Technique and Operation
                            of the Gas Chambers ©
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In February 1961, after having read the complete text in “Quick”, I wrote to to Mr Tibère Kremer, but the letter was returned “no longer at this address”. I wrote to “Quick” and was told that they could not send the letter on to Dr Nyiszli because he was dead (!)

In November 1961, having read the complete text in the French version, I wrote to the publisher Julliard asking him to be kind enough to pass on the above observations, at least to Mr Tibére Kremer, whose address he must have had, since he had just published his translation. I added:  
  “Historical documents should he respected and versions whose accuracy cannot be guaranteed should not he published without due consideration. As it happens, my studies requiring it, I have been looking for the original for fifteen years and nobody has ever been able to tell me where I could consult it. The best qualified historians in the world know nothing about it The versions that have been made public are divergent and contradict one another from one page to the next. The author speaks of places he obviously never visited, etc. ... If, therefore, you were able to provide me with enough certainties to enable me to write “authentic document” against the name of Dr Nyiszli in the references in my works, I should be particularly grateful.”
On 8th December, in the name of the Julliard publishing house, of which he is one of the literary directors, Mr Pierre Javet wrote to me in reply: "   
  “Thank you indeed for having sent me the typed copy of your letter of 16th November.

I am forwarding it this very day to Mr Tibère Kremer, translator of the book by Doctor Miklos Nyiszli, Médecin à Auschwitz, so that he can reply to you.

I can however tell you that it is true that Doctor Nyiszli is dead, but his wife is still living. I have also shown his book to several deportees, who have confirmed its authenticity.  
  (Signed) Pierre JAVET”  
I am still awaiting the reply from Mr Tibère Kremer.

It is likely that I shall never receive it. First, on 24th October 1951, Mr Tibère Kremer sent me a reply from Dr Nyiszli to the letter I referred to when I wrote to Mr Julliard. Second, the research I have continued to carrry out into this singular witness has resulted in my receiving the information from New York, where the book was published in 1951, that Dr Nyiszli was dead long before his testimony was published for the first time.

If this is true, then this dead witness — yet another — would have the distinction of having written to me after his death.

And the silence of Mr Tïbère Kremer would then be understandable.

No further comment   

Comments on Paul Rassinier’s texts 
I have presented above the four successive texts written by Paul Rassinier to demolish Médecin à Auschwitz by Dr Miklos Nyiszli, translated into French from the Hungarian by Mr Tibère Kremer. The reasoning is valid, but the references are archaic and superficial. Paul Rassinier could not or would not visit Auschwitz in "communist" Poland, the main reason being perhaps his ill-health. All his criticisms are tainted by this deficiency, though it must be pointed out that in the course of time his attacks became more precise and detailed. From a refusal to argue “with such an individual”, written in 1961, he comes round three years later to throwing the blame — as I did at first — on Tibère Kremer, who is not at fault, and thinking that the account was not by an authentic former prisoner of Birkenau.

Although some of his criticisms remain valid, Rassinier’s rancorous verbiage no longer has any place. Dr Miklos Nyiszli was an authentic witness, which can easily be proved. But the mystery of the “multiplier” still remains complete. 

The testimonies of doctors BENDEL and NYISZLI are, of course, precious. Certain events or details that they describe cannot have been invented. They must have been there, in Birkenau and in 1944.

Bendel asserts, contrary to all that we knew, that there were two gas chambers in the basement of Krematorium II, and he turns out to be right. Each had two columns for the introduction of Zyklon-B, and he gives the approximate dimensions in his deposition. I believed for a long time — and 1 was not the only one — that he was assimilating Leichenkeller 2, the undressing room, to a gas chamber, an opinion reinforced by the description of the entrance as being a ”double door of solid oak”, a description applying above all to the double door for access to the undressing room from inside the building. Henryk TAUBER, the only witness to make a 95% reliable declaration, confirms the division of Leichenkeller I, the gas chamber, into two in order to be able to “treat” small groups, which implies that in the light of experience, the 210m² of Leichenkeller I were found to be too big for the number of victims received. In the case of a normal convoy, and depending on the selection, 600 to 1,200 people were destined to be exterminated by gas. Mixing up the undressing room and the gas chamber would be a serious blunder for somebody who claimed to have been an authentic deportee attached as doctor to the Sonderkommando, and could have completely discredited his testimony and writings. His credibility, established through crosschecking with Tauber for the arrangement of the premises of Krematorium II, which he seems to have visited but rarely, is not valid for the other Krematorien and is no longer acceptable as regards the figures. Here the exaggeration is manifest and sounds like the rehashing of stories developed in their own closed world by members of the Sonderkommando. 

