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HOLOCAUST FAQ: Auschwitz-Birkenau: Layman's Guide (1/2)

( Part1 - Part2 )
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Archive-name: holocaust/auschwitz/part01
Last-modified: 1999/06/01

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
This FAQ may be cited as:

 McVay, Kenneth N.  (1998) "HOLOCAUST FAQ: Auschwitz-Birkenau: Layman's 
 Guide" Usenet news.answers.  Available via anonymous ftp from 
 ftp.nizkor.org in pub/camps/auschwitz/auschwitz.faq1 (and
 ~/auschwitz.faq2). 30 pages.

 The most current version of this FAQ is posted every 45 days in the Usenet
 newsgroups alt.revisionism, soc.history, soc.answers, alt.answers and
 news.answers, and archived as pub/camps/auschwitz/auschwitz.faq1 (and
 ~/auschwitz.faq2) on the anonymous ftp archive on ftp.nizkor.org.

 This FAQ is available on the World Wide Web at 
 http://www.nizkor.org/faqs/auschwitz/

  1.0 Introduction & Editorial Notes............................. 1
  1.1   Copyright Notice......................................... 2
  1.2   Geographic Description................................... 2
  2.0 Gas Chambers............................................... 2
  2.1   Krema I.................................................. 3
  2.2   Krema II, III, IV, and V................................. 5
  2.3   Zyklon B................................................. 6
  3.0 Crematoria.................................................11
  4.0 Compiling the estimates on numbers exterminated............12
  4.1   How many people died at Auschwitz?.......................13
  4.2      Estimates by nationality..............................14
  5.0 Administration.............................[See Part Two]..15
  5.1   Command Staff............................................15
  5.2   Medical Staff............................................17
  5.3   Selection................................................18
  5.4   Tattooing................................................18
  5.5   Medical Experimentation..................................19
  5.5.1   Clauberg...............................................21
  5.5.2   Mandel.................................................21
  5.5.3   Mengele................................................22
  5.5.4   Oberhauser.............................................22
  5.5.5   Schumann...............................................23
  6.0 Research Sources & Other Useful Appendices.................23
  6.1   Recommended Reading......................................24
  6.2   Abbreviations Used in Citations..........................27
  6.3   Glossary.................................................27
  6.4   Works Cited..............................................28

[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 1]

 1.0 Introduction & Editorial Notes 

   A January, 1993 newspaper article (Foner - see below) presents a
   series of lies and distortions regarding events at the Auschwitz
   concentration camp as historical fact.  The article illustrated an
   increasing effort on the part of world-wide neo-Nazi political
   organizations to deny that the collective events commonly known as
   the Holocaust did occur.  Conot addressed the need for a continuing
   effort to combat such material in his introduction (Justice at
   Nuremberg):

      Speaking to the Nuremberg tribunal in his opening address,
      "Justice Jackson remarked; `What makes this inquest significant
      is that these prisoners represent sinister influences that will
      lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to
      dust.'

      These influences, in fact, have regenerated like a poisonous
      weed.  Anti-Semitism and the euphemistic catchwords that led to
      `the Final Solution of the Jewish Question' have reappeared hand
      in hand.  A world-wide cult has arisen claiming that the
      Holocaust never happened.  A hundred books, booklets, and
      pamphlets have been printed alleging that the slaughter was
      imaginary or exaggerated, and is but a Jewish invention.

      All of this might be dismissed as the frustrated thrashing about
      of a radical, irrational fringe were it not for the haunting
      parallels to the pre-Hitler era, and the continuing employment
      of Nazi propaganda methodology.  A leader of the French
      neo-Nazis, for example, asserts that those Jews who died had
      merely been victims of the wartime food shortage.  The Nazis
      had, in fact, originally planned to starve the Jews to death,
      allocating 186 calories per capita daily for their sustenance,
      but had abandoned the scheme for more direct methods after the
      ensuing epidemics had decimated not only the Jews but threatened
      to spread to the relatively well-fed German population.

      Similar in nature is the assertion that Zyklon B gas was
      employed only as a disinfectant at Auschwitz.  This had been the
      case until the fall of 1941, when an enterprising SS officer had
      concluded that if Zyklon B killed lice it could kill people just
      as well.  Thereafter, the gas had been used, first to murder
      thousands of Soviet prisoners of war, and then hundreds of
      thousands of Jews - nearly all of them women, children, and old
      people unfit for `extermination through work.' Hitler's dictum
      that `the magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of
      credibility, since the great masses of the people ...  more
      easily fall victim to a big lie than to a little one' has once
      more come into vogue.


