The “Nazi Extermination Camp” of Sobibor in the Context of the Demjanjuk Case

Published: 2009-10-01
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Introduction

Claiming he spent most of WWII as a prisoner of the Germans, John Demjanjuk gained entry to the United States in 1952. In 1977, he was first sought out by US Federal Prosecutors, who insisted he was a war criminal who murdered Jews during WWII. Years later, in 1986, the former autoworker was extradited to Israel where he stood trial, accused of herding Jews into “gas chambers.” In 1988, he was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity after former concentration camp inmates identified him as the notorious "Ivan the Terrible", a guard at the purported death camp of Treblinka.

In 1993, the Israeli Supreme Court acquitted Demjanjuk with regard to the allegations that he was “Ivan the Terrible,” and his United States citizenship was restored shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, the travails of the hapless Seven Hills, Ohio resident did not end here.

The Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) revived his case in 1999 by bringing a new legal complaint against the Ukrainian born retiree. They maintained Demjanjuk was a guard in other Nazi concentration camps and he lied about his wartime activities. After losing a long legal battle to stay in the US, John Demjanjuk was deported to Germany on May 12, 2009 to stand trial for alleged war crimes. German prosecutors formally charged him in July with helping to murder 27,900 Jews at the Sobibor camp.

Eli M. Rosenbaum, director of the US Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), summed up the US and German governments’ stance on Demjanjuk: “Thousands of Jews were murdered in the gas chambers of Sobibor, and John Demjanjuk helped seal their fate.”[1]

The original charge against John Demjanjuk—that he was a brutal guard who operated the “gas chambers” of Treblinka—was shown to be unfounded. Could it be that this new charge against Mr. Demjanjuk—that he herded Jews into the “gas chambers” of Sobibor—is even more baseless than the original one?

The reader should take note of this oddity. In 1962, SS man Erich Bauer mentioned a Ukrainian who had been on duty at the alleged gas chambers of Sobibor, who went by the name of Iwan and was nicknamed “The Terrible.” Holocaust historian Jules Schelvis suggested that perhaps Bauer was referring to John Demjanjuk.[2] The Israeli Supreme Court already acquitted Demjanjuk with regard to the allegations that he was the notorious “Ivan the Terrible” of Treblinka. Will the international Holocaust lobby attempt to make Demjanjuk into a new mythological character, “Ivan the Terrible” of Sobibor?

The Traditional Sobibor Extermination Story and John Demjanjuk

Camp Sobibor was located in a sparsely populated, woody and swampy area of eastern Poland. According to the orthodox Holocaust story, the first stage of the extermination operation went on for three months, from the beginning of May to the end of July 1942, during which 90,000 to 100,000 Jews were allegedly murdered. The second stage of the purported murder operation ran from October 1942 to September 1943, which brought the total number of Jews killed to approximately 250,000, the official etched-in-stone Sobibor statistic. At first, the bodies were buried in trenches. At the end of the summer of 1942, the burial trenches were opened and the burning of the victims’ corpses was begun. A prisoner revolt broke out on October 14, 1943, and some three hundred prisoners managed to escape, but most were later killed. In the aftermath of the uprising, the Germans destroyed the camp. By the end of 1943, the official story says that no trace of Sobibor was left.[3]

Demjanjuk ID Card

Illustration 1. The famous ID card showing Demjanjuk being transferred to Sobibor. Much has been written about this card including the charge that it is a forgery. It has no date of issue, the SS symbol was entered by hand, and it has been asserted that the photo of Demjanjuk was added after the fact. Photo: US Department of Justice.

In 2002, US District Court Judge Paul R. Matia claimed in his ruling that John Demjanjuk served as a guard at Camp Sobibor, circa March 27, 1943 to October 1, 1943. In regard to this alleged extermination camp, Matia asserted that the guards “assigned to Sobibor met the arriving transports of Jews, forcibly unloaded the Jews from the trains, compelled them to disrobe, and drove them into gas chambers where they were murdered by asphyxiation with carbon monoxide.” Matia charged Demjanjuk with a specific crime: “In serving at Sobibor, Defendant [John Demjanjuk] contributed to the process by which thousands of Jews were murdered by asphyxiation with carbon monoxide.”[4]

The Holocaust affirming Judge further claimed that the “guards assigned to Sobibor also guarded a small number of Jewish forced laborers kept alive to maintain the camp, dispose of the corpses, and process the possessions of those killed.”[5]

Further on in his ruling, Matia made this most important statement: “This [case against John Demjanjuk] is a case of documentary evidence, not eyewitness testimony.”[6] Here, what Matia wrote is misleading. The current case about Demjanjuk allegedly serving at Sobibor is based upon purportedly authentic documents. But what Matia asserts about Sobibor being an “extermination camp” is based exclusively upon eyewitness testimony.

No Physical or Forensic Evidence to Prove Traditional View of Sobibor

Professor Christopher Browning is considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on the WWII concentration camps of Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor, collectively known as the Operation Reinhardt Camps. In his formal statement for the David Irving vs. Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books libel trial in London in 2000, Browning admitted that documents relating to mass gassings at these camps are scant. The same holds true for the material evidence (the mass graves and remains of the camps themselves): it is scarce.[7]

Holocaust historian Robert Jan van Pelt also conceded the evidence for the mass killings of Jews at Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec—where allegedly millions were murdered—is very meager. In reference to these three camps, he wrote: "There are few eyewitnesses, no confession that can compare to that given by [Auschwitz commandant Rudolf] Höss, no significant remains, and few archival sources."[8] The statements by Sobibor researcher and former inmate of the camp, Thomas Toivi Blatt, harmonize with Professor van Pelt, for he admitted: “Sobibor was the most secretive of the extermination camps, and very little official documentation survives. Most of what was written in the camp or by [German officials in the Lublin district of Poland] was destroyed.”[9 ]

Israeli and Polish archeologists who investigated the Sobibor site found no physical/archeological evidence to prove the Sobibor “gas chambers” existed, or that 250, 000 people were murdered there. To date, archeological science cannot determine the site of the “gas chambers” or even if they existed. The reader is strongly encouraged to read the forensic study to see that this is indeed the case.[10] For sure, these forensic scientists (who are firm believers in the traditional Holocaust extermination story) find it difficult to imagine how 250, 000 could have been murdered there.[11] This allegation was first made by the Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland in 1946-1947.[12]

Clearly, the only support for the traditional Sobibor extermination story is the testimony of former inmates and the post war statements of German officials who were on trial for alleged war crimes.

How Were the Jews Allegedly Murdered at Sobibor?

Judge Matia and the mainstream historians claim that Jews were murdered in gas chambers at Sobibor, and carbon monoxide was the death-gas. Yet, there are former prisoners who have claimed that chlorine was the death-gas.

Sobibor witness Hella Fellenbaum-Weiss told the story of how Jews on their way to Sobibor were gassed with chlorine: “The arrival of another convoy distressed me in the same way. It was thought to come from Lvov, but nobody knows for sure. Prisoners were sobbing and told us a dreadful tale: they had been gassed on the way with chlorine, but some survived. The bodies of the dead were green and their skin peeled off.”[13]

The allegation that Jews were gassed on their way to Sobibor with chlorine has been quietly discarded by the Holocaust promoters—an implicit admittance that it must be false.

In his thorough study of Belzec concentration camp, Belzec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research, and History, Revisionist historian Carlo Mattogno cited Sobibor inmates who specifically stated that chlorine was a gas used to asphyxiate Jews at Sobibor. Inmate Zelda Metz recounted: “They [the alleged ‘gas chamber’ victims] entered the wooden building where the woman’s hair was cut, and then the ‘Bath’, i.e., the gas chamber. They were asphyxiated with chlorine. After 15 minutes, they had all suffocated. Through a window it was checked whether they were all dead. Then the floor opened automatically. The corpses fell into the cars of a train passing through the gas chamber and taking the corpses to the oven.”[14]

The mainstream historians of Sobibor have abandoned the “chlorine death gas” and “trap-door-in-the-gas-chamber” stories—once again, an implicit admittance that they are both false.

Leon Feldhendler also declared chlorine was a “death-gas,” although he also claimed the Germans experimented with other gases. Alexander Pechersky alleged that some type of “heavy, black substance” was the death-gas.[15] However, chlorine is a greenish-yellow gas.

Stanislaw Szmajzner believed the Germans used exhaust fumes, but also Zyklon B gas.[16] Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, a well known author and renowned Jewish civic leader, went on a fact-finding tour of Poland in April to June 1946. He too “discovered” the “fact” that Jews were murdered with Zyklon B gas at Sobibor. In his own words: “The Germans used Cyclon [sic] as the lethal medium.”[17]

Alterations in the story abound. In 1943, one Sobibor witness even claimed the Jews were killed with electricity and gas.[18]

The chlorine gas, Zyklon B gas, “other un-named” gas, and electrocution stories have clearly been discreetly dumped by the “official history” of the Holocaust—an implicit admittance that they are all false. At this point Judge Matia should ask himself this question: since the stories of Jews being murdered with electricity, chlorine, Zyklon B and other un-named gases at Sobibor are false, isn’t it also possible that the “official truth” that Jews were murdered with carbon monoxide is also false?

