Prominent amongst oral testimonies from Birkenau in 1944, particularly of Hungarian Jews, is the role of the Weaving Mill or Weberei of Birkenau in camp employment. Although the literature tends to be vague as to where the Weberei was actually located, inmates employed there seemed, according to extensive oral testimony, mostly to spend their time producing fuses for armaments out of old rags. Locations suggested in the literature the Weberei range from BIII to the Familienlager Theresienstadt sector BIIb, to BIIc. No Weberei building exists in any of the available lists of building projects for Birkenau (which all mention BW 30, BW 30a, BW 30b, BW 30c – allegedly the codes for the various crematoria). Yet according to the documents of the Frankfurt trial a DAW Weberei opened in March 1943. Coincidently or not, March 1943 more or less the date that Krema IV is supposed to have been finished. From the wealth of oral testimony and camp employment lists we know a Weberei was in Birkenau. My suggestion will be the Weberei was one or both of the building sites we today know as Krema IV and V, that is next to the Effeketen lager – a convenient source of textiles.
Some time back I posted about some odd features of one of the corpses at the liberation of Buchenwald : We are the Hollow Men. The gist of which was that one of the corpses presented seemed anatomically impossible in as much it appeared to have a hollow head. I would not claim enormous expertise in this subject, although I do possess an excellently functioning head of my own and also somehow managed to pass an undergraduate course in anatomy. There is, however, another liberation set of photos that has provoked my puzzlement and that is the Strasbourg Anatomical Institute skeletonn collection alleged procured by Professor August Hirt.
I posted recently about a visit to the Mauthausen memorial center where I raised the possibility that one of the ovens there may have been constructed after liberation. Surprising confirmation of this possibility came recently when someon uploaded onto the Internet a description of visiting Mauthausen on May 9 1945, only a couple of days post liberation. I have post the entire description and below I discuss the parts of the testimony that seem to confirm the presence of only a single oven.
Immediately after the liberation of Auschwitz, the Soviets sent a film crew in to make an extensive newsreel documentary. This documentary was later shown at the Nuremberg Trials. In the last few years it has been released on DVD (and can be downloaded in various places on the Internet by googling the terms “The Liberation of Auschwitz” avi). Curiously, although there was extensive coverage of clearing away the ruins of Krema V, it appears on first viewing to contain no images of Krema II and III (allegedly the main gassing facilities) or Krema IV at all.
The thought occurs that given Krema II and III were supposedly the epicenter of the extermination program, perhaps the reason they did not appear on film is because they were not ready yet to be shown to the public.
Curiously, shortly after I made this claim regarding the lack of Krema II and III images in the Liberation footage, the following still from the DVD was pointed out to me which was claimed to represent either Krema II or III. It is footage that appears for a few seconds only, immediately after the Krema V section is shown, so the suggestion that it represents Krema II or Krema III is quite reasonable. However it represents a view of Krema II or III that it is impossible to find today at the memorial site. In the background there is a building that is obviously in ruins – limiting the number of sites it could be at Auschwitz-Birkenau to one of the demolished crematoriums.
The presence on the blueprints of Krema II and III of a stairway from an external door has lead to claims that this demonstrates that these two buildings must have had a homicidal function. This argument, chiefly run by JC Pressac and later Professor Robert van Pelt goes somewhat along the lines that the original design had a chute to be implemented at this location which would be consistent with a normal morgue but the later addition of a stairway in this location implies that victims were intended to walk down this structure into a lethal gas chamber.
From the Judgement of Justice Grey at the trial of Deboral Lipstadt, the significance was summed up as follows:
“Meanwhile, Professor van Pelt also explained that when the plans of crematoria II and III were redesigned in late 1942 and early 1943, the corpse-slides or chutes appearing on the original plans were removed, and the entrance to the basement moved to the other side of the building. Thus, if the re-design was intended to facilitate the gassing of corpses, people who are already dead, it had only succeeded in compelling those who were carrying the corpses to negotiate a series of small rooms, narrow passages, and staircases to reach the gassing-space.”
At best it is a fairly weak argument, and rather a side issue because Krema Denial holds that these two buildings were most likely bakeries – and hence by definition these blueprints cannot be genuine – but lets examine what we can find out about this feature in more detail.
This is a post that I will use both to illustrate the odd behaviour of people who see it as their duty to “defend history” and also to show some rather odd features of the Topf ovens at Mauthausen and the questions it raises about the politicised nature of these memorial sites.
People get all kinds of strange ideas that these was something uniquely brilliant in the design of Topf ovens. Comments range from “a special oven designed to run on human fat” to JC Pressac’s “a technological little marvel.” Partly this is to justify the absurdly inflated corpses they were supposed to have processed every hour of every day. In fact, they were very basic and unsophisticated designs. In one online discussion I had, a person claiming engineering and physics expertise said that Topf ovens possessed a “gasifier unit” where producer gas was collected and piped off to be combusted in jets beneath the corpse. To prove his point he circled on the Mauthausen Topf diagram of 1940 where he believed this unit was.