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 2]

      The most effective means to combat such distortions is to make
      the facts accessible, and, with them, expose the statements for
      what they are.  At Nuremberg, General Telford Taylor, the
      prosecutor of more war criminals than any other man, said: `We
      cannot here make history over again.  But we can see that it is
      written true.' (Conot, xii-xiii)

   This article is presented in that spirit, and in lasting memory of
   those who were ruthlessly destroyed during the Holocaust.  It is the
   result of the combined effort of many, and contains data from myriad
   sources.  I would like to acknowledge the contributions from Danny
   Keren (dzk@cs.brown.edu) in particular, and the subscribers to the
   Holocaust Research Information List in general. Without their 
   contributions, this document could not have been written.

   The appearance of a quotation mark within a proper name indicates
   that the previous letter should be read as an umlaut, although some
   quoted material appends a trailing 'e' instead.  (I.e.  Hoess and
   Hoess reference the same name.)

   The documents cited in this work which are available from our ftp
   server are often noted in the form (get <path>/<filename>).

 1.1 Copyright

   This post, as a collection of information, is Copyright 1993-1998 by Ken
   McVay, as a work of literature.  Non-commercial distribution by any
   electronic means is granted with the understanding that the article
   not be altered in any way.  Permission to distribute in printed form
   must be obtained in writing.  The removal of this copyright notice is
   forbidden.  

 1.2 Geographic Location

   AUSCHWITZ: (Polish: Oswiecim) Located approximately 60km (37mi)
   west of Krakow, in Eastern Upper Silesia, which was annexed to
   Nazi Germany following the defeat of Poland, in September, 1939.
   Site of Nazi death camp. The first camp was built shortly after
   Poland's defeat, in a suburb of Oswiecim (Zasole), and held
   about 10,000 prisoners. The second site, known as Auschwitz II,
   or Birkenau, was located 3km from the original camp. Construction
   began in October 1941, and, according to Dr. Franciszek Piper, of
   the Muzeum Oswiecim, never completed.

 2.0 Gas Chambers

      "There was a sign 'to disinfection'.  He said 'you see,
      they are bringing children now'.  They opened the door, threw
      the children in and closed the door.  There was a terrible cry.


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 3]

      A member of the SS climbed on the roof.  The people went on
      crying for about ten minutes.  Then the prisoners opened the
      doors.  Everything was in disorder and contorted.  Heat was
      given off.  the bodies were loaded on a rough wagon and taken to
      a ditch.  The next batch were already undressing in the huts.
      After that I didn't look at my wife for four weeks." (From the 
      testimony of SS private Boeck (Langbein, quoted in Pressac, 181))

 2.1 Krema I - The Experimental Gas Chamber

   David Cole has produced a videotape which filmed the director of the
   Auschwitz State Museum apparently admitting that the gas-chamber 
   known as "Krema I" was constructed after the war ended, on the direct 
   order of Stalin. In a letter to Nizkor's Ken McVay, Dr. Piper explicitly
   denies making any such statement.  Foner (Foner, Samuel P. "Major 
   Historical Fact Uncovered" SPOTLIGHT Vol. XIX, Number 2, January 11, 
   1993) tells us:

      The videotape on which Piper makes his revelations was taken in
      mid-1992 by a young Jewish investigator, David Cole.  It has
      just been released, on January 1, 1993, although Cole announced
      his project at the 11th International Revisionist Conference at
      Irvine, California last October.

   The small gas chamber of Krema I was used for gassing for a short
   time, and then converted into an air-raid shelter; after the war,
   it was reconstructed to look as it did when it was used for
   gassing, as Dr. Piper notes in his letter of response to the Cole
   video. The text of Piper's letter is a bit stilted, as Polish is
   his native language, but his intent, and the facts, are quite
   clear:
   
      Cole maintains that I first time admitted the allegedly
      unknown fact the Nazis adapted the crematorium in question
      in which the gas chamber were located for air-raid shelter,
      the fact allegedly unknown even for Museum guides.  It is
      un truth.  See enclosed copies of pages from the books
      which constitute the fundamental reading for Auschwitz
      guides.  In book by T-an Sehn "Concentrat Camp
      Ogwiqcim-Brzezinka (Auschwitz-Birkenau)Warsaw 1957, You may
      read on the page 152-"In May 1944 the old Crematorium I in
      the base camp was adapted for use as an air raid shelter.

      The Fact is also confirmed in the book by Jean Claude
      Pressac "Auschwitz: Technique and operation of the gas
      chambers, published by The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New
      York 1989(515 Madison Avenue.  On the page 157 you may
      read: "With part of the building converted to an air raid
      shelter, this is the state in which the SS abandoned
      Krematorium I in January 1945" Repeating what Pressac had
      written I told what was the nature of the adaptation works
      carried out by the Nazis and what one had to do to remove
      those changes in order to regain the previous appearance.


