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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Samuel Crowell - The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes (A)

The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes

An Attempt at a Literary Analysis of the Holocaust Gassing Claim


by Samuel Crowell


"In Memoriam!"
Dec 22, 1997: Revised Jan 10, 1999

Analytical Table of Contents


1. -- Introduction

Original nature of the gassing claim in 1945-1946.-- Criticism of the claim since then.-- Current calls for censorship. -- The need for free speech and free expression in this domain. -- Methodology: Literary analysis, or a chronological and comparative method.

2. -- The First Reports

The first reports emanate from Polish Jewish underground newspapers in the winter and spring of 1942. -- Conveyed to England, widely publicized from the summer of 1942. -- The first BBC broadcasts. -- Concept of a feedback loop for developing and legitimizing rumors. -- Nature of rumors. Extermination in a bathhouse by: steam, electricity, a vacuum, a hammer, or poison gas. -- Evolution of the typical shower-gas-burning sequence. -- The Katyn Forest Massacre: a model of forensic investigation. -- Soviet response: gas vans in Krasnodar, massacre at Babi Yar. -- Possible origins of rumors: German secret weapons technology, German experiments with cyanide gas after discovery of Soviet plans to use it in 1941, analogy with Western execution techniques (electrocution, gas), and disinfection procedures.
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3. -- German Disinfection Procedures

Western disinfection procedures developed in 19th Century to combat cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and typhus. -- German methods very systematic, constant exposure to cholera and typhus because of Eastern European immigrants fleeing persecution. -- Hamburg epidemic in 1892. -- Mary Antin's passage in 1893. -- American procedures, 1892, and the fear these evoked in Jewish community. -- German disinfection procedures in World War One in Turkey. -- In Poland. -- English procedures in Poland in 1919. -- American procedures in Poland. -- German technological developments in the 1920's and 1930's. -- The mechanics of disinfection: shaving, showering, and fumigating. Zyklon B. -- Double-doored Apparate for disinfection. -- Railway car gassing tunnels. -- Typical responses among Eastern Jews and others: non-comprehension, fear, anxiety, evasion, and destructive rumors of extermination.
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4. -- The First Reports from Auschwitz and Majdanek

First claims of mass gassing at Auschwitz sandwiched around Soviet occupation of Majdanek camp. -- The first inaccurate Auschwitz memo, July, 1944. -- Soviet guided tour of Majdanek, August 1944, and Special Commission. Gassing motifs emerge. -- Double doored disinfection Apparate identified as gas chamber. -- Fascination with the peephole on the door: fundamental proof of the gassing claim. -- Peephole then figures in Auschwitz claim, in War Refugee Board Report, November, 1945. -- An apparent convergence of fact is perhaps merely a convergence of rumor.
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5. -- The Eastern Camps, Polevoi's Report, and the Gerstein Statement

Soviet propagandists begin gathering gassing stories in August, 1944, these are published in Yiddish. -- Soviet Special Commissions in fall. -- Deposition of Leleko, February, 1945, summarizes these claims. Close linkage of Leleko deposition with descriptions for Majdanek, therefore probable derivation. -- Gerstein statement from April of 1945. -- Contains many fantastic elements, gassing elements in turn derivative of Leleko, Majdanek, and initial Pravda reports on Auschwitz. -- Gerstein illustrates absolute identity of Zyklon B with an extermination program in allied thinking. Gerstein's story widely publicized in France in July, 1945. -- His suicide follows.
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6. -- The Canonical Holocaust

The gassing claim as we understand it today is double-rooted: first, in the photographs and newsreels of the dead at Belsen, who perished from typhoid, typhus, and tuberculosis, and second from the Soviet Special Commission on Auschwitz, which concluded four million dead with no direct documentary evidence. -- Analysis of the Soviet claim. -- Influence of Soviet report on allied interrogators. -- Influence of Soviet report on eyewitnesses: Bendel and Bimko. -- Influence of Soviet report on German confessions: Maximillian Grabner and others.
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7. -- The Nuremberg Trials

The aim of the Nuremberg Trials to discredit National Socialism and German militarism: the future pacification of Germany. -- Evidence provided for incriminating value. -- No attempt at putting documents in context. Soviet Union oversees most of the gassing claim presentation. -- Soviet record in 1930's show trials indicates mass hysteria, conspiratorial thinking, forced confessions. -- Hysterical atmosphere at Nuremberg: Judges, who privately doubt, fail to maintain a rational atmosphere.

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8. -- The Confessions of Rudolf Höß

Höß captured and interrogated by British after Soviets conclude gassing claim presentation. -- Höß' confessions clearly coerced. Analysis of April 5, 1946 affidavit. -- Content of that affidavit derives from Soviet presentation. -- Errors in that affidavit.
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9. -- Interpreting Documents and the Postwar Literature

Quality of documents offered at Nuremberg. -- Documents offered as indicative of gassing actually indicate something else. -- The Wetzel-Lohse correspondence. -- The Diary of Dr. Kremer. -- Post-war literature emerging in this period: Olga Lengyel, Miklos Nyiszli. -- Clear influence of claims in Soviet report. -- Inaccuracy of details and unreliability of descriptions. The main conduit for cultural awareness of the gassing claim. -- The absence of evidence is considered the proof of the gassing claim: the conspiratorial nature of the gassing claim.
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10. -- Retrofitting the Euthanasia Campaign

Euthanasia program begins 1939, evidence indicates lethal injections were used. -- German people began to rumor poison gas and death ray usage because the bodies were cremated, by 1940. -- Strong opposition of German people. -- In summer, 1946, narratives of euthanasia killings emerge, these use the same materials (Double-doored Apparate) and procedure for the now familiar shower-gas-burning sequence. -- Shower element does not fit the euthanasia procedure. -- Confusion of deceptions. -- Concept transference, compare World War One. -- Conclusion is that Euthanasia gassing narratives derived from extermination gassing narratives, but rumors of gas usage came first. -- Demonstrated German fear of poison gas and cremation.
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11. -- The Fear of Cremation and Poison Gas

Cremation still relatively modern in the 1930's and 1940's. Resistance by many social elements, gives rise to bizarre ideas of concealing crimes and corpse recycling. -- National Socialism advocates cremation because of over-crowding and disease control. -- Cremation fears mirrored in many instances of Allied fear about German secret weapons, technological abilities -- Fear of poison gas and its disfiguring effects common in Interwar culture. -- Vicki Baum. -- Pabst's Kameradschaft. Poison gas and mass hysteria: Israel, 1991; Florida, 1971; D-Day, 1944; The "War of the Worlds" panic of 1938. -- Disfigured bodies, from fire or putrefaction, are conceived as victims of poison gas: Germany, Cassell bombing raid, 1943, concentration camps, 1945. -- Poison gas often conceived as air-borne: German civil defense.
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12. -- German Civil Defense

German air raid shelters meant to serve also as anti-gas shelters. -- Therefore equipped with gastight doors. -- Air raid shelter doors also equipped with peepholes, to allow inspection without breaking the gastight seal. -- The doors at Majdanek are air raid shelter doors, the bathing facility meant to double as a decontamination center. -- The main fear is from disfiguring mustard gases, therefore Germans equipped laundries and public baths to serve as decontamination centers in the event of a gas attack. -- Bombing assault on Germany killed perhaps 3/4 million people, most perished from gas poisoning (CO) and were at least partially cremated by dry heat. -- But this event would be inverted into an accusation against the German people after the war.
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13. -- Civil Defense in the Concentration Camps

Concentration camps important to war industry. -- Therefore require air raid and anti-gas protection, according to German guidelines. Review of evidence for air raid shelters and gas protection in the concentration camp system. -- Himmler Order of February 8, 1943, directly precedes flood of work orders for gastight fixtures at Auschwitz Birkenau.
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14. -- Pressac's "Criminal Traces"

Material or documentary evidence in the present day rests almost entirely on the "criminal traces" of J. C. Pressac, developed by the Polish communists for their Auschwitz trials in 1946 and 1947. -- But this evidence, when viewed in the light of civil defense literature, does not indicate gas chambers, but rather gastight bomb shelters and delousing chambers. -- Since most of this evidence clearly argues for gastight bomb shelters, but was developed, and has been presented, as proof of gas chambers, it follows that there is no material or documentary evidence for gas chambers at all, and it follows further that there is a strong likelihood of a Polish and Soviet communist hoax in developing this particular evidence.
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15. -- The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes

Gassing narratives from World War Two reflected in literature prior to the war, including Sinclair Lewis (1936), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1924). -- Analysis of the shower-gas-burning concept in its parts: disinfection procedures (Mayakovsky), poison gas usage (H.G. Wells, Sax Rohmer, E. R. Burroughs). -- Elements of the gassing claim directly pertinent to Jewish traditions: longstanding conceptions of "extermination" and its meanings, "six million", and the concept of a secret central conspiracy to destroy the Jewish people. -- The conclusion is that the cultural script for the shower-gas-burning sequence as well as the extermination-six million-central conspiracy concepts are all very old and deeply rooted.
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16. -- Conclusions

There is no material or documentary evidence that unambiguously supports the gassing claim. -- The evidence put forward overwhelmingly refers to either disinfection or civil air defense, including gas protection. -- Furthermore, fictional accounts of gassing antedate the gassing claim by many years. -- The gassing claim as a mass delusion. -- As a rumor. -- As a legend. -- As a hoax. -- Analogy to UFO abductions. -- The gassing claim as a cultural construct. The need for nationalities to perceive their history as unique. -- The general nature of 20th Century history in Eastern Europe. -- The Jewish ordeal along the continuum of war, revolution, collectivization, dekulakization, and the German expulsions. -- The gassing claim created by, and reinforced by, delusional pressures of social and cultural change as well as by censorship.
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Analytical Table of Contents and Overview


