The Gassed People of Auschwitz: Pressac's New Revisions

A Review
Published: 1995-01-01

Regarding "Le macchine dello sterminio Auschwitz 1941-1945"; the Italian book purporting to be a translation of the original French book by Jean-Claude Pressac, "Les Crematoires d'Auschwitz: La machinerie du meuertre de masse."

1. The New Thesis of Jean-Claude Pressac

In the section headed The Extermination of Hungarian Jews in our study, Auschwitz: The End of a Legend (pp. 31-32), we demonstrated that the Pressac thesis maintaining mass extermination of Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz is historically unfounded based upon two arguments:

  1. The material impossibility of carrying out actual cadaver cremations of such alleged masses of homicidally gassed persons; and:
  2. The Allied aerial reconnaissance photographs of 31 May 1944 which do not reveal any extermination activity.

Our reasoning must have impressed Pressac [1] because now he presents a radical revision of his thesis on pages 169 to 173 of Le macchine dello sterminio,[2] which does not purport to be a revised edition, but merely that it is supposed to be an Italian language translation of his original French language book, Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz: La machinerie du meuertre de masse. But it IS different. Realizing the material impossibility of an extermination of 292,000 Hungarian Jews, as he had previously maintained, Pressac now has sought to salvage the extermination principle by reducing the number of Jews deported to Auschwitz from Hungary. In this regard, he affirms as follows:

The reports of Lieutenant Colonel Laszlo Ferenczy of the Hungarian Police indicate that from 15 May to 8 July 1944, 148 convoys containing 483,000 [3] Jews were deported from Hungary with an average of 3,000 persons per convoy. The scheduled destination: Auschwitz, according to a telegram of 24 April to German diplomat Edmund Veesenmayer. Routinely mentioned as destinations of the Hungarian Jews: labor camps situated within the territory of the Reich and subject to the authority of the Reichsführer SS (according to Ritter); Upper Silesia, and the General Gouvernement (according to Eberhard von Thadden).

We would like to point out that the reports of Lieutenant Colonel Laszlo Ferenczy refer to deportation of 434,351 Jews in 147 trains, [4] not of 438,000 in 148 trains.

Then Pressac outlines the following status quaestionis [position]:

In the first Calendar of Auschwitz which Danuta Czech published in 1964, are recorded 91 convoys from Hungary which had reached Auschwitz between 2 May and 18 October 1944 (limit dates).

It was estimated then that the 480,000 [5] deportees indicated by Ferenczy had actually arrived at Auschwitz, but that the number of convoys was less, and their load greater (4,800 per train). The Auschwitz Museum prefers not to give an explanation as to the gap between the two durations of deportations of approximately two months according to Ferenczy, compared to four months claimed by them [the Auschwitz Museum]. Since only about 28,000 Jews, both men and women, were registered at Auschwitz, the other 410,000 were considered homicidally gassed; signifying that 94% of the deportees were liquidated upon arrival, and that only 6% were selected as capable for work (percentages offered by researcher G. Wellers in 1983). For 25 years these figures have been spread around the world and accepted as certainties.

In the 2nd Kalendarium by Danuta Czech published by Rohwolt in 1989, no longer is there any more mention of 53 Hungarian convoys arriving at Auschwitz between 2 May and 11 July 1944. About 40 convoys have disappeared. This "evaporation" explains with a misconception, the so-called "selection" among the Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz, which is revealed from documents discovered in the Arolsen Center.

The reception of a convoy at Birkenau proceeded as follows: the unloading of arrivees at the "ramp"; the separation into two columns, one of women and children; the other of men. Selection was carried out by one or two SS medical doctors functioning near the center of the platform after the two columns were divided into four columns: two of women and children, and two of men. Those unable to work went ahead in function of availability toward Crematories II, III, or V, and [were] liquidated. The able men and women were either immediately registered and interned in Auschwitz (especially the men); or transferred as soon as possible to other camps of the Reich without being registered; or finally-for the men and the women- thrust into the camp sectors of Birkenau, the BIII (Durchgangslager) and the BIIc (camp of the Hungarian Jews); always without being registered. Whenever the Auschwitz work office needed manpower, or received a request from the outside, the select registered workers were directed to the work Kommandos of the camp or elsewhere, from the Jews of BIII and BIIc. It is these internal and external transfers that took place after 11 July (the end of deportations of Hungarians to Auschwitz), which caused the erroneous belief that because of registration, the trains were still arriving from Hungary. (pp. 170, 171).

2. The Pressac Basis for his New Thesis

In the first German edition of the Auschwitz Kalendarium [6] there are 91 convoys of Jews coming from Hungary between 2 May and 18 October 1944, which resulted in a total registration of 29,159 people. [7] As far as the destiny of the non-registered people, the Kalendarium invariably states: "Die Übrigen wurden vergast" (the remaining were gassed). [8]

In his Essai de détermination du nombre de morts au camp d'Auschwitz,[9] Georges Wellers attempted to present the number of deaths at Auschwitz based upon the Kalendarium of Auschwitz. Dealing with the case of Hungary, he stated that at Auschwitz, a total of 437,402 [10] Jews were deported to Auschwitz in 87 trains with an approximate average of 5,028 persons in each train. Deducting from the total deportees the number of those registered, which he calculated as 27,758, Wellers concluded that 409,640 Hungarian Jews were homicidally gassed at Auschwitz. [11]

In our critique of Wellers' study, we noticed a striking contradiction in the Auschwitz Kalendarium regarding deportation of the Hungarian Jews: According to Motion 112 of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, (based upon the report of Lieutenant Colonel Laszlo Ferenczy dated 9 July 1944), from the middle of May, until 8 July 1944, there were 434,351 Jews deported from Hungary in 147 trains, [12] but the Kalendarium of Auschwitz records only 91 transports, and among those were 33 transports after 11 July 1944, which is the specific date of the arrival of the last train which left Hungary.

The conclusion was clear: only 58 transports recorded in the Auschwitz Kalendarium arrived up to 11 July 1944, and the other 33 transports were false. [13] Before reaching this conclusion, we presented this issue to the major world institutes specializing in the study of the Holocaust. No one could solve this contradiction. On 11 April 1987, when the above-referenced study had already been published, the Auschwitz Museum answered us as follows:

1) Part of the Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz had been sent, without registering, to the so-called Depot Lager (deposit camp) or Durchgangslager (transit camp) from where, later on, some of them had been registered and admitted to the camp. So the registrations of the Auschwitz Kalendarium after 11 July 1944 do not report the convoys from Hungary, but rather only those of the prisoners coming from the Durchgangslager.

2) Registration of prisoners coming from Hungary were done cumulatively; that is, a registration can refer to more than one convoy which arrived on the same day. This explanation, which is acceptable to us, was adopted two years later by Danuta Czech in the second German language edition of the Auschwitz Kalendarium [14] which states that part of the Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz were housed in sectors BIIe, BIIc and BIII in Birkenau, called "Durchgangslager KL Auschwitz II" in the documents. [15] Registrations regarding the Hungarian Jews are moreover, often introduced by the formula "Aus den Transporten des RSHA aus Ungarn..." (from convoys of the RSHA from Hungary), [16] by which Danuta Czech means that the relative registration of prisoners is referred to more than one convoy.

It is quite evident that Jean-Claude Pressac has basically adopted our reasoning of 1987. [17]

3. The Contradiction of Pressac's New Thesis

The conclusion that Jean-Claude Pressac draws from the preceding, is that only 53 convoys of Jews from Hungary arrived at Auschwitz; convoys that usually consisted of an average of 3,000 people each, which corresponds to a total of (53×3,000 =) 159,000 deportees; rounded off to 160,000 deportees (p. 173).

In open contradiction with this, Pressac writes:

Summing it up, the only reliable figures available, although lacunose [with gaps], relating to Hungarian male and female work-capable Jews, are:

  1. The number of those registered at Auschwitz: 28,000
  2. The number of those transferred to the Reich camps: approximately 25,000 (incomplete figures).
  3. The number of female Hungarian Jews transferred to Stutthof: from 20,000 to 30,000 (as the count of its card-index at Yad Vashem has not yet been completed)

Therefore a total of approximately 80,000 people (which corresponds to approximately 240,000 who arrived)" (p. 171).

Here Pressac applies the "1/3 to 2/3 rule," [18] considering these 80,000 detainees able to work as one-third of the total of the deportees, which is then set at 240,000 people. Consequently, the trains arriving from Hungary contained an average of (240,000 / 53) = 4,528 people each. But at the same time, Pressac states in a polemical way disagreeing with F.Piper, that each convoy had " a maximum capacity of 3,000 " people, (p.172).