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 4]

      They are all "Pipers revelations."  In spite of the fact
      that such secondary restoration works had to be done there
      is an undisputable reality that the gas chamber in question
      is housed in the same building which has been existed from
      prewar times till now.  

      (get pub/people/p/piper.franciszec/press/daily.texan.1093
      for the entire letter from Dr. Piper to the Daily Texan 
      regarding the Cole video; Dr. Piper was never the director 
      of the Auschwitz State Museum.)
 
   Breitman offers the following as background information to the
   development of Zyklon B as a killing device, and (more specifically)
   to the early use to which Block 11 was put:

      Auschwitz had been receiving trainloads of Soviet commissars and
      other POW's who were subject to liquidation.  Hoess's men had
      shot previous shipments of Russian prisoners, but on September 3
      Hoess's enterprising subordinate Hauptsturmfuehrer Fritsch
      thought of an expedient new method based on the camp's own
      experience.  The buildings, many of them former Polish army
      barracks, were full of insects, and the camp administration had
      previously brought in the Hamburg pesticide firm of Tesch and
      Stabenow to get rid of them.  Two experts had fumigated
      particular buildings with a patented insecticide, Zyklon B, a
      crystalline form of hydrogen cyanide that turned gaseous when
      exposed to the air.  (Hoess, "Commandant of Auschwitz," 175.
      Interrogation of Hoess, 14 May 1946, NA RG 238, M-1019/R 28/63)
      On September 3 Fritsch decided to experiment.  First he crammed
      five or six hundred Russians and another 250 sick prisoners from
      the camp hospital into an underground detention cell.  Then the
      windows were covered with earth.  SS men wearing gas masks
      opened the Zyklon-B canisters to remove what looked like blue
      chalk pellets about the size of peas, creating a cloud of poison
      gas.  After they left, the doors were sealed.(Hoess, Commandant
      at Auschwitz, 173.  See also Yehuda Bauer, "Auschwitz," in
      Jaeckel and Rohwere, eds., Der Mord an den Juden, 167-68) Hoess
      wrote later that death was instantaneous.  Perhaps that was what
      he was told.  But he was not present to witness the event; he
      was away on a business trip.  Other sources indicate that even
      the next day not everyone was dead, and the SS men had to
      release more insecticide.  Eventually all the prisoners died.
      When Hoess returned to Auschwitz, he heard about the successful
      experiment.  On Eichmann's next visit to Auschwitz, Hoess told
      him about the possibilities of Zyklon-B, and, according to
      Hoess, the two decided to use the pesiticide and the peasant
      farmstead for extermination.(Hoess, Commandant, 175.  From the
      History of KL Auschwitz, New York, 1982, I, 190)(Breitman, 203) 

   SS-Unterscharfuehrer Pery Broad described a gassing in Krema I while
   giving testimony (Museum, 176):

      "....  The `disinfectors' were at work.  One of them was
      SS-Unterscharfuehrer Teuer, decorated with the Cross of War
      Merit.  With a chisel and a hammer they opened a few
      innocuously looking tins which bore the inscription `Cyclon, to


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 5]

      be used against vermin.  Attention, poison!  to be opened by
      trained personnel only!'.  The tins were filled to the brim
      with blue granules the size of peas.  Immediately after opening
      the tins, their contents were thrown into the holes which were
      then quickly covered.  Meanwhile Grabner gave a sign to the
      driver of a lorry, which had stopped close to the crematorium.
      The driver started the motor and its deafening noise was louder
      than the death cries of the hundreds of people inside, being
      gassed to death."

   Mu"llers eyewitness account of gassings in Krema I, in April, 1942, is
   recounted in Hilberg's "The Destruction of the European Jews,":

      The Auschwitz procedure evolved in stages.  In April 1942,
      Slovak Jews were gassed in Crematorium I, apparently with their
      clothes on.  Later, deportees from nearby Sosnowiec were told
      to undress in the yard.  The victims, faced by the peremptory
      order to remove their clothes, men in front of women and women
      in front of men, became apprehensive.  The SS men, shouting at
      them, then drove the naked men, women and children into the gas
      chamber. 

