Auschwitz Survivor says: Pictures of the Liberation of Auschwitz are Fake
An article in the Daily Mail of 27 January 2020 is headed with this attention-grabbing statement:
“Anne Frank's step-sister and Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss claims photos of the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz are FAKE because soldiers hadn't brought cameras and were taken at other camps.”
Of all professional news-media, only the Daily Mail reported on the Auschwitz survivor's sensational statements during the Good Morning Britain of 27 January 2020. Here is some detail of what she said to Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid:
“And something I wanted to point out to you. You know, there are many pictures about the Russians liberating Auschwitz, and there is never any snow. And the snow was honestly that high (indicating several feet of snow). And, so I have some connection with the Russian Embassy, and I was there once, and I said: something puzzles me, those photos are fakes, because there is no snow. And they said: well, yes, they are not fakes, but when the army came they didn't have cameras, they didn't photograph; so, only much later, when they realized we should have pictures of it, they took pictures like you see now. But this is definitely not in Auschwitz, and not the liberation of Auschwitz.
This attack on the claim to authenticity of images used in propaganda about Auschwitz and the Holocaust is of the highest importance, because whenever it is suggested that the gas-chamber story might not be true, the first reaction is almost always: What about the pictures? Are you saying that those are fake?
It turns out that, yes indeed, some of them definitely are fake -- and we can cite an Auschwitz survivor as our authority for that fact.
Who is Eva Schloss?
Eva Schloss (née Geiringer) was born in Vienna to a Jewish family that fled before the Second World War to Amsterdam, where they knew Anne Frank and her family. After the war her mother became the second wife of Anne Frank's father, Otto Frank. Like the Franks, the Geiringers were deported from the Netherlands, ultimately to Auschwitz-Birkenau, in May 1945.
Eva and her mother were among the small number of prisoners that did not evacuate with the SS and were still in the camp when the Red Army arrived, the Daily Mail says, “because she and her mother overslept and were left behind.” (M. Greep, Daily Mail, 27 January 2020)
Eva's mother Elfriede “Fritzi” Frank already has some small fame in Holocaust Revisionism because, during a visit from Professor Robert Faurisson in the 1970s, she endorsed Professor Faurisson's criticisms of the Anne Frank diary in a way that provoked her husband Otto Frank finally to exclaim, “Maul zu!” (i.e., “Shut up!”) (R. Faurisson, “My Revisionist Method”) Like her mother, Eva too now has surely caused some exasperation to the peddlers of dubious tales.
Where Eva Schloss is Clearly Wrong
There is some difficulty in accepting everything that Eva Schloss says. She said on Good Morning Britain that inmates at Auschwitz were not given food, drinking water, or clothes. Clearly this is hyperbole. Perhaps she meant that no special clothes for the winter were supplied, but her memoir Eva's Story (coauthored with Evelyn June Kent) directly contradicts this: it says that she was issued a “heavy man's overcoat” in November 1944. (In the interview she admits that she was unclear about dates while in Birkenau; so perhaps it was really before November.)
On Good Morning Britain she talks about waking up with dead people. It is clear from her memoir that the SS made efforts to prevent deaths, for which Eva shows no appreciation. When she arrived at Birkenau, she had to reside for a time in a quarantine barracks, which she considered pointless:
“It seemed ridiculous to take such precautions.” (ch.7)
The shaving of heads, which a kapo told her had the purpose of eliminating lice, she gratuitously asserts was for dehumanization:
“The Kappos insisted that having our heads shaved regularly was to control lice. It was, in fact, a deliberately dehumanizing process that made us look and feel like criminals.” (ch.10)
Eva also indicates that she was reluctant to seek medical attention when she believed that she had typhus:
“Any inmate with a high fever was a dangerous bunkfellow. By now the others were beginning to complain that I should not be there. 'Take her to the hospital block,' they kept nagging Mutti, but I refused to go. Even though I had not yet faced up to the reality of the gas chambers, I had realized that the hospital block housed the most vulnerable inmates for torture and death. There were many rumours going around that patients were being experimented on, often in the most painful and disgusting ways.” (ch.8)
After resisting, she succumbed to pressure from other women in her barracks and went to the hospital block where she was successfully treated (and was not tortured). If anybody at Birkenau died in a bunk as the culmination of an illness, it was most likely because that person had refused to take advantage of the help that was available.
