The statements of witness Erwin Valentin made during the pre-trial investigations leading to the Auschwitz trial contain some very telling contradictions. Valentin stated that in 1940 he was sent to the Jewish labor camp of Neutomischel (Warthegau) due to his non-Aryan (that is: Jewish) descent, where he, as a physician, took care of the inmates. Due to a criminal complaint filed by Valentin, camp commander Stülpnagel was arrested and sentenced to 1½ years imprisonment for having misappropriated food (p. 841). This is a fine example that the German legal system functioned at least partly even inside the camps.
Valentin claims further that as a result of his incessant complaints he was finally transferred to Auschwitz, where he fell ill of pneumonia (p. 842). Being a physician and surgeon, he was nursed back to health in the camp’s hospital instead of being selected out and gassed, as he claims was the fate of other sick inmates. He reports moreover that he was the head physician of block 9 of the camp’s hospital, working under SS physician Dr. Hans Münch (pp. 843, 848). At times, up to 1,000 inmates suffering from typhus and dysentery were nursed there (p. 847). This does, of course, not fit Valentin’s claim that severely sick inmates were selected out and gassed. However, Valentin does not make any further statements about these alleged selections and gassings, so that one has to assume that his statements on gassings are based on impressions he got after the war.
Valentin claims that during an interrogation, at which he was accused of spreading defeatist propaganda, he jumped screaming at the interrogator. The latter defended himself by knocking down Valentin with a revolver, allegedly knocking out 23 of Valentin’s teeth. After that Valentin tried to jump right at his interrogator, but was prevented from doing so by force (p. 846). One can safely assume that anyone who just lost 23 teeth with a massively violent blow to his jaw would also have had a crushed jaw and would not have been able to spontaneously try to jump at anyone due to overwhelming pain. Such a crushed jaw would also have left clearly visible traces, which the West German office interrogating Valentin in 1959 did not bother to investigate. Valentin obviously tended to boundless exaggerations.
Valentin claims to have learned about the crimes allegedly committed by Wilhelm Boger only by means of “camp talk” (p. 847), just as he, as a surgeon and physician, merely “learned” about alleged medical experiments (pp. 848-850). In other words: he “knows” all this only from hearsay. Valentin’s rumors about Boger, however, are in glaring contrast to his own experience with Boger:
“Boger addressed me as ‘Herr,’ which was a first time for me as an inmate in Auschwitz.” (p. 848)
Similarly, his experiences as a physician are exclusively positive, as he “cannot say anything negative” about his superior SS physicians (p. 848).
Another indication that Valentin had been massively exposed to all sorts of Holocaust tales, which he gave as his own experiences during his interrogation, can be derived from the following passage of his testimony:
“About this Sanka [ambulance van] I would like to mention that it was a small ambulance van, the exhaust pipe of which had been redirected to the inside so that the inmates transported this way were killed by the exhaust gases already during transport. Apart from this small refitted van there were two larger vehicles, which could each accommodate 40 people. These, too, had a box-like cargo area, into which exhaust gases were conducted.” (p. 850)
There were no gas wagons at Auschwitz, however, according to established historiography. Obviously Valentin transferred rumors and propaganda circulating about alleged events at the Chelmno camp and in Russia and Serbia into his sphere of experience.
Over large passages, Valentin’s testimony is identical with a deposition he made during an interrogation at the Soviet headquarters at Krakow on February 27, 1945, merely three weeks after the occupation of the Auschwitz (pp. 853-859). In an addendum of May 16, 1945, Valentin declared indicatively:
“Everything reported about the events during gassings and incinerations of the unfortunate victims is for the utmost part based on ‘hearsay.’”
So much for the credibility of this witness.