Dr Bendel, prisoner number 167,460, was wrong not to have better decribed his experiences after the war. I reproach him for having used his medical qualifications and his status as one who had miraculously escaped from the Auschwitz death camp in order to have his statements accepted as the absolute truth and to declare himself infallible. His motives are to be found in the pride of his personality, his intransigent attitude and a desire for vengeance without pity for all SS men — and who could blame him for that? But not all were criminals. And another reason for being so categorical was surely the desire not to dwell on his past as a medical experimentor in the laboratory hut of the Gypsy camp. This attitude led him to put forward and maintain statements that I now consider, with present knowledge and in the light of contemporary documents, to he untrue.

The case of Dr Miklos NYISZLI’s book is baffling. In my opinion, it contains the most impressive evocation of the “demential nightmare” experienced by the thousand men of the Sonderkommando. Located al the very center of the madness of the Krematorien, Nyiszli plunged into it even more than his companions as one of the pathologists working for Dr Mengele.

It was inevitable that some mad medical man should “take advantage” of the unprecedented opportunities opened up by the death camps. Mengele was the man who thrived in this criminal environment. Nyiszli, badly shaken after the Sonderkommando revolt of 6th October 1944, suggested to Mengele: “Herr Obersturmführer, this environment is unsuitable for scientific research. Wouldn't it be possible to transfer the dissecting room to a better place?” Mengele's only reply was “What’s wrong? Getting sentimental?” Nyiszli had not understood anything. Mengele, notorious for his crimes against humanity, has now become the symbol of the unscrupulous medical man.

Nyiszli’s has a disdainful appreciation of the SS “pseudo-science” and of the “research into the causes of the phenomenon of twin births” undertaken by Mengele, studies associated with the race war that most people reject with horror and disgust. However, politicians can sometimes overcome this feeling when they are interested in this work for some reason.

At the other end of the world, up to 1945, others were using the same corrupt practices as Mengele, but in a specific field: biological warfare. Those of "Unit 731" succeeded. The Japanese military surgeon Shiro ISHII was able to negociate with the Americans over the only known results "concerning experiments carried out under scientific control demonstrating the direct effects of agents of biological warfare on human beings". [La Guerre chimique et biologique by Daniel Riche, Editions Pierre Betfond, Paris 1982, pages 153 to 162]. Mengele’s “research” has never been of interest to anybody and it is now easy to obtain the results (multiple births) he wanted to achieve.

Nyiszli follows traditional morality in judging Mengele, which is all the easier for him in that he received a traditional German university education from 1927 to 1930 in the Forensic Institute of Breslau [Wroclaw since 1945], ending with an Inaugural Dissertation thesis entitled Selbstmordarten auf Grund des Sektionsmaterials des Breslauer Gerichtsärztlichen Instituts von Juni 1927 – May 1930 [Categories of suicide according to the dissection material of the Breslau Forensic Institute from June 1927 to May 1930]. Undoubtably a scientist, having also spent time in America, Dr Miklos Nyiszli was in the habit of writing PRECISE reports where errors had to be avoided. However, in reporting the history of the Krematorien he is mistaken, though of good faith, when he reports what he has been told without being able to verify the facts [pages 44 and 45]:
“From the conversation I learned the history of the crematoriums. Tens of thousands of prisoners had built them of stone and concrete, finishing them in the middle of an extremely rigorous winter. Every stone was stained with their blood. They had worked day and night, often without food or drink, dressed in mere tatters, so that these infernal death factories, whose first victims they became, might be finished in time.

Since then four years had passed. Countless of thousands since climbed down from the box cars and crossed the thresholds of the crematoriums.”  
Bendel repeats the legend in a similar fashion.