Thus Pressac states that the total capacity of the convoys were at the same time 3,000 and 4,528 people, and that the proportion of people able to work was at the same time, one-third and one-half, (80,000 able to work, out of 160,000 deportees).

Pressac moreover distorts the data from the Auschwitz Kalendarium (1989): For the period of 2 May to 11 July, it contains in fact the indication of 55, (not 53) registrations, not transportations of Hungarian Jews. And every registration refers explicitly or implicitly to more than one convoy. So for example, the 2 May registration reports two convoys; the one dated 16 May reports three convoys. Eight more registrations have the formula "aus den Trasporten...", so they relate to multiple convoys. The consequence of this is that the number of the convoys is necessarily larger than the number of the registrations.

We also note that in Les crématoires d'Auschwitz, the number of female Hungarian Jews transferred from Auschwitz to Stutthof is not 20,000 to 30,000, but 40,000 to 50,000 (p.147). What about the remaining/ missing 20,000 female Jews?

The Pressac thesis implies another contradiction; and a more striking one: If, in fact, all work-disabled Hungarian Jews were homicidally gassed, and if it is true that work-restricted Hungarian Jews amounted to two-thirds of the total deportees, then approximately 292,000 were homicidally gassed. But if they homicidally gassed 80,000 or 160,000 work-disabled at Auschwitz, then just where were the remaining 212,000 or 132,000 work-impaired Hungarian Jews, homicidally gassed? Or putting it in another way, if 212,000 or 132,000 work-disabled Hungarian Jews who, according to Pressac, did not go through Auschwitz and were not homicidally gassed; then why would 80,000 or 160,000 work-disabled people have been deported to Auschwitz, and homicidally gassed?

4. Auschwitz: A Transit Camp for the Hungarian Jews

Let's get down to the matter: To where were the Hungarian Jews deported?

It is undoubtedly true that some German documents show a destination other than Auschwitz for Hungarian Jews. For example, a 27 October 1944 note by Horst Wagner (Chief of the section " Inland " of the Foreign Ministry of the Reich) states that out of approximately 900,000 Jews who were in Hungary, 437,402 had been "taken to the eastern territories to be used for work." [19] Other documents mention Germany, the General Gouvernate and Upper Silesia, as the final destination. Nevertheless, this does not preclude that these deportees had gone first through Auschwitz as a transit and clearing camp; and more than that, some documents affirm that quite clearly. The report by Eberhard von Thadden (Chief of the section "Inland II" of the Foreign Ministry of the Reich), dated 26 May 1946, states that from the 15th to the 24th of May 1944, they had deported from Hungary to the General Gouvernate, 116,000 Jews, at a rate of 12,000 to 14,000 per day, [20] but he adds:

Nach den bisherigen Feststellungen sind etwa 1/3 der abtransportierten Juden arbeitseinsatzfhig. Sie werden sofort nach Eintreffen im Sammellager Auschwitz auf die Dieststellen von Gauleiter Sauckel, die OT usw. verteilt. [According to the verifications done up to now, approximately one-third of the deported Jews are able to work. After arriving at the gathering camp in Auschwitz, they are assigned to the services of Gauleiter Sauckel of the Todt Organization, etc.] [21]

The report by Lieutenant Colonel Laszlo Ferenczy of 29 May 1944, is still more explicit:

The German Security Police proposes, and it is their clear intent, that the Jews bring with themselves provisions for at least five days for the duration of their transport-since upon their arrival at Auschwitz, after selection has taken place, they are sent immediately (azonnal) on trains (vonatokkal) to the various work locations. [22] (azonnal = immediately, at once)

This report underlines that, from the beginning of these deportations until midnight of 28 May 1944, there were 184,049 Hungarian Jews deported in 58 trains, and they all went through Auschwitz.

5. Cremation Capacity at Birkenau

According to Jean-Claude Pressac, at the end of May 1944, the exterminating capacity of the installations at Birkenau was as follows:

LocationFeaturesDaily Capacity
Crematory II:only one possible gassing cycle1,000
Crematory III:1,000
Crematory V:two possible gassing cycles per day, as the three gas chamber block is ventilated, and the incineration takes place in pits -3- [three pits]1,000 – 2,000
Bunker 2:no ventilated gas chamber and incineration in a pit of 30 square meters and in another [pit] of 20 square meters300

and so 3,300 per day, with the possibility of an extension to 4,300. The Kalendarium ... indicates the arrival on 20 May [23] of one convoy (an average of 3,000 people of whom 1,000 were able, and 2,000 were unable to work) and on 21 May of two convoys (6,000 people, of whom 2,000 were able to work and 4,000 were unable). The photograph taken on 21 May around 9 to 10 A.M. does not show more than six or seven cars on the ramp. This indicates how neither one of the two convoys had arrived (2 * circa 40 cars). Crematories II and III do not show any smoke, while an incineration is taking place in one of the three pits (3.5m * 15m) next to Crematory V, which corresponds to the end of incineration on the eve [night before] of those who were unable to work. The Kalendarium ... indicates with sufficient precision that 2,100 work-capable persons were selected from the two convoys of 21 May. To destroy a maximum of 3,900 people per day was compatible with the exterminating capacity of Birkenau (p. 172).

To Pressac's argumentations, we counter with the following objections:

  1. The cremation capacity of 1,000 cadavers per day which Pressac attributes to each one of Crematories II and III, is technically unfounded. The maximum cremation capacity of these two plants was 360 cadavers per day, each. [24]
  2. Pressac's affirmation concerning three "crematory pits" of 3.5 meters by 15 meters each, in the courtyard of Crematory V (not supported in any document) is in contrast with the declaration of Filip Müller, [25] the most important witness on these "cremation pits", who mentions five "cremation pits" measuring 40 or 50 meters by 8 meters. [26] There are no traces
  3. Granted, but not accepted, that such pits had really existed; and granted, but not accepted, that it is possible to accomplish a mass cremation in "cremation pits", on what basis does Pressac declare that their maximum cremation capacity was 2,000 cadavers per day? The only possible basis would be Filip Müller's declaration. But in this case, Pressac's three "cremation pits" would have had a maximum cremation capacity of 525 cadavers per day. [27]
  4. The Pressac contention concerning two "cremation pits" measuring 30 and 20 square meters in Bunker 2 ground, not supported by any document, is in opposition to the declaration of the most important witness on these "cremation pits", Miklos Nyiszli, who writes of two cremation pits measuring 50 meters by 6 meters. [28] Even in this case, Pressac has drastically reduced the area of the "cremation pits" from 600 square meters to 50 square meters.
    Assuming also in this case, a basis for Filip Müller's declaration, these two "cremation pits" would have been able to cremate a maximum of [(1,200 / 360 ) * 50 =] approximately 170 cadavers per day.

In conclusion, the systems, or incineration plants stated by Pressac, if the "cremation pits" had existed, would have had a maximum cremation capacity of 1,400 cadavers per day, not 4,300.

6. Number of Hungarian Jews who arrived at Auschwitz in May 1944

The report of Lieutenant Colonel Laszlo Ferenczy dated 29 May 1944 states that from the beginning of the deportation until midnight on 28 May 1944, there were 184,049 Jews deported to Auschwitz from Hungary in 58 trains. [29] As the first convoys had left on 15 May, the deportation took place within fourteen days. If we apply Pressac's "rule", out of 184,049 deportees, approximately 122,700 persons were unable to work, and as such were homicidally gassed. Since the first convoys which had left on 15 May arrived at Auschwitz on 17 May, [30] and if the duration of the journey was two days, then 184,049 deported Hungarian Jews arrived at Auschwitz within a period of 14 days, between 17 May and 30 May. The average number of alleged homicidally gassed people would then be (122,700 / 14 =) 8,764 per day. If, on the contrary, the last deportations arrived at Auschwitz on 31 May, the average number of presumed homicidally gassed persons, would be 8,180 per day.

7. The Aerial Reconnaissance Photographs of 31 May 1944

Jean-Claude Pressac bases his case on three presuppositions:

  1. On 30 May, 1944, only one convoy of Hungarian Jews arrived at Birkenau (1,000 able and 2,000 unable to work). On 31 May, two convoys arrived (2,000 able and 4,000 unable to work).
  2. The photographs taken on 31 May show only six or seven cars on the ramp, so the above-mentioned convoys had not yet arrived.
  3. Aerial reconnaissance photographs show that a cremation is taking place in one of the three pits measuring 3.5 by 15 meters in the Crematory V courtyard.

Let's analyze these presuppositions, one at a time:

a) The existing documents allow us to trace the deportation of the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz at the end of May 1944, according to the following table:

DATE25 May 1944
Number of Deportees [31]138,870
Total Number of Trains44
Partial Number of Deportees/
Average Daily Number of Deportees/
Partial Number of Trains/
DATE28 May 1944
Number of Deportees [32]184,049
Total Number of Trains58
Partial Number of Deportees45,179
Average Daily Number of Deportees15,060
Partial Number of Trains14
DATE31 May 1944
Number of Deportees [33]217,236
Total Number of Trains69
Partial Number of Deportees33,187
Average Daily Number of Deportees11,062
Partial Number of Trains11

As for the Hungarian Jews who arrived at Auschwitz on 31 May 1944, there are two possibilities:

  1. If the journey lasted from one to three days, on 31 May, three or four convoys arrived at Auschwitz which had departed on May 28, 29, or 30; so the number of deportees is 9,051 [34] (three convoys) or 12,068 [35] (four convoys).
  2. If the journey lasted from four to six days (less probable hypothesis), on 31 May, four or five convoys arrived, and they had departed on the 26th, 27th or 28th; so the number of the deportees calculates to 12,908 [36] (four convoys) or 16,135 [37] (five convoys).

As to the 29th, 30th, and 31st of May, a total of eleven convoys had left Hungary; three on one day, and four on the other two days. With the hypothesis that the duration of the journey has been one or three days, if on 31 May, three convoys arrived (9,051 deportees); on 30 May, four arrived (12,908 deportees), and vice-versa. In the hypothesis that the journey lasted more than three days, the number of deportee arrivals on 30 May and on 31 May would be much bigger.

In conclusion, either on 30 May approximately 12,900 deportees arrived and on 31 May approximately 9,050 arrived; or on 30 May approximately 9,050 deportees arrived and on 31 May approximately 12,900 arrived.

b) After clearing this point, we go to Pressac's second presupposition. He states that the two aerial photographs of 31 May 1944 were taken at around 9 to 10 A.M., which is very probable because the shadows of the chimneys of the crematories face North-West with a 315 degree angle. Also the presence of seven cars on the Birkenau ramp is an exact observation (but on the old ramp there are at least eight trains, and nine or ten trains in the Auschwitz station). But all this does not rule out that the convoys had arrived during the night or early in the morning, and that they had already left. Let's remember that according to Lieutenant Colonel Ferenczy, the convoys will continue their journey just after assignment selection at the Birkenau ramp.

That problem is nevertheless not essential. The really serious problems are the following:

  1. How would it have been technically possible to homicidally gas and cremate 122,700 people in not more than fifteen days in facilities that could have cremated no more than a maximum of (1,400 * 15 =) 21,000 cadavers?
  2. How could it have been technically possible to homicidally gas and cremate no less than (9,050 * 2/3 =) 6,000 people on about the 30th of May 1944 with facilities which in one day could just cremate a maximum of 1,400 cadavers?
  3. Why in the aerial photographs of 31 May 1944, is there no trace of cremation of the remaining (6,000 – 1,400 =) 4,600 cadavers?
  4. If the story of extermination were true, the Birkenau facilities should have had a cremation capacity not less than 10,000 cadavers per day (two-thirds of the deportees arrived at Auschwitz with convoys which had left Hungary on 26, 27, and 28 May, 1944). So in the aerial photographs of 31 May, the alleged "cremation pits" ought to be visible, with an area of approximately 2,800 square meters (calculated according to the declaration by Filip Müller). But there is no trace of them at all!

The small column of smoke rising from the courtyard near Crematory V which appears in the aerial photographs of May 31, 1944 is consistent with outside trash incineration in an open-air container where lower level combustion air is able to enter; we know of no aerial photographic evidence of pit incineration, where burning would have been very slow because of poor air circulation.

c) And this brings us to Jean-Claude Pressac's last presupposition: the presence, in those photographs, of three "cremation pits" measuring 3.5×15 meters, and of one such pit in which a cremation is taking place. Where did Pressac see these? We wait with confidence that he publish these two pictures. But why did he not present them in his book Le macchine dello sterminio? And with the exact indication of:

  1. three "cremation pits" of 52.5 square meters each;
  2. approximately 100 cubic meters of soil extracted from pits and piled up next to each pit on an area at least equal to that of these alleged pits;
  3. 250 to 500 tons of wood piled up as cadaver cremation fuel for the cremation of the cadavers of the alleged homicidally gassed from 31 May; piles equal to approximately 550 to 1,100 cubic meters, and of an area approximately 220 to 440 square meters (assuming the height of a pile of 2.5 meters);
  4. the exact location of a "cremation pit" with smoke;
  5. the exact location of where there is a "cremation pit" of 30 square meters, and another one of 20 square meters in the area of Bunker 2.
It is clear that we are challenging Jean-Claude Pressac.