I again call the reader’s attention to Matia’s precise wording about the alleged method of murder at Sobibor. He claims the guards “drove them [the Jews] into gas chambers where they were murdered by asphyxiation with carbon monoxide.” Notice that Matia did not mention the specifics of the murder weapon, because he does not know what the alleged murder weapon really was. Did the Germans use a diesel engine or a benzene engine to generate the carbon monoxide?

The pre-eminent historian of the Holocaust, the late Raul Hilberg, claimed that a diesel engine supplied the deadly gas to “gas chambers.”[19]

This is supported by Israeli historian Arad, as he published a large portion of the post-war testimony of Kurt Gerstein, a German officer who was allegedly deeply involved with the extermination of Jews in the Operation Reinhardt camps. In the Gerstein testimonial, it is stated that a diesel engine was used at Sobibor, and also at Majdanek, Treblinka, and Belzec. More specifically, Gerstein quotes SS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnik, who gives Gerstein his alleged instructions: “Your other duty will be to improve the service of our gas chambers, which function on diesel engine exhaust.”[20] According to the traditional Holocaust story, Globocnik was a major supervisor of the alleged mass exterminations at Sobibor, and he should have most certainly known the exact nature of the “gas chamber” weapon.

Arad then undermines this “evidence” by quoting the testimony of SS soldier Erich Fuchs, a German official who supposedly operated the engine that supplied the death gas to the “gas chamber,” and was subsequently put on trial for alleged war crimes committed at Sobibor. He “identified” the engine that supplied the deadly gas as a “heavy Russian benzene engine (presumably a tank or tractor motor) at least 200 horsepower (V-motor, 8 cylinder, water cooled).”[21] A diesel engine is not a benzene engine.

The exact identity of the engine is further complicated by the testimony of SS man Erich Bauer, an alleged “operator of the gas chambers” who was nicknamed “the Gasmeister.” He identified the engine in question as follows: “In my opinion it was a petrol engine, a big engine. I think a Renault.” Renault is a French built engine, and not Russian as claimed by Fuchs.[22]

Another German who allegedly operated the “gassing engine” at Sobibor, Franz Hödl, offers us another problematic “identification” of the murder weapon. Here is his description of the “gassing engines” that serviced the “gas chambers”: “In the engine room there were indeed two engines. There was a petrol engine, probably from a Russian tank, and a diesel engine. The latter was never used, however.”[23]

The instructions from an alleged supervisor of the gassing operations at Sobibor and the other Operation Reinhardt camps, SS leader Odilo Globocnik, described the engine that supplied the deadly gas as a diesel engine. Yet, Franz Hödl, who allegedly operated the engine, says that the diesel engine was never used.

Even mainstream Sobibor expert Christopher Browning admits that the type of engine used to generate the death gas cannot be determined, for he wrote: “Gerstein, citing Globocnik, claimed the camps used diesel motors, but witnesses who actually serviced the engines in Belzec and Sobibor (Reder and Fuchs) spoke of gasoline engines.”[24]

We repeat the statement of Judge Matia. He claims that the Sobibor guards “drove [the Jews] into gas chambers where they were murdered by asphyxiation with carbon monoxide.” Notice that Matia’s wording is vague and imprecise; he failed to mention the exact identity of the murder weapon. Matia did not mention the exact nature of the “murder engine” that generated the carbon monoxide, because if he did, he would have involved himself in another dilemma that casts serious doubt on the traditional Sobibor extermination story. The reader is reminded that this is no “trivial inconsistency” in the testimony. In any murder investigation, the exact nature of the murder weapon is very important.

By the mere fact that the men who allegedly directed this “gas chamber” process and operated the engines that generated the carbon monoxide contradict each other on the important issue of what type of engine was used, is consistent with the Revisionist hypothesis that these testimonies are unreliable. By the mere fact that these “eyewitnesses” produced such divergent testimony on a murder weapon that they should have known about, witnessed, observed and examined very closely for an extended period of time, lends further credence to the Revisionist view that their testimonies on this matter are false, and these “gas chambers” never existed.

At the very least, this divergent testimony should give a true believer in the Holocaust, such as Judge Matia, a reason to be skeptical of the traditional Sobibor extermination story.

The Number, Dimensions and Capacities of the Sobibor “Gas Chambers”

Holocaust historian Leon Poliakov claimed there were five gas chambers, fifty square meters each, and built to hold approximately 2,000 people. Each chamber was packed with 400 victims.[25] He may have taken this from the Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland inquiry, where they allege that there were probably five chambers that could hold 500 victims each.[26]

Holocaust historian Miriam Novitch gives a different story on the number, dimensions and capacities of the “gas chambers.” She claims that each “original” gas chamber (three of them) were ten square meters and could hold 50 people.[27] Later, she says that new gas chambers were built: there were now five gas chambers, each 4 x 12 meters (48 square meters), with a capacity of 70 to 80 people. Thus, 400 victims could be put to death at the same time, if children were included.[28]

This is all contradicted by another “expert” on the Sobibor camp, Yitzhak Arad. He insisted there were originally three gas chambers, each 4 x 4 meters and able to hold about 200 people.[29] In the autumn of 1942, Arad claims the Germans added three new gas chambers, to make a total of six gas chambers. They were of the same dimensions as the old gas chambers, 4 x 4 meters (sixteen square meters). This information was published in 1987.[30] In a 1990 article in The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Arad changed the capacity of the gas chambers. He said that each chamber could hold 160 to 180 victims, not 200.[31]

Franz Hödl, an alleged operator of the Sobibor “gas chambers,” put forth another problematic testimony. He stated: “In Lager 3 [the area of the camp that had the ‘gas chambers’] a concrete building, 18 to 20 meters long with about 6 to 8 gas chambers, had been erected. The gas chamber had either 4 or 6 chambers on either side of the central corridor, three on the left, three on the right.”[32] So, were there 3 chambers on each side of the central corridor as Arad claimed, or were there 4 on each side? Were there a total of 6 chambers as Arad claimed, or were there 8 chambers?

These discrepancies on the number, dimensions and capacities of the “gas chambers” are not trivial. As stated earlier, in any murder investigation the nature of the murder weapon is of prime importance. Indeed, even the official mainstream historian of Sobibor, Jules Shelvis, finally admitted that the capacities of the chambers cannot be determined: “It is virtually impossible to deduce from the various witness examinations and documents how many people were actually killed at any one time in the gas chambers; the numbers given by the SS men and one Ukrainian are too divergent.”[33]

The mere fact that the dimensions, capacities and the number of the Sobibor “gas chambers” cannot be resolved is consistent with the Holocaust revisionist hypothesis that these “murder devices” never existed, and what these “eyewitnesses” are claiming is false. Once again, at the very least this is one more reason for the hardcore Holocaust believer to doubt the traditional Sobibor extermination story.

What Were the “Gas Chambers” Made Of?

Serious contradictions in the traditional Sobibor extermination story are seemingly endless. Operation Reinhardt expert Arad says this: “The first gas chambers erected in Sobibor were in a solid brick building with a concrete foundation.”[34] This is challenged by Sobibor historian Schelvis, who writes that “[T]he first gas chambers of Sobibor had been constructed of wood.”[35] Let us delve into this very important issue in more detail.

In the aftermath of the war, the inquiry of the Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland found that the alleged gas chambers “were situated in a building with stone-inside walls and wooden outside-walls.” They did admit, however, that their data is imprecise because none of their witnesses were actually employed in the “gas chamber” area.[36]

Franz Stangl, who oversaw the last phase of the camp’s construction and served as commandant from March to September 1942, described the first installation as a “brick building” in his interview with British journalist Gitta Sereny.[37] On the other hand, he told a German court a different story. Arriving at Sobibor early April 1942, he said “I noticed a stone construction on a partially wooded site which had not yet been fenced off. This building had not been included in the plans. After some days I began to suspect that gas chambers were being built.”[38] Were the first “gas chambers” made of brick or stone? Stangl apparently changed his story.