Eva tells Good Morning Britain that her mother was selected by Mengele for gassing. The memoir shows how she was primed to interpret events that way. While still in Amsterdam, she had heard about gassings at Auschwitz from the BBC. Upon arriving at Birkenau, a cruel kapo announced that their (separately housed male) relatives were presently being gassed and cremated, which, Eva says, she did not on that occasion believe. When however there was an impromptu nude examination of women after a shower, and Eva's mother was taken away, Eva understood this to mean that her mother had been been selected to be gassed (ch.10).
Two months later she discovered that her mother was still alive in a special ward for treatment of scabies (Kraetze). There is a chapter wherein Eva's mother narrates what happened after the “selection,” with a paranoid interpretation:
“We were taken to a barrack in the middle of a walled courtyard. I knew that the building had been used to house prisoners suffering from 'Kraetze', a highly infectious skin disease. I also knew that it was now used to house those prisoners who had been selected to be gassed.” (ch. 13: “Mutti's Story”)
Some elements of “Mutti's Story” seem to be outright fiction. Inter alia, she says:
“During the night the crematorium burned for many hours and flames shot from the chimney into the clear dark sky.”
She certainly did not see flames shooting from the stack of a crematorium, because the length of those stacks makes it physically impossible. Clearly “Mutti's Story” has been embellished to conform to standard Holocaust propaganda. Consider the source: in an earlier episode of the memoir (ch.10), Mutti pulls carrot-greens out of the garbage of the camp's kitchen with the intention of passing them off to other inmates as “vitamin-rich parsley” so as to trade them for extra bread. This woman was not above lying for personal advantage (which casts reasonable doubt on whether she ever really believed that she was going to be gassed).
The word Kraetze (scabies) thoroughly explains why there was a nude mass-inspection by Dr. Mengele, and why certain individuals – Mutti says that there were “about thirty” in the ward – were taken away and isolated from other prisoners.
In fact, Eva's memoir gives no indication that she had any personal knowledge of anyone having been gassed. Instead, however, of admitting that the paranoid interpretation of events was wrong, Eva Schloss tells the audience of Good Morning Britain that her mother had indeed been selected for gassing and that it was “through a miracle” that this did not happen.
The distortions that we can note in Eva's account are all in the direction of conformity with the prevailing Holocaust narrative. This will not weigh against her credibility if she happens to disagree with that narrative on some point, or rejects some supposed evidence for it.
Eva Schloss on the Weather
Eva Schloss impugns the authenticity of representations of the liberation of Auschwitz mainly based on the proposition that there was deep snow that is not evident in those representations. I read her memoir to find out how far she really meant to go with that assertion, and whether there was perhaps some contradiction. Since her memoir could correct her exaggerations on some other points, I thought that it might also give a more careful account of the presence of snow during the period of “the liberation.”
Here is how she describes the deep snow on the first of the three days (17-19 January 1945) when the SS summoned prisoners to line up for evacuation if they were able:
“Snow lay still on the ground. It had transformed the entire compound, shrouding the huts and dirt tracks with a sheet of unblemished white. The land looked like Siberia.” (ch. 15)
She also says:
“The temperature was far below zero.” (ch. 15)
To get fresh water Eva and a companion hacked through one-foot-thick ice that covered a pond near the camp's entrance. She mentions several additional snowfalls between the departure of the SS and the first appearance of the Red Army on 27 January.
The day after the first brief presence of the Red Army, she writes: “new snow had fallen during the night.” So, when the Red Army arrived there was already snow, and then there was new snow.