1. Introduction

1
A COMMON BELIEF is that in World War Two the National Socialist government of Germany carried out a secret policy of mass exterminations, chiefly using extermination gas chambers. The policy is said to have been ordered by Adolf Hitler, and involved the gassing of millions of human beings, who subsequently were burned either in crematoria or in huge pits so that scarcely a trace of their bodies remained.
The claim of mass gas extermination has been questioned ever since the late 1940's, but only by a few people, and very much on the fringe of public discourse.2 In the early 1970's several new critics of the gas extermination claim emerged, and over the past two decades they have been joined by many others, so that now there are at least several dozen who have written on the subject.3 These researchers consider themselves heir to the tradition of those historians who sought in the 1920's to revise, and de-politicize, our understanding of the First World War, and so consider themselves historical revisionists. But the skepticism of these researchers towards mass gassing is usually accompanied by a desire to reevaluate the Holocaust in its entirety, and as a result they are more normally called "Holocaust revisionists" or "Holocaust deniers".4
The response of traditional historiography to the challenge of the revisionists has not been what one would expect. Normally, when someone challenges a historical orthodoxy, a minute analysis of the material and documentary record ensues, and the record is correspondingly revised. But nothing of the sort has happened here: instead, the arguments of the revisionists have been ignored and they have been reviled.5
In recent years, the expression of revisionist skepticism has been criminalized in several European countries, leading to heavy fines and prison terms, particularly in Germany and France.6 In Canada, two major trials have been held with the intention of silencing a gas chamber critic.7 Most recently the Prime Minister of Great Britain, during his candidacy, repeatedly promised to ban revisionist writings about the Holocaust.8
The further erosion of free speech on this matter must be considered intolerable to anyone who takes the intellectual life seriously. Therefore the purpose of this essay will be to deliberately review the gassing claim, with the object, not to prove that gassings did or did not take place, but rather to investigate whether there is a plausible basis for revisionist doubt. If we find that the traditional gassing narrative contains sufficient errors or lacunae to justify doubt, then we must allow doubt. On the other hand, if we find that the traditional gassing narrative has an irrefutable documentary or material base, then we must note this also. The result should be, in the first case, due recognition of revisionist contributions to the ongoing process of modern historiography, or, in the second case, a further marginalization of revisionist thinking, which should render their influence harmless and thus unobjectionable. But in any case we cannot continue the current situation where revisionists are dismissed as not serious even while many of them are punished with quite serious fines and prison terms.
The method we shall use is largely determined by the inherent problems of the subject, specifically the problems concerning text and source criticism. Even if charitably inclined, anyone with minimal historical training cannot fail to notice how traditional Holocaust scholars take a generally uncritical, selective, and anachronistic position with regards to their evidence. From a mass of materials that support, or seem to support, their position, they simply select heavily edited excerpts here and there.9 Rarely is an attempt made to explain the theoretical underpinnings of the selection or verification process for testimonies or affidavits. Rarer still are attempts to place the frequently ambiguous evidence in a wider documentary context. When the original sources contain errors or data inconsistent with the traditional interpretation, no attempt is made to explain the source or significance of these errors and inconsistencies.
Finally, traditional Holocaust scholars pay no attention to the chronological evolution or even the circumstances of gassing claims, even though it should be obvious that earlier statements, widely publicized, have a strong potential for influencing later permutations of a claim. This last is a particularly glaring omission, since the vast majority of Holocaust evidence is gleaned from testimonial or affidavit narratives. In short, the overall impression created by the traditional school's method is one of simply selecting data that supports what everyone already knows.
The revisionist approach has its own strengths and weaknesses. Its greatest strength has been its willingness to subject the standard evidentiary texts to rigorous criticism. But even here, there has been a tendency to confuse debunking with historical explanation. It is not enough to say that this or that affidavit contains several errors and is therefore suspect, nor, for that matter, is it enough to carry out forensic studies and show the extreme unlikelihood of specific gassing claims. There have been enormous contributions in this latter area in the past decade, and the researches of Faurisson, Berg, Rudolf and Mattogno have gone a long way to define the physical limits against which testimonies and affidavits must be tested.10 Nevertheless, to show with a fair degree of probability that the mass gassings were impossible is not the same thing as explaining why everyone believes they took place.
Therefore we begin at the beginning with the simple proposition that the gassing claims are either true or not true. If they are true, then the historian should be able to establish how the claims came to be known, and at what point the fugitive claims of wartime crossed the threshold of fact. On the other hand, if the claims are false it should be possible to explain how they emerged, how they were constituted, and why they were believed. In short, the problem requires a chronological method.
In general the tendency in most writings on the Holocaust has been to ignore the difference between rumor and fact: the traditional school considers all rumors fact, the revisionists consider all facts rumor.11 It is precisely at this juncture, then, that we seem to have a promising point of departure, since all parties, traditional or revisionist, agree that the gassing claims began as vague, anonymous, and unverifiable reports, that is, as rumors.
Fact is a reflection of empirical reality; but rumor expresses a reality all its own, however difficult it is to define, since the real world of rumor is simply that world of unspoken assumptions, associations, and projections that characterize a human culture at a specific moment of historic time. Attempts to describe the parameters and nature of that unspoken world, which in some ways is more real than the real world, at least in terms of determining our perception and our judgment, has been a main project among intellectual historians and literary critics at least since the early 1960's.
By way of a simple example: in 1976 a literary detective named Samuel Rosenberg wrote a book entitled Naked is the Best Disguise: The Death and Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes. Rosenberg closely analyzed the Holmes stories in order to argue that Conan Doyle was expressing in his work a great number of late Victorian concerns: Evolution, Nietzsche's theories, German secret societies and bellicose nationalism, the White Man's Burden, and so forth. While we can debate his success is mapping out Conan Doyle's specific intellectual concerns, his book did succeed in placing the stories firmly within a specific cultural context, thus helping to explain their content.
We want to pursue a similar path here, and hence propose a literary analysis in a chronological format. That is, while skeptical of the gassing claims, we are not setting as our primary objective to prove or disprove any specific gassing claim. Instead we will have a simple narration of the gassing claims, from the spring of 1942 through the end of the Nuremberg and Auschwitz Trials in 1947. The analysis shall be "literary" because it will focus on the themes, motifs, tropes, and story elements that comprise the gassing claims. To put it another way, the gassing claims will be laid out, viewed as narratives or as "texts", arranged in order, and analyzed separately and in combination.
Literary analyses usually involve several different steps. One is simply the breakdown of a text into its parts along with a discussion of these. In the present case this will involve the isolation and tracking of some of the gassing claim story elements. A second step involves a textual analysis, in which the text is arrayed with similar texts that may have influenced it or which may have been influenced by it. Precisely for this reason, judgment on the veracity of claims will be suspended, in favor of investigating whether a given narrative shows textual links with prior or later texts. A third approach places the text in a broader social and cultural context, in order to see how it relates to, or expresses, its culture. In the present case the emerging story elements will be placed in the context of known historical and cultural crosscurrents, most of which have been undervalued or ignored by traditional historians of this subject. By putting these materials in context, it will be possible to see the extent to which the gassing claim was, or was not, peculiar to its time.
After discussing the various story elements of the emerging gassing claim three facts should become clear. First, the mass gassing narratives have a strong family resemblance among them and even to texts that predated the supposed gas exterminations by 20 years or more. Second, the unique characteristics of the gassing process can be traced, in the broader context of European social and cultural history, to completely ordinary procedures, albeit procedures which were the source of significant social and cultural anxiety. Finally, it should become plain that there is no documentary or material evidence that unambiguously supports the mass gassing claim: those documents that are said to bear even remotely on the gassing claim are, in context, completely benign, and for the most part refer back to the anxiety-producing procedures just discussed. These conclusions will not prove that there were no mass gassings. They will, however, vindicate revisionist doubt.
It will of course be impossible to indefinitely withhold a final judgment on the source or character of the gassing claims. But we can take guidance from two cautionary remarks of Conan Doyle's Baker Street sage. "How often have I said to you that when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" said Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson in The Sign of Four. To be sure, the historian must always be willing to face uncomfortable truths. "I should have more faith," Holmes remarked in A Study in Scarlet, "I ought to know by this time that when a fact appears opposed to a long train of deductions it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation." Indeed, it is precisely to the reasonable possibility of "some other interpretation" that all historical investigation must be dedicated.
Yet no one can authoritatively deny the existence of something that most everyone else accepts as true. Therefore categorical denials of mass gassing are not possible. One can, however, try to explain how the gassing claim could have arisen quite naturally given the characteristics and concerns of early 20th Century social and cultural life. It will be shown that the gassing claim, as a form of the more general extermination claim, comprises elements of specific concern to East European Jews since the early 19th Century. It will also be shown that the traditional extermination scenario, featuring a shower-gas-burning sequence, is rooted in profound European and American concerns over disease and disease prevention, the use of poison gas and other mysterious weapons of mass destruction, and finally anxiety and fear over the recent reappearance of cremation as a means of disposal of the dead.
In short, it will be possible to see that the generation of a delusion of mass gas extermination did not require a conspiracy, or a hoax, nor much conscious effort at all, but only a social and cultural climate that would facilitate the generation of such claims, at a time of war, hatred, and social anomie. We will see that such claims, facilitated here and there by a little helpful fraud, but above all by a simple willingness to believe the worst about one's enemies, would allow these rumors to be stated as fact and become themselves part of that social and cultural landscape of which we are only half-consciously aware.
A few caveats are probably in order. Many people still feel that to question the mass gassing claim, or for that matter, any other aspect of the Holocaust, is tantamount to dismissing the enormous suffering and loss of life experienced by the Jewish people in World War Two, and that it is even "wicked" to pose questions that may cause survivors any further suffering.12
As to the first point, it is only because of the emphases of recent historiography that the mass gassing claim has come to be so exclusively associated with the Jewish people and the Holocaust. In 1945, it was commonly claimed that ten million or more had been exterminated at the same half dozen camps where today three million Jews alone are said to have been gassed,13 the implication is clear that at the time it was believed that more non-Jews than Jews had in fact been exterminated with poison gas.14 Moreover, mass gassing has been reconstructed as having been applied first to insane and disabled non-Jewish Germans in the course of the Euthanasia campaign. Therefore, skepticism of the mass gassing claim intersects, but does not embrace, the totality of the Holocaust.
As to the second point: the argument that we must spare the feelings of survivors is essentially an appeal to compassion. For many years, we were swayed, and even troubled, by this argument, but we have seen in recent times that this compassion has been invoked to justify persecution and censorship. So now the value of compassion has been placed at odds to the free reason of the individual. But in fact all compassion, and all human action, can only flow from the reasoned choice of free human beings. We conclude, therefore, that the most positive end is served by insisting on the right of free people to speak their minds.

NOTES



  1. Already the present essay in its research phase has given rise to two specialist articles, "Technique and Operation of German Anti-Gas Shelters: A Refutation of J. C. Pressac's 'Criminal Traces'" and"Defending Against the Allied Bombing Campaign: Air Raid Shelters and Gas Protection in Germany, 1939-1945, Parts 1 and 2". These articles correspond to sections 12 through 14. The present essay may stand on its own, but it is also in effect an outline for further extended treatments.

  2. The first revisionists include the Frenchman, Paul Rassinier (d. 1967), active from 1948, a former inmate of Buchenwald (see his collected writings, Debunking the Genocide Myth, Institute of Historical Review (IHR), Newport Beach, CA: o. p.), and the Rumanian Jew, Josef Ginzburg (d. 1990), whose family was persecuted and deported during World War Two, writing under the pseudonym, J. G. Burg, from 1962. There is no easily available precis of revisionist historiography, Arthur R. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, IHR, Newport News, CA:1983 contains some information, pp. 10-12; pp. 317-334.

  3. Some descriptive matter is found in Butz, op. cit., loc. cit., and consult also cum grano salis Shermer, Why People Believe Weird Things, W. H. Freeman, NY:1997, pp. 173-252. After Rassinier and Burg, "Holocaust revisionism" essentially begins with Arthur R. Butz, whose book was first published in 1976 (1977 in the US): Robert Faurisson in France and Wilhelm Stäglich in Germany emerged almost simultaneously along with others. The end of the '70's witnessed the debut of the Journal of Historical Review [hereinafter JHR], the primary English-language organ of revisionist writings. The 1980's found important writings by James G. Martin, Friedrich Berg, and Mark Weber, they were joined in the 1990's by, among others, Carlo Mattogno and John Ball. The 1988 Zündel trial also witnessed the entrance of the British historian David Irving into the revisionist fold, although to this date his writings have not heavily engaged the topic of the Holocaust as such, but see his Goebbels (1996) and Nuremberg:The Last Battle (1996), both issued by Focal Point in London.

