David Irving and the “Aktion Reinhardt Camps”
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A brilliant author and historian
English historian David Irving has several admirable qualities:
- He is a tireless researcher who has spent thousands of hours in the archives.
- He is an excellent historian of the Second World War. Some of his books, such as Hitler’s War and Churchill’s War, will be read as long as there will be people who are interested in this dark and dramatic period of history.
- He is a master of the English language, both as a writer and as an orator.
In the sixties and the early seventies, Irving’s brilliance was widely recognized. While many establishment historians disliked the young maverick, few of them denied his talent. He was so good that the media begrudgingly forgave him for what was perceived as covert sympathies for Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Even in Germany, he was repeatedly invited to television discussions where he impressed the public with his historical knowledge and his fluency in the German language.
With regard to the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question,” Irving accepted the official version as a matter of course; he never wrote a book or even an article about the subject.
During his work on Hitler’s War, David Irving studied a significant number of German war-time documents. With growing amazement he realized that none of these countless documents proved that Hitler had ordered the extermination of the Jews. More amazing was the fact that the documents contained no evidence that Hitler was even aware of a plan to exterminate Europe’s Jews.
At that time, Irving must have been aware that there were researchers who disputed the official version of the Jews' fate during World War Two. Arthur Butz’s The Hoax of the Twentieth Century had come out in 1976, a year before Hitler’s War. It seems unlikely that Irving was not aware of this book and its thesis. At any rate, Irving failed to draw the only logical conclusion from the total lack of documentary evidence for the “Holocaust,” and concluded instead that the extermination of the Jews had been ordered and organized by the Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler without Hitler’s knowing. In Hitler’s War, Irving wrote:
“By 1942, the massacre machinery was gathering momentum – of such refinement and devilish ingenuity that from Himmler down to the ex-lawyers who ran the extermination camps perhaps only seventy men were aware of the truth.“
To this wildly implausible thesis, Robert Faurisson raised the following objection:
“Borrowing a comparison from David Irving, I can certainly believe that Menachem Begin could have been unaware of the massacre of the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon at the time it was taking place. Over a period of several hours, several hundred civilians were massacred. I do not know when Begin learned of the massacre, but I do know that, like everybody else in the world, he learned about it very quickly. If, however, instead of several hundred men, women and children being massacred in a few hours, we are considering the massacre of millions of men, women and children over a period of three or four years in the very heart of Europe, by which miracle could that heinous crime have been hidden from Hitler, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, as well as Germany and all of Europe, except for perhaps only seventy men!”
Today, in 2009, this argument is as sound as it was in 1983!
The Leuchter Report
In April 1988, during the second Zündel trial in Toronto, David Irving learned that an American execution technologist, Fred Leuchter, who had been contacted by Ernst Zündel’s advisor Robert Faurisson, had flown to Poland with a small group of helpers in order to examine the alleged homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz I, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek. Upon his return, Leuchter had written a report in which he concluded that these rooms could not have been used as gas chambers for technical reasons. More importantly, Leuchter and his team had taken samples from the walls inside the alleged gas chambers of Auschwitz I and Birkenau where, according to official historiography, huge numbers of Jews had been killed with Hydrogen Cyanide gas (Zyklon B). The samples were subsequently analyzed in an American laboratory. The tests revealed either no detection of traces of cyanide or extremely low levels, while a control sample taken from Delousing Facility No. 1 at Birkenau contained an exceedingly high percentage of cyanide.
The Leuchter report confirmed what David Irving must have suspected: The Auschwitz gas chamber story was a hoax. Irving now believed that the Holocaust story would collapse in the near future, and he decided to jump on the revisionist bandwagon. He, David Irving, whose genius the narrow-minded court historians stubbornly refused to acknowledge, would put them all to shame; he would be the first prominent historian to pillory the Auschwitz fraud. Towards the end of the Zündel trial, Irving appeared as a witness for the defense. He endorsed the Leuchter report, which he called a “shattering document.” In 1988 and 1989, he made several speeches disputing the existence of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz: one of these speeches, which he delivered on Austrian soil in 1989, would lead to his arrest and incarceration in Austria sixteen years later.
Irving’s hope that the Leuchter report would lead to the immediate collapse of the Auschwitz gas chamber story did not materialize. Irving was viciously smeared by the media; his books disappeared from the bookshops; he sustained huge financial losses and ultimately was branded a “Holocaust denier.”
David Irving v. Deborah Lipstadt
After a particularly obnoxious representative of the Holocaust lobby, Deborah Lipstadt, had reviled Irving in her book Denying the Holocaust , he sued her for libel. The trial took place in London in early 2000. Although it was unlikely that Irving would win this case, he could have scored a tremendous moral victory by making mincemeat of Lipstadt and her experts. It goes without saying that this would have required serious preparation, but Irving, who was insufficiently acquainted with the “Holocaust” subject, did not deem it necessary to study the revisionist literature before the trial. I vividly remember my dismay when I read in the Swiss Jewish newspaper Jüdische Rundschau Maccabi that Irving had “admitted the existence of the gas vans”. It was quite true: confronted with the so-called “Just document” which Lipstadt’s team had presented as documentary proof for the mass murder of Jews in gas vans, Irving had declared it to be authentic, although it is a crude forgery teeming with linguistic and technical absurdities. This fake had been analyzed in detail by two revisionist researchers, the German Ingrid Weckert and the Frenchman Pierre Marais. Since Irving can read both German and French with the greatest ease, he had no excuse for not being familiar with these exceedingly important studies.
David Irving, December 13, 2008. Photo by Acacio Luis Friera published with permission.
His limited knowledge of the subject forced Irving to make several spectacular, but totally unnecessary concessions to his adversaries. In his verdict, the judge Charles Gray correctly stated:
“In the course of the trial Irving modified his position: He was prepared to concede that gassings of human beings had taken place at Auschwitz, but on a limited scale.”
To Irving’s credit, it should be pointed out that he made very efficient use of Faurisson’s “No holes, no Holocaust” argument. According to the “eyewitness evidence” on which the official version of the events is based, Leichenkeller (morgue) 1 of Krematorium II at Auschwitz-Birkenau was used as a homicidal gas chamber where, according to Lipstadt’s expert Robert Jan van Pelt, about 500,000 Jews were murdered in 1943/1944. During the trial, Irving demonstrated that the openings in the roof of Leichenkeller 1, through which the SS allegedly dropped pellets of Zyklon B, did not exist, which means that the alleged crime could not possibly have been perpetrated. In this point, Irving scored a major triumph. Even the judge Charles Grey, who was quite hostile to Irving, honestly admitted in his verdict:
“I have to confess that, in common I suspect with most other people, I had supposed that the evidence of mass extermination of Jews in the gas chambers at Auschwitz was compelling. I have, however, set aside this preconception when assessing the evidence adduced by the parties in this proceeding.”
In jail in Austria
In November 2005, David Irving imprudently visited the once free Austria where he was promptly arrested for a “Holocaust-denying” speech he had made in 1989. At his trial, Irving said certain things for which we have no right to blame him: He wanted to be a free man again as soon as possible and to be reunited with his family. In his situation, many people would have done the same thing. For his cooperative attitude, the Austrian kangaroo court sentenced Irving to three years imprisonment. In December 2006, after serving one third of his prison term, he was released and allowed to return to England.
David Irving’s trip to Poland
In March 2007, I [received] an e-mail from Irving who informed me that he was in Poland, where he was visiting the “Aktion Reinhardt camps.” According to German wartime documents the purpose of “Aktion Reinhardt” was the confiscation of Jewish property. Without a shred of documentary or material evidence, the orthodox historians claim that the real purpose of this action was the physical liquidation of the Jews of Eastern Poland and that between 1.5 and 2 million Jews were killed with carbon monoxide from diesel engines in three camps: Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. Traditional history has it that these camps were pure extermination centers where all Jews, regardless of age and health, were gassed upon arrival without registration: only a handful of strong young Jews were temporarily spared because they were needed to keep the camps running.
In his e-mail (which I unfortunately deleted) Irving must have asked me a question about Belzec because I distinctly remember that in my reply I asked him if he had read Carlo Mattogno’s book Belzec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research, and History. He answered that he would read it later.
In addition to Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka, Irving also visited Auschwitz and Majdanek. Apparently he did not visit the sixth alleged “extermination camp,” Chelmno (Kulmhof). On his website, he published an account of his trip to Poland which struck me by its superficiality and its vagueness. It was impossible to deduce from this account whether Irving believed that homicidal gassings had taken place at Auschwitz and Majdanek. As far as the three “Aktion Reinhardt” camps were concerned, he seemed to endorse the “extermination camp” version; on the other hand, he spoke of the “alleged gas chambers” of these camps. In other words: He avoided making clear and unequivocal statements.
My questions to David Irving and his reply
In March 2009, I learned that David Irving had given advice to a fellow “Holocaust denier,” Bishop Richard Williamson, and I received a message from an irate French lady who castigated Irving’s statements about Treblinka. On 2 April, I sent Irving a message, asking him the following four questions:
- Did he believe that a mass murder of Jews had taken place at Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec?
- If he believed that such a mass murder had indeed been committed, what was his evidence?
- In this case, how was the massacre carried out?
- Had he, David Irving, read Carlo Mattogno’s book about Belzec and the book Treblinka: Extermination camp or transit camp?, written by Carlo Mattogno and me?
On the very same day, I received the following reply from David Irving:
“1. Ich bin der Auffassung, dass in besagten drei Lagern Massenvernichtungen stattgefunden haben (“durch Gas” lässt sich nicht beweisen, ist ja sehr umstritten).
- Bekannter Briefwechsel Wolff/Ganzenmüller betr. Malkinia/Treblinka.
- Himmlers Anordnung, in Treblinka nichts auffindbar zurückzulassen, anschliessend einen Bauernhof darüber entstehen zu lassen [...].
- Persönliche Befragung zweier Zeugen... betr. Belzec, falls Echtheit nachweisbar.
- Höfle-Decode vom Januar 1943 und in Zusammenhang damit der Korherr-Bericht.
3. Für das Jahr 1942: Das Höfle-Dokument spricht von 1'274’166.
Für 1942 und 1943 haben wir aus Himmler-Akten die Beuteziffer Reinhardt – Schmuck, Uhren, Münzen. Daraus lässt sich ungefähr eine Ziffer für das Ergebnis für 1943 zusammenreimen bzw. hochrechnen, und zwar mehr als 1 Million – Himmler spricht dem Mufti gegenüber von „3 Millionen“.
[1. In my opinion, a mass extermination took place in the aforementioned three camps (it cannot be proved that it was carried out by means of gas; as you know, this is highly controversial).
- The well-known correspondence between Wolff and Ganzenmüller concerning Malkinia/Treblinka.
- Himmler’s order not to leave any traces at Treblinka and later to build a farmhouse there.
- Personal interrogation of two witnesses… about Belzec, if the authenticity [of their statements] can be proved.
- The decoded Höfle radio message from January 1943 and in this connection the Korherr report.
3. For 1942: The Höfle document mentions a figure of 1,274,166. For 1942 and 1943, Himmler’s documents reveal the extent of the Reinhardt loot – jewels, watches, coins. Based on this information, it is possible to guess or to calculate an approximate figure for 1943, to wit more than one million. To the Mufti Himmler speaks of “three million”.]
The case of the missing answer to the fourth question
While David Irving gave clear answers to my first three questions, he did not care to answer the forth one: Had he read Treblinka – Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?, written by Carlo Mattogno and me, and Mattogno’s book about Belzec? At the time of Irving’s journey to Poland, both books had been online for more than three years, and the British historian, who is highly computer-literate, could easily have convinced himself of their value. The bibliography of Treblinka contains over 200 titles, about two dozen of them in Polish. As many of these Polish sources are of vital importance, one merit of our book is to make them accessible to researchers who, like Irving, do not understand the Polish tongue. Furthermore, Treblinka contains numerous references to documents from Russian archives which were never before published in any Western language.
While Belzec is much shorter than Treblinka, its bibliography still comprises 80 titles, 18 of them in the Polish language. The most important chapter is the third one, where Mattogno analyses the results of the forensic drillings and excavations which were performed on the territory of the former camp in the late 1990s.
If David Irving did not consider it necessary to read these two books, this shows he is not in the least interested in what really happened at Treblinka and Belzec. Of course, it is quite possible that he has indeed read them, but is reluctant to admit this, because otherwise he would be forced to respond to the revisionist arguments, especially the technical ones.
David Irving’s evidence for the mass murder of Jews at the three Reinhardt camps
In his answer to my questions, David Irving mentioned seven reasons for his belief that the three Reinhardt camps had been extermination centers. Five of these reasons are based on documents, the remaining two on hearsay. We will examine the documents first.
- “The well known correspondence between Wolff and Ganzenmüller concerning Malkinia/Treblinka.”
On July 28, 1942, Albert Ganzenmüller, Secretary of State in the Reichsverkehrsministerium (Imperial Ministry of Transport), stated in a letter to SS-Gruppenführer Karl Wolff: “Since July 22, a train with 5000 Jews makes a daily trip from Warsaw to Treblinka via Malkinia, in addition to a train with 5000 Jews traveling twice a week from Pryemysl to Belzec.” On August 13, Wolff replied: “I have noted with especial pleasure that a train with 5000 members of the chosen people has already been running for 14 days to Treblinka every day, and we are thus in a position to carry out this movement of population in an accelerated tempo.” Neither Ganzenmüller nor Wolff stated that the Jews were being killed at Treblinka; Wolff spoke of a “movement of population” which clearly shows that he regarded Treblinka as a transit camp.
- “Himmler’s order not to leave any traces at Treblinka and later to build a farmhouse there.”
As I do not know this order, I asked David Irving to send me a copy. On April 9, he answered that he would do so later. Since I have yet to receive the document, I am unable to comment on it. However I am absolutely sure that it does not contain any reference to mass murder, for if this were the case, it would be quoted in every traditional study of the Holocaust.
- “The decoded Höfle radio message from January 1943 and in this connection the Korherr report.”
In his well-known 1943 report, Richard Korherr wrote that by the end of 1942 1,274,166 Jews had been moved through the camps in the General Gouvernement. The Höfle radio message confirms Korherr’s figure of 1,274,166 and specifies that 24,733 of the deportees had been sent to L. (Lublin/Majdanek), 434,508 to B. (Belzec), 101,370 to S. (Sobibor) and 713,355 to T. (Treblinka). Neither of the two documents states that the deportees were killed.
- “For 1942 and 1943, Himmler’s documents which reveal the extent of the Reinhardt loot: Jewels, watches, coins.”
The fact that the Germans robbed Jews of their jewels, watches and coins does not prove that they murdered them.
Thus none of the documents mentioned by Irving provide proof that the Reinhardt camps were extermination centers.
The last two “proofs” belong to the category of hearsay. What the Mufti of Jerusalem claimed to have heard from Himmler, or what somebody claimed the Mufti had claimed to have heard from Himmler, has little historical value. Even more preposterous is the reference to the “personal interrogation of two witnesses about Belzec”. Imagine the following dialogue:
Hiroshima denier: “I do not believe for a moment that the Americans really dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945. That’s just silly Japanese atrocity propaganda.”
David Irving: “I think you are wrong. Two years ago, I went to Hiroshima where I personally interrogated two old Japanese who had witnessed the bombing as children. If their statements are true, they prove that the Americans indeed dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.”
If hundreds of thousands of Jews had been murdered at Belzec, we could do without “eyewitness evidence.” Irving’s argument reminds me of “Belzec expert” Michael Tregenza who wrote about the pyres of Belzec:
“There is much disagreement on the subject of the number of pyres at Belzec. Witnesses from the village state that up to five pyres were in use, whereas SS personnel spoke of two pyres during the judicial proceedings in Munich in 1963/1964. Assuming that a minimum of 500,000 corpses were burned on two pyres, one has to assume, for five pyres, a much higher figure – possibly twice as high – than the 600,000 persons officially assumed so far.”
So Tregenza “proves” the murder of up to 1,200,000 Jews at Belzec by means of gossip he has heard from some old people several decades after the war!
David Irving’s death toll for the Reinhardt camps
In his standard work about the “Holocaust,” Raul Hilberg claims that 750,000 Jews were murdered at Treblinka, 550,000 at Belzec, and 200.000 at Sobibor, which means that according to Hilberg, the total death toll for the three Reinhardt camps was 1.5 million. This figure is lower by 900,000 than the one peddled by David Irving (1.274 million for 1942 plus more than a million for 1943 = about 2.4 million).
Consider the following:
- Hilberg’s figure of 550,000 Belzec victims is impossible because according to the Höfle document (which was not yet known in 1985 when Hilberg published the second and “definitive” edition of his book) 434,508 Jews were deported to Belzec until December 31, 1942. Since everybody agrees Belzec was closed at the end of 1942, no deportations to this camp can have occurred in 1943.
- In view of this fact, the total death toll for this camp cannot possibly have exceeded 434,508, even if every single Jew deported to Belzec was killed there (as both Hilberg and Irving assume).
- If Irving is right, and if 2.4 million Jews were indeed exterminated at the three Reinhardt camps, but “only” 434,508 of them at Belzec, the remaining 1,965,492 victims must have been murdered at Treblinka and Sobibor. This would mean that Hilberg’s combined figure for these two camps (750,000 + 200,000 = 950,000) is too low by more than one million!
The case of the missing murder weapon
In his reply to my questions, David Irving stated that it is not proven that the (alleged) extermination at the Reinhardt camps was carried out by means of gas. Since Irving did not mention any alternative killing method (e.g. shooting), this implies that the murder weapon is unknown.
We know exactly how the victims died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: They were killed by the explosion of the atomic bombs, or later succumbed to radioactivity. We know exactly how the victims died in Dresden: They were burned alive, or suffocated under the debris of their houses. We know exactly how the victims died at Katyn: They were shot by Stalin’s henchmen. We know exactly how the victims died at Eisenhower’s Rhine meadow camps: They were deliberately starved to death.