Around the middle of February on the day when (Eva alleges) two truckloads of German soldiers briefly appeared and dragooned women from the camp for some unspecified work-detail (or perhaps with the idea of rescuing them from the Red Army), Eva mentions that her mother “tramped through the snow” to get water. Then, “By the time dusk had come snow was again falling heavily.” (ch. 17)
On her way back from a visit to Auschwitz main camp (apparently in late February), she says that she threw herself into the snow to conceal herself, after tracer bullets whizzed past her head. She says that this was “a few weeks” after 19 January when most inmates had evacuated with the SS (ch. 18).
The next day, she says: “It had snowed hard in the night.... ”
It seems, from the memoir of Eva Schloss, that snow covered the ground constantly from late January through all of February 1945, and perhaps longer. She never mentions a thaw, or a moment during that period when there was no snow.
I inquired to a professor of atmospheric science at a major university about possible records of the weather. Specific information about the weather at Auschwitz was not readily available, but he helped by sending images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 20th Century Reanalysis with his comments. These show that the last ten days of January were very cold, with average temperatures from -8º to -3ºC, but that during February the average temperatures were between -3º and +3ºC, which means that some of the snow may have melted, but if replenished (as Eva Schloss indicates) then snow may well have covered the ground throughout February and into early March.
The fact that there was snow in late January when the Red Army arrived at Auschwitz is not controversial. It is admitted in Irmgard von zur Mühlen's 1985 documentary The Liberation of Auschwitz. Furthermore, footage supposed to show the arrival of a “Soviet special commission” dated by the narrator to 29 January (The Liberation of Auschwitz, 8:40-8:50) also shows snow (although this event, if real at all, probably occurred much later, for reasons that I shall later explain).
The question of whether the snow remained throughout the period from 27 January to 28 February 1945 becomes important because The Liberation of Auschwitz, which aggregates (we are told) all Soviet footage of that event, claims that all such footage was taken during that time. If Eva Schloss is correct about the snow, then most Soviet footage and still images supposed to represent what the Red Army discovered at Auschwitz -- including a number of very shocking scenes that happen not to include snow -- must have been created some significant time after the arrival of the Red Army, and on that basis their genuineness comes into question.
Some Fakery Already Admitted
Although the general public remains unaware, it turns out that the revelation that some images of the liberation of Auschwitz are fake is not entirely new. Professor Stuart Leibman, an associate of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, has noted that some scenes depicting the liberation of Auschwitz were in fact staged:
“We know that the Soviets did stage scenes in the camps to construct ideological messages. See, for example, the footage, purportedly of 'the liberation of Auschwitz,' by the cameraman Vorontsov. These scenes and Vorontsov's later comments are included in the film by Irmgard von zur Mühlen, The Liberation of Auschwitz, 1945 (1985).” (Lessons and Legacies, Volume VII: The Holocaust in International Perspective, Northwestern U. Press 2006, p. 348)
In 1985 Soviet cameraman Alexander Vorontsov admitted that all barracks-scenes from Auschwitz were staged, making excuses for the deception:
“Initially, we did not film the misery inside the barracks. After evacuating the camp on January 19, the SS cut off the electricity. Because initially our camera crews had no lights, we could not shoot indoors. The prisoners had to be transported as quickly as possible, because they were starving to death, and almost frozen.” (The Liberation of Auschwitz, 11:04-11:26)
We are supposed to trust that the dramatization was faithful to reality. Is Soviet propaganda trustworthy?
The narrator gives a hint as to when the scenes in the barracks were staged:
"Only some time later, after the snow had melted, was Vorontsov able to ask some women to reenter the barracks, in order to show the conditions in which they had lived.” (The Liberation of Auschwitz, 11:26-11:46)
That wording, “after the snow had melted,” implies not just a break in the snow, but the end of the season of snow. It implies that the springtime, more or less, is when scenes were being staged and filmed at Auschwitz. Additional evidence will support this interpretation.