  4. Shermer, Michael, op. cit., loc. cit., provides a definition of revisionist positions, or as he calls it, "Holocaust Denial": (1) intentional genocide on racial grounds; (2) "highly technical, well-organized" program, using gas chambers and crematoria, (3) between five and six million dead. Shermer is to be credited for not demonizing revisionists, although his treatment leaves much out. More to the point, we do not know of any other historical event where the facts are set as preconditions to the concept, furthermore, not all revisionists give equal weight to each of the three "conditions". In the present case, while we have doubts about the extent of (1) and (3), we do not consider them historiographically interesting. On the other hand, we are certain that (2), at least as stated, is false.

  5. Typical are the descriptions of revisionists that one finds in Lipstadt, Deborah, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, Penguin Books (Plume), NY:1994, we note in particular the introduction where revisionist "deniers" are characterized as plague-spreading rats.

  6. Revisionism is thus outlawed in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Israel.

  7. Two trials were carried out against Ernst Zündel, in 1985 and 1988; Barbara Kulaszka prepared a digest of the transcripts of the second trial, printed as Did Six Million Really Die? and his available on the Zündel-site on the Internet [hereinafter, DSMRD].

  8. Tony Blair's promises in news reports, 16 Oct 96, and 30 Jan 97.

  9. This is evident, for example, in Raul Hilberg's Destruction of the European Jews, Quadrangle, Chicago:1968, which, on the subject of gas exterminations restricts itself to heavily edited testimonies of two Nazis, taken under vastly different circumstances, two ambiguous documents, and a number of postwar memoirs of former concentration camp inmates.

  10. The forensic approach is largely the brainchild of Robert Faurisson who already in the 1970's sought to compare the arrangement of gassing facilities in Poland with known gas execution technology in the United States. In the late 1980's, while preparing for the second Zündel trial, an expert in US execution technology, Fred Leuchter, was commissioned to write a report on the gassing sites in Poland. The resulting Leuchter Report (1988) was a milestone in Holocaust forensics, although its main conclusion, that the crematoria at Birkenau could never have been used for gassing, has been hotly disputed. Leuchter's main scientific conclusions, that the crematoria bore unexpectedly low cyanide traces, considering their supposed use, have been reproduced in several studies by both sides, but the interpretation of these low to non-existent traces has been variously argued and appears inconclusive. The most thorough and rigorous study of forensic issues related to cyanide residues remains the Rudolf Report (Gutachten), but the German chemist Germar Rudolf, published in 1992 and subsequently revised. Rudolf, under the pseudonym Ernst Gauss has also edited the important collection of studies, Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte, Grabert Verlag, Tübingen:1994 [hereinafter Grundlagen], as well as the revisionist periodical, Viertelsjahrhefte für freie Geschichtforschung [hereinafter VffG], 1997-present.

  11. As evidence of the first, we cite Walter Laqueur's The Terrible Secret: Suppression of the Truth About Hitler's 'Final Solution', Little, Brown & Co., Boston:1980, which repeats every bit of information coming from occupied Poland as proof of the extermination policy, even when he is constrained to admit that it is inaccurate.

  12.  Laqueur, Walter, Fascism: Past, Present, Future, Oxford UP, New York:1996, p. 141.

  13. Soviet Special Commissions and contemporary reports had established death tolls as follows: Treblinka, 3-3.5 million, Auschwitz Birkenau, at least 4 million, Majdanek, 1.5 million, Sobibor, Chelmno, several hundreds of thousands, Belzec, 600,000. For a survey of death estimates as of 1946, including some even higher than the above, consult Aroneanu, Eugene, Inside the Concentration Camps, translated by Thomas Whissen, Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT: 1996, pp. 143-144.

  14. Ibid., The implication may not be correct: according to one of Aroneanu's witnesses the Jewish component always comprised 90% of the total, whatever that might be, loc. cit. This seems illogical. It also seems illogical to attribute to the Nazis a policy of exterminating non-Jews if, in the interval of 50 years, it has been accepted that in fact something on the order of seven millions were not exterminated at these six camps.



Analytical Table of Contents and Overview


2. The First Reports


MOST HOLOCAUST RESEARCHERS begin their analysis of the gassing claims in the spring of 1942, so we shall follow that custom here.15 We are not concerned with recording every single enumeration of a gassing claim; we are concerned above all with recording characteristic changes in how the story is reported. Throughout 1942, 1943, and well into the summer of 1944, all claims of mass gassing must be considered as uncorroborated rumors: therefore, after briefly covering the evolution of the story we must pause and attempt to provide other possible explanations for these rumors that are not keyed to the assumption that they reflect reality. To that end, we will have to duly note a few other rumors pertaining to alleged German National Socialist activities that are generally conceded to be untrue today, that is, rumors that assumed a life of their own in the Second World War.
It should be pointed out here that in the spring of 1942 the National Socialist government of Germany began to systematically deport all Jewish persons in Europe to Poland, and, according to their claims, to points farther east. There is no denying that these deportations were cruel, or that they involved the unjust seizure of wealth and belongings, or that many Jews were done to death one way or another during this process. Virtually everyone, revisionist and non-revisionist, agrees about this aspect of the National Socialist persecution of the Jewish people.
There is also agreement that in the subsequent course of the war hundreds of thousands of Jews were dragooned into the German labor system, particularly into the armaments industry, working largely out of concentration camps, and several types of labor camps, and that the death rate in these camps was very high, particularly at the end of the war when disease control measures and provisioning completely broke down. The question is whether in the course of these concentrations in Poland and subsequent deportations farther east the German National Socialists were also carrying out a policy of deliberate extermination of Jewish people, specifically using poison gas.
The first claim of mass gassing pertaining to Jewish people that received wide circulation was contained in the so-called Bund Report that was smuggled to the Polish Government in exile, located in London, in the third week of May, 1942.16 The report contained two gassing rumors: first that a special automobile (a gas chamber) was being used to gas 90 persons at one time.17 Since the victims were supposed to have dug their graves before being gassed, it follows that this was more a gas chamber that could be moved from place to place than a gas van (normally conceived as a vehicle that would drive victims to a grave while they died from gas inhalation on the way).18 The second rumor pertains to actions in Warsaw: it is said that Jews were being experimented upon with poison gases.19
The Bund Report, in turn, appears to be a composite of at least two documents that had come from Warsaw during the spring of 1942. The first of these was an underground communication from the Jewish Labor Bund, in Warsaw, dated March 16, 1942, which described German activities in Western Poland as follows:
"In a number of villages the Jews were put to death by gas poisoning. They were herded in a horrible way into hermetically sealed trucks transformed into gas chambers, in groups of fifty, entire families, completely nude ...."20
and further alleged that "gas poisoning" was being carried out in Lodz.21 The second document that contributed to the Bund Report was a lead article in Der Veker, April 30, 1942, at a time of internecine struggle between Jewish resisters and collaborators in the Warsaw ghetto.22 That article is the source of most of the numerical totals in the Bund Report, but it is interesting that neither of these documents indicate 700,000 total dead.23 The April 30, 1942 Der Veker article also specifies Chelmno as the site of poison gassings, without giving details, but it is worth noting that from the March 16 communication there is an implied connection of bathing (the enforced nudity) and gassing, although, as we shall see, it will be some months before either element become dominant in the recitation of atrocities.
Two of the members of the Polish National Council in exile were Jewish: Zygielbojm and Szwarcbart, and they could be expected to be particularly interested in what was being alleged about their co-religionists several hundred miles away under German military occupation, and, in spreading these allegations as a means of getting support for their people.24 The Bund Report was thus extensively publicized in the media. 
Already on June 24, 1942, the Bund Report was summarized on the BBC.25 The following day, the Daily Telegraph ran a major story on the Report, with two headlines of note: "Germans murder 700,000 in Poland," and "Traveling Gas Chambers".26 The following day, Zygielbojm delivered a broadcast over the BBC, summarizing the Bund Report, in Yiddish, and hence obviously directed to the Jewish population in Poland.27 Within a week, the BBC had made an arrangement with the Polish National Council giving the BBC priority in the reporting of all future atrocity stories.28
On July 1, 1942, the Polish Fortnightly Review published a report, based on the allegations made in the Bund Report, and now also mentioning specific camps: Sobibor, and Majdanek, near Lublin.29 It also made a reference to atrocities at Auschwitz, described as a labor camp, where about a thousand Soviet and Polish POW's were supposed to have been gassed the previous September, as well as to another camp nearby, called 'Paradisal' -- the name, so the report alleged, because "from it there is only one road, leading to Paradise."30 It further alleges that the crematoria in the Paradisal camp were five times larger than at Auschwitz, and that experiments with poison gas were conducted there.31 It should be emphasized that the remarks in the Polish Fortnightly Review concerning Auschwitz were not in the Bund Report; they appear to have come from earlier reports that were sent to London.32
Looking over these initial claims it is clear that the claim of gassing is but one of a number of extermination claims being made. It is furthermore true that the claims of gassing focus more on the allegation of experiments rather than a systematic extermination procedure. On the Auschwitz claims, there are some startling inaccuracies: Paradisal is clearly a reference to Birkenau, but Birkenau had no crematoria until the following spring, and the term Paradisal itself, as a road to paradise, is obviously the origin of the "Himmelfahrt" that will later figure so prominently in the folklore of Sobibor and Treblinka but which has no place in the history of Birkenau.33
The other thing that is important to note in this first rush of stories about gassings is that the BBC has already begun to play a major role in recycling these rumors back to their point of origin in Poland.34 These broadcasts in effect create a feedback loop that repeats and gives authority to Polish rumors, which are then re-injected back into Poland, where they may be expected to multiply and burgeon. There will be more to say of these broadcasts shortly, but the role of radio in disseminating and universalizing the rumors of mass gassing is something that deserves a very thorough accounting.
By July 16, 1942, the allegations of gassing were repeated in the News Review, here with the claim that the Germans were preparing "large gas stations" where the Polish Jewish population would be murdered.35 The report claims that Jews were to be given "no sleeping drugs"... "they were just trussed up and finished off."36 This report is getting us closer to the claim as we understand it today, but the reference to drugs and trussing up the victims suggests more a reference to gassing as a form of execution than for mass extermination: in other words, it appears that the author was attempting to compare the gassing procedure alleged in Poland with that used for executions in the United States.37
Later on that same summer, two rumors were passed on to Gerhart Riegner, the Geneva representative of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva.38 Both of these came from Germans, private citizens hostile to Nazism, and both claimed that the National Socialist government was preparing to use poison gas: the one claim would mutate into the formulation of "lighting the gas ovens"39 the other made a specific reference to the use of prussic acid, or cyanide gas (Blausäure).40 Both of these rumors are considered important because they stem from German sources and secondly because cyanide gas would later be considered to be a basic "murder weapon" in the extermination process.41 But it should be clear that rumors heard by even prominent Germans in the context of the established BBC gassing claim feedback loop are no more valid than any others. In this respect it is interesting to note that when two "eyewitnesses" from Poland were interviewed in Geneva at about the same time neither one said a word about gas exterminations, although they described many other hardships endured by Polish Jews. 42
A BBC broadcast on September 27th featured the exiled German author Thomas Mann, who repeated the gassing claim, saying that 16,000 French Jews had been gassed on a train after it had been "hermetically sealed" and that 11,000 Polish Jews had been put to death in the same way.43 It is known that such rumors were heard in Europe at the time.44 It follows that among the French and Dutch Jews being deported in the fall of 1942 there would be some who would be quite anxious about what awaited them in the concentration camps.
The next important development in the mass gassing claims comes again from Polish sources, and in particular the testimony of Jan Karski, a Polish intelligence operative who claimed to have been an eyewitness at Belzec, indeed, his report also mentions Sobibor and Treblinka.45 These various reports were compiled by the Geneva Zionists, and then publicized in London and New York at the same time.46 There were two apparently new elements to these materials. The first is the description of the loading of deported Jews into trucks covered with lime and chlorine -- this apparently the origin of the later claim of extermination with chlorine gas.47 The second was the description of extermination at Belzec -- the victims were told to strip, as if for a shower, were led into a room, and then electrocuted via a metal plate on the floor.48 The elaboration of these materials in the New York Times on November 26, 1942, would include allegations by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise that the Germans were also turning the bodies of dead Jews into "fats and soaps and lubricants" and that the Germans were now "injecting bubbles into their veins" because "prussic acid had been found to be too expensive."49
This particular cycle of extermination claims seems especially rich. Lime and chlorine were standard materials used to combat epidemics -- we will discuss this in more detail shortly. The extermination description at Belzec is noteworthy for two reasons: first, because it is apparently the first time that "showering" is explicitly described as an element in pre-extermination deception, although as we have seen the connection appears have preceded this statement,50 and second because the electrocution claim is no longer made today (although it must be said that it would later undergo significant elaboration.)51
The last element that is interesting is in regard to the soap claim, which has quietly been abandoned by all responsible researchers in recent decades.52 The claim of corpse utilization seems obviously related to a similar false claim made about the Germans in World War One, and indeed it was recognized as such in some quarters even in 1942.53 Another point is that there are two documents that indicate that the Germans were attempting to squelch such rumors in Slovakia and Lublin in July and October of 1942.54 Indeed, we know that "soap making" originally arose among ethnic Poles in 1942, who, along with the Jews, were being resettled on the right bank of the Bug River.55
The accumulation of extermination claims made in 1942 would lead the allied leaders to make a declaration on December 17, 1942, condemning German practices, without, on the other hand, specifying procedures.56
In April, 1943, an interesting memo of atrocities was drafted in London but was never issued. It claimed to describe extermination activities at Auschwitz- Birkenau. Three types of extermination were alleged in this anonymous document besides shooting. They were:

