Documents on Real History

Quick navigationsearch

Rudolf Vrba testifies

From the trial transcript of Rudolf's Vrba's testimony at the January 1985 'False News' trial of Ernst Zündel? A discussion thread entitled 'Did the Nazis use prisoners as Christmas decorations?' at the Third Reich Forum failed to shed further light on this 'well-known' event. See press coverage of Vrba's testimony.

Douglas ChristieDouglas Christie (left). You, in your book, describe a situation where the guards forced the prisoners to sing "Silent Night" at Christmas time, and if they didn't sing properly they were sent to bed without supper. Is that right?

p. 1456

Rudolf Vrba. That is right partially. Others were murdered.

Q.They were murdered for not singing "Silent Night" properly?

A. That's right. And if I may add another legal point of view, I have been approached by the German Embassy, German Consulate in Vancouver three months ago on the case of investigation of the well-known event in Auschwitz I and Birkenau, that during Christmas of 1942 they put up a great Christmas Tree and brought there a number of prisoners, killed them and hanged them over that Christmas Tree and proclaimed that this is a suitable ornamentation at this period in this place. This became an investigation. The perpetrators of the crime are known by name to the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Vancouver, and I am sure he will be more than willing to provide you with the documentation.

Douglas Christie. I'm sorry, I don't think you've given me the answer to my question as to whether you were in Krematorium No. I in Auschwitz.

Rudolf Vrba. No, I was not in Krematoria -- oh, in Auschwitz.

Q. Yes.

A. Yes, I was.

Q. Were people being gassed there at the time?

A. No, they were not gassed, and there was a particular occasion when I went into that crematoria and ---

Q. I see.

A. There must have been a particular reason, because it was not a walking sort of distance.

Q. Mm-hmmm.

A. When I was working in "Kanada" [the warehouse for looted property], in November 1942, I have been taken to the dumping truck to Krematoria I in Auschwitz. The Krematoria I in Auschwitz was on yard -- that yard on the lefthand side had, to my recollection Krematorium I, and to the righthand side there was a hospital for S.S. The best would be, again, if I show it on a -- do I have permission?

Q. What I would really like to do is

p. 1475

deal with the diagram we have in our hands. This is Birkenau we are dealing with.

A. Yes.

Vrba on German TVQ. I asked you if you had been in Krema I in Auschwitz when people were being gassed, and I think the answer is no. Correct?

A. The answer is no. I went there for collecting their clothes from the gas chamber in Krematorium I.

Q. From the gas chamber?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you inside?

A. Yes.

Q. What did the gas chamber look like?

A. It was originally a garage which connected the S.S. barracks with that small crematorium.

Q. Mm-hmmm.

A. And there were garage doors.

Q. Mm-hmmm.

A. And the roof was reinforced with earth. The inside was dark. The door was opened ---

Q. How wide were the doors?

A. Like a good garage door, and two side opening to two sides.

Q. Mm-hmmm.

A. We went in under the pretext that we are collecting -- not under the pretext, under the order to collect the clothes which were there.

Consequently, as I understood, the people had to undress before they went into that gas chamber.

p. 1476

Q. You are telling us ---

Vrba on German TVA. Then they were gassed, and then, because there were clothes in the yard in front of the hospital, they were shoved in the gas chamber before they were taken out. So I understand that was my job at that time, so I collected the clothes.

Q. The clothes were in the gas chamber.

A. Right.


A reader comments: A look at the plan of the crematorium in the book by Robert Jan Van Pelt Auschwitz 1270 to the Present shows that the "gas chamber" was originally designated as a morgue. Vrba's characterisation of it as a 'garage' defies obvious explanation. Furthermore, his description, apparently positing a third entrance to the room, does not accord with the original plan either.square  



Pictures courtesy of Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)

Related stories: Toronto Star version of this story ballblue testimonies of Raul Hilberg (1985) ballblue A Friedman (1985)

Vrba on German TVIT IS WORTH COMMENTING that Rudolf Vrba, alias Walter Rosenberg, is not just any survivor: he and a certain Wetzler claimed to have escaped the camp in the spring of 1944, and it was their horrific eye-witness account, edited by the Slovakian Jewish community leaders, which was released in November 1944 by the War Refugee Board in Washington (in fact by Henry Morgenthau acting behind the back of, and against the wishes of, the two other Board members Henry Stimson and Cordell Hull).

© Focal Point 2000 F DISmall write to David Irving