1. The Historical Reconstruction by Danuta Czech
According to the official historiography, 2,874 gypsies, accommodated in the so-called "gypsy-family-camp" within camp BIIe, had been gassed, in Birkenau, on August 2, 1944.
Danuta Czech delivers a most detailed reconstruction of this alleged mass-murder in Kalendarium. The structure of her argumentation is the following: There were 1,518 internees in the camp BIIe on July 30th. On August 1, the corresponding number increased to 2,815. Danuta Czech comments:
"This is probably the total number of all men and women."
On August 2nd, 1944, the population of the camp BIIe rose again, namely to 2,885 internees, yet the total number of the gypsies (including those in the camps BIIa, BIId and BIIf) amounted to 2,898 persons, "probably men and women".3 Danuta Czech goes on with her historical reconstruction as follows:
"In the afternoon, an empty train was made available on the railway ramp in Birkenau., 1,408 male and female gypsies, selected from camp BIIe and from the blocks 10 and 11 of the main camp of the KL [concentration camp] Auschwitz, were brought to the train. They were to remain alive, and transferred to other concentration camps. The people departing said good-bye through the fence to the gypsies staying behind at camp BIIe. About 7 p. m., the train left the ramp of Birkenau. On the train, there were 918 men, among them 105 boys between 9 and 14 years of age, and 490 women. The destination of the train was the KL Buchenwald. On the 3rd and 4th of August, the 1,408 male and female gypsies were still registered in the labor force lists of the KL Auschwitz II, with the remark that they are being transferred to another camp. They would be struck out of the camp prisoner list only after the verification of having been taken in by camp Buchenwald. [...]
After the evening assembly, there was lockdown in KL Auschwitz II, and block-closure was organized in the gypsy-family-camp. The camp BIIe and some other dwelling barracks wherein gypsies were accommodated were surrounded by armed SS-personnel. Trucks, which were there to take 2,897 defenseless women, men and children to the gas chambers in the crematorium, would drive into the camp,
Here it should be pointed out that the number of the allegedly gassed gypsies contains a glaring arithmetic mistake: if there had been altogether 2,898 gypsies, and 1,408 thereof have been transferred, it is completely impossible that 2,897 were "gassed"! The number of the "gassed" would rather amount to (2,898-1,408 =) 1,490.
2. The Documents
Other than this arithmetic blunder, Danuta Czech's reconstruction is based on indisputable facts, which follow the series of reports pertaining to the subject "labor-force" in the men's camp of Auschwitz II (Birkenau).
On July 30th, the population of the "gypsy-camp" was 1,518 persons. On the 1st of August (the report of July 31st is not preserved), 2,815 persons were recorded, on the 2nd of August 2,885 persons. On August 3, the heading "gypsy-camp population" did not appear any more, and the 1,408 gypsies were registered in connection with camp BIIe under heading "transfer gyp.[sies]".
Thus, apparently, on August 3rd, (2,885-1,408 =) 1,477 gypsies disappeared from camp BIIe. What happened to them?
Before answering this question, we must raise another, not less important question: Has D. Czech correctly interpreted the documents on the subject?
3. The Interpretation of the Documents
At the end of July and the beginning of August, 1944, the men's camp of Auschwitz II (Birkenau) included the following camps: BIa, BIIa, BIId, BIIf, BIIg. They figure under these designations also in the pertaining reports on "labor-force".
The camp BIIe accommodated male and female gypsies, therefore one also spoke of the "gypsy-family-camp". Logically, however, the men belonged to the men's camp, and the women to the women's camp, and therefore, the camp BIIe never appeared before August 3rd in the series of reports pertaining to the subject "labor-force". The male internees of this camp are registered under a special heading with the name "gypsy-camp population".
As we have seen, on the 1st of August, 1944, the population of the gypsy-camp increased from 1,518 to 2,815. Where did these (2,815-1,518 =) 1,297 new internees come from? D. Czech assumes that the ones in question were without exception gypsies. But, why should women have registered as residents of the men's camp? The hypothesis is not very thought out, and seems to be entirely unfounded.
As Gerald Reitlinger already has emphasized, the female gypsies of the women's section of camp BIIe were transferred to Ravensbrück on August 1st, 1944.
The source, quoted by the British-Jewish historian for this statement, confirms factually, that the transport departed on August 1st from Auschwitz, and arrived on August 3rd in Ravensbrück; and explains:
"The transport, which arrived from Auschwitz on 8. 3. 44, was solely comprised of the still surviving female gypsies of the camp Birkenau."
D. Czech's allegation, that 918 male and 490 female gypsies were transferred to Buchenwald, is wrong, as 918 male, but no female gypsies have been sent into that camp. The only documentary source quoted by D. Czech in this connection is a letter of the resident SS-physician of the Waffen-SS, on August 5th, 1944, concerning the theme "Gypsy-transport on 8. 3. 44 from KL Auschwitz", in which 918 gypsies are mentioned, 105 of them belonging to the generation 1930 to 1939 (hence, they were 9 to 14 years old), and two were over 65 years old. By the way, one does not really understand how these children and old people could have escaped the "gas-chambers"...
Also, the "list of new arrivals from the 1st of July, 1944" of the KL Buchenwald mentions only one transport for the 3rd of August: that of 918 "gypsies from the KL Auschwitz". Finally, the Report of the Netherlands' Red Cross confirms the arrival of one single gypsy-transport to Buchenwald on the 3rd of August, 1944. These gypsies have been allocated the internee-numbers 74084-74998, which corresponds to 915 persons. This provides further evidence that these internees came from the gypsy-camp of Birkenau, and that the female gypsies were not sent to Buchenwald, but to Ravensbrück. Since in Buchenwald only this one transport with 918 gypsies arrived, it is clear that a further transport with 490 gypsies must have been sent to another camp.
Of course, the fact remains, that from July 30th to the 1st of August, the gypsy camp population increased from 1,518 to 2,815. After we have established that the new arrivals could not be gypsies, the question is to clarify who they were.
The documents enable us to answer this question very clearly.
On July 30th, 1944 one transport with 1,298 Jews from Radom arrived in Birkenau, registered in the camp's population list, and allocated the internee-numbers A-18647 to A-19944. Still, in the report pertaining to the subject "labor-force" from August 1st, every reference to them is missing, as well as under the heading "new arrivals", (that does not appear here at all), and under the heading "quarantine of new arrivals", under which only 968 internees in the camp BIIa are registered. (The last mentioned compose one part of the 1,318 internees, who appear in the report of July 30th.) The 1,298 newly arrived Jewish internees are not mentioned in the report of August 2nd either, in which there is talk of 965 internees, who dwell in the camp BIIa in "quarantine of new arrivals" (compared with the previous day when under the heading "new arrivals", two "newborns" were listed).
Also occurring for the first time ever in camp BIIe, 1,415 internees and also another 547 persons are listed under the heading "quarantine of new arrivals, internees" in the report of August 3rd. This heading furthermore includes 16 internees in camp BIa as well as 1,797 in camp BIIa.
The quarantine-list, compiled by the internee Otto Wolken, enables us to reconstruct the demographics of the internees, taken into the "quarantine of new arrivals" of the camp BIIa.
The 1,797 internees, registered on August 3rd, are categorized as follows:
- 1,614 from Blyzyn (July 31th), numbers of registration: B-110 to B-2902,
- 129 from Kaunas (August 1st), numbers of registration: B-2274 to B-2902,
- 54 from a mixed transport (July 31st), numbers of registration 190656 to 190707 and A-19945 to A-19946.
Those 547 internees, recorded in the category "new arrivals" in the camp BIIe, were Jews from Radom, who became registered on August 2nd in the camp population with the numbers B-2903 to B-3449. Thereby is the "quarantine-list" corroborated: the above mentioned 1,298 Jews have not been placed in the quarantine-camp BIIa. Now, if they were with certainty registered in Birkenau, but are neither entered in the reports under the heading "new arrivals" nor under the heading "quarantine of new arrivals", what happened to them?
