Charles Provan, Revisionist turned Believer: Diesel fumes toxic if timing changed

Peter Myers, February 9, 2009; update May 1, 2009.

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Auchhwitz had three groups of camps: I - the original, designed as a work camp; Krema I later redesigned for death (Revisionsts dispute this) II - Birkenau - designed as a death camp - Kremas II -V (Revisionsts dispute this) III - Monowitz - I. G. Farben work camp

The plans referred to in item 1

(1) Auschwitz redevelopment Plans of November 1941 show gas chambers (2) Faurisson still on the offensive: "Show me or draw me a Nazi gas chamber!" (3) Reconsztruction, after the war, of Krema I at Auschwitz-I (4) "False" shower-heads (5) & (6) Pressac's Proof - Rudolf's recent books (7) Charles Provan, Revisionist turned Believer: Diesel fumes toxic if timing changed (8) Van Pelt on Rudolf's rejection of all eyewitness testimony

(1) Auschwitz redevelopment Plans of November 1941 show gas chambers

From: Josef Schwanzer <> Date: 21.02.2009 06:23 AM

From The Times February 21, 2009

Rescued Auschwitz plans on show to shame deniers

(Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

A visitor at an exhibition featuring original architectural plans of the Nazi Auschwitz death camp in Berlin Roger Boyes in Berlin

Blueprints of the concentration camp at Auschwitz, found recently in a rubbish skip, have been put on display in a Berlin shopping centre as a public challenge to Holocaust deniers.

The plans, which show gas chambers, huge storage halls for corpses, and a crematorium, have been put up in a busy foyer between sandwich shops and a sushi bar.

"It's shocking, deeply shocking," said Tobias Prennzler, 27, a design student, as he leant forward to decipher the signature of Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Nazi security machine. "This was 1941 and they were already drawing up plans for some kind of a death factory. And it looks like they wanted to make it permanent."

The display comes as Germans, once fiercely proud of the Bavarian-born Pope Benedict XVI, are registering dismay that the Vatican should have accepted a Holocaust sceptic back into the fold. Bishop Richard Williamson, who is being expelled from Argentina by the Government, once told Swedish television: "I believe there were no gas chambers."

The core of Auschwitz was built for migrant farm workers in 1916 when southern Poland was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When the First World War ended it was taken over by the Polish horse artillery. After the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, it was turned into a jail for Polish officers and intellectuals.

But Himmler had ambitious plans for the camp: he wanted it to house a pool of slave labour for an IG Farben factory making synthetic rubber and petrol. He ruled that it should be expanded to accommodate 30,000 prisoners; that an adjacent camp be built for 100,000 in Auschwitz-Birkenau; and that 10,000 inmates be assigned to building factory halls for IG Farben.

The plans were found last autumn when an old apartment in Berlin was being gutted. They correspond to other plans in the possession of the Auschwitz museum and the Russian Central Archives in Moscow, taken by Soviet forces after they liberated the camp in January 1945. This is the first time that Germans have been able to see the sketches. They are a chilling study. "The terrible thing about these drawings is their cool perfectionism, their professionalism," Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a former Polish Foreign Minister and Auschwitz inmate, said after touring the display in Berlin. "They are the building plans for a real, rather than mythical, Hell on Earth."

The sketches, made by a Polish technical draughtsman who was also an Auschwitz prisoner, were prepared in November 1941, after the first prisoners has been gassed using Zyklon B, and before the Wannsee conference in January 1942, when Nazi officials discussed the logistics of the Holocaust. By February 1942 the first Jews were being gassed in the camp.

Holocaust deniers question the capacity or even the existence of the gas chambers. Bishop Williamson, who has been told by the Vatican that he has to distance himself from his expressed views on the Holocaust, is on record as saying that no more than 300,000 Jews perished in all the Nazi concentration camps.

The exhibition's organiser, the Axel Springer publishing group, makes clear on the display boards that between 800,000 and 1,050,000 Jews were killed in Auschwitz, as well as 74,000 non-Jewish Poles, 25,000 Gypsies, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and 15,000 other inmates.

One extraordinary aspect of the plans is that the Nazis plainly intended to create a model town around the death camp, complete with flowerbedded courtyards and lawns. Few of these beautification plans were ever realised. Instead, Auschwitz retained to the end an ugly, factory-like atmosphere; a factory that produced nothing but corpses and broken lives.

(2) Faurisson still on the offensive: "Show me or draw me a Nazi gas chamber!"

From: Joe Fallisi <> Date: 22.02.2009 02:14 PM

Monday, February 16, 2009

The "gas chamber" of Auschwitz-I

by Dr. Robert Faurisson

Of course it is a lie to say that the so-called "gas chamber" at Auschwitz-I was a place for killing people. But it is another lie, and a still more insidious one, to claim that it's a "reconstruction" or even a "clumsy reconstruction" made after the war. In fact, it is a COMPLETE FAKE made after the war. The place in question, situated near the camp's SS hospital, had till August 1943 been in fact a "Leichenhalle" (mortuary); then it was changed into a "Lufschutzbunker für SS-Revier mit einem Operationsraum" (an air-raid shelter for the SS hospital, with a surgical operating room inside), and was used as such from 1944.

After the war all sorts of deceptive changes were made to the structure by the Polish Communists, with the result being presented as a genuine homicidal gas chamber. It is nothing at all like a "reconstruction". It is a construction born of the imagination. I discovered this truth on March 19, 1976 in the Auschwitz Archives by finding the plans, which had never yet been published. I also found the plans of the four largest crematoria, situated in Birkenau. Crematoria II and III also had mortuaries, with no "holes" in the roof, as may still be observed by examining the ruins ("No holes, no Holocaust", as I concluded). As for Crematoria IV and V, no part of them could have served as a homicidal gas chamber, as becomes apparent on taking into account the location and configuration of each of their respective parts.

As I put it in my 22-page paper ("The Victories of Revisionism"), with regard to the Auschwitz-I "gas chamber" I had to wait till 1995 to get an admission from the horse's mouth. That was when French journalist and historian Eric Conan, after his own on-site inspection, published a long essay in a leading French weekly. On the subject of that "gas chamber" he wrote: "TOUT Y EST FAUX" (Everything in it is false). He added: "In the late 1970s, Robert Faurisson exploited these falsifications all the better as the museum balked at acknowledging them."

E. Conan went on to relate a staggering remark by Krystyna Oleksy, deputy director of the Auschwitz National Museum, who, for her part, could not find the resolve to reveal the misrepresentation to the public. She said: "For the time being [this place] is to be left Ôas is', with nothing specified to the visitor. It's too complicated. We'll see to it later on" ("Auschwitz: la mémoire du mal" [Auschwitz: the remembrance of evil], L'Express, January 19-25, 1995, p. 68). In 1995 as well, two Jewish authors, Robert Jan van Pelt and Deborah Dwork, also denounced the imposture in a work they put out together, Auschwitz, 1270 to the Present, Yale University Press; they used words like "postwar obfuscation, "usurpation", "falsified", "misinformation", "falsifying".

Mgr Richard Williamson says there were no Nazi gas chambers. In principle it should be easy to prove him wrong. You would only have to show him such a gas chamber. The trouble is, there are none today, for the good and simple reason that there were none in the past, either at Auschwitz or anywhere else. I for one have never got an answer to my challenge: "Show me or draw me a Nazi gas chamber!" I am still waiting, and now R. Williamson is waiting too. "The hoax of the 20th century" (Arthur R. Butz) is well on its way towards death. Like Sharon's body in Israel.

Robert FAURISSON, February 15, 2009

Comment (Peter M.):

Van Pelt, and I recall Pressac, say that Krema I was not originally designed as a Gas Chamber.

According to Dr Franciszek Piper, interviewed in David Cole video, Krema I was turned into a bomb shelter later in the war, as the Russians got nearer.

The holes were filled in so that bombs could not enter. Internal walls were rearranged.

(3) Reconsztruction, after the war, of Krema I at Auschwitz-I

From: Joe Fallisi <> Date: 22.02.2009 04:05 AM

> The holes were filled in so that bombs could not enter.
> Internal walls were rearranged

Yes, I know Peter, but just because of that to tell the visitors that the gas chamber WAS actually like this it has been a fraud. I think this is a proof of how was useful the work of revisionists (even of Faurisson): they forced the authorities to be more fair and sincere and scientific. Without them probably they would have said till today that in Auschwitz 4.000.000 Jews perished and so on. Don't you think?

(4) "False" shower-heads

From: X Date: 21.02.2009 08:54 PM

> Pressac poses the question, how can gas-tight doors and shower-heads go > together? They were both part of the inventory of equipment installed in > Krematorium III.
> He concludes, "This inventory is absolute and irrefutable proof of the > existence of a gas chamber fitted with dummy showers in Krematorium III".
> You have not addressed Pressac's Proof.