   In The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Jozef Buszko (Jagiellonian
   University, Krakow) writes: "The first, relatively small gas chamber was
   built in Auschwitz I.  Here the experimental gassing using Zyklon B gas
   first took place, on September 3, 1941.  The victims were 600 Soviet
   prisoners of war and 250 other prisoners.  After that experiment, the
   firm J.  A.  Topf and Sons received a contract to build much larger,
   permanent gas chambers connected with very large crematoria in
   Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the mass exterminations were mainly carried
   out.  Altogether four such installations -- II, III, IV, and V -- were
   built in Birkenau." (Encyclopedia, Vol. I, 113) 

 2.2 Krema II, III, IV, and V - The Birkenau Gas Chambers

   Foner continues: "What Piper said, in effect - and on camera - was that
   the explosive Leuchter Report was correct: No homicidal gassings took
   place in the buildings designated `homicidal gas chambers' at
   Auschwitz."

   (As to the "Leuchter report", we refer you to the Leuchter Report FAQ, 
   - http://www.nizkor.org/faqs/leuchter/.

   Foner omits mention of the larger gas chambers of Kremas II-V, in which
   over a million people were murdered.  Hilberg (Destruction) provides the 
   following:


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 6]

      At Birkenau, illusion was the rule.  It was not always simple
      or possible, inasmuch as at least some of the deportees had
      observed the sign "Auschwitz" as the train passed through the
      railway yards, (Wiesel, 36) or had seen flames belching from
      the chimneys, or had smelled the strange, sickening odor of the
      crematoria.  (Lengyel, 22) Most of them, however, like a group
      from Salonika, were funneled through the undressing rooms, were
      told to hang their clothes on hooks and remember the number,
      and promised food after the shower and work after the food.
      The unsuspecting Greek Jews, clutching soap and towels, rushed
      into the gas chambers.  (Mu"ller, 80-81) Nothing was allowed to
      disturb this precarious synchronization.  When a Jewish inmate
      revealed to newly arrived people what was in store for them, he
      was cremated alive.  (Mu"ller, 80) Only in the case of victims
      who were brought in from nearby ghettos in upper Silesia
      (Sosnowiec and Bedzin) and who had had intimations of Auschwitz
      was speed alone essential.  These people were told to undress
      quickly in their "own best interest." (Mu"ller, 69-71)
   
   And finally, consider these remarks, from the SS Doctor Kremer, made
   during a hearing held on 18 July, 1947. (Klee, 258)

      I remember I once took part in the gassing of one of these
      groups of women [from the women's camp in Auschwitz].  I cannot
      say how big the group was.  when I got close to the bunker I saw
      them sitting on the ground.  They were still clothed.  As they
      were wearing worn-out camp clothing they were not left in the
      undressing hut but made to undress in the open air.  I concluded
      from the behavior of these women that they had no doubt what
      fate awaited them, as they begged and sobbed to the SS men to
      spare them their lives.  However, they were herded into the gas
      chambers and gassed.  As an anatomist I have seen a lot of
      terrible things: I had had a lot of experience with dead bodies,
      and yet what I saw that day was like nothing I had ever seen
      before.  Still completely shocked by what I had seen I wrote on
      my diary on 5 September 1942: "The most dreadful of horrors.
      Hauptscharfuherer Thilo was right when he said to me today that
      this is the 'anus mundi', the anal orifice of the world".  I
      used this image because I could not imagine anything more
      disgusting and horrific. 
 
 2.3 Zyklon B

      Two German firms, Tesch/Stabenow and Degesch, produced Cyclone
      B gas after they acquired the patent from Farben.  Tesch
      supplied two tons a month, and Degesch three quarters of a ton.
      The firms that produced the gas already had extensive experience
      in fumigation.  "In short, this industry used very powerful
      gases to exterminate rodents and insects in enclosed spaces;
      that it should now have become involved in an operation to kill
      off Jews by the hundreds of thousands is not mere accident."


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 7]

      (Hilberg, Commandant, 567) After the war the directors of the
      firms insisted that they had sold their products for fumigation
      purposes and did not know they were being used on humans.  But
      the prosecutors found letters from Tesch not only offering to
      supply the gas crystals but also advising how to use the
      ventilating and heating equipment.  Hoess testified that the
      Tesch directors could not help but know of the use for their
      product because they sold him enough to annihilate two million
      people.  Two Tesch partners were sentenced to death in 1946 and
      hanged.  The director of Degesch recieved five years in prison."
      (Feig) (See also Breitman, 203-204, for a discussion of the early
      involvement of Heerdt-Lingler)

   From the statement of Hans Stark, registrar of new arrivals,
   Auschwitz (Klee, 255):

      At another, later gassing -- also in autumn 1941 -- Grabner*
      ordered me to pour Zyklon B into the opening because only one
      medical orderly had shown up.  During a gassing Zyklon B had to
      be poured through both openings of the gas-chamber room at the
      same time.  This gassing was also a transport of 200-250 Jews,
      once again men, women and children.  As the Zyklon B -- as
      already mentioned -- was in granular form, it trickled down over
      the people as it was being poured in.  They then started to cry
      out terribly for they now knew what was happening to them.  I
      did not look through the opening because it had to be closed as
      soon as the Zyklon B had been poured in.  After a few minutes
      there was silence.  After some time had passed, it may have been
      ten to fifteen minutes, the gas chamber was opened.  The dead
      lay higgledy-piggedly all over the place.  It was a dreadful
      sight.

      * Maximillian Grabner, Head of Political Department, Auschwitz

   Zyklon-B is a powerful insecticide which serves as a carrier for the
   gas Hydrocyanic acid, or HCN.  It usually comes in the shape of small
   pellets or disks.  (See Breitman, 203, for more detail about the
   early use of the gas at Auschwitz) HCN is the cause of death
   following the application of Zyklon-B.  While interacting with iron
   and concrete, it creates Hydrocyanic compounds, which Leuchter
   admitted were found in the ruins of the gas chamber in Krematoria II.
   His finding was confirmed by findings of the Polish government.

   HCN is *extremely poisonous* to humans.  It is used in execution gas
   chambers in the US; the first was built in Arizona in 1920.
   Holocaust denial often includes the claim that Germany in the 1940's
   could not handle the "technical difficulties" inherent in using HCN
   for execution - "difficulties" that were easily solved in 1920.
   Moreover, the Germans had a lot of experience with HCN, as it was
   extensively used for delousing.


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 8]

   There were two types of gas chambers in Auschwitz: those used for
   delousing clothes ("delousing gas chambers") and those used for
   killing people on a massive scale ("extermination gas chambers").

   The delousing gas chambers were a standard feature, and were left
   intact by the SS (the extermination gas chambers were dynamited in an
   effort to conceal criminal traces).  

   Holocaust denial asserts that because more Hydrocyanic compounds were
   found in the delousing chambers in Auschwitz than in the ruins of the
   extermination gas chambers, mass murder using the gas could not have
   taken took place within, because the reverse would be true.

   HCN is much more effective on warm-blooded animals, including humans,
   than it is on insects.  The exposure period (to HCN) is much greater
   in delousing operations than in homicidal gassings.  This means that
   a much lower concentration is necessary to kill people than to get
   rid of lice, etc.  In delousing, concentrations of up to 16,000 ppm
   (parts per million) are sometimes used, and exposure time can be up
   to 72 hours; while 300 ppm will kill people in fifteen minutes or so.

   Therefore, the HCN in the extermination chambers hardly had time to
   form compounds on the walls.  While some claim that the gas
   would need a lot of time to kill, because it would have to spread all
   over the chamber, it simply is not true; the gas chambers were not
   that large (those in Krematoria II and III were about 210 square
   meters), and the Zyklon-B was dropped from four openings (still
   visible in the ruins of the gas chambers).  Since the concentration
   used was higher than the lethal one, death was very swift.

   Furthermore, the delousing chambers are intact while the
   extermination chambers were blown up (a .GIF picture of the one of
   Krema II is available).  Therefore, their walls have been exposed to
   the elements for the last 50 years. The ruins of the gas chamber of
   Krema II are covered with about 3 feet of water during certain
   periods of the year; HCN compounds easily dissolve in these
   surroundings.  Nonetheless, so much gassing took place that some of
   the compound remained.

   Summarizing, the walls of the extermination gas chambers were in
   contact with HCN for a much shorter time then those of the delousing
   chambers, and for the last 45 years were exposed to surroundings
   which dissolve the compounds, while the delousing rooms were not.
   Therefore it is obvious that less traces of compounds would remain in
   them.  

   This fact - that all, or most, of the compounds would vanish during
   45 years of exposure - is clearly stated in the report written by the
   experts of the Cracow Institute of Forensic Research. 


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 9]

   Holocaust deniers once claimed that the gas chamber in Krema I was
   left intact, and therefore its walls were not exposed to the
   elements.  But - as they admit themselves - the gas chamber of Krema
   I was used only for a short time, and than it was changed to an
   air-raid shelter.  After the liberation of the camp, it was
   reconstructed to its original shape.  This, and the fact that "only"
   about 10,000 people were murdered inside it (compared to 350,000 and
   400,000 in Kremas II and III) explain why relatively small amounts of
   cyanide compounds remain.  As for Kremas IV and V, they were
   completely destroyed by the SS before the Soviets liberated the camp.

