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Posted Thursday, March 8, 2007

Their survivor reminds me involuntarily of the dead character in that 1981 movie I saw with the children in Boston, An American Werewolf in London.

click for originCourtesy link: Official website of the Auschwitz State Museum in Poland


March 4, 2007 (Sunday)
Kraków - Auschwitz - Kraków (Poland)

AN email has come from George E Scott still insisting that Martin Bormann's remains were never found. Oh yes they were. I told him last night: "Bormann's body was found next to that of Ludwig Stumpfegger in Berlin in the 1970s; read the work by Reidar Soggnaes - see Google perhaps? - who identified the dental work."

Scott replies this morning: "Thank you for you reply, but Manning's research explains in detail how the dental work was faked by [Gestapo chief Heinrich] Müller prior to end of war. But again, thanks."

Inside the gloomy living quarters, a wooden and brick hutment with one heating stove.

One of the fake watch towers installed by the Polish authorities; see enlargement also

A fire hydrant and ... air raid shelter. Notwithstanding these and the large static water tanks each holding 130 cbm of water, Auschwitz expert Robert Jan van Pelt testified in the Lipstadt trial that nobody seriously expected Allied air raids on the site, so the gastight air-raid shelter doors seen on the plans could not have been in anticipation of such raids.

The crematorium at Auschwitz I, "rebuilt" in 1948: the chimney is not even connected to the building, there are no stains, and the doors don't fit.

I reply: "I should have added that Bormann's body was found lying next to Ludwig Stumpfegger's, who broke out [of the Führer bunker] with him. Stumpfegger was wearing a ring with a date engraved inside, which his brother identified to me as the date of Stumpfegger's wedding. Satisfied?" There is no reply.

Breakfast with Andrea Casadio of Rome Sky TV and Dimitrie Zhukov [Producer, "The First Person", NTV Moscow] and three of his Moscow TV crew.

The latter now admit that they have brought with them from Moscow a Russian Holocaust survivor as the other pole. I am not happy about this -- he may at once point me out to the Auschwitz site officials, and my expensive visit to Poland will be at an end. [When the BBC wanted to film me at the Auschwitz site in 1998 the Polish authorities sent them a letter banning me from the site.]

The Auschwitz authorities have also insisted on them having an official Polish guide, and paying a five hundred euro (US $700) fee for filming on the holy site.

Alan and I agree with the Italian to go on to Auschwitz early, therefore, and meet the Russians an hour later than agreed, to give us time to get at least some work done before possible trouble starts.

In fact we meet them around one p.m., at the main gate to Birkenau (Auschwitz II), after we three (Alan, Italian, and I) have already walked right down to the far fence and back, about five kilometers, and taken many photographs.

I notice that there are about ten "watch towers" built along the main railroad track and the Königsgraben ditches, and that these look very fake -- very flimsy, not properly roofed, no ladder or other means of access, open to the weather.

"They are fakes," I suggest, "erected post-war."

Sure enough, outside one of the buildings half way down the rail track, is a display of wartime photographs, showing the same building and -- the watchtowers are all absent! Alan, who has visited Auschwitz eight times before, had not spotted this simple forgery.

"Gullible's Travels," I mock him.

He is very pious all day, and tries to prevent me from expressing skepticism about what we are seeing, saying in effect that this is not the proper place, it is too holy for that.

He is horrified when I duck under the red-and-white plastic anti-revisionist chain that cordons off the crematoria, Kremas II and III, and stand on the ruins to get a closer look, and he panics that some terrible fate may befall us.

The skies do admittedly seem to be lowering as we speak. I have seldom met such a jittery character in my passage through life; but he is a good solid driver, and that matters much to me on this week-long tour.

The whole site is littered with depressions and pits, brimming with water. The water table appears to be only inches below the surface. I ask their Guide on camera how bodies could be burned "in open pits" if the whole site had this obvious water drain-off problem. She takes refuge in her Polish to evade the issue.

Dimitrie, who has now arrived at the Birkenau site, has brought their tame Holocaust survivor, a Russian Jew, and says they want to film me arguing with him at the Stammlager, Auschwitz I.

This is tasteless and I do not like it at all. Their survivor is a short, stocky, man with the immobile features of old age -- he reminds me involuntarily of Jack, the dead character in that 1981 movie which I saw with the children in Boston, An American Werewolf in London ("The wolf's bloodline must be severed; the last remaining werewolf must be destroyed. It's you David") -- I half expect to see bits dropping off him.

standing water at AusachwitzFortunately, as a Napoleonic blizzard starts to flurry around us, the Werewolf remains in the Russians' taxi-van throughout. Muy antipatico. I shake hands with him briefly and say a few words of greeting in my schoolboy Russian. They tell me he was here in Auschwitz as a twelve-year old (he tells Alan he was a political prisoner. That raises even Alan's gullible eyebrows).


While I go off now with the Russian film crew and we film for two hours around the sites, especially the White and Red Houses, which most visitors never ask about, the man stays in the taxi. Alan joins him there for half an hour or so, as we revisit Krema II, and during this period the Russian decides he does not want to speak with me at all. Very okay by me! Ausser Spesen nichts gewesen, as the Germans say.


fake towers

Above: on the photos on display, of arriving deportees, there is no trace of the watchtowers seen behind the display.

Below: David Irving searches for the controversial Zyklon-B inlet holes on the roof of the morgue (Leichenkeller I) of Crematorium II at Birkenau. Van Pelt also searched, and found there were no holes.

Irving on roof of Krema II

OUR guide is Marta -- a typical Polish femme fatale straight out of central casting, wearing a floor length black coat, with a rather alcoholic droopy face and a rather droopy black felt hat. I say that I want to see the Red House, the farmhouse (or "Bunker") outside the perimeter wire, first used as a gas chamber, according to the records. It has been completely erased by the Nazis, she says; its former site is next to two or three villas, on a vacant patch rather like an unsold lot in this street of (post-war) villas. (Picture below).

Site of Red House in backgroundThe lot has been levelled and grassed over, with three or four black granite slabs inscribed with historical texts. I ask the guide how they know this was the location, and she says "witness accounts". I keep to myself the fact that for decades after the war the authorities played down the Bunkers and said that nobody knew where they were.

We drive on to see the other Bunker, the White House, the only other building which really interests me (and I am after all calling the shots). The guide takes us instead to the former sauna building, and insists on steering us round the expensively glass-floored propaganda walk, which is pure Disneyland: walls of portrait photos, loudspeakers, automatic endless films, texts, and a disinfection room with the sinister, big, steel autoclaves with their doors open at each end.

I quietly reflect that this building erected in 1943 was a state of the art installation for disinfecting and cleansing incoming prisoners, and their clothing, and it seems odd the Nazis should have gone to such lengths if they intended to kill them all -- i.e., genocide.

I ask repeatedly and irritably why the guide is showing us this building, we did not ask for it; but of course we have asked for it by coming, and it is her duty to piston all her victims through this propaganda Schleuse, like running the gauntlet at school.

ruins of Weisses HausAt the other end we finally set out across the soggy fields to the location of the White House. Nobody else is there and here at last there are ruins to see, two or three layers of bricks above the ground level, revealing the plan of the building that once stood here -- I pace it off: nineteen paces long, ten paces wide, one big room roughly half its length, the other half divided into six smaller rooms.

There is a minor CSI-type problem. The bricks are clean, though broken or crumbling, and show no visible stain of blue (see our later visit to Majdanek in this respect, and the photos taken there). I ask again how they know this was the White House, adding this time that for decades the Polish museum authorities had denied knowing where it was.

Our Polish Guide remains mum. It is all very undesirable, embarrassing, awkward, and fraught with dangers for her. She is a schoolteacher, and part-time guide, and stands to lose both jobs if she departs from any official lines. I am not by any means sure that we have been shown the real locations; the building is isolated, in a clearing among the thin trees. Behind it in the field of about two or three acres there is however a depression, now water filled, which could indicate there had once been a pit there.

I notice several columns of Israelis marching around the site, carrying blue and white flags as though they are an occupying army. I notice too that Andrea, his camera couched under his arm like a shotgun, has a distinct tendency to push me in their direction -- a tendency which I resist. My visit here is private, and I am not courting difficulties.