According to David Irving, 2.4 million people were murdered at the three Reinhardt camps – far more than in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Katyn and the Rhine meadow camps combined. But we do not know how they were killed!
Let us sum up: David Irving is unable to produce any documentary evidence for the alleged mass murder at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. He implicitly admits that there is not a single trustworthy witness. But if there are no documents and no trustworthy witnesses, what evidence are his claims based upon?
Does he claim that there is forensic evidence, i.e. huge amounts of human remains found at the site of the three Reinhardt camps? No, he does not. He does not even mention the Kola report which, according to the orthodox historians, proves that Belzec was an extermination camp. (We will discuss this report later.)
The diesel gas chamber story
According the official Holocaust literature, the (alleged) mass murders at Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec were carried out with diesel exhaust. But as engineer Friedrich Berg has shown in his carefully researched article “Diesel Gas Chambers: Ideal for Torture, Absurd for Murder”, diesel engines are an extremely poor murder weapon because they put out very low quantities of CO, but contain a high percentage of oxygen. Any gasoline engine would be infinitely more suitable for mass murder than a diesel. Berg’s arguments were so iron-clad that the Holocaust lobby made no attempt to refute them. In Debating the Holocaust Thomas Dalton states:
“The [diesel engine] topic is almost completely avoided by every anti-revisionist writer. […] This is a strong implicit admission that traditionalism has no reply to Berg and the revisionists. [...] Most recently the bloggers have attempted to address this issue. After admitting that ‘it is simply not feasible to use diesel engines for gassings… when one has access to petrol engines’, Romanov claims that the diesel issue is ‘irrelevant’ because, in his view, anyone who claimed that the gassing engine was a diesel was simply mistaken. He argues that the ‘most knowledgeable’ witnesses mentioned gasoline, but he can cite only two: Fuchs (for Sobibor only), and Reder, who said the exhaust gas was sent into the open air!”
Let me add that the argument of anti-revisionist blogger S. Romanov (“The diesel issue is irrelevant”) reveals the queer mindset of this individual: There is neither documentary nor material evidence for the “Aktion Reinhardt” holocaust, and there are no trustworthy witnesses either (for what credit can be given to witnesses who “were simply mistaken” as to the murder weapon?), but nonetheless the Aktion Reinhardt holocaust is a proven and indisputable fact! In other words: The pillars on which the edifice once rested are gone, but the edifice is still standing, or rather hovering in the air! A major miracle!
David Irving is certainly aware of the absurdity of the diesel gas chamber story. At the 1983 revisionist conference, which Irving attended, Friedrich Berg presented a paper which already contained nearly all the arguments adduced in his 2003 article. Irving, who delivered his speech on the same day as Berg, stated:
“I must say that I have been deeply impressed by Mr. Friedrich Berg’s lecture earlier this afternoon. I have found a great deal in his lecture which was greatly impressive.”
So as early as in 1983, Irving knew that the diesel exhaust story is untenable. That is why he is now compelled to state that it is unproven that the (alleged) mass murder was carried out by gas, and that this issue is “highly controversial.”
The evolution of the extermination legend
Almost immediately after the three Reinhardt camps had been put into operation, Jewish and Polish groups started spreading fantastic rumors about mass killings in these camps. The knowledge of these stories is of vital importance for an understanding of how the currently dominant historical version of these camps came about and what level of credibility can be ascribed to it.
Let us begin with Belzec. According to the self-styled “eyewitness” Jan Karski, Jews were exterminated at Belzec by means of quicklime in trains. However, most “witnesses” mentioned killing by electricity. On July 10, 1942, the Polish government in exile in London received the following report:
“According to information from a German who is employed there, the place of execution is at Belzec, near the station. […] Once discharged, the men go into a barrack on the right, the women into one on the left, to undress, supposedly for taking a bath. Then the groups go together into a third barrack with an electric plate, where the execution occurs.”
In a book published in Stockholm in 1944 and translated into English a year later, the Hungarian Jew Stefan Szende described how million of Jews had been killed at Belzec by electricity in “the underground premises of the execution building”:
“When trainloads of naked Jews arrived they were herded into a great hall capable of holding several thousand people. This hall had no windows and its flooring was of metal. Once the Jews were all inside, the floor of this hall sank like a lift into a great tank of water which lay below it until the Jews were up to their waists in water. Then a powerful electric current was sent into the metal flooring and within a few seconds all the Jews, thousands at a time, were dead.”
In its official report on the German crimes in Poland, presented by the Soviets at the Nuremberg trial, the Polish government wrote the following about Belzec:
“In the early months of 1942, reports came in that in this camp, special installations for the mass execution of Jews were being built. Under the pretext that they were being taken to a bath, they were undressed completely and pushed into the building. A strong electric current passed through the floor of this building.”
The horror stories about Sobibor were quite different. While the Jewish witness Zelda Metz claimed that at this camp the Jews were “asphyxiated with chlorine”, the Soviet witness Alexander Pechersky depicted the alleged mass murder in the following way:
“As soon as they all have entered, the doors are closed with a heavy thump. A heavy black substance comes down in swirls from openings in the ceiling. One hears frantic screams, but not for very long because they change to gasping suffocating breaths and convulsions.”
The case of Treblinka is even more instructive. While some of the earlier witnesses indeed mentioned gas chambers, none of them claimed that the murder weapon was a diesel engine. On August 17, 1942, the Polish underground newspaper Informacja biezaca told of a mobile gas chamber which moved along the mass graves. Three weeks later, on September 8, the same paper described the alleged gassings as follows: The victims were exposed to a gas with retarded effect, whereupon they left the gas chambers, walked to the mass graves, fainted and fell into the graves. However, the main killing method depicted by the witnesses was hot steam. On November 15, 1942, the Resistance Movement of the Warsaw Ghetto published a long report in which it stated that between late July and early November, two million Jews had been exterminated at Treblinka in steam chambers.