  1. Gas Chambers, the victims were undressed and put into those chambers where they suffocated.

  2. Electric Chambers, these chambers had metal walls, the victims were brought in and high tension electric current was introduced.

  3. The so-called Hammerluft system. This is a hammer of air. These were special chambers where the hammer fell from the ceiling and by means of a special installation victims found death under air pressure.57
Needless to say neither method b. nor c. form part of the current extermination narrative. However these two story elements are good examples of how Holocaust claims are later elaborated and developed. The description of the electric chambers is almost certainly derived from the Karski report, and will surface again. The Hammerluft system appears even more interesting. The crux of this rumor appears to be the idea of a falling hammer: it is probably here that one has for the first time a claimed method of execution that will later emerge as a prime form of death at Mauthausen (where it was supposed to be the "Kugel Decree"), Buchenwald, and also Sachsenhausen, where in the form of what Carlos Porter sarcastically called the "pedal-driven brain-bashing machine" it was supposed to have been used to exterminate 840,000 Russian POWs.58 On the other hand, the element in the claim that touches on air pressure is probably the grandfather of the so-called "vacuum chambers" at Treblinka that would make a brief appearance in 1945.59
For all of the subsequent development of the Hammerluft claim, it seems odd how this rumor could have arisen in the first place, since there is no material or physical evidence to support it (indeed, there is no such evidence for any of the claims we have reviewed so far). We are tempted to think that someone took the term "Hammerluft", which might conceivably refer to a pneumatic hammer, and this led to some grisly speculation. On the other hand it is interesting to note that during the war the Germans attempted to develop a secret weapon that involved high pressure jets of gases that would penetrate the fuselage of low flying aircraft, and, as a military project, POW's and Jewish forced laborers were no doubt involved.60 Perhaps rumors of this project also mutated into this particular extermination claim.
The abovementioned memo, drafted April 18, 1943, was never issued, probably because the main atrocity story at the time was the massacre of the Polish officers in Katyn forest which had just been revealed by the Germans.61 The story is simply this. Over ten thousand Polish officers fell into Soviet hands in 1939 and were never heard from again. In February, 1943, shortly after the fall of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad, Germans stationed outside of Smolensk discovered mass graves of Polish officers. The Germans spent two months exhuming and analyzing the remains, accounting for 4,400 bodies in all. Several non-German forensic experts, including an independent Polish commission, were called in to investigate and carry out autopsies. The results in the subsequent German report, which was more than 300 pages in length, concluded that the officers had been systematically butchered in the spring of 1940. It was, in other words, an atrocity carried out by the Soviet Union.62
The Katyn episode is interesting for a few reasons. In the first place, confronted with well nigh irrefutable evidence of the criminality of their main ally, both Britain and the United States took the position that it was a German crime.63 Second, the German conduct of the exhumations and autopsies was thorough and meticulous: the international specialists, including the Poles, were allowed to conduct their researches with the minimum of interference.64 Third, the German forensic report is probably the most detailed analysis of any atrocity that ever occurred in the Second World War, nothing even remotely comparable has ever been produced for the many allegations of German atrocity.
In the midst of now typical gas chamber claims in May and June, and perhaps as a response to the Katyn accusation, the Soviets conducted a trial in Krasnodar in July of 1943, featuring German POW's who confessed to the gassing of people by use of "gas vans" or as the Russians called them, "Dushegubki" or "murder vans".65 It is worth mentioning here that no "gassing van" has ever been located.66 In August of 1943 a periodical entitled Polish Labor Fights! repeated extermination claims for Treblinka once more, now referring to rooms that are filled with people, sealed, and then filled with steam that kills the victims.67 Aside from the novel use of steam, later abandoned, one notes here again the use of the "showering" motif in the extermination process.
In late November, 1943, the Soviets, upon the liberation of Kiev, would allege that several tens of thousands had been shot at Babi Yar, a ravine outside of the city.68 The absence of forensic evidence was explained by claiming the Germans had somehow managed to dig up all of the remains a few weeks before retreating from the Red Army and burned all of the bodies without leaving a trace. What is at issue here is not the reality of shooting claims, per se, for there certainly is much evidence to corroborate the notion that the Germans and their East European auxiliaries massacred many people, including Jews, in the course of carrying out the Commissar Order to kill communists and communist sympathizers, as well as in the context of anti-partisan warfare.69 Rather, what is interesting about the Soviet claim is the assertion that all of the remains were completely destroyed. This is a very prominent feature of all atrocity claims made against the Germans in World War Two.
In December, 1943, the Soviets held another atrocity trial, this time in Kharkov, a city in the Eastern Ukraine that had changed hands several times during the war. Again, there were repetitions of the same gas van testimony given at the Krasnodar trial, and, on December 16, 1943, an interesting description of Auschwitz given by an SS officer, Heinisch:
Prosecutor: Tell the court about your talk with Somann.
Heinisch: Somann told me that death caused by gas poisoning was painless and more humane. He said that in the gas van death was very quick, but actually death came not in twelve seconds but much more slowly and was accompanied by great pain.
Somann told me about the camp in Auschwitz in Germany where the gassing of prisoners was carried out. The people were told that they were to be transferred elsewhere, and foreign workers were told that they would be repatriated and were sent under this pretext to bath-houses. Those who were to be executed first entered a place with a signboard with "Disinfection" on it and there they were undressed -- the men separately from the women and children. Then they were ordered to proceed to another place with a signboard "Bath." While the people were washing themselves special valves were opened to let in the gas which caused their death. Then the dead people were burned in special furnaces in which about 200 bodies could be burned simultaneously.70
Heinisch went on to say that Somann was the Chief of the Security Service in the Breslau area, which is the general area where Auschwitz is located, that gas executions took place only in camps on German soil, and further revealed that the decision to carry out executions "by means of gas poisoning" was made at a conference in the Summer of 1942 which Hitler, Himmler, and Kaltenbrunner attended.71
Heinisch's testimony is remarkable in several respects. First of all, we have by December, 1943, at a trial under Soviet auspices, a clear albeit erroneous narrative of the gassing claim at Auschwitz, in a form more or less similar to the standard narrative and in a publication that received wide distribution. It is also notable that Heinisch does not specify the ethnicity of the victims, but rather prefers to speak of foreign workers and their families: this at a time when large numbers of Ukrainians were being evacuated to the Reich for labor and were being subjected to the indignities of communal showers.72
The description of the gassing process provided by Heinisch is erroneous and therefore in attempting to account for it we could conceive of a link back to the unpublished narrative concerning Auschwitz in May or to other rumors that may have been circulating at the time. But it is important to note that the narrative contains details about bathing and disinfection that we have not encountered prior to this point. It is also important to reflect on how it would be possible for Heinisch, a district commissar at Melitopol in occupied Russia, and Somann, an SS chief in Breslau, to be informed of a process that the postwar trials have assured us were carried out in the greatest secrecy.73
In early 1944, in February, the Belzec electrocution story once more emerged.74 Finally, at the beginning of May, the New York Times repeated a story in which the Germans were planning to construct "special baths" which were in fact gas chambers, and in which the Hungarian Jews were to be exterminated.75 By this time, then, the gassing claim had become cemented its most typical form.
It should be emphasized at the end of this brief review of gassing and other extermination claims that to this point not a hint of what we would normally call evidence had been brought forward. Nevertheless we can see emerging over time a kind of model for extermination procedures, what we will call the shower-gas-burning sequence. The idea that victims would be led into a bathing facility of some kind, and then be executed (the method of execution focusing on gas more and more as time went by), and then burned so that no trace would remain was already a very common idea by the summer of 1944.
In fairness it should also be kept in mind that the shower-gas-burning concept still coexisted with other methods of extermination, including steam, vacuums, hammers of air, and electrocution, which have not been alleged in many years. We should expect therefore a heightened level of material and documentary proof in support of the gassing allegations as opposed to the others. We will find out the extent to which this is true in subsequent sections.
In reviewing these gassing claims we find that virtually all of them came from anonymous sources in Poland, and that all of them were publicized and propagated by Jewish agencies in Switzerland, London, and America.76 The conclusion that many revisionists have drawn is that these gassing claims were therefore developed by Jewish groups as part of a hoax.77 We would dissent from this interpretation: it is too great a leap to suggest that these Jewish agencies, in publicizing these claims, knew them to be false, or were publicizing them to some nefarious purpose. On the contrary, all of the internal evidence -- letters, diaries, stray conversations -- indicate that the Western Jews most responsible for the spread of these claims actually believed them.78 Whether these stories were then used to pursue political ends, and specifically Zionist ends, does not by itself discount the apparent sincerity of what these Jewish leaders were writing and saying at the time. To put the matter simply, they were in no position to know what was really going on: all they knew, or thought they knew, was that their co-religionists were undergoing a terrific ordeal of persecution, and needed help.
Having surveyed the claims, we must now attempt to interpret the nature of these various story elements. In other words, if these rumors are not a reflection of reality, then where did the rumors come from? It is clear that the use of gas was expressed in three ways before settling on the shower-gas scenario. One of these involved the idea of gas as a means of execution, in which the victims were not sedated, another involved the use of gas in experiments, which tied to the allegation of prussic acid use, and finally there was the variant that featured the "lighting of the gas ovens."79
The "gas oven" motif is clearly a garbled association between crematoria, almost all of which are gas operated, and the basic gassing claim. This perhaps innocent association, which corresponds to the known gas ovens that existed in many homes, tended to create an absolute linkage between gas chambers and crematoria: that is, wherever a crematorium was, there also was a gas chamber.
The "lack of sedation" motif, as already discussed, was probably an extension of the use of poison gas for execution purposes in the United States. The electrocution motif, prominent at about the same time, was a probable extension of the same idea, since electrocution was even more widely used for executions in America.80
Since the poison gas used for American executions was also cyanide, that could account for the rumors of cyanide gas usage. But there are other contexts in which cyanide gas could have emerged in official German documents or discussions during this period, and these usages could have led to garbled understanding which would account for the rumors as well, particularly those concerning experiments.
Soon after the invasion of Russia, the Wehrmacht obtained materials indicating that the Red Army had contingency plans for spraying German troops with cyanide gas from low-flying aircraft. As a result, in January, 1942, the Germans conducted experiments on farm animals using this gas, with generally fatal effect. This in turn led to the development of the FE 42 gas mask filter, which provided protection against cyanide gas. But the Germans, for reasons of security, attempted to keep these developments secret.81 So we have here at the beginning of 1942 secret experiments with prussic acid and the development of a device to protect against it, all of this before or roughly simultaneous with the emergence of rumors that the Germans were experimenting with this gas on human beings. A far more potent association in which prussic acid would emerge concerned the use of this material for delousing and disinfecting communities in Eastern Europe. Therefore we must make a detour to discuss these German delousing and disinfection procedures.

