These excerpts from "In Auschwitz wurde niemand vergast." ("Nobody was gassed at Auschwitz.": 60 Rightist Lies and How to Counter Them"), written by Markus Tiedemann and published by the Verlag an der Ruhr, is being translated into English and will appear some time next year.Email Verlag an Der Ruhr for more information, or Kenneth Kronenberg.
This claim is made frequently by Holocaust deniers, and they use a cleverly chosen assortment of documents to back up their assertions. Often, young people who have visited a concentration camp memorial site point out that there were no gas chambers to be seen. Sometimes they will point to reports by pre-1941 inmates or will cite the diagrams of Auschwitz I (not the extermination camp Birkenau) in which no gas chambers are to be seen.
When visiting a concentration camp, it is important to remember that not all of them had gas chambers. Although Auschwitz and Chelmno (Kulmhof) were built within the borders of the so-called "Reich," all the actual Nazi extermination camps (i.e., camps devoted almost exclusively to mass murder) were situated outside of Germany proper. For this reason, most young Germans have never seen one of the death camps.There were six main extermination camps:
Auschwitz-Birkenau (1,000,000+ deaths), Treblinka (974,000+), Sobibor (250,000+), Belzec (600,000+), Chelmno (225,000+), and Majdanek (250,000+).
What is repressed and largely forgotten is that there was an entire system of concentration camps; along with the extermination camps, there were labor camps and "transit" camps, which, with all their subcamps, were dispersed throughout Germany. Forced labor was always a hallmark of the concentration camp system. At the beginning, the inmates were used in construction; later in the armaments industry as well. Selections were a feature at Birkenau (Auschwitz II) only and were determined by the current need for labor. At the other extermination camps, people were fed directly into the gas chambers. At labor and "transit" camps, people were destroyed by a combination of overwork and malnourishment. Although executions were common, killings were not done on an industrial scale as was the case at the extermination camps.
Those former inmates who told of "re-education," forced labor, and eventual release were certainly not lying. However, such reports were made almost entirely by German political prisoners who were interned in concentration camps during the period from 1933-1936 or at the very latest 1939-1940. Reports by others crop up every now and then, but they are either complete falsifications or distort the truth.
The purpose of the concentration camps changed dramatically after 1941 from "re-education" and punishment of political opponents; they became death camps for Jews, the Sinti and Roma, prisoners of war, and those the Nazis considered "subhuman."
On November 9, 1938, the Nazis organized the Kristallnacht, the nation-wide pogrom designed to terrorize Jews and pressure them to emigrate. This pogrom was a reflection of their racial ideology, which saw Jews as the most pernicious enemy of the Germans, and represented a high point in the Nazis' official policy of terror. However, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Nazis were faced with the question of what to do with the millions of Jews living in conquered territory. Far from Germany and under cover of the fog of war, the Nazis began implementing the systematic physical destruction of the Jews. This "final solution" changed the existing camps into facilities for the mass destruction of human beings. In addition, new extermination camps were built (e.g., Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau in 1942).
But even if it were true that there were no gas chambers at the extermination camps, the Nazis would still be guilty of mass murder. In Chelmno, for example, hundreds of thousands of people were murdered in mobile gas wagons. Mass shootings were commonplace. At Belzec and Treblinka, the old and the infirm as well as children were taken off the ramp and shot immediately upon arrival.
In Germany, a favorite tactic of Holocaust deniers is to cite a diagram of the plans to expand Auschwitz I, dating from about 1940, to deny the existence of gas chambers. This fraud is often successful because most young people don't know that Auschwitz II (Birkenau) was the actual center where most of the gassing took place. In addition, the deniers are not above bringing out diagrams that they themselves have concocted.
The first experiments with gassing did in fact take place in Auschwitz I, in the cellar of Block 11 in September 1941. The victims consisted of about 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 sick inmates. About two weeks later, 900 Soviet war prisoners were gassed to death in the mortuary cellar of the crematorium in Auschwitz I. Gassings continued at Auschwitz I even after Birkenau began processing victims.
Before we go into the factual misinformation contained in these "studies," there is one criticism that can be made at the outset. Neither Leuchter nor Germar Rudolf, who works for Remer, are experts in the field they claim knowledge of.
Fred A. Leuchter has a Masters Degree in history and sells execution devices to American prisons. In his publications, he always claims to be an engineer. Rudolf is a certified chemist in Stuttgart. In spite of what he claims, Leuchter has absolutely no practical experience with gas chambers. Of the six states that are supposed to have consulted with him, five turned him down. Only in Maryland did Leuchter submit a single draft for the renovation of a gas chamber. The plans were never carried out because Maryland decided to execute death row inmates by lethal injection.
Otto E. Remer was a general in the Wehrmacht and took part in the arrest of the military officers who attempted to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944. He is both sponsor and financier of the Remer Report.
It is important to realize that neither of these studies can be considered neutral analyses. Both were designed and written to aid in the legal defense of accused Holocaust revisionists. In the case of the Leuchter Report, the impetus came from the right-wing radical literary critic Robert Faurisson who tried to help his political friend Ernst Zündel, who was facing prosecution in Canada (and was later convicted). Zündel himself financed the trip of this "neutral expert" Leuchter. During cross examination, Leuchter admitted that he did not have the necessary scientific training. On top of that, in order to acquaint himself with the subject, he used only the sources recommended by Faurisson. Because of these inadequacies, the court in Toronto lent Leuchter no credence whatsoever. The judge stated that it was shameless of Leuchter to claim more than superficial understanding of the material.
In June of 1991, Leuchter himself landed in court for illegally practicing as an engineer. As a result, he signed a voluntary statement in which he admitted that he had never been an engineer by profession, that he had falsely made statements to the contrary in several states in order to solicit work, and finally that he was a self-styled expert in "execution technology." He promised that he would cease and desist from representing himself as an engineer and stop publishing his "scientific analyses," like the one about Auschwitz.
Even when looked at from the point of view of time invested and on-site research, both of these reports fail as serious investigations. For example, Leuchter devoted all of nine days, including flight time, to his excursion. He then wrote his 132-page report in four weeks, using diagrams that came from tourist brochures. In addition, it is clear that he knew nothing of important documents such as those written by SS construction supervisors.
As the contents of both reports demonstrate, neither author considered it necessary to work through the on-site documentation.
George Wellers, a French Auschwitz survivor had the following to say about Leuchter's "expert" testimony:
"The worthy Mr. Leuchter finds it strange that Höß didn't cross the Atlantic in 1941-42 during the height of the war to get tips from the Americans on how to kill hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children more efficiently...His conclusions contain many astonishing clues that this executioner de luxe has confused his Hilton gas chambers with the miserable sheds that served the purpose in Auschwitz."
At first, even the Nazis had no experience with mass murder on this scale. They improved their technology slowly as they gained that experience. There were different types of gas chambers. The first stationary one was put into use in Belzec in February 1942; mobile gas chambers in trucks were also used. In addition, different types of gas were tried, primarily carbon monoxide (from canisters or diesel exhaust) and prussic acid (Zyklon B). Development was very uneven; whereas Belzec still used wooden barracks with three gas chambers, there was a brick building with a concrete floor at Sobibor. The first gas chambers that could be hermetically sealed were at Treblinka. Further efficiencies were brought about at Auschwitz in early 1943 with the introduction of Zyklon B and by building the gas chambers with adjacent crematoria.
The Nazis were certainly not concerned with the humaneness of their technology; efficiency was their only goal. If the necessary technology was unavailable or overloaded, they shot or hanged their victims.
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