, Mr. Henri Michel, a former French deportee and the editor-in-chief of the Revue d' histoire de la seconds guerre mondiale, put the total number of dead at Auschwitz at 4,000,000, in this way: "This camp was the most international and the most western of the death factories, and its soil is enriched with the ashes of four million corpses." (p. 3.)
In reply to the question put by Dr. Kaufmann, Kaltenbrunner's legal counsel at Nuremberg, "Did Eichmann tell you in fact that more than 2,000,000 Jews were destroyed at Auschwitz camp?", Höss answered, "Yes, that is right." (T. XI, p. 409.) Behind the scenes he is supposed to have told the American psychologist, Gustave Gilbert that "Every day two trains brought in 3,000 persons, for 27 months" (therefore, for the whole length of the period of deportation, from March 1942 to July 1944). "So that makes a total of about 2,500,000 people." (Statement of Professor Gilbert before the Jerusalem Tribunal in judgment on Eichmann, May 30, 1961.) But, when it came to giving details about these 2,500,000 people he wrote in the Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle (p. 239, French ed.):
As for me, I never knew the total number, and had no way of determining it. I can only remember the number in the most important cases, often pointed out to me by Eichmann or one of his deputies:
-- From Upper Silesia, or Poland in general: 250,000
-- From Germany, or Theresienstadt: 100,000
-- Holland: 95,000
-- Belgium: 20,000
-- Slovakia 90,000
The figures concerning cases of less importance are not graven in my memory, but they were insignificant compared with the above. I think the figure 2,500,000 much too high.
These figures, too, have to do with the whole period of deportation and Höss got them from Eichmann. And, Eichmann definitely did have things to say about the matter, but when Höss' statement at Nuremberg is compared with his book, we see that these things do not always agree.
It is my opinion that very few Jewish deportees came to Auschwitz from countries other than those which appear on Höss' list. It is possible that this total corresponds to the reality, although it is still very high. Apparently, this realization was admitted by the Institute of Jewish Affairs in Eichmann's Confederates and the Third Reich Hierarchy when it concluded that " at Auschwitz, [together with its satellite camps, best known of which was Birkenau, located to the south not far from Krakow]... about 90,000 Jews perished." Probably, Mr. Raul Hilberg referred to this estimate, too, in order to figure at a million (p.572) the number of Jews who died there. What is the basis for the estimation of the number of survivors, one of 230,000, and the other of 130,000? Neither in Eichmann's Confederates and the Third Reich Hierarchy nor in The Destruction of the European Jews is there an explanation of how these figures were determined. Therefore, they are probably conjectural. In Mr. Raul Hilberg's case, it is a little troublesome because (p. 670) he finds only 50,000 survivors for the whole of Poland, which is astonishing considering that there were already 130,000 at Auschwitz.
But, we shall not anticipate the discussion of the general statistics which will follow in another chapter; we are concerned here with the witness Höss, not the general statistics. And, about those two trains that for 27 months brought 3,000 people to Auschwitz every day, witness Höss does not seem very certain. On this subject I invite the reader to think about these three propositions:
1. "As far as I can remember the convoys arriving at Auschwitz never carried more than 1,000 prisoners." (p. 220.)
2. "Following some delays in communications, five convoys a day, instead of the expected three, arrived." (p. 236.)
3. "In the extermination of Hungarian Jews, convoys were arriving at the rate of 15,000 persons a day." (p. 239.)
From which it appears that under certain circumstances five trains per day of 1,000 persons each delivered a total of 15,000 persons.
To the Tribunal on April 15, 1946, Höss had stated that these trains carried 2,000 persons each (T. Xi, p. 412). To Professor Gustave Gilbert he said that they contained 1,500 each, and in his book, he comes down to 1,000. What is certain is that for the period given none of these estimates on the capacity of the trains corresponds to a total of 1,130,000. The last one is the closest to the truth with an exaggeration of only 300,000. Since Mr. Raul Hilberg takes under consideration six "killing centers," an exaggeration of 300.000 for each one would yield a total exaggeration of nearly 2,000.000 persons and, out of six million a total exaggeration of that magnitude is quite important.
The same observation holds for the soundness of this testimony: "ln the middle of spring, 1942, hundreds of human beings perished in the gas chambers." (p. 178.) But, as we have seen, Document No. 4401 establishes beyond any doubt that the so-called "gas chambers" were not ordered for Auschwitz until August 8, 1942, and Document No. 4463 establishes that they were not actually installed until February 20, 1943. At Nuremberg, Höss had already stated in his deposition that "in 1942, Himmler came to visit the camp and was present at an execution from beginning to end," (T.XI, p. 413), no one called his attention to the fact that even if it were possible that Himmler had gone to Auschwitz in 1942, it was not possible for him to have been present at an execution, since the gas chambers had not been constructed yet. And, furthermore, we know that it would have been unlikely for Himmler to have been present at an execution because as we learned after the war from his physician, Dr. Kersten, he could not bear the sight of an execution.
Höss' comments concerning the capacity of the gas chambers and the crematories also are grossly contradictory. For example, he says on one page that:
The maximum figure for the number of people gassed or incinerated every 24 hours was a little more than 9,000 for all the installations. (p. 236, emphasis added.)
But, then, he says a few pages later:
As I have already said, Crematories I and II could incinerate about 2,000 bodies in 24 hours; it was not possible to exceed this if one wanted to avoid damage. Installations III and IV were supposed to incinerate 1,500 corpses in 24 hours. But, as far as I know, these figures were never reached. (p. 245, emphasis added.)
How can one fail to deduce from these flagrant contradictions that here is a document which was fabricated hastily after the event by illiterates?
Moreover, this fabrication, after the event, can be detected just from the kind of book it is, written in pencil and carefully preserved in the archives of the Auschwitz Atuseum, where, unless one is a well-known communist, one cannot examine it. Although it bears the date of February-March 1947, it became known and published only in 1958; this fact further clouds the reliability of the document. In addition, it is attributed to a dead man who, in any case, cannot protest what is said over his signature; this fact, in itself, tells all too much.
Finally, a careful analysis of the following language reveals a pearl:
Toward the end of 1942, all the mass graves were cleaned [crematory ovens had not been built yet, and incineration was done in mass graves]. The number of cadavers buried there exceeded 107,000. This figure [as Rudolph Höss explains farther on] includes not only convoys of Jews gassed from the beginning, until the moment when they went on to incineration, but also the cadavers of all the prisoners who died in Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. (p. 231)
From this statement one infers that in nearly three years 107,000 persons died. I say "in nearly three years" because the two phrases, "toward the end of 1942" and "until the moment when they went on to incineration," are paradoxical, because the cremations could not have been begun, according to the official thesis, before February 20, 1943. Therefore, for the two to be concomitant, which is called for here, it is absolutely necessary that both should have occurred on this last date. Because the camp was opened on June 14, 1940, one has to speak of almost three years. Hence: the cremation of 107,000 cadavers before February 1943 must mean that all of the rest were cremated at a later date. Taking into account that between February 1943 and October 1944 (the official end of the exterminations) there are 17 months and that, as the Kasztner Report tells us, for 8 or 9 months (the autumn of 1943 to May 1944) the gas chambers at Auschwitz were out of order and not working, it remains to be established how many persons more than 107,000 could have been "incinerated," from February 1943 to October 1944, when the camp was equipped with four crematory ovens of 15 burners each. I would be very astonished if a cremation expert, given these facts, should reply that it was possible to cremate the million bodies that are claimed by Mr. Raul Hilberg, or even the 900,000 of the Institute of Jewish Affairs. And, here we must also remember that Eichmann gave May 15, 1944, as the date when Himmler ordered that cremation be stopped and that, therefore, the period during which the killings and the cremations took place -- if they took place -- could not have been longer than 5 or 6 months (March-Fall 1943).
But, there it is a question of how much credence can be given to Höss' different versions, and after what we have seen I should imagine that his credibility is very limited.
What follows is, unhappily for Mr. Hilberg, not much more convincing. Witness what Höss says about the development or the final solution in the direction of extermination.
We have seen that when he visited the camp in March 1941, Himmler told Höss about his intention to transform the camp into "a great armament plant, which would keep 100,000 war Prisoners occupied." Therefore, at that date, Auschwitz was not destined for the extermination of Jews, and so Mr. Raul Hilberg's contention -- based upon a speech of Hitler's on January 30, 1939, that after such extermination was decided upon, it was carried out according to a mathematically progressive plan that already had been worked out -- is destroyed.
On the contrary, there seems to have been no planned extermination. In fact, it seems that gas was used for the first time to kill prisoners without any order whatsoever, with gassing apparatus that was makeshift, and without anyone in a responsible position in the camp, from top to bottom, expecting it:
During one of my business trips (1942) my substitute, Schutzhaftlager Fritsch, made use of gasses with a group of political officers of the Red Army. For this he used cyanide (Zyklon B) which he had at hand, because it was used all the time as an insecticide. He informed me as soon as I returned. (Page 172)
Thus, from the fortuitous initiative of a subaltern is supposed to have arisen the method which was supposed to have been used on a massive scale against the Jews.
Many times, in his work. Rudolf Höss says (or he is made to say) that verbal orders from the highest government offices, particularly that of Himmler, told him to exterminate the Jews with gas, but, he then adds, "We never got a clear-cut decision on this matter from Himmler" (p. 233). Moreover, when Höss was all for gassing on a large scale, he states that, "I often brought this up in reports, but I could do nothing against pressure from Himmler who always wanted more prisoners for armaments factories" (p. 189). So now, Himmler was against the gassings? In any case, it is not clear how Himmler could have had more and more prisoners for munitions work if he was exterminating more and more with gas.
In addition, we must note that when Himmler verbally asked Höss to construct gas chambers at Auschwitz (in the summer of 1941), Höss "submitted a detailed plan of the proposed installations." About these plans, he stated, "I never had an answer or a decision on this matter" (p. 227). Nevertheless, gas chambers were constructed, because, says Höss, "... later Eichmann casually told me [-- verbally, therefore; everything is verbal in this business! --] that the Reichsfuehrer approved" (p. 227). Himmler, then, could never have given the order to construct the gas chambers -- the admission is tremendous! It seems that Himmler wanted at one and the same time to destroy as many and as few as possible of the same people. Höss adds that:
The Jewish prisoners under his [Himmler's] jurisdiction were to be treated with every consideration .... They could not do without the great supply of manpower, especially in the armament industries. (Page 191)
It does not clarify matters to look into the method used for extermination. We have seen above that the gas used was an insecticide, Zyklon B, which was used, Höss tells us, for all asphyxiations after the gassing of the political officers of the Red Army. It is strange, to say the least, that to carry out such an order, even given verbally, that some gas other than an insecticide was not provided (3).