NOTES


  1. Cf. Butz, Arthur R., op. cit.; Gilbert, Martin, Auschwitz and the Allies,Henry Holt & Co., NY:1982. Also useful to this section are: Gilbert's article, "What Was Known and When", in Gutman, Y. & Berenbaum, M., Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana UP, Bloomington:1998; Martin, James J., The Man Who Invented 'Genocide', Institute for Historical Review, Newport Beach, CA: 1984; Dawidowicz, Lucy, ed. A Holocaust Reader,Behrman House, West Orange, NJ: 1976; and Laqueur, Walter, The Terrible Secret, Little, Brown, Boston:1980.

  2. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 40. For reasons that will become more clear, it does not seem absolutely certain that the entirety of the Bund Report was composed in Warsaw. The entire text is reproduced in Dawidowicz, Reader, pp. 316-318. Priority claims for the first gassing story antedate this appearance: Robert Faurisson has referenced a report of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Bulletin, from Stockholm, December 22, 1941, as follows: "More than 1,000 victims of spotted fever [i.e., typhus] in the densely crowded Warsaw ghetto have been put to death by gas [—], it is learned today from reliable sources," quoted in Grundlagen, p. 10n. However this account is no longer credited by the traditional narrative. Laqueur, Terrible, passim, cites many other reports from early 1942 that circulated in Poland in various underground newspapers, in letters, etc.

  3. Gilbert, op. cit., pp.40-42

  4. Cf. Ohlendorf's testimony in the Einsatzgruppen Trial, excerpted in Harris, Whitney R., Tyranny on Trial, Barnes & Noble, NY:1995 (orig. SMU Press, Dallas, TX: 1954), p. 352ff

  5. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 43. This rumor is clearly indebted to the claim from December, see note above.

  6. Dawidowicz, Reader, p. 215

  7. op. cit., p. 216

  8. op. cit., p. 294f for the complete text of the front page editorial. It is worthy of note than an analysis of the original text indicates that the atrocities are enumerated by way of justifying the recalcitrance of the Bund to the German occupation, and condemning the cooperation of the Jewish Councils. On these last, consult especially Trunk, Isaiah, Judenrat, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln: 1996 (originally published in 1972); and Ringelblum, Emanuel, Polish-Jewish Relations During the Second World War, Northwestern UP, Evanston, IL: 1992.

  9. Ibid., the 700,000 figure appears to come from a 1916 article, see Laqueur, op. cit., p. , and Faurisson, cited below.

  10. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 43, passim. The aim of the Bund Report, by the way, was not to elicit a Zionist quid pro quo, but rather to call for reprisals against Germans held by the Allies. This tends to support the idea that the gassing claims were generally believed by Polish Jews in exile.

  11. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 44

  12. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 43

  13. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 44

  14. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 46

  15. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 44

  16. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 45

  17. Ibid.

  18. The inference derives from the fact that Oswiecim (Auschwitz) is not mentioned in the Bund Report; however, it is mentioned in the underground appeal of 16 March, cf. Dawidowicz, Reader, pp. 215-216, however the details concerning Auschwitz in the 1 July article of the Fortnightly Review are not present in that earlier communication.

  19. On Himmelfahrt, see Harris, op. cit., p. 334 for an example.

  20. The inference derives from the fact of the Yiddish language broadcast, the BBC's claiming priority in announcing atrocity claims, and the fact, to be discussed later, that the BBC was widely listened to in occupied Europe. An analysis of BBC broadcasts is very much needed. More evidence of this feedback loop will be discussed further below, cf. Shermer, op. cit., p. 100f for an elucidation of the concept.

  21. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 51 

  22. Ibid.

  23. Perhaps the text was rewritten in London for the sake of an Anglo-American audience whose association with poison gas would more readily conjure up the idea of execution: poison cyanide gas had been used for executions in the United States since 1924, see Crowell, Samuel, "Technique an Operation of German Anti-Gas Shelters" at site referenced above, and is also available in German in Germar Rudolf's translation as "Technik und Arbeitsweise deutscher Gasschutzbunker im zweiten Weltkrieg" in VffG, I, 4, (XII, 1997), pp. 226-241, also incorporating some elements of "Defending Against the Allied Bombing Campaign."

  24. Gilbert, op. cit., pp. 56-58

  25. the "gas oven" formula is attributed to a Dr. Sommer, although it is not exactly clear if he composed the message that was eventually passed on to the West, Gilbert, op. cit., p. 56, 58n.

  26. Gilbert, op. cit., loc. cit., repeated arguments that a single source existed for both messages, credit for identifying the "prussic acid" component as being derived from a Mr. Schulte belongs to Richard Breitman.

  27. The current version holds that cca. one million people were exterminated with cyanide gas evolving from Zyklon B, a common pesticide, see further discussion below. The other two million gassed are said to have been killed with exhaust gases, specifically carbon monoxide from diesel engines.

  28. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 64f

  29. quoted by Stäglich, Wilhelm, Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence, Institute for Historical Review, Newport Beach, CA: 1990, p. 112f (an English translation by Thomas Francis of Der Auschwitz Mythos, Grabert Verlag, Tübingen: 1979)

  30. The inference is supported in Frank, Anne, Diary of a Young Girl (Definitive Edition), Bantam Books, NY:1997, p. 53, where for the entry of October 9, 1942 she describes hearing rumors of gassing over the "English radio", and see further discussion below.

  31. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 93f

  32. cf. Martin, op. cit., p. 40. In The New York Times the following day, that is, 26 November 1942. The details are clearly the same.

  33. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 94

  34. Ibid.

  35. Martin, op. cit., p. 41

  36. cf. the communication of 16 March 1942, discussed above, also Rothschild, Sylvia, ed.,Voices from the Holocaust, New American Library, NY:1981, where a Polish Jewish survivor recalled his fear of going to the bath house at Sachsenhausen already in 1942, p. 159, and habitual BBC listening by others, p. 129, 153. This testimony also indicates the very wide dispersion of the shower-gassing claim/rumor at this time, which inferentially supports the concept of the BBC feedback loop.

  37. The nadir of this claim may be found in the Black Book of Polish Jewry, published in 1946, quoted by Porter, Carlos Whitlock, The Holocaust: Made in Russia, Historical Review Press, n. p.:1988, p. 381.

  38. cf. Weber, Mark, "Jewish Soap" in JHR, vol.11, no 2. Also compare Hilberg, Raul, The Destruction of the European Jews, Quadrangle Books, Chicago:1968, pp. 331, 470. Rejection of the wartime soap-making rumor should be distinguished from the claim made at the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg by the Soviet Union that the Germans conducted soap-making experiments at Stutthof ca. 1944. This last claim is not explicitly rejected, but see Weber's article above. The reader is directed to the complete affidavit in support of the claim, reproduced in Porter, Holocaust, pp. 368-376, with the recommendation that they read it and decide for themselves.

  39. Martin, op. cit., p. 46

  40. Hilberg, op. cit., pp. 331, German propaganda division reports October, 1942, and NO-1660.

  41. Hilberg, op. cit., p. 331

  42. Martin, op. cit., p. 44

  43. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 130

  44. on "Kugel Decree" see Harris, op. cit., on the real meaning of the term, see Porter, Carlos Whitlock, Not Guilty at Nuremberg, Historical Review Press, Brighton, Sussex, UK:n. d., pp. 15-16, on the "pedal-driven brain-bashing machine" see Porter, Holocaust, p. 15, 378-380.

  45. Porter, Holocaust, p. 408

  46. cf. Hahn, Fritz, Waffen und Geheimwaffen des deutschen Heeres, 1933-1945, Bernard & Graefe Verlag, München:1992, "Windkanone", vol. 2, p. 136f

  47. Paul, Allen, Katyn, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis: 1996; p. 210, the Germans broke the story April 13, 1943

  48. Paul, op. cit., p. 254, the length of the Soviet report is given as 38 pages.

  49. On allied response, see Paul, op. cit., p. 222, and especially pp. 301-315, Martin, op. cit., pp. 65-69

  50. On German handling of Katyn, see Paul, op. cit., p. 208-210, 228-231, 270-273

  51. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 149. The trial took place from July 14 to July 17, 1943. See The People's Verdict: A Full Report of the Proceedings at the Krasnodar and Kharkov German Atrocity Trials, Hutchinson & Co., London:1944. Dushegubki is the feminine substantive plural from the neuter noun Dushegubstvo, meaning murder, literally, destroying or crushing of the spirit (from the verb "to breathe"). The cognate derivation of suffocation is therefore innate.

