Posted Thursday, February 19, 2004

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George Brennan says, Thursday, February 19, 2004, that on the Zyklon B controversy: there is no darker place than the mind of a High Court Judge

cAuschwitz, Aug 23, 1944: click for better enlargement

Picture: The Auschwitz Birkenau camp, August 1944

On the Zyklon B controversy: there is no darker place than the mind of a High Court Judge

I AM writing a little book about certain judicial misdemeanours. At present I am seeking the Supplement to Pelt's Expert Report which Mr Justice Gray mentioned on Day Nine. This Supplement is extensively quoted by Professor Robert van Pelt in an online reply to an affidavit by Mr Germar Rudolf concerning the quantity of Zyklon B delivered to Auschwitz. [google: pelt quantity zyklon] I assume (perhaps wrongly) that Gray would have been obliged to study this submission. Van Pelt insists that it "did convince Mr Justice Gray."

Someone, we know, did convince Gray that Pery Broad and Rudolf Höss were good witnesses on the grounds that their accounts "converge". But they did not agree on everything. It surprised me that van Pelt prefers to rely on numbers publicly disavowed as hearsay by an ex-Gestapo stoolpigeon [Broad], when he could easily have relied on numbers solemnly avowed as direct knowledge by the man best placed to know [Höss].

Pelt says "Pery Broad testified that the SS used two 1 kg tins to kill 2,000 people, or 1 kg per 1000 people -- a ratio of 1 kg per 1,000 people that was also used by [Kurt] Gerstein." But in affidavit NI-034 the commandant of Auschwitz [Höss] claimed a ratio of 4 kg per 1,000 people, with mighty additions in cold or humid weather.

So if half a million human beings were murdered in mortuary 1 of Krema 2 this building would have experienced at very least two tonnes. What if anything that implies for concentration levels I have no idea.


THIS ratio must be either a perfect truth or a simple lie.

  • One is asked to accept as honest mistakes those anachronistic dates, impossible totals and inconsistent claims which punctuate Höss' various testimonies about the greatest events of his life.
  • One is asked to accept Justice Gray's opinion that Höss was not personally aware of just quite how many millions he had murdered. One is asked to accept that Höss was misinformed on this matter by Adolf Eichmann.
  • One is asked to accept that Eichmann himself was also misinformed.

But it is too much to accept that this gas-to-victim ratio is any kind of honest lapse.

By his own account Höss personally supervised the gassings up to the end of 1943. On hundreds of occasions -- evidently he lost count -- he would have watched 1,500 (or so) people being squeezed into the 210 square meters of Mortuary 1 [seven or eight per square meter]. That sort of thing stays in the mind. Höss would have gotten to know a kilo-sized can when he saw one, and he could count up to six.

Incidentally, Professor van Pelt has rebuked Mr Rudolf for somehow "completely suppressing" Höss' doubts about the validity of the 2.5 million number -- doubts which it seems Höss set down on April2 4, 1946 for the private enlightenment of Gustave M. Gilbert. It is Höss' whispered Doubts, in van Pelt's eyes, that establish him as a reliable and honest witness.

cans of ZyklonBut Höss himself seems to have suppressed these Doubts. The NI-034 affidavit was taken on May 20, 1946 at Nuremberg. According to Professor van Pelt the Nuremberg procedures were civilised affairs in which Höss would have no reason whatsoever to be afraid of setting down anything he honestly believed. Far from retaining Doubts about the 2.5 million figure, this honest and reliable concentration camp commandant still found the number solid enough to serve as a basis for estimating the total amount of Zyklon that his administration had to order through Tesch and Stabenow (TeSta) after exhausting some stocks left over from ordinary fumigation.

"I cannot recall the exact quantities of Zyklon-B which we received from Tesch and Stabanow. However I estimate at least 10,000 cans, that is 10,000 kilos, had been supplied by them in three years. This figure is arrived at computing the number of 2.5 million gassed people and consumption of an average of six cans for every 1500 people"

Höss here seems to believe that most the Zyklon delivered to the camp under his administration was used for killing human beings. Such was the official belief of his day. Official belief in our own day -- at least since 1988 -- is that most of the Zyklon was used for killing lice.

Van Pelt agrees that Auschwitz did use most of its Zyklon for delousing; but claims nevertheless that it received more than can be honestly explained.

Very suspicious, for him, is the fact that in 1942 Auschwitz got 82 per cent of the Zyklon supplied by Testa to its six client camps, even though, by Professor van Pelt's extrapolative calculations, Auschwitz's average monthly population count was only 33 per cent of their total population. Quoting from the Supplement "which did convince Mr Justice Gray" he says

"This means that in 1942 66% of the camp system in the TeSta uses 18% of the total amount of Zyklon-B. If Auschwitz would have consumed in proportion to the other camps, it would have used 9% of the Zyklon-B TeSta delivered to the SS that year"

That is, Auschwitz, having only half as many inmates as the other five camps combined, might have expected only half as much as 18 per cent of the total. By this oblique method he computes that Auschwitz had more than nine times (82/9) as much Zyklon per inmate as did the other camps combined; he calls this a "900% increase" and dares anyone to believe that any epidemic could be so large as to explain this magnitude.