The deposition of a certain Walter Mosbach is just as internally contradictory,. But this witness recognizes that himself and tries to explain:
“I would like to split [SS] Dr. Fischer into two persons: as a physician he behaved correctly, he even took the side of the inmates; however, as SS member, to give an example, he sent inmates, which he had treated well a quarter hour earlier and had protected in front of the inmate physicians, into the gas chamber during the selections.” (p. 931)
The paradoxical nature of Mosbach’s testimony is dissolved, however, if we just delete the words “into the gas chamber” out of his statement, that is to say, if we assume that Fischer was convinced that his selection of certain inmates did not happen with the prospect of having them murdered in a gas chamber, but with the prospect of a different harmless destination, like their assignment to the camp hospital or to certain labor tasks.
Another ex-prisoner, Max Willner, constructed a similar internal contradiction in his statement. First he reported how he had been selected for suspicion of typhus and transferred to the hospital section at Birkenau, where he recovered, although he was a Jew incapable to work (p. 934). On the next page he claims that prisoners at Birkenau were categorized according to their illnesses, but this time for the purpose of dying in the gas chamber – about which he has nothing to report, much as everything else that he claims remains vague. Yet on the gassing issue he is firm:
“[…] Even with the best of intentions I can no longer remember any specific cases. I will strive to sit down shortly with some more former Auschwitz inmates residing here in order to talk everything over with them and to report in detail about the findings of the Central Office of State Administrations of Justice in Ludwigsburg – Mr. Public Prosecutor Schüler [recte: Schüle].” (p. 935)
This proves that witnesses systematically coordinated their statements years before the start of the Frankfurt trial and with the assistance of public prosecutors.
Fritz Fath had been incarcerated at Auschwitz as a hardened criminal (pp. 870f.). Just like witness Fritz Hirsch, Fath also was allowed to successfully pass an underground construction degree at Auschwitz. That Fath was influenced either by Hirsch or that both these witnesses were influenced by the same source results from Fath’s report about the alleged execution of women and children from the Czech town of Lidice at the Auschwitz camp, a lie which before Fath was already spread by Hirsch:
“When a cart drove by me, I saw the little arm of a child and the part of a girl’s skirt hang down at the side.
As I heard later – such news came from the group of Polish resistance fighters within the Auschwitz camp – these were women and children from the Czech town L i d i c e.” (pp. 878f.)
Instead of Hirsch’s “child sock” Fath came up with a girl’s skirt.
How did the head of the communist resistance fighters incarcerated at Auschwitz, Bruno Baum, express it so nicely:
“All the propaganda that now began to circulate about Auschwitz in foreign countries originated with us, assisted by our Polish comrades.”
“From me the material went to Cyrankiewicz, who transported it on. Since middle of 1944, we sent something off at least twice a week. Now the tragedy of Auschwitz went around the whole world.
I believe it is no exaggeration if I say that the biggest part of Auschwitz propaganda, which was spread in the world around that time, has been written by us in the camp.”
The Sauerkraut Murders
On April 17, 1959, Jakob Sebastian Kronauer was interrogated for the third time since the war’s end. In a previous installment I already pointed out that Kronauer had admitted earlier to report only from hearsay, that he was mentally instable according to the interrogating officer, that during his first interrogation ten months after the war he did not know anything about any wrongdoing by the SS guards at Auschwitz, and that for a brief moment he was himself suspected to have committed atrocities against inmates as a “Kapo.” It is striking that Kronauer’s “memories” become more elaborate and concrete with every interrogation, even though time should have caused the opposite. It is apparent that his memory became more and more vivid due to suggestive interrogation techniques, but at the same time also increasingly inaccurate. The interrogation discussed here is a wild collection of all sorts of stories decorated with colorful, yet incredible details, if which I will quote a few:
“When the priests stood in front of Moll during the previously mentioned event, he ordered them to get the sauerkraut barrel from the shed. He furthermore ordered to get nails and a hammer from this shed. After they had fulfilled this request, he ordered one of the priests to step into the barrel. Moll then nailed wooden boards upon it, pushed the barrel with a foot over and rolled it into the water. […] he then ordered several inmates to get the barrel back up. After the water had been poured out and the priest had recovered a little, Moll pushed the barrel once more into the water. Moll repeated this procedure several times, until he finally let the almost lifeless priest out of the barrel. After that, this priest had to take a food bowl into his mouth and had to bark following Moll’s commands. […] After this the priest had to crawl on all four legs to the food distribution place with the bowl in his mouth, […]. Moll then repeated this torture with the other priest.” (pp. 897f.)