Be that as it may, this is what Zyklon B is: "Zyklon B exists in the form of blue pellets, delivered in boxes, out of which gas is formed under jets of water vapor." (p. 228.) But, as we shall see further on, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli claimed that the gas was formed on contact with air. It was so dangerous to handle that after it had been used in a room, the room "had to be aired for two days" before it was safe to go in that room again (p. 229), but the gassing of the Jews "lasted on an average of half an hour" (P. 173), after which "the doors were opened and the Sonderkommando immediately began the work of clearing out the cadavers" (p. 230, emphasis added). In fact, sometimes they dragged "... the corpses out while eating and smoking" (p. 180) and without incurring the least harm. Equally incredible is the account of the first extermination which took place in a morgue. In order to get the gas in there, "while they were unloading [the future victims from] the trucks, several holes were rapidly made in the stone and concrete walls of the morgue" (P. 172). We are not told how the necessary water vapor was let in, nor how the holes were stopped up after the blue pellets were put in; no doubt, that was done rapidly too, with old rags.
I would like to add that in addition to the contradictions that can be uncovered from one page to another in Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle and in addition to those which appear when it is compared with what its author said at Nuremberg, the testimony on Auschwitz-Birkenau is written in a style that is strangely similar to the public confessions of the defendants in the famous Moscow trials, which no one in Western Europe took seriously. Perhaps, this strange style is further corroboration of my contention that Höss' memoir is a fraud. Arthur Koestler told the whole story in his Le Zero et l'Infini -- I must not fail to refer to that!
III. The Witness Miklos NyiszlyDoctor at Auschwitz Times
In March 1951, in Les Temps Modernes, a monthly review run by Jean-Paul Sartre, a certain Tibere Kremer presented, with the title S.S. Obersturmfuehrer Docteur Mengele, and subtitle, Journal d'un medecin deporte au crematorium d'Auschwitz, a piece of false evidence concerning that camp which will remain one of the most abominable pieces of trickery of all time. The author was, he said, a Hungarian Jew named Miklos Nyiszli, a medical doctor by profession, as is indicated in the sub-title. The article contained 27 pages of selected extracts from the doctor's memoir (pp. 1655-1672). The April issue of the review devoted 31 more pages (pp. 1655-1886). This false evidence had just been presented to American public opinion by Mr. Richard Seaver, with a preface by Professor Bruno Bettelheim. It was only in 1961 that it was published as a whole, in German, by the Munich illustrated weekly Quick in five issues (January to February) under the title Auschwitz, and, in French, by Julliard Publishers in a volume of 256 pages with the title Medecin a Auschwitz, and the sub-title Souvenirs d'un medecin deporte.
It made a sensation in France in 1951. The trial over Le Mensonge d'Ulysse was in full swing, and in the eyes of the public I had the blackest of souls. In 1961 it made a sensation again, but the world over this time -- the Eichmann trial was in full swing.
The things he had to say, this Doctor Miklos Nyiszli! And, in addition, he gave the first detailed account of all the horrors that took place at Auschwitz, including the exterminations in the gas chambers in particular. Among other things, he claimed that in this camp was a gas chamber, 200 meters long (width was not given), together with three others of similar dimensions. They were used to asphyxiate 20,000 persons a day, and four crematory ovens, each with 1 5 burners, incinerated the victims as the operation proceeded. He added, in another connection, that 5,000 other persons were, every day, done away with by less modern means in two immense open air hearths. And, he added again that for eight months he had been personally present at these systematic massacres. Finally (this is on page 50 Of the JulIiard edition), he stated specifically that when lie arrived at the camp (about the end of May 1944 at the earliest) the exterminations by gas, at the rate cited above had been "going on for four years."
From the aforementioned testimony, the following contradictions can be gleaned. First, this fellow did not know that if there were gas chambers at Auschwitz they had not been installed or made ready to work until February 20, 1943 (Document No. 4463, already cited).
Second: He did not know that the area of the gas chambers, officially and respectively, was 210 square meters for the first (the very one he mentioned), 400 square meters for the second, and 580 square meters for the last two. In other words, the gas chambers which he saw, and whose operation he describes so minutely, must have been only 1.05 meters wide. In fact, it must have resembled a long hall. Since he states precisely that down the middle of the chamber there was a row of columns With holes from which the gas came out (these columns came up through the roof, and into these openings hospital attendants wearing Red Cross arm bands threw the tablets of Zyklon B), that there were along the walls on both sides benches for sitting (surely not very wide, those benches!) and that 3,000 persons (they were gassing batches of 3,000!) could move about easily in the room, I claim that one of two things is true: either this Dr. Miklos Nyiszli never existed, or, if he did exist, he never set foot in the places that he describes.
Third: If the gas chambers at Auschwitz, together with the open hearths, exterminated 25,000 people a day for four and a half years (since according to this "witness" they continued to exterminate for six months after his arrival) that makes a total of 1,642 days. And at the rate of 25,000 persons per day for 1,642 days, there would have been 41 million cadavers, a little more than 32 million in gas chambers and a little less than 9 million in the open hearths.
I shall add that even if it had been possible for the four gas chambers to asphyxiate 20,000 persons a day (at the rate of 3,000 per batch, as the witness says), it was absolutely not possible to cremate that many at the same time, even if there were 15 burners and even if the job took only 20 minutes, as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli also falsely claims. Taking these figures for a basis, the capacity of the ovens, all working together, could not have consumed more than 540 corpses per hour, or 12,960 for the 24-hour day. At this rate the ovens could not have been put out until several years after the liberation. And only then on the condition that not a minute was lost for nearly ten years. Now, from information from Pere-Lachaise on how long it takes to incinerate three bodies where there is one burner, we see that the ovens at Auschwitz are still burning, and that they are not anywhere near ready to be put out!
Since, I have made my point regarding the ovens, I shall pass over the two open air hearths (which were, our witness says, 50 meters long, 6 wide, and 3 deep and in which were burned 9 million cadavers during their four and a half years of operation) without further comment.
Fourth: There is another impossibility, at least as far as extermination by gas is concerned, since, if there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, they were not officially operating except from February 20, 1943 to November 17, 1944, or for 17 or 18 months. The number of deaths by this means, based on Dr. Miklos Nyiszli's facts, would then be about 11 million, and with the 9 million of the open hearts, about 20 million, which -- by some unknown mathematical process -- are reduced to 6 million by Tibere Kremer in his presentation of this "testimony."
Fifth: That is not all. This Dr. Miklos Nyiszli is as much in contradiction with himself as he is with all those who testified before or after him about Auschwitz. The following is a comparison of his testimony with that of the others: it is he who says (p. 56) that the gas was produced from pellets of Zyklon B "on contact with air!" Höss told us that it was "in contact with water vapor." It is he who tells us (p. 56) that "in five minutes" everyone was dead, according to Höss the Zyklon B took "half an hour." Again, it is Dr. Nyiszli who tells us (p.36) that the Hungarian Jews were transported to Auschwitz at the rate of "four or five trains a day," each of which contained forty cars, which, in turn, contained 80 persons (p. 15), or 3,200 persons altogether, but a few pages later, he says that they, each carried "about five thousand people... " (p. 18).
This last statement must cause surprise, since we know that the deportation of Hungarian Jews lasted for 52 days (May 16 to July 7, 1944) according to the Kasztner Report, and that the Histoire de Joel Brand agrees on this point, Höss said at Nuremberg that the deportation took "a period of four to six weeks." (T.Xl, p. 412.) Let us make some calculations concerning the four possibilities:
1st: 4 trains of 3,600 persons equal 14,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 748,000 persons
2nd: 4 trains of 5,000 persons equal 20,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 1,040,000persons
3rd: 5 trains of 3,600 persons equal 18,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 936,000 persons
4th: 5 trains of 5,000 persons equal 25,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 1,300,000 persons
But, in statistics from Jewish sources, the highest figure given for Hungarian Jews is 437,000 (4). I leave it up to the reader to figure out this odd item. I shall add that the Kasztner Report tells us that on March 19, 1944, Eichmann arrived in Budapest with a company of 150 men and that 1,000 rail cars were at his disposal to carry out the transportation of the Jews. If, as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, says, the trip lasted four days -- which is plausible; it took that long to go from Compiegne to Buchenwald in the convoy I was in -- then after six days there were no more cars in the railway station at Budapest! Consequently, the work of deportation was halted until the 9th day when empty cars began returning. And, this estimation is made without taking into consideration the number of railway carriages that were necessary to bring to the assembly points all of the Jews who had been rounded up all over Hungary. The court of the Jerusalem Tribunal that condemned Eichmann to death moreover completely destroyed this testimony in stating (in Exhibit No. 12) that "in less than two months 434,351 persons were deported in 147 sealed freight trains, with 3,000 persons in each train, men, women and children, two or three trains a day on the average," and so, as we shall see farther on, this new version is not any better.
The passages in the testimony of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli where he contradicts himself are numberless: the crematory in action, his nose and throat assailed "by the smell of flesh burning and hair scorching," (p. 19); "the hair of the dead is clipped off" (p. 60), after removal from the gas chamber and before incineration; then, "coarse hands cut off the tresses of their well-kept hair" (p. 168), before they were sent to the bathing place and then to the gas chamber. And, so it goes.
But, what is more significant than the contradictions in the texts themselves is what one finds by comparing the French version of this so-called testimony with the German version which appeared in the Munich illustrated weekly Quick in successive issues after January 15, 1961. In the latter version, the crematories all together are not incinerating more than 10,000 persons a day instead of 20,000. A pistol shot which hits the target at 40 to 50 meters in French, does so only at 20 to 30 meters in German. An institute which was "the most celebrated in the Third Reich" in the one case becomes "the most celebrated in the world" in the second. "Pretty rugs" become "Persian carpets." Auschwitz camp which could hold "up to 500,000 persons" in the French version is no more than "gigantic" in the German version, all precision, having disappeared, without doubt, because between 1951 and 1961 the author -- long since dead, as we shall see -- discovered through an intermediary that at Nuremberg Höss had stated that "it held up to 140,000 persons." (T. XI, p. 416.) A distance of three kilometers is reduced to 500 meters, or vise versa, etc.
One of two things can be concluded from the preceding discussion: either it is an authentic document, in which case it should be the same in 1951 as in 1961, in its French and in its German versions, or, if it is not the same, then it is apocryphal. The fact that the two versions do not agree with each other in almost any respect and that neither one agrees with the descriptions, for example, that were derived from the documents produced at Nuremberg permits one to maintain, at least, that this Dr. Miklos Nyiszli never set foot in Auschwitz. That fact I suspected after having read the very first page of his testimony. Did he not say of the convoy of which he was a part that after "leaving behind us the Tatra mountains, we went past the stations of Lublin and Krakow" (in order to get to Auschwitz from the Hungaro-Rumanian frontier). This statement proves that in addition to not knowing the camp at Auschwitz he did not know the route to get to it either. And, to think that a publishing house was found in Paris that would place such utter nonsense as this testimony before the public!
In April, 1951, when the extracts from his testimony were published by Les Temps Modernes, I wrote to him. In October of the same year he answered, through the agency of Mr. Tibere Kremer, that actually "2,500,000 persons had been exterminated in the gas chambers at Auschwitz . . . " In February 1961, after having read the entire text in Quick, I decided to write to Mr. Tibere Kremer. The letter was returned to me with the notation "no longer at this address" stamped on it. I next wrote to Dr. Nyiszli in care of Quick, and I was told that my letter could not be forwarded to Dr. Nyiszli because he was dead.