Erich Fuchs, who supposedly installed the gassing engine and also participated in the first trial gassings, implied in 1963 that the chambers were housed in “a concrete structure.”[39] Historian Schelvis “corrected” Fuchs, for he wrote: “Because he [Fuchs] had put into place so many installations over the course of time, he did not remember that the first gas chambers at Sobibor had been constructed of wood.”[40]

Erich Bauer was supposedly nicknamed “The Gasmeister of Sobibor”. In 1950 he was sentenced to death (later commuted to life imprisonment) by a West German court for operating the “Sobibor gas chambers.” According to a “confession” penned by Bauer while in prison, the first gas chambers were in a “wooden building on a concrete base.”[41]

Revisionist historian Thomas Kues sums up the dilemma: “While, on the one hand, Sobibor’s first commandant, Franz Stangl, testified that the first gas chambers were housed in a brick building, ‘Gasmeister’ Erich Bauer on the other hand penned a ‘confession’ which described the same building as made of wood. To confuse things further, former SS-Unterscharführer Erich Fuchs stated in his 1963 testimony that the first Sobibor gas chambers were in a ‘concrete structure.’”[42]

Kues rightly asks a most important question: “How is it that Stangl and Bauer, two men who both should have been familiar with this building, produced such divergent testimony?”[43]

Kues then makes a very important point. Stangl and Bauer are two men that would have been intimately familiar with the “gas chambers,” as they were in charge of supervising and carrying out the alleged gassings. By the mere fact that these two important “eyewitnesses” produce such divergent testimony on a structure that they should have witnessed, observed and examined very closely for an extended period of time, lends further credence to the Revisionist view that their testimonies on this matter are unreliable. Their testimonies on this matter undermine each other and tend to cancel each other out.[44]

How long did it take to asphyxiate the Victims in the “Gas Chambers?”

The Israeli and Polish archeologists who excavated Sobibor made this claim about the Sobibor “gas chambers.”: “When the gas chambers were filled with victims, the gas was vented into the rooms asphyxiated the victims in about 20-30 minutes.”[45] They provide no source for this claim.

Nevertheless, this is contradicted by The Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, where they “found” something different in 1946-7, about the operation of the Sobibor “gas chambers.” They wrote: “According to the statements of witnesses it did not take more than some 15 minutes to kill a group of about 500 persons.” They admit that their data is imprecise because none of their witnesses were actually employed in the “gas chamber” area.[46 ]

Once again, here we have a major discrepancy about the alleged murder weapon. The archeologists say it took 20-30 minutes to asphyxiate the victims. Yet, the Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland claimed it did not take more than about 15 minutes to do the same. And might I add, Erich Fuchs, an alleged gas chamber operator, declared he witnessed a “trial gassing” in which 30 to 40 women were killed in about ten minutes.[47]

Once again, this is no trivial inconsistency. How the murder weapon operated is a very important issue in any murder investigation.

How Were the Corpses Removed from the “Gas Chambers”?

The next logical question: how were the bodies removed from the “gas chambers?” Historian Arad says that the victims entered through one door and their dead bodies were extracted through the other.[48]

This is contradicted by Sobibor inmate Moshe Bahir. He claimed that after the conclusion of a mass gassing, when all of the victims were dead, the “gas chamber operator” Bauer would open the “trap doors” in the floor of the gas chamber (the “bathhouse”) and the bodies would fall into wagons positioned below. In his own words: “At his [Bauer’s] order the machinery which opened the floor of the ‘bathhouse’ was activated, and the corpses fell into small carts which took them at first to mass graves and, later when time was short, to cremation ovens instead.”[49] This is sustained by Sobibor survivor Chaim Engel, who also claimed that the bodies fell through trap doors.[50 ]

According to Arad, however, when three new gas chambers were added in autumn of 1942, they were the same size as the “old” gas chambers, 4 x 4 meters. He made no mention of any “trap doors” through which the bodies fell into carts positioned below.[51]

The “gas chamber-trap door” story of Bahir and Engel has been quietly abandoned by the mainstream Sobibor historians. Historian Schelvis even implies that it is false.[52] Keep in mind that Bahir’s testimony was considered by the German legal system to be very credible, so much so that he testified at the Sobibor trial in Hagen, West Germany in 1965.[53]

Let us move onto the next logical question: how were the dead bodies transferred from the gas chambers to the mass graves, where they were allegedly burned?

According to Sobibor expert Arad, the bodies were originally put in carts, which were horse-drawn or pushed by prisoners. Eventually, this inefficient system was replaced by a narrow railway trolley that ran to the burial pits.[54 ]

Yet, even here, the testimony of Bahir is substantially different from the story presented by Holocaust expert Arad. Toward the end of July 1942, the Germans supposedly installed giant cranes to transport the bodies from the “gas chambers” to a crematorium. In Bahir’s own words: “After a few days, two giant cranes were brought to camp and set up near the gas chambers. These cranes worked unceasingly, three shifts a day, taking the bodies out of the chambers and transferring them to the new crematoria which had been built nearby.”[55]

This “giant crane” story of Bahir has also been abandoned by the mainstream Sobibor historians—again, an admittance that it is false. The reader should again note that Sobibor inmate Bahir was considered by the German legal system to be an accurate witness, as he testified at the Sobibor trial in Hagen, West Germany in 1965.

Was the Site of the Sobibor “Gas Chambers” Found?

In a 1972 visit to Sobibor, British journalist Gitta Sereny claimed she identified the site of the “gas chambers.” British Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert identified a different location for the “gas chambers” in a 1997 book. The Israeli and Polish archaeologists who are investigating the camp now say that both are wrong, and the exact site of these Sobibor “gas chambers” has not been scientifically determined.[56 ]

Was Judge Matia aware of all of these false claims in the Sobibor extermination story when he declared in his ruling that the orthodox Sobibor extermination story is true?

How Did the Germans Dispose of the Hundreds of Thousands of Corpses?

I call attention to Judge Matia’s statement about what allegedly happened to the bodies of the murder victims. He wrote that the guards “assigned to Sobibor also guarded a small number of Jewish forced laborers kept alive to maintain the camp, [and] dispose of the corpses…”

Notice how vague Matia’s wording is. He only refers to the “disposal of corpses.” By failing to note that the “official history” claims that 170,000 to 250,000 bodies were all eventually burned in open air mass cremations, he avoids entering into all of the problems associated with this allegation.

So, how did the Nazis dispose of the bodies of the Jewish murder victims? Holocaust expert Hilberg claimed that no crematoria ovens were ever installed; the bodies were burned in mass graves.[57] Nevertheless, Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, the Jewish leader who carried out a fact-finding mission in Poland from April to June 1946, “established” a different and contradictory version of events. He wrote: “The crematorium [at Sobibor] was fenced in. After the gassing, the victims’ bodies were tossed into pits and sprinkled with chlorine powder. The pits were open and the stench escaped into the air. This fact compelled the Germans to build a modern stench-free crematorium.”[58] (This information was gleaned from Sobibor inmate Leon Feldhendler, who was said to have been chosen by the Germans for “special work.” This could mean that he was chosen to work around the “gas chambers.”)

Hilberg says no crematoria were ever installed. Tenenbaum “established” that the Germans built a “modern stench-free crematorium.” The “official truth” about Sobibor has stuck with Hilberg’s versions of events. No crematoria were ever installed at Sobibor, as the bodies were burned in mass graves—rendering Tenenbaum’s “established fact” that the Germans built “stench-free crematoria” at Sobibor as untrue.

Sobibor survivor Stanislaw Szmajzner’s map of Sobibor supports Tenenbaum’s falsehood. On his map, a building is drawn in where the crematorium was allegedly housed.[59] Israeli historian Arad’s map points out that there were no crematoria housed in a building. Szmajner’s claim of a crematorium housed in building is just another falsehood to add to the long list of other Sobibor falsehoods.[60]

The official history now says the bodies were burned in open air mass burnings. It is said that rails were used for the cremation pyres on which the bodies were burned. Nevertheless, the Israeli and Polish archeologists who are investigating the camp admit: “To the best of our knowledge, no rails used for cremation have yet been found at Sobibor.”[61]

What substance was used to burn the bodies? One Sobibor survivor, Kurt Thomas, claims the bodies were burned with coal.[62] Yet, this is conflicts with Sobibor historian Jules Schelvis, who says that wood was used.[63] Another, Thomas Toivi Blatt, also says that wood was used, but the funeral pyres were sometimes doused with kerosene.[64] Still another, Alexander Pechersky, says the bodies were burned with gasoline.[65] Unsubstantiated alterations in the traditional Sobibor story are seemingly endless—another good reason for believing that the orthodox extermination story is a historical falsehood.

An important source of information about Sobibor was the SS man Franz Suchomel, who worked with Sobibor Commandant Franz Stangl. “In Sobibor,” Suchomel stated, “one couldn’t do any killing after the snow thawed because it was all under water. It was very damp at the best of times, but then it became a lake.”[66]

Yet, the official history of Sobibor states that the killing of Jews started at the beginning of May 1942 (after the snow thawed) and went to end of July 1942: all total, 90,000 to 100,000 Jews were allegedly buried in mass graves, and the burial trenches were not opened and the bodies were not burned until the end of the summer of 1942.[67]

Judge Matia and the mainstream historians never figured out how the Germans buried tens of thousands of bodies in an area that was like a lake.