Lets look further. (more…)
This is the first of a sporadic series on posts showing how the sites at Birkenau known today as “Krema” II and III originally had a much different purpose and and layout than that shown in what are alleged to be the construction blueprints of these buildings. For reasons which I will not elaborate here, it is my belief that these two buildings were in reality bakeries. Whether that is in fact the case, is irrelevant besides the demonstrable fact that they were not crematoria, or at least not crematoria as were detailed by the blueprints. My own realization of this fact came some years ago when I noticed the complete absence of underground flues at “Krema” II, underground flues which would be required to connect the ovens to the smoke-stack. Fortunately there are plenty of other indications for people unwilling to immediately take a trip to Poland (more…)
In Part I and Part II I discussed evidence that suggests that the Soviets constructed large parts of the New Crematorium at Majdanek on liberation in July 1944. Confirmation of hypothesis has come from the Nuremberg Interrogations of Arthur Liebehenschel, who was demoted to Majdanek for having a romance with a girl considered inappropriate by Himmler. This interview took place on 18 September 1944 by an interrogator more interested in the function of the WVHA then esoteric details of Majdanek and therefore had no pre-conceived ideas of what answers should be in this regard.
Here is a portion of the interview: (more…)
Anton Pacholegg is another witness who gave testimony at Dachau shortly after liberation. His testimony is particularly interesting as not only does it give very weak and unconvincing details regarding human skin leather, hypothermia experiments and air pressure experiments, but he gives a radically different description over the fall of Rascher. This he attributes as resulting from “negligience” and poor science results presented to the Luftwaffe, and his wife being arrested for embezzlement. There is no doubt that Pacholegg was very close and trusted by Rascher, according to Wolfram Sievers before the Nuremberg Tribunal he accompanied Rascher to Voralberg (the part of Austria adjacent to Switzerland) and there escaped. This escape is confirmed by Sievers official diary the was entered into evidence. According to the testimony here, Pacholegg voluntarily returned to Dachau and spent the rest of the war in the “dungeon” because he felt sorry for Rascher. A rather extraordinary act if true. The original capture of Pacholegg bears curious similarities to the Venlo Incident, all in all we are left with the impression that Pacholegg was probably involved with some kind of resistance or espionage, which he is careful to obscure as he proceeds with his shocked witness of medical atrocities act.
It does seem curious that with the whole panoply of liberated prisoners of Dachau available that the American Army seem to pick out characters that carry such little conviction to be their star witnesses. (more…)
The following is the testimony given by Franz Blaha shortly after liberation of Dachau in the Seventh Army war crimes investigators from May 3 to May 18 1945. The version of the file PS 2586 which I have is scans of not always legible carbon copies, so there will be some transcription errors, particularly in names. Some errors, including those of spellings of names are present in the stenographic record, everything in square brackets is from me, usually indicating uncertainity on my part. There are sure to be some mistakes (more…)
Back in 1999 a Holocaust Denier using the pseudonymous name of Knud Baecker cast doubt on some of the materials used to evidence the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was particularly skeptical of some of the interior construction shots which he suggested may have originally been paintings which were then photographed to give a suitable patina. See here
The liberation of the camps as deliberately and carefully scripted events has often interested me. Rarely is it possible to confirm suspicions that the footage presented may have be selected and shaped to give a misleading impression of what really was normal conditions in the KZ system. (more…)
In part one of this series regarding the crematorium/gas chamber of Majdanek, I looked at the liberation photos of the New Crematorium of Majdanek and showed that there were incriminating signs of recent construction and deceit on the part of the Russians. In part three, at some future date, I intend to look at the various plans of the New Crematorium and in Part IV I will look at the alleged gas chambers and their documentation and demonstrate that these are consistent with nothing more sinister than a normal hygiene and disinfection block. (more…)
The story of Jedwabne is well enough not known not to need to be extensively retold here. It re-emerged into the public sphere after the publication of Neighbours by Jan Gross, chronicling how spontaneously the townsfolk of Jedwabne immediately upon German invasion in 1941 rounded up their Jewish neighbors, drove them into a barn and set it on fire. (more…)
[UPDATE: More up-to-date details and suggestions concerning the mystery of Elie Wiesel’s tattoo can be read on this site here: https://littlegreyrabbit.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/of-feigs-and-wiesels-a-solution-to-the-mystery-of-elie-wiesels-tattoo/ ]
Its not my wish to recount in detail the story of Miklos Grüner, survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, who believes that Elie Wiesel has stolen the identity of a 31 year old man he knew at Auschwitz as Lazar Wiesel. This can be found in number of places, including Carlo Mattogno here http://www.revblog.codoh.com/2010/03/elie-wiesel-new-documents/. What I want to do is allow Miklos Grüner to have his say and to present the documents he uncovered. (more…)
One of the difficulties of Holocaust research is finding out what happened to the deported Jews after moving through the various transit camps of Poland. It really requires reading on odd places and making connections over time. For example, a single reference to Dutch Jews in the vicinity of Wilna in 1943 could be mistaken or happenstance. If you find another such reference in a completely independent source, then you have a strong indication that something has emerged out of the obscurity. (more…)
One of my beliefs is that our understanding of Holocaust history has been distorted by the systematic tainting of archives, primarily but not solely in the Eastern Bloc. One of these is the Czech Military Archive in Prague that in 1968 released a documentary collection regarding the RF-SS entitled Unsere Ehre heisst Treue. This was a facismile collection detailing atrocities during the invasion of the Soviet Union 1941 and 1942. (more…)
One of the problematic areas of Holocaust historiography is the claim the non-registered prisoners or departures from camp (Abgaenge) meant gassing. Given the establishment of the camp memorial archives was usually in the hands of elements hostile to the Nazis it can be difficult to disprove. (more…)