In November 1961, after having read the entire text in the French version, I wrote to Julliard Publishers, asking them kindly to forward the enclosed observations to Mr. Tibere Kremer, whose address they surely must have since they had just published his translation. I added:
Historic documents are rightly respected and versions of them should not be published unless their authenticity is guaranteed. It happens that for ten years, in connection with my research, I have been seeking the original of this one, and no one has ever been able to tell me where it can be consulted. The best qualified historians in the world know nothing about it. The versions which have been published are divergent and contradict each other on every page. The author speaks of places which he has obviously not been to, etc. Therefore, if you could give me sufficient assurance to allow me to state "authentic document" in the case of Dr. Nyiszli, in the references in my work, I would be very much obliged.
On the 8th of December, in the name of Julliard Publishers, of which he is one of the literary directors, Mr. Pierre Javet answered:
Thank you very much for having sent me a typewritten copy of your letter of November 16th.
I am forwarding it today to Mr. Tibere Kremer, translator of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli's "Medecin a Auschwitz," so that he may reply to you.
Meanwhile, I may tell you that it is true that Doctor Nyiszli is dead, but his wife is still alive. Moreover, I have showed his book to several deportees who have confirmed its authenticity.
I am still waiting for an answer from Mr. Tibere Kremer. However, it is quite probable that I shall never receive it. First, as we have said, on October 24, 1951, Mr. Tibere Kremer sent on to me a reply from Dr. Nyiszli to my letter of April, l 9 51. Then as a result of my continued research concerning this singular witness, I learned from New York, where the book was published in 1951, that Dr. Nyiszli had died long before his testimony was first published. If this fact is true, this dead witness -- another one -- was thoughtful enough to write to me after his death. And, so Mr. Tibere Kremer's silence is understandable. No further comment is necessary.
IV. The Witness Kurt GersteinJune 6, 1961: The Jerusalem Tribunal in judgment on Eichmann is overwhelmed with testimonies on the subject of the extermination of Jews that was said to have taken place at the camp at Belzec. All of the journalists reporting the hearings say just about what this one from Le Figaro (Paris, June 7, 1961) says:
The third extermination camp in question [at the hearing of June 6 during the Eichmann trial], that of Belzec located between Lublin and Lemberg, had only one survivor at the war's end, and he has since died.
The prosecutor bases his case on a series of depositions made before Allied officers by Kurt Gerstein, lieutenant in the Health Service of the Waffen S.S., who afterwards hanged himself in a military prison in Paris. Gerstein had been ordered by Eichmann to look into quicker poisons.
And, here again in the limelight is Kurt Gerstein, as he was in January 1946 at the Nuremberg trial and as he was recently in Germany in the drama Der Stellvertreter (Hamburg, 1963) by a certain Rolf Hochhuth. It is a story as gruesomely phantasmagorical as that of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli.
In the very first days of May 1945 (the 5th, it seems) French troops on going into Rottweil (Wurttemberg) found and took prisoner in a hotel a certain Kurt Gerstein. He was wearing the uniform of the S.S. with the epaulettes of a Obersturmfuehrer. He was taken to Paris where he was interned in a military prison, according to some, in the Cherche-Midi, according to others, or in the prison at Fresnes, still others said, where he is said to have committed suicide. In short, no one knows exactly where he was imprisoned. As for when he died, a morning in July -- the 25th almost all the annotators say, in particular, Professor H. Rothfels (Vierteljahrshefte fuer Zeitgeschichte, No. 2, April 1953, p. 185) -- is given, but nothing could be less certain. On March 10, 1949, the widow Gerstein is said to have announced that she received from the Ecumenical Commission for the Spiritual Aid of War Prisoners, headquartered at Geneva, only the following terse communication on the death of her husband:
Unfortunately, in spite of repeated attempts, it has not been possible to learn more about the death of your husband, nor can the whereabouts of the grave be determined.
At the present moment neither the arrest, nor the death of the man, seem to have been made public. At least, there has been no publication to my knowledge. In any case, it was only on January 30, 1946, that this fact became sensational news through the attention drawn to it by some first> Without doubt, the first and best known of these blunderers was Mr. Dubost, the French prosecutor at the trial of the Major War Criminals at Nuremberg. In the archives of the American delegation he had found a number of invoices for Zyklon B that had been furnished to the Auschwitz and Oranienburg concentration camps by DEGESCH Gesellschaft, of Frankfurt/M; they were dated April 30, 1944, and were appended to an account in French, signed by Kurt Gerstein, Obersturmfuehrer of the S.S., which pertained to the extermination of Jews in the gas chambers at Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, Majdanek and Treblinka; the account does not give the date of these exterminations. (T. VI, pp. 345-347.) Subsequently, Mr. Hans Rothfels tells us (Vierteljahrshefte f. Z., op. cit. p. 177) that this document was made use of by the prosecution in the German language, in its principal passages, as evidence at the so-called "trial of the doctors," which was conducted at Nuremberg on January 16, 1947. And, then, the part about Zyklon B and the appended invoices were used at the trial of the DEGESCH Gesellschaft at Frankfurt in January 1949.
The date of this document, April 26, 1945, was made public for the first time at the "trial of the doctors." And, until the article of Mr. Hans Rothfels, mentioned above, only the French version was used, which for various legal purposes was translated into German. In Le Breviaire de la Haine (Paris, 195 1, pp. 220 ff.), Mr. Poliakov gives this French version, but without the date. In 1959, Heydecker and Leeb in Le Proces de Nuremberg do the same. In Der Gelbe Stern (Hamburg, 1961) Mr. Schoenberner gives the date as May 4, 1945. But in 1961, Exhibit No. 124 of the Jerusalem Tribunal which condemned Eichmann gives no date, and, furthermore, the French version therein is in no way similar to the version that was published by Mr. Poliakov in 1951. What is remarkable is the fact that it is thanks to Mr. Poliakov that we know about this second version (Le Proces de Jerusalem, Paris, 1962, p. 224 ff.) and that he gives it, apparently without remembering that it was he who gave us the first.
We had to wait for the "trial of the doctors," in January 1947, for that of the DEGESCH Gesellschaft, in January 1949, and -- above all -- for the article, cited above, by Mr. Rothfels, in order to learn how this document got into the archives of the American delegation, where Prosecutor Dubost had found it, together with not only the two invoices from DEGESCH Gesellschaft that are mentioned above, but 12 of them, bearing dates between February 14 and May 31, 1944. At the same time, we learned that the French version, composed of six typewritten pages ending with a handwritten statement attesting to the authenticity of the contents, followed by the signature of the author (Vierteljahrshefte f. Z.., op. cit. p. 178), had two more attached pages, also handwritten and signed, but in English, bearing the same date, in which Gerstein said that not more than four or five people had been able to see what he had seen. There was one more page in which he asked that his statement not be made public before finding out whether Pastor Niemoeller had died at Dachau or had survived, plus 24 typewritten pages in German with a handwritten note, dated May 4, 1945, but not signed (Vierteljahrshefte f Z., op. cit. p. 179). It seems -- at least that is what Mr. Rothfels tells us -- that this German version in 24 pages, and the French version, are "on the whole identical on all points." Since there are two different French versions, the one published by Mr. Poliakov and the one that was Exhibit No. 124 at Jerusalem, nothing is lost in asking him which of the two he takes as his basis for comparison.
Now, let us return to these two French versions. In January 1946 the Americans had not yet realized the importance of this document -- which existed in two versions, even three versions if one believes Mr. Rothfels -- and they did not think it was worth being produced in evidence against the defendants at the Tribunal. Fortunately, Mr. Dubost was there. On January 30, 1946, he brought it out of his brief case, and submitted it as reference P.S. 1553-RF. However, before we discuss what happened, we should first learn a little more about its author Kurt Gerstein.
Who was Kurt Gerstein? To this question, no answer is to be found anywhere in the forty-two volume report of the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trial. For reasons which the reader will not fail to understand, the Tribunal, in fact, did not want to hear anything about either Kurt Gerstein or his testament; out of the bundle of documents that were produced by Mr. Dubost, it accepted only two invoices of April 30, 1944, each for 555 kilos of Zyklon B, one for Auschwitz and the other for Oranienburg.
The next day, January 31, 1946, in such a form that no one could doubt its authenticity and its admission into evidence by the Tribunal, newspapers all over the world reproduced this document which was not allowed to be read at the hearing the day before. It was this "press offensive" that started the exploitation of this document, which has continued for fifteen years by those eminent historians from the Ecole Normale Superieure, de la Rue de la Liberation (sic), founded by Father Loriquet, such as Mr. Poliakov (Le Breviaire de la Haine -- what a nice title!) and a few others like the Germans H. Krausnick (Documentation sur l'extermination par les gaz), J.J. Heydecker and J. Leeb (Les Proces de Nuremberg), and Gerhardt Schoenberner (L'Etoile Jaune), among others.
As much as one can gather from the writings of these brilliant historians, Kurt Gerstein was a chemical engineer. In 1938 he was arrested by the Gestapo and was interned in the concentration camp at Welzheim. How he managed to get out we do not know. In any case, we find him again in 1941 in the political S.S. and in 1942 in the Waffen S.S., with the rank of Obersturmfuehrer in the "hygiene division" (Abteilung der Entwesung und der Entseuchung) of the Central Sanitation Service (Hauptamt des Sanitaetsdienst). In this capacity it was his business to receive the orders for Zyklon B, a chemical that was used as an insecticide by the Reichswehr, since 1924, and then by the Wehrnacht, which was not fortunate enough to know about DDT. These purchase orders he passed on along with a request for delivery, to the chemical works of DEGESCH Gesellschaft of Frankfurt/M. or to its subsidiary, Testa of Hamburg. And, naturally, when he received the disinfectant he got invoices.
The facts that he tells about -- or to be more correct -- which are found in the account that is attributed to him -- belong in 1942. So, on the 8th of June he met in his office with S.S. Sturmfuehrer Gunther who said he urgently needed 100 kilos of Zyklon B to be delivered to a place which was known only to the driver of the truck.
A few weeks later, the driver of the truck in question presented himself; he was accompanied by Gunther. They loaded the 100 kilos of Zyklon B in the truck, Gerstein got in, and they drove off for Prague and then for Lublin where they arrived on the 17th of August. On the same day, they met Gruppenfuehrer Globocnik, who is charged with the extermination of Jews in Warthegau and who has not found any better way to carry out his task than by using the exhaust gas from Diesel motors, which he has arranged to have piped into rooms especially fixed up for the purpose.