  52. Weckert, Ingrid, "Die Gaswagen -- Kritische Wurdigen der Beweislage" in Grundlagen, provides a detailed analysis of this claim. A review of the testimonies in The People's Verdict finds that the confessions of the German defendants and other witnesses on the gas vans are almost word for word identical, but these descriptions have never been correlated with any drawing or physical object. Other noteworthy themes developed, beginning at the Krasnodar Trial, include the claim that the Germans became obsessed with secrecy once they found out that the Soviets had obtained "gas van" documents (the most important of the PS-501 documents was developed by the Soviets, see Weckert, op. cit., loc. cit.), that Hitler personally ordered the suppression of "gas van" information in July, 1943, and that the bodies were burned to "wipe out the traces" of the crimes.

  53. Butz, op. cit., p. 82

  54. Butz, op. cit., p. 89, compare also the critique, "Babi Yar: Kritische Fragen und Anmerkungen" in Grundlagen, by Herbert Tiedemann

  55. The question of the number of Jews shot by the Germans or their auxiliaries is hotly debated by revisionists, as is also the reasons for or rationale provided for these shootings. There seems little reason to disbelieve the extensive documentary records, which indicate a minimum of several hundreds of thousands of Jews slain. The next question pertains to the reason for these shootings: in some cases it appears tied to anti-partisan activity, in others, to retaliation or simply punitive measures, in others, to the ideological commitment of some Nazi commanders to the killing of all Jews. The traditionalist claim, supported by the judgment of the IMT and NMT, is that 2 million Jews men women and children, were shot, and that they were shot because of their Jewish identity alone. The actual totals one can derive from the existing documents -- assuming 100% reliability -- is about one million. Revisionists dispute the claim of shooting exterminations, largely, one thinks, because it is traditionally linked to the gassing claim, although it must be said that the evidence for the mass shootings is of a completely different order of magnitude and verisimilitude than the evidence for gassing. The shooting claims deserve an extended treatment on their own, one which places these actions in the context of the German tradition of reprisal shootings, from which the Jewish massacres, one way or the other, undoubtedly derived.

  56. The People's Verdict, p. 90.

  57. Ibid., p. 90, 91f

  58. The Soviet prosecution at Nuremberg in the course of its presentation stressed elements of sexual shame and dishonor among Ukrainian deportees during this time-frame. xxxxx

  59. It is also remarkable that Gilbert, in Auschwitz and the Allies, completely ignores Heinisch's testimony about Auschwitz, even though he references the Kharkov trial, references The People's Verdict, and sought to present in that book a complete narrative of how information about Auschwitz was acquired. It is also remarkable that Heinisch's narrative precedes the 1944 constructions of the Auschwitz narrative, discussed below. A review of other sources, primary and secondary, shows no references to Heinisch or Somann concerning Auschwitz.

  60. Butz, op. cit., p. 146

  61. Butz, op. cit., p. 147. This narrative, like the other Auschwitz narratives for 1944, appears to have come from the Weissmandel circle in Bratislava (cf. Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader, pp. 318-327) but given the testimony of Heinisch six months previous its derivative nature is easily argued.

  62. Gilbert, op. cit., passim

  63. e.g., Butz, op. cit., p. xxxxx Butz' meaning of the word "hoax" is rather more subtle than his use of the word implies, compare a later discussion in Hoax, p. xxxxx The other revisionist most closely associated with the Hoax concept is Robert Faurisson.

  64. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 66, and esp. 67, 135, 136 [Ziegelboym's suicide], Morgenthau, Henry III, Mostly Morgenthaus, Ticknor & Fields, NY:1991, p. 366, [Henry Morgenthau Jr.'s comment]

  65. Gilbert, op. cit., p. 56-58

  66. Trombley, Stephen, The Execution Protocol, Anchor Books, NY: 1993, for further discussion of American execution techniques and their origins.

  67. Gellermann, Günther W., Der Krieg, der nicht stattfand, Bernard & Graefe Verlag, München:1986, p. 186f


Analytical Table of Contents and Overview


3. German Disinfection Procedures


DISEASE HAS MOVED hand-in-hand with warfare and migrations throughout history, and has brought more than one army to its knees. Eastern Europe was a particularly dreaded location for such epidemics: the Allies in the Crimean War, and the Napoleonic Army in 1812 were decimated by diseases, above all typhus and cholera, but also typhoid and dysentery.82 For a long time the cause of these diseases was unknown, only towards the end of the 19th Century was it understood that cholera, typhoid, and dysentery were transmitted by microbes usually in contaminated water.83 The vector of typhus -- the body louse -- was not identified until shortly before World War One.84
This lack of understanding did not prevent Europeans from attempting to control these diseases, since the general understanding was that filth and poor hygiene had something to do with their transmission.85
Towards the end of the 19th Century Germany developed a number of procedures for the delousing and disinfection of people and their clothing. These involved showering, smearing the body with petroleum or other substances to kill bugs, and steaming or boiling belongings.86 The application of the these procedures soon came to a test in the 1880's.
Typhus was endemic in Eastern Europe, and cholera had swept through the region on several occasions in the 19th Century.87 The constant saturation, particularly with typhus, conferred a certain immunity on the inhabitants.88 Someone transplanted to these regions could easily catch these diseases.89 Someone leaving the area might carry them.90 The population of the area, comprising roughly the Western Russian Empire and the Eastern provinces of Austria Hungary, Jewish and gentile, were uniformly impoverished, hungry, and, by then current Western hygienic standards, filthy.91 It is no exaggeration to state that most of the people in this region were but one crop failure away from death.92
In 1881, after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, anti-Semitic riots became characteristic in the region.93 That was the last straw for many Jews, who had borne impoverishment, hunger and filth as stoically as their gentile counterparts, in addition to government interference in their traditional way of life. As a result, many Jews chose to emigrate, and this led them in many cases through Germany.94 In Germany, they were subjected to the standard disinfection procedures, of which Mary Antin gave a much quoted account in her memoirs 95
In a great and lonely field, opposite a solitary house within a large yard, our train pulled up at last, and the conductor commanded the passengers to make haste and get out. [...] [The conductor] hurried us into the one large room that made up the house, and then into the yard. Here a great many men and women, dressed in white, received us, the women attending the women and girls of the passengers, and the men the others. This was another scene of bewildering confusion, parents losing their children, and little ones crying; baggage being thrown together in one corner of the yard, heedless of contents, which suffered in consequence; those white-clad Germans shouting commands, always accompanied with "Quick! Quick!" -- the confused passengers obeying all orders like meek children, only questioning now and then what was to be done with them. And no wonder if in some minds stories arose of people being captured by robbers, murderers, and the like. Here we had been taken to a lonely place where only that house was to be seen; our things were taken away, our friends separated from us; a man came to inspect us, as if to ascertain our full value; strange-looking people driving us about like dumb animals, helpless and unresisting; children we could not see crying in a way that suggested terrible things; ourselves driven into a little room where a great kettle was boiling on a little stove; our clothes taken off, our bodies rubbed with a slippery substance that could be any bad thing; a shower of warm water let down on us without warning; again driven together to another little room where we sit, wrapped in woolen blankets till large, coarse bags are brought in, their contents turned out, and we see only a cloud of steam, and hear a woman's voice to dress ourselves, -- "Quick! Quick!" -- or else we'll miss -- something we cannot hear. We are forced to pick out our clothes from among the others, with the steam blinding us; we choke, cough, entreat the women to give us time; they persist, "Quick! Quick! -- or you'll miss the train!" Oh, so we really won't be murdered! They are only making us ready for the continuing of our journey, cleaning us of all suspicions of dangerous illness. Thank God!
Mary Antin's bewilderment at disinfection and quarantine, arising from disorientation and novelty, is understandable, so too are the wild rumors that would come from incomprehension and anxiety. But it must be said that such measures were necessary: the year before Mary Antin made her passage in 1893, Hamburg had been hard hit by a cholera epidemic, and New York City had been hit with both a cholera and typhus epidemic.96
In the case of the New York epidemics we find many themes that would repeat themselves over subsequent decades. The immigrants, particularly Jews, feared the process of disinfection and quarantine, believing in some cases that their loved ones were being taken to a slaughterhouse.97 They distrusted the health authorities, and sought to hide instances of typhus, never realizing of course that such opposition and concealment merely spread the disease further.98 In addition, there were problems with the quarantine. By regulation, those dead of typhus had to be cremated, but this was a violation of Jewish law.99 The quarantine stations did not make provision for kosher food, and, as a result, several pious Jews starved themselves.100 The intereactions between the New York health authorities and the immigrant Jews could almost be characterized as culture shock, so deep the chasm of non-comprehension and non-accommodation that divided them. 
The same pattern emerged in World War One, and not only among Jewish people. The Germans, in the context of reorganizing the Turkish army, spent a great deal of effort in controlling typhus and other diseases.101 The two main tools of this effort were the Dampfdesinfektionwagens (mobile steam disinfection trucks) and the Turkish baths, which were converted for disinfection purposes.102 The Germans used primarily sulfur gas, which required a generator (Vergaser) that would burn the sulfur and provide the gas.103 Already at the beginning of 1914 the Germans were using vergasen (gasify, gas) as a synonym for begasen (fumigate). 104
Cooperation among the local populations varied: the Turks did not understand why lice had to be killed, because Allah forbade it, the Greek Orthodox and Jewish subjects objected on religious grounds to the bathing and shaving that was part of the treatment.105
A severe typhus epidemic in Serbia in the winter of 1914-15 led to international intervention, including an American Relief Expedition that did much to control the disease in its early stages.106 In 1915-1916, as Bulgaria entered the war on the side of the Central Powers, she was given large chunks of Serbian territory and this in turn required heightened vigilance on the part of the disinfection squads.107 In this context a story appeared in the London Daily Telegraph in March, 1916, that alleged that 700,000 Serbians had been asphyxiated.108 Robert Faurisson has successfully shown that this rumor or atrocity claim was directly related to the application of disinfection measures in the region.109 Surely it is no coincidence that the first claim of mass exterminations in 1942, as we recall, also featured gassings, the Daily Telegraph, and 700,000 victims. The story also reminds us that a mobile steam disinfection truck could easily be converted in a frightened and ignorant mind into a traveling gas chamber.110
The reactions to disinfection procedures in Turkey and the Balkans were also apparent in Poland, whether the disease control was being administered by Germans, Americans, or the British.111 The Germans went to extensive lengths to control diseases, and particularly typhus throughout Poland.112 This involved carrot and stick methods: on the one hand, the Germans painstakingly wrote a brochure, that was published in the Yiddish language, trying to explain, with appropriate references to the Torah, the importance of personal hygiene, and the necessity of controlling lice.113 On the other hand, the Germans would sometimes be required to force the local inhabitants to bathe and shower at bayonet point.114 When the war was over, a terrible typhus epidemic swept through Poland and the Western Russian provinces.115 American and British specialists went to Poland with a view to controlling the disease. They also sought to delouse and disinfect the residents.116 But they too ran into resistance and non-compliance, particularly on the part of the Jewish population.117 One feature of the American treatment that would soon become typical was the use of bottled cyanide gas as a means of destroying vermin.118
In the 1920's the Germans developed media for using cyanide gas that would be safer than the use of bottles or the so-called barrel system.119 One substance developed, called Zyklon B, used clay-like pellets into which the gas was absorbed as liquid under pressure and then sealed in a can.120 When the can was opened, the pellets would be strewn and the gas would slowly develop.121 By the Second World War, through the addition of gypsum, Zyklon B had now achieved a stability such that three hours were required for the full evolution of the gas at room temperature,122 which was ideal for its purpose as an insecticide.
Also during this period the Germans developed fumigation chambers or Entwesungskammern.123 These were usually constructed out of steel, although brick and concrete could also be used.124 About 10 meters square, the rooms would be filled with clothes and then the Zyklon pellets would be strewn among them. Such chambers, or Apparate, typically had two doors: the dirty clothes would go in one door, the disinfected clothes would be taken out of the other door.125 The Germans also developed a complicated machinery whereby forced air at or near the boiling point of hydrogen cyanide would be blown through the pellets to speed up the evolution time.126 The same air circulation technology (Kreislauf) would be used in large railroad tunnels, which by means of the air circulation gas generating apparatus (Kreislaufvergasungsapparaturen) could fumigate an entire passenger train at one time.127
Although Zyklon B was widely used for disinfection, it is important to note that throughout the '30's and during the war many other gases and substances were employed to combat vermin.128 One gas which was widely substituted for Zyklon was "T-Gas" a mixture of ethylene oxide and carbon dioxide which came in steel tanks and would be piped into the disinfection chamber.129 Other gases included Tritox, Ventox, and Areginal.130
Delousing and disinfection procedures were also a major component of German municipal disinfection centers, temporary huts of the German Labor Service, and transit camps (Durchgangslagern) for POW's or deported populations. All three featured a division into a dirty and clean side (reine und unreine Seite), and all three featured undressing rooms, shower rooms, and standard size fumigation chambers with double doors.131 There were some variations of course. The municipal disinfection center at Darmstadt for example, was enlarged in World War Two to make room for the influx of laborers from the East, which we assume to have comprised Poles, Soviet POW's, and Jews.132 Its cellars were also adapted to air raid shelters.133 The standard huts (Unterkünfte) for the German labor service were equipped with a diesel room, since diesels were expected to provide electricity in the absence of a power net for these outlying structures: these structures were also meant to be temporary and were designed to be put up and taken down in a minimum of man hours.134
In World War Two, the Germans aggressively pursued the containment of disease using all of these methods. As the concentrations of Jews in the ghettos increased, epidemics would break out, and the Germans would attempt to get the local Jewish authorities to implement disinfection procedures.135 Sadly, concealment, non-compliance, and resistance were characteristic in many ghettos, on the other hand, the records indicate that the ghetto in Vilna (Vilnius) was able to successfully control epidemics throughout the war.136 
The experience of the Wehrmacht in the field also suggests a successful effort at controlling epidemics, including the use of decontamination vehicles and mobile showering units, many of which were improvised by the men of the German Medical Corps (Sanitatsdienst).137
Of course, the most notorious example of the application of these procedures came in the concentration camps. Upon arrival, inmates were routinely stripped, searched for valuables, showered, and then given clothes that had been previously disinfected.138 In fact, the most common procedure involved disinfecting the clothing in one part of the "bath and disinfection complex" while the arrivals showered in another part. Kurt Vonnegut's description shows how even American prisoners of war entering German custody could become anxious and fearful at the strangeness of the ritual:
The naked Americans took their places under many showerheads along a white-tiled wall. There were no faucets they could control. They could only wait for whatever was coming. Their penises were shriveled and their balls were retracted. Reproduction was not the main business of the evening.
An unseen hand turned a master valve. Out of the showerheads gushed scalding rain. The rain was a blowtorch that did not warm. It jazzed and jangled Billy's skin without thawing the ice in the marrow of his long bones.
The Americans' clothes were meanwhile passing through poison gas. Body lice and bacteria and fleas were dying by the billions. So it goes.139
There seems little reason to doubt that the level of disorientation and fear had changed since the time of Mary Antin 50 years before, to say nothing of the humiliation: indeed, there are witness testimonies that support the idea of such continuity.140
In recounting these aspects of German disinfection procedures, as well as Jewish responses, which ranged from sullen non-compliance and avoidance to paranoid fear, one finds a remarkable similarity and a probable point of contact for virtually all of the gassing claims from 1942 into the summer of 1944.
Sobibor, for example, was described in German documents as a transit camp [Durchgangslager].141 Yet a transit camp would require facilities for showering arrivals and disinfecting their belongings before sending them further on their journey.142 And indeed we find in survivor testimonies that that is exactly what happened to them there.143 Yet at the same time, we have rumors reported in the West, and later we will have testimonies, that assure us that Sobibor was a camp where arrivals were simply exterminated via the familiar shower-gas-burning sequence.144 The same situation applies to Treblinka testimonies, for the Malkinia disinfection establishment was only a few kilometers away.145
For Majdanek the situation is even more remarkable. As we shall see later, the Bath and Disinfection Complex II would be earmarked as an extermination center by the Soviets: but in its construction it is virtually identical to the standard hut for delousing incoming members of the Labor Service and disinfecting their belongings.146
In summarizing the gassing rumors for the period 1942 through the spring of 1944 we encountered several references to prussic acid, showers and baths, and mobile gas chambers that led us into a discussion of German disinfection procedures. We have found that over six decades before World War Two the Germans had devised, for purposes of disease control, procedures that called for the use of mobile delousing and disinfection chambers, baths and disinfection complexes, and fumigation chambers that would utilize a common pesticide, Zyklon B, whose active ingredient was cyanide gas.
But above and beyond the German procedures we have found characteristic reactions to such diseases control measures, among many ignorant or traditional religious communities, and also among Jews, particularly those from the traditional and insulated East European communities.147 The reactions have ranged from avoidance and non-compliance, to anxiety, fear, and rumor-mongering of a particularly destructive sort. Finally, we note a haunting similarity between the delousing procedures known to have been applied and the rumors of mass gassing that were current at the time.
Therefore the most likely explanation for the evolution of the mass gas extermination legend, to this point in our analysis, is that the application of delousing measures on the populations of Eastern Europe, and particularly on the Jewish people who were being resettled to the East, or dragooned into the Labor Service, conjured up the typical rumors of extermination and slaughter as they had in the past. These rumors, in turn, were conveyed to Jewish parties in Western Europe and the United States, who appear to have all too readily believed them, the rumors in turn were propagated by the British in radio broadcasts back to Europe, including Yiddish language broadcasts, such that the rumors were already widely known, if not widely credited, throughout Europe by the end of 1942. We are now prepared to engage the next evolution of the mass gassing claim.