The burning of bodies leaves behind a large amount of unburned bones and teeth, as the official historians of Sobibor are clearly aware.[68] Holocaust historian Arad declares that the bones of the hundreds of thousands of alleged murder victims at Chelmno were “destroyed with a special bone-crushing machine.”[69] Yet, on the next page, he quotes Sobibor survivor Leon Feldhendler, who declared: “The bones were crushed into ashes with hammers [at Sobibor]…”[70] This allegation is highly improbable, if not downright ridiculous.

Why did the Germans use a special “bone-crushing machine” at Chelmno, and then resort to inefficient manual hammering at Sobibor? And if they did use a special bone-crushing machine at Chelmno, where is the physical proof that such a device even existed? Did Israeli historian Arad ever think that the story of the “special bone-crushing machine” is another concocted Holocaust tale, like the “steam chambers” of Treblinka and the “soap factories” that utilized the bodies of dead Jews?[71]

Furthermore, Arad never considers the enormous problems associated with crushing the charred teeth and bones of hundreds of thousands of victims into ash with hammers. There were the charred bones and teeth of 200,000 to 250,000 victims. Imagine how long it would take the small number of Sobibor inmates who allegedly worked in the “gas chamber area” to manually crush into ash with hammers the millions of bones and teeth from these hundreds of thousands of victims!

Holocaust researcher Thomas Dalton discussed the enormous problems in regard to the unburned bones and teeth of the corpses. The ash from the burnt corpses would have to be sifted every day for bones and teeth. Imagine how long it would take to find and smash millions of bones and teeth with hammers! If not found and ground to ash, they are still in the earth, waiting to be discovered.[72]

The “Top Secret” Extermination Camp Sobibor: Another Contradiction

According to the official US government position on Sobibor, as contained in Judge Matia’s ruling on the Demjanjuk case, Sobibor was a top secret camp. In his own words: “The extermination camp [Sobibor] was a secret operation, not well known during World War II.”[73] This is congruent with the orthodox Sobibor saga, as historian Schelvis points out that the camp “was surrounded by very sparsely populated marshland, as far as possible from prying eyes to prevent the outside world from ever discovering the camp’s secret purpose.”[74]

Schelvis then provides evidence that undermines this orthodox Sobibor saga. Even though he too claimed that Sobibor was a “top secret” extermination camp, he still wrote: “[B]y September or October of 1942, when the Germans had started to burn rather than bury the bodies after gassing them, virtually everyone in the surrounding area soon realized precisely what was going on at the camp. The glow from the fire was clearly visible for miles around, especially by night, while the foul stench of burning human flesh also polluted the air over a wide area.”[75]

Again, Schelvis claims that: “The mass cremations resulted in huge fires, which flared so high they could be seen far and wide, especially at night…They were visible even…in the village of Zlobek, three kilometers to the north-west...”[76]

According to Erich Lachmann, a German “eyewitness” who was put on trial for war crimes, what was allegedly going on in Sobibor was well known: “Any child in Poland could tell you that these were extermination camps. It was obvious that Jewish transports kept arriving at the camp and that no Jews ever came back out.”[77] (The Jews were being deported elsewhere; this is why they were never seen again.)

Consider the testimony of Sobibor survivor, Zelda Metz. She claims the village in which she lived was only fifty kilometers from Sobibor, and Polish peasants were well aware that it was an extermination center for Jews; they “saw evidence” of this with their own two eyes. She recalls: “Polish peasants told me that Jews came to Sobibor in all directions, and that they were murdered. ‘We see the flames of the crematoria from a distance of fifteen kilometers,’ they used to say. We lived in terror.”[78]

If Sobibor was the most secretive of the extermination camps, why was the surrounding population well aware of the mass murders that were allegedly taking place there? If Sobibor was this ultra-secretive extermination center as Judge Matia and historian Schelvis state, why did the Germans call mass attention to the killings by allowing the flames, glow and smoke of the mass burnings to be seen from a distance of fifteen kilometers? Directly contradicting what they claim, there was nothing secret about the alleged exterminations at Sobibor. Rumors of mass exterminations of Jews at Sobibor were widely circulated.

Perhaps the earliest reference to Sobibor as an “extermination camp” is in the New York Times of Nov 25, 1942 (p.10). They quote from a report by the Polish Government in exile in London: "Wherever the trains arrive half the people are dead. Those surviving are sent to special camps at Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor. Once there the so-called settlers are mass-murdered." So Sobibor obviously wasn't top secret after that!

What is the significance of all this? That is, the official history alleges that Sobibor was a top secret extermination camp. Yet, we have cited “evidence” from those same “official histories” that shows that the alleged exterminations and mass burnings at Sobibor were well known and not top secret.

Bizarre contradictions like this are exactly what one should expect from a historical falsehood. The official history says that Sobibor was a top secret extermination camp. Yet, the eyewitnesses—upon whom the official history is based—claim that the mass exterminations were well known and not top secret. If the official history is correct, then the eyewitnesses are wrong. But if the eyewitnesses are correct, the official history is wrong. The official history and the eyewitnesses undermine each other, and tend to cancel each other out.

Here is my most important point. If a true believer in the orthodox Sobibor extermination story simply consults academically acceptable sources, even he will find enough evidence to be very skeptical of the Sobibor “gas chamber” claim. The contradictions and falsehoods that I’ve enumerated here are exactly what one should expect from a historical myth.

How Many Were Allegedly Murdered at Sobibor?

In the aftermath of WWII, the Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland asserted that 250,000 people were murdered at Sobibor.[79] This is the official, etched in stone truth still promoted by the Polish authorities.

In the climate of anti-German hatred that followed WWII, wild and irresponsible exaggerations and distortions about the number allegedly killed at Sobibor abounded. In his 1948 book, Jewish civic leader and author, Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, wrote that from May 1942 to October 1943, a half a million human beings were murdered at the site.[80] This is twice the estimate made by the Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland in 1946-1947. This example shows how easy it was in the aftermath of WWII to openly promote outright falsehoods about Sobibor.

In March 1972, British journalist Gitta Sereny noted what was stated on a Sobibor memorial, very near the camp site: “In this place from May 1942 until October 1943 there existed a Hitler extermination camp. At this camp 250,000 Russian, Polish, Jewish and Gypsy prisoners were murdered […].”[81] The “official truth” about Sobibor now claims that this is false.

On the road to the camp in present day Poland, there are five plaques along the road by the camp, which read: “At this site, between the years 1942 and 1943, there existed a Nazi death camp where 250,000 Jews and approximately 1000 Poles were murdered.”[82 ]

The reader should take note of the variation in the propaganda. In 1972, when Poland was under Communist rule, it was 250,000 Polish, Russian, Jewish and Gypsy prisoners who were murdered—so claimed the memorial plaque. The Communists refused to “recognize” that mostly Jews were supposedly targeted for death by the Germans. Yet, in present-day Poland, with the disappearance of Communism, now it is 250,000 Jews and 1000 Poles who were allegedly murdered at Sobibor. The Sobibor extermination story has evolved in a way that reflects the propaganda needs of the moment and the interests of political elites.

Even so, the Israeli and Polish archaeologists who investigated the site and are firm believers in the “reality” of the Holocaust admit that it is hard to imagine how 250,000 could have been murdered there. In their own words: “The camp was destroyed by the Germans after the prisoner revolt, so it is very difficult to imagine that the killing of 250,000 people took place here.”[83]

The pre-eminent Holocaust authority, the late Raul Hilberg, engaged in “Holocaust denial.” He denied that 250,000 people were murdered at Sobibor. In the 1985 edition of his magnum opus, he reduced this figure by twenty percent, as he claimed that up to 200,000 people were slaughtered. In the final 2003 edition, his “Holocaust denial” reached new heights of outrage. He says the number supposedly murdered was “over 150,000.” [84]

Sobibor historian Jules Schelvis, who wrote the definitive mainstream history of the camp, also engaged in a serious form of “Holocaust denial.” He too denied that 250,000 people were slaughtered there! He minimized the number of alleged Sobibor deaths down to 167,000.[85 ]

How come Hilberg and Schelvis were never put on trial for “Holocaust denial?”

Sobibor expert Christopher Browning recommended Miriam Novitch’s, Sobibor: Martyrdom and Revolt, as an “authoritative source” for the history of the alleged extermination process at Sobibor.[86] What do we learn from one important witness account in this “authoritative source”? Sobibor witness Moshe Bahir claimed that Heinrich Himmler visited the camp for the second time in order to celebrate the completion of the first million Jews murdered at the camp.[87]

German soldier Erich Fuchs’s estimate of the number of victims was 650,000 less than Bahir’s, as he estimated the total number of Sobibór victims to have been 350,000.[88] This is still 100,000 more than the official estimate of 250,000 made by the Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, and more than twice the estimate given by Sobibor expert Schelvis.