The Statistics by Jean-Claude Pressac

In Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, Jean-Claude Pressac mentions 938,000 victims cremated in the Auschwitz-Birkenau installations, distributed as we presented on page 28 in our critique, Auschwitz: The End of a Legend. But in the Preface of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld to the former work, they summed up the results of the article by Georges Wellers previously id, Essai de détermination du nombre de morts au camp d'Auschwitz, which we summarize in the following table:

Total number of deportees:1,613,450 of whom 1,433,405 [were] Jews
Total dead:1,471,595 of whom 1,352,980 [were] Jews
Total gassed:[38]1,334,700 of whom 1,323,000 [were] Jews

Pressac proposes the numbers 938,000 or 900,000 [39] without any explanation. The only sure thing is that while for G. Wellers the Hungarian Jews who were homicidally gassed numbered approximately 410,000, for Pressac they are 200,000 to 250,000. [40] As a consequence of this, the number of Jews who were gassed ought to be lowered to 1,113,000. So just what is the basis for Pressac's calculations?

In Les crematoires d'Auschwitz (p.148), Pressac proposes a new statistic on the basis of research by Franciszek Piper, [41] but with a "correction" relative to the number of Polish Jews deported to Auschwitz.

F. Piper states that the total of Jews deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau was 1,095,190, [42] of whom, approximately 205,000 were registered and the remaining 890,000 were unregistered. [43] The number of Jews killed was a total of 960,000 of whom 95,000 were registered and 865,000 unregistered. [44]

Pressac starts with the total of deported Jews, who he rounds off to 1,095,200 and reduces from 300,000 to 150,000 the number of Jews deported from Poland. Besides that, he assumes that 118,000 Hungarian Jews were transferred from Auschwitz Birkenau. In such a way, he has 827,200 deportees from whom he subtracts the registered 200,000, [45] reaching a final count of 630,000 homicidally gassed (p.148).

He sums up the total of the victims in the following table (p.148):

Non-registered gassed Jews:630,000
Registered detainees who died (Jews and non-Jews):130,000
Soviet Prisoners of War:15,000

The reason for the reduction of the number of Jews deported out of Poland from 300,000 to 150,000 presented by Pressac has not any historical foundation, but a technical one: He states that the number of the gassed indicated in the Auschwitz Kalendarium in the first six days of August 1943 (convoys from Bendsburg and Sosnowitz), an average of 4,000 per day, is excessive because at that time only Crematories III and V were functioning with an incinerating capacity of 1,500 cadavers per day; so the number of Jews for each convoy has been " mal estimé " (estimated incorrectly) by the witnesses. But on the contrary, it has been doubled because the percentage of the registered deportees was 30% to 35% of the approximately 50,000 registered Polish Jews, corresponding to approximately 150,000 deportees "soit une centaine de convois de 1.500 personnes" (that is approximately one hundred convoys containing 1,500 people) (p.147).

According to the Auschwitz Kalendarium, during the first six days of August 1943, from Bendsburg and Sosnowitz, 28,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz (approximately 5,800 of whom were registered, and 22,200 homicidally gassed) in 12 convoys; an approximate average of 2,300 people per convoy. This number represents approximately 9% of the total number of Polish Jews deported to Auschwitz according to F. Piper (300,000). So Pressac erroneously attributes to the remaining 91%, the presumed exaggeration of the number of Jews present in each convoy which would be valid only for 9%. We also take note that in Pressac's calculation, the number of alleged homicidally gassed Hungarian Jews, which in Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers was 200,000 to 250,000, now becomes 320,000.

In Le macchine dello sterminio (p.173), Pressac reduces even more the number of deportees and deceased. He starts out also in this regard with the number of deportees indicated by F. Piper (1,095,190 or 1,095,200), from which he subtracts incorrectly 150,000 deportees from Poland, just as in the previous case; but he also reduces from 438,000 to 240,000, the number of Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz; thereby obtaining 667,200 to 747,200 deportees:

1,095,200 – 150,000 – (438,000 – 160,000) = 667,200

1,095,200 – 150,000 – (438,000 – 240,000) = 747,200.