Naturally, the Gruppenfuehrer, who has a sense of logic, starts by talking to Gerstein and detailing the scope of his entire operation. In his region there are three installations for exterminating Jews with diesel fumes: Belzec (on the route from Lublin to Lwow) with a capacity of 15,000 persons a day; Sobibor (he is not sure just where that is!), with a capacity of 20,000 per day; Treblinka (120 kilometers NNE of Warsaw), with no indication as to capacity according to Mr. Poliakov, but Heydecker and Leeb are more precise and give the figure of 20,000 per day. (This remarkable document does not speak the same language to one and the other!) A fourth installation, Majdanek, is in preparation, but nothing is said by anyone about where it is or what its capacity was anticipated to be. To be thorough about this, we must add that in L'Etoile Jaune (German ed.), by Mr. Gerhardt Schoenberner, this part of the document not given; doubtless, it is an example of another sort of historical method. In citing the four locations, nevertheless, Mr. Gerhardt Schoenberner attributes to Gerstein's pen a total capacity of 9,000 persons per day for the four installations.
From Le Breviaire de la Haine of Mr. Poliakov and the Documentation sur l'extermination par les gaz by Mr. Krausnick, we deduce in addition that the Fuehrer was at Lublin two days before (apparently, they do not shrink at anything in these factories where historical forgeries are fabricated!) with Himmler, and that they gave the order to "speed everything up." But this part of the document is not reproduced in either L'Etoile Jaune by Schoenberner, or the Proces de Nuremberg by Heydecker and Leeb.
Finally, Globocnik -- but only according to these two authors -- informs Kurt Gerstein of his mission to improve the gas chambers, particularly with the use of a more poisonous gas and less complicated mechanisms. Then, the men part company, after deciding to go to Belzec the next day.
And, after having repeated all that he was told, Gerstein recounts what he saw. Upon arriving at Belzec on August 18th, Mr. Kurt Gerstein began by visiting the camp under the guidance of a person that Globocnik put at his disposal. Mr. Poliakov was not able to read the name of this person. But after working at it, he thought he could make out "Wirth." More fortunate than he, Mr. Schoenberner was able to read clearly "S.S.-Hauptsturmfuehrer Obermeyer von Pirmasens." Unfortunately, when the latter speaks of S.S. Wirth, who is quite another person than the one mentioned by Mr. Poliakov, he gives him the rank of "Hauptmann," a grade that never existed in the S.S!
In any case, during this visit Gerstein saw gas chambers in action using Diesel exhaust, and he measured the places: 5x5 or 25 square meters in area; 1.90 meters in height or 45 cubic meters, he calculated. We will say nothing about his 2.5 cubic meter error. Messrs. Krausnick, Heydecker, Leeb, and Schoenberner did not say anything about it either. More concerned about what was probable, Mr. Poliakov corrected the document (as we have had the honor to tell you!). He calculated that the chambers were 93 square meters in area (Breviaire de la Haine, p. 223, 2nd ed.), without any further details, and that figure was more prudent. But, in the Proces de Jerusalem (Paris, 1962) when the Tribunal admits into evidence the 25 square meter version, Mr. Poliakov is not at all put out, and agrees with that figure, too. How right he was to correct the document! Later on, Kurt Gerstein recounts, as factual, that the next day, August 19th, he saw the gas chambers -- four according to some; ten, protest the others -- in action.
At the crack of dawn, a trainload of Jews arrived from Lemberg at the Belzec station, on the very edge of the camp, composed of 6,700 -- Mr. Poliakov gives 6,000 -- men, women and children, who were crammed into 45 cars (therefore, between 148-150 people per car, and, for those who know the size of Polish freight cars, quite a figure). It is certain that with its 6,000 to 6,700 people, this train of 45 cars was the most nightmarish of all deportee trains. Please recall that Dr. Miklos Nyiszli did not dare to give more than "about 5,000 persons per train." This Kurt Gerstein certainly has no eye for estimating or measuring, and for an engineer that is not very good.
Two hundred Ukrainians, with whips in hand, hurl themselves at the train doors, tear them open (i.e., actually rip them off of the cars!) and make everyone get out, under the surveillance of other Ukrainians, with loaded guns in hand. "Captain of the S.S. " Wirth directs the operation, assisted by a few of his fellow S.S.: the prisoners are forced to undress completely, to turn in their valuables, to have their hair cut off; then, they are taken to the gas chambers.
"The rooms are filling. Everyone squeeze closer, ordered Captain Wirth. Many people were standing on the tips of their toes, 700 to 800 in an area 25 meters square, and 45 cubic meters. The S.S. pack the room as full as they can. The doors are closed." relates Mr. Schoenberner in L'Etoile Jaune, and, except in style, the others say the same thing, except for Poliakov, who sticks to his 93 square meter area.
The point on which everyone agrees, on the other hand, is the duration of the operation, measured by Gerstein, chronometer in hand. First the 700 to 800 persons who are jammed into the gas chambers had to wait two hours and forty-nine minutes before the diesel motor would run; then, it took thirtytwo minutes for everyone to die. These times come from Gerstein who clocked them with his chronometer in hand, I repeat.
It was this fantastically gruesome account that Mr. Dubost -- not just,anyone, but a prosecutor, and, doubtless, a well known one too, since he was chosen from among his peers to represent France at Nuremberg -- wanted to have accepted by the International Tribunal on Janaury 30, 1946. The Tribunal did not go along. But, one must say that for the Tribunal not to go along it had to be really a little thick, because in other circumstances it swallowed, apparently without the flick of an eyelash, lots of other tricky things of this kind. This refusal of the Tribunal to consider the evidence did not keep the world press from issuing, the next day, January 31, 1946, ad nauseam and to cry yourself to sleep, the Kurt Gerstein story as an unquestionably authentic document. And, even today -- fifteen years later -- men who lay claim to the title of historian still dare to present it as unquestionably authentic in their books. Nor, by doing so, do they lose prestige or the favor of the world press. This reality was demonstrated at the Eichmann Trial. And, as we have mentioned above, the story has recently been staged in Germany by an actor of sorts, on a text written by Rolf Hochhuth, who obviously is seeking literary publicity by the presentation of a shocking subject matter.
In the Eichmann Trial, the Kurt Gerstein account was presented by the public prosecutor as being one of a "series of depositions given by Gerstein before various Allied officers." The judgment at Jerusalem did not refer to that series of depositions, and they were never made public. It seems that we do not know all that there is to know about the Gerstein dossier. Why? I am afraid that the answer to that question lies in this one little fact: in the article by Hans Rothfels (op. cit.) we find him writing that "so fehlt insbesondere die im franzoesischen Text eingefuegte verallgemeinernde und sehr uebertreibende Schaetzung der Gesamtzahl an Opfern" (p. 179), and in a note (p. 180) "G. schaetzt hier auf 25 millionen (Nicht nur Juden, sondern vorzugsweise Polen und Tschechen)." The preceding sentences translate as follows: "Thus is lacking in particular the generalized and very exaggerated estimation of the total number of victims inserted in the French text. G. estimates here 25 million (not only Jews, but especially Poles and Czechs)." It really was a little unbelievable. What is astonishing is the fact that those who made use of this singular document did not discover that gas chambers 25 meters square with a capacity of 700 to 800 persons was an even more shocking exaggeration. This oversight reveals quite a lot about their intellectual faculties as distinguished "Professors." Only those statements of Kurt Gerstein that were considered "objective" (sachlich, Mr. Rothfels says, p. 179) and, therefore, true, were made public and used at the tribunals. Another case of testimony that has been tampered with.
In the case of the Hochhuth play, we have only to point out the sources which he leans on for the authenticity of all the assertions in the Gerstein document as it was made known to the public, especially the assertion that "700 to 800 persons [were] asphyxiated" in gas chambers whose "floor area [was] 25 square meters." Among these sources there figures, naturally, Pastor Martin Niemoeller (and, we have seen what his testimony concerning Dachau was worth), a certain Professor Golo Mann (who attests to gas chamber exterminations at Mauthausen from 1942 on), and various other persons of about the same including even Bishop Otto Dibelius, who I held in esteem until then as having much greater discernment; various newspaper articles by unqualified people and numerous rumors round out Hochhuth's source material.
All this passes understanding. It is true that one should be astonished at nothing: at that Eichmann trial the judges accepted as truth, for days on end, the statements of people who saw -- with their own eyes -- the gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen working, which even the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte at Munich, that model of world resistantialism, admitted as having never existed.
Without doubt as a worthy counterpart to the Stellvertreter of the aforesaid Rolf Hochhuth there has just been brought out in France the Tragedie de la deportation in which, endorsed by Mrs. Olga Wormser and Mr. Henri Michel, even people like Mademoiselle Genevieve de Gaulle and the gentle Germaine TilIon come forward to reaffirm the existence of gas chambers and the systematic extermination by that means in one or the other of those camps where the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte says that they did not exist.
Every day, with pen quivering with indignation, the press wonders at the resurgence of nazism, racism, and anti-Semitism -- among which, however, they draw no distinctions. What makes me wonder is why the text tamperings of Mr. Poliakov and the others have so far not injected even more poison into the racism and the anti-Semitism which are aimed against the Jews. Nothing has been overlooked that would lead to that effect .
We know that Kurt Gerstein was an engineer, and, as such, he probably had a logical mind and probably was trained to make careful and accurate observations. Consequently, if it is true that he made the statement of which we have just read the resume (4), this man was obviously not, or was no longer, in possession of all his faculties when he did so. It is of interest to find out why. On this point, the clues we have about the circumstances of his death are to me very revealing. If we are to believe Hans Rothfels (op. cit. p. 185, note 25), the widow Gerstein was informed that he had hanged himself, with the following notice: "...Death was due to hanging. This manner of killing oneself can absolutely not be prevented in a prison." That may by true. but it is no reason for not telling her when the event took place or what was done with the body; and, the fact that the authorities professed ignorance on both scores seems to me to explain a lot of things.
Suppose, for instance, that the two military inquisitors -- a Major D.C. Evans and a J.W. Haught -- who were said to have started the interrogation of Kurt Gerstein, found themselves in the presence of a man who, at the time they confronted him, had not yet written anything, or, between the date of his arrest and his first interrogation, had written only what he had actually seen, which would have been horrible enough, knowing the savage character of the war in the East on both sides. To read the memoirs of all those who were arrested in Germany at this time, and under these conditions, that is generally what happened to them. They were invited by those who had arrested them to write their confessions; so, this is not an entirely gratuitous supposition. Whether Kurt Gerstein wrote his confession in French or in German is not important. It is possible that he wrote them in both languages -- at least, so they say. Let us suppose again, and this is not entirely gratuitous, either, given the ways of the military and the police, that after the French version was written they attempted to force him to say what is in the document which bears his name, but which represented their view at the moment of the events in question; on the Allies' side, concentration Camps, gas chambers and "genocide" were in general the central theme of the anti-German propaganda, and being familiar with the intellectual level of the military and the police in all countries of the world, it would not be astonishing if that view represented their profession of faith. They might, themselves, have gone on to the editing of the French text, which was then presented to Kurt Gerstein for his signature; at the same time they could have asked him to write a few lines at the end of the last page to make its authenticity positive. One can imagine the scene -- Kurt Gerstein -- an engineer, and a man who was a precise thinker refusing to countersign and to authenticate all of those technical impossibilities which do not stand examination, and the two inquisitors giving him the beating that was usual in such cases. They were pretty brutal with him, no doubt, since Kurt Gerstein was usually described as a man who could not be pushed without resisting into saying what he did not want to say. Later, we can imagine the same scene for the German text, which lasts much longer but takes place in the same manner. The German text was written on a typewriter with a handwritten endorsement, but was not signed. Another detail must be noted: the handwritten endorsement is shorter, and the formula of certification under oath which occurs in the French text is missing. So, my conclusion is that Kurt Gerstein was beaten unconscious, and then he died before getting to the oath and the signature ....