I repeat: Polish forensic scientists cannot imagine how 250,000 people could be murdered at Sobibor. Nevertheless, Moshe Bahir, whom the German legal system believed to be a credible witness, claimed that four times 250,000 were murdered at the site! Fuchs claims that 100,000 more than the wild exaggeration of 250,000 were killed at Sobibor. Erich Fuchs is a looked upon as an important source for the “facts” about Sobibor.

Such is the quality of the “eyewitnesses” upon which the traditional Sobibor extermination story is based.

A Question for Judge Matia

Since Judge Matia effectively sealed John Demjanjuk’s fate, I would like to ask him this pointed question. Since we cannot determine how many “gas chambers” there were, nor their dimensions and capacities; what the exact death gas really was; what type of engine was used to generate the death gas; what the chambers were made of; where these structures were located; how long it took for the victims to be asphyxiated; how the corpses were removed from the chambers; how the bodies were buried in a lake-like area; what substance was used to burn the bodies; how the millions of unburned bones and teeth were disposed of; and how many were killed: how then can Judge Matia rule with any confidence that John Demjanjuk “contributed to the process by which thousands of Jews were murdered?”

The testimony of Thomas Blatt: A Witness against Demjanjuk?

After John Demjanjuk was deported to Germany, German television reported that a survivor of the Sobibor camp could help confirm Demjanjuk's identity. The witness, 82-year-old Thomas Blatt, is a somewhat well-known Sobibor survivor and researcher who authored a book about his experiences at the camp during WWII. He described the state of affairs at Sobibor akin to a death factory.

Here is what Blatt told the German magazine, Spiegel: “"They abused us. They shot new arrivals who were old and sick and could not go on. And there were some who pushed naked people into the gas chambers with bayonets…Sobibor was a factory. Only a few hours passed between arrival and the burning of a body."[89]

The official history of the camp calls Blatt’s claims into serious question. The late Holocaust historian Gerald Reitlinger explains: “Only sixteen women and three men returned after the war to Holland from Sobibor, where the chance of avoiding immediate death in the gas chamber was not one in four, but less than one in forty. From most trains about 40-80 young men were picked for the services of the death camp, but they lasted only a few weeks.”[90]

Blatt provides one with a very obvious reason to be skeptical of his story. It says on the back cover of his book that Blatt survived a total of six months at Sobibor.[91] If what Blatt says is true—that Sobibor was a death factory where people were murdered and their bodies burned within a few hours of arrival—then it is logical to infer that Blatt himself should not be around to tell his story. How did Blatt survive a whole six months in the camp? Blatt makes it perfectly clear in his memoir that he never worked in the area that housed the alleged “gas chambers.” Since he was never needed for this job, why would the Germans allow him to survive a half of a year in the camp if “only a few hours passed between arrival [of Jewish prisoners] and the burning a body?”

If the official history is correct—in that a Jew could survive only a few weeks at most—then isn’t Blatt’s claim that he survived six months untrue? But if Blatt’s story is true—that he survived six months in the camp—then this calls into question the traditional Sobibor extermination story.

By the mere fact that Blatt was allegedly at Sobibor for six months and was not murdered, is consistent with the Revisionist hypothesis that Sobibor was not an extermination center for Jews, but rather a transit camp where Jews were deported further east.

Just as importantly, one is led to conclude that his most important claims about the “gas chambers” are just “hearsay” or word of mouth gossip. Blatt claims that inmates were not allowed to see inside the “top secret” area of Sobibor that contained the “gas chambers.” In his own words: “Prisoners from the other lagers [areas that did not have “gas chambers”] were never allowed to see the inside of Lager III [the area of Sobibor that harbored the “top secret gas chambers”].”[92] His friend who did peek inside the “gas chamber” area was presumably killed.[93] According to the Polish and Israeli archeologists who investigated the camp, prisoners who survived Sobibor never saw the “gas chambers,” because “seeing it implied instant execution.”[94 ]

Thus, if Blatt would have actually seen “naked people being driven into the gas chambers,” he should have been killed by the Germans—according to the official story.

Elsewhere Blatt says the Nazis made it difficult to collect “any direct evidence” of the alleged mass exterminations in gas chambers. After the war, the information about the “gas chambers” allegedly came from inmates who spoke with other inmates who worked around the gas chambers or from “limited observations” of the extermination area from a different area of the camp. The testimony of Ukrainian and German guards filled in the rest of the story.[95]

Nevertheless, Blatt offers some “detailed knowledge” of the Sobibor “gas chambers.” He says they were “decorated with flowers, a Star of David, and the inscription ‘Bathhouse.’”[96] How did he get this “information?” Did he actually see the “gas chambers?” If he did, then how come he was not killed by the Germans, as “seeing” implied instant execution? Or did he get these “facts” by word of mouth from other prisoners or from former guards?

Nowhere in his 1997 book does Blatt claim he actually saw, with own two eyes, “naked people being pushed into the gas chambers with bayonets.”

Finally, another of Blatt’s claims is inconsistent with the official lay out of Sobibor. We let Blatt pick up his story here: “Our job in this section done, SS Oberscharführer Karl Frenzel randomly chose four prisoners, myself included, and led us to the hair-cutting barrack, less than twenty feet from the gas chambers.”[97] Notice what Blatt is saying: the barracks where the hair of the female victims was cut (before they went to the gas chambers) was less than twenty feet (6.1 meters) from the gas chambers. Elsewhere he again states that the special barrack where the women’s hair was cut before entering the gas chambers was “just steps away from the gas chambers.”[98]

Yet, Sobibor historian Yitzhak Arad claims the path (the “tube”) that led from the reception area for Jews (Lager II) to the extermination area (Lager III) was 150 meters long. Arad adds: “Halfway through the ‘tube’ was the ‘barber shop,’ a barrack where the hair of the Jewish women was cut before they entered the gas chambers.”[99]

If the path from Lager II to the gas chambers was 150 meters long, and the “barber shop” was halfway through the “tube,” then the “barber shop” was 37.5 meters from the gas chambers, not 6.1 meters from the gas chambers. The “barber shop” was not, as Blatt says, just steps away from the gas chambers.

If Blatt is correct, in that the “barber shop” was just steps away (6.1 meters) from the gas chambers, then Arad’s official story that the “barber shop” was 37.5 meters from the “gas chambers” is false. But if Arad is correct, then this calls into question the veracity of Blatt’s testimony.

Once again, inconsistencies like this should make even the most hardcore believer in the Sobibor extermination story somewhat skeptical.

Did the Germans Destroy Evidence of Mass Murder?

In Sobibor historian Schelvis’s own words: “Very few documents relating to Sobibor and the other death camps had actually survived. After the uprising, Globocnik wrote to Himmler that ‘the evidence should be destroyed as quickly as possible, now that all else has been destroyed,’ and virtually all of the incriminating documents were burnt soon thereafter.”[100]

First, I will assume the document in question—a Globocnik to Himmler letter of 5 January 1944—is authentic and accurately translated, and not an altered document or outright forgery. (It is in the Bundesarchiv Koblenz, Germany.)

Even if it is authentic and accurately translated, it does not necessarily support the view that exterminations of Jews were taking place at Sobibor. There is a non-criminal interpretation one could give to the document. As Holocaust historian Gerald Reitlinger pointed out in his The Final Solution: The Attempt to Exterminate the Jews of Europe, SS leader Himmler told a representative of the World Jewish Congress toward the end of the war: “In order to put a stop to the epidemics we were forced to burn the bodies of incalculable numbers of people who had been destroyed by disease. We were therefore forced to build crematoria, and on this account they are knotting a noose for us.”[101 ]

The German leadership was well aware of the false atrocity tales of the First World War, and they were just as aware of the false atrocity tales of the war then in progress. Mainstream Holocaust historian Richard Breitman points out that in September 1942, Rabbi Stephen Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress, related to American Undersecretary of state Summer Welles the story that the Nazis were making soap from the flesh of gassed Jews and artificial fertilizer from their bones. This news ultimately leaked back to Himmler. Breitman then admits that this particular rumor was a false atrocity tale: “Himmler knew that no one was supposed to be manufacturing fats or artificial fertilizers from corpses (in fact, it turned out that this part of the report was erroneous).”[102]

Schelvis wants the reader to believe that Globocnik and Himmler wanted to destroy “evidence of exterminations.” Quite the contrary. The Germans were aware of the false atrocity tales of the Allies and Zionists, and they may have wanted to destroy Camp Sobibor so that its remains could not be used to create propaganda lies that could ultimately be used against them.

Sobibor Archeology: Religion Masquerading as Science?