In August 1944, the Red Army conquered the area around Treblinka, and a Soviet commission questioned former inmates of the camp. What murder weapon would it opt for – gas or steam? As a matter of fact, it chose neither, but claimed in its report that three million people had been killed at Treblinka by pumping the air out of the execution chambers! In September 1944, a professional atrocity propaganda monger, Wassili Grossman, honored Treblinka with his visit. In his pamphlet The Hell of Treblinka Grossman confirmed the figure of three million victims; as he could not know which of the three killing methods (steam, gas and pumping the air out of the chambers) would finally prevail, he prudently mentioned all of them in his booklet.
At the Nuremberg trial, Germany’s accusers chose the steam version. On December 14, 1945, the Polish government issued a document which was presented by the Soviets in Nuremberg and according to which “several hundreds of thousands” of people had been exterminated at Treblinka by means of steam. By 1946, the official version had already changed. As it was simply not credible that the Germans would have used such varied killing methods in the three Reinhardt camps, the steam chambers, electric killing installations etc. were relegated to the dustbin of history and replaced by diesel engines. The reason for this choice was undoubtedly the Gerstein report. In early 1946, this report – which decades later was brilliantly analyzed by French revisionist Henri Roques – had monopolized the attention of the historians, and Gerstein, who claimed to have witnessed a gassing of Jews at Belzec, had identified the murder weapon as a diesel engine.
It would be quite interesting how blogger S. Romanov would react if presented with the statements of all these eyewitnesses. Most probably he would argue that the witnesses had actually seen a gasoline engine, but unfortunately failed to identify it crrectly. The first witness had identified it as a train wagon the floor of which was covered with quicklime, the second as an electrified plate in a barrack, the third as an electrified plate in a huge subterranean basin, the fourth as a ceiling with openings through which a black liquid was poured, the fifth as a mobile gas chamber moving along mass graves, the sixth as a steam-generating boiler, the seventh as a pump by means of which the air was pumped out of the chambers, and the eighth as a diesel engine! But these minor differences were entirely irrelevant, as the Aktion Reinhardt Holocaust was a proven historical fact!
Is David Irving familiar with these eyewitness reports? If he has not read the revisionist literature, it is unlikely that he knows them as they are never mentioned in the official literature. In his “standard work” about the Reinhardt camps, Yitzhak Arad quotes an excerpt from the report of the resistance movement of the Warsaw Ghetto, but shamelessly distorts the text by replacing the embarrassing “steam chambers” by “gas chambers”!
The results of the excavations at Treblinka (1945)
It is universally admitted that none of the three Reinhardt camps had crematoria. According to Holocaust historians, the bodies of gassed Jews were first buried in mass graves, then in 1943 they were exhumed and burned in the open air. This fact alone is sufficient to make the official version highly improbable. All “normal” concentration camps, such as Dachau and Buchenwald, for which no mass killings are claimed, had crematoria, so why wouldn’t the German’s have built crematoria at the “extermination camps” where they would have been a hundred times more necessary?
Based on several cremation experiments, Carlo Mattogno assumes that 160 kg of wood are necessary to cremate a human body with a weight of 45 kg. He calculates that the burning of 870,000 corpses would have left 1,950 tons of human ashes, plus 11,100 tons of wood ashes. The total volume of ashes would have amounted to approximately 48,000 cubic meters. Since human teeth and bones cannot be completely destroyed through open air cremations, myriads of teeth and bone fragments would have been scattered at the site of the former camp.
Had the Soviets and the Poles found but 10% of these ashes, teeth and bone fragments, they would have had a very serious case against the Germans. They would have summoned an international commission – just as the Germans had done after discovering the mass graves at Katyn – and presented the results of the forensic investigations at the Nuremberg trial.
In November 1945, a Polish team headed by the judge Zdzislaw Lukaszkiewicz carried out an excavation on the area of the former camp Treblinka and subsequently wrote a report which was published thirty years later (!). On the first day of the excavations, the diggers found “a large amount of Polish, Soviet, German, Austrian and Czech coins, plus fragments of pots and pans”, but no human remains. On the second day they discovered “all kind of tableware, different household objects, shreds of garments, a large amount of more or less seriously damaged Polish documents, the badly damaged identity card of a German Jew and more coins”. On the third day, they found “a considerable amount of human ashes and human remains”. On the fourth days, they discovered “fragments of all kind of cutlery, a large number of rags, Greek, Slovak and French coins, plus the remainders of a Soviet passport”. On November 13, Lukaszkiewicz ordered the excavation to be stopped, because he considered the discovery of further graves “improbable”.
That the Poles found any human remains at all will come as a surprise to nobody. According to the Höfle document, 713,355 Jews were sent to Treblinka in 1942, and the deportations continued until August 1943, albeit at a much slower rate. Under these circumstances, one cannot but assume that several thousand deportees must have died at the camp.
The results of the archeological drillings at Belzec (1997-1999)
In 1997, the United States Holocaust Museum and a similar Polish organization decided to undertake archeological drillings and diggings within the area of the former camp at Belzec. The work was conducted by a team of archeologists led by Professor Andrzej Kola who published the results in 2000. In his aforementioned book about Belzec, Carlo Mattogno performs a very detailed analysis of the Kola report, which I will presently summarize.
It goes without saying that the only rational method would have consisted in digging up the whole territory of the former camp, but this is precisely what Kola and his team did not do. They proceeded in the following way: Drilling was conducted in the designated area at 5 m intervals with a manual drill 8 m long and with a diameter of 65 mm. Altogether 2,277 drillings were sunk, and mass graves were identified by 236 of them. The earth samples taken in this way were then analyzed to determine their contents. The research resulted in the discovery of 33 graves in two separate areas of the camp. The 32 graves had a total surface of 5,919 square meters and a total volume of 21,310 cubic meters.
Although Kola and his team discovered not only human ashes and bone fragments, but also a certain number of unburned corpses, they inexplicably failed to excavate them. Their book contains photographic documentation of objects found in the area of the camp. The photographs show the most insignificant junk: horseshoes, keys and padlocks, pots and scissors, combs, coins and bottles, but not a single photograph shows a corpse or part of a corpse!