   Finally, cyanide compounds were found on the ventilation grills of
   the extermination chambers, proving beyond doubt that gassing did
   take place inside them.

   The claim that it would have been impossible to use the gas chambers
   for killing, because they were too close to the furnaces, and the gas
   would explode, is often found in Holocaust denial literature, and is
   one of the assertions of the Leuchter report.

   The concentration of HCN necessary to cause death is nearly 200 times
   lower than that which causes explosion.  Although the SS used a
   concentration higher than the lethal one, it was far below that
   causing explosion.

   As a reference, one can look at "The Merck Index" and the "CRC
   handbook of Chemistry and Physics", or consult any manual dealing
   with toxicity and flammability of chemicals.  For HCN, a
   concentration of 300 ppm (parts per million) kills humans within a
   few minutes, while the minimal concentration that can result in an
   explosion is 56,000 ppm.

   Another common claim is that it takes 20 hours to air a room which
   has been disinfected with Zyklon-B, and therefore the eyewitness
   accounts giving a time of 20-30 minutes from when the gassing started
   to when the bodies where carried out is impossible, because the
   people carrying out the bodies would perish.

   If one disinfects a building in ordinary commercial use, it should
   not be reentered within 20 hours.  That figure, however, has no
   meaning in relation to the extermination chambers, because they were
   forcibly ventilated.  Fifteen minutes were enough to replace the air.
   When ventilation was not used, the Sonderkommando (prisoners used as
   forced labor) who took the bodies out had gas masks on.  The Germans
   had plenty of experience with gas, especially HCN, which was widely
   used for delousing.  They knew how to work with it without getting
   hurt.  It is absurd to use the 20 hour figure in this context, which
   does not assume forced ventilation and takes a huge safety factor
   into account.  The SS didn't care much for the safety of the
   Sonderkommando who had to enter the gas chambers to take the corpses
   out. 


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 10]

   Furthermore, what makes ventilation difficult and lengthy is the
   presence of rugs, furniture, curtains, etc.  Needless to say, these
   were not present in the gas chambers - there was just bare concrete,
   making ventilation fast and efficient.

   If the "20 hours ventilation period" above was true, this would mean
   that the corpses of people executed using cyanide gas in US gas
   chambers would remain tied to the chair 20 hours after they were
   killed...

   Another common claim is that the "alleged" extermination chambers are
   actually morgues, and that Zyklon-B was used in them as a disinfectant.

   This claim stems from the fact that Hydrocyanic compounds were found
   on the ventilation grills of the gas chambers in Krematoria II and
   III (the chemical analysis was carried out by Dr.  Jan Robel of the
   Cracow Forensic Institute in December 1945, and was part of the
   evidence in the trial of Auschwitz commander Hoess).  This proves
   that gassing did take place in that chamber. Zyklon-B cannot kill
   anaerobic bacteria - it kills only aerobic organisms. That means it
   would be useless for disinfecting corpses.

   In closing, consider the testimony of SS private Hoeblinger:
   (Langbein)

      I was detailed to the transport service and I drove the Sanka
      [abbreviation for Sanitatskraftwagon/medical truck] which was to
      carry the prisoners....

      Then we drove to the gas chambers.  The medical orderlies
      climbed a ladder, they had gas masks up there, and emptied the
      cans.  I was able to observe the prisoners while they were
      undressing.  It always proceeded quitely and without them
      suspecting anything.  It happened very quickly.

   Note Pvt. Hoeblinger's mention of gas masks - some Holocaust deniers
   insist that the SS-men dropping the gas would be killed by it, which
   leads one to speculate about their reading ability.

   Finally, the undeniable evidence that the SS ordered Degesch to
   remove the indicator odor, mandated under German law, which was added
   to the Zyklon B in order to provide a warning to human beings that
   the lethal stuff was nearby. I believe this demonstrated clear
   criminal intent - the SS would hardly have removed the indicator odor
   if they had intended, as the denial set insists, to use the gas only
   on insects and corpses... (get pub/orgs/german/farben.ig/farben.001 for 
   more information about this demand from the SS. Borkin, 123)

   Recommended reading:

   Barrington,J.H., ed. The Zyklon B Trial: Trial of Bruno Tesch and
   Two Others. London, 1948, and Borkin (see Work Cited).