This long-winded tale finally ends with the claim that Moll eventually shot the two priests. One may expect the SS to have committed all sorts of cruelties, but if they wasted hours for each of their victims with such elaborate “games,” how in the world did they manage to organize a gigantic slave labor system with so little people? Such blooming nonsense therefore sheds more light into the mental state of this witness than into the conditions of the Auschwitz camp.
Just like witness Valentin before him, Kronau goes right into the same trap when reporting about Auschwitz what even according to today’s mainstream historiography never existed at Auschwitz:
“Already during 1941 tales went around in the camp that ‘gas wagons’ would have existed, which were trucks with a box-shaped cargo space. With these, inmates from Block 11 were transported to Birkenau and gassed during transit.” (p. 905)
Even though Kronauer initially used the conditional and indicated expressly that his story is merely based on hearsay, he later describes in detail how he observed such a truck being loaded full of people (p. 906). Here as well we observe the miraculous transformation of a rumor into concrete first person experience. In this case, however, this transformation is not scattered over many interrogations and over several years, but takes place from one minute to the next.
About his activity as a cabinetmaker employed at the SS-owned DAW (Deutschen Ausrüstungs-Werken) Kronauer reports:
“Toward the end of 1942 – I worked as a cabinetmaker at the DAW – I received an order from Oschaf Wagner to make 2 doors. According to the drawing, these were very strong and tight doors, onto which locking fittings were mounted. After completion I installed these doors in a farmhouse at Birkenau. A learned later that this old farmhouse had been converted to be the first crematorium of Birkenau and that these doors were destined to be for the gas chambers of this first crematorium.” (p. 908)
It is actually quite likely that Kronauer did construct such massive wooden doors as a cabinetmaker employed at the DAW, of whose alleged evil use he apparently had no knowledge at that time. These doors were most likely meant to be used in delousing chambers, two of which went indeed into operation in late 1942 (BW 5A and BW 5b). The later “information” he claims to have received are wrong, however, because even if we believe the official story to be true, then Kronauer’s doors would have been ordered for the so-called Bunkers (or farmhouses), which were, however, never converted into crematories and which also had been in operation already since spring or at least summer of 1942. Hence, in late 1942 they would have already been equipped with gas-tight doors. The construction of the two first crematories at Birkenau was already well advanced in late 1942, so that Kronauer should have installed his doors in those buildings, but Kronauer does not know anything about this. Thus, Kronauer himself refutes his speculation based on rumors: His doors were definitely neither ordered for homicidal gas chambers nor installed in such locations.
In March of 1939, Paul Heinrich Maischein voluntarily joined the SS. As a member of the Waffen-SS he served at the guard detail at Auschwitz during the war. He claims, though, that he never entered the camp itself and that he therefore has no memories about any crimes and that he knows about them only due to reports after the war (p. 912):
“The guards were not allowed to beat or kill inmates.” (p. 911)
It is also interesting to note that Maischein claims that the witness Kronauer told him something form hearsay (p. 910). Thus, the former SS guard Maischein was in touch with former inmates after the war, which, however, did not lead to any “refreshing” of his memory.
Hans Stark, Crown Witness at the Auschwitz Trial
Hans Stark was block leader at Auschwitz between the end of 1940 and June 1941. After that he was employed at the reception section of the Political Department until late 1942 (with an interruption for an extended vacation between Christmas 1941 and end of March 1942), where he was responsible for registering new arriving inmates (pp. 939, 942). Hans Stark was the only defendant at the Frankfurt trial who had “confessed” almost everything expected of him right at the start. He therefore is frequently quoted as one of the “crown witnesses” for the alleged atrocities of Auschwitz.
