Faurisson and Cole on the Struthof "Gas Chamber"

What was it? How do they know? Why are they talking about it?
Published: 1995-03-01

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Robert Faurisson

In SR (Winter 1995, p. 6-7), you reported the visit to the Struthof “gas chamber” by David Cole and five other people. May I remind your readers that this “gas chamber” is the only one which enjoyed a real and complete expertise ordered by the accusers of Germany?

On December 1, 1945, Professor Rene Fabre, Dean of the Pharmacology Faculty in Paris, concluded that the room had no traces of hydrocyanic acid and that the bodies of allegedly gassed inmates in August 1943, kept in the morgue of a hospital in Strasbourg, had no traces of hydrocyanic acid. The expert's report, classified in the files of the Gendarmerie Militaire, disappeared but, thanks to another piece of evidence in those files, we know that such were the conclusions.

I discovered this in 1981 and mentioned it repeatedly in my books, articles, videos and in trials. See, for example, “The Gas Chamber at Struthof-Natzweiler (Alsace)” in The Journal of Historical Review (Summer 1985, p. 150-151). I had visited and examined that “gas chamber” for the first time in 1974. I published my photos and comments in 1980. The "gas chamber" was then closed to visitors except, of course, for the happy few with real or seemingly real “credentials.” Since 1981 there is no more problem with the alleged Struthof gas chamber.

David Cole

Professor Faurisson tells us “there is no more problem with the Struthof gas chamber.” I most sincerely beg to differ. First, it should be pointed out that perhaps Faurisson no longer has any belief in gassings at Struthof, but the Struthof “gas chamber” has not been dropped from the historical record like the Dachau “gas chamber.” In other words, maybe revisionists no longer have any problem with it but “exterminationists” certainly do. And revisionists should never act like once we are convinced of something, we should stop trying to explain ourselves to others. Many revisionists no longer have any “problem” with the Auschwitz “gas chamber,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of the world now feels the same way.

Unlike most other homicidal “gas chambers,” the Struthof chamber is not claimed to have been used for inmates of the camp in which it was situated (technically, the Struthof “gas chamber” lies outside the Struthof camp). It is said to have been used only 3 or 4 times.

Briefly, the “official” story of the Struthof “gas chamber” is this: It is claimed that SS Professor August Hirt, of the Institute of Anatomy in Strasbourg, got the idea to assemble for himself a human skull collection of “Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars.” After obtaining permission from Berlin, Hirt had 87 Jews (30 women and 57 men) from Auschwitz transported to the Struthof camp (which is located just outside Strasbourg) where they were gassed in 3 or 4 batches in August of 1943. Dr. Hirt provided the gas in the form of “salts,” and there is some dispute over just what type of poison was used. The bodies were then taken to the Strasbourg Institute of Anatomy where some of them were discovered still preserved when the Allies entered Strasbourg. After the war, Struthof Commandant Josef Kramer “confessed” to the gassings, although he didn’t seem to have a very good grasp of just what type of “salts” were used. That secret may have died with Professor Hirt, who, on June 2 1945, apparently decided to start a human heart collection by removing a large chunk of his own with a bullet from his revolver.

It is agreed that the building in which the “gas chamber” was housed was, before the war, a restaurant (when the area was a ski resort), and the “gas chamber” room was a cold storage room for perishable food. After the war started, and the Struthof camp was established, the room was used as a tear gas chamber for training SS recruits in the use of their gas masks. The room was supposedly “adapted” for homicidal usage, but after 3 or 4 homicidal gassings, it was returned to its “normal” function.

Now, what evidence does Faurisson give us to “prove” that no homicidal gassings ever took place at Struthof? He tells us of an “expertise” that has “disappeared,” but, “thanks to another piece of evidence,” we know what it said. He refers us to a “Journal of Historical Review” article for more info. One would hope to find out in this article just what that other piece of evidence is that confirms the existence and conclusions of the “expertise,” but sadly Faurisson refuses to enlighten us. So what do we have? A report that has disappeared and a revisionist who assures us that he knows what the report said, without feeling the need to provide us with any further evidence.