Israeli and Polish archeologists, whose forensic investigations of Sobibor are ongoing, made this statement: “We regard the extermination process as a past reality, a series of historically established events, which do not need to be proven by archeological excavations. Archaeology, in our case, has the role of supplementing and filling gaps, especially in terms of site layout, structures and artifacts.”[103]

Evolutionary Biologist, atheist, and prominent critic of religion Richard Dawkins explains what he believes to be characteristic of religious fundamentalism: “Fundamentalists know they are right because they have read the truth in a holy book and they know, in advance, that nothing will budge them from their belief. The truth of the holy book is an axiom, not the end product of a process of reasoning. The book is true, and if the evidence seems to contradict it, it is the evidence that must be thrown out, not the book.”[104] On this issue of religious faith, again, here is what Dawkins writes: “Faith is evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument.”[105]

According to the Sobibor archeologists, the physical evidence is not to be used to test the entire Sobibor extermination story, to see if it is true or false. Rather, the physical evidence is to be used to “corroborate” and “support” the “official truth” about Sobibor. The official extermination story of Sobibor is thus a non-scientific axiom, because it cannot be falsified. It is just assumed to be true—just like a religious dogma. The Sobibor “gas chamber” story has only eyewitness testimony to support it—just like a religious dogma.

What the Sobibor archeologists say fits the pattern of Dawkins’s description of religious fundamentalism. These Holocaust fundamentalists regard the extermination process as “historically established,” and it does not need to proven by forensic investigations. The extermination process is an axiom—it is not the end product of scientific evidence. Their belief in the extermination process needs no scientific evidence to prove it, and they simply refuse to honestly evaluate the Revisionist critique of the traditional Holocaust story.

Why Did German Soldiers “Confess” to “Nazi Gas Chamber” Crimes at Sobibor?

Long before the enactment of the present laws in Germany that criminalize any “denial” of the Holocaust, there were still social and political pressures that induced German officials on trial for alleged war crimes to “confess” to the “truth” of the extermination of the Jews.

The “Nazi extermination camp” mythology was declared “historical truth” at the Nuremberg trials, and it was then used as an ideological cornerstone for the Allied installed governments in postwar Germany. Since the German government is based upon the “Nazi gas chamber” ideology, to dispute it in a German court is virtually impossible.

Indeed, in April 1999, the German Federal Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer stated: “All democracies have a basis, a cornerstone. For France it is 1789, for Germany it is Auschwitz.”[106] In the highly respected German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Patrick Bahners put forth a founding belief of the present German government. If one “denies the murder of the Jews, he repudiates the legitimacy of the Federal Republic.”[107]

It is any wonder that former German soldiers who served at Sobibor “confessed” that there were “gas chambers” at the camp? From a legal standpoint they had no choice but to give credence to this legend. The tribunals that these German military men and National Socialist officials faced were committed to the dictum that there was a Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews, and it was done with the use of “gas chambers.” It was out of the question for them to contest this in court, so they simply built their defense strategies accordingly. In a word, it was simply in their best legal interests to simply “admit” the “truth” of the orthodox Jewish extermination story and then build their defense strategy around it—thus falsifying the historical record along the way.

The late Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich, a former judge who was punished by the German government for his “Holocaust denial,” expressed this dilemma when he stated: “From the outset, the defendants in the ‘Nazi Crimes of Violence’ trials knew that it was utterly pointless to dispute all or part of the picture of the ‘mass murder of the Jews’ in which they were accused of having taken part, since that picture had been inculcated into the public mind long before the trials began. To the defendants it must have seemed the most expedient course not to dispute that the alleged murders occurred, only that they were involved in them. Particularly if they lacked an airtight alibi, the defendants had to secure the goodwill of the court. In short, they had but one aim in mind: their own acquittal.”[108]

Evidence in favor of this view is provided by Holocaust expert Christopher Browning. One of Browning’s key pieces of evidence for alleged mass exterminations at Belzec is the post- war testimony of former SS Sergeant Josef Oberhauser. Buried in a footnote Browning provides us with a reason to be skeptical of Oberhauser’s testimony. He accuses Oberhauser of falsifying the dates of events in order to create an adequate defense at the “Belzec trial” in Germany in the 1960s. Specifically, he writes that Oberhauser is guilty of “clearly falsifying chronology to give the impression that until August 1942—i.e., for the period for which he was on trial—only a small number of test gassings were being carried out in a single gas chamber capable of holding 100 people.”[109]

Why didn’t Oberhauser claim that until August 1942 (the period for which he was on trial) he never witnessed or operated any homicidal gas chambers? This would have been the best defense, would it not? No, because of the nature of the German legal system that he was entrapped in, it would have been hopeless to attempt to repudiate the Belzec gas chamber story. So, it was simply in Oberhauser’s best legal interests to “confess” to the existence of “gas chambers,” and then claim that there were only a small number of “gassings” while he was in the camp.

Professor Browning also admitted that even the memoirs of Adolf Eichmann contain “calculated lies for legal defense.”[110] This would not be the first time that a German officer in a post-war statement falsely claimed that there was a Nazi policy to exterminate Jews in order to create a defense at his upcoming trial. Browning’s colleague, Final Solution Historian Ian Kershaw, pointed this out in his latest book.

Kershaw concedes that some post-war court testimony of German military officers about the existence of an order from Hitler to exterminate the Jews is bogus: "The early post-war testimony of Einsatzkommando leaders about the prior existence of a Führer order [to mass exterminate the Jews] has been shown to be demonstrably false, concocted to provide a unified defense of the leader of Einsatzgruppe D, Otto Ohlendorf, at his trial in 1947."[111]

We see a similar legal defense strategy in regard to the Germans who stood trial for alleged crimes committed at Sobibor. Karl Werner Dubois, who was sentenced to three years imprisonment at the 1966 Sobibor trial for his alleged involvement in mass murder, explained an overall defense strategy: “What should be taken into account is that we did not act on our own initiative, but in the context of the Reich’s Final Solution to the Jewish problem.”[112]

British journalist Gitta Sereny interviewed Franz Stangl, a former commandant of Sobibor, while he was in prison and his sentence was on appeal. Sereny was aware that Stangl would attempt to make his case in way that would be in his best legal interests. It simply was not in Stangl’s interests to contest the Sobibor “gas chamber” claim. Indeed, it was in his best legal interests to simply “go along” with the Sobibor extermination ideology, and then attempt to mitigate his alleged guilt.[113]

At the present time, it is impossible for anyone (including John Demjanjuk) to contest the traditional extermination story in a German court. Revisionist historian Robert Faurisson profiled the situation perfectly when he pointed out that “Holocaust denial” is “an offense which is punishable with up to five years imprisonment. In Germany, no exonerating evidence may be introduced in such trials, since the same evidence would constitute ‘denial’ as well and would merely lead to another criminal indictment of the defendant and his lawyer.”[114]

In such a judicial climate, is it any wonder that German officials on trial for alleged war crimes “confessed” to the existence of the Sobibor “gas chambers?”

Does Browning’s Convergence of Evidence Prove the Sobibor Extermination Story?

In a court document prepared for the Irving-Penguin Books/Lipstadt trial in London, Professor Browning put forth his argument as to why human testimony “proves” that the mass extermination of Jews took place at the Operation Reinhardt camps. He admitted that “eyewitness” reports of mass exterminations at Sobibor and other camps are contradictory and somewhat unreliable, but nevertheless, we should believe them anyway. He wrote: “Once again, human testimony is imperfect. The testimonies of both survivors and other witnesses to the events in Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka are no more immune to forgetfulness, error, exaggeration, distortion, and repression than eyewitness accounts of other events in the past. They differ, for instance, on how long each gassing operation took, on the dimensions and capacity of the gas chambers, on the number of undressing barracks, and on the roles of particular individuals. Gerstein, citing Globocnik, claimed the camps used diesel motors, but witnesses who actually serviced the engines in Belzec and Sobibor (Reder and Fuchs) spoke of gasoline engines. Once again, however, without exception all concur on the vital issues at dispute, namely that Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka were death camps whose primary purpose it was to kill in gas chambers through carbon monoxide from engine exhaust, and that the hundreds of thousands of corpses of Jews killed there were first buried and then later cremated.”[115]

Browning is mistaken. His claim that—without exception all witnesses concur on the vital issue that Jews were murdered in gas chambers using carbon monoxide from engine exhaust—is demonstrably false. There are Sobibor survivors who claimed that Jews were murdered en masse with chlorine gas, Zyklon B gas, “unnamed gases” and electricity at Sobibor, and not with the use of “carbon monoxide/engine exhaust chambers.” Browning failed to inform his readers of the serious problems such false eyewitness testimony raises.

Just because some of the “eyewitnesses” do concur on some points, it does not follow that their claims are therefore true. A series of false testimonies can converge on a falsehood. Let it suffice to say that even false testimony can be “corroborated” by other false testimony; a series of false and lying testimonies can “corroborate” and “vindicate” each other, for even historical lies can develop a certain consistency.[116] Browning fails to take this into consideration. For example, consider the false story of the phony “homicidal steam chambers” at Treblinka, or the bogus claim that the Germans manufactured soap from the bodies of dead Jewish corpses.[117] Both lies have a chain of “evidence” with a certain logical coherency to “corroborate” them.