During his interrogation on April 23, 1959, Stark stated that he had led arriving inmates, for which execution orders existed – Jews as well as Soviet commissars – to the old crematory, where they were shot by SS-Oberscharführer Palitzsch (p. 944, similar on April 28, 1959, p. 969R):
“in a vestibule of the shooting room I ordered them [the victims] to get undressed, and then I entered the shooting room with the first of them. P a l i t s c h [sic] was already in that room with a rifle. […] P al i t s c h hid the rifle behind his back so that the inmate could not see it. Palitsch or I then said to the inmate: ‘Look over there’, upon which Palitsch took the rifle each time and killed the inmate with a shot to his neck. Palitsch hereby held the rifle a few centimeters away from the neck. In this manner those meant to be shot were killed one after the other. […] Those waiting in the hallway could not hear the sound of the shot in my opinion, because the entry to the shooting room had a double-layered door.”
Stark further remembered to have seen always the same crematory personnel during his entire stay at Auschwitz (p. 945), which contradicts claims that these inmates – witnesses to such a gigantic crime – were regularly killed after a short period of time.
Stark’s testimony about the executions in the crematory of the Auschwitz main camp is problematic, because there was neither a sound-proof door in that building nor a special room for shootings. But even if that had been the case, the entire procedure described by Stark is absolutely absurd:
- At least some of the inmates sent to Auschwitz for their execution would have known by their verdict what their fate would be. Hence, playing a hide-and-seek game with the rifle would have been senseless for them.
- Even inmates unaware of their pending execution would have been aware that the reason for their incarceration was some kind of punishment, hence they would have been suspicious about the actions of the SS. “Look over there” might distract a moron, but certainly not all inmates.
- Even though the rifle hidden by Palitzsch behind his back can be hidden that way, what cannot be hidden is the fact that Palitzsch was hiding something behind his back. Every victim would have been suspicious about this.
- It is impossible to quickly take a small caliber riffle from behind a back and swiftly shoot someone with it in the neck. Such an action would have required massive movements with the arms and would have lasted for seconds, enough time for at least the more alert and agile of the victims to look back at Palitzsch and to react in an unexpected, even potentially dangerous way to Stark and Palitzsch.
- All victims entering the alleged shooting room after the first victims had been shot would have, if not heard the sounds of the shot, then at least a) seen and smelled blood and b) smelled the scent of gunpowder. Hence, they would have known what lies ahead.
- Since Stark himself reports that “normal” executions were conducted at the infamous “Black Wall” (of Soviet commissars, p. 970), there would have been no reason why such an absurd method would have been chosen for certain other victims.
In other words: Stark’s tale of systematic executions in crematory in the way described I is absurd.
When analyzing Stark’s testimony in more detail, it becomes clear why he tells such an absurd story, although his “confession” had severe consequences for him.
When Stark reports in detail how he participated at the execution of Jewish men, women, and children, he comes up with just another bold lie:
“The reports of executions by shooting were sent to the RSHA [Reich Security Main Office] each time after completion by using code words that ‘so and so many persons had been especially accommodated.’ This entire action was directed mainly against people of the Jewish race and was called ‘Special Treatment.’ The RSHA had issued an order to this effect already at the beginning of the Russian campaign.” (p. 946)
Here we have several myths that have been refuted:
- Executions were indeed reported to the RSHA, but in clear language, including the method of execution. Numbers about gassings or “Special Treatment” are not included in these reports.
- At Auschwitz, the term “Special Treatment” was not related to the alleged mass murder of the Jews.
- There is no order issued by the RSHA for the racial murder of Jews.
Stark himself was the one who claims to have compiled and sent these messages. He does, however, not report the truth as it is reflected in documents sent to Berlin, but what the propaganda myth of the alleged “code language” has made out of it.