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 11]

   Harmon, Brian. Technical Aspects of the Holocaust: Cyanide, Zyklon-B,
   aand Mass Murder. (get pub/camps/auschwitz/cyanide.001), 1994

   United Nations War Crimes Commission. Law Reports of Trials of War
   Criminals. Vol. 1, London, 1947. See pp. 93-104

 3.0 Crematoria 

   Konnilyn Feig provides an overview of the operation of the
   crematoria, and describes the process by which the stoking gangs
   sorted bodies into combustability catagories as the result of earlier
   experiments by the SS staff to reduce fuel consumption.  In this
   effort, they had the assistance of the firm of Topf and Sons, who had
   built the crematoria. 
   (http://ftp.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi?camps/auschwitz/auschwitz.01)

   In essence, well-nourished corpses were burned with emaciated ones in
   order to determine the most efficient combination.  Three to four
   bodies were burned at a time, and different kinds of coke were used,
   then the results were recorded:

      Afterwards, all corpses were divided into the above-mentioned
      catagories, the criterion being the amount of coke required to
      reduce them to ashes.  Thus it was decreed that the most
      economical and fuel-saving procedure would be to burn the bodies
      of a well-nourished man and an emaciated woman, or vice versa,
      together with that of a child, because, as the experiments had
      established, in this combination, once they had caught fire, the
      dead would continue to burn without any further coke being
      required.  (Mu"ller, 60-61; Klarsfield, 99-100)

   The need for large-scale efficiency, to cope with the astounding
   number of corpses produced by the gas chambers, eventually led to the
   design and construction of new crematoria, and daily capacity rose
   from as low as six hundred forty eight per day (Mu"ller's 1942
   figure) to a high of over ten thousand (Hoess, Gricksch), but, as
   Feig tells us, the SS eventually had to employ large pyres and pits
   to dispose of the mounting pile of corpses:

      As early as June 13, 1943, all was not well with the new
      installation. ...  Eventually the ovens seemed to
      fall apart.  Crematorium Four failed completely after a short
      time and Crematoria Five had to be shut down repeatedly.  (TWC,
      V:624) (Between 1945 and 1962 Polish officials found five
      manuscripts written by Sonderkommando members before their
      deaths.  The published manuscripts and documents relate to the
      specific process of extermination at Birkenau, and provide
      detailed descriptions of the crematoria and gas chambers.) 

      The scientifically planned crematoria should have been able to
      handle the total project, but they could not.  The whole complex
      had forty-six retorts, each with the capacity for three to five
      persons.  The burning in a retort lasted about half an hour.  It
      took an hour a day to clean them out.  Thus it was theoretically


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 12]

      possible to cremate about 12,000 corpses in twenty four hours or
      4,380,000 a year.  But the well-constructed crematoria fell far
      behind at a number of camps, and especially at Auschwitz in
      1944.  In August the total cremation reached a peak one day of
      24,000, but still a bottleneck occurred.  Camp authorities
      needed an economic and fast method of corpse disposal, so they
      again dug six huge pits beside Crematorium Five and reopened old
      pits in the wood.  Thus, late in 1944, pit burning became the
      chief method of corpse disposal.  The pits had indentations at
      one end from which human fat drained off.  To keep the pits
      burning, the stokers poured oil, alcohol, and large quantities
      of boiling human fat over the bodies.

 4.0 Compiling Estimates of the Numbers Exterminated

   When the extermination camps failed to achieve their objective, the
   total extermination of European Jewry, by the end of 1942, Heinrich
   Himmler commissioned a statistical report in order to determine what
   'progress' had been made.

   In January of 1943, Dr. Richard Korherr, a noted statistician who was
   outside SS circles, working with Adolf Eichmann and camp commanders,
   began compiling reports and figures to present to Himmler. As
   Breitman relates,

      Korherr's job was complicated by the fact that, even in a report
      designed for Himmler, he was not supposed to spell out the facts
      in black and white.  It was easier to state how many Jews were
      still alive than what had happened to the others.  To be sure,
      Korherr could state that through various means the Jewish
      population in the Reich and the Government General had
      diminished by 3.1 million between 1933 and 1942.  In spite of
      his generous use of the term "evacuation," however, which
      Himmler seconded, to mislead those who would read the document
      in later years, Himmler had to correct Korherr's wording in one
      place.  Where Korherr had written of the "special treatment" of
      the Jews, Himmler had insisted on either the "transportation of
      the Jews from the Eastern provinces to the Russian East" or the
      "sifting of the Jews through the camps." These were among the
      officially approved terms to camouflage the realities of the
      Final Solution.  (Korherr's reports in NA RG 238, NO-5193 and
      5194, Himmler's correction of wording in Brandt to Korherr, 20
      April 1943.  NA RG 238, NO-5196.  Raul Hilberg, The Destruction
      of the European Jews {Chicago, 1961}, 2nd expanded ed., 3 vols.
      {New York, 1985},I, 322-23, reviews the whole range of Nazi
      terms that veiled the realities.) (Breitman, 242)

   Note that Himmler was successful in his attempts to camouflage
   reality to the degree that present-day Holocaust denial insists that
   Jews were simply "relocated to the East," and not exterminated.


