Some Preliminary Observations on the Charles D. Provan booklet "No Holes? No Holocaust?"

A Study of the Holes in the Roof of Leichenkeller I of Krematorium II at Birkenau
Published: 2001-01-01

The Provan booklet provides us with a wealth of interesting information regarding the alleged "Zyklon-B introduction holes" in the roof of Leichenkeller I. Mr. Provan has also drawn a number of contentious conclusions from the material evidence which he has presented as proof of the wartime existence of such holes.

I would like to draw attention to Mr. Provan's pronouncements on the seven "holes" as identified in his on-site archeological examination of the structure:

The "hole" which Mr. Provan designates as number 1 was, in his own words, "made when pillar 1 pierced the [shifted] roof" during the explosion of 1945. The concrete pillar itself filled the new hole it created. This could not have been a "Zyklon-B introduction hole", and is not designated as such by Harry Mazal.
Hole number 2 (Mazal's hole number 1) is well known to revisionists, and we shall return to a study of the evidence of this hole in the analysis below. For now I shall mention that the explosive charge displaced this southern section of the roof more than one metre to the west. This is a significant displacement.
The "hole" designated as number 3 is "a large crack running west to east where the roof broke its back on pillar 2". It could not have been a "Zyklon-B introduction hole", and is also ignored by Mazal as such. Significantly, the main roof slab is here separated by the crack into two distinct slabs to the north and south of the pillar. In the south, the slab has directionally shifted to the west, creating the hole engulfing pillar 1 to the east of the pillar's original position in relation to the roof . On the northern slab it is the opposite. This is because the explosive charges which destroyed the 3rd and 5th pillars created a directional explosive force which evidently sent the slab to the opposite (eastern) direction. At pillar 2, the axis from which the separated slabs shifted, there is a raised buckling of the roof on its eastern side coupled with a pronounced settling to the west on the northern slab. On the western side of the large crack ("hole" number 3) the roof slab is noticeably separated, and the southern slab can be seen to overlap the northern slab on the Provan photo [Provan's website is no longer available; ed.].
The opposite directional shift of the southern and northern roof slabs can also be seen from recent air photographs of the ruins, such as those on Mazal's website at: [no longer on this location; ed.]
A more illustrative photo is at: [no longer on this location; ed.]
Hole number 4 was "also made when the roof broke on pillar 2", and a photograph shows the original rebar in place throughout, so it also was not a "Zyklon-B introduction hole". Mazal skipped this aperture as well. The position of the hole in its relation to the 2nd concrete support pillar is not surprising. It is nothing more than a random piece of concrete which broke away from its rebar under the force of the 1945 explosion.
Hole number 5 is "a broken up area 295 cm north of pillar 2. It is "quite narrow", and Mr. Provan provides a photograph which clearly shows rebar encrusted with concrete running across it and, in another photo, the rubble which was blown onto the top of the concrete roof from the aperture. Clearly, this was not a "Zyklon-B introduction port", and is likewise ignored by Mazal.
Hole number 6 (Mazal's hole number 2) is identified as existing within the formation of a large crack in the concrete roof running eastward from the remnants of what was the 3rd central support pillar, and we shall return to this below.
Hole number 7, well-known to revisionists, is dismissed outright by Mr. Provan:

"The reinforcement bars of the concrete are still visible, they were just once cut and bent, but never removed. This hole has no cracks in its corners which definitely proves that it was chiseled in after this morgue was blown up". Mazal ignores this hole as well in his captioned photo published online.

Hole number 8 (Mazal's hole number 3) is presented as a possible "Zyklon-B introduction hole", and is located next to the 5th central support pillar. More on this below as well.

To summarize, Mr. Provan dismisses outright the possibility that holes 1, 3, 4, and 5 were "Zyklon-B introduction holes"; holes 2, 6, and 8 are the only possible candidates as such.

The First Hole (number 2)

Mr. Provan found that the large hole near central support pillar 1 (hole number 2) has a large crack running from it (on one side some 50 cm in length), and considers this to be an indication that the hole existed before the building was dynamited. He holds the opinion that the cracks on either side of the hole exist because the hole itself existed prior to the demolition, and that the cracks were formed as a result of the explosive force which was exerted unto the pre-existing hole during the 1945 blast. There are serious problems with this assessment.

The crack(s) he necessarily claims are emanating from the hole can be seen to have singularly emanated from the present location of the central support pillar, which pierces the roof about 1 metre away from the edge of the present hole. Provan acknowledges that the explosion of 1945 lifted the roof up and over to its present position, ripping it away from the central support beam and to the west. The pillar was originally attached to the roof at the side of the present aperture.

Provan provides a photograph of the crack which runs from the central support pillar to the other side of hole number 2. The crack is very pronounced at its source, the central support pillar, and becomes progressively narrower as it approaches the hole. The same crack can be seen to continue until it runs out on the other side of the hole. This is clearly evident in the photographs appended [Provan's website is no longer available; ed.].