Why Should We Reject the Traditional Extermination Story?

The traditional extermination story at Sobibor has no authentic war-time documentation to support it, nor does it have any forensic or physical evidence to prove it. It is based exclusively upon the testimony of former Sobibor inmates and the post-war testimony of former German and Ukrainian soldiers who served at Sobibor.

There are good reasons for even the most hardcore believer in the Holocaust to be very skeptical of the Sobibor extermination story. As the Scottish philosopher David Hume pointed out centuries ago, the veracity of human testimony is undermined when “the witnesses contradict each other; when they are but few, or of a doubtful character; when they have an interest in what they affirm; when they deliver their testimony with hesitation, or on the contrary, with too violent asseverations, etc.”[118]

As we have shown here, the “eyewitnesses” to Sobibor do contradict each other; they are of a doubtful character, and they do have an interest in what they affirm.

The German officials who “confessed” to the existence of the Sobibor “gas chambers” had a vested legal interest in promoting this falsehood. They could not do otherwise in the judicial system they were entrapped in. Former Sobibor inmates had a burning desire for revenge. For sure, former Sobibor inmate Zelda Metz admitted that: “We [Sobibor inmates] all wanted to escape and tell the world the crimes of Sobibor. We believed that if the people knew about it, Nazi Germany would be wiped out. We thought that if mankind knew of our martyrdom, we would be admired for our endurance, and revered for our sufferings.”[119]

Many of these Jewish survivors from Sobibor put forth testimony that is truly doubtful, and they did have an interest in promoting horrendous atrocity stories about Sobibor. This would help to defeat and forever degrade their hated enemy, National Socialist Germany, and they would come away as heroes in the eyes of the world. These former Sobibor inmates were embroiled in the German-Jewish hatreds of the war, and their testimonies must be evaluated with this in mind.

A Rebuttal to Judge Matia’s Ruling

Judge Matia charged Demjanjuk with a specific crime: “In serving at Sobibor, Defendant [John Demjanjuk] contributed to the process by which thousands of Jews were murdered by asphyxiation with carbon monoxide.”

Even if it is proven that Demjanjuk served as a guard at Sobibor, there is no evidence he ever contributed to the process by which Jews were murdered in “gas chambers”—because there is no credible evidence the “gas chambers” of Sobibor ever existed. And for those hardcore believers in the traditional Sobibor extermination story, who still insist that the “gas chambers” existed, it is up to them to provide the physical proof of their assertions, something they cannot do.

As Judge Matia wrote, the current case against Demjanjuk is based upon purportedly genuine documents that allegedly show that he served as a guard at Sobibor. At his trial in Israel, however, the late forensic expert Dr. Julius Grant claimed there is good reason to believe that certain documents used against Demjanjuk were forgeries. Matia dismissed at least some of Grant’s testimony in Israel as “not reliable or credible.”[120] Yet, Demjanjuk’s former Israeli attorney, Yoram Sheftl, discussed the evidence that suggests Grant’s claims very well may have been correct.[121]

We don’t have possession of the documents in question, so we cannot subject them to a thorough examination to determine if they are genuine. But even if it is proven that Demjanjuk served as a guard at Sobibor, there is no credible evidence that he ever harmed a single person. Recently, a Canadian court ruled in a case similar to Demjanjuk’s that Ukrainian-born Wasyl Odynsky’s citizenship should not be revoked, even though he served at the German forced labor camp of Tranwiki. Odynsky served as a perimeter guard, and the Federal Court of Canada ruled there is no evidence he harmed a single person.[122] The same could be true for John Demjanjuk.

We now give the reader one of Judge Matia’s most important conclusions in regard to his ruling against John Demjanjuk: “This is a case of documentary evidence, not eyewitness testimony. It is not at all unusual sixty years after an event that eyewitnesses are not available. Indeed, if they were, their testimony would be subjected to close scrutiny because of the effect of time and the ravages of age upon memories and eyewitness identifications. The defendant’s successful defense against the ‘Ivan the Terrible’ charges shows the unreliability of eye witness testimony so long after the event.”[123]

Once again, what Matia wrote is misleading. The current case about Demjanjuk allegedly serving at Sobibor is based upon purportedly authentic documents. But what Matia and the official history assert about Sobibor being an extermination camp is based upon the grossly unreliable testimony of former Sobibor inmates and the equally unreliable testimonies of German soldiers that were given years after the events in question and in grossly unfair courts. Indeed, it was not possible for the Germans who were put on trial for alleged crimes at Sobibor to contest the official extermination story

Judge Matia rightly pointed out that Demjanjuk’s successful defense against the ‘Ivan the Terrible’ charges shows the unreliability of eyewitness testimony so long after the event. Now it is time for Judge Matia to admit the “eyewitness testimony” that the Sobibor “gas chamber” story is built upon is as equally unreliable as the “eyewitness testimony” that the original “Ivan the Terrible” charges were built upon.

Hunting Demjanjuk: Injustice, Double Standards, Ulterior Agendas

The late historian and journalist John Sack documented how Jewish officials in Poland persecuted and murdered large numbers of German prisoners in the aftermath of World War Two in his book, An Eye for an Eye. After committing such dastardly deeds, many of these Jews came to America.[124] If it is right and just that alleged non-Jewish war criminals like Demjanjuk be legally hounded and deported, then Jewish war criminals should be met with the same fate. If the U.S. government devotes resources to the rooting out of non-Jewish war criminals, then they should devote resources to the rooting out of Jewish war criminals. To concentrate only upon non-Jewish war criminals is selective justice. And selective justice is in fact injustice. Why the hypocritical double standard? What really lies behind this campaign?

Holocaust revisionism, the theory that the traditional view of the Jewish Holocaust contains lies, exaggerations and other falsehoods, is a serious threat to Zionist power and the German government that is subservient to Israeli/Zionist interests. Various governments have resorted to “war crimes trials” to combat its phenomenal growth. Indeed, Israel’s former Attorney General, Yitzhak Zamir, publicly admitted that this was one of the major purposes of the Israeli Demjanjuk trial: “At a time when there are those who even deny that the Holocaust ever took place, it is important to remind the world of what a fascist regime is capable of…and in this respect the Demjanjuk trial will fulfill an important function.”[125]

In 1993, as the case against Demjanjuk was falling apart, an Israeli prosecutor close to the case acknowledged a political motive for continuing the campaign. “So the important thing now is at least to prove that Demjanjuk was part of the Nazi extermination machine…otherwise…we will be making a great contribution to the new world-wide movement of those who deny the Holocaust took place.”[126]

It is not just the international Jewish-Zionist lobby that wants to benefit from another Demjanjuk “Holocaust” trial. The government of Germany, installed upon a prostrate German people by the victorious Allies, believes it gets the imprint of legitimacy from these Holocaust trials. As mainstream historian of Jewish-German relations, Jeffrey Herf, noted: “The Auschwitz trial conducted in Frankfurt-am-Main in 1964, as well as trials of those who had participated in murders in the Einsatzgruppen and at the extermination camps in Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor, Chelmo, and Maidanek, offered further details to the West German public about the Holocaust and the death camps in Poland.”[127]

As French Revisionist Robert Faurisson so rightly pointed out, one of the reasons that Ernst Zundel was deported from Canada to a prison cell in Germany is because the Canadian authorities believed his Holocaust revisionist views destabilize the government of Germany.[128]

The reader should keep this in mind during the upcoming German trial of John Demjanjuk for the crime of “helping to lead Jews to the gas chambers.” Indeed, this is among the ulterior reasons for the further prosecution of the unfortunate Demjanjuk. The promoters and the beneficiaries of the Holocaust ideology—International Zionism, Israel and the current German government—want to use a Demjanjuk show trial to fight the phenomenal growth of Holocaust revisionism, a movement that poses a dire threat to the Zionist government in Israel and the government subservient to Zionism in Germany.


Notes:

Copyrighted 2009, by Paul Grubach. All rights reserved.

