Further Drastic Changes in the 'Official' View of Auschwitz and Other Wartime Camps
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In the special March-April 1995 issue of the French magazine Historia, pages 114-125, Jean-Claude Pressac, a drugstore pharmacist in the Paris area, offers us an "Inquiry into the death camps." Until the third column of page 119, he is content to recall the thesis he developed in his widely acclaimed 1993 work Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz. I commented on that work, which is devoid of scholarly value, in my 1994 work, Réponse à Jean-Claude Pressac sur le problème des chambres à gaz.
I shall not reexamine here the many concessions Pressac makes there to the conclusions of revisionist researchers. In brief, Pressac's view is that the Germans did not plan or propose huge chemical slaughterhouses at all, just standard, ordinary crematories. Then, Pressac contends, at some undetermined date, without any orders or instructions and following no-one-knows-what procedure, they supposedly worked over these crematory structures in such a way as to transform the cold storage rooms for corpses into homicidal gas chambers.
Revision of Auschwitz
Pressac provides no physical representation whatsoever of the supposed result of this tinkering. He shows us no photograph, no model, no drawing that would let us see what these extraordinary chemical slaughterhouses might have looked like or how, technically, they might have operated. (It is worth noting that the only illustrations Pressac offers are two drawings, grotesque ones, by David Olère: one representing the "disrobing room" of the gas chamber, and the other the crematory furnace room. He offers no drawing of a gas chamber. [p. 120])
Neither does Pressac explain to us how, if the crematories had presumably been transformed into "death factories," devoted exclusively to "processing" gassing victims, the Germans were able, simultaneously, to store and then cremate the bodies of all the people, both prisoners and guards, who were dying of illness or epidemics. And right here we have the real eccentricity of Pressac's thesis: if valid, there would have been no functioning "normal" crematories at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
From the bottom of page 119 to the conclusion of his Historia article, Pressac extends his analysis, always in the same vein, to the camps of Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek and Dachau. Then he regales the reader with views so iconoclastic they must give the shivers to anyone who still accepts the "official" thesis on Nazi extermination of the Jews. He piles up grave accusations against "the most serious historiography" – that is, against the orthodox Holocaust extermination story.
Revision of Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor
With regard to Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor, Pressac rejects the version, hitherto accorded the status of untouchable truth, that the camps were conceived and operated as "extermination camps" (an expression coined by the Allies), and equipped with homicidal gas chambers. Noting the absence of any documents proving homicidal gassings, Pressac maintains that the testimonies concerning gas chambers contain "incomprehensible" elements, "peculiarities" (for Treblinka even more than for Belzec), and "contradictions." Pressac's hypothesis – for, in his view, we are now reduced to a hypothesis – is this: these three camps were equipped with delousing gas chambers as could be expected in transit camps. Then the Germans supposedly worked over or adapted these delousing chambers to transform them into homicidal gas chambers!
In passing Pressac remarks that these slaughterhouses functioned with "carbon monoxide" produced by a "gasoline engine." No doubt he realizes that the revisionists have been right in showing that the hitherto accepted version of gassing with a "diesel engine" is an absurdity. Pressac concludes the section (p. 122) on this note:
If the existence of delousing stations is acknowledged, as well as their conversion into homicidal installations, and that the passage of the Jews through the death camps after having been selected as fit for work is amply established, [three] will have to be profoundly changed. [emphasis added]
Revision of Majdanek
Pressac's section on Majdanek is devastating. Indeed, we read (p. 123):
Thus at Majdanek, two rooms only of the delousing block were used for killing people with carbon monoxide – Jews for the most part – during a few months in the summer of 1943. Zyklon-B was reserved for the delousing of the clothes of the prisoners, and its homicidal usage is to be excluded here.
This argument, which is not backed up with any proof, has altogether the appearance of a minimal concession to the homicidal gassing theory, a concession that allows Pressac to denounce absurdities, confusion, grave errors and falsehood in the official history of Majdanek gassings (including estimates of the numbers of victims). In Pressac's view, only a rather small but undetermined number of prisoners were gassed in the Majdanek camp, and only during a brief and unspecified period in the summer of 1943. Even so, this thesis is a drastic revision of the official thesis regarding Majdanek, according to which the Germans gassed hundreds of thousands prisoners over the course of several years.
Lies of the Soviets and the US Holocaust Museum
Pressac indicts the Soviets, who liberated the Majdanek camp on July 24, 1944, and found it intact. "The history of the camp," he says, "was cast in an 'anti-fascist' mold." For example, the Soviets presented a German blueprint of Majdanek delousing chambers as a blueprint of homicidal gas chambers. (Not mentioned by Pressac, French-Jewish historian Leon Poliakov took it upon himself to repeat this Soviet accusation in Das Dritte Reich und die Juden [Berlin: 1955, and, Munich: 1978], p. 137.)
Going far beyond this, Pressac denounces the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. In particular, he takes issue with Michael Berenbaum, who is "Project Director" of the US federal government agency, author of the official US Holocaust Museum guidebook, The World Must Know (Boston: 1993), and director of the United States Holocaust Research Institute. Referring to the "confusion" perpetrated by the Soviets in 1944 between delousing gas chambers and homicidal gas chambers, Pressac writes (p. 122):
That confusion, comprehensible at the moment of the liberation but which for political reasons the Soviet regime allowed to linger on right up the present day, leads to grave errors concerning the Majdanek gas chambers, errors which are now widespread in the United States, as for example in the catalogue The World Must Know, of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Ironically, the American historians, for want of historical verification, have accepted loaded Communist information in 1990, whereas the American army, in 1945, having committed the same initial error at Dachau by presenting five Zyklon-B delousing cells as homicidal ones, had abandoned that unfounded accusation following an expert's report.
Lies of the Auschwitz and Majdanek Museums
Finally Pressac denounces the authorities of the Polish state museums of Auschwitz and Majdanek, holding each responsible for a "historical freeze brought about by the axiom that the gas chambers were directly planned with a homicidal aim." In his own quaint way, Pressac is trying to say that the museum authorities, without any proof, have made it a matter of dogmatic principle that the Germans intended to construct homicidal gas chambers as such, whereas in reality (says Pressac), it makes more sense to argue that the Germans did not originally intend to gas the Jews, but then, once they decided to do so, worked over cold morgue rooms or delousing chambers, transforming them into homicidal gas chambers.
American Lies about Dachau
Concerning the Dachau camp, Pressac denounces the "hasty conclusions" of the American authorities. They began by portraying delousing gas chambers there as execution gas chambers. Next they designated as a "homicidal gas chamber" a room that, according to construction plans they had found, was actually a "morgue." Then American judicial authorities quite simply made these plans disappear from the files. Pressac points out that the American officials could have used the convenient "coding" theory, according to which the Germans concealed embarrassing activities by giving them code names. This theory, which he denounces, did not appear until later. Pressac says in so many words (p. 124):
Having seized the files of the [Dachau] camp SS construction offices intact, the Americans recovered the crematory file. Unfortunately, in the building plans, the "Brausebad" [shower], with its false showerheads, was designated as the morgue. Much troubled by this annoying detail, and not being able to fall back on the "coding" theory that had yet to make its appearance, the American judicial authorities purged the file so that all traces of the initial purpose of the room would disappear.
Pressac provides here what he believes is "a probably definitive answer" to the Dachau "gas chamber" issue. To accept this view, he says, would mean rejecting the "memorial presentation of the camp's history." It would be fitting, he continues, for the Americans to consider "turning over to the Dachau museum the SS construction office records that were seized in 1945, and which to date have been made use of by no one." History, he says (p. 125), is "in progress."
As already noted, Pressac believes that American judicial authorities "purged the file." There would be nothing surprising about this. At that same time the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal was setting an example for such actions with the authority, generously (self-)granted, to strike from the record of the proceedings anything the Allied authorities found objectionable. (See, for example, Robert H. Countess, "Le Sergent John Woods, bourreau de Nuremberg," Révue d'Histoire Révisionniste, No. 3, Nov. 1990, p. 64).
Contrary to what is sometimes said, Pressac was never a revisionist. From the outset he thought that the historical truth regarding the gas chambers and the number of gassing victims was half on the side of the exterminationists and half on the side of the revisionists. He invented a new thesis according to which the Germans did not design and build homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, but instead transformed morgue rooms and some other already existing structures into the infamous slaughterhouses.
In a way he was telling us that the woman is half-pregnant. This is already strange enough, but as time passed, Pressac made her less and less pregnant. She went from being 50 percent pregnant, to 40 percent, to 30 percent, and then 20 percent. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Pressac's "exterminationist" woman is today no more than ten percent pregnant. This is why the exterminationists now tend to reject Pressac. His name is mentioned less and less in French Holocaust literature, and sometimes it is even totally suppressed where it should be mentioned.
For example, Pierre Daix, a former German concentration camp inmate and a well-known journalist expressed high praise for Pressac's book, Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz, in a lengthy 1993 article, "Auschwitz: the proof of the gas chambers" ("Auschwitz: la preuve des chambres à gaz"), published in Le Quotidien de Paris (Sept. 29, 1993, p. 13). He said that Pressac's book had, as never before, presented important new data – data not contained in two books about the gas chambers published in 1981 and 1984. Since the end of the Second World War, Daix added, Pressac's 1993 work was "the book that had taught me the most and overwhelmed me the most"! But two years later, in a portion of an article in which he dealt with the gas chambers issue ("L'Holocauste occulté par Staline," Le Figaro, Nov. 23, 1995, p. 8), Daix recommended to his readers the two books of 1981 and 1984, and made no mention of Pressac's 1993 book. Asked twice why, he refused to answer the question.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Further Drastic Changes in the 'Official' View of Auschwitz and Other Wartime Camps, Pressac Makes New Concessions to the Revisionists|
|Sources:||The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 15, no. 6 (November/December 1995), pp. 18-20|
|First posted on CODOH:||Dec. 25, 2012, 6 p.m.|