First Cinematic Conceptualization of the Liberation of Auschwitz
Further undermining the credibility of Soviet documentary film, Vorontsov says that the original idea of how to dramatize the liberation of Auschwitz was completely different from the form that Soviet Auschwitz-propaganda eventually took.
In the original cinematic vision of the liberation of Auschwitz it did not seem to occur to the Soviet_ cinematographers to show emaciated corpses._ (Perhaps they hadn't seen any?) Instead they_ showed healthy-looking prisoners anxiously_ waiting at the gate and cheering when the Red_ Army arrived to set them free. The emphasis was_ not on the prisoners' suffering, but on happy_ people expressing gratitude toward the_ liberating_Red Army.
In those scenes, there is no snow on the ground, nor on the roofs of the buildings, which indicates that this film was not made immediately after the arrival of the Red Army. Vorontsov admits this when he says (in the translation read by the narrator):
"When the former prisoners regained their strength, they were used as extras." (The Liberation of Auschwitz, 49:58)
How long would it have taken the former prisoners to regain their strength? Vorontsov says, of those who did not immediately leave Auschwitz, that their recovery took “weeks, sometimes months” (17:12-17:24). Now, there is no reason other than Vorontsov's dubious say-so to believe that former prisoners were used as extras in that scene. Nonetheless, the claim is an admission that the scene was filmed at least several weeks after 27 January.
Furthermore, this filming must have been done after the general evacuation in which Eva Schloss participated, since she told Good Morning Britain that the Red Army had no cameras, and her memoir gives no account of any movie being made. Based on the vague chronology in Eva's Story this evacuation seems likely to have happened in March (rather than February as she said in one interview; if in February it would have had to be very late February). The filming of the first conceptualization of the liberation of Auschwitz, then, must have happened later than that.
Second Cinematic Conceptualization of the Liberation of Auschwitz
If the first cinematic realization of the liberation of Auschwitz was filmed at least several weeks after the arrival of the Red Army, then the second version must have been filmed even later. How much later?
Here is an important fact. Although the Red Army had arrived at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration-camp complex on 27 January 1945, Soviet propaganda did not immediately give Auschwitz the importance that it has today. The narrator of The Liberation of Auschwitz tells us:
“The Soviet press agency TASS did not inform the world about the scale of crimes committed in Auschwitz until May 7, 1945. (The Liberation of Auschwitz, 49:41)
Why did it take so long?
The beginning of this kind of Auschwitz-propaganda may have arisen from emulation of British and American camp-liberation propaganda. More than two months after the Red Army arrived at Auschwitz, the Western Allies captured Buchenwald (11 April), Bergen-Belsen (15 April), Dachau (27 April), etc. The timing, in May 1945, suggests that this new Soviet Auschwitz-propaganda was inspired by Anglo-American camp-liberation propaganda.
The 1945 Soviet propaganda-film Auschwitz (Oświęcim ) (made from about 20 minutes of selected footage, with German-language narration) begins in a way that is consistent with the assumption that it was inspired by Anglo-American propaganda: by mentioning the camps captured by the British and Americans, so that the greater importance of Auschwitz can be asserted:
“Buchenwald, Belsen, Dachau, Majdanek, oder Treblinka. Mehr als fünf jahre lang war Europa ein einziges Konzentrationslager. Der schrecklichste von allen war Auschwitz.” (Auschwitz (Oświęcim ), 01:10)
“Buchenwald, Belsen, Dachau, Majdanek, or Treblinka. For more than five years Europe was a massive concentration-camp. The most terrifying of all was Auschwitz.”
* * *
This 1945 movie Auschwitz (Oświęcim) includes reckless claims that are contradicted by later information. The text at the beginning of Auschwitz (Oświęcim) says:
“Dieses Filmdokument bezeugt die grauenhaften Verbrechen der Hitler-Regierung in Auschwitz.” (Auschwitz (Oświęcim ), 00:09)
“This film-document testifies to the horrific crimes of the Hitler government in Auschwitz.”
