In his affidavit, Rudolf attempts in one paragraph to discredit Mr. Justice Gray's conclusions on Zyklon B use in Auschwitz which was based on a rather lengthy analysis I made of Zyklon B use in Auschwitz, and submitted as an appendix to my expert report in early January 2000. Rudolf's main argument is that throughout its history Auschwitz was afflicted by a continuous epidemic of exanthematous typhus (which he calls "spotted fever," without doubt after the German Fleckfieber, which translates in English as [epidemic] typhus), and that "hence, one can assume that the camp actually never had enough Zyklon B to successfully fight the lice. Hence, their [sic] cannot have been any excess for any other purpose." (p. 318)
In response to Rudolf, it is important to note first of all that he does neither present a new argument nor new evidence - in fact he does not present any evidence at all, which should be sufficient to dispose of his challenge here and now. