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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thomas Mann’s War-time Radio Speeches

Thomas Mann’s War-time Radio Speeches and the Genesis of the Mass Gassing Allegations

By Thomas Kues

Thomas Mann (b. 1875) is one of the most well known German writers of the 20th century, famous for among others the novels Buddenbrooks, Tonio Kröger, Death in Venice and The Magic Mountain. In 1905 he married the Jewess Katia Pringsheim. In 1929 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Already before the rise of the National Socialists to power Mann had been a vocal opponent to their politics, and in 1933 he went into exile. From 1938 until 1952 he lived in the United States, from where he moved to Switzerland after having been accused of being a Stalin apologist and summoned to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Mann died in Zürich in 1955.
From 1940 to the end of the war Mann recorded a number of speeches in German which were sent to the BBC and broadcasted from London in order to reach German radio listeners. The first 30 speeches were published in book form in 1943, and after the end of the war a second edition of the book was published containing the texts of all 55 radio speeches.[1] For most of of the printed speeches only the month of broadcasting is indicated, only in some cases are exact dates given. Below I will present Mann’s statements on alleged mass gassings of Jews in chronological order and comment on their significance.

In his speech from September 1941 Mann stated that ”the idea of exterminating peoples [Völkervernichtung] is a Nazi idea, it has no place in the thinking of the democracies.”[2] Thus Mann is implying that genocide was on the National Socialist agenda from the beginning, and this no more than three months after the beginning of the Soviet-German war. This plan apparently did not encompass only the Jews, because in his next broadcast, from October 1941, Mann spoke of ”the systematic race murder which Hitler is committing against the French”! [3]
In the speech for November 1941 Mann named not only Jews but Poles and Serbs as well as victims of genocide:
”Three hundred thousand Serbs have been killed, not during the war with this country [Germany], but after, killed by you Germans on the orders of those wicked blackguards who rule over you. The unspeakable [Unaussprechliche] which has happened and is happening in Russia, with the Poles and Jews is known to you, but you would rather not know for the understandable terror you feel for the likewise unspeakable, ever growing hatred which will fall upon you the day your forces and machines loses their momentum.”[4]
By this point in time, the supposed genocide against the Jews was still ”unspeakable”, i.e. the propagandists had yet to invent the modus operandi to ascribe to the Germans. This was to change soon enough, however.
Two months later, in the speech from January 1942, Mann had an astounding tale to tell his listeners:
”The news sounds implausible, but my source is good. In numerous Dutch-Jewish families in Amsterdam and other cities, so I have been informed, one mourns deeply for sons, who have suffered a horrible death. Four hundred young Dutch Jews were brought to Germany to be used as guinea pigs for poison gas. The virulence of this chivalrous and through and through German weapon of war, a true weapon of Siegfried, has proven itself against the young subhumans. They are dead, dead for the sake of the New Order and the military ingeniosity of the Master Race. At least for that they were good enough. After all, they were Jews.”[5]
A bit later in the text Mann refers to the above alleged event as ”the trial gassing [Probevergasung] of four hundred young Jews”.[6]
In his speech from June 1942 Mann returned to the subject of the gassed Dutch Jews:
”In one of my earlier broadcasts I made myself guilty of a regrettable mitigation of the truth. I spoke of Nazi atrocities and mentioned that 400 young Dutchmen of Jewish blood had been brought to German to be killed with poison gas. Now I hear via indirect channels from Holland, that the number of victims mentioned by me was nearly half that of the actual figure. It was almost 800 people who were arrested at that time, brought to Mauthausen and gassed there. The exact figure has meanwhile been published by the Dutch government [in exile?], but since I do not believe that this report has yet reached you, I do well to pass on to you this privately received information.”[7]
The reality behind this allegation is described by Raul Hilberg as follows: In early February 1941 German Security Police men were attacked by Jewish members of the resistance. On 25 February the Higher SS and Police Leader Rauter proclaimed that 400 Jews in the age group 20-35 had been sent to a German concentration camp. A total of 389 youths were in fact sent to Buchenwald, where a tenth of them perished in the next months. The survivors were sent on to Mauthausen. In June another 291 Amsterdam Jews were sent there directly. The Dutch Jews in Mauthausen were set to carry out heavy work in a stone quarry, and many who did not perish from exhaustion or illness reportedly committed suicide. Following concentration camp routine, the Mauthausen command sent death notices to the families of the deceased.[8] No Holocaust historian has ever asserted that the Dutch Jews deported to Mauthausen in 1941, or even part of them, were killed with poison gas. According to the foremost defender of the Mauthausen gas chamber legend, Hans Marsalek, the alleged homicidal gas chamber of that camp was not put in operation before May 1942, and of the either 526 or 726 victims supposedly gassed (on a total of five occasions) up until 9 September 1944, all were either Soviet, Czech or Polish citizens.[9] Thus none of the approximately 640 Dutch Jews sent to Mauthausen in 1941 could have been gassed there, even from an exterminationist viewpoint.
In the most exhaustive (2253 pages) Mann biography to date, that of Klaus Harpprecht [10] – which otherwise makes many references to the radio speeches – the remarkable fact that the famous novelist was one of the first known persons – perhaps even the first – to speak of mass gassings of Jews is passed over in silence, and we find no hints as to what Mann’s source could have been.
On 16 February 1942 the Romanian-Jewish Bucarest physician Emil Dorian entered into his diary:
”We have learned that a German industrial plant has developed a particularly powerful poison gas. Its efficiency was tested on four hundred Jewish youths picked up from a concentration camp. All of them died, of course. Soon afterward, Thomas Mann spoke on the American radio, denouncing this shameful crime and placing responsibility on the entire German nation (…).”[11]
The unnamed ”particularly powerful poison gas” and the concentration camp are not mentioned in Mann’s January speech, at least not as printed, suggesting that other sources as well were spreading the gassing allegation by this time. From this we may conclude that Allied intelligence or Jewish organizations had begun to disseminate mass gassing allegations by January 1942 at the very latest. To determine when and where the allegation originated would no doubt require research into the clandestine publications of the Dutch resistance.

Thomas Mann in 1937 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
In his speech from August 1942 Mann returned to the French, stating that the Germans aimed to reduce the population of France to twenty million.[12] Since the population of France in 1939 was approximately 41,7 million, this implies that the Germans were planning to kill or cause the death of more than 20 million French! In reality, the French casualities during the war amounted to 567,600, whereof 217,600 military deaths – this figure also includes 83,000 real or alleged ”Holocaust” victims.[13] Considering that the number of other deaths amounted to 267,000 – most undoubtedly due to bombings, killings of resistance fighters etc. – the notion that Hitler was waging a campaign of extermination against the French is patently ridiculous.
On 27 September 1942 Mann claimed that Goebbels had made the following statement in a recent radio speech:
“It is our goal [...] to exterminate [auszurotten] the Jews. Regardless if we win or loose the war, we must, and will, reach this goal. Should the German army be forced to retreat, it would on its way back eliminate [vertilgen] the last Jews from the face of the earth.”[14]
The author of this article has not been able to find a preserved speech of Goebbel’s from the period in question which corresponds to the “quote” presented by Mann. Moreover two things immediately strikes one as odd about the contents of the alleged speech: Would Goebbels, in a public radio speech in 1942, have mentioned the possibility of defeat, even in the most hypothetical terms? And how would the retreating German army have been able to “eliminate the last Jews from the face of the earth”, when the majority of the world’s Jewish population lived outside the German-controlled sphere?
In the same speech Mann repeated the well-known propaganda figure of 700,000 murdered Jews, “whereof 70,000 alone in the region of Minsk”. He then provided his listeners with two mass gassing stories:
“In Paris 16,000 Jews were herded together within a few days, loaded onto cattle cars and sent away. Whereto? One who knows is the German train engineer who has been reported about in Switzerland. He fled there after several times having to drive trains filled with Jews, which were halted on an open stretch of track, hermetically sealed and then gassed through [durchgast]. The man could not stand it anymore. Yet his experience is far from exceptional. A precise and authentic report is available on the killing of not less than 11,000 Polish Jews with poison gas. They were brought to a special execution site [Exekutionsfeld] near Konim [sic] in the Warsaw District, put inside vans [Wagen] which had been sealed air-tight, and transformed into corpses within fifteen minutes. We have a detailed description of the whole process, of the screams and pleas of the victims and the merry laughter of the SS hottentots, who took fun in performing their task.”[15]
This description of gassings of Polish and French Jews is actually remarked on by Mann biographer Harpprecht,[16] though he refrains from mentioning how exactly the gassing of the French Jews was allegedly carried out.
It is a documented fact that the transports of Paris Jews which Mann refers to were sent to Auschwitz, which means that the story of the anonymous train engineer must be completely fictitious. As for the fate of these deportees, Holocaust historians maintain that most of them were gassed after their arrival in Auschwitz, but there is good reason to believe that these “gassed” Jews were in fact sent on from Auschwitz to the Ukraine. On 15 August 1942 the aforementioned Emil Dorian entered into his diary:
“There are persistent rumors about trains passing through the northern part of Moldavia, carrying Jews from occupied France sent by the Germans to the east. It is known that 20,000 Jews in occupied France have been recently deported from there, but no one could guess where they were sent. There are details: Sealed cars, dreadful thirst, no food.”[17]
Trains from the west passing through northern Moldavia would likely end up in the Ukraine. This fits well with the report published in the underground newspaper Notre Voix in April 1944 that 8,000 Jews from Paris (which was in the occupied part of France) had been liberated at an unnamed location in the Ukraine by the advancing Red Army.[18] Other allegedly gassed French Jews were sent to Minsk and to Latvia, as is shown in the upcoming second part of my article “Evidence for the Presence of ‘Gassed’ Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories“.[19]
While it is correct that the Chelmno “extermination camp” was located not very far from Konin – which however was not in the Warsaw District, but in the Warthegau – it seems odd that one was aware of these alleged 11,000 victims, while apparently remaining unaware of the more than 120,000 other Jews who had supposedly been killed in the Chelmno camp by that point in time.[20] The description of the killing process as related by Mann further bear all the hallmarks of black propaganda.
On 27 June 1943 Mann told his listeners that “almost a million have been executed or murdered”.[21] It is not made clear whether this refer to only Jews or to Non-Jews also. Considering the 700,000 figure previously reported by Mann this would mean that “only” 300,000 people (Jews?) had fallen victim of the Germans during the preceding nine months.
Finally, on 14 January 1945, Mann devoted a large part of his speech to Majdanek and Auschwitz. The former camp he describes as containing “the largest crematorium in the world”.[22] Curiously, he gives the number of Majdanek victims as “more than half a million”, despite the victim figure propagated by the Soviets at the time (and later at the Nuremberg Trial) being 1,5 million (the current official estimate is 78,000).[23] Perhaps this was simply an error on Mann’s part. Even more curious is Mann’s claim that the Majdanek victims were poisoned in gas chambers with chlorine.[24] This alleged murder weapon is found nowhere else in Majdanek-related propaganda. On the other hand it was claimed by several early Sobibór witnesses that gassings had been carried out at this “extermination camp” using chlorine.[25]
Mann’s description of Auschwitz is clearly based on the Vrba-Wetzler report, but either the famous author had not read the report itself, or he was consciously “improving” on it, for here the alleged victim figure is presented not as the “informed” estimate of the report’s author, but as an exact figure revealed by the unexplained discovery of the “Registry of Death”.[26] Further one had discovered “hundreds of thousands of passports and personal documents belonging to members of no less than twenty-two European nationalities”, and not only that: “These lunatics had also kept books on the bone meal, the fertilizer produced by this operation.”[27] How any such discoveries were possible remains a complete mystery, considering that Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army on 21 January 1945, i.e. one week after Mann’s speech! What may point to Mann relying on second-hand information on the Vrba-Wetzler report is the fact that the (Jewish) Auschwitz victim figure is given in the text of the speech as 1,715,000 instead of 1,765,000 as per the report.
Not surprisingly, Harpprecht has no comment to offer on the bizarre description of the ”death factories” other than a pious reflection on the undoubtable fact that the alleged genocide on the Jews is the lowest point in the history of mankind, and that Auschwitz was ”the Hell on Earth” to which the mass murders of Stalin or Mao can not possibly be compared.[28]
In his speech from January 1942 Mann warned his listeners that ”the tendency to view such stories as atrocity propaganda [Greuelmärchen] remains widespread, to the benefit of the enemy”.[29] As Mann proceeded to declare, the reports on mass killings of Jews were not simply “stories”, but history in the making.[30] This is highly ironic, considering that most of the supposedly authentic and reliable reports on mass killings relayed by Mann to his listeners have been quietly thrown down the memory hole. The speeches made by Mann during the war years are actually mythology in the making, and reading them gives us more insight into how and when the mass gassing allegations arose and provides us with leads to follow up in future research into this issue.

[1] Thomas Mann, Deutsche Hörer! 55 Radiosendungen nach Deutschland, 2nd edition, Bermann-Fischer Verlag, Stockholm 1945.
[2] Ibid., p. 38.
[3] Ibid., p. 41.
[4] Ibid., p. 44.
[5] Ibid., p. 48.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid., p. 62.
[8] R. Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 3rd edition, Yale University Press, New Haven / London 2003, vol. II, p. 613f).
[9] H. Marsalek, Die Geschichte der Konzentrationslager Mauthausen, Vienna 1974, p. 227; Giftgas in Mauthausen, Vienna 1988, p. 15
[10] K. Harpprecht, Thomas Mann. Eine Biographie, Rowohlt 1995.
[11] E. Dorian, The Quality of Witness. A Romanian Diary 1937-1944, The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1982, p. 197.
[12] Thomas Mann, Deutsche Hörer! 55 Radiosendungen nach Deutschland, op.cit., p. 69.
[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties
[14] Thomas Mann, Deutsche Hörer! 55 Radiosendungen nach Deutschland, op.cit., p. 72.
[15] Ibid., p. 73.
[16] K. Harpprecht, Thomas Mann. Eine Biographie, op.cit., p. 1313
[17] E. Dorian, The Quality of Witness, op.cit., p. 221
[18] Carlo Mattogno, Jürgen Graf, Treblinka. Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004, pp. 257-258.
[19] The first part of this article is available online at: http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2010/volume_2/number_2/evidence_for_the_presence_of_gassed_jews.php. The second part is scheduled to be published in the 2010 winter issue of the web journal Inconvenient History.
[20] Cf. C. Mattogno, Il Campo di Chelmno tra Storia e Propaganda, Effepi, Genoa 2009, chapter 12.2.
[21] Thomas Mann, Deutsche Hörer! 55 Radiosendungen nach Deutschland, op.cit., p. 93.
[22] Ibid., p. 118.
[23] Cf. Jürgen Graf, “Zur Revision der Opferzahl von Majdanek” online: http://juergen-graf.vho.org/articles/zur-revision-der-opferzahl-von-majdanek.html
[24] Thomas Mann, Deutsche Hörer! 55 Radiosendungen nach Deutschland, op.cit., p. 118.
[25] Cf.. J. Graf, T. Kues, C. Mattogno, Sobibór. Holocaust Propaganda and Reality, TBR Books, Washington DC 2010, pp. 71-72
[26] “Man hat die Registratur des Todes gefunden”; Thomas Mann, Deutsche Hörer! 55 Radiosendungen nach Deutschland, op.cit., p. 118.
[27] Ibid.
[28] K. Harpprecht, Thomas Mann. Eine Biographie, op.cit., p. 1458.
[29] Thomas Mann, Deutsche Hörer! 55 Radiosendungen nach Deutschland, op.cit., p. 48.
[30] Ibid. 
-------------------

More on Mauthausen and the Genesis of the Mass Gassings Allegation

By Thomas Kues

In a previous article [1] I have discussed the monthly radio broadcasts in German that the famous novelist Thomas Mann made during the war and the mentions of mass gassings of Jews made in them. Most significantly, in his speech from January 1942 the Nobel laureate in exile claimed that “Four hundred young Dutch Jews were brought to Germany to be used as guinea pigs for poison gas”. As far as I was able to determine, this was the first occurence of the allegation that the Germans were carrying out mass gassings of Jews. In his speech from June 1942 Mann again spoke of the gassed Dutch Jews, stating that the victims numbered not 400, but 800, and that the Jews in question had been “brought to Mauthausen and gassed there”. Comparison of the contents of the January speech with a diary entry written on 16 February 1942 by a Romanian-Jewish Bucarest physician named Emil Dorian strongly implies that the allegation did not originate with Mann, and that it had been spread also by other channels.
As for the background to the allegation I summarized the documented facts, as set out by Raul Hilberg, concerning two small convoys of young Dutch Jews who, as retaliation for underground activities, were deported to German concentration camps. The first convoy, consisting of 400 Jews, were sent first to Buchenwald in late February 1941, where a tenth of them perished during the following months. In the spring of 1941 the survivors were transferred to Mauthausen. In June a second convoy of 291 Amsterdam Jews were sent directly to Mauthausen. The deported Dutch Jews were set to carry out heavy work in quarries and mines, and many who did not perish from exhaustion or illness reportedly committed suicide. No “Holocaust” historian, including the foremost defender of the Mauthausen gas chamber legend, Hans Marsalek, has ever alleged that any of these Dutch Jews were “gassed” in Mauthausen. In conclusion, I wrote that Allied intelligence or Jewish organizations must have begun to disseminate the gassing allegation by January 1942 at the latest, and that the origin of the allegation no doubt required research into the clandestine publications of the Dutch resistance.
I have not yet had the opportunity to review any Dutch sources, but on the other hand I have found a number of news items from Jewish press that sheds more light on the issue. Below I will present these items and briefly discuss their implications.
On 28 November 1941 the German-Jewish exile weekly Aufbau, published in New York, carried the following item on p. 3:
From London comes the report that up to now at least 400 of the 680 young Dutch Jews sent to the concentration camp Mauthausen in Austria earlier this year have died. They perished due to deficient nutrition, hard labor and cruel treatment. Their families were forbidden to send food parcels to them in the camp.”
As shown by a notice in the American-Jewish bimonthly Contemporary Jewish Record this information was based on a news dispatch of unstated origin (possibly the Dutch government in exile) dated 17 November 1941.[2] Thus by late November the Jewish press in the West were aware of the fact that most of the deported Dutch Jews had perished, but in line with post-war historiography their deaths were described as being due to “natural” causes, not gassing.
On 5 December 1941 Aufbau presented under the title “The Secret of Mauthausen” two letters to the editor (on p. 6) which I will give here full in translation. The first letter, signed “Carl van Hester” reads:
In no. 48 [the 28 November issue] you carried a notice entitled ‘Dutch Jews in concentration camps’ which – as terrible as its contents are – do not by far make justice to the facts. Since we are dealing here with one of the worst crimes committed by the Nazi murderers I wish to submit to you the true facts for publication.
It is the question here of some 680 young Jews between 18 and 35 years of age, about half of them of Dutch nationality and the rest German emigrants to Holland, among them several former members of the wellknown agricultural training camp of Wieringen. One half of them were singled-out during a veritable manhunt on the streets of Amsterdam, carried out in retaliation to a demonstration calling for a general strike. This demonstration had in turn been spontaneously orchestrated by the population as an answer to the first German attempts to incite pogroms in the old Jewish quarters. This group first arrived in Buchenwald, where within a month perhaps 10 percent of them perished due to the ‘normal’ mortality. Then in summer the rest of them were sent on to Mauthausen.
In the meantime a second manhunt had taken place in Amsterdam resulting in the arrests of 300 to 350 young Jews. This time it was a reprisal for an alleged bombing attempt against an apartment building which housed German officers. These young folks were given careful medical examinations and a certain number of them with with bodily deficiencies were sent home. Initially one assumed that this was because
[only] human material useful for the labor service was needed. As it now turns out, it was obviously because only perfect ‘material’ can be used for laboratory experiments.
Also this group was transported to Mauthausen, and already some ten days later death notices began to arrive by the dozens, conveyed to the unhappy parents by the Gestapo in the rudest manner: By postcards they were summoned to the office
[of the German administration] where they had to receive the terrible news. One father, who had both of his sons in Mauthausen was summoned one Monday to report to the office the following Friday. Expecting the worst he asked, first on his own and then through a Christian Dutchman, if he could receive the news earlier. This was dismissed with the following words: ‘The Jew is scheduled for Friday and have to wait until then.’
When Friday came the official informed him briefly that one of his sons was dead. The father asked: I have another son there, how is he? The official leafed through his papers: ‘Oh, he died eight days ago.’
An American reader would hardly believe this story, but it is true, it is true, so help me God.
Whether any of the unlucky
[deported Dutch Jews] are still alive I do not know. I would not hope for it. Of the fifteen close, personal acquaintances which I had among them, not a single one is left alive.
How then did they die? A higher foreign dignitary has personally made the effort to request from higher circles in Berlin the release of a certain young person, whose parents he was befriended with. Various authorities, who thought it was the question of an ordinary concentration camp inmate, promised him assistance and their endorsement. However, as soon as the dignitary mentioned, that he was speaking of one of the young Dutchmen in Mauthausen, he was met instead with icy rejection. Finally, a high-ranking Nazi openly told him: ‘No-one leaves Mauthausen alive, and even if the war ended tomorrow the last of them would be bumped off
[umgelegt] already today. They are killed by poison gas [Die gehen an Giftgas zu Grunde].’ (Except for myself there are several other reliable witnesses here [in the Netherlands?] to whom he [the foreign dignitary] has told of this personally.)
I don’t write to you about all this because there is still a chance to save these poor. However, when the day comes for the world to judge Germany, one must recall such dreadful things and remind the world of them, so that not feeble pity clouds the eye.
The second letter, signed “R. Pisk (New York City)” is apparently published only in part:
…do you not find it remarkable, that out of 680 young, fresh, strong people 400 should have lost their lives due to overwork or malnutrition? Regrettably I personally have indications [Anhaltspunkte] that these poor youths have been subjected to poison gas experiments, which have killed them in droves…
These two letters prove that the gassing allegation was invented at the very latest in November 1941, i.e. prior to the alleged first mass gassings in the Chelmno camp. As for now, the identities of the letter writers remain a mystery. The letter signed “Carl van Hester” gives the impression to have been written by a Dutchman, probably one involved in the resistance movement, but if this person was still residing in the occupied Netherlands at this time, it seems obvious that he must have used a pseudonym. One must further assume that “R. Pisk” did not spell out his evidence for the gassings, or else the newspaper would certainly have published his letter in full, instead of devoting the remaining space to seven other letters concerning everything from savings and insurances to refugees on Mauritius.
On 10 April 1942 Aufbau again wrote of Mauthausen in a brief notice titled “Death Camp Mauthausen” (p. 2):
The Dutch government in London has announced 740 out of 1,200 Jews sent to forced labor in the salt and sulfur mines of Mauthausen have died. Without even the slightest protection they were abandoned by the Nazis to the poisonous fumes [den giftigen Dämpfen preisgegeben].”
This announcement from the Dutch government in exile in London is almost certainly the one Mann is referring to in his speech from June 1942 (“It was almost 800 people who were arrested at that time, brought to Mauthausen and gassed there. The exact figure has meanwhile been published by the Dutch government, but since I do not believe that this report has yet reached you, I do well to pass on to you this privately received information). It seems clear from the Aufbau notice, however, that the announcement in question did not attribute the deaths to any “poison gas experiments”, but to exposure to poisonous fumes in mines where the Jews reportedly had to work without protective gear. This is also the version maintained by the Institute of Jewish Affairs in an survey from August 1943:
In the summer of 1941 Jewish youths began to disappear from Holland; within a short time their number reached some 1,200. It became known that they had been sent to the concentration camp of Manthausen [sic] in Upper Austria where they were forced to work in suplhur mines without protection against the deadly fumes. According to an official statement of the Dutch government-in-exile, 740 of these young men died during the first four months of labor. At first, obituary notices appeared in the Dutch press; soon, however, such announcements were prohibited. Parents were called to Gestapo headquarters to receive news. Appointments were deliberately made days in advance so as to keep them in suspense. Usually their children had been dead for weeks. The ashes could be obtained upon remittance of 75 guilders.[3]
It is tempting to speculate that the people who made up the gassing story were “inspired” by real deaths or accidents involving such poisonous fumes and then combined this real element with the gas warfare paranoia carried over from World War I.[4]
In the Aufbau issue of 12 June 1942 we find the following brief article on page 5:
The news of the poison gas experiments first brought to a horrified world by Aufbau has now been confirmed by a high American official, who previously was stationed in Czechoslovakia and in the last week arrived in New York on the [Swedish] diplomat ship ‘Drottningholm’. Also he knows of events which have taken place in this camp, located 20 miles north of Linz. What is new is not that hundreds of the Jews arrested in Holland have been killed in these gas experiments or that some 1,200 of them have died in the mines near the camp – that is an allegation which the Dutch government already have made its own – but that this newly arrived official attest to that also several hundreds of Jews from Prague, robbed of all their papers and other signs of identification, have been brought to Mauthausen. According to the statements of the authorities in the Protectorate these deportees were sent to ghettos in Poland. Now it can be confirmed, however, that in reality they were sent to Mauthausen.
As has been reported to Aufbau by a reliable source, there has since some time existed a second Mauthausen in the former nunnery Liebenau in Württemberg, to where the Nazis brought feeble-minded young men – or whoever they classified as such – for purposes similar to those of Mauthausen. The prisoners in this camp were Jewish as well as non-Jewish. Later these experiments in Liebenau were discontinued and the nunnery transformed into an internment camp for foreign women.
According to post-war historians, mental patients housed in Liebenau were sent to be gassed at the Grafeneck euthanasia center, but there were no gassings at Liebenau itself.[5] The alleged poison gas experiments at Liebenau were reported also by the Contemporary Jewish Record, but in their report the victims had changed from mental patients to “hundreds of Jewish and Russian war prisoners”.[6] The same journal also reported on the mysterious American dignitary:
Several hundred others [of Czech Jews] were sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp, near Linz, where they are being used as ‘guinea pigs’ in Nazi poison gas experiments, an American official returning on the ‘Drottningholm’ revealed Aug. 10 [1942].”[7]
Could this “high American official” have been the same as the “higher foreign dignitary” mentioned in the letter of “Carl van Hester”? Any help with identifying this person would be most welcome.
On 3 July 1942 Aufbau again wrote of the Mauthausen gassings (p. 10):
According to reliable reports 700 young Jews have been killed by the Nazis through criminal poison gas experiments in the camp Mauthausen. As already announced in a previous issue we plan to draw up a list of the victims, partly in order to make contact with friends and relatives of the unlucky ones, partly out of historical-documentary reasons.
A publication of the names will not take place during the war and because of requests not in the future, either.
We have already received many notifications. Since many names still are missing we hereby renew the appeal to our readers.
I have not yet been able to locate the referred-to first appeal.
When the Mauthausen gassing allegation appeared for the last time in Aufbau on 9 October 1942 (p. 2) the number of gassing victims had been changed to encompass all Dutch Jews sent to the camp according to the April 1942 announcement of the Dutch government in exile:
These threats of the Nazis to send [Dutch] Jews to the concentration camp Mauthausen is all the more upsetting if one consider the atrocities which they have carried out in this camp located 20 miles north of Linz. As the first newspaper Aufbau reported earlier this year that the Nazis had conducted poison gas experiments on Dutch Jews, of whom some twelve hundred met their death.
The story of the Dutch Jews gassed at Mauthausen did not die there, however. On 16 December 1943 the following was reported from London:
The Germans are using prisoners from concentration camps as subjects for tests with poison gas, according to a young Dutchman, who recently escaped and now is in hospital, seriously ill, in a neutral country.
The Dutchman has given authenticated details of their sufferings to a Dutch Government representative.
The Dutchman says that he was sent to Mauthausen camp in Austria in 1942. From there he was taken in a van with 27 others to a large factory. This contained a number of laboratories and gas chambers with three windowless cement walls
[and] one of thick glass, through which the chemists and physiologists watched the ‘experiments.’
The prisoners were sent into one chamber naked three times. The first time they wore gas maks, and remained inside a quarter of an hour.
The Dutchman says: ‘After two minutes an intense skin prickling set in, after which we felt a glowing sensation. When we went out our temperatures were taken and blood drawn from our earlobes. We then received a strong chlorine shower bath. We did not experience any harmful results.
In a second experiment three weeks later we again wore gas masks, and again experienced a glowing sensation, which this time was followed by a feeling of intense cold. Ten of the victims developed sores and severe itching.
They were not exposed to the third experiment, in which 14 of us were sent in without gas masks for half an hour.
Grilles in the floor were uncovered. After a few minutes all of us vomited and became dizzy.
We gradually lost our sense of balance and fell over each other. We were only faintly conscious.
When the test ended laboratory assistants, clad in anti-gas suits, rubber gloves and shoes and gas masks, carried us out. Blood spurted from our nostrils, mouths and ears.
We again reached a chlorine shower, and our lungs and stomachs were X-rayed. Vomiting and dizziness continued for four days, but we were forced to resume our heavy camp labour.
We heard later from the guards that 40 young Jews had twice been exposed to the same ordeal. All had died.
[8]
The gassings alleged here are clearly experiments with poison gas, not gassings in the “Holocaust” sense. We further note that the “gas chambers” described clearly are identical neither with the alleged Mauthausen “gas chamber” or the “gas chamber” at the Euthanasia institute at Schloss Hartheim, that the experiments are dated to the year 1942, and that the number of Jewish victims mentioned is 40, not 400, 700, 800 or 1,200.
The idea that the Germans were conducting experiments with military poison gases had appeared already in an underground report on Auschwitz dated 24 October 1941, but in this instance the alleged victims were Soviet prisoners of war:
At Oswiecim [Auschwitz], in early October, 850 Russian officers and non-coms (prisoners of war) who had been brought there were put to death by gas in order to test a new war gas which is to be used on the eastern front.[9]
Did the Polish underground propagandists influence the Dutch ones, or vice versa? Was the notion derived from a common source? Is it really possible that two groups came up with more or less the same notion independent of each other? What role did the mysterious “Carl van Hester”, “R. Pisk” and the (American?) “higher foreign dignitary” play in the development of the mass gassings legend? What we know is that both the Mauthausen and the Auschwitz allegations are untrue.[10] Accordingly, we are dealing with two similar pieces of black propaganda. Which came first? To answer all those questions more research is clearly needed.

[1] “Thomas Mann’s War-time Radio Speeches and the Genesis of the Mass Gassing Allegations”, http://www.revblog.codoh.com/2010/08/thomas-manns-war-time-radio-speeches-and-the-genesis-of-the-mass-gassing-allegations/
[2] Contemporary Jewish Record, vol. 5 no. 2 (February 1942), p. 87.
[3] Boris Schub (ed.), Hitler’s Ten-Year War on the Jews, American Jewish Congress/World Jewish Congress, New York 1943, pp. 238-239.
[4] Cf. Samuel Crowell, The Gas Chambers of Sherlock Holmes, online: http://www.codoh.com/incon/inconshr123.html
[5] http://www.wuerttembergisches-psychiatriemuseum.de/index.php?section=zwiefalten&page=1940
[6] Contemporary Jewish Record, vol. 5 no. 4 (August 1942), p. 426
[7] Contemporary Jewish Record, vol. 5 no. 5 (October 1942), p. 524
[8] Nazi Gas Tests On Prisoners”, The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 17 December 1943, p. 2
[9] Oboz koncentracyjny Oswięcim w swietle akt Delegatury Rzadu R.P. na Kraj, Oswiecim 1968, p. 11
[10] For the latter see C. Mattogno, Auschwitz: The First Gassing, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2005

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