There have been hundreds of horrific Stories from the Gas Chambers of Auschwitz and other Nazi camps. We see here how uncritically they are seized upon by Robert Jan Van Pelt who has the chutzpah to say that they contain no improbable allegations: now click for the unabridged version of his source
Eminent Dutch author of Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present
(Yale University Press)
Robert Jan van Pelt, Professor of Cultural History, School of Architecture, University of Waterloo, Ontario Canada N2L 3G1
From Robert Jan Van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz, Evidence from the Irving Trial (Indiana University Press), pages 167-169.
army, carried an interview with an Auschwitz survivor who had been evacuated earlier that year, first to Buchenwald and finally to Ohrdruf. He told that "every day some transports arrived in Auschwitz, each of between 2,000 and 3,000 people," and described the procedure of selection in some detail: men and women were separated, and "each of these two groups was again subdivided into two." In the one group were those above fifty years old and those deemed to be unfit for work. In the other group were the younger and stronger people. "Those who belonged to the group of over 50-year-olds -- and to this group also belonged the small children and mothers who did not want to be separated from their children -- were immediately killed." Four crematoria served as killing stations. "Those condemned to death were led into these crematoria, had to undress themselves, and were gassed in a hall that was hermetically sealed. Then the corpses were incinerated in the same crematorium."104
The name "Auschwitz" turned up again and again. Members of the British Parliament, who had visited Buchenwald by invitation of General Eisenhower, were quoted in The Times of April 28 as saying that many prisoners told them that conditions in other camps, particularly those in Eastern Europe, were far worse than at Buchenwald. "The worst camp of all was said by many to be at Auschwitz; these men all insisted on showing us their Auschwitz camp numbers, tattooed in blue on their left forearms."105
As the British Members of Parliament drafted their report, a special intelligence team of the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, headed by Lieutenant Albert G. Rosenberg, questioned former inmates in an effort to document the atrocities. They were assisted by a group of prisoners, headed by Austrian journalist and economist Dr. Eugen Kogon -- the same Kogon who was to become the focus of Stäglich's scorn thirty years later. The team interviewed some 150 people and in the process gathered a number of important testimonies about Auschwitz and other extermination camps in the East. It is important to note that at the time that Rosenberg, Kogon, and their colleagues took these testimonies, the Soviet commission had not yet published its results. One of the witnesses was 15-year-old Janda Weiss, who had been deported to Birkenau a year earlier with a transport of 1,500 Jews from Theresienstadt. He was one of the 98 people of the family camp who was spared when the Theresienstadt Jews were gassed. As a kitchen helper, he visited the barracks where the Sonderkommandos were housed. "These comrades told me about the horrors of the crematorium, where I would later work."
I will now describe the crematoriums and the transports. At me station 2,000 people got off the trains. They had to throw away all their luggage. Afterward the men and women were divided into two groups, at which the larger boys were assigned to the group with the men. Then the great devourer of Jews, Mengele, drove by in a car, seeking out the strongest from each transport. They numbered around thirty out of 2,000. The remainder were led away by SS Technical Sergeant Moll, the officer of the crematorium. The elderly were loaded onto dump trucks and then dumped into burning trenches while still alive. The remainder were led into the gas chambers. Meanwhile new transports were arriving.
Intentional Evidence 167
was written in all languages: "Put shoes into the cubbyholes and tie them together so you will not lose them. After the showers you will receive hot coffee." Here the poor victims undressed themselves and went into the chamber, There were three columns for the ventilators, through which the gas poured in. A special work detail with truncheons drove the people into the chamber. When the room was full, small children were thrown in through a window. Moll grabbed infants by their little legs and smashed their skulls against the wall. Then the gas was let into the chamber. The lungs of the victims slowly burst, and after three minutes a loud clamoring could be heard. Then the chamber was opened, and those who still showed signs of life were beaten to death.
Kogon was to refer to Weiss's testimony in his book. As Kogon had never been in Auschwitz, Stäglich felt free, as we have seen at the beginning of this chapter, to reject Weiss's testimony. But when we consider the evidentiary value of Weiss's statement following Stäglich's hermeneutical rules, we must conclude that it should be taken seriously. He made specific allegations and he provided specific details, such as the name of the man in charge of the crematoria (Moll) and details of the undressing room and the gassing apparatus. Weiss's testimony did not contain contradictions, nor did it contain improbable allegations.107
German Jew Walter Blass testified that Jews were subjected to selection on other occasions after their arrival. This procedure was a regular occurrence for those imprisoned in the camp. "Selections occurred at irregular intervals, sometimes after two or three months, then after four to five months, then again, as in January 1944, twice within two weeks." At such a selection, "Jews had to undress completely and were quickly observed front to rear. Then, according to whim, they were sent to the right to record the prisoner number tattooed on the arm; that meant the death sentence. Or they were sent to the left, that is, back to the barracks; that meant a prolongation of life." Those who were sent to the right were locked in specially guarded barracks. "Often they remained there for two to three days, usually without food, since they were already considered to be 'disposed of."'108
The interest in the camps generated by Belsen and Buchenwald and the various references appearing in the Western press to Auschwitz offered the Polish government-in-exile a good opportunity to present the atrocities of Auschwitz to the Western public. The first substantial report to appear after the liberation of Auschwitz was entitled "Polish Women in German Concentration Camps," and it was published in the May 1, 1945, issue of the Polish Fortnightly Review. The article consisted of two eyewitness testimonies, some statistics, and a note on medical experiments in the women's camp. The first testimony was entitled "An Eyewitnesses's Account of the Women's Camp at Oswiecim-Brzezmnyka (Birkenau) -- Autumn, 1943, to Spring, 1944," and like all the other articles published in the Polish Fortnightly Review, it was anonymous. It is, however, clear that it was written shortly after the beginning of the Hungarian Action. The
168 The Case for Auschwitz
106. Document 159, "Experiences of a Fifteen-Year-Old in Birkenau," in The Buchenwald Report, ed. Hackett, 349.
David Irving notes:
Jan Van Pelt was called as an expert witness by Professor Deborah Lipstadt's defence lawyers in my libel action against her. I invite my many friends in the academic world to contribute more of what they know about this conformist Holocaust scholar.