How would a revisionist respond if an “exterminationist” acted this way? Revisionists routinely dismiss documents when the originals have vanished. We don’t accept “hearsay,” and we certainly don’t take exterminationists on their word when it comes to the contents of documents. We are always demanding proof, proof, proof! Faurisson and others dismiss the Polish forensic report conducted at Auschwitz shortly after liberation simply because it is not well documented. So what are we to make of Faurisson’s “disappearing” forensic report for Struthof? Why are we so willing to accept that without any real documentation?

What’s more, if the forensic report is genuine, is it relevant? If the report truly found no traces of hydrocyanic acid in the walls of the chamber, we need to ask would there be any traces after only 3 or 4 gassings? (The coldness of the room, such an important factor regarding Kremas 2 and 3 at Birkenau, is irrelevant here because it is not Zyklon B that is said to have been used.) If there were no traces of hydrocyanic acid in the bodies found at the Institute of Anatomy in 1945, we must ask would there still be traces after over two years? And since we’re not sure just what gas was used, did Professor Fabre know what to look for when he examined the bodies? Plus, I might be mistaken, but the point of most autopsies is not just to say what someone didn't die from. Did Professor Fabre conclude what the cause of death was? What did these young, fairly healthy looking corpses die from? There are many unanswered questions.

But if Faurisson acts like an “exterminationist” in his presentation of the evidence against gassings at Struthof, he really mimics the opposition by leaving out any evidence that might call his theory into question. What Faurisson doesn't tell us is more important that what he does.

What is the evidence for gassings? Well, to start with, there is a great deal of documentation about Professor Hirt’s “skull collection.” There are letters and requests from Professor Hirt, including a complete proposal for his skull collection idea (where Hirt makes it clear that the Jews will be murdered for their skulls, just in case any revisionists are thinking that maybe the skulls came from victims who died from “natural causes”).

There are letters to and from SS Standartenfuehrer Sievers, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. Brandt, SS Obersturbannfuehrer Eichmann, and SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Berg. These letters cover the idea for the skull collection, the assembling of the Jews to be sent from Auschwitz to Struthof, and the attempted destruction of the collection as the Allies approached Strasbourg. For me, there is no question that Professor Hirt wanted his skull collection, asked permission which was granted from Berlin, and that 87 Jews were sent from Auschwitz to Struthof, which was not a Jewish internment camp, and furthermore that these 87 Jews (30 women and 57 men) “died” mysteriously all at the same time (Commandant Kramer’s weekly report for the week of August, 14 1943 shows the death of 30 Jews. The next weekly report, 21 August, shows 57 Jewish deaths). Add that the bodies of young, healthy looking Auschwitz inmates were found preserved at the Institute of Anatomy at Strasbourg and you have something more than one grand “coincidence.” And I’m basing this only on documents (letters, reports, pictures). There is also ample testimony about these events (I always prefer building on documents and physical evidence, with testimony as a last resort).

So if we establish that the Jews were sent to Struthof to be killed, what evidence exists for gassing? We have two documents. One is a letter from Professor Hirt to Berlin, dated July 14 1943, regarding the “constitution of a collection” (Professor Hirt had already received permission from Berlin for his skull collection). Hirt complains that the gassing equipment (“das Material zur Vergasung”) is not in place, and asks that the necessary equipment be made available. A daily report of building progress (signed by the Chief of the Struthof Works Directorate) from August 3 1943 mentions work in the “Gasraum” and “Gaskammer,” including ten hours of masonry work in the “Gaskammer.” Thus we have a believable timeline: Hirt asks for the gassing equipment July 14, the work report is dated August 3, and the Jews are dead as of August 14.

I think there is a high probability that these Jews were gassed. I think it is a fact that they were murdered in some way. Like other times when the Nazis committed atrocities, there is ample documentary evidence, not destroyed or “covered-up,” unlike the completely un-documented Auschwitz and Majdanek “gas chambers.”

Ironically, Hirt’s initial proposal for his collection called for the Jews to be killed and the heads to be severed at the location where the Jews were detained, the heads then to be sent to Strasbourg. But in the end the Jews were sent from Auschwitz to Struthof to be killed, and, if they were gassed, this required the time consuming modification of the tear gas chamber to serve this purpose.