Jean-Claude Pressac rounds out these figures to 670,000 and 750,000, subtracting the 200,000 registered from them, he obtains 470,000 to 550,000 homicidally gassed Jews. He puts the total death count as follows:

Non-registered Jews who were gassed:470,000 to 550,000
Deceased registered Detainees (Jews and non-Jews):126,000
Soviet Prisoners of War:15,000
Miscellaneous (Gypsies etc.):20,000
Total:631,000 to 711,000

In the calculation of the total death count, Pressac does not take into consideration Jewish detainees who were transferred to other concentration camps. The Hungarian Jews transferred from the Durchgangslager must be included in this category.

As we have seen, Pressac estimates that at least 80,000 Hungarian Jews escaped homicidal gassing; 28,000 of those registered at Auschwitz, and 52,000 who were not registered and were transferred to other camps. Those must be subtracted from the 670,000 to 750,000 alleged homicidally gassed who were unregistered. So the Pressac number of alleged homicidally gassed Jews would be between 418,000 to 498,000.

We also take note that Pressac has also changed once again the number of alleged homicidally gassed Hungarian Jews, now putting it at 80,000 to 160,000.

Before presenting our conclusion, we summarize in a synoptic table, Jean-Claude Pressac regarding Jews he alleges were homicidally "gassed" at Auschwitz:

Year 1989: 938,000, of whom 200,000 to 250,000 were Hungarian Jews.
Year 1993: 630,000, of whom 320,000 were Hungarian Jews.
Year 1994: 550,000, of whom 80,000 to 160,000 to 470,000 were Hungarian Jews.

So, from 1989 to 1994, Jean-Claude Pressac has thus reduced the number of homicidally gassed Jews by 50% from 938,000 to 470,000!

Our study, Auschwitz: The End of a Legend concludes with the observation that since Jean-Claude Pressac wanted to study the question of Auschwitz in a technical manner, he

had to accept revisionist methodology, according to which, where testimony and technology disagree, it is technology which prevails. Pressac has applied this principle by reducing the number of alleged victims of alleged homicidal gassing, precisely because of its incompatibility with the capacity (craftily inflated by him) of the crematory ovens. In this manner, he has opened an irreparable leak in traditional historiography, because technology reveals the material impossibility of mass extermination at Auschwitz-Birkenau. If therefore, Pressac wants to be coherent in his technical stance, all that remains for him is to accept this conclusion. If he does not accept it, he can only go backwards, declaring, in acceptance of that appeal of those French historians, that one must not inquire as to how such alleged mass extermination was technically possible (p. 90).

In Le macchine dello sterminio, Jean-Claude Pressac has gone one step further towards this conclusion. Pressac has understood that extermination of the Hungarian Jews would have also been technically impossible on the basis of the huge cremation capacity that he attributed to the Birkenau facilities; but he did not want to draw the extreme consequences from such an acknowledgment.

To pull himself out of trouble, he had only two ways out: either increase cremation capacity, or diminish the number of deportees. Pressac chose the second option.

The drastic reduction of deported Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz has become such a tactical requirement for Jean-Claude Pressac, which cannot be set aside; an unrenouncable way out; an illusory game by which he would make the impossible possible.

Because Pressac's "revision" has no historical foundation, but is merely tactical, his statistics-the instruments for his illusory game-are inevitably arbitrary and unfounded.

From a strictly historiographical point of view, Jean-Claude Pressac seems to be torn between two contradictory necessities: one being the technical, which rationally pushes him to negation of extermination of the Jews at Auschwitz, and the other being the dogmatic one about the holocaustic religion, which fiercely opposes such denial.

It is difficult to predict which one of these two necessities will prevail in the end, but Pressac's continual "revisions" gives us good hope.

One thing is certain: If Jean-Claude Pressac wants to go on – even by small steps – through the technical way in which he started, we could expect at least more reductions in the numbers of homicidally "gassed" people at Auschwitz.


