The Unreliability of Documents in Jean-Claude Pressac's Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Ga

Published: 1990-01-01

There are documents, and then there are documents. Some documents are better than others. Original documents, for example, are more valuable than documents that are not original, particularly when you want to prove murder. Original documents are even more important when you want to prove mass murder. This is pretty complicated stuff, our holocaust historians have not been able to quite figure it out yet, but Carlos Porter has, and with this little paper he invites you to reflect on some of the documents used by Jean-Claude Pressac, and how he uses them, to prove that Germans used homicidal gassing chambers for the mass murder of Jews. Maybe this paper will suggest a few questions to you. Why not call the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and ask its research department to help you with the answers. If you do, and if the Museum does, be sure to get back to us.—Bradley R Smith

Jean-Claude Pressac's book, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (1988, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation) reproduces many German documents. The documents which Pressac considers to be most incriminating are, in the great majority of cases, either "photocopies" or "microfilm copies" made available by the Soviets; many have been retyped by unknown persons and do not even purport to be photocopies; others are obvious forgeries.

The quality of many of these documents is so poor that it is obvious they are photocopies of photocopies ad infinitum.

  1. On pp. 9091, Pressac lists the documents which are available only on microfilm. On pp. 199, 243, 245, and 439, he admits that many of the others (not including the blueprints, which are available as originals) are available only as "photocopies"; he would very much like to see the original documents, but that is impossible; no one has ever seen them (p. 439 "reverse of document is not known", p. 243 "Moscow prosecutor... omitted to communicate the verso").
  2. All documents marked BW 30/25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 36, 44, and 46 are Soviet microfilm copies. All documents marked BW 30/43 are Soviet photocopies.
    This includes nearly all the correspondence, and about half of the time sheets and work sheets the very documents which Pressac finds most suspicious.
  3. The document on p. 100 bears no handwritten markings of any kind.
  4. The document on p. 134 is a retyped "certified true copy" of a microfilm. The document on p. 135 is crystalclear at the top of the page, but fades to illegibility downwards towards the signature, indicating that it, too, is probably a "microfilm copy".
  5. The document on p. 210 is supposed to be a "telex", but it's a "microfilm copy" of a document which has been "retyped", with the same handwritten markings as on pp. 187 and 504.
  6. The "Vergassungskeller" document on p. 211 is a "photocopy" of a "microfilm copy".
  7. The document on pp. 214 215 is a microfilm without signature; where is the end of the document?
  8. The document on p. 222 does not match the caption; it is a "microfilm", although the table on p. 89 lists these documents as "originals".
  9. The document on p. 238 is a "certified true copy" retyped by a Jew.
  10. The document on p. 247, letter of 28 June 1943, BW 30/42, is a "photocopy" transmitted by the Committee of Anti-Fascist Resistance of the German Democratic Republic; see p. 91.
  11. The document on p. 248 is a "microfilm copy" with many handwritten corrections but no signatures.
  12. On p. 279, a gigantic thumbprint indicates that the document is another "microfilm copy". Another retyped "microfilm copy" of a "telegram" appears on p. 371.
  13. The document on p. 361 bears the statement "Remarks on original letter" typed out right in the "original German document", which turns out to be a "microfilm copy".
  14. The document on p. 361 is a "microfilm copy" of a "retyped copy" which has "signature illegible" typed out right in the "original German text" itself (see also p. 207).
  15. The document on p. 375, left, says "written in pencil" typed out in the "original German" text! It purports to be a "telegram", but it's been retyped.
  16. The "wire mesh introduction devices" documents on pp. 376, 430, etc. etc. are also "photocopies". So are the "gastight door documents" on pp. 438 and most of the other time sheets.
  17. For obviously forged signatures, compare the signatures of "Kirschenek" on p. 192 bottom left, with p. 211 top left, p. 240 bottom left, p. 368 bottom left, p. 371 upper left , p. 388, centre, and p. 433 upper left (with squiggle by Järhling).