On the basis of experimental data, the maximum capacity of a mass grave can be set at 8 corpses per cubic meter (m3), assuming that one third of them are children. Theoretically, the surface area of the Belzec graves would thus have been sufficient to inter 170,000 corpses. If this had been the case, the revisionists would be forced to admit that Belzec had indeed been an extermination camp, for 170,000 people could not possibly have died from “natural causes” in a camp which existed only for nine and a half months. On the other hand, Belzec could not have been a total extermination camp: According to the Höfle document, 434,000 people were deported there, and if 170,000 of them had been killed there, the other 264,000 would have left the camp alive.
As a matter of fact, the capacity figure of 170,000 corpses is based on two entirely unrealistic assumptions: A maximized surface/volume of the graves and a maximum density of corpses in them. As to the first point, Kola remarked:
“In the first zone, as we can suppose, the connecting of smaller neighbouring graves into bigger ones by the destruction of the earthen walls separating them was observed. […] Additional disturbances in archeological structures were made by intensive dig-ups directly after the war while local people were searching for jewelry. This fact makes it difficult for the archeologists to define precisely the ranges of burial pits.”
Already in 1946, the prosecutor of the town of Zamosc had stated that the camp site had been “completely dug up by the local population in their search for valuables”.
As to the second point, of the 236 samples taken in connection with the graves, 99 contained no human remains at all, while more than half of the remaining 137 show a very thin layer of human ashes. Carlo Mattogno concludes:
“Although it is impossible to establish the number of the deaths, it is nonetheless possible to infer, from what has been discussed above, an order of magnitude of several thousands, perhaps even some tens of thousands.”
Personally, I consider the latter figure (“some tens of thousands”) extremely unlikely, although I cannot exclude it with absolute certainty. Probably several thousand Jews died at Belzec.
Sobibor or the scientific report that never was
About the third Reinhardt camp, Sobibor, a young and talented revisionist, Thomas Kues, furnishes the following information:
“In an article published in The Scotsman on November 26, 2001, we read that Polish archaeologist A. Kola and his team had discovered seven mass graves at the Sobibor site. […] Despite seven years having passed since the drills and diggings were reportedly made, not a single article, paper or scientific report has appeared on them, neither in English, Polish, nor in any other language.”
Why was “not a single article, paper or scientific report” published about the result of the drillings and diggings, “neither in English, Polish, or any other language”? The answer to this question is all too obvious!
Two important documents Irving deliberately ignores
In light of the above-mentioned facts, the Reinhardt camps cannot possibly have been extermination centers. They cannot have been labor camps either because they were much too small to accommodate the enormous number of people deported to them. This leaves but one possibility: Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor were transit camps. This conclusion squares with the numerous German wartime documents which speak of the “evacuation” or “expulsion” of the Jews to the east. It also squares with two important documents about Belzec and Sobibor which David Irving deliberately ignores because they contradict his thesis.
On March 17, 1942, Fritz Reuter, an employee in the Department of Population and Welfare in the Office of the Governor General for the District of Lublin, made a note in which he referred to a talk on the previous day with the SS Hauptsturmführer H. Höfle, the delegate for Jewish resettlement in the Lublin district. Reuter wrote:
“It would be expedient to divide the transports of Jews arriving in the Lublin district at the station of origin into employable and unemployable Jews. […] All unemployable Jews are to come to Bezec [sic], the outermost border station in the Zamosz district. Hauptsturmführer Höfle is thinking of building a large camp in which the employable Jews can be registered in a file system according to their occupations and requisitioned from there. […] In conclusion he [Höfle] stated that he could accept 4-5 transports of 1.000 Jews to the terminal station Bezec daily. These Jews would cross the border and never return to the General Gouvernement.”
There can be no doubt whatsoever about the meaning of this document: Jews unable to work would be expelled from the General Gouvernement and deported to the occupied eastern territories. The sentence that Belzec was “the outermost border station in the Zamosz district” makes sense only in connection with an expulsion beyond the border. Like Sobibor, Belzec was situated in the extreme east of the General Gouvernement, close to the Ukrainian frontier.
David Irving could claim that Reuter had used a code language and that “cross the border and never return to the General Gouvernement” was a code expression for “will be killed at Belzec”, but there is no objective evidence to support such a position.
On 15 July, 1943, Heinrich Himmler ordered:
“The transit camp Sobibor is to be converted into a concentration camp.”
So Sobibor was officially called a transit camp (Durchgangslager).
The three Reinhardt camps were transit camps
On July 31, 1942, the Reichskommissar of Bielorussia, Wilhelm Kube, sent a telegram to the Reichskommissar for the occupied Eastern territories, Henrich Lohse, in which he protested against the deportation of 1000 Warsaw Jews to Minsk. On August 17, 1942, the illegal Polish newspaper Informacja Biezaca reported that 2000 skilled Jewish workers had been deported from Warsaw to Smolensk on August 1. On September 7, 1942, the same paper informed that two transports with 4000 Warsaw Jews had been sent for labor at installations important for the war effort in Brzesc and Malachowicze.
I am aware that these figures represent but a small part of the Jews transported to Treblinka and that the anti-revisionists will claim that these cases were “exceptions”. But every single Jew who left Treblinka, or one of the two other Reinhardt camps, alive deals a blow to the official version according to which they were “pure extermination centers” where all Jews, regardless of age and health, were gassed on arrival. If the anti-revisionists call the aforementioned cases “exceptions”, we are entitled to ask them how many other such “exceptions” there may have been.
A certain number of Jews were sent from the Reinhardt camps to Majdanek and to Auschwitz. A Polish historian who can hardly be suspected of revisionist sympathies, Zofia Leszczynska, reports that in October of 1942, 1,700 Jews left Belzec for Majdanek. This fact is amply sufficient to shatter the official version according to which less than ten Jews survived Belzec.
In an article about “Jews at Majdanek” the Jewish historians Adam Rutkowski and Tatiana Berenstein state:
“Some of the transports from Warsaw reached Lublin by way of Treblinka, where the selection of the deportees took place.”