MEANWHILE Marta, the mandatory Polish guide and interpreter hired by the Russians at the Auschwitz museum's insistence, has turned nasty (she may have recognised me, the Russians say) and she has several times ordered them to stop filming and to stop me asking my skeptical questions. She would lose her job, she said. Her employers would not tolerate awkward questions. It was just like the old times.

Fortunately, as the Russian team's tame Holocaust survivor is now refusing to meet me, they call it a day, and announce that they will drive back to Kraków alone; therefore we (Alan, I, and the Italian Andrea) are able visit the other site, Auschwitz I, more comfortably.

Crumbling brickworkThis site is a complex of perhaps fifty two- or three-story red-brick buildings dating from the time when the town surrounding it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It was built at about the same time as Brentwood School's main red-brick building; the latter is standing strong and will do so for more centuries, but these shoddily erected buildings will not last many more years -- unpointed with cement, the mortar has washed out between each layer of bricks to the depth of an inch or more.

The interior of Block 11, the prison block with its cruel below-ground dungeons, is exactly as I have imagined it -- which is most eerie. As I say later by way of example, when you are invited, for instance, to visit somebody, he and his house are usually very different from the way you picture.

David Irving lays flowers at execution wall

This time it is exactly the opposite, I know where every door and light switch will be from all the documents and accounts I have read. I lay a dozen yellow tulips at the foot of the execution wall, the "Black Wall," where many a Polish patriot was shot by an SS officer, using a small bore rifle pointed upward at the nape of the condemned man's neck, Soviet-style; and I later find a very good sketch of the executions there, which exactly corresponds with how I pictured them, with the Capo known as "Bunker Jacob" holding a condemned man on either side of him, crooking his arms through their elbows and dragging them to the wall to be shot.

We briefly visit the small crematorium (see panel), so often described by others as a gas chamber. Rudolf Höss (right) and Hans Aumeier used to take single prisoners over to this building, concealing the small-bore rifle behind them as they went, and returned alone -- so several defendants described in the 1963 Auschwitz trial. But a gas chamber?

I famously said once in Canada that more women died on the back seat of Senator Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than were ever gassed in that building. The room which is still described as a gas chamber on the inscription outside is a long, low, dark chamber, with a plastic anti-revisionist chain stretched across to prevent visitors from going to the far end; if they do, they will find a wooden door with a four inch gap beneath it. Must have been pretty draughty at times. farewell to Auschwitz.

The inscription adds, so discreetly that I miss it until Alan mentions it to me, that the building is "rebuilt" -- i.e. a fake. It was in fact built three years after WW2 ended, in 1948.

THESE two large Auschwitz sites are disturbing, and they do give food for thought. Many people died here under conditions of extreme depravity and inhumanity. But how? The Poles and others have wrecked the document that this site could have been, by their keenness to generate money and propaganda. They have slapped a vast monument of paving slabs and memorials between Kremas II and III, concealing whatever evidence they might have revealed. They have conducted little if any archeological research, "digs", to get at the truth.

The famous underground morgue at Krema II, Leichenkeller I -- on which I stood -- has side openings which they have amateurishly dammed off with plastic sheeting to prevent -- what? rain? flooding? revisionists? -- from entering. People of childish religious beliefs will be impressed. I was impressed, but perhaps not in the way the exhibition organizers would have hoped.

Hot Dogs at AuschwitzAs we leave the site, a Hot Dog stand beckons to us; it is closed, so the American tourist season has evidently not yet begun.


WE are back in Kraków by seven p.m. I invite both television crews and Alan to dinner at eight pm. We settle ourselves in around the table and the Russians trickle in fifteen minutes late. Dimitrie Zhukov turns up bringing their tame Russian Werewolf in tow, his chest now covered with ribbons and medals the size of soup-plates, and they sit him opposite me while they turn on their cameras.

I am furious, and make no secret of this. "This dinner is my invitation," I say, "and I want to have an enjoyable dinner with friends. I will not discuss with this gentleman, the Holocaust or anything else, and with or without cameras."

I can see that Andrea the Italian has furtively switched on his camera, almost beneath my chin. Alan, who has had a hard day with me, snaps that I should behave; I tell him: "You keep out of it!" and to the rest: "Good night."

A silly ambush, and I want no part of any of it. Bed very late, pretty well écrasé.      continue

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