BUT if Broad was right, Auschwitz would for quite ordinary purposes still have needed nearly nine times as much per inmate as the other five camps combined. Broad's one kilo Zyklon per 1000 victims harmonises with the claim made by that forgotten man Jean-Claude Pressac: less than five per cent of the total Zyklon was used for murder.

Pelt wants to combine the new position taken by Fred Leuchter's adversaries with the old position taken by Weinbacher's prosecutors [in the British Army war crimes trial of Tesch and Weinbacher]. But one cannot believe that very little Zyklon was needed for homicide and simultaneously find it unbelievably sinister that Auschwitz received vastly more Zyklon (per capita) than other camps. For that would be true in any case. To establish 900% as an obviously sinister number you must be able to calculate, and very precisely, that anything up to (say) 860% would have been an obviously innocent number.

For 1943, Professor Pelt's Supplement, if quoted correctly, compares camps in a different way. "In 1943 the average size of the concentration camp system within the TeSta area was 110,000 inmates, and of Auschwitz 60,000, or a little over 50%" [sic].

Instead of getting a little over fifty per cent of the total 18 thousand kilograms delivered to all six camps that year, Auschwitz got no less than 12 thousand kilograms. On top of its fair 9,000 kg, it had 3,000 kg to spare for uniquely Auschwitzian purposes (two of which, in Van Pelt's account, turn out to be non-homicidal) His key assumption for 1943 is that "typhus was very much under control in 1943". He says so twice.


I HAD (perhaps wrongly?) assumed that an Expert called by the Defence -- unlike the Defence itself -- is obliged by his Expertise and by law not to omit awkward evidence when presenting a case.

Pelt must know all about comparative death rates, yet does not think them worth a mention. I find this odd. To be sure, most typhus was not fatal, and most ordinary deaths were not from typhus. But as far as I know the number of ordinary deaths is the best available index for the comparative severity of vermin-borne illness. Typhus might be "very much under control" precisely because massive quantities of pesticide were being preventively applied. Mr Irving made this strong point in court.

In any case there was still plenty of typhus in 1943. Dr Elsa Lingens-Reiner who arrived in Birkenau in February 1943 says in her memoir Prisoner of Fear (1948) that nearly everyone got typhus until the early 1944 when lice had been got rid of and typhus was finally stamped out by Dr Josef Mengele. She herself caught typhus (as did Mengele). She identifies two epidemics, one at the beginning and one at the end of the year 1943. Such epidemics were of course kept secret; she claims that the camp bureaucracy actually falsified the record of typhus deaths.

As a prisoner-doctor she is speaking here from direct knowledge. The prisoner-doctor Aharon Beilin, who arrived at the same time, insisted at the Eichmann trial that typhus was "never really was suppressed" His own wife died of typhus in the women's camp in December 1943.

death bookThe Death Books for 1943 show roughly 36,000 "normal" deaths in Auschwitz, as against 45,000 for 1942.

According to the PS-1469 data, deaths in August 1943 were below average for that year, and well below the epic levels of September 1942. But the relevant comparison is with other camps.

Auschwitz's per capita death rate stood much higher than in the westerly camps in 1943. Its 2,380 August 1943 deaths, in a population of 74,000, compares with 194 August deaths for Sachsenhausen whose inmates numbered 26,500 in that month -- at least according data usually referenced as PS-1469.

But "it is important," says Professor Pelt, "to note that the average size of Sachsenhausen in 1943 was 40,000 inmates. It received almost 3,000 kg of Zyklon that year."

Important perhaps if your aim is to maximise the difference of per capita allocations. Pelt repeated this important number in court. Perhaps in the Supplement he has given its source. I see in Israel Gutman's Encylopedia of the Holocaust, Sachsenhausen had 16,577 inmates in December 1942 and 28,224 in December 1943. These make a linear fit with the August 1943 figure just mentioned. That to me suggests an average for the whole year of no more than 25,000.

Equally puzzling is Professor van Pelt's average 40,000 for Majdanek. Perhaps he is including the Jewish forced labour camps in and around Lublin. But PS-1469 is surely the best source for consistent definitions.