[break in text]
Everything now becomes very clear. Since he died during the interrogation at Rottweil (in Germany) as a result of the torture inflicted on him to obtain his confession, Kurt Gerstein could never have been transferred to Paris to be put at the disposal of the Securite Militaire. This imaginary transfer would not have been thought up in the first place, unless a simple examination would have shown to the naked eye the real causes of his death. By spiriting away his corpse, an autopsy was avoided and, thus, the inevitable subsequent scandal was also avoided. This hypothesis would explain, furthermore, how the Americans came to let the document that bears his signature lie undisturbed in the archives of their delegation at Nuremberg where Prosecutor Dubost found it. It is easy to understand, under such circumstances, why they had no desire to bring this body up to the surface by producing his so-called confession before the Nuremberg court. By rejecting it as not probative and by preventing Mr. Dubost from even reading it, the President of the hearing of January 30, 1946, knew very well what he was doing. But, Mr. Dubost, who had come so close to making a blunder, had given it out to the press. From then on, it could not be retracted, and its authenticity had to be sustained in order not to lose face before public opinion, which was thus already alerted.
There are only three other possible hypotheses:
First, at Rottweil, interrogated as Kurt Gerstein must have been to get a confession from him so manifestly out of line with the technical truths, he could have thought that the Americans would have him confirm the confession at the bar of some tribunal, at which time he could retract it and tell how it had been forced from him; however, foreseeing how he would be handled most likely by the ones thus exposed, in a moment of depression, he wanted to end his life quicker, suffer less, and, thus, committed suicide. Then, the body had to disappear so as not to reveal the marks it carried;
Second, he was actually transferred to Paris, where, to make him confess more, he was tortured again as he had been at Rottweil, and, for the same reason, he committed suicide; and, again, for the same reason the body had to disappear;
Third, either at Rottweil or at Paris, thinking that they could not get any more out of him than what he had said, or to avoid having him retract it in court, those who interrogated him murdered him in cold blood so that his supposed testimony could be presented by the prosecution without any risk of being contradicted by its author; in this latter case, it was still necessary to get rid of the body in view of the state that it was in, a condition which would have controverted the contention of suicide.
I maintain that the most plausible of these four hypotheses is the first. And, I maintain this opinion for the following reason: In July 1945, all of the French administrative services were in operation again, if not yet perfectly at least normally, and in all of the military or civil prisons, the prison registers were kept up to date. Therefore, one of two things must have happened: either the name of Kurt Gerstein occurs on the register of one of the prisons in the column " entered on... ;" the column "released on..." is blank, and the "observations" column records his death, the person or group to which his body was turned over, and the place where he was buried. Or else, which is the case, there is no notation for Kurt Gerstein, which means that he was never imprisoned in any military or civil prison in Paris. That fact would indicate that, if he left Rottweil for Paris, he never arrived. Was he assassinated en route? It is possible. In any case, the most precise of all those who have told us where he committed suicide is the always incredible Rothfels who writes:
Gerstein was then [after his arrest] put on his honor for the time being by the French occupation forces, with permission to go back and forth between Tubingen [where his family lived] and Rottweil. Then he was brought to a prison in Paris [at what date he does not tell us]. There on July 25, 1945, in the "military prison of Paris" he committed suicide. (op. cit. p. 185)
Aside from the freedom of movement that was allowed this prisoner while he was still at Rottweil, and which in itself should not cause the slightest surprise, the most curious thing in this statement is that he killed himself in "the military prison of Paris." In Paris there is not one, but several military prisons, each one being administratively designated by its own name,the most famous of which is the "Prison militaire du Cherche Midi." In 1945, given the extraordinary number of people, both military and civil, who were incarcerated, there were "military divisions," in addition, at la Sante, Fresnes, and other places. The official paper which mentions the death of Gerstein could only have as its letterhead: "Military Subdivision of Paris -- Military Prison of Cherche-Midi," or of Fort Montrouge, or of Caserne Neuilly, etc., or "Penitentiary Administration -- Prison de la Sante, (or Fresnes) Military Division." Depending on the administration which issued the communication, it could also, of course, have had other headings. For instance, the heading could have been "Securite militaire" or "Surete Generale;" but in no case could it have been "military prison of Paris." And if, in spite of this, it has this heading and if an official statement with another stamp gave notice of the death of Gerstein only in these terms and in quotation marks, then it is just a forgery that was prepared for the occasion by someone who knew nothing about the French police services, or about the French safety, intelligence, military and civil administrations. In short, it is a clumsy forgery -- another one!
Finally, the preceding discussion which has led us to the discovery of a forgery until now unnoticed, explains why the statements that are imputed to Kurt Gerstein seem to be those of a man who was not in possession of all his faculties: at the moment when they were given to him for his signature he was already on the point of death because of the methods that had been used to extract them from him, and he only had time to sign the French version before dying. The very form of the French version, as reproduced in Exhibit No. 124 at the Jerusalem trial, militates in favor of this contention. To my French eyes, which claim to know the maternal language fairly well, it looks much more like French written by an American (or an Englishman) rather than French written by a German. I would not be surprised if, when the day comes when this document can be examined, specialists discover that it was typed on an English or American machine, since, judging by its tenor, the intellectual level of those who wanted to make Kurt Gerstein endorse it seems to have been so low that they probably did not think it indispensable to type it out on a German or French machine. As it is, it would not be very bold to ask oneself if the handwritten notes on the French version are really in Kurt Gerstein's writing.
The value that can be placed on the Gerstein document having been assessed, what now must be done is to consider the value that Mr. Raul Hilberg placed on the document. I shall say right now that for once Mr. Raul Hilberg is very prudent. He devotes only three pages to the subject (pp. 570-572), and those pages mention, in passing, that Gerstein was present at "a gassing which took an especially long time" and that "to Wirth's great embarrassment and mortification [he] timed the operation with a stop watch." However, nothing is said about the size of the gas chambers or about the figures concerning the extent of the exterminations by gas. The invoices for Zyklon B, which are appended to the document, are mentioned too. Here, I must point out that, basing himself on these invoices (12 of them according to Rothfels op. cit. p. 179; two, claimed by Prosecutor Dubost at the Trial of the Major War Criminals, with one for Oranienburg and the other for Auschwitz) and those invoices which were produced in the court of the Tribunal which in 1949 judged the DEGESCH Gesellschaft, producer of Zyklon B, Mr. Raul Hilberg calculates (P. 570) that the amounts of this product which were delivered in 1943 and 1944 by this company to the German Army, were 160 tons, and to the sanitation services of the SS were 125 tons (12 for Auschwitz in 1943, none in 1944, but 7.5 tons in 1942). In the aggregate these figures seem plausible to me; in any case, they seem Proportionate -- but in the aggregate only. If from 1942 to the end of the war, the German Army ordered and had delivered 160 tons of Zyklon B, it is quite possible, judging by their needs in the face of the exigencies of the first Russian campaign during 1941, that the sanitary services of the SS would later have required 125 tons. But, in detail I am much more cautious, and the shipments to Auschwitz particularly distress me. In the 12 invoices that were appended to the Gerstein document, bearing dates between the 14th of February and the 31st of May 1944, there were indeed some that pertained to Auschwitz, as Messrs. Dubost and Rothfels have told us. However, of these dates none are given in Mr. Raul Hilberg's calculation. And, the absence of dates make the exactness of his calculations awkward to follow.
Since I am not a specialist in the use of Zyklon B for hygienic purposes, I am not in a position to give a definitive analysis of the significance of an all-inclusive delivery to Auschwitz of 19.5 tons of Zyklon B, allowing for the fact that a greater amount was delivered, since Mr. Raul Hilberg forgot to include the deliveries of 1944 in his calculations. However, even if I were such an expert, quite a number of factors that would be needed to shape an estimate would be lacking. Therefore, this is all that I can say:
1. Just the fact that the Zyklon B was delivered to a concentration camp does not permit one to conclude that it was used to asphyxiate the prisoners; otherwise, one must conclude that it was similarly used in other camps where it was delivered but where no extermination of that kind has been shown;
2. Auschwitz was a Stammlager (central camp) which means that there were more Kommandos stationed around there than, I suspect but cannot however confirm, were located, at Chelmno, Belzec, Mijdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. This figure for total delivery is then not just for the Auschwitz camp, but all those Kommandos around the camp, a list of which, as far as I know, has never been made known;
3. In order to estimate the consumption of Zyklon B correctly, we would have to know how many tons of this overall total were used and how many were not, how many persons went through the camp, and how many kilos of Zyklon B were required to disinfect their clothing on their arrival at the rate of 1,500 to 2,000 persons per convoy. Then, we would have to know how much Zyklon B was used for the minimum disinfection of underclothing necessary for the total population of the camp, and for the Kommandos, every fifteen days. Even if we find out someday about how many persons were involved and about how many tons of Zyklon B were required, we still shall not know how many tons were effectively used, because we shall never know, there having been no inventory, how many were not used. And, so we shall never be able to make a comparison which would allow us to say whether much more Zyklon B was used than was required for disinfection --in which case one might speak of exterminations using this material. And, this means that we have to keep searching until we find other methods of assessment;
4. Was all of the Zyklon B that was delivered to Auschwitz used? If so, then we would have proof that more was used than was reasonable, and we would have to concede the point, but that possibility is excluded. All the camps were abundantly supplied with this product, and I shall give but one example of it: the train in which I was evacuated from Dora, which left the camp at the last minute, and which I left and then got on again under circumstances which I have described in an earlier chapter, included a car three-quarters full of iron bound boxes with labels all over them: some of the labels bore "Blausaure" (Prussic acid) on a red background while the others had "Vorsicht " (danger) on a white background. Below the "Vorsicht" there were some lines which I did not read. I had more things to worry about than stuff that was labeled dangerous. I was looking for a bag and shoes which obviously were not to be found there, and I was not interested. Moreover, I was far from being able to surmise what the Blausaure was to be used for. It was much, much later, after I read Kogon, that I put two and two together. But, I only wanted to say that there is no reason for not thinking that the other camps, and especially Auschwitz, were just as abundantly supplied as Dora and that the total amount of Zyklon B delivered to Auschwitz was no more used up than was that which had been delivered to Dora. And here we are once again faced with the unanswerable question: how much of it was used?
If this question cannot be answered, one might as well say that no significance can be attributed to the deliveries of Zyklon B that were made to Auschwitz which are laid out so complacently -- and, alas, so incompletely -- by Mr. Raul Hilberg, except that this product was, by definition, not a man-killer, but an insecticide and a disinfectant and was used as such since 1924 by all the German Military and civil health services (5). The invoices produced, in any case, are not grounds for going beyond this statement itself without foundering in suppositions and conjectures, all of which are absolutely, indisputably, and shockingly gratuitous. What we have just seen on this point provides it only too well.