And I don't recall you addressing Faurisson's counter-arguments which you had been unable to find in the review you hadn't read.

Do you actually believe that the shower-heads were "false", as alleged by Pressac?

For a further discussion of the basement showers, cf.

The Basement Showers of Crematorium III Samuel Crowell

Reply (Peter M.):

Faurisson's tactic is "attack is the best defence". The assumption is that the onus of proof is on the Affirmer side.

That's unwarranted. Hitler himself in Table Talk talks about Extermination in several places. Then there are Himmler's speeches.

The deportation of large numbers of Hungarian Jews in mid 1944, when the Russian army was closing in, could not have been about "resettlement in the East".

Some were for use as slave labour. But what about the women, children and old people sent too?

I can't see where Crowell addresses Pressac's Proof:. How do gas-tight doors and shower-heads go together in Krematorium III?

If I've missed it, please provide not large chunks of text but the specific sentences where Crowell does so.

(5) Pressac's Proof - Rudolf's recent books

From: Truth Seeker <> Date: 21.02.2009 11:20 PM

No need to put this in your mailing list, but I joined this debate expecting to see a fair and open debate. Instead, I have seen something far from the sort. You quote some of the most up to date Orthodox material (largely VP, but also Pressac), but then you only cite out-dated revisionist material in response (Leuchter, Faurisson). VP's last defense of the gas chambers was published in 2002, while Rudolf and Mattogno continued their work until 2004-5 (Rudolfs arrest). Please check out Auschwitz Lies, written by Rudolf and Mattogno <>. It exceeds Dissecting the Holocaust on revisionist research with Auschwitz.

If I had more time, I would respond to the mistakes. Just understand that you still have not produced convincing evidence for your beliefs that have not already been dealt with. Hopefully I can get around to this.

Best Regards W

Reply (Peter M):

I have presented material from both sides, including two papers (Faurisson & Toben's) from the Tehran Holocaust Conference of December 2006 .

Denier/Revisionist websites call for "Open Debate", but don't allow both sides to be presented as I have.

I've just downloaded Rudolf's recent books Auschwitz Lies and Auschwitz: Plain Facts.

Please send me the specific sentences in these books where they address Pressac's Proof: How do gas-tight doors and shower-heads go together in Krematorium III?

(6) Pressac's Proof - Rudolf's recent books

From: Truth Seeker <> Date: 23.02.2009 01:06 PM

> Please send me the specific sentences in these books where > they address Pressac's Proof. ... How do gas-tight doors > and shower-heads go together in Krematorium III?

No offense, but this is the kind of shoddy research of revisionism that I am talking about. All it would have taken would have been to search through these books with words like "showers", "shower-heads", etc...Or even to google it.

In Auschwitz: Plain Facts, Faurisson discusses it briefly on p.84 and p.90, citing earlier research of his. He even provides a very interesting admission by Pressac which weakens this "trace".

In Auschwitz Lies, Mattogno briefly covers the general problem with the believer position (377-78). A more thorough study of his on this issue can be found here: The Morgues of the Crematoria at Birkenau in the Light of the Documents

Also see Samuel Crowell's equally excellent, but more-focused article on the issue: The Basement Showers of Crematorium III

Best Regards, W

(7) Charles Provan, Revisionist turned Believer: Diesel fumes toxic if timing changed

From: Joe Fallisi < Date: 23.02.2009 03:31 PM

Do you know, Peter, Charles Provan? I discovered him recently and I think he was a very good person as well a remarcable researcher, sharing the same spirit of yours (and of mine) in the matter of Holocaust. I would have really liked to meet him. Unfortunately he died some years ago. ==

Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March 4, 2000

Why Holocaust deniers turned on one of their own

By Dennis B. Roddy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

THE night he discovered the Holocaust, Charles D. Provan was reading -- again -- the book that was supposed to put the matter to rest. Before he killed himself in 1945, Kurt Gerstein, an SS officer, gave a lengthy account of killings he witnessed in the camps and, boy, were his numbers strange.

Men, women, children -- 700 to 800 in all, more than half of them children -- were forced naked into a 16-foot by 16-foot chamber in Belzec, eastern Poland. Camp guards fired up a diesel engine. A half-hour later, soaked in sweat and urine, columns of bodies stood dead.

Seven hundred people in 256 square feet? Three people per square foot? That's three human beings somehow crammed into the space of one square of linoleum tile. Think about it. The Gerstein document, with its ridiculous numbers, became a weapon for so-called "revisionist historians" who regard the Holocaust as a wartime exaggeration or a post-war hoax. Holocaust historians sometimes glossed over Gerstein's dubious body counts, and Holocaust denier Henri Roques brought out a handsome new edition of the Gerstein document with accompanying analysis explaining the ridiculousness of the figures.

Provan, a Holocaust doubter, bought one right away. He believed Roques.

"I just thought the numbers were way off," he said.

That December night in 1990, though, the quizzical Provan was struck by a line in Gerstein's account about the victims: "... more than half are children ... ."

"Hey, kids!" Provan gave a yell. Shouting "hey, kids" in the Provan house is risking a stampede. A printer by trade, he is by avocation a Protestant lay theologian who has written against birth control. He now has 10 children.

Matthias, Tobias, Nathanael, and Susanna came running.

"Let's do an experiment," Provan told them.

The kids peeled to their underwear in an upstairs bedroom. Provan moved a chest of drawers and an old cabinet into a corner. The kids squealed and giggled as he crowded them into a tiny, tiny space he'd created.

He grabbed a doll to round the number out to five. It had to be a sight: Provan, a bearded, bulky fellow with a large, pear-shaped face, perpetually set in a smile, looking like a man who is about to laugh or has just finished, corralling kids in underwear to see how many could be executed in as small a space as possible.

His wife, Carol, heard the noise.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"I'm gonna' see how many kids can fit in a gas chamber!" he shouted.

"Oh." A pause. "You shouldn't do that!"

After crowding the youngsters into the tiny space, Provan went downstairs to his parlor with a hand calculator, stretched out on the recliner, and did a little math.

The numbers worked. Those bizarre, impossible numbers worked.

"Then it dawned on me," Provan said. "He saw that. He saw that!" Gerstein saw those children, those old men, those mothers, he saw them jammed into a room, 700 or more at a time, bleeding, sweating, urinating in fear. He saw the doors open, saw bodies so tangled in death they lacked even the power to fall. If Gerstein was telling a truth so improbable, the other stuff had to be so, too. It happened.

Suddenly, Charles D. Provan, lifelong provocateur, was hearing the off-key note in the symphony of denial and the discordant note was the one that rang true.

"That's when I started to cry."

Some old friends still haven't forgiven him those tears.

Right from the start

The gears of Charles D. Provan have never quite meshed with the machinery of ordinary society. He counts himself as a revisionist, but a revisionist who believes the Holocaust did happen. His kids are home schooled. He runs a small print shop with somebody else's name. Profoundly conservative, he also is a local Democratic committeeman and member of the printer's union.

Provan grew up nearer the political fringe than most. His parents, Charles and Marjorie Provan, were longtime leaders in the John Birch Society. They sent their son to Bob Jones University, renowned for its fundamentalism and anti-Catholicism. Ian Paisley, the Catholic-baiting minister from Northern Ireland, held his doctorate from Bob Jones.

At 17, the younger Provan gave a closer reading to "The Blue Book," the handbook of John Birch Society beliefs, and told his parents he was leaving the group.

"I sort of thought that he was going through a stage," remembered Marjorie Provan. "When you reach 16 or 17 and you're a young man, you know an awful lot more than your parents know. I never got upset about it. He never became a socialist or anything like that."

What he became was an incessant questioner of authority. Provan left Bob Jones after a few years, studied history at the University of Pittsburgh, then quit before graduating and took a job at a Monongahela print shop. He also got heavily into Bible study, and became a regular contributor to The Christian News, a weekly publication run by Herman Otten, a renegade Lutheran minister in Missouri.

Otten's publication targets liberalism in the Lutheran Church, propounds conservative Christianity, but, weirdly, also argues editorially that the Holocaust didn't happen.

"The more you study it, the more you see how everyone in the United States has swallowed a line of bull," said Otten.

He published Provan "mainly for theological reasons. The guy's a whiz."

But as the 1980s wore on, Provan had begun reading denier literature and concluded the Holocaust numbers were a gross exaggeration. Otten's paper sent Provan to cover a meeting of the Institute for Historical Review.

The IHR, based in California, was the creation of Willis Carto, a shadowy millionaire who founded the Liberty Lobby -- one of the few Washington lobbies that advocated U.S. diplomatic relations with Rhodesia. Carto's weekly newspaper, The Spotlight, regularly features anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial articles. Its readers included Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. Another Carto creation, the Populist Party ran as its 1988 presidential candidate former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke.

