‘No Gassing In Dachau’
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Reproduced here in facsimile is the widely-quoted 1960 letter by Dr. Martin Broszat, translated from the Hamburg weekly Die Zeit under the headline “Keine Vergasung in Dachau” (“No Gassing in Dachau”). It appeared in the German edition of August 19, 1960, and in the US edition of August 26, 1960 (p. 14). Dr. Broszat writes in the name of the prestigious Institute for Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte). He later served as director of the Munich-based archive and research center, which is funded by German taxpayers.
Here is a translation of the complete text of Broszat’s letter:
Neither in Dachau nor in Bergen-Belsen nor in Buchenwald were Jews or other prisoners gassed. The gas chamber in Dachau was never entirely finished or put “into operation.” Hundreds of thousands of prisoners who perished in Dachau and other concentration camps in the Old Reich [that is, Germany in its borders of 1937] were victims, above all, of the catastrophic hygienic and provisioning conditions: according to official SS statistics, during the twelve months from July 1942 through June 1943 alone, 110,812 persons died of disease and hunger in all of the concentration camps of the Reich. The mass extermination of the Jews by gassing began in 1941–1942 and occurred exclusively in a few facilities selected and equipped with appropriate technical installations, above all in the occupied Polish territory (but at no place in the Old Reich): in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Sobibor on the Bug [river], in Treblinka, Chelmno and Belzec.
It is at those places, but not in Bergen-Belsen, Dachau or Buchenwald, where the mass extermination facilities, spoken of in your article [in an earlier issue of Die Zeit], were built and disguised as shower baths or disinfection rooms. This necessary differentiation does not, of course, change anything regarding the criminal character of the facility that was the concentration camp. However, it may perhaps help eliminate the annoying confusion that arises from the fact that some ineducable people make use of a few arguments that, while correct, are polemically torn from the context, and that, rushing to respond to them are other people who, although they have the correct overall view, rely upon false or mistaken information.
Dr. M. Broszat
Institute for Contemporary History
"Americans didn't used to be gleeful about enemy soldiers dying... It is television that has made us... without pity. Something terrible has happened to America."
—Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., at Johns Hopkins University, citing the joy Americans exhibited during the Gulf War. Quoted in: Oakland Tribune, Dec. 12, 1991, p. A 16.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||‘No Gassing In Dachau’|
|Sources:||The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 13, no. 3 (May/June 1993), p. 12; originally published in Die Zeit, Aug. 19, 1960 (English version: Die Zeit, Int. Ed., Aug. 26, 1960, p. 14).|
|First posted on CODOH:||Sept. 15, 2000, 7 p.m.|