If Auschwitz had such effective gas chambers, why was it necessary to alter both Hirt’s initial proposal and the tear gas room when it certainly would have been easier to gas the Jews in the “gas chambers” of Auschwitz? The danger of disease at Auschwitz is also discussed, as the speedy transfer of the 87 doomed Jews from Auschwitz is urged because of the danger of infectious diseases at that camp (letter from Sievers to Eichmann June 21 1943).

As to the physical state of the Struthof “gas chamber,” I believe that the gassing equipment on display now is indeed fraudulent. It would have been next to impossible to effectively murder people with this equipment. But if the French fabricated gassing equipment after liberation, as the Soviets did at Auschwitz, this alone does not preclude the possibility of real gassing equipment having once been there (just as the Soviet remodeling job at Krema 1 is not by itself proof there never was a gas chamber in Krema 1).

According to the official story, after the homicidal gassings at Struthof in August ‘43, the room returned to its “normal” purpose as a non-homicidal chamber. Since Hirt now had his beloved skulls, there would be no need for any more homicidal gassings. It is logical that the homicidal modifications Would have been removed, as they were now unnecessary and would have interfered with the non-homicidal use of the room.

I always had questions about the Struthof “gas chamber,” but after seeing it in person and meeting with Jean-Claude Pressac (who does a very good job in his book The Struthof Album published by the Klarsfeld Foundation) and seeing many of the original documents, I can now speak with more certainty; this gas chamber may very well have been used homicidally. It might turn out that Struthof is the only Nazi camp to ever have had a homicidal gas chamber... but in any event, the matter is far from closed, as Faurisson would have us believe. The Struthof episode also stresses the need to continually question and revise (if necessary) the work of other revisionists, no matter how well-respected they might be.

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up what Faurisson says about Struthof in his widely distributed Institute for Historical Review pamphlet “The Problem of the Gas Chambers.” He writes, “The slightest amount of critical spirit will be sufficient to convince oneself that a gassing in this small room, without any sealing whatever, would have been a catastrophe for the executioner as well as for the people in the vicinity,” and he asks rhetorically, “How did [Commandant Kramer] ventilate the room before opening the rudimentary door, made from rough-cut lumber?”

Faurisson has no excuse for saying such things (or, I should say, if he does have an excuse I’d be curious to hear it). Faurisson knows full well that this room has an effective ventilation system. He knows that the door was designed to be used in a (non-homicidal) gas chamber, and was even fitted with a gas admission pipe (still visible today). Faurisson has seen all the relevant documents, and admits in his aforementioned Journal of Historical Review article that this room was a tear gas training room. Therefore, he knows that the room can be effectively used with gas, can effectively be ventilated, and that the door was made for that purpose.

Even more important is that Faurisson admits in his JHR article that this room was also used to test an antidote for phosgene gas! Inmates were gassed with phosgene after taking an antidote, and in fact several inmates died from these experiments (which Faurisson also recognizes in his article). So Faurisson knows that this room was used with poison gas as well as tear gas and yet there was no “catastrophe for the executioner as well as for the people in the vicinity” and the ventilation system and “rudimentary” door worked just fine. Why he raises the apparently false points he does is beyond me.

We revisionists are always quick to point out when some gas chamber claim is illogical, but are we as quick to admit when logic is on the side of the “exterminationists?” The Struthof tear gas training room would certainly have been the logical choice for a limited number of gassings, not only because the room was designed with gassing procedures in mind, but also because it is located outside the camp area, away from tire inmates. Gassings could be carried out without alerting the Struthof camp inmates, who were not destined for murder and who would have been “eye-witnesses” to the crime.

In closing I’ll say that it is not my job or desire to uphold any dogma, whether “revisionist” or “exterminationist.” I do not seek to “deny” gas chambers at all costs. I look at the available evidence and honestly speak my mind. If I come across convincing evidence for homicidal gassings, I will say-so. You can all be assured of that.

Faurisson and I have clashed before. I’m sure we’ll clash again, because our methods are radically different. It wouldn’t hurt all revisionists to take a long look in the mirror today and ask if some of us aren’t starting to resemble those we claim to be fighting against.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Robert Faurisson , David Cole
Title: Faurisson and Cole on the Struthof "Gas Chamber", What was it? How do they know? Why are they talking about it?
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 21, March 1995, pp. 1, 3-4.
Published: 1995-03-01
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 16, 2015, 12:58 p.m.
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