For those without the booklet, a cropped version of this detail can be viewed at:

As Germar Rudolf wrote in 1993, "blowing up a building is an act of extraordinary violence in itself; cracks will therefore form and spread much more easily through any weak spots (such as, for example, any already existing holes)". With this in mind, it is important to understand that the cracks cannot be said to have originated from the edges of the hole under discussion. Contrarily, the existing hole appears to be a manual enlargement of the very hole created when the central support pillar was ripped away from the concrete roof during the explosion, and the manual enlargement was made easier by the pre-existence of the crack.

Our observation is bolstered by the fact that there is not more than one noteworthy crack running from the area pierced by the concrete pillar (Provan's hole number 1) to the present hole. If the present enlarged hole had existed prior to the explosion, even at 25 cm X 25 cm, there should be at least one crack emanating from the southeast corner of the hole to the southwest corner of the existing pillar or thereabouts. Instead, between the two holes there exists an intact concrete flap or protrusion, U-shaped, the integrity of which was tellingly not affected by the blast.

To summarize, the original formation of the crack running through the hole does not support Mr. Provan's argument. The subsequent enlargement of the hole was evidently facilitated by the large crack emanating from the point at which the shifted roof came to rest on the concrete pillar. Also, the absence of additional cracks and/or missing pieces of concrete between the north and south corners of the two sizeable holes suggests a post-war manual enlargement of the hole in question.

The Second and Third Holes (numbers 6 and 8)

There is a very wide and lengthy crack extending eastward from the area of the 3rd central support pillar. Mr. Provan indicates that the broken area within one metre of the immediate eastern side of the present location of the support pillar was a "Zyklon B introduction hole" (hole number 6) [Provan's website is no longer available; ed.].

This broken area can be viewed at:

Provan provides several photographs of this area, and in one of the photos marked "View: from the north", we see that the concrete slab was severely ruptured in the blast of 1945, and that the large crack is several metres in length and also more than .2 to .3 metres wide [Provan's website is no longer available; ed.].

The existence of such a notably large crack also suggests a possible time lapse in the pouring of the concrete roof at this point in the winter of 1942-43, as the integrity of the concrete bond would have suffered because of this. There is no absence of steel reinforcing bars in the area. Perhaps the necessary continuous concrete pour was halted for the day or for several important hours, causing a vulnerable stress point during the subsequent explosion of 1945. It is also obvious that very strong explosive charges were placed on the east side of the support pillar, contributing to the extensiveness of the damage. Provan writes:

"It should be noted that the central column to the west of both holes [6 and 8] is destroyed, with only the rebars remaining".

I suggest that a combination of the placement and power of the charges and a stress fracture, resulting from a discontinuous concrete pour, created the gaping crack at this area of the roof.

More importantly, the hole which lies immediately to the east of the pillar would have been created by the roof having been lifted and thrown to the east in the violent blast which destroyed the integrity of the pillar itself.

With the destruction of the concrete pillar, so too the concrete in the roof was also pulverized at its original juncture with the pillar and appears as a hole to the east of the existing rebar, where the roof landed in its violent displacement.

The area around the 5th support pillar is a mess, and Mr. Provan's analysis of the area is rather abrupt. He provides a single photo with the following text [Provan's website is no longer available; ed.]:

"Hole 8, on left with rebar remnants of the central roof column visible immediately above. To the right, the shattered roof around the central roof column [view: from the east]".

He also writes:

"We consider it quite significant that holes 6 and 8 were located immediately to the east of the central roof column, each of them right next to a supporting pillar (in these cases pillars 3 and 5). It should be noted that the central column to the west of both holes is destroyed, with only the rebars remaining. The roof above the reinforcement bars is also destroyed in both locations".

One can only repeat the argument made beforehand concerning the area around the 3rd pillar: The existence of a pronounced aperture next to the concrete support pillar suggests nothing more than the displacement of the roof during the blast: the holes resulted from the pillars being extracted from their original perches in the roof and the concrete was forcibly removed from those areas.


It is noteworthy that nothing resembling remains of the fabled "concrete chimneys" has ever been found in the ruins of Krematorium II. Nor is there evidence of tar or sealant around any of the holes, necessary for waterproofing the roof around them, nor of the fabled "wire mesh" or "perforated sheet metal", or "concrete lids". Nothing.


Although there are a number of holes and cracks in the roof of Leichenkeller I of Krematorium II, none can be seen to have existed prior to the explosion of 1945.

This analysis does not attempt to address the contemporaneous photographs, the CIA published air photos or the testimonies. Mr. Provan presents for us an excellent analysis of the unsatisfactory quality of that evidence.

Additional information about this document

Author(s) Brian A. Renk
Title Some Preliminary Observations on the Charles D. Provan booklet "No Holes? No Holocaust?", A Study of the Holes in the Roof of Leichenkeller I of Krematorium II at Birkenau
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Dates published: 2001-01-01, first posted on CODOH: June 29, 2001, 7 p.m., last revision: n/a
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