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George Brennan has more information on the perjured Auschwitz witness Pery Broad, Monday, November 24, 2003
More on Auschwitz "witness" Pery Broad
IN my October 18  query I misrepresented Professor Van Pelt. Although he did state that Pery Broad's 1963/5 testimony was irrelevant to his earlier, 1945, testimony -- on which, he says, Mr Justice Gray based his judgment -- Professor Van Pelt has never bidden us to ignore it.
Such sole authorship is (for him) enough to make that memoir admissible as evidence. He quotes an exchange from the 1963/5 trial [of Broad et al.], presumably drawn from Hermann Langbein's account:
Led by the presiding Judge, Broad promptly agrees on purely stylistic grounds that he must be the sole author of propositions unfamiliar to him. Where Professor Van Pelt sees a hesitant admission, others might as easily see unhesitating compliance. Hannah Arendt noted the remarkable tendency among witnesses at this trial "to 'co-ordinate' themselves, as it were, at a moment's notice." But she probably regarded such Gleichschaltung as an SS character-trait.
Sole authorship is certainly important, but not because of the document itself. Even if Lance-corporal Broad wrote every word of some definitive edition of this expanding and contracting memoir, it would it have little value as evidence. It cannot gain authority from the nizkoresque practice of promoting Broad to Sergeant, or even to Second lieutenant [Mr Rampton on Day 14 ].
Strip away from the memoir things that Lance-corporal Broad "could not know"; take out things that nobody could know or that anybody could know; overlook the physical impossibilities; try to forget the fact that such absurdities had ever been there and then strive to ignore the overcooked style; what remains after all that subtraction would not amount to a first person account of direct personal knowledge.
Faced with an affidavit based upon this memoir, any honest judge would need to cross-examine its author. You cannot cross-examine a piece of paper. Perhaps Mr Justice Gray's good opinion of Broad's ludicrous memoir is the result of not having read it.
STILL, if Lance-corporal Broad really was the sole author of this written testimony, then we must pay proper heed to the oral testimony he gave in person at the Tesch trial in early March 1946. Led by Major Draper, Broad claimed to have seen with his own eyes in July 1942 a complex event which can have no other explanation than as a homicidal gassing of about four hundred persons in the "old crematorium."
Broad, who was too myopic for active service, must have had an excellent pair of eye-glasses. Open court testimony always has some value, even when cross-examiners wear kid gloves.
Broad's oral testimony has value, however, only if we are satisfied that it was uttered by an honest if gullible twenty-four year old SS-man of Brazilian nationality whose service in the Gestapo office at Auschwitz had secretly imbued him with the spirit of Polish nationalism and inspired him to "unload his heart" by writing -- unaided, and allegedly within two or three days in June 1945 -- a trashy novella drawing on unsourced hearsay and far-fetched psychological conjecture. If such a personality existed, he need not necessarily be a liar.
If Lance-corporal Broad was not the sole author of his ludicrous memoir, if he was the sort of sensible fellow who would collaborate on anything which might keep him out of trouble, it follows at once that this oral testimony was emitted by a pliable and perjured servant of a dishonest prosecuting authority; a pampered servant, moreover, who had much to fear and something to gain.
I myself do not yet have enough information to form a definite opinion about Broad. Perjury has not been proven; but since it can be reasonable suspected, he has no right to figure in Mr Justice Gray's list of indubitably credible "eyewitnesses" For Gray J, as for Mr Michael Shermer, it must seem a happy instance of "consiliance" that Rudolf Höss [the Auschwitz commandant] independently and voluntarily confessed to the murder of "2.5 million persons" less than a month after Broad independently and voluntarily pronounced the very same number as prosecution witness at a public British trial.
It is true that independent, voluntary estimates tend to converge upon the same truth. But voluntary confessions to a crime do not usually exaggerate the extent of that crime, and independent estimates do not usually converge upon exactly the same falsehood. Ill-natured persons might even sniff here the "cross-pollination" which Judge Gray could not detect.
In Mr Shermer's epistemology, cross-pollination could mean only that Broad and Höss secretly agreed a year beforehand to incriminate each other; which, being absurd, means in Shermer's view that cross-pollination could not have happened.
Alternatives exist. Major Draper the interrogator could hardly have gone on badgering suspects with the old Russian four/five million figure after British arithmetic had just been accepted by Major Draper the prosecutor. Where Lance-corporal Broad got the 2.5 "rough estimate" from is a mystery, as it was something which, by his own account, not even he could know. Perhaps he heard it mentioned around the office by Colonel Adolf Eichmann, who seems to have been surprisingly ill-informed.
P.S.: Lance-corporal was accepted as equivalent to Rottenführer at the Tesch trial. A Lance-corporal, after four years service, is merely a private who has stayed out of trouble. A sergeant is a man who knows things. In any case, it is the German rank that gets inflated: Unterscharführer in Shermer's polemic [google: "michael shermer" "pery broad" ] It is "Untersturmführer Broad", no less, for Mr Rampton.
A mere factual error (we all make them) but it indicates how little attention was given to the only piece of Broad testimony worth taking seriously. In my guess the Polish edition of the [Höss] Erinnerungen is the source of Broad as sergeant.
If any of your German readers regularly visits a newspaper archive it would be of interest to know whether Broad's "2.5 million" figure made it into to any Gereman newspaper that Höss might have read between the first day of March 1946 and the eleventh [when Höss parrotted it].
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