The study Auschwitz: Fine di una leggenda was written in October of 1993 and Pressac received a copy of the text from the author by the end of February 1994.
J.C. Pressac, Le macchine dello sterminio. Auschwitz 1942-1945. Feltrinelli, Milano, October 1994.
Printing error: read 438,000.
Report of 9 July 1944, T-1322.
Typographical error [from Pressac]; read 438,000.
Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau, published in: Hefte von Auschwitz, Wydawnictwo Pa_stwowego Muzeum w O_wi_cimiu, Hefte 2, 1959; 3, 1960; 4, 1961; 6, 1962; 7 and 8, 1964.
See the complete list of the convoys in our study, Wellers e i "gasati" di Auschwitz, Edizioni La Sfinge, Parma, March, 1987, pp. 51-54.
Hefte von Auschwitz, 7, p. 91 ff.
Le Monde Juif, October-December 1983, Nr. 112, pp. 127-159.
This figure is mentioned in the telegram from E. Veesenmayer dated 11 July 1944, NG-5615.
G. Wellers, Essai de détermination..., art. cit., pp. 147, 153.
Le procés de Jérusalem. Jugement-Documents. Introduction de Léon Poliakov. Calman-Lévy, Paris 1963, p. 199.
Wellers e i "gasati" di Auschwitz, op. cit., pp.18-20, 37, 39.
Danuta Czech, Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbeck bei Hamburg, 1989.
Idem., p.699.
Idem., pp.777 ff.
Wellers e i "gasati" di Auschwitz is one of our five studies which are id by J.C. Pressac in the bibliography which appears on page 564 of his book, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, published by The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York, 1989.
The report by E. von Thadden of 26 May 1944 [NG-2190] states that one-third of the deported Jews from Hungary were able to work (see below). Pressac has erected this into a "rule" which he observed in relation to 116,000 deportees.
NG-2190, p.2.
Idem., pp.4-5.
T-1319 (text in Hungarian).
Printing mistakes: Read 30 May; also the three citations after 21 May are wrong: the correct date is 31 May.
The question of cremation capacity of the crematory ovens at Auschwitz-Birkenau is presented in our articleDie Krematoriumsfen von Auschwitz-Birkenau, in the anthology entitled Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte, edited by Ernst Gaus, and published in 1994 by the Grabert Verlag, Tuebingen, Germany, 1994, pp. 281-320.
The absurdities expressed in this regard by this " eye-witness" have been analyzed and disproved in the id essay Die Krematoriumsfen von Auschwitz-Birkenau, op. cit., pp. 317-318.
Filip Müller, Sonderbehandlung. Drei Jahre in den Krematorien und Gaskammern von Auschwitz. Verlag Steinhausen, München, 1979, pp. 207, 211. of these alleged five crematory pits (total approximate area: 1,800 square meters) in the Allied reconnaissance photographs taken on 31 May 1944, as Pressac reduces these alleged pits from five, down to three, and the area from 1,800 down to 157.5 square meters.
Filip Müller declares that in a 40 or 50 meter by 8 meter pit, averaging 360 square meters in area, they cremated 1,200 cadavers in three layers placed one upon another, alternating three layers of wood. [Sonderbehandlung, op. cit., p.219]. The calculation would therefore be this: [(1,200/360)×157.5] = 525.
Miklos Nyiszli, Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account, Fawcett Crest, New York, 1961, pp. 70, 71.
According to the Auschwitz Kalendarium (1989), the first three convoys would have arrived at Auschwitz on 16 May, and all the deportees would have been homicidally gassed [op. cit., p.776]. This piece of information, based exclusively on declarations given after the war, is completely untrustworthy: the duration of the journey—only one day—is too short, and the complete lack of anyone at all who could work, is too unlikely among three convoys sent to Auschwitz in order to be selected for labor.
33,187 * 11 = 3,017 persons per each convoy. 3,017×3 = 9,051 persons.
3,017 * 4 = 12,068 persons.
45,179 / 14 = 3,227 deportees per each train; 3,227×4 = 12,908
3,227 * 5 = 16,135
J.C. Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, op. cit., p. 13.
Idem. p.97.
Idem. p. 253.
Franciszek Piper, Estimating the Number of Deportees to and Victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp. Yad Vashem Studies, XXI (Jerusalem 1991, pp.49-103); Auschwitz, Wie viele Juden, Polen, Zigeuner...wurden umgebracht. Krakow, Universitas, 1992.
Franciszek Piper, Estimating the Number of Deportees to and Victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp, art. cit., p.99.
Idem., S.97.
Idem., S.98.
F. Piper puts the count at 200,000 to 205,000

Originally published in 1995 by Granata Publishing, Palos Verdes, CA

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Carlo Mattogno
Title: The Gassed People of Auschwitz: Pressac's New Revisions, A Review
Sources: Granata Publishing, Post Office Box 2145, Palos Verdes, CA 90274 USA, 1995
Published: 1995-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1995, 7 p.m.
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