NOTES


  1. The preeminent revisionist work on the subjects discussed here are two articles by Friedrich Paul Berg, "Zyklon B and the German Delousing Chambers" and "Typhus and the Jews," both originally published in the JHR and now available on the CODOH website at: http://www.codoh.com/gcgv.html . The following texts on epidemic diseases and their role in history were found useful: Marks, Geoffrey and Beatty, William K., Epidemics, Scribners, NY: 1976; Cartwright, Frederick F., Disease and History, Barnes & Noble, NY: 1996; McNeil, William, Plagues and Peoples, Anchor Books, NY:1976; Rosenberg, Charles E., The Cholera Years, University of Chicago, Chicago:1962; Zinsser, Hans, Rats, Lice, and History, Black Dog & Leventhal, NY: 1963; Dixon, Bernard, Magnificent Microbes, Atheneum, NY:1979; Schimitschek, Erwin, & Werner, G. T., Malaria, Fleckfieber, Pest, S. Hirzel Verlag, Stuttgart:1985, Hobhouse, Henry, Forces of Change, Arcade, NY:1990.

  2. Carwright, op. cit., inter alia, discusses the water-borne diseases in detail.

  3. Schimitschek, op. cit., p. 90

  4. To a large extent Rosenberg's book, op. cit., is expressly concerned with the development of prophylaxis without a clear comprehension of etiology, and see Evans, cited below.

  5. enumerated in Encyclopedia Brittanica, [hereinafter, EB] 12th Edition (1922), Typhus, vol. XXXII, p. 825-827, and Evans, cited below.

  6. consult Zinsser, op. cit.,, Marks op. cit., Hobhouse, op. cit., also Goodall, cited below.

  7. Note important characterization of typhus quoted in Dixon, op. cit., p. 201f.

  8. Ibid., Also Goodall, cited below.

  9.  This very important concept involves the manner in which recrudescent typhus, which can recur many years after infection, can lead to a mild case of fever. However, if the person so afflicted with "Brill-Zinsser Disease" lives in a louse-ridden community, infection can then be transmitted to the louse and then to the louse matrix of the community with epidemic and lethal effect. Compare the comments by Zinsser, op. cit., p. 235, 235-239, in which he sketches the outlines of two species of the louse-borne disease. For typhoid fever, it is well known that about 1% of victims (female only) can become permanent carriers of the microbe in their gall bladders, compare "Typhoid Mary."

  10. Starkenstein, E., "Hygienische und sanitäre Verhältnisse Polens. Ein Beitrag zur Ostjudenfrage" in Archiv für Soziale Hygiene und Demographie, 1 & 2 Heft, 12.VI.1917, pp. 19-38, is characteristic; gentile populations had similar problems, consult EB, article on Typhus, loc. cit.

  11. This is a truism of Russian history, due to the short growing and harvesting season, and other factors, such that grain yields rarely exceeded 3:1. Hobhouse, op. cit., discusses in greater detail.

  12. These are the "pogroms" which will continue until the end of the Russian Civil War; the roots of these anti-Jewish actions seem variable; partly attributed to religious anti-Semitism (i.e., Blood Libel accusations), partly due to the "Russification" tendencies of the Empire, which affected all minorities, not just the Jewish people, partly due to economic competition with other ethnics (Greeks, Germans), partly due to the peculiar position the Eastern Jews occupied vis-a-vis the peasantry, which was newly emancipated and striving to adapt, as well as other social, economic, and demographic conditions, some of which are adumbrated by Hobhouse, op. cit. In short, the circumstances that could contribute to anti-Jewish violence at this time and in the examined period were quite complex, what they all seem to have in common is the tremendous and radical changes taking place in the Empire, which will become even more rapid subsequent to the Revolution of 1917. To anticipate a later note, we register here merely the tendency of many Jewish observers to regard these causes as united only by hatred of the Jewish people, we note as well as the tendency of Jewish historians to regard these outbreaks by and large as the product of official instigation.

  13. Discussed in, inter alia, Howe, Irving, World of Our Fathers, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, NY: 1976, pp. 29-38.

  14. Antin, Mary, The Promised Land, Penguin, NY: 1997, p. 138f, the book was originally published in 1912, and was based in turn on From Plotzk to Boston, from the 1890's, which in turn was based on an epistle Mary wrote in Yiddish to an uncle in Russia shortly after her arrival in Boston in the spring of 1893.  The text is given in truncated form in Howe, op. cit., Markel, cited below, and Jan Van Pelt and Deborah Dwork, Auschwitz: 1270 to Present, W. W. Norton & Company, New York: 1996.