Stark also reports in detail about the gas chamber allegedly installed in the old crematory:
“As early as the autumn of 1941 gassings were carried out in a room of the small crematory […].It could take in some 200–250 people, was higher than a normal room, had no windows, and only one door that had been made [gas] tight and had a lock like the door of an air-raid shelter. There were no pipes or anything, which could have led the detainees to believe they were in a shower-room. In the ceiling, a certain distance apart, there were two openings with a diameter of about 35 centimeters. This room had a flat roof, which caused daylight to enter through these openings. The granular Zyklon B was poured in through the openings.” (p. 947)
“The [200-250] Jews were not told anything, they were simply requested to enter the gassing room, the door of which stood open. […] Once all the Jews were in the room, it was bolted, and the medics poured the Zyklon B into the openings. I do not remember how many cans of Zyklon B were used, but it was more than one.” (p. 948)
“During those gassings it was my duty to determine the number of people, which I then had to report to Berlin, as already mentioned. At a later gassing – still in the autumn of 1941 – I received an order from Grabner to pour Zyclon B into the opening, because only one medic had come, and it was necessary for a gassing to pour Zyclon B into both openings at the same time. […] As I have already stated, this Zyclon B was granular, and thus it would run down over the people when it was being poured in. They then started to make a terrible noise, for they now knew what was happening to them. I did not look down through the opening because the openings had to be closed immediately once the Zyclon B had been introduced. A few minutes later, it was quiet. After some time, perhaps 10–15 minutes, the gassing room was opened. The dead people lay every which way, it was a dreadful sight. The detainee Kommando of the Krema then took the gassed to the Krema.” (p. 949)
“It is further correct that the number of gassed persons had to be reported by telex to the RSHA, Obersturmbannf. E I C H M A N N, department for Jewish Issues at the RSHA.” (p. 956)
“I subsequently participated at numerous gassings. My duty during these gassings was again to count the number of persons sent into the gassing rooms. I had to report this number Zahl to Berlin.” (p. 970)
Stark furthermore reports about gassings in two “wooden houses” erected in early 1942 in close vicinity to the railway ramp at Birkenau, which he claims to have occurred in a similar way as described above for the old crematory (pp. 949-951). Stark confirms explicitly that the “photos shown to me about the selections at the arrival of transports [of Jews at the railway ramp in Birkenau] does depict the situation as is really occurred […].” (p. 951)
An analysis of Stark’s testimony shows:
- The railway ramp in Birkenau was finished only in the spring of 1944. Stark, however, left the camp permanently in late 1942. The photos shown to Stark by the interrogating officer depicted the situation as it existed in summer 1944, which Stark could not know from his own experience.
- In 1942 there did not exist any “wooden houses” erected or used for gassing purposes, and most certainly not close to the railway ramp, which at that time did not even exist. The so-called “Bunkers” outside the Birkenau camp were made of brick and mortar and are said to have been located at least half a mile outside of the camp as it existed in 1942.
- Stark’s statements about the mortuary (the alleged gas chamber) in the old crematory are false: That room had two doors, one leading into the oven room, the other into the wash room, but not a single one that would have allowed the victims to enter the mortuary directly from the outside.
- Documentation of the old crematory at Auschwitz clearly proves that the mortuary was never used for anything else but for the storage of corpses. The ventilation system as well as the doors installed at a time when the room served as a mortuary (1940/1941) did not change in late 1941 or during 1942. For instance, the door leading to the oven room was a swinging door, which could neither be locked nor sealed. The ventilation system was rather weak and inefficient even for a morgue. A stronger system, although ordered and delivered, was never installed. Had there been any gassings, this system had to be installed. Air-raid shelter doors mentioned by Stark were installed only in 1944 when the building was converted into an air-raid shelter for the SS – long after Stark had left the camp for good.
- Considering the inferior ventilation system installed in the morgue of the old crematory, it can be categorically excluded that the door to a room filled with quickly lethal concentrations of hydrogen cyanide (Zyklon B’s active ingredient) could have been opened within 10-15 minutes after the end of an assumed gassing. This would have inundated the entire building with poison gas.
- The inmates in charge of removing the corpses did not have to carry those corpses to the crematory, because the alleged gas chamber was a part of the crematory building with a direct access door to the oven room.
- Even according to the established version, the number of the gassed was never counted or reported in any way to Berlin. No documents corroborate Stark’s claims in this regard.
