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David Hebden has compared the testimonies of Rudolf Höss and Pery Broad, Saturday, February 22, 2003
The source of Höss's figures
AN error on your website: the Trial of the directors of Tesch & Stabenow [distributors of Zyklon B] took place from March 1-8, 1946, not in 1947: see this link.
Something that has long puzzled me is this: Why did Höss, first in British and then in American custody, consistently testify to the greatly exaggerated death toll of "three million people" killed at Auschwitz (2.5 million by "gassing" and half a million from disease and other causes).
Höss offered the excuse that he was relying on a figure of 2.5 million deportees to Auschwitz given to him by Adolf Eichmann in March or April 1944. One cannot take that seriously: At that time, the actual number deported to Auschwitz would have been in the region of 800,000 -- why should Eichmann exaggerate the real figure by over 200%?
I now suspect that the witness Pery Broad is the key to solving the mystery. Just days before Mr. Höss's arrest, he had testified in the Zyklon B trial, as a prosecution witness, that "2.5-3 million people" had been gassed at Auschwitz. The numerical coincidence is more than striking.
It seems not unlikely that some version of Broad's testimony, perhaps his earlier affidavit of December 14, 1945 (Nuremberg Document 11397-NI), was used by the British to prompt Höss in their interrogations of him. The claims made by George Wellers, Robert Van Pelt and others that the confessions of Höss and Broad were made independently of eachother should probably be re-examined in this light.
Mr Hebden adds: To be honest, I have doubts over the provenance of the memoirs Pery Broad supposedly volunteered to the British in June or July of 1945.
Extract from Georges Wellers, Nazi Mass Murder: A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas (YUP, 1993) -- a translation of the 1983 German book Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas (ed. Kogon, Langbein, and Ruckerl):
Among the SS men who served at Auschwitz, the secondmost witness is without doubt SS-Unterscharfuhrer Pery Broad, born in 1921. After having been a member of the Hitlerjugend, the Nazi youth organisation, and then a volunteer in the SS, he was transferred to Auschwitz in 1942; he was so near-sighted that he had been exempted from serving at the front. In June he was assigned to the camp Gestapo, officially known as the political division, and there he remained until the camp was liberated in 1945. In the opinion of those who knew him, he was quite intelligent and, in spite of his subordinate rank (equivalent to that of sergeant), one of the best informed of the SS members.
He was captured on 6 May 1945 in the British occupation zone. A Brazilian citizen who spoke English quite well, he became an interpreter for the British authorities. In 1945 he wrote a long memoir on the Auschwitz camp; on 13 July he turned it over to representatives of the Intelligence Service. In this document he says nothing whatsoever about his own role and blames his colleagues for the atrocities. On 14 December of the same year, at Minden, he made a statement under oath that is a kind of summary of this memoir. These documents were not made public until the last quarter of 1947, when an American military tribunal instituted proceedings against the German manufacturers involved in the deliveries of large quantities of Zyklon B to the Auschwitz camp. Thus the 1945 statement was not translated into English until nearly two years later, on 29 September 1947.
Broad made a new deposition on 20 October 1947 at Nuremberg. In all these statements he describes the killing processes used in the Auschwitz gas chambers but denies his own responsibility. Before the end of 1947 he was released by the British. But many years later he was indicted along with other former SS members from Auschwitz and had to defend himself in a trial, held in Frankfurt-am-Main, that lasted from 20 December 1963 to 20 August 1965. During the trial his 1945 memoir, in which he accused several of his co-defendants of atrocities, was presented to Broad; he admitted that he was the author, and was apparently suprised and embarrassed by it, since he made no mention of his own complicity in the exterminations. He is a witness very well informed about events at Auschwitz, and his testimony is entirely independent of that of Höss, as he wrote his memoir eight months before Höss was arrested. Neither this memoir nor his 1947 depositions were known to the Polish courts or to Hoss.
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