  15. On Hamburg, see Evans, Richard J., Tod in Hamburg, a magnificent social history of the Free City (in German translation from the English), Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg: 1996; for New York, see Markel, Howard, Quarantine!, Johns Hopkins UP, Baltimore and London: 1997. 

  16. Markel, op. cit., p. 52, 50

  17. Markel, op. cit., p. 54, p. 44f. A case of typhus causes the rickettsia to course in the patient's bloodstream, where it can be communicated to lice and from the lice to others people. Hence, in a lice-ridden environment, and it must be stressed in 1892 that lice were not understood as the vector, refusal to comply with quarantine certainly would facilitate the spread of the disease. 

  18. Markel, op. cit., p. 63

  19. Markel, op. cit., p. 65

  20. Becker, Helmut, Äskulap zwischen Reichsadler und Halbmond, Helmut Becker, n. p., 1990, provides an extensive survey including many extracts from primary sources and memoirs.

  21. Becker, op. cit., p. 3, and compare discussion of Badeanstalten to control typhus, p. 126, Use of petroleum, p. 191, discussion of Apparat, p. 361-362, etc.

  22. Ibid.

  23. cf. "Ihm lagen zugrunde die Erfahrungen, die ich bei der Typhus- und Ruhrbekämpfung in Nordchina und bei der Genickstarrebekämpfung in München gemacht hatte. Sie lautete kurz: Heraus aus den versuchten Häusern, in weit angelegte, gesund gelegene, womöglich weit entfernte, auf Bergen gelegene Lager, vorher aber energische Reinigung aller Personen, Desinfektion aller Kleidungs- und Wäschestücke, die neuen Lager nur mit völlig gereinigten und neu gekleideten Truppen betreten lassen. Einschränkung des Dienstes, aber doppelte Rationen. So geschah es auch. Die Desinfektionswagen führen vor die Kasernen, Truppenteil für Truppenteil wurde gebadet. Dann die neue Kleidung empfangen, und sofort nach dem Zeltlager abgerückt. In der Kaserne wurde dann die alte Kleidung, Wäsche, Bettzeug desinfiziert, die Zimmer mit Formaldehyd und gegen die Läuse mit schwefelige Säure vergast." quoted from Meyer's memoirs, Becker, op. cit., p. 38

  24. Becker, op. cit.

  25. EB, article Typhus, loc. cit.

  26. Becker, op. cit., inferred from the description of heightened procedures in the European portion of Turkey during this period, pp. 368-388, note also discussion of railroad delousing tunnels, p. 374.

  27. "Request for Additional Information on the Myth of 'Gassings' of Serbs in World War One", Robert Faurisson, JHR, vol. 11, no. 2

  28. Ibid.

  29. The use of such vehicles in World War Two is well attested, consult Crowell, "Technique and Operation of German Anti-Gas Shelters in World War Two" for references.

  30. For German disinfection procedures in World War One, titles include: Blumberg, Dr., "Über behelfsmäßig herstellbare Anlagen zur Entlausung und Desinfektion im großen" in Öffentliche Gesundheitspflege, Heft 10, 1918, pp. 353-364; Wolf, Dr. "Das Desinfektionsverfahren mit Blausäure" in Öffentliche Gesundheitspflege, Heft 2, 1919, pp. 54-66; Wolf, Dr. "Das Desinfektionsverfahren mit Blausäure (Zusammenfassende Übersicht II)" in Öffentliche Gesundheitspflege, Heft 4, 1922, pp. 126-130; For Bitish procedures, see Goodall, below, for Americans in the Typhus Relief Expedition of 1919, see Cornebise, Alfred E.,Typhus and Doughboys, University of Delaware Press, Newark, NJ:1982

  31. e.g., Celarek, Dr., "Über die unter der Zivilbevölkerung Lublins im Jahre 1915/16 herrschende Fleckfieberepedemie und ihre Bekämpfung" in Öffentliche Gesundheitspflege, Heft 11, 1917, pp. 597-602; articles by Starkenstein above, and Frey, below.

  32. Frey, Dr. "Die Bekämpfung der Fleckfieberepedemie in der Zivilbevölkerung des Generalgouvernements Warschau in den Jahren 1915/16", in Öffentliche Gesundheitspflege, Heft 1, 1917, pp. 12-30, [the Yiddish instruction appears on pp. 21-25, phonetically in German script, cf. Fig. 11, and the article contains many excellent photos; the following Heft contains the continuation of the article]

  33. cited in Goodall, E. W., "Typhus Fever in Poland" in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine,vol. 13, April 23, 1920

  34. Goodall, loc. cit., Cornebise, op. cit., Zinsser, op. cit., and several others.

  35. Goodall, loc. cit., Cornebise, op. cit.

  36. Goodall, loc. cit., Cornebise, op. cit., passim!, but see p. 94, p. 96, [the complaint of the Jews is characterized by Cornebise as "anti-Semitic"] p. 122., however, Isaac Bashevis Singer's historical novel, The Family Moskat, (Fawcett Crest, NY:1950, p. 376) includes an instructive description of the situation at the time: "An epidemic of typhus threatened, and even cases of cholera had been reported; the authorities hastily assigned a barrack for the disinfection of the civilian population. Orthodox Jews were compelled to shave off their beards and earlocks, and girls had their heads shorn. Immediately there sprang up a group of "fixers," who, for a bribe, obtained forged disinfection certificates for those who would not submit to these indignities."

  37. Cornebise, op. cit., p. 93, 96-97, 98-100, 115, note in particular the quoted message, "Am looking forward with anticipation to the gas-squad with HCN that you promise sometime.", p. 96f 

  38. Berg, Friedrich, "Zyklon B and the German Delousing Chambers"

  39. Berg, op. cit.

  40. We say "slowly" here, but originally the development of the gas was rather rapid, this caused problems with the shelf life of the can and frequently caused danger, insofar as the liquid would then be de-stabilized within the can even before opening. Germar Rudolf's researches have found that gypsum was added in the 1930's to protract the evaporation,

  41. This is indicated by the article of R. Irmscher from 1942, which shows a 100% evaporation of the cyanide from the gypsum ("ERCO") composite pellets after three hours at 59 degrees Fahrenheit. For this and the preceding point consult the most recent version of the Rudolf Report, at: http://www.vho.org

  42. Berg, "Zyklon B"

  43. Berg, op. cit.

  44. Berg, op. cit.

  45. Berg, op. cit.

  46. Berg, op. cit.

  47. Handloser, Siegfried, ed. Wehrhygiene, Springer-Verlag, Berlin:1944, in the article by B. Schmidt, "Desinfektion, Sterilisation, Entwesung", lists several, including Zyklon, Ventox, Tritox, Cuprex, Formaldehyde.

  48. Ibid., p. 193f

  49. Kalthoff, u. a., Die Händler von Zyklon B, VSA, Hamburg:1999, provides extensive details of these other gases, as well as the history of disinfection materials particularly as these touch upon the activities of the Hamburg- based Tesch & Stabenow.

  50. Kämper, "Die Umgestaltung und Vergrößerung der Desinfektionsanstalt der Stadt Dortmund" in Gesundheits-Ingenieur, 27.IX.41; Stangelmeyer, Josef, "Genormte, zerlegbare Rohrleitungsnetze für die gesundheitstechnischen Anlagen der ortsveränderlichen Unterkünfte des Reichsarbeitdienstes" in Gesundheits-Ingenieur, 25.VI.42; Konrich, Friedrich, "Über die Sanierungsanstalten der deutschen Kriegsgefangenenlager" in Gesundheits-Ingenieur, 19.VII.41; Puntigam, Franz, "Die Durchganglager der Arbeitseinsatzverwaltung als Einrichtungen der Gesundheitsversorge" in Gesundheits-Ingenieur, Heft 2, Jahrg. 1944, pp. 47-56; other references of relevance to World War Two include:(articles): Ruppert, Joseph, "Gesundheitsverhältnisse und Seuchenbekämpfung im Generalgouvernement", in Der praktische Desinfektor, June, 1941, pp. 61-74; Finger, Georg, "Grundsätzliches zur Läusebekämpfung mit Imprägnierungsmitteln" in Der deutsche Militarartz, June, 1944, pp. 295-297. Relevant titles include Haag, Friedrich Erhard, Lagerhygiene, J.F. Lehmanns Verlag, München-Berlin: 1943; Walbaum, Jost, Kampf den Seuchen! Deutscher Ärzte-Einsatz im Osten, Buchverlag "Deutscher Osten", Krakau:1941.

  51. Kämper, loc. cit

  52. Ibid.

  53. Stangelmeyer, loc. cit.

  54. Walbaum, op. cit., is one source for this, Trunk, Judenrat, describes the general reluctance to submit to these procedures, as do other Holocaust authors, including Browning, Christopher, The Path to Genocide, Cambridge UP, Cambridge, 1992, pp. 145-168.

  55. Discussed in Trunk, Judenrat, p. 165, and the whole of chapter 7 is very valuable and apt here. Unfortunately, Trunk follows the tendency among Jewish historians which we will discuss later, whereby all misfortunes that occur are viewed as part of someone else's conspiratorial designs, thus the diseases that occurred in the ghettos are said to have been part of the Nazi's "diabolical plan." [p. 143]. The enormous expenditure that the Germans made for controlling diseases tends to make this interpretation unsupportable.

  56. Buchner, Alex, Der Sanitätsdienst des Heeres, 1939-1945, Podzun-Pallas, Wölfersheim-Berstadt: 1995

  57. Discussed in Rothschild, op.cit., also Trunk, Jewish Responses to Nazi Persecution, Stein & Day, NY: 1981, both passim.

  58. Vonnegut, Kurt, Slaughterhouse Five, Dell, New York:1988, p. 84

  59. Compare Rothschild, op. cit., p. 159, also Trunk, Responses, p. 162; Trunk has several more of these, in Yiddish testimonies most of which were given soon after the war.

  60. Butz, op. cit., p. 212, Hilberg, op. cit., p. 619

  61. Puntigam, "Durchganglager", loc. cit.

  62. Novitch, Miriam, Sobibor: Martyrdom and Revolt, Holocaust Library, NY:1980

  63. Ibid.

  64. The standard work on Treblinka remains Steiner's novelistic treatment, essays by Andrew Allen and Mark Weber, and, in particular, the article by Arnulf Neumaier in Grundlagen, "Der Treblinka-Holocaust" actually discuss details, and put the workings of the camp in a wider context.

  65. Consult and compare floor plan of Majdanek Bath and Disinfection complex, in Grundlagen, p. 276

  66. Trunk, in Responses (see citation below) as well as Novitch, op. cit., contain testimonies whereby the Westerners (chiefly Dutch) arriving at Sobibor welcomed the showers, the implication, sometimes explicit, being that the Polish Jews knew better.

END Sections 1, 2, and 3
Copyright 1997, Samuel Crowell

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