For the official historiography, this fact is simply lethal! On 30 April 1942, a transport with 305 Jews arrived at Majdanek from Treblinka. One of these Jews, Samuel Zylbersztain, later wrote a report about his plight. After the “extermination camp” Treblinka and the “extermination camp” Majdanek, Zylbersztain had survived eight “normal concentration camps”. He is thus a living proof that the Germans did not exterminate their Jewish prisoners.
The author of the most detailed book about Sobibor, the Dutch Jew Julius Schelvis, was himself an inmate of this camp. He naturally presents Sobibor as a death factory, but his description is solely based on what he has heard from others or read in books, for he only spent a few hours at the camp. From Sobibor, he was deported to Lublin and later to Auschwitz whence he finally returned to the Netherlands. Schelvis was not an isolated case: At least 700 other Dutch Jews were moved from Sobibor to labor camps, and some of them returned home via Auschwitz – another “extermination camp” where the Germans apparently forgot to “gas” them.
The case of Minna Grossova is particularly significant: born in September 1874, she was deported to Treblinka on October 19, 1942. Although Treblinka was allegedly a “pure extermination camp” where even able-bodied Jews were gassed on arrival, Mrs. Grossova was not gassed, but transferred to Auschwitz – where, according to Holocaust lore, all Jews who were unable to work were immediately sent to the “gas chambers” without previous registration. Again, Mrs. Grossova was not gassed, but duly registered. She died on December 30, 1943. From the point of view of the orthodox Holocaust story, the fate of this woman is absolutely inexplicable.
The fact that relatively few transports of Jews from the Reinhardt camps to other destinations are documented can be explained quite easily. As early as in 1945, the victors of the Second World War decided to perpetuate the Jewish extermination legend, and we may safely assume that countless documents contradicting the official truth were either hidden or destroyed. Some people might accuse me of resorting to the same trick as the orthodox historians who claim that there is no documentary evidence for homicidal gas chambers because “the Germans destroyed the documents”, but such an accusation would be groundless, since my position is much more solid. If there were but one document proving the gassing of Jews, I would readily admit that there might have been others, but although 64 years have elapsed since the end of the war, no such document has emerged. On the other hand, we have seen that there are documents proving that Jews were sent from the Reinhardt camps to other destinations – and for each such document there may have been a hundred others.
Once a “Holocaust denier”, always a “Holocaust denier”!
David Irving is an extremely intelligent man, but unfortunately he is totally amoral. For him, truth is negotiable. He is prepared to say anything if he thinks it might enhance his career.
Irving is longing for the good old times when he was invited to television discussions, when his books were favorably reviewed and sold well. He wants these good old times to return. On the other hand, he knows that he will be treated as an outcast as long as he is labeled a “Holocaust denier”, so he wants to get rid of this label at any cost.
At the heart of his problem is Auschwitz. He has never contested any of the other aspects of the Holocaust story. He has always maintained that the Germans shot a huge number of Jews on the Eastern front (in the eighth chapter of Treblinka – Extermination Camp or Transit camp? he could find compelling evidence that the reports of the Einsatzgruppen, which allegedly prove such a gargantuan slaughter are highly suspect because they are contradicted by other German documents and not corroborated by forensic evidence). He has never disputed the alleged mass murders at the Reinhardt camps, or Majdanek. He has explicitly admitted the existence of the “gas vans” allegedly used at Chelmno and in the occupied Soviet territories. But he has so often and so vociferously defended the revisionist position on Auschwitz that his pride forbids him to back down in this one question; he is at best willing to concede the possibility that some gassings took place at Auschwitz on a limited scale.
According to Raul Hilberg, one million Jews perished at Auschwitz. As it is unlikely that the number of Jews who died at Auschwitz from so-called “natural causes” (disease, exhaustion etc.) could have exceeded 100,000, this implies that about 900,000 Jews must have died in the “gas chambers” of that camp). So what does David Irving do? He claims that 2.4 million Jews, rather than Hilberg’s 1.5 million, were murdered at the three Reinhardt camps Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka, thus replacing the roughly 900,000 “Auschwitz gas chamber victims.”
By questioning the Auschwitz story, Irving has, from the Jewish point of view, committed the worst of all sacrileges, because Auschwitz is the heart of the Holocaust story, although, according to Hilberg, it accounts for less than one fifth of the Holocaust victims. The Holocaust lobby will never forgive David Irving this sacrilege. Even if he suddenly claimed that the Germans gassed one million Jews at Majdanek, plus two million at Chelmno, plus three million at Sobibor, plus five million at Belzec, plus ten million at Treblinka, and that they shot twenty million Jews on the Russian front, this would be of no avail: he would continue to be branded a “Holocaust denier”.
A warning to David Irving
I do not know when David Irving’s long-announced book about Heinrich Himmler will be published, but I fear that I already know the gist of it: Yes, the Holocaust did indeed happen; millions of Jews were exterminated, but only an insignificant number were gassed at Auschwitz. Upwards of two million Jews were killed by some unknown means at Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec; between one and two million were shot, or murdered in gas vans, on the killing fields of Russia. For this crime Adolf Hitler bears no responsibility whatsoever. It was ordered and organized by the Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, who somehow managed to hide this gigantic massacre from his Führer.
As Heinrich Himmler has few admirers even among avowed National Socialists, Irving obviously regards him as the ideal scapegoat. I warn David Irving that the only effect of such statements will be to ruin what little credibility he still has. Heinrich Himmler may be guilty of many things, but nobody, not even David Irving, has the right to accuse him of ordering and organizing a monstrous slaughter he cannot possibly have ordered and organized for the simple reason that it did not take place.