The movie is supposed to prove “horrific crimes.” What happens to that claim when it is admitted that parts of the movie are dramatizations? In particular, the movie shows the now admittedly staged scene of the women in the Auschwitz barracks. The narrator evokes pity by emphasizing that they were all seemingly harmless elderly women:
"Warum ermorderten die Nazihenker diese armen alten Frauen?” (Auschwitz (Oświęcim ), 04:08)
"Why did the Nazi hangmen murder these poor old women?"
This 1945 production of course gives no indication that the scene was staged. If that were admitted, then viewers might understand that the elderliness and apparent harmlessness of the women reflects only the director's choice of whom to use for the dramatization, not who the prisoners really were.
* * *
One particular scene that appears in The Liberation of Auschwitz is more clearly fraudulent as presented in Auschwitz (Oświęcim ). A pitiable group in striped uniforms crowds at the fence, as we are told:
“Und so fand sie die Rote Armee. Die Sowjetkämpfer haben die Deutschen aus Auschwitz vertrieben. Den überlebenen Gefangenen haben sie erklärt: Ihr seid frei! Frei für immer! Die Unglücklichen aber konnten es zuerst gar nicht fassen.”
“And this is how the Red Army found them. The Soviet fighters drove the Germans out of Auschwitz. They declared to the surviving prisoners: You are free! Free forever! At first, the unfortunates could not believe it.”
The scene is quite famous. With the original narration however, indicating that the scene is supposed to represent the very moment of the arrival of the Red Army at Auschwitz, the fraud becomes obvious -- because, as Eva Schloss points out, there is no snow.
It happens that this very clip was shown on Good Morning Britain (00:54-1:05) shortly before Eva Schloss announced that such scenes were fake. (It was run again while she explained that such scenes were fake.)
The clip also appears in The Liberation of Auschwitz, accompanied by an explanation of its significance that differs entirely from both the 1945 narration and the claim about when all the footage was recorded:
“Even in the spring, the days after liberation were bitter. Cared for by the medical personnel, those suffering from physical and emotional problems remained in the last four hospital blocks till the fall of 1945.” (The Liberation of Auschwitz, 51:02-51:57)
The implication is that this scene, originally represented as reportage from the very day of the liberation of Auschwitz, was filmed at least as late as the spring of 1945 -- which is entirely likely.
Further Evidence from Eva's Story that the Images are Fake
The whole narrative (whether the 1945 or 1985 version) that images of “the liberation of Auschwitz” are supposed to support is generally contradicted by Eva Schloss's memoir. We are supposed to believe that the Red Army made horrible discoveries when they arrived at Auschwitz, and immediately took great interest in the liberated prisoners and their wellbeing. The key event signaling this official solicitude is what The Liberation of Auschwitz presents as the arrival of a “Soviet special commission” on 29 January 1945. In fact, the behavior of the Red Army during February and late January 1945 as described in Eva's Story does not reflect any sense of importance about Auschwitz-Birkenau.
At Birkenau women's camp, the Red Army at least for the first few weeks did not even bother to establish a permanent presence. Every few days some contingent of the Red Army would arrive and stay for a few hours, either to sleep or to cook a meal of potato-and-cabbage soup (which Eva says they did share), and then move on, leaving behind no garrison (with the result that, according to this memoir, Wehrmacht soldiers could visit the camp briefly on one occasion around mid-February). At the Auschwitz main camp, the Red Army did seem to have established a permanent presence, but was not very concerned with the civilian inhabitants.
It is clear that the sick people were not immediately evacuated from the barracks of the Auschwitz main camp as Vorontsov claimed in 1985, because they were still there when Eva arrived.