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 13]

   Eichmann's interrogation regarding the total number of victims
   supports Fleming's figure of about five million killed 
   (http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/e/eichmann.adolf/eichmann.005), 
   while figures compiled by Yehuda Bauer, of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 
   are somewhat higher.  

   Bauer's figures are in the right-most column:

       German Reich (boundaries of 1938)       130,000   125,000
       Austria                                  58,000    65,000
       Belgium                                  26,000
       Belgium & Luxembourg                               24,700 
       Bulgaria                                  7,000
       Czechoslovakia (boundaries of 1938)     245,000   277,000
       France                                   64,000    83,000
       Greece                                   58,000    65,000
       Hungary & Carpatho-Ukraine              300,000   402,000*
       Italy                                     8,000     7,500*
       Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia              200,000
       Luxembourg                                3,000
       Netherlands                             101,800   106,000
       Norway                                      677       760
       Poland (boundaries of 1939)           2,700,000
       Polish-Soviet area                              4,565,000
       Romania (boundaries prior to 1940)      220,000    40,000
       USSR (boundaries prior to 1939)         800,000
       Yugoslavia                               54,000    60,000*
                                               -----------------
                                             4,975,477 5,820,960
                                          * May be underestimated

 4.1 How many people died at Auschwitz?
   
   Foner's Spotlight article makes the following assertions regarding the
   number of people killed at the camp:

      Like most Americans, since his youth Cole had been instructed
      in the "irrefutable fact" that homicidal gassings had taken
      place at Auschwitz.  The number of those so executed - also
      declared irrefutable - was 4.1 million.

      Then came the Leuchter Report in 1988.  This was followed by a
      "re-evaluation" of the total deaths at Auschwitz (down to 1.1
      million).  As a budding historian - and a Jew - Cole was
      intrigued.

      Previous to 1992, anyone who publicly doubted the 4.1 million
      "gassing" deaths at Auschwitz was labeled an anti-Semite,
      neo-nazi skinhead (at the very least).  Quietly, because of
      revisionist findings, the official figure was lowered to 1.1
      million.  No mention of that missing 3 million.


[Auschwitz]                                                     [Page 14]

   Foner's assertions are simply not true; although it is correct to note
   that the Polish Communist government did claim that four million people 
   were exterminated at Auschwitz, historians (Feig, Reitlinger, Hilberg, 
   et al.) have never supported that figure. Consider the estimates 
   provided by Buszko at the end of his article on Auschwitz, which appeared 
   in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust:

      Of the 405,000 registered prisoners, 65,000 survived
      Of the 16,000 Soviet POW's, 96 survived
      Various estimates suggest 1.6 million were murdered

   Buszko's article, and the above estimates, appeared in the 1990 edition
   of the Encyclopedia, which clearly puts the lie to Foner's comment that
   "anyone who publicly doubted the 4.1 million ..." figure "previous to
   1992..." was "...labeled an anti-Semite..." Buszko is not only a Jewish
   historian, but Polish as well.

   Leon Poliakov, the author of the well-documented "Harvest of
   Hate," which was, we note, first published in _1956_, provides
   the following information, which clearly demonstrates that Foner's
   contention, cited above, is an outright lie:

      After some thirty months of intense activity, the Auschwitz
      balance sheet showed close to two million immediate
      exterminations (this figure can never be fixed exactly), (8) to
      which one must add the deaths of some 300,000 registered
      prisoners - Jews for the most part, but not entirely - for whom
      the gas chamber was only one of any number of ways by which they
      might have perished. (Poliakov, 202)

      (8) In his affidavits, Hoess spoke of two and a half million,
      'a figure set officially,' he wrote, under the signature of
      [Eichmann], in a report to Himmler. This figure has been
      accepted by several authors, and it appears in the verdict at
      the trial of the major war criminals. However, there is no
      reason for accepting without question the statistics attributed
      to Eichmann, which may err on either side. Adding the number of
      victims to those deported from different countries gives a lower
      figure, although we have little data, for example, on the number
      of Polish Jews sent to Auschwitz. An approximate figure in the
      neighborhood of two million seems closer to the truth."
      (Ibid.)

   Feig also provides evidence of the false nature of Foner's comment when
   she notes that `Hoess testified that the Tesch directors could not help
   but know of the use for their product because they sold him enough to
   annihilate two million people.'  Feig's book was published in 1981.


[Continued in Part Two]
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