I HAVE always understood that these data were supplied by Oswald Pohl [SS WVHA] to Heinrich Himmler precisely to make death rates comparable. As an Expert, van Pelt must be very familiar with this information. Perhaps Mr Irving will offer him space to explain why he ignored it? Until he does explain, I shall assume a Majdanek camp population trend that is in line with the PS-1469 figure for August 1943 which gives only 15,400 inmates. It is in relation to its (ignored) death rate, not its (inflated) population, that the Testa Zyklon delivered to Majdanek in 1943 does seem surprisingly small.

Inflating the population for Sachsenhausen widens the disparity of per capita allocations. But it also widens the disparity for ordinary applications too. {This is because Sachenhausen was getting along on less than its "fair" share.) Auschwitz' ordinary 9,000 kilograms implies 150 grams per inmate in 1943, as against 75 grams per inmate for the (enlarged) Sachenhausen where by hypothesis all Zyklon usage was ordinary.

So, for quite ordinary purposes, and with typhus "well under control" Auschwitz still in 1943 needed twice as much Zyklon per inmate as that camp which van Pelt uses as a control. By way of explanation Oswald Pohl casually mentions that the Birkenau barracks were "the most difficult to keep free of vermin" One could blink and miss this sentence. Why did Mr Irving not quote it in court? Was he given much time to study this document?

Professor van Pelt seems to be even worse at sums than I am. As quoted, the Supplement apparently proposes a total Testa system average population of 110,000 for 1943. Of this total Auschwitz has 60,000, Sachsenhausen has its "important" 40 thousand, Majdanek also has 40,000, Neuengamme has 10,000... Gross-Rosen and Ravensbruck are not itemised.


WITH the correct sums, a comparison of Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen offers no prima facie mystery except, perhaps, why Auschwitz received only four times as much. It was nearly three times as populous; its actual death rate was four times higher; its sanitary conditions (its potential death rate} were at least twice as bad. These are multiplicative factors.

What Pelt really needs to show, without reference to other camps, and with some exactitude, is that all non-homicidal uses of the 12,000 kg can be fully accounted for, leaving a small unexplained residue of some 500 kg, which he takes to be the maximum necessary for the 250,000 murders of 1943. Instead, he attempts to show that the "fair" 9,000 kg was more than enough for "ordinary" purposes, and this with the aid of uncertain assumptions -- for example,

  • that all Zyklon was used within Camps 1 and 2;
  • that there were no more than four "ordinary" delousing facilities and no more than two fumigations of all barracks in 1943.

In court he went for "two or three" fumigations. But two camp fumigations would leave him with too large a surplus, suggesting some unexamined or underestimated factor. Three camp fumigations, on the other hand, would blow his 9,000kg budget. Mr Irving seized upon this in court but perhaps without making sufficient noise. I dare not accuse Gray of having slept through van Pelt's arithmetic, however, because he professed to find it all "very helpful and clear"

In court Professor Van Pelt on Day Ten did speak of a January 1943 epidemic as of a brief and insignificant episode. Is this so? I dimly remember that the revisionist author Mark Weber somewhere quotes a letter by the garrison doctor Wirths date late February calling for two complete fumigations of Birkenau in a forthcoming coming three week period. If that happened, it seems to me improbable that these two would be the last fumigations of the year. Perhaps I am mistaken.

I cannot at present confirm this memory because the public library where I am staying has censored "Hate Speech" sites on its Google. Of course, even if it were shown that Auschwitz had less Zyklon than needed for honest purposes, this would hardly prove that that none was diverted for criminal purposes. That might even help to explain why typhus was not under control in 1943. But Professor Pelt has cut himself off from that line of argument.

He also seems to claim that in his Supplement he has demonstrated that Auschwitz received more Zyklon in 1944 than has been documented. I would like to see that demonstration.

Van Pelt accuses Gray of basing his conclusions on Van Pelt's own "lengthy analysis." That is all too possible; there is no darker place than the mind of a High Court Judge.

But on this little matter, as far as I can see, Gray may be not guilty as charged. His conclusion is surely in the Judgment -- "The quantity of of Zyklon B delivered to the camp may arguably be explained by the need to fumigate clothes and other objects". So that's official too -- but too late for Tesch [who was hanged by the British in 1947].

George Brennan



Our dossier on Auschwitz
Our dossier on the "holes" controversy
Also posted on Revisionist Forum [The photo reproduced there has a false aspect ratio, and needs to be expanded vertically by a factor of 1.125 with "contrain proportions" switched off, to revert to proper proportions.]
Extracts from the trial of Tesch and Weinbacher (of tesch & Stabenau, distributors of the Zyklon B pesticide manufactured by Degesch)


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 David Irving comments

For the supplement, try Lipstadt's website which has most of the Defence documents. My own copy was in my archives, which were seized in their entirety on May 24, 2002. I will post your letter and invite comments. Very interesting. One minor point: I trust you are using the spellchecked and corrected Lipstadt Trial transcripts on my website -- the originals leave a lot to be desired.


 © Focal Point 2004 David Irving