But when Nyiszli writes [p. 84]: 
“Glancing upward, I noticed that the four lightning rods placed at the corners of the crematorium chimney were twisted and bent, the result of the previous night's high temperatures.”
it suffices to compare this with David Olère's sketch [see Document 89, Part II, Chapter 5] of Krematorium III to see a faithful illustration of the text. But both commit a slight error. 

Photograph PMO neg. no. 20995/507 shows the south side and west end of Krematorium III with, rising 2 metres above the chimney, four lightning conductors that are not “at the four corners” but In the center of each of the four sides of the chimney. Scarcely visible at a distance of 100 metres — the distance at which the photograph was taken — they become totally invisible beyond 200 metres. Only prisoners working within the precincts of Krematorien II and III could see and remember them. This, admittedly minor, detail could not be dreamed up.

Nyiszli described the Sonderkommando revolt rather poorly, because he did not participate in it. His account is second hand: he is repeating the words of an SS man. When he claims to have seen (page 16):
“the red-tiled roof and supporting beams of number three crematorium [Kr IV] blow off, followed by an immense spiral of flame and black smoke”. 
he is inventing, not having been able to directly see the start of the fire because there was a distance of 700 metres between Krematorien II and IV and he could not see through Krematorium III, a wood, and sewage treatment station II. What is more, the roof of Krematorium IV was not of RED TILES, like those of Krematorien II and III, but of BLACK ROOFING FELT, which explains how it caught fire so easily [photographic proof: PMO neg. nos 20995/509 and /465]. 

The problem of the completely false figures in Chapter Seven still remains, however. An author such as Rassinier can easily, without knowing Birkenau, see that the text contains errors and contradictions, and with the aid of his documentation he can see that the figures are incompatible with reality. The not very serious criticisms by Rassinier, who was short of reference material, are now obsolete. Thanks to the original Bauleitung drawings and the remaining ruins, a more detailed analysis reveals that on average the figures have been multiplied by FOUR. But not ALL the figures. The distances outside Krematorium II are correct, well estimated, but as soon as Nyiszli enters the Krematorium building and starts talking about the “cellars”, everything goes wrong. I consider it to be quite impossible that these wrong figures could simply be “careless”, since they are in such stark contrast to the precision and truth of other passages in the book. As far as our information goes at present, responsibility for these data remains with Dr Nyiszli, who does not appear to be an irresponsible man, but on the contrary an authentic, lucid and intelligent witness, in possession of all his faculties.

I judge both these men severely, because 1 have a university training myself and exercise a profession where I have to be precise and avoid error at all costs. It is impardonable that they should have “spoilt” their testimonies, which ought to have been of the very best in view of their training, impardonable that through their accounts doubts were raised that led to the creation of revisionism, whose very existence — and this is perfectly understandable — “shocks” surviving deportees who are unable to understand how it is that certain people can cast doubt on the reality of their sufferings and the loss of their loved ones through denying the existence of homicidal gas chambers and presenting the concentration camps as “Club Méditerranée” holiday villages.

The historical methodology that consists of relying on raw testimony, considered to be "sacrosanct", such as the accounts of Bendel and Nyiszli lopping off the parts that seem “dubious” or that “don’t fit” is a faulty methodology that necessarily leads to imprecision [for example, in Les chambres à gaz ont existé by G Welters, p. 113, Bendel’s account is cut without any indication that this has been done (lines 9 and 10) and in Les chambres à gaz Secret d'Etat, p. 205, the phrase concerning the presence of Himmler, considered unlikely, disappears]. Not authenticated by original documents, these early, precious, indispensible testimonies are full of imprecisions, errors and non sequiturs, even though on some points they correspond. They can be used only after historical verification and with explanations. This is how the historians of the Oswiecim Museum proceeded in producing their book Auschwitz vu par les SS. Those who use raw testimony without taking such precautions cause the careful and logical reader to spontaneously reject the material. The “shaky” parts of the accounts, of low or zero credibility, often systematically "forgotten" are put forward BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE by the revisionist authors.
* * * 
Technique and operation
of the gas chambers

Jean-Claude Pressac
© 1989, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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