Mr. Raul Hilberg was well inspired not to retain either the description of extermination by gas, as the Gerstein document says its author witnessed (Remember: 700 to 800 persons in a room 25 meters square in area!), or the statistics concerning the Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor camps. At least he avoided the misadventure of that poor Mr. Rothfels.
Let us recall, too, the statistics as they occur in the German text (in the French text given by Mr. Poliakov in the Breviaire de la Haine they are not the same, and, doubtless, for the same reasons that Mr. Raul Hilberg, and the Jerusalem court, did not use them) which were made public following the article by Mr. Rothfels (op. cit. pp. 187-194), and according to which the extermination capacity of the camps was the following:
Belzec:.................15,000 persons a day;
Treblinka:............25,000 persons a day;
Sobibor:...............20,000 persons a day.
About that, Mr. Rothfels wrote (op. cit. p. 181) that "600,000 having perished at Belzec, Gerstein's estimate of 15,000 per day is not plausible" (von 15, 000 pro Tag nichts unwahrscheinliches). This camp officially began exterminating in March 1942, and stopped in December of the same year (Poliakov, op. cit. p. 224), which makes the duration of its operation some nine months or 270 days; 15,000 times 270 equals 4,050,000 persons and not 600,000.
Let us continue with this kind of reasoning: Treblinka and Sobibor were officially exterminating from March 1942 to "the autumn of 1943," about 18 months or 540 days. At the daily rate which is given in the preceding paragraph, we get an extermination total for the first of 13,500,000 persons and for the second of 10,800,000 persons. In all, for these three camps alone there must have been 28,350,000 persons exterminated. And, if we are to believe Mr. Gerstein, they were all Jews! Incidentally, this total does not count those exterminated by the same process at Chelmno, which the Gerstein document does not cite, and at Mijdanek, which it cites as being "in preparation" at the time of his visit in August 1942, so he could not estimate its capacity.
And that is the sort of testimony that they have the audacity to present to us as being "reliable!" To complete the picture let us point out that, when they come to summing up and to giving the totals of Jewish losses in each of these camps, those who seriously offer this nonsense arrive at figures like the one Rothfels found for Belzec. Below is a table giving these losses as estimated by the Polish Commission on War Crimes (from Poliakov, op cit. p. 224), and Mr. Raul Hilberg (op. cit. p. 572):
One wonders just how the Warsaw Commission and Mr. Raul Hilberg came to these conclusions; there is no evidence that they referred to the Gerstein document, and neither one cites any other documentary references worthy of the name.
For Auschwitz, in the same table, Mr. Raul Hilberg gives one million dead, whereas to my knowledge no one else ever gave less than two million, (7) with most of the witnesses mentioning four. I do not think that I go too far in saying that if people who examine the same occurrence and who claim to be as qualified as the Polish Commission on War Crimes and as Mr. Raul Hilberg, Professor at the University of Vermont, can arrive at such disparate results as we have seen, it must be that their units of measure, or their bases of reference, are purely conjectural, do not rest on anything positive, and derive from different and extremely doubtful sources. The proof which supports my observation is furnished by the Polish Commission and Mr. Raul Hilberg themselves. I have before me at least one hundred of the references which the Polish Commission turned to in order to arrive at figures for which it is responsible in the preceding table. Among these references, one finds such things as: German Crimes in Poland (Warsaw, 1948), which is a pack of contradictions by people of whom it cannot even be said that they existed and who are given as "survivors;" or, "Testimony of Dr. Rothbalsam (dead!), gathered by Mme. Novitch;" or Belzec, (Cracow, 1946) which is a book of recollections on the camp, by someone named Reder, given as "sole survivor," about whom it was said at the Jerusalem trial (hearing of June 6, 1961) that he had been "dead since..."
As for Mr. Raul Hilberg, on almost every page of his book, one finds references, in footnotes, such as these: "Affidavit by Rudolf Schonberg, survivor" (p. 311, nt. 14), or "Borkomorowski, The Secret Army" (p. 315, nt. 32), or the testimony of an unnamed survivor taken by Cohen in "Human Behaviour in the Concentration Camp" (p. 625, nt. 22), or, again, another testimony, of another survivor, named this time but just as hypothetical, taken by a certain Friedman in his book, Osviecim (p. 622, nt. 8), etc...etc. And, in addition to personal testimony, there abound extracts from papers and documents which were written during the war or since its end. In the first case, they are papers published under German control. Bits of statistics are found in them that are not always in agreement; often these documents are annotated or evaluated by journalists who are not specialists; these documents and papers may discuss the steps that were taken to plunder, to ghettoize, or to concentrate; they may outline the bad treatment of which the Jews were victims, but never do they say anything whatsoever that could justify an interpretation in the sense of murder or extermination by gas or otherwise. The word "Judenfrei" often recurs, applied to a territory, a country or a region, but it means "freed of Jews," not their extermination as Mr. Raul Hilberg insinuates. In the second case, they are papers that were published after the war ended. One finds that these documents and papers, annotated by non-witnesses, contain accounts which were given by witnesses, who, for the most part are not named. If they are named, they generally are given as "dead since," thereby precluding the possibility of being cross-examined, in a controlled manner, by qualified persons.
How, indeed, could one possibly think that these witnesses are objective observers, people who, if they are still alive, will admit that since their release from the concentration camps, every move that they have made, and still make, in their lives is dictated by the hatred that they have forever sworn for the Germans? Quite a number of witnesses of this kind appeared before the Jerusalem court to testify that they had seen gas chambers in camps where, as is acknowledged by everyone including Jewish sources, none existed.
The basic shortcoming of this kind of testimony -- if one wants to obtain the truth -- is found in the fact that it was given by people who were not witnesses, in the sense of relating honestly what they actually saw, but who were demanding reparations -- as well as retribution -- for what they have suffered. Consequently, they had an interest in saying those things which were calculated by them to support their objective. In all of this extermination business there are mostly accusers, who back each other up, and forgeries, crudely fabricated, whose authenticity is verified only by false witnesses. And, like Mr.Rothfels when faced with the Gerstein document, Mr. Raul Hilberg, with a frightening lack of conscience and an unimaginable contempt for the most elementary rules of his profession, pretends not to have seen the existence of bias and interest which undermines the credibility of his source material. And, here we are again back to the fundamental problem of our times: the extraordinary intellectual and moral prostration of the elites.
This latter observation is not addressed to the Commission for War Crimes of Warsaw, or, for example, to Madame Hannah Arendt; these two, from all evidence, do not belong to the elites. The first was created on the other side of the Iron Curtain, not to verify historical facts, but to produce evidence that can be used for certain kinds of propaganda. To take part in the Warsaw Commission it is not at all necessary to be a historian, but just a communist.
As for the second, Mme. Arendt is obviously a Zionist propagandist. Much of the data which she uses in her report of the Eichmann Trial (The New Yorker, op. cit.) derive from what she has read in the book by Mr. Raul Hilberg, which she assimilated badly, which she dishes back to us even more clumsily than the manner in which it was given in the first place, and which she cites with the clearest and most positive avowals. Mr. Robert Kempner, that former Prussian Police commissioner who is a much higher ranking agent of Zionism, is, moreover, not at all pleased with the manner in which she carried out her task. In Aufbau (Vol. XXIX, No. 15, April 12, 1963) he administered one of those blistering attacks which I recommend the reader to read. Asinus asinam castiget, the Romans of today would say of this shabby controversy.
To return to the Gerstein document and to finish with it, I now ask the following question: If it is not true that the gas chambers at Belzec, Treblinka, and Sobibor could asphyxiate between 15,000 and 25,000 persons a day; if it is not true that a gas chamber 25 meters square could hold 700 to 800 persons; if it is not true that a train with 45 cars could transport 6,700 persons; and if it is not true that Hitler was at Belzec on August 15, 1942, I ask what does it contain that is true, since it contains nothing else? Are the Zyklon B invoices that are appended to the document genuine? Perhaps, but they prove nothing.
Of all those who have endorsed the authenticity of this document, only one grieves me, Otto Dibelius, Bishop of Berlin, whose fine independent spirit and sureness of judgment I have drawn attention to, particularly with regard to the Nuremberg Trial. According to Mr. Rothfels, (op. cit. pp. 181-182) he wrote a letter to the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte at Munich, dated November 22, 1949, in which, after a series of praises addressed to Gerstein,we find the following sentence: "Through it I was in a position to establish that Gerstein's communication to me, insofar as his Swedish acquaintance came into the question, had been absolutely according to the truth. So had also been his original report." Of Eugen Kogon, David Rousset, Golo Mann, Hans Rothfels, Hannah Arendt, Raul Hilberg, among others, I have made a special and individual study of each of them, and it does not seem that anything else could have been expected of them.
V. ConclusionWith regard to gas chambers, the almost endless procession of false witnesses and of falsified documents to which I have invited the reader's attention during this long study, proves, nevertheless, only one thing: never at any moment did the responsible authorities of the Third Reich intend to order or in fact, order -- the extermination of the Jews in this or any other manner (8). Did such exterminations take place without orders? This question has haunted me for fifteen years, and it is the Gerstein document, the worst and most immoral forgery of all, that indirectly put me in a position finally to answer it in a positive way.
It was June 1963. The first and the second part of my Le veritable proces Eichmann ou Les Vainqueurs incorrigibles had just come out in German with the title Zum Fall Eichmann and the subtitle Was ist Wahrheit? ... oder die unbelehrbaren Sieger. (14) For fifteen years, every time that I heard of a witness anywhere, no matter where in the portion of Europe that was not occupied by the Soviets, who claimed to have himself been present at gas exterminations, I immediately went to him to get his testimony. And, each time the experience ended in the same way. With documentation in hand, I would ask him so many precise and detailed questions that soon it became apparent that he could not answer except by lying. Often his lies became so transparent, even to himself, that he ended his testimony by declaring that he had not seen it himself, but that one of his good friends, who had died in the camps and whose good faith he could not doubt, had told him about it. I covered thousands and thousands of kilometers throughout Europe in this way.
One day in the month of June 1963, I had a strange visitor, a German, who was large and of good carriage, who looked about sixty (but during our conversation I learned that he was actually much older) who had a little something military in his bearing, who was very distinguished in appearance, and who was exquisitely polite. In his hands was my first book on the subject, the German edition of Mensonge d'Ulysse, in which a book marker was sticking out.
He introduced himself and told me about the purpose of his visit, which he wanted kept absolutely confidential. I Promised to preserve that confidentiality, and that is why I have presented what was said in our conversation in such a way that he cannot be identified; the account of what he told me alone being authentic.
He did not want to have his name given because during the war he had been a high ranking civilian in an important government service. He had not been a military man, but was a professional within the civil service. He did not conceal from me, that, although he had not been an active National Socialist, he had, nevertheless, given his support to the Party in 1933. When the war was over, he had narrowly escaped being a defendant at Nuremberg. Although he had been "denazified" like everyone else, he had lost his former governmental position. He had suffered a great many difficulties, and he had had enough. He did not want to begin all that again. The story that he had been carrying around inside him for twenty years burdened him, but he was to be excused for the cowardice which had made him keep it to himself until the present. When the war ended, he had four children, all very young, and, at more than fifty, a whole new career to carve out.