Sick people from Birkenau, the narrator of The Liberation of Auschwitz claims, were in short order moved to the Auschwitz main camp:
“On February 7, Soviet helpers and Polish Red Cross and local volunteers transferred Birkenau prisoners to the Auschwitz camp, where the sick were housed in brick buildings. First, those most seriously ill were transported on stretchers, and horsedrawn carts. Transporting them took over two weeks.” (The Liberation of Auschwitz, 16:24-16:43)
Eva Schloss would have known about this if it had happened on the date specified, since she was still in the Birkenau women's camp, but she makes no mention of anything like this. When she and a few others migrated to the Auschwitz main camp (probably in late February) they did so on their own initiative.
Immediately after the (now admittedly staged) scenes in the Auschwitz barracks, The Liberation of Auschwitz shows us something very reminiscent of Anglo-American camp-liberation propaganda -- a landscape strewn with human bodies -- and we are told:
“Initially there was no time to bury the dead. There were over 600 bodies on the camp terrain, victims of the last days of the SS terror, and those who had died of emaciation after liberation.” (The Liberation of Auschwitz, 12:24-12:56)
First: how does the proposition that the SS shot several hundred people and left their bodies lying around (more than a week before the Red Army arrived) harmonize with the oft repeated claim that they made efforts to hide their crimes? The two claims are incompatible. In addition to the fact that there is no snow in these scenes, we may note that Eva's Story mentions no “SS terror” at Birkenau, nor any bodies lying around on the ground at the Auschwitz main camp. Again, the narrator of The Liberation of Auschwitz says that the SS shot 248 people “shortly before liberation” (13:20) and we are shown what is supposed to be the burial of a Jewish woman who was among them (with no snow on the ground). Nothing like this is mentioned in Eva Schloss's memoir. In fact, the only actual uses of firearms by the SS that Eva mentions were in relation to escape-attempts.
The Liberation of Auschwitz also represents a nurse who stayed behind and showed Soviet authorities the location of a mass-grave. The narrator claims that the ground had thawed by 7 February when this mass-grave was allegedly excavated. Eva's account of the weather for that period includes only cold and snow, and does not mention any nurse that had stayed behind. She explicitly says that all nurses, at least from the Birkenau women's camp, had gone with the SS.
Eva's Story also seems to disagree about the number of persons “liberated.” The narrator of The Liberation of Auschwitz states that there were “7000 liberated prisoners” of whom some left the camp immediately and 222 died (17:12-17:24). The 1945 production Auschwitz (Oświęcim ) however states that there were only 2819 liberated prisoners (6:30). That is already quite a discrepancy. Eva's Story seems to bring the number down even lower. In Eva's Story we are told that the population of Birkenau women's camp at the end of January 1945 was tiny:
“Every SS guard and dog had disappeared. All the Kappos and most of the hospital patients had left too. Minni and the nursing staff had also gone. […] In the whole camp which had housed tens of thousands, there were now only one or two hundred souls left. Eighty per cent of these were too ill to move at all and lay waiting for death.” (ch. 15)
At Auschwitz main camp, when Eva first visited sometime in February, she said in an interview that there were “several hundred of liberated prisoners.” However, when the Soviet decision was made to evacuate civilians from Auschwitz, she observes in her memoir:
“About 150 men and women assembled in the main square.” (ch. 19)
Whether other former prisoners from Birkenau were brought over for this assembly is not stated. Eva says that “several … very weak men” were left behind, so that we should believe that not many were excluded from that number. The figure of 7000 prisoners remaining in Auschwitz on 27 January 1945 seems impossible, and even 2819 seems to be an exaggeration – if the numbers that Eva Schloss gives in her memoir are remotely correct.
The motive for retroactively inventing episodes of intense concern for the prisoners' wellbeing, once it has been determined that their victimhood will be an important theme of Soviet propaganda, and for exaggerating the numbers of the “liberated prisoners” once it has been decided to portray "the liberation of Auschwitz" as an important event -- in imitation of Anglo-American camp-liberation propaganda -- is obvious.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Auschwitz Survivor says: Pictures of the Liberation of Auschwitz are Fake, These images are widely used in Holocaust propaganda!|
|First posted on CODOH:||March 17, 2020, 5:02 p.m.|