  18. Kirschenek's squiggle should also be compared: p. 388 upper left (where it is wedged in between Jaehrling and Kirschenek), not to mention p. 245 centre (where it is difficult to see), p. 241, p. 388.
  19. Compare the signatures of Bischoff and Jaehrling p. 223, with Bischoff's initial on p. 242, and the signatures of Bischoff on p. 376, p. 235, and especially p. 360 upper right, and p. 199. These last may be someone else signing on Bischoff's behalf, but there is no indication of this; if that were so, normally a document would so state.
    Were there two Bischoffs? He's a Hauptsturmfueher on p. 199 and Sturmbahnfuehrer on p. 360, but it's not the same signature as the Sturmbahnfuehrer on p.376.
    In my view, most of the Bischoff documents are probably authentic, but not the Kirschenek and Pollok documents.
  20. Compare the signatures of "Pollok" on pp. 211, with those on p. 213, p. 360, and p. 504. They only look the same on p. 211 and p. 432; the others are different.
  21. There are two different versions of the "Vergassungskeller" document with related report; they are not the same documents on pp. 211-213 as on p. 432 and pp. 503-504; the text of the two versions is identical, but the signatures are different and the documents have been retyped. The one on p. 503 is labeled as a document retyped by the Poles; but it looks the same as the others. All you have to do is leave out the word "Odpis" , fake a name or initial, and presto! it becomes an "original".
  22. The document on p. 504 claims to be an "original document", but it's not the same "original" as on p. 213. The signature at the top of p. 504 is a forgery of Jahnich's signature, see p. 187. The document on p. 213 appears to bear a forged Kirschenek signature at the top. Other apparent forgeries of Jahnich's signature appear on p. 361 and p. 245.
  23. Pressac gives the same references for the Vergassungskeller document on pp. 211 and 432 in the apparent belief that they are identical. But they are not the same document or even the same signature; only the text is identical.
  24. The document on pp. 212-213 is not the same document as the one reproduced on pp. 503. Only the text is the same.
  25. P. 245 is only a better quality photocopy of the document reproduced on p. 441. These are identical.
  26. The documents on p. 243 and p. 245 are obvious forgeries utilizing the "quotation within a letter" technique.
  27. The initial by "Jothann" on p. 250 is an obvious forgery if this is supposed to be the same person who signed his name in full on pp. 387 and 413.
  28. On pp. 27, 28, 31, 55, 56, and 57, etc. he shows that "Gaskammer" was a perfectly ordinary word used by the Germans to mean "delousing chamber". He even reproduces the blueprints, which clearly state "Entwesungsanlage Gaskammer". He doesn't claim that the delousing chambers were used or designed for any purpose other than delousing. One wonders what Pressac thinks he's proving with all this material.
  29. Pressac claims that it's absurd to heat a morgue, which must be kept cool, and that the presence of a stove in a morgue proves it's a "gas chamber for the extermination of human beings". In fact, morgues must be kept cool, but must not be allowed to freeze, because frost damages corpses. The temperature must be kept at 2 to 12 degree Centigrade (source: Garten und Friedhofsamt, Darmstadt, Hermannstr. 4, Friedhöfe und Krematorien, p. 423).
  30. Pressac considers the word "undressing room" to have sinister connotations; it is hard to see why, since these structures were morgues with washing facilities and showers.
  31. It might be pointed out that Pressac believes in the reality of the "socks of human hair" (p. 475); this document, USSR511 the original of which no one has ever seen bears a typewritten heading, a typewritten signature, and two German stamps. The human hair socks have never been found.
  32. Pressac also apparently believes that cyanide gas travels horizontally, then vertically, like sewer water filling a basement (p. 473).

Now. What I want to know is, if the "mass gassing victims" in the "homicidal gas chambers" could see the gas approaching and attempt to escape from it by climbing on top of each other, was the gas lighter than air, or heavier? What colour was the gas, since they could see it? Purple? Pink? Red, white, and blue? I have asked this question many times, but never gotten an answer.

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Author(s): Carlos Whitlock Porter
Title: The Unreliability of Documents in Jean-Claude Pressac's Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Ga
Published: 1990-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1995, 7 p.m.
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