I willingly and very sincerely conceded this. I understood the moral -- and often physical -- misery that millions and millions of Germans have lived through and still live with, and which reduced them to a silence that they only break when they vote periodically for Chancellor Adenauer, although his politics do not please them, but whom they consider the only German capable of protecting them a little against the punitive measures of the German counterparts of Tomas de Torquemada, like Prosecutor-General Bauer.
These things said, and his conditions having been accepted by me, my interlocutor opened his copy of Le Mensonge d'Ulysse to the marked page, set it down in front of him, and without further preamble started right in.
"You say, and I believe you," he said in substance, "that not one of the witnesses who have claimed to have been present at exterminations by gas have, until now, been able to prove it to you. I have just read your last writings on the matter, and I feel that you are on the point of concluding that there were none. Seeing the interest that your works have aroused, I thought that it would be very dangerous, both for you and for Germany, if you do, since you could not fail to be discredited, a fate which you do not deserve. Moreover, if you were discredited, Germany, at the same time, would have lost her only defender who has some hearing. And, so I have come to tell you myself that I have been present at an extermination by gas..."
"Then I do not understand you," I answered. "It does not seem to me that if you told your story publicly that you would risk, as you claim, being imprisoned again. Witnesses of this kind are being sought by Prosecutor Bauer, who has so far not found anyone who is trustworthy, and if you are sure of yourself, go to him; he will lay down the red carpet..."
"Be patient," he interrupted, "In Germany in order not to be thrown into prison, it is not enough to state that one has witnessed an extermination by gas. It has to be told exactly as it was described in a document or by a witness officially recognized as reliable, and that is not my case. You will see. I was on an official trip to Lublin, and I had just gone in to see Globocnik when Gerstein was announced. Chance had it that I found myself again with him the next day at Belzec. And, if I say that I also was present at the extermination that is referred to in the document which is attributed to him, I must also add that everything said in it concerning the gassing operation, as well as the circumstances under which he was present and his conversation with Globocnik, is, from one end to the other, utterly false. Without any doubt, such testimony on my part would be enough to have me thrown automatically and immediately into prison."
I understood less and less. "If everything is false from beginning to end," I ventured, "there was, therefore, no extermination . . ." "There was one all right," he said. "But let us begin at the beginning." And, then, he told the story ... From his long recital, which I have abridged in order to stick to the essentials, it turned out that:
1. In the conversation that he had at Lublin with Gerstein, in the presence of my visitor and two or three military men whose names my visitor only remembered because they are given in the Gerstein document, Globocnik had spoken only of Belzec and absolutely had not mentioned any other camps. Concerning the number of persons that could be exterminated at the Belzec installation, not one figure was given. Furthermore, he did not begin the conversation by talking of extermination; he talked only of the disinfecting of clothing. It was only further into the conversation that, while deploring the limited means for disinfection available at Belzec, he said, in passing that he had found a very efficient method which would permanently resolve the Jewish question. When inquiry was made by my visitor as to what he meant, he described his Diesel engine at Belzec... "But," declared Globocnik, "it is only a makeshift installation; what I need is a more deadly gas, which is easier to use. That is why I have sent Gunther to get from Gerstein those things that are better adapted to do this job."
"I was horrified," my visitor said to me. "Because of my civilian position, I was the only one listening to Globocnik who could say anything. 'But after all,' I said to him, 'it is a crime, and are you sure that that is the solution that the Fuehrer has in mind for the Jewish problem?' 'Certainly I am sure,' was all that Globocnik answered, shrugging his shoulders. And, with a knowing look, but without saying it precisely, he suggested that the authority for his project came from the Fuehrer himself. Moreover, he insisted that it must be kept secret. Unlike what is said in the Gerstein document, he did not state that Himmler and Hitler had been to Lublin two days before -- that is pure invention."
2. During the conversation, my visitor remarked that Globocnik had said that he had sent Gunther to Gerstein to get a more poisonous gas and less complicated apparatus. My visitor had noted that this was not the normal operating procedure, and he had wondered why Globocnik had not addressed himself directly to the supply office by letter. This fact made my visitor suspicious about the entire operation. My visitor said that Globocnik's assignment at Warthegau was a punitive measure that had been imposed for a number of misdeeds which he had committed during his tenure as Gauleiter in the Vienna area. At Berlin he also had a very bad reputation, at least, so my visitor claimed. Thus, with the intention of speaking about this business as soon as he got back to Berlin, my visitor decided to go to Belzec -- even though his business did not require him to go -- so as to be in a position to speak about the matter with some first hand knowledge.
At Belzec he saw a very small camp, with enough barracks to have housed four or five hundred people. He saw the inmates walking around the camp and they appeared to be well fed and in good shape. Moreover, upon inquiry he learned that they were all Jews. He was told by a Jewish inmate that there was a small railway station with a single track that served the camp. >From time to time, a short train would arrive full of his coreligionists. The people in the camp were to greet the arrivals and were to assist in their extermination by herding them into a little house, which was shown him, where they were asphyxiated. On the house was a sign which read "Fondation Heckenholt, " the name of the Jew who was in charge of starting and keeping the motor running. The inmate told all this while eating a jam tart, which clouds of flies tried to settle on and which he kept brushing away. A disgusting smell similar to that of a freshly opened grave pervaded the camp. The flies and the stench came from the massive pits where the victims were buried after each gassing. Hauptsturmfuehrer Wirth, formerly an officer with the Stuttgart criminal police and commandant of this camp, received my interlocutor on his arrival. He and another S.S. officer, his deputy, who accompanied them during his visit, both complained incessantly about the Kommando to which they had been assigned. They begged him to use his influence to get them transferred to another unit as soon as he returned to Berlin. Neither one of them could understand how they could be required to do such work, and they were sure that at Berlin nothing was known about what was going on here. "Why do you not ask for a transfer yourselves?" asked my visitor. "Then, after getting it you could expose this disgraceful business..." "This is just what Globocnik is afraid of," he was told. "And another thing, we could not apply for a transfer without going through channels, and that means going through him, and for fear of being exposed, either he would not grant it, or he would have us shot at once on some pretext or other. We know of cases... Fortunately you have come here and you can, at the same time that you get us out of here through your connections in Berlin, stop this shameful business... Fortunately, too, it is only a small train with few cars that arrives from time to time, two or three up to now (9). Otherwise, with the limited means we have at hand for burying the bodies, we would be living in a regular center of infection, breeding every imaginable disease... Tomorrow a train is scheduled to arrive at about seven in the morning..."
3. My interlocutor told me that, upon being informed of the expected train, he decided to stay. Accompanied by Wirth and his S.S. aide, he again visited the little house that had been fixed up for exterminations, and he described it to me. It had a raised ground floor, and a hallway with three small rooms on each side, which he did not measure, but which he thought had an area of surely less than 5 x 5 meters, perhaps 4 x 5 maximum, and all of them were rectangular, not square. At the end of the hall was the room where the Diesel motor was located in the center on a cement base and a little below floor level. I asked about this motor and how it was connected up to exhaust outlets in each of the six rooms. It was a truck motor, about 1.50 meters long, a little less than 1 meter wide, and a good meter in height, including the concrete base. Its power he did not know; perhaps it had 200 horsepower, he said. I pointed out to him that it was said to have been a marine engine, and, therefore, it must have been much bigger if it had been built for a ship. "Surely not," he said. "it was a truck motor, at least its dimensions led me to visualize it on a truck." He remembered the number of cylinders, six in one row. As for the connection with the exhaust pipes, in order to proceed faster, he made a drawing for me, which showed that the motor exhaust was introduced into each room by means of a pipe that was connected to an outlet in the floor. "I do not wonder," I said, "that Globocnik wanted to find a more efficient method. It must have been horribly long..." " A quarter of an hour," he interrupted.
If until now this account had seemed plausible to me, after this remark, this "quarter of an hour" weighed heavily on the rest of our conversation. We talked about it at length, and we kept returning to it, with me maintaining that it was absolutely impossible and with him insisting that it was nevertheless true. I had already studied the Gerstein document together with automotive engineers and toxicologists and I knew what I was talking about. In response to my technical objections, he said that he had seen it and that "nevertheless it was true." In vain I tried to explain to him that, with 200 horsepower or even more, a Diesel engine could not produce, in a quarter of an hour, the necessary toxic concentration in 250 to 300 cubic meters of air to cause death. That faced with the impossibility of getting 700 to 800 persons -- 40 to 50 at a maximum, my interlocutor corrected -- into rooms of 40 to 45 cubic meters, and knowing the limitations of a Diesel engine, the writer of the document had to reduce to almost nothing the quantity of air to be made toxic. I added that the atmosphere in the house in question would not be sufficiently toxic to kill everyone until after 32 minutes and that if the day before Globocnik had said himself that the method was not very efficient, it was just another proof that the operation must have lasted a long time. Finally, I pointed out that after twenty years his memory could not be so exact, etc. Nothing budged him. He would not change his mind about the quarter of an hour, except to say that he had not timed it with his watch and that without doubt his estimate was within a minute or two of being exact. Moreover, his demeanor reflected only good faith. Since then I have, with his sketch in hand, questioned many experts on combustion engines, fluid combustion, and toxicology, no one has been willing to give less than one and a half to two hours ....
During the rest of the conversation, nothing else came up that I took exception to, but this objection is an important one and is very disturbing. There was one other thing that was strange about the asphyxiating apparatus. I did not understand why the designer had divided the space into six rooms instead of leaving it in one, which would have been less costly and less complicated; but, I did not press the point.
4. Meanwhile, Gerstein arrived with three or four people; my visitor was no longer quite sure how many. Globocnik, who had come with them, turned right around and went back. During his conversation the day before with Globocnik, my visitor reported that Gerstein had related that his trip from Berlin to Lublin had not been uneventful. What he had with him was not Zyklon B in crystals, as one might think, but liquid prussic acid in bottles, and with the incessant jolting on a road in bad repair, one or two of these bottles had broken in the truck. He and his driver had been very frightened. My visitor then asked him how his trip from Lublin to Belzec had been. "Very good," he replied. "We left the goods at Lublin..."
They inspected the camp together, and in the evening, still together, they were served at dinner by a couple of Jewish prisoners. The atmosphere was heavy; the most talkative one was Gerstein. He seemed keyed up, and everything he said seemed to be aimed at belittling Globocnik. He inspired confidence in no one, at least my interlocutor had that impression. And, when he heard several years later, from one of his friends who had had Gerstein as a student, that the latter was a psychopath, he was not surprised.
The next morning, between 7 and 8 o'clock, the expected transport of Jews arrived; it was a train of four or five cars, with some 250 to 300 men, women, and children, and not with 6,000 or 6,700 persons, piled into 45 cars, as the Gerstein Document claims. Likewise, the 200 Ukrainians that are mentioned in the Document were in reality about two dozen Jewish inmates from the camp. There was no brutality; no doors were wrenched from the cars; no one was struck with rubber truncheons. Rather, there was a brotherly reception from their coreligionists, plainly intent on creating a feeling of confidence in the arrivals.