[1] John Caniglia, “Demjanjuk’s family vows to keep fighting,” The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 30 December 2005, p. B.3.
[2] Jules Schelvis, Sobibor: A History of a Nazi Death Camp (Berg, 2007), p. 35.
[3] Yitzhak Arad, “Sobibor,” Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, vol. 4, Israel Gutman, ed., (Macmillan, 1990), pp. 1373-1378.
[4] See page 27 of Judge Paul R. Matia’s Ruling on the Demjanjuk case. United States of America (Plaintiff) vs. John Demjanjuk (Defendant). Case No. 1: 99CV1193. Online: http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/nytimes/docs/demjanjuk/usdemjanjuk022102jud.pdf
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid, p. 97.
[7] Christopher R. Browning, “Evidence for the Implementation of the Final Solution: Electronic Edition.” Online: http://www.holocaustdenialontrial.com/en/trial/defense/browning/003
[8] Robert Jan van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial (Indiana University Press, 2002), p. 5.
[9] Thomas Toivi Blatt, From the Ashes of Sobibor: A Story of Survival (Northwestern University Press, 1997), pp. 227-228.
[10] Gilead, I.; Haimi, Y.; Mazurek, W., “Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres,” Present Pasts, vol. 1, no. 1, 2010. Online: http://www.presentpasts.info/articles/10.5334/pp.12/
[11] See the “News and Reports” section of http://www.undersobibor.org/
[12] Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, German Crimes in Poland: Volumes 1 and 2 (Howard Fertig, 1982), vol. 2, p. 103. This was first published in English in 1946-1947.
[13] Miriam Novitch, ed., Sobibor: Martyrdom and Revolt (Holocaust Library, 1980), p. 50.
[14] See Carlo Mattogno, Belzec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research, and History (Theses & Dissertations Press, 2004), p. 10. Online: http://www.vho.org/GB/Books/b/index.html
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Joseph Tenenbaum, In Search of a Lost People: The Old and the New Poland (The Beechhurst Press, 1948), p. 285.
[18] Shelvis, p. 215.
[19] Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews: Student Edition (Holmes & Meier, 1985), p. 229.
[20] See Gerstein’s testimony in Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps (Indiana University Press, 1987), p. 101.
[21] Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, p. 31.
[22] Schelvis, p. 102.
[23] Ibid, p. 104.
[24] Online: www.holocaustdenialontrial.com/trial/defense/browning/545.0 See “Eyewitness Testimony concerning Gassing at Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka: Fifth Category.”
[25] Novitch, p. 12.
[26] Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, vol. 2, p. 100.
[27] Ibid, p. 24, 26.
[28] Ibid, p. 26.
[29] Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, p. 31.
[30] Ibid., p. 123.
[31] Arad, “Sobibor,” Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, p.
[32] Schelvis, p. 104.
[33] Ibid, p. 102.
[34] Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, p. 31.
[35] Schelvis, p. 114n17.
[36] Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, vol.2, pp.100-101.
[37] Gitta Sereny, Into that Darkness: An Examination of Conscience (Vintage Books, 1983), p. 109.
[38] Schelvis, p. 33.
[39] Ibid, p. 100.
[40] Ibid, p. 114n17.
[41] Ibid, p. 101.
[42] Thomas Kues, “The Alleged First Gas Chamber Building at Sobibor.” Online: http://www.codoh.com/newrevoices/nrtkfsgc.html
[43] Thomas Kues, “Sobibor Strangeness—A small compendium.” Online: http://www.codoh.com/newrevoices/nrtksobstr.html
[44] Kues, “The Alleged First Gas Chamber Building at Sobibor.”
[45] Gilead, et al.
[46] Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, vol.2, pp.100-101.
[47] Schelvis, p. 101.
[48] Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, p. 31.
[49] Novitch, p. 147.
[50] Schelvis, p. 68.
[51] Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, p. 123.
[52] Schelvis, p. 68.
[53] Novitch, p. 152.
[54] Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, pp. 32, 123-124.
[55] Novitch, p. 155.
[56] Gilead, et al.
[57] Hilberg, p. 229.
[58] Tenenbaum, p. 285.
[59] See map in Sereny, p. 94.
[60] Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, pp. 34-35.
[61] Gilead, et al.
[62] Novitch, p. 78.
[63] Schelvis, p. 112.
[64] Blatt, p. 232.
[65] See Mattogno, p. 10.
[66] Sereny, p. 115.
[67] Arad, “Sobibor,” Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, vol. 4, pp. 1373-1378.
[68] Schelvis, p. 112.
[69] Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, p. 171.
[70] Ibid, p. 172.
[71] See Mark Weber and Andrew Allen, “Treblinka,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1992, pp. 133-158. Online: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v12/v12p133_Allen.html. Mark Weber, “Jewish Soap,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1991, pp. 217-227. Online: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v11/v11p217_Weber.html.
[72] Thomas Dalton, Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides (Theses & Dissertations Press, 2009), p. 122.
[73] See Judge Matia’s Ruling, p. 27.
[74] Schelvis, p. 28.
[75] Ibid, p. 38.
[76] Ibid, p. 112.
[77] Ibid, p. 34.
[78] Novitch, p. 130.
[79] Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, vol. 2, p. 103.
[80] Tenenbaum, p. 285.
[81] Sereny, pp. 114-115.
[82] Schelvis, Plate 28.
[83] See the “News and Reports” section of http://www.undersobibor.org/
[84] Hilberg, p. 338. See also the 2003 edition (3rd edition) of The Destruction of the European Jews (Yale University Press, 3 volumes), p. 1320.
[85] Schelvis, back cover. On page 1, he says that approximately 170,000 were gassed at Sobibor.
[86] Christopher R. Browning, “Implementation of the Final Solution.” Footnote 151. Online: http://www.holocaustdenialontrial.com/en/trial/defense/browning/545.0
[87] Novitch, p. 156.
[88] Ernst Klee, Willi Dreßen, Volker Reiß, The Good Old Days: the Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders (Free Press, 1991), p. 232.
[89] “Demjanjuk vows to fight death camp charges,” The Local: Germany’s News in English, 12 May 2009. Online: http://www.thelocal.de/national/20090512-19237.html
[90] Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution: The Attempt to Exterminate the Jews of Europe: 1939-1945 (Jason Aronson, Inc, 1987), p. 337.
[91] Blatt.
[92] Ibid, p. 103.
[93] Ibid.
[94] Gilead, et al.
[95] Blatt, p232n7.
[96] Ibid, p231n2.
[97] Ibid, p. 101.
[98] Ibid, p230n2.
[99] Arad, p. 33.
[100] Schelvis, p. 2.
[101] Quoted in Reitlinger, p. 480.
[102] Richard Breitman, The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), p. 6.
[103] Gilead, et al.
[104] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006), p. 101.
[105] Ibid, p. 308.
[106] Quoted in Germar Rudolf, The Rudolf Report: Expert Report on Chemical and Technical Aspects of the ‘Gas Chambers’ of Auschwitz (Theses & Dissertations Press, 2003), p. 325. Online: http://vho.org/GB/Books/trr/index.html
[107] Ibid, p. 326.
[108] Wilhelm Stäglich, The Auschwitz Myth: A Judge Looks at the Evidence (Institute for Historical Review, 1986), p. 224.
[109] Christopher R. Browining, with contributions by Jürgen Matthäus, The Origins of of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 2004), p. 543n163.
[110] Christopher R. Browning, Collected Memories: Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony (The University of Wisconsin Press, 2003), pp. 3-4, 8-9.
[111] Ian Kershaw, Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution (Yale University Press, 2008), p. 258.
[112] Schelvis, p. 246.
[113] Sereny, pp.22-23.
[114] See Fred A. Leuchter, Jr., Robert Faurisson, Germar Rudolf, The Leuchter Reports: Critical Edition (Theses & Dissertations Press, 2005), p. 19. Online: http://www.vho.org/GB/Books/tlr/
[115] 115. Online: www.holocaustdenialontrial.com/trial/defense/browning/545.0 See “Eyewitness Testimony concerning Gassing at Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka: Fifth Category.”
[116] See Paul Grubach, “Convergence of Evidence: Reflections on the Irving-Lipstadt Affair.” Online: http://www.codoh.com/revisionist/tr09irving.html
[117] See Mark Weber and Andrew Allen, “Treblinka,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1992, pp. 133-158. Online: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v12/v12p133_Allen.html. Mark Weber, “Jewish Soap,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1991, pp. 217-227. Online: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v11/v11p217_Weber.html.
[118] J.C.A. Gaskin, Hume’s Philosophy of Religion (Barnes & Noble Books, 1978), p. 113.
[119] Novitch, p. 131.
[120] See Judge Matia’s Ruling, p. 4, passim.
[121] Yoram Sheftel, Defending Ivan the Terrible: The Conspiracy to Convict John Demjanjuk (Regnery Publishing, Inc, 1996), passim.
[122] Yahoo News! Canada, By the Canadian Press, “Judge rejects Jewish groups bid to oust former SS guard,” 19 June 2009. Online: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/090619/national/nazi_citizenship
[123] Judge Matia’s Ruling, p. 97.
[124] An Eye for an Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Against Germans in 1945 (Basic Books, 1993), p. 150.
[125] See Cleveland Jewish News, March 21, 1986, p. 16.
[126] Quoted in Sheftel, p. 402.
[127] Jeffrey Herf, Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (Harvard University Press, 1997), pp. 337-338.
[128] See Leuchter, Jr., Faurisson, Rudolf, p.19.

Additional information about this document

Author(s) Paul Grubach
Title The “Nazi Extermination Camp” of Sobibor in the Context of the Demjanjuk Case
Sources Inconvenient History, vol. 1, no. 2 (fall 2009)
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Dates published: 2009-10-01, first posted on CODOH: Sept. 25, 2012, 7 p.m., last revision: n/a
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