The final conclusion is unavoidable: they have been accommodated in the camp BIIe, the population of which accordingly rose to (1,528 + 1,298 =) 2,816. The difference of one person is explained by the fact that the number of gypsies for July 31 is unknown, but undoubtedly sank from 1,518 to 1,517.
Consequently, of the 2,815 internees to be found in the gypsy-camp on August 1st, 1944 were 1,517 gypsies and 1,298 Jews from Radom.
On August 2nd, the population of the camp BIIe amounted to 2,885 persons. In the other camps, there were altogether 13 gypsies: one in BIIa, five in BIId and seven in BIIf. On August 3rd, only one gypsy stayed in camp BIIf.
Also on August 3rd, the heading "gypsy-camp population" disappears from the reports pertaining to the subject "labor-force", and for the first time the camp BIIe appears there, in which those 547 deportees, whose identity we have already established, are registered under the heading "new arrivals". Further, under the heading "quarantine of new arrivals" 1,415 deportees, neither coming from outside of the camp, nor from the quarantine-camp BIIa, are listed. It is therefore unambiguous, that these already lived in the camp BIIe, and belonged to the above-mentioned 2,885 deportees. Further, on August 3rd, there were 1,408 gypsies reported who are being "transferred": they too, belong to these deportees. Finally, there are another 72 deportees registered in camp BIIe under the heading "employed".
If we add up these numbers, we can ascertain, that on August 3rd, there were formally (1,415 + 1,408 + 72 =) 2,895 deportees in the camp BIIe, of which 1,408 (the transferred) actually existed only on paper. On August 2nd, there were still 2,885, but 12 of the 13 gypsies, who stayed in other camps, were listed again in camp BIIe, so that the population of the camp on August 3rd should have been actually 2,897. Two residents of the camp BIIe have been presumably transferred, or died, because on the August 3rd, there were only 2,895 deportees.
Consequently, we can be certain that the story about the gassing of the gypsy-camp is not grounded in historical fact.
First published as "Die 'Vergasung' der Zigeuner in Auschwitz am 2.8.1944" in Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, 7(1) (2003), pp. 28f. Translated by Zoltan Bruckner.
||D. Czech, Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, , Rohwolt Verlag, Reinbek 1989, p. 837 f.
||Ibid., p. 833.
||Ibid., p. 837.
||Ibid., p. 838.
||APMO (Archiwum Panstwowego Muzeum w. Oświęcimiu), sygn. AUII-3a/17, p.33a, "Arbeitseinsatz für 30. Juli 1944" (labor deployment for July 30, 1944).
||Ibid., p. 35, as above, Aug. 1, 1944.
||Ibid., p. 37, as above, Aug. 2, 1944.
||Ibid., p. 39, as above, Aug. 3, 1944.
||G. Reitlinger, Die Endlösung. Hitlers Versuch der Ausrottung der Juden Europas 1939-1945, Colloquium Verlag, Berlin 1992, pp. 837f.
||Het Neederlandisch Roode Kruis, Auschwitz, Deel VI, (part 6), s-Gravenhage, Maart 1952, p. 107.
||This document has been published in the first German edition of the Kalendarium, op. cit. (note 1), in Hefte von Auschwitz, Verlag Staatliches Auschwitz-Museum, no. 8, 1964, p. 113.
||As note 10, pages 39f.
||APMO, Ruch oporu, T. XXc. Sygn. D-RO/123, list of the Jew transports, p. 18.
||The quarantine list mentions 53 deportees; numbers 190656 to 190706, but one deportee, who arrived from Majdanek, received the number 190707.
||APMO, sygn. D-AUII-3/4, quarantine list, p. 6.
||Deportees transferred to other camps were officially as parts of the camp-strength registered, until the camp, into which they were sent, their arrival reported.