In preparing the victims for the gassing, they were required to deposit their valuables and jewels at the Effecktenkammer in return for a receipt; then they proceeded to the barber. Finally, they were made to undress. The undressing was the longest process and took almost all morning. These unfortunates asked their coreligionists, who had received them under the armed guard of a few listless and inattentive S.S., what was to become of them. They were told that they were to be disinfected and that, after that, they would be assigned to labor Kommandos according to their abilities. They were told to take a deep breath during the disinfection process -- a hideous spectacle for those who knew.
Then, they were herded into the building where the gassing was to take place. Haphazardly they were divided up among the six rooms -- 40 to 50 per room, my visitor repeated. The doors were closed, and the lights were put out. At this moment, the only things to be heard were the prayers of these unfortunates, and the cries of fright from the women and the children. The engine was started and, a quarter of an hour later, the bodies were removed by the Totenkommando, which was composed of Jewish prisoners. The corpses were carried to a waiting grave.
"But that grave," I interrupted, "they must have seen it, since, really, for 250 to 300 people it must have been quite sizeable." My visitor replied, "No. It had been dug some distance behind the gassing house, and they could not see it. The bodies were taken out through side doors in each room, directly to the outside, sort of garage doors. The dimensions of the grave? I have an idea that it must have been about 20 meters long, 5 wide, and barely 2 deep..."
And, he explained the dangers of that kind of burial. Wirth had told him that into that huge grave lots of gasoline had been poured over the heap of corpses. But, the attempt to cremate the corpses in that manner had been only partially successful. Earth was thrown on top of the corpses, but after two or three days this earth raised up from the pressure of gas rising from below. And, it infected the air. Also, the rotting flesh attracted the clouds of those flies which one saw everywhere. Deciding that he now had seen enough, my visitor left the camp without delay and returned to Lublin.
I tried to return the conversation to a discussion of the "quarter of an hour" that the gassing was supposed to have lasted, by expressing the opinion that the length of the breakdown of the diesel engine, which lasted two hours and forty nine minutes, according to the Gerstein Document, could actually have been not a breakdown, but the added time that this engine required to poison the air sufficiently to cause death. I had no success with this suggestion. My visitor was sure that there had been not the least engine trouble and that the gassing took only a quarter of an hour.
My visitor's business in the region around Lublin took longer than he had anticipated. He was detained in Lodz for a good two weeks, and he could not get back to Berlin until about September 15. Immediately upon his return he went straight to Dr. Grawitz who was a friend of his and a close associate of Reichsfuehrer-S.S. Heinrich Himmler. After hearing his tale, Dr. Grawitz jumped up, horrified, and rushed without delay to Himmler.
"I cannot now be specific about the dates," he added, "but about ten days later, Dr. Grawitz came himself to tell me, while at the same time congratulating me for my intervention, that an inquiry was underway about what I had reported, and, a few weeks later -- I remember that it was just a few days after All Saints Day -- that the camp had been closed and Globocnik once again had been transferred (10). That is all I know."
I told my visitor about Dr. Konrad Morgen's testimony at Nuremberg on the 7th and 8th of August 1945 (I.M.T., Volume XX, pp. 520-553). He knew about it and gave it no credit. The portrait that Morgen drew of Wirth, making him an unscrupulous criminal, corresponded in no way with what was the actual fact. Morgen had described him as being the commandant of four camps and the Deus ex-machina of the whole business (op. cit. pp. 528-29), while, in reality, he was the despairing commandant of the Belzec camp only, and, furthermore, he was bullied and terrorized by Globocnik. Then again, Morgen had testified that he had met Wirth, and if he had met Wirth, it could only have been at Belzec. But, he gave the date of this meeting as "the end of 1943" (op. cit. p. 527), when the camp had been closed at the latest in December 1942. This Dr. Konrad Morgen was a man who had held the rank of Obersturmbannfuehrer in the S.S., who had headed the criminal police office of the Reich, with special powers that had been conferred by Himmler himself, and who probably had many things on his conscience, my visitor concluded.
I had no difficulty sharing that view with him. Morgen had said that the had met Höss, as Commandant of the Auschwitz camp, "...towards the end of 1943, beginning of 1944" (op. cit., p. 540), when Höss had not been in that post after the end of November 1943; Morgen placed all of the exterminations by gas at Monowitz (op. cit., p. 540), when all witnesses have subsequently placed them at Birkenau; Morgen claimed that Wirth received his orders directly from Hitler's Chancellery (op. cit. p. 531), when, etc....
5. It was at this moment in our conversation that the eyes of my interlocutor fell on Le Mensonge d'Ulysse open before him, and to which until then he had not made any reference. "I have read your books," he continued; "In my opinion your critique of the testimonies and documents produced at Nuremberg is impeccable and will one day bear fruit. Thanks are due you. But what interests me (he took the open book in both hands) is the problem of gas exterminations, the only issue that truly touches upon the honor of Germany. So this is what I have come to tell you. Here (he showed me the book) you have given, in 1950, a most correct interpretation, when, in formulating your judgment, you came to the conclusion that there had been very few such exterminations and those few were the work of, I quote, 'only one or two insane persons in the S.S.' I would have said 'one or two criminal sadists.' Believe me, I knew this crowd well. As a whole it was a decent group, but it was not free -- like all social groups -- of a few sadists who were capable of the most unimaginable crimes. Globocnik was surely one of them. I know Höss only from what I had heard of him in Berlin from the people in my branch of service who knew him. He did not have a good reputation either. And, it is possible that at Auschwitz he behaved the way Globocnik did around Lublin. I do not know that for certain; I only say that it is possible. And, judging from what you yourself have written about that camp, it would have been easy for him since everything which was needed to make such activity possible was obtainable at Auschwitz."
I agreed, although I had not directed my supposition to any one particular camp -- for the very reason that one could give so little credit to that mass of false testimony and false documents on the subject that had been gathered by the various military tribunals. It was one of the hypotheses that I had advanced for the camps in general with the old adage, "where there is smoke, there is fire," in mind. Actually, all of my efforts tended to show that if there had been exterminations by gas they could only have been conducted on a very limited basis since there was no positive evidence to support the existence of the widespread practice.
"There were exterminations by gas," he concluded. "I have brought you an example." Then he added: "However, they were neither massive nor deliberately ordered by the hierarchy of the Third Reich, in spite of what the evidence that was created out of thin air at Nuremberg, and that was verified by unscrupulous people, seemed to indicate; rather, such activities were the deeds of a few isolated criminals. What is certain is that each time that the authorities of the Third Reich were informed about things of this kind, they put an end to it, and I brought you proof of that. At Nuremberg, the prosecution simply made use of these isolated instances of criminal activity in order to establish the existence of an officially sanctioned practice for the purpose of dishonoring Germany. It is a little like claiming that the French systematically killed all of the German prisoners that they took during the war, basing the claim on the one case at Annecy on August 19, 1944. There are potential criminals among all peoples, and war -- which unleashes their instincts -- nurtures their depravity to incredible dimensions. Take the example of the French Resistance in whose name and Protection those criminals, of which unhappily France has the same kind and as many as Germany or any other country, committed their crimes (11). Consider the behavior of your troops during their occupation of Germany after May 1945..."(12)
He paused for a moment and then said, "Let it go at that, Sir. The honor of Germany will only be saved when it is definitely established that the exterminations by gas were the exception, and then only the act of a few criminals who were disowned as soon as they were uncovered. As for the rest, Heavens, it was war, and we are no better than Germany's enemies."(13)
I reassured him by telling him that if I stubbornly questioned every line of every document and deposition upon which was based this monstrous indictment of which Germany was the victim and that if my examination of this evidence caused me to conclude that it was nothing but the crudest of fabrications, it would not allow me to claim that there never had been an extermination by gas. Moreover, I had never claimed that, but only had stated that I had never found any reliable evidence to support that contention. "I am happy that I was fearful over nothing," he said. "Excuse me. Germany's honor owes much to you, and you richly deserve it."
And, that was the end. The discussion lost itself in generalities, but later we returned to the subject of Globocnik. I maintained that if he had only been transferred, which did not seem to me to have actually happened, the punishment had indeed been very light. "That," answered by interlocutor, "is characteristic of totalitarian systems. Those people sent so far from Berlin had been sent with the power given to Roman proconsuls. Moreover, the Nazi state was racist, and it did not consider crimes against the Jews in the same light as it viewed crimes against others; it was more indulgent towards those guilty of the former. The case of Koch, commandant at Buchenwald, who was shot for lesser crimes that had been committed against prisoners considered Aryan, is the proof. But, see what the State of Israel does. If they are gentiles, it demands the death sentence for all the Kapos guilty of crimes in the exercise of their duties as guards of gangs of prisoners in the concentration camps, and if they are Jewish, it finds many excuses for them and dismisses the charges or, at the most, imposes jail sentences of a few months, which are then suspended."
I shall spare the reader the details of the other subjects that we touched upon during the balance of our rambling conversation: the Versailles Treaty and its responsibility for the rise of German National Socialism, and, consequently, the outbreak of the Second World War; the war; wars, etc.
If I have made a point of ending this chapter with this testimony, it is because, on the one hand, a historian worthy of the name should not suppress anything that he knows which is relevant to the subject under discussion, and on the other, because I was not seriously able to impeach it except on one point. Moreover, whether right or wrong, the good faith of its author and his sincerity seemed obvious. It is one of the canons of historiography that a testimony cannot be impugned if it seems inconsistent on one point only. After all, history does not, so to speak, offer examples of testimonies that are perfectly consistent. This one, in fact, summed up the opinion which I had formed after a study of all of the documents and the testimony that was produced at Nuremberg on the subject of the extermination of the Jews by gas.
All this, however, does not at all mean that I endorse this testimony. Testis unus, testis nullus, that is also one of the laws of history, and I know only too well the ancient truth that nothing resembles perfect good faith more than perfect bad faith. Without going so far as to claim that this aphorism applied to my interlocutor, and I am far from wanting to conceal the pleasure and interest that I took in his conversation, I still must say that in spite of all that argues in his favor, and although his entry on the scene, regrettably late, can be excused by circumstances, his testimony can only be accepted with the most distinct reservations. All that one can say is that it is more acceptable than what we have so far been accustomed to, and in which we have been completely submerged. We shall not know what it is really worth unless those, who so zealously suppress impartial inquiry into the subject in an attempt to throttle the historical truth that they know, renounce the drastic measures that are resorted to to keep it from coming to light, and, instead, assist it to return to an atmosphere of free discussion. Then, all of those persons who know or who think that they know something about any event whatsoever concerning the war can come forward and can publicize it, without fear of being thrown into prison. Incidentally, I can add that if some day I could be sure that my interlocutor could be questioned without running this risk, I am authorized to make known his name. He will not run away, he told me, and this is another good point for him and his testimony, and for everyone it might be the beginning of a return to free discussion. Check! Your turn to play, Mister Inquisitors.