Advice to David Irving
Like other brilliant men before him, David Irving has fallen hard and fallen far, but who has fallen can rise again. I advise David Irving to remember the old adage: “Facts are tyrants, they tolerate no dissent.” Let us hope that David Irving will muster the necessary courage to face the facts and to draw the inevitable conclusions. There is simply no other way he can save his honor and restore his credibility.
|||David Irving, Hitler’s War, Wiking Press, New York 1977, p. 393.|
|||Robert Faurisson, “A Challenge to David Irving”, Journal of Historial Review, Volume 5, 1984.|
|||Fred Leuchter, An Engineering Report on the alleged “Gas Chambers” at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek, Poland, Samisdat Publishers, Toronto 1988.|
|||Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, Free Speech Press, New York 1994.|
|||Bundesarchiv Koblenz, R. 58/871.|
|||Ingrid Weckert, “’Massentötungen’oder Desinformation?”, Historische Tatsachen, Nr. 24, Verlag für Volkstum und Zeitgeschichtsforschung, Vlotho 1985. Ingrid Weckert, „Die Gaswagen“, in: Ernst Gauss (editor), Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte, Grabert Verlag, Tübringen 1994.|
|||Pierre Marais, Les camions à gaz en question, Polémiques, Paris 1994.|
|||England and Wales High Court (Queen’s Bench Division), Decision David Irving v. Penguin Books Limited, Deborah E. Lipstadt, 7.11.|
|||Theses and Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004.|
|||Carlo Mattogno, Jürgen Graf, Treblinka – Extermination camp or transit camp? Thesis and Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004.|
|||Raul Hilberg, Sonderzüge nach Auschwitz, Dumjahn, Munich 1981, p. 177.|
|||Ibidem, p. 181.|
|||Peter Witte, Stephen Tyas, “A New Document on the Deportation and Murder of the Jews during ‘Einsatz Reinhardt’ 1942”, in: Holocaust and Genocide Studies, no. 3, Winter 2001, pp. 469 f.|
|||Michael Treguenza,”Das vergessene Lager des Holocaust”, in: I. Wojak, P. Hayes (eds), „Arisierung“ im Nationalsozialismus, Volksgemeinschaft, Raub und Gedächtnis, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/Main, New York 2000, p. 253.|
|||Raul Hilberg, Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 1997, p. 946.|
|||In: Germar Rudolf (Ed.), Dissecting the Holocaust, Theses and Dissertations Press, Chicago 2003.|
|||S. Romanov, “Why the diesel issue is irrelevant”. www.holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com|
|||Thomas Dalton, Debating the Holocaust, Theses and Dissertations Press, Chicago 2003, p. 110, 111.|
|||Friedrich Berg, “The Diesel Gas Chambers – Myth within the Myth”, Journal of Historical Review, Volume 5, 1984.|
|||David Irving, “On History and Historiography”, Journal of Historical Review, Volume 5, 1984.|
|||Jan Karski, Story of a Secret State, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston 1944.|
|||Carlo Mattogno, Belzec…, p. 12.|
|||Stefan Szende, The Promise Hitler Kept, V. Gollancz, London 1945, pp. 159 f.|
|||URSS-93, pp. 41 f.|
|||N. Blumental (ed.), Dokumenty i materialy, vol. I, Lodz 1946, p. 211.|
|||Yuri Suhl, Ed essi si ribellarono. Storia della resistenza ebraica contro il nazismo, Milan 1969, p. 31.|
|||K. Marczweska, W. Wazniewski, “Treblinka w swietle Akt Delegatury Rzadu RP na Kraji”, in: Biuletyn Glownej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, volume XIX, Warsaw 1968, p. 136 f.|
|||Ibidem, p. 138 f.|
|||Ibidem, p. 139-145.|
|||State Archives of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 7021-115-9, p. 108.|
|||Wassili Grossman, „Die Hölle von Treblinka“, in: Die Vernichtungslager Maidanek und Treblinka, Stern-Verlag, Vienna 1945, p. 33.|
|||André Chelain (Ed.), Faut-il fusiller Henri Roques?, Polémiques, Paris 1986.|
|||Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Aktion Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis 1987, pp. 334, 335.|
|||Carlo Mattogno, Jürgen Graf, Treblinka – Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?, chapter 4.|
|||Stanislaw Wojtczak, “Karny oboz pracy Treblinka I i osrodek zaglady Treblinka II”, in: Biuletyn Glowney Komisji Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, Warsaw 1975, volume XXVI, pp. 183-185.|
|||A. Kola, Belzec: The Nazi Camp for Jews in the light of archeological sources: Excavations 1997-1999, The Concil for the Protection of Memory and Martyrdom, United States Holocaust Museum, Warsaw and Washington 2000.|
|||Ibidem, p. 65 f.|
|||Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen, Ludwigsburg252/59, vol. I, p. 1227.|
|||Carlo Mattogno, Belzec…, p. 91.|
|||Jozef Kermisz, Dokumenty i materialy do dziejow okupacji niemieckiej w Polsce, vol. II: “Akce” i “Wysiedlenia”, Warsaw-Lodz-Krakow 1946, p. 32 f.|
|||Reproduction of the document in: Tovi Blatt, Sobibor. The forgotten revolt, H. E. P., Issaquah 1998, documentation without pagination.|
|||State Archives of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 7445-2-145, p. 80.|
|||Hoover Institute Library and Archives, Stanford, “Report on conditions in Poland”, Annex No. 7, Box 29.|
|||K. Marczewsk, W. Wazniewski, „Treblinka w swietle akt Delegatury...“, p. 137.|
|||Z. Leszczynska, „Transporty wiezniow do obozu na Majdanku“, Zeszyty Majdanka, IV, 1969, p. 184.|
|||Tatiana Berenstein, Adam Rutkowski, „Zydzi w obozie koncentracijnym Majdanek (1941-1944)“, Biuletyn Zydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Polsce, no. 58, 1966, p. 16.|
|||Samuel Zylbersztain, „Pamietnik wieznia dziesieciu obozow“, Biuletyn Zydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Polsce, no. 68, Warsaw 1968.|
|||Julius Schelvis, Vernichtungslager Sobibor, Metropol Verlag, Berlin 1998.|
|||Carlo Mattogno, Jürgen Graf, Treblinka…, pp. 259-288.|
|||Terezinska Pametni Kniha, Terezinska Iniciativa, Melantrich 1995, p. 393.|
|||Raul Hilberg, Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 1997, p. 946.|
Additional information about this document
|Title:||David Irving and the “Aktion Reinhardt Camps”|
|Sources:||Inconvenient History, vol. 1, no. 2 (fall 2009)|
|First posted on CODOH:||Sept. 25, 2012, 7 p.m.|