In other words: Stark, who was “brought” to the police (p. 937), hence was lead under force to his interrogation, lies like a trooper by roughly parroting the version of Auschwitz which had been broadcasted by the propaganda for more than 20 years. The interrogating officer Aedtner comments in a file memo:
“He explained that he was always interested in newspaper reports dealing with events within the Auschwitz camp or which were otherwise in connection with it.” (p. 962)
It therefore has to be assumed that Stark obtained his disinformation from various media reports spread since war’s end and that he probably even consumed literature about this topic.
Stark passed his own sentence with his false story based on his false memory. Since he was younger than 21 years of age at the time of his “crimes,” he was considered to have been a minor at the time he was in Auschwitz. The maximum sentence for murder committed by minors is 10 years in Germany, which is exactly what Stark received. Considering the six years he had been held in custody during the preparation and duration of the trial, Stark left the prison four years after the sentenced had been handed down.
|||All page numbers refer to: Staatsanwaltschaft beim LG Frankfurt (Main), Strafsache beim Schwurgericht Frankfurt (Main) gegen Baer und Andere wegen Mordes, ref. 4 Js 444/59; vol. VI.|
|||Another classic example of hearsay by the witness Walter Mosbach in the same volume, p. 902: “One told each other that Boger is said to have whacked babies with their head against a tree or that he threw them to the side onto a heap, that he raped and thereafter shot young Jewish girls.”|
|||Pp. 862-867 include an interrogation protocol of a Paul Pollak of the same day by the same Soviet commission. In it Pollak reports untruthfully that inmates were hanged by their arms onto trees, that on January 25, 1945, the day the Germans left the camp, he was led to an execution, and how he voluntarily offered his services to the heroic “liberators” of the Red Army – without any doubt a testimony of complacence.|
|||Cf. Staatsanwaltschaft beim LG Frankfurt (Main), Strafsache beim Schwurgericht Frankfurt (Main) gegen Baer und Andere wegen Mordes, ref. 4 Js 444/59; vol. 4, p. 529.|
|||Ibid., pp. 536f.; cf. G. Rudolf, “From the Records of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, Part 5,” TR 2(2) (2004), p. 222f.|
|||“Wir funken aus der Hölle,” Deutsche Volkszeitung , Jul. 31, 1945.|
|||B. Baum, Widerstand in Auschwitz. Bericht der internationalen antifaschistischen Lagerleitung. VVN-Verlag, Berlin-Potsdam 1949, p. 34.|
|||G. Rudolf, “ From the Records of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, Part 4,” TR 1(4) (2003), pp. 469.|
|||P. 957; interrogation of April 24, 1959, p. 966R; April 28, 1959, p. 970 (execution in the open without verdict). During the trial itself Stark claimed that all executions were covered by death verdicts by some court. The judges did not believe him, however, because in such a case the attempts at deceiving the victims and the use of code words in Stark’s reports to Berlin would not have been necessary, Ingrid Sagel-Grande, H. H. Fuchs, Christiaan F. Rüter (ed.), Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, Bd. XXI, University Press, Amsterdam 1979, pp. 498f.|
|||Cf. F.H. Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War, v. II, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, London 1981, pp. 669-673.|
|||C. Mattogno, Special Treatment in Auschwitz, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004.|
|||Similar in an interrogation four days later, April 28, 1959, p. 970R.|
|||Cf. C. Mattogno, The Bunkers of Auschwitz, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004.|
|||See the floor plan in J.-C. Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, Beate-Klarsfeld-Foundation, New York 1989, pp. 151, 153.|
|||For a detailed documented history of crematory I see C. Mattogno, Auschwitz: Crematorium I, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2005.|
|||Considering all the things that Stark “confessed” voluntarily, it is interesting to note that he denied the accusations made by Rögner about arbitrary shootings as “completely invented” (pp. 957, 966R). Rögner’s statements were no less “completely invented” than Stark’s statements, cf. G. Rudolf, “From the Records…, Part 3,” TR, 1(3) (2003), pp. 354f.|
|||Ingrid Sagel-Grande at al., op. cit, (note 9), p. 512.|