But Carto and the IHR split, and split bitterly, in the early 1990s. Aides there had him carried out of the building. They are still in litigation over the ownership of the institution.

The man who remained in the director's chair after Carto's removal is Mark Weber, who holds a master's degree in history and has studied in Germany. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has accused Weber of having ties to neo-Nazis in Germany.

Provan wrote one article for the IHR's journal, a 1993 piece about American treatment of Japanese prisoners in World War II, but never ventured a published opinion on the Holocaust. While Holocaust denial has been IHR's major focus, Weber and his colleagues like to expand its concept of self-described "historical revisionism" to cover other subjects, something its critics view as merely an effort to provide a scholarly cover for an otherwise blatant exercise in fascist apology.

"Revisionism is a skeptical, informed look at history," Weber explained. But given that Provan had entered into the study of history as a Holocaust skeptic, his role as a revisionist became one of revising revisionism.

Such was the kind of curiosity that led to the top of the stairs one December night 10 years ago. Arguing the details

Provan repeated his experiments several times. One night, he rented three mannequins from a clothing store near his home in Monongahela, Washington County. They lacked the suppleness of humans.

"Then it occurred to me -- what if the revisionists say I just made this up?"

So he built a 21-inch by 21-inch box the same height (74 inches) as the chamber in Belzec. He invited some friends over and crammed them in and took photos.

"I told them to wear some very thin clothes. We put the kids in pajamas," he explained, showing a photo reminiscent of the old college prank of jamming umpteen students into a telephone booth.

Having proved Gerstein's statement on chamber capacity, Provan set out to prove a trickier problem. Gerstein and other Holocaust witnesses said the camps in Eastern Europe used diesel exhaust to gas prisoners. While Zyklon-B, the cyanide gas, was much publicized in Holocaust accounts, the largest body counts -- in places such as Treblinka -- were attributed to diesel exhaust, and diesel engines are usually touted for their lack of toxic fumes.

Provan dug out diesel toxicity studies from the U.S. Department of Mines. He hired an instructor from the Pittsburgh Diesel Institute, took him to a neighborhood garage and asked to borrow their emissions testing equipment.

He was surprised to find that, once the timing is changed in a diesel, it burns both dirty and poisonously.

"Within a short while we had enough poison gas coming out to kill anybody in 15 minutes," Provan said.

After no small amount of debate, and a large amount of writing, the front page of the Christian News of Monday, Sept. 9, 1991, carried a headline from outer space: "Provan Concludes: Nazis Gassed Millions of Jews."

Otten, the Holocaust-denying minister, didn't mind one bit.

"My attitude was to publish everything," he said. "If it doesn't hold up, the truth will shout him down."

Provan's problem was getting someone to shout back. He issued a public challenge for debate. His primary target was Friedrich "Fritz" Berg, a New Jersey engineer who has spent years arguing that the Holocaust was a hoax, that diesels cannot easily kill anyone, and even, as he suggested in one New York radio debate, that such Jews as were rounded up into camps had it coming.

In Holocaust revisionism debate, details often get lost amid personal rancor and arguments take on the atmospherics of a domestic dispute among a family of professional wrestlers. Disputants offer to "crush" each other, and quarrels often center on who last conceded some obscure point.

In the case of Provan vs. Berg, the debate has been over whether each has agreed to debate the other.

"I accepted his challenge. He's lied about that," Berg said. "This guy is, as far as I'm concerned, a total wacko. Nobody died in gas chambers."

By the early 1990s, Holocaust denial was becoming the focus of major attention. Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish studies at Emory University, wrote a book on the subject. Among her targets was David Irving, a right-wing British historian whose early work had gained critical acclaim. Increasingly, though, Irving was flirting with Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis and her criticism rankled him enough to file a lawsuit.

Irving's major thesis had become that there were no gassings at Auschwitz, and he based it on a chemical study done by a Massachusetts man named Fred Leuchter, an inventor of machines used to execute American prisoners by lethal injection. Holocaust deniers insisted that the "gas chambers" at Auschwitz were, in fact, underground morgues for storing bodies, and that eyewitness accounts of gas pellets being dropped in through holes in the roof were untrue because there were no holes.

Robert Faurisson, an early revisionist who lost his teaching job in France for denying the Holocaust, created the slogan: "No holes, no holocaust!"

Provan, who had become a regular correspondent with Irving, got curious.

He'd done his own gas chamber experiments at home. He scraped up money and took two of his sons to see a real gas chamber. They reached the ruins of Auschwitz-Birkenau on March 23 last year [2000].

Fleeing SS troops had blown up the buildings used for chambers, but Provan rummaged about on the imploded roof and sent his son, Matthias, into the ruins.

"I was standing on top, asking what was going on," Provan said.

"The whole place is a wreck down here," Matthias answered. Provan had taken details from a written account of where the holes were. He suspected they hadn't been found because the roof had shifted drastically when the Nazis blew the place apart.

Provan and another son, Nathanael, took a metric measuring tape to mark the spots where the central roof beam had been. They marked out the spots where support pillars stood. Witnesses said four holes had been punched in next to the support beams.

One. Two. Then a third. Provan and his sons started finding holes. They had been blown wider by the implosion. But they were there.

This time, he didn't cry.

"It was odd. At Auschwitz, it was almost like business," he said. "It showed I was right to put my trust in the witnesses."

Does that make sense?

"You even suffer for him. He is pathetic," says a man with a deep, rolling French accent. The man is talking about Provan. "He's trying to do his best. He's a failure, but a man who is trying to do his best."

The voice belongs to Faurisson, an elder statesman of Holocaust denial. A French academic trained in literature, Faurisson grew up in occupied France during the war. After visiting a Jewish research library where librarians could not provide him a schematic of a gas chamber, he decided the Holocaust was a hoax.

Faurisson was a disciple of Paul Rassinier, the founder of Holocaust revisionism. Rassinier, though, argued simply that he could not find proof of a deliberate, genocidal plan by the Nazis. By the end of his life, Rassinier had concluded that at least some gas chambers did, in fact, exist. Strangely, Rassinier, a socialist, spent time in Buchenwald for hiding Jewish refugees.

But the movement he helped to create found fertile soil in the far right. Some were anti-Semites and Nazi apologists. A few were people such as Ernst Zundel, who started out as an indignant German expatriate who wanted to exonerate his people and ended up a bitter man, prosecuted in Canada for hate speech and now fixated on the idea that Zionists rule the world.

"I think they get the feeling they've got the Jews on the run and this is a nice stick to beat them with -- that this was a fraud for money. I stand back dispassionately and watch this with the utmost amusement," says David Irving, the historian whose libel suit against Lipstadt became a trial on the authenticity of the Holocaust. For three months in a London courtroom, Irving tried to disprove the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz. His argument hinged on whether there were holes in the roof. It was straight out of Faurisson's contention of, "No holes? No holocaust!"

It turned into a disaster for Irving, once viewed as a promising, if quirky, historian of World War II. At one moment, Irving, apparently forgetting himself, addressed the court judge as "mein Fuhrer."

The judge's decision officially declared Irving to be an anti-Semite and Third Reich apologist. Irving was saddled with $6 million in legal bills -- in Britain the losing side pays everyone's costs -- and his reputation among other historians was left in shards.

But possibly the strangest turn in the bizarre spectacle was that Provan, a declared Holocaust believer -- in fact, a man who claims to have found the very holes Irving said were not there -- was providing advice and cash contributions for Irving's side.

"He's probably like a lot of us," said Irving. "He's baffled and mystified by the legend. I don't think he's anything but sincere."

Irving's diaries show Provan sending off a list of lawyers when Irving was ousted from a military show at the Monroeville ExpoMart. Provan also sent occasional checks and wished Irving luck in litigation the historian brought when he was refused entry to Australia and Canada.

"He joined in various operations that I conducted personally," Irving said. Perhaps most surprisingly, Provan provided money and advice for Irving's lawsuit against Lipstadt.

"Looking back on it, I don't think I should have sent him money for the Lipstadt case. I don't understand what he was doing. The other donations, though, were pretty much justified," Provan said. "I wanted to keep open the lines of communication. I was basically so pleased to have access to his information files, that I considered the money to be well worth it."

In short, he was pumping Irving for information to disprove Irving's own thesis.

"Does that make sense?" Provan asked.

A traitor to the cause

When the Institute for Historical Review held its annual conference at a California hotel May 27, [2000] guests got their directions in the usual fashion. Arriving at an airport, they would telephone the organizers who -- fearful word would leak to the Jewish Defense League -- would only then direct them to the hotel.

Provan was a familiar face to members. He was invited to speak, but only to debunk an eyewitness account of a Nazi doctor whose book detailing Holocaust terrors, Provan discovered, had been published as a novel, not a history.

His expose fit nicely with the deniers' idea that Holocaust witnesses are not credible. For several years, Provan had been kept around revisionist circles as a self-proclaimed curiosity -- a revisionist who believes in the Holocaust.

"I continue to believe that he's the type of catalyst that revisionism needs. He keeps us on our toes," said Michael A. Hoffman II, an Idaho-based Holocaust denier.

Other observers thought the IHR found the presence of Provan convenient cover to show that, unlike Holocaust believers -- "exterminationists" they call them -- revisionists, which they call themselves, are open to criticism from within.

Irving was there to speak about his David and Goliath battle against Lipstadt and, by Irving's reckoning, the ominous force of world Jewry.

With the stage set, Provan arrived and, in the words of Hoffman, "may have crossed the line." Before leaving his shop in Monongahela, he had printed a 40-page booklet that turned Faurisson's slogan on its head: "No holes?" the title asked. "No Holocaust?" it asked again.

Provan laid out his argument, displayed photos, explained how the explosion had widened the holes enough to hide them in plain sight, and included 14 color photos to back up his findings.

"The 'No Holes, No Holocaust' argument is no longer possible to make," his study concluded. "Since the revisionists are now deprived of their absolutist argument, and since the other forms of evidence cannot prove the case one way or another, we are again able to view the statements of the various eyewitnesses as possible, and therefore the dominant evidence in the case."

Holocaust deniers are still fulminating.

"Chuck Provan, to me, is almost irrelevant to this thing," said IHR director Weber. "Charles Provan is not by training or background much of a specialist in this thing."

Faurisson looked over the monograph and lectured Provan about his failure to check for places where the steel reinforcement bars would have had to have been cut if holes were put into the roof.

"I think he admitted, I'm sure he admitted, that he had to go back to Auschwitz, to Birkenau because he had not in fact found those famous holes," Faurisson said.

Irving, obviously stung by his old pal, was even more dismissive.

"I said, 'Charles, if you were going to do something like this it would have been a good thing if you'd talked to your friends before doing it," Irving said. "In a way, that was designed to create maximum embarrassment to the revisionist cause."

Ernst Zundel's newsletter lashed out at Provan, especially after John Sack, a Jewish-born author, who also had been invited to speak before the IHR, featured Provan in an article in Esquire magazine. Suddenly, Provan, the harmlessly charming eccentric from an obscure town in Rust Belt Pennsylvania, was blowing holes in a theory on which Holocaust deniers had appended their hopes.

"Show us the smoking gun, John Sack," wrote Zundel's associate, Ingrid Rimland, who seemed to drop all pretense about tolerance in a rant that first let loose on Provan's appearance, then moved on to Sack's religion.

"And don't haul forth a fringy hillbilly who happens to have bought into your people's smoke-and-mirror plays -- and make him front page news. You were privy to the fact that there were many at that conference who felt that Provan should never have spoken. But do you know the difference between us Gentiles and you Jews? We cut some folks some slack. You don't."

Provan doubts he'll be invited again."It makes me wonder if part of them could put up with me, something like a moth. Before then, I was just a moth flitting it out. Till then, I was viewed as relatively harmless," Provan said. "But when I came up with the thing on the holes, I contradicted Robert Faurisson, the great father of the holes theory."

Irving, licking his wounds in London, says he wants to remain friends with Provan.

"I'm willing to allow people to have opposing views," he said. In fact, Irving, who has been forced to self-publish his books, is hoping to publish Provan.

No -- not the holes-at-Auschwitz expose. That, after all, did not happen in the history David Irving writes. Provan once did a presentation on American soldiers running amok at Dachau and slaughtering German guards. Now there, Irving will tell you, is a war crime worth writing about.

"I do hope to publish his book," Irving said.

Provan, the obscure printer whose friends are going to be strangers, isn't sure Irving means it. The moth has eaten enough holes in the cloak that the emperor of denial is feeling an uncomfortable breeze.

The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical

© Focal Point 2001 write to David Irving

(8) Van Pelt on Rudolf's rejection of all eyewitness testimony

- from the Van Pelt Report to the Lipstadt/Irving APPEAL Trial

Re: H. Eye Witnesses (41-46)

Before I engage Rudolf's argument on the eye-witnesses, it is important to note that Holocaust deniers tend to focus exclusively on "non-intentional evidence" to make their case - studying crumbling concrete, cyanide traces, construction papers and USAAF photos. This is understandable because they can not rely on eyewitness evidence to make their case. To be sure, two Germans came forward in the 1970s claiming that they could offer eyewitness evidence that Auschwitz could not have been an extermination camp. One of them was a certain Wilhelm Stäglich. Serving with an anti-aircraft battery unit near Auschwitz, he had visited the main camp a few times, and "on none of these visits did I see gassing installations, crematoria, instruments of torture, or similar horrors." A second witness, Thies Christophersen, had served for a short time in one of the agricultural satellite camps of Auschwitz. In 1973 Christophersen published a booklet entitled Die Auschwitz Lüge (The Auschwitz Lie). "I was in Auschwitz from January to December 1944," Christophersen wrote. "After the war I heard about the alleged mass murders of Jews and I was quite taken aback. Despite all the testimony submitted and all the reports in the media, I know such atrocities were never committed." His certainty derived from the fact that his wife was allowed to visit him. "Had Auschwitz been the death factory it is reputed to have been, such visits would certainly not have been permitted." When confronted with the argument that the killings took place in Birkenau, Christophersen recalled that he had once visited Birkenau. "This camp I did not like," he admitted. "It was overcrowded and the people there did not make a good impression on me. Everything looked neglected and grubby. I also saw families with children. It hurt to see them, but I was told that the authorities felt it kinder not to separate children from their parents when the latter were interned." And about selections he knew everything, as he had conducted such selections himself - to find workers for his farm. "This 'selection' was later completely misinterpreted," he claimed. "The purpose was to give the inmates something to do and they themselves wanted to be occupied. Selecting them meant no more than to inquire about their inclinations, their capabilities, and their physical state of health with regard to the work they were to do." Hearing rumors about crematoria, Christophersen asked his Polish maid Olga. " She could not tell me anything either." Then he asked his colleagues, but they responded with "a shrug of the shoulder and 'don't pay any attention to those rumors.'" That settled the issue.

Holocaust deniers hailed Christophersen's account as "one of the most important documents for a re-appraisal of Auschwitz," as it added to the "mounting collection of evidence" that showed that "the giant industrial complex of Auschwitz" had not been "a place of 'mass extermination.'" But for all the ready credence accorded to it by those who thirsted for such material, the tenuous evidence of one or two Germans who had come in contact only with peripheral functions of Auschwitz and who claimed that they had not seen any extermination installations does not even begin to challenge the preponderance of eyewitness evidence asserting that such installations had indeed existed and operated. Moreover to treat the negative evidence of such witnesses - "I did not see it happen" - as positive proof that it did not happen is to fall victim to an obvious logical fallacy. Unless the preponderance of the evidence, objectively regarded, tends to the conclusion that the reason why the witness did not see it happen was that indeed it did not happen, the only inference to be drawn from the testimony of that witness is that he or she happened not to see it; which is inconsequential.

With regard to eyewitnesses, the obvious choice for Holocaust deniers is to dismiss all eyewitness evidence as irrelevant, and turn to the brick, cyanide traces, documents and photos that cannot protest attempts of manipulation, misconstruction and falsification. Rudolf follows in that tradition. Eyewitnesses of the use of Auschwitz as an extermination camp are liars, so he claims, and in this section he makes an effort to "poison the wells," that is to cast doubt on eye-witness evidence relating to the Holocaust. "There is in fact no eye witness testimony less reliable than that relating to the Holocaust." (p. 46 Rudolf affidavit.) To prove this point, Rudolf invokes the authority of the psychologist Elizabeth Loftus. She has no authority in this matter, and in any event Rudolf's account is a misrepresentation of her book Witness for the Defense. However, as his misrepresentation is not relevant to Mr. Justice Gray's judgment, I will pass over it. I have, however, prepared a separate paper on it which I will be happy to submit to the Appeal Court if necessary.

Rudolf 's affidavit is not only a misrepresentation of Loftus's argument. It is also irrelevant in relation to the particular parts of Mr. Justice Gray's judgment that are being appealed (13.74 and 13.77). In order to avoid the problem of having to deal with thirty-five year old memories, or for that matter five-year old memories, I selected the eyewitnesses discussed in my expert report and included in Mr. Justice Gray's judgment precisely because they gave their testimony either during or shortly after the war, and independently from each other. For that reason I did not rely on, for example, Filip Müller. Mr. Justice Gray was aware of this, and recorded in 13.77 that "there is no evidence of cross-pollination having occurred."

After having presented, on the basis of a misrepresentation of Loftus's work, a general theory of why eye witnesses of the Holocaust cannot be trusted, Rudolf proceeds to provide an essay in which he argues that testimony and confessions obtained during the allied war crimes trials cannot be trusted. Given the approach I adopted to eyewitness testimony in my report for the trial as set out in the preceding paragraph, I see no purpose in engaging with Rudolf's observations in this area (which is not to say that I accept their validity, merely that they appear to me to have little or no relevance to the issue arising from Mr. Justice Gray's judgment). In the result, I shall deal only with the criticisms, such as they are, which Rudolf has to make of the testimony upon I relied in my report and which was, expressly or by implication, accepted in whole or in part by the judge.

Rudolf's essay refers to item 13.77 of Mr. Justice Gray's Judgment.

13.77 Whilst I acknowledge that the reliability of the eye-witness evidence is variable, what is to me striking about that category of evidence is the similarity of the accounts and the extent to which they are consistent with the documentary evidence. The account of, for example, Tauber, is so clear and detailed that, in my judgement, no objective historian would dismiss it as invention unless there were powerful reasons for doing so. Tauber's account is corroborated by and corroborative of the accounts given by others such as Jankowski and Dragon. Their descriptions marry up with Olere's drawings. The evidence of other eye-witnesses, such as Höss and Broad, would in my view appear credible to a dispassionate student of Auschwitz. There is no evidence of cross-pollination having occurred. It is in the circumstances an unlikely explanation for the broad similarity of the accounts in this category.

Of the witnesses mentioned in section 13.77 of Mr. Justice Gray's Judgment, only Rudolf Höss and Pery Broad were tried, the first in Poland in 1946-47, the latter in Frankfurt in 1963-65. Broad, however, gave his testimony voluntarily in May 1945 while in a prisoner of war camp. He was arrested only 14 years later (April 30, 1959) to face trial in the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial. (He was released on bail in December 1960, and remained free on bail until November 1964) Hence, whatever may have happened in the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, it is irrelevant in regard to his testimony of 1945. In my expert report I used Broad's 1945 testimony, and this was what Mr. Justice Gray referred to in his Judgment.

Rudolf Höss stood trial in Poland in 1946-47. The only place where the Rudolf affidavit deals with the Polish trials is on lines 8 to 11 on p. 66 and in footnote 111. These passages do not provide a substantial challenge to the 25 pages of information I gave in my expert report on the testimony given by Höss in Poland before, during and after his trial (pp. 307-332). Neither does it challenge the picture of judicial professionalism that arises in the 49 pages I devoted to the forensic work in Auschwitz done by Polish judge Jan Sehn in 1945 and 1946 (pp. 168-217).

As to the testimony of Tauber, Jankowski, Dragon, and the drawings of Olere, the bulk of Rudolf's section on the post-war trials (pp. 46-169) is irrelevant because they did not give their testimony in those trials, but gave their testimony in Sehn's forensic investigations. If Rudolf would have submitted an essay attacking the quality of Sehn's methods of forensic investigation and/or his conclusions, he could have had a point. Having ignored Sehn's forensic work totally, pp. 46-169 of Rudolf's affidavit is irrelevant. The only other pages of Rudolf's section on the post-war trials that need to be discussed can be found on pp. 169-173. Rudolf asserts that a number of statements made by eyewitnesses are mistaken, absurd and/or technically impossible, and as a general introduction to his list of impossible claims, he summarizes his argument in one paragraph (pp. 169-170).

The crematory ovens installed in Birkenau could cremate one corpse in roughly one hour and needed for it roughly 20-30 kg of coke. Due to the size of the muffles installed not more that two or three corpses could be put in them. Moreover, multi-corps [sic] incineration result in a drastic reduction of efficiency (i.e. in an massive increase of coke consumption) and only little advantage in speed increase compared to several consecutive single corpse incinerations, so nobody does this. Only during the ignition phase of a fire, do crematoria develop smoke, but not during normal operation, nor do they develop any stench. Flames never come out of a crematorium chimney. It is impossible to start a cremation by igniting a fire in the ashes room underneath a corpse, as this would revert the flow of hot gases. Furthermore, it is impossible to collect fat from cremating bodies, since hot fat catches fire immediately. The high ground water table in Birkenau required special techniques to build cellars, and it would certainly have prevented any cremations in deep ditches, since they would have filled with water. Open air cremations cannot be done with liquids, as liquids do not burn under objects, but only beside and on top of them.

I note that most of these statements go back to Mattogno's work in general, and the specific reference to the book Rudolf edited under the alias of Dr. Ernst Gauss in 1994. Rudolf also refers to the work of the Swiss Holocaust denier Jürgen Graf, who in the first half of the 1990s developed a body of work claiming that the statements by eyewitnesses were contrary to "the laws of nature," and hence false. And finally I refer to the fourth section, "Eyewitness testimony: a critical overview," in Ernst Gauss (alias Rudolf alias Rudolf)'s Vorlesungen über Zeitgeschichte, published in 1993 This is not new evidence, insofar as it counts as evidence.

Rudolf makes these assertions without providing any justification, and without any reference to either my expert report, the transcript of the Irving-Penguin trial, or Mr. Justice Gray's judgment. As such, I do not think that they need be taken seriously. Yet, for the record, I will try to concisely respond to the issues raised, sentence by sentence. Before I address Rudolf's statements, a general remark is appropriate. One of the remarkable elements of Holocaust denial is the dogmatic certainty with which its adherents declare that all kind of events, witnessed by many, are physically "impossible," and that therefore the eyewitnesses are either liars or fit for a mental asylum. By invoking the "unchangeable laws of nature" and repeating the word "impossible" over and over again, they try to shift the burden of proof on the eyewitnesses.

So let us turn to his catalogue of "impossible" things. . . .

The crematory ovens installed in Birkenau could cremate one corpse in roughly one hour and needed for it roughly 20-30 kg of coke.

Thus Rudolf seeks to destroy the credibility of Sonderkommando Henryk Tauber, who claimed that many more corpses were cremated per hour. Indirectly he also seeks to discredit an SS document from June 28, 1943, which states that the daily incineration capacity of crematoria 2-5, with their 46 muffles, was a total of 4,416. The premise of this document assumes that one muffle could burn 96 corpses per day, which is four times the figure allowed by Rudolf, but fully in accordance with the testimony given by Tauber in May 1945. I note that Rudolf does not suggest that Tauber was shown this document before he described his own experiences, and I do not know of any evidence that he was.

There is very little evidence left about the operation of the crematoria. I deal with this in my response to Rudolf's section "I. The Central Construction Office and Himmler's dismantling Order," which follows this section. In this section I will refer to the work of John Zimmerman, who convincingly argues that it is clear that the Germans systematically destroyed evidence about the functioning of the Auschwitz crematoria. Yet some fragments survive. One document is a timesheet of the crematorium of the sub-camp of the concentration camp Mauthausen in Gusen. This sub-camp was equipped with a Topf two-muffle incinerator, not much different from the incinerators in Auschwitz crematorium 1, which were of a smaller size and capacity than the incinerators built in Birkenau. The Gusen timesheet proves that much faster cremation was achieved: in 19 and three quarter hours the Gusen incinerator cremated 94 corpses in two muffles, or 47 corpses per muffle. This means that it took an average 25.2 minutes per corpse. It must be remembered that Gusen was a camp that only contained male prisoners, and thus the corpses were of adult males only, the hardest category to cremate. In Auschwitz-Birkenau there were many infants, children, and females among the victims - in fact, they were the majority of the victims gassed and cremated. Second of all it must be remembered that the Gusen ovens were not only considerably smaller, but also less sophisticated than those built in Birkenau. It is very unlikely that the more advanced Topf ovens in Birkenau would have achieved a slower incineration rate.

Trying to establish the premise of Rudolf's unfounded assertion, it seems that he goes back to standard cremation practice in Germany and elsewhere, which stipulates that there should be no co-mingling bodies (so as to ensure individual identification of the ashes), and which also stipulates that the body should be fully cremated without any interference whatsoever. Such niceties were not observed in Auschwitz. A Topf instruction manual for the Auschwitz ovens provides the following information.

As soon as the remains of the corpses have fallen from the chamotte grid to the ash collection channel below, they should be pulled forward towards the ash removal door, using the scraper. Here they can be left for a further 20 minutes to be fully consumed, then the ashes should be placed in the container and set aside to cool. In the meantime, further corpses can be introduced one after the other into the chambers. 58

One of the main reasons for this practice of introducing a second corpse into an oven halfway during the cremation of the first one was the fact that it saved on coke. Furthermore, during a normal cremation much energy is spent on the breaking down and whitening of the bones. In an interview published in 1996, the director of the firm B&L, manufacturers of cremation ovens, explained "much of the burn time is devoted to breaking down and whitening the bones, because people expect nice white remains." 59

This brings us to the second part of Rudolf's assertion: that the incineration of every corpse used between 20-30 kg of coke. I will come back to this in my comments on Rudolf's section Q, "Coke Consumption and Crematory Capacity." But it is important to note here, first of all, that Rudolf raises the issue of coke consumption to undermine the credibility of the eyewitness testimony of Henry Tauber, who stated in 1945 that once the ovens were heated and going, the coke consumption per corpse dropped dramatically.

As I have already said, there were five furnaces in crematorium 2, each with three muffles for cremating the corpses and heated by two coke-fired hearths. The fire flues of these hearths came out above the ash boxes of the two side muffles. Thus the flames went first round the two side muffles then heated the centre one, from where the combustion gases were led out below the furnace, between the two firing hearths. Thanks to this arrangement, the incineration process for the corpses in the side muffles differed from that of the centre muffle. The corpses of "Müselmanns" or of wasted people with no fat burned rapidly in the side muffles and slowly in the centre one. Conversely, the corpses of people gassed directly on arrival, not being wasted, burned better in the centre muffle. During the incineration of such corpses, we used the coke only to light the fire of the furnace initially, for fatty corpses burned of their own accord thanks to the combustion of the body fat. On occasion, when coke was in short supply, we would put some straw and wood in the ash bins under the muffles, and once the fat of the corpse began to burn the other corpses would catch light themselves.

This, so Rudolf claims, is "impossible." But if my discussion in my response to section Q deals with the fact that coke use is not necessarily 30 kg of coke per corpse, and that German documents suggest it could have been as low as 3 or 4 kg of coke per corpse, it is important to note here also that coke was not the only fuel used. Tauber also mentions straw and wood. The use of wood is confirmed by the fact that labor deployment reports made up in the summer of 1944 list 30 "wood loaders" in the crematoria.

Perhaps most important when considering the coke supply to Auschwitz is to remember that in the periods that killing came to a climax large open-air pyres were used to cremate corpses. This means that, even if the false limitation Rudolf is imputing to the ovens were to be correct - and it is not - it is of little significance because open air burnings were, when required, a major means body disposal in Auschwitz.

Let us go to the next sentence of Rudolf's unsubstantiated assertion:

Due to the size of the muffles installed not more that two or three corpses could be put in them.

Once again, Rudolf's statement seeks to destroy the credibility of Sonderkommando Henryk Tauber, who claimed that up to eight corpses could be put in every muffle.

The dimensions of the door and the opening of the muffles were smaller than the inside of the muffle itself, which was 2 meters long, 80 centimeters wide and about 1 meter high. Generally speaking, we burned 4 or 5 corpses at a time in one muffle, but sometimes we charged a greater number of corpses. It was possible to charge up to 8 "Müselmanns."

Rudolf would probably be right when talking about regular size men, but we must remember that the main group of victims in Auschwitz were women and children, and the totally emaciated inmates known as "Muslims" or "Müselmanns." These people weighed an average of 30 to 35 kilos - that is less than half the weight of a normal individual.

Rudolf has this to say about the multi-corpse incineration alleged by Tauber.

Moreover, multi-corps [sic] incineration result in a drastic reduction of efficiency (i.e. in an massive increase of coke consumption) and only little advantage in speed increase compared to several consecutive single corpse incineration, so nobody does this.

If this were true, one would wonder why a number of California crematoria adopted the illegal practice of cremating up to 15 bodies in one oven. Dr. Kenneth V. Iserson records the following in his standard work on the question what of happens to dead bodies, Death To Dust (1994).

The Harbor Lawn-Mount Olive Mortuary and Memorial Park in Costa Mesa, California, paid $14 million to settle a suit by 25,000 people who claimed that their relative's bodies have been cremated en masse, rather then separately. Another southern California firm, the Pasadena Crematorium, which was luridly described in the book, A Family Business, routinely packed nine to fifteen bodies into each oven, which was about the size of the interior of a typical American sedan. . . . Other California crematoria have been known to have routinely performed "multiple cremations," in which two or more bodies were cremated at once to increase cost efficiency. One settlement of more than $ 10 million involved a California funeral home that was alleged to have "mishandled, mutilated, commingled, multiply cremated and otherwise disrespectfully, improperly, and illegally cremated the remains of the decedents entrusted to them" during a seven year period. 60

The reason that multiple corpse cremations are not done is because it is illegal, not because it is inefficient. Laws governing cremation stipulate, for obvious reasons, that corpses have to be fully cremated and the ashes separated from the oven before a new body can be added.

The next of Rudolf's assertions concerns the question if the crematoria chimneys smoked. Many eyewitnesses claimed that the smoke was visible, but Rudolf claims the opposite.

Only during the ignition phase of a fire, do crematoria develop smoke, but not during normal operation.

In other words, the eyewitness are liars. But is Rudolf right? First of all let us mention some anecdotal evidence. The report of the first cremation undertaken in the United States on October 16, 1879, which was reported in the Chicago Tribune a day later, noted the following:

At 10 o'clock the body was taken out of the coffin and placed upon the crib. At 10:30 the door of the retorts was opened. The body, covered with a sheet which had been saturated with alum-water, was thrust in and the door closed. In a few seconds a dense volume of black smoke rose from the chimney, and the odor of burning flesh greeted the olfactories of the few persons who remained outside. 61

The black smoke emanating from crematoria chimneys remained a real problem, if only because it did not support the propaganda by the advocates of creation that it was a clean way to dispose of corpses. In 1912 Lawrence Moore, who had been appointed as manager of the California Crematorium in Oakland, California, toured with his wife all over the United States to visit crematoria with a view to improve operation. In 1940 he recalled in a lecture given for the annual meeting of the Association of American Cemetery Superintendents the situation he encountered.

The impressions gained at that time are still vividly clear to both of us. Nearly all crematories were characterized by spectacular high smokestacks, black smoke, furnaces red hot to receive caskets and bodies . . . No loveliness, no charm were anywhere, we thought.

Our own crematorium had a 75 ft. iron smokestack, and smoke and noise like all the rest. 62

In the years that followed, Moore and other crematorium managers worked hard to get rid of the smoke. In 1928 Walter E. Londelius, the superintendent of the Forest Lawn crematorium in Los Angeles, California, reported in the annual meeting of the Association of American Cemetery Superintendents:

Forced by public opinion, crematory engineers are constantly trying to make cremation less offensive: to reduce the noise, control the smoke and fire indirectly upon the body. Experiments are constantly being made with every grade of tile, brick and cement, with every sort of fuel and all mechanical details of cremation. 63

A year later Moore reported to the same organization that one of the major reasons for the production of smoke was a combination of the fuel used and the practice to preheat the furnace.

The earliest crematoriums all followed one general method. With coal or coke or wood, they heated a chamber to incandescence, then introduced the body, either in casket or on a slab, and reduced it to its mineral elements by radiant heat. The principal exterior evidences of this system were a very high stack, lots of smoke, a delivery of tons or cords of fuel. The interior evidences were the sound of shoveling, the roar of burning, and blowers, and the white-heated furnace. One had to be a 100% cremationist in those days, to face all these horrors. 64

Moore admitted that, in 1929, the ideal crematorium that produced no smoke was still an ideal. He did counsel his colleagues not to try to incinerate corpses too fast:

Duration of cremation. There is a record I think of twenty-five minutes. To me it is better to take a little longer and not make so much noise and smoke. The men that run the fastest make the most noise and smoke, so far as I know. 65

In the 1930s the practice developed not to preheat the oven. When the corpse was placed in a cold oven, and the furnace was fired afterwards, smoke was significantly reduced. By 1940 some 22 crematoria in the United States had adopted this principle. Also the move from coal or coke to oil and gas had improved matters greatly. And then the inclusion of afterburners and air-pollution control scrubbers did the rest to prevent smoke.

Yet even with the best technology, smoking can occur, as Dr. Iserson has noted in his Death to Dust.

Yet obese bodies still emit heavy black smoke and flames when cremated. 66

One factor that affects smoking is maintenance. For example, the West Terrace crematorium in Adelaide, South Australia, operated for many years without a problem, but it became a public nuisance in the 1950s when it began to emit heavy smoke. On November 3, 1953 it became an issue in the House of Assembly of South Australia when the representative for that riding, Samuel Lawn, brought attention to the problem.

When called into use, the outmoded crematorium belches smoke over grief-stricken mourners in the cemetery grounds and over nearby parts of the city. . . . Often heavy smoke persists for an hour after cremation. . . . On one occasion during the past week . . . the traffic on West Terrace was passing through clouds of smoke. 67

If all the eyewitnesses who saw smoke belching from the Auschwitz crematoria must have lied because this is physically impossible, they are at least in the august company of the managers of the crematoria in Oakland and Los Angeles, and one member of the House of Assembly of South Australia, and probably some of his constituents.

For the record, Dr. Iserson has this to say about the subject of smoke in his Death to Dust.

Complete combustion also needs air. Smoke from incomplete combustion in a crematorium can be greatly reduced if an adequate amount of air is added to the burning mixture. Yet obese bodies still emit heavy black smoke and flames when cremated. The exact amount of air required depends on the state of the body, the components of the coffin, and the temperature at which the crematorium is operated. All new crematories are built with afterburners and scrubbers to prevent air pollution. All of these factors affect cremation time. 68

If we look at the Auschwitz crematoria, it is very likely that they would have smoked. First of all, the Topf ovens which had been designed for oil (which would have been relatively smokeless) had been modified for coke use in 1940, as oil was in short supply in the German war economy. Then the ovens of the Auschwitz crematoria were pre-heated before the corpses were introduced. Furthermore those who operated the crematoria did their best to shorten the incineration time as much as possible. Then these crematoria were not supplied with either afterburners or air pollution control scrubbers. Finally the furnaces were intensively operated with what seems to have been little regard for maintenance.

The next of Rudolf's unfounded assertions again seeks to unmask the eyewitnesses as liars.

Flames never come out of a crematorium chimney.

This is of course nonsense. The flames could also have been the result of a normal chimney fire, caused by the built-up creosote in the chimney. Creosote is condensed particles of smoke that stick to the inner wall of the chimney. Condensation of the unburned by-products of combustion also occurs more rapidly in an exterior chimney, for example, than in a chimney that runs through the center of a house and exposes only the upper reaches of the flue to the elements. Creosote is highly combustible, and can result in a long, hot, destructive chimney fire. The documented problems that occurred with the Auschwitz chimneys - cracking, collapse of liners - suggest that there were chimney fires which undoubtedly resulted from poor maintenance.

Furthermore, it seems that in the cremation industry there is a name for the phenomenon of fire coming from the chimney - one that civilian crematorium operators try to avoid at all cost, of course. It is called "the candle." 69 Again in an effort to discredit Tauber, Rudolf introduces an argument without any evidence:

It is impossible to start a cremation by igniting a fire in the ashes room underneath a corpse, as this would revert the flow of hot gases.

The reason why this would be apparently "impossible" is because it "reverts the flow of hot gases." What does this mean? Why is this impossible? Rudolf does not tell us.

The next sentence of Rudolf's statement seeks to destroy , once again, the credibility of Tauber.

Furthermore, it is impossible to collect fat from cremating bodies, since hot fat catches fire immediately.

Rudolf does not explain the basis for this assertion. In general terms it does not square with one's experience of the ordinary domestic kitchen.

An old argument which Rudolf introduced as early as 1992 is the claim that the watertable in Birkenau did not allow for incineration pits.

The high ground water table in Birkenau required special techniques to build cellars, and it would certainly have prevented any cremations in deep ditches, since they would have filled with water.

The problem in Birkenau is not so much that it has a high water table, which it has not, but that it has severe drainage problems. When it rains, the water does not sink into the soil, as Birkenau is located on a large sheet of impenetrable marl. From 1940 onwards, the Germans spent an incredible amount of effort, largely with inmate labor, to improve the drainage in Birkenau and its surroundings. The deep drainage ditches that can be seen everywhere are the result. However if one can keep rainwater out of lower areas, they do not fill up with water. When it does not rain in Birkenau, the very deep drainage ditches are all dry.

The next claim by Rudolf tries to discredit the eyewitness evidence given by Filip Müller, who claimed that the Sonderkommandos poured gasoline and other liquids on the incineration pyres.

Open air cremations cannot be done with liquids, as liquids do not burn under objects, but only beside and on top of them.

Perhaps it is best to respond to this allegation by quoting from David Irving's The Destruction of Dresden (p. 278)

The Steel girders had been winched out of the ruins of the Renner department store on the Altmarkt and these had been laid across crudely collected piles of sandstone blocks. A gigantic grill over twenty-feet long was being erected. Under the steel girders and bars were poked bundles of wood and straw. On top of the grill were heaped the corpses, four or five hundred at a time, with more straw between each layer. The soldiers trampled up and down on top of this rotting heap, straightening the victims, trying to make room for more, and carefully building the stack. Many of the dead children sandwiched into these terrible pyres were still wearing the colourful carnival clothes that they had donned so eagerly two weeks before. Finally gallons of gasoline, sorely needed though it was throughout the whole Reich, were poured over the stacks of victims. A senior officer cleared the Altmarkt square of all unnecessary by-standers, and set a match to the heap.

I presume that if it is possible to conduct open-air burning with flammable liquids in Dresden it should be possible to do so in Auschwitz. Indeed, Irving's colourful description of the pyre on the Altmarkt is perfectly credible to anyone who has ever made a bonfire or barbecue in the open air.

So far my attempt to give a reasoned response to Rudolf's unsubstantiated allegations. It is important to note that the 46 "absurd claims" listed on pp. 160-167 of Rudolf's affidavit are irrelevant to the case, as I did not make any such claims in my expert report. As to Rudolf's attempt to attack the credibility of Tauber, Dragon and Olere (pp 170ff.), my responses given to the statements analyzed above should suffice. A few extra remarks can be made on his attempt to discredit Jankowski, Höss and Broad.

Rudolf seems to have a point when he states that Jankowski's statement on the capacity of the incinerators in the crematorium of Auschwitz I is technologically impossible. With him, I do not believe that "12 corpses could be put into one opening." 70 Yet I do not think that one should give too much weight to Jankowski's mistaken assessment of the capacity of the incinerators. The great value of his testimony is to be found in his description of events, and not in his speculations on incineration capacity. Jankowski's description of the events is corroborated by other testimonies, including his account of the use of the morgue of crematorium 1 as a place of execution by gun. Pery Broad described in detail how this procedure evolved in the period before the transformation of that morgue into a gas chamber, and like Jankowski he stresses that the use of the morgue as an execution place applied to people who had been brought by the Gestapo Summary Court of Kattowitz from outside the camp to Auschwitz for the purpose of execution. 71 Contrary to Rudolf's claim, Jankowski did not state that machine pistols were used for these executions. He only specified the use of "guns." Broad was more specific: he stated that the condemned were killed with "a practised shot in the neck." 72 This seems to indicate the use of an ordinary pistol.

Rudolf attacks the credibility of Kommandant Höss by means of six challenges. First of all he states that Höss claimed to have visited Belzec and Treblinka in the summer of 1941, when these camps did not yet exist. Anyone who has studied Höss's confessions knows that he showed some confusion about the dates when various events occurred, most importantly that in regards to some events he mentioned the year 1941 when he obviously meant 1942. As dates are purely conventional, most if not all people have to think carefully when they are asked to date an event which is not marked by regular returning anniversaries, and many people make mistakes. What is important is that Höss gave a quite detailed description of the killing procedure in Treblinka that is corroborated by other sources, such as the later confessions by Treblinka Kommandant Franz Stangl.

Rudolf also attacks Höss's credibility because he mentioned an extermination camp named "Wolzek." This camp never existed. For Holocaust deniers this error has been one of the main proofs that Höss can not be trusted at all. In my book, I identified "Wolzek" with Sobibor. 73 This led David Irving to ask in his open letter to me, posted on the web in 1997: "What incidentally is your authority for confidently equating Höss's mysterious location "Wolzek" with [Sobibor]" (page 279); as you know, Höss's 'Wolzek' has long intrigued revisionists." 74

In an article that he posted on the web-site of the Holocaust History Project, Jamie McCarthy explained what he labeled as "The Wolzek Paradox." McCarthy advised those intrigued by the problem to look at a map.

Before Höss gave his statement to the court, quoted above, he was interrogated at length, over two days. The transcript of those interrogations is published in The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes, John Mendelson, Ed., 1982, Vol. 12, pp. 56-127. On p. 75, we see Höss's answers during the interrogation, which of course took place before his court statement. He was asked:

Q. "What were these extermination camps? Where were they, and what were their names?"

His response was - and this is verbatim, including the spelling mistake of the court reporter:

A. "There were three camps: first Treblinka, Belzak near Lemberg and the third one was 40 kilometers in the direction of Kulm. It was past Kulm in an easterly direction."

Note that, despite being explicitly asked for the names of all three, Höss can only come up with two. "Treblinka" is spelled correctly by the transcriber. "Belzak" is Belzec. The missing camp, whose name Höss has forgotten, is - as van Pelt has already pointed out - Sobibor.

Does Sobibor's location fit with the one detail Höss gives? He claims it is 40 km "past Kulm in an easterly direction." The town of Chelm (Kulm, in the German spelling) is bisected by a railway line that runs west toward Lublin and east into the Soviet Union. Forty kilometers east of Chelm is nothing in particular, or at least no known death camps.

But he did not say it was due east; he said "in an easterly direction." Coming out of the town, near the city limits, a railway splits off and heads northeast. Exactly forty kilometers as traveled by rail lies the death camp Sobibor.

Höss, though he forgot the name and later gave the wrong name, did have an idea of where the third camp was. His directions were not perfect, but then he was not asked to give directions. [. . . ] The reader may judge which rival hypothesis best fits the facts:

* Höss was inventing details under torture and just happened to place a fictitious death camp in exactly the same location as the real, omitted Reinhard death camp, or

* he just got its name wrong.

The choice is obvious.

Why do Holocaust-deniers rush to embrace the wrong choice? The answer is left as an exercise for the reader.

And why did Höss think the camp was named "Wolzek"? That's a mystery whose answer may never be known. But considering that his job was to run the Auschwitz camp, three hundred kilometers away; that the extermination program was always kept under strictest secrecy; and that the surrounding territory had been conquered and thus bore names in both his native tongue and Polish: a misunderstanding is surely not out of the question. 75

The next attack on Höss's credibility concerns his statement that 2.5 million people would have died in Auschwitz under his command, while the now accepted victim total is somewhere in the range of 1 to 1.2 million people. In my expert report I dealt with this issue at various places. My statement on p. 57 summarizes it as follows:

Finally there were different assessment made by witnesses. The most important of these was, without doubt, Commandant Rudolf Höss. During his initial interrogations, Höss seems to have confirmed an initial assessment done by his interrogators that three million people had been killed in Auschwitz. In Nuremberg, he gave different numbers at different occasions. During his interrogations he gave detailed list of numbers for each nationality that came to over 1.1 million deportees. In his affidavit, however, he stated that "at least 2,500,000 victims were executed and exterminated [in Auschwitz] by gassing and burning, and at least another half million succumbed to starvation and disease, making a total dead of about 3,000,000." He confirmed this number in a conversation with the prison psychologist Dr. Gilbert. "He readily conformed that approximately 2 1/2 million Jews has been exterminated under his direction." In a short memorandum which he wrote for Gilbert later in April Höss returned to the lower number. He now stated that the number of 2.5 million referred to the technical potential. "[T]o the best of my knowledge, this number appears to me much too high. If I calculate the total of the mass operations which I still remember, and still make allowance for a certain percentage of error, I arrive, in my calculation, at a total of 1.5 million at the most for the period from the beginning of 1941 to the end of 1944." Finally, in Poland, Höss re-affirmed that the number of victims had been most likely less than 1.2 million persons, commenting that "I regard the number of 2.5 million as far too high. Even Auschwitz had limits to its destructive capabilities."

The figure of 2.5 million was not of Höss's own making, but in an autobiographical document he wrote in Nuremberg on instigation of prison psychologist Dr. Gilbert he stated that it came from Eichmann.

On the basis of the figure of 2.5 million, which is the number of people who - according to Eichmann - were brought to Auschwitz for extermination, it may be said that on average, two transports arrived daily, with a combined total of 4,000 persons, of whom twenty-five per cent were fit for work, the balance of 3,000 were to be exterminated. The intervals in the various operations can be computed together at nine months. Thus there remain 27 months, with 90,000 people each month - a total of 2,430,000 people. This is a calculation of the technical potential. I have to keep to the figure mentioned by Eichmann, for he was the only SS officer who was allowed to keep records concerning these liquidation operations, according to the orders of the Reichsführer-SS. All other units which took part in any way had to destroy all records immediately. Eichmann mentioned this number in my presence when he was called upon, in April 1945, to present a report to the Reichsführer-SS. I had no records whatsoever. But, to the best of my knowledge, this number appears to me much too high. If I calculate the total of the mass operations which I still remember, and still make allowance for a certain percentage of error, I arrive, in my calculation, at a total of 1.5 million at the most for the period from the beginning of 1941 to the end of 1944. But these are my computations which I cannot verify.

Nuremberg, 24 April 1946 (Signed) Rudolf H&oumls;s (At the bottom of the document): Hungary - 400,000; Slovakia - 90,000; Greece - 65,000; Holland - 90,000; France - 110,000; Belgium - 20,000; the region of the Generalgouvernement and Upper Silesia - 250,000; Germany and Terezin - 100,000. Total - 1,125,000.

Rudolf completely suppresses Höss's own doubts about the validity of the 2.5 million figure, and thus misrepresents the evidence. In fact, reading the way Höss dealt with the issue of the number of victims reveals that he honestly tried to address the question. Contrary to Rudolf's assertion, it reveals Höss as an honest and reliable witness.

For Rudolf's attack on Höss's credibility because of his statements concerning the open-air burnings I refer to my remarks above.

Finally there is Rudolf's assertion that Höss would have testified that there was "eating and smoking in the gas chamber immediately after the gassings had stopped" - the eating and smoking would have been that of the Sonderkommandos, of course. This is an old allegation, that goes back to Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. In my expert report I dealt with this at length, and showed that Faurisson misrepresented the evidence (expert report, pp. 464f.) For the ease of the court, I will quote here an extract from my analysis of Faurisson's attempt to discredit Höss.;

For example, he juxtaposed the following two of Höss's statements. "The door was opened a half an hour after the gas was thrown in and the ventilation system was turned on. Work was immediately started to remove the corpses." Closely reading this passage, Faurisson noted the adverb "immediately." In other words, work began immediately when the ventilation began, that means when the room was still highly toxic. This was very dangerous. It was evident, Faurisson argued, that the Sonderkommando only could have entered the space equipped with gas masks. The second statement by Höss seemed, however, to preclude this. "They dragged the bodies from the gas chambers, removed the gold teeth, cut off the hair, then dragged the bodies to the pits or to the ovens. On top of that, they had to maintain the fires in the pits, pour off the accumulated fat, and poke holes into the burning mountain of bodies, so that more oxygen could enter. All these jobs they performed with an indifferent coolness, just as if this was an everyday affair. While dragging the bodies, they ate or smoked. Even the gruesome job of burning the bodies dug up after being in mass graves for a long time did not prevent them from eating." Faurisson observed that Höss saw the Sonderkommando dragging bodies while eating and smoking, they were obviously not wearing gas masks - probably because of their "indifferent coolness." In short, there was an inexplicable contradiction between the extreme toxicity of the gas chamber and the behavior of the Sonderkommandos. Adding to the collection the official instruction manual of Zyklon B, which stipulated that spaces that had been fumigated with the agent should air out for at least 20 hours, Faurisson came to the conclusion that Höss obviously did not know what he was writing about, and that his testimony was worthless. Yet on examination, it is clear that his "Ajax Method" did not do the texts justice. The second quotation taken from Höss occurs in the middle of a paragraph that deals with the "strange" behavior of the Sonderkommando. It did not discuss the extermination procedure in any logical order. When Höss mentions that the Sonderkommando ate or smoked while dragging bodies, he did not say "while dragging bodies from the gas chambers." In fact, there was a lot of body-dragging in Auschwitz: in crematoria 2 and 3 bodies were dragged within the incineration halls from the elevator doors to the ovens, in crematoria 4 and 5, bodies were dragged not only from the gas chambers to the morgue, but also from the morgue to the incineration room, and in the case of the open air burning of the buried corpses in the late summer and fall of 1942, bodies were dragged from the opened mass graves to the incineration pits. At no time did the Sonderkommando need a gas mask for this awful job. Likewise Faurisson misrepresented the Zyklon B instruction manual. The rule for spaces to be aired for 20 hours applies to rooms without any special ventilation system. After 20 hours of natural ventilation, and another hour with closed windows and doors, the room should be available for all activities except sleeping: this should wait another day. The situation in the gas chambers was different. With its powerful ventilation system, and with the fact that most of the hydrogen cyanide was absorbed by the victims' bodies, the time could be reduced to 20 minutes.

Rudolf's attempt to discredit Höss's eyewitness evidence fails. As to Pery Broad's credibility: it seems true that Broad exaggerated the capacity of the gas chambers of crematoria 2 and 3 when he stated that "in each of them 4,000 people could be killed at the same time." It is also possible that this figure was the result of a mistake, as the two gas chambers could accommodate, if necessary, 4,000 people together (many of those killed in the gas chambers were children). Exaggeration or mistake, the fact that Broad's assertion on the capacity of the gas chambers is not supported by the evidence does not mean that the rest of his statement concerning the killing is wrong - and Rudolf does not challenge it.

In conclusion, for all his effort to discredit the witnesses, Rudolf's arguments have had the opposite effect in providing another opportunity to consider the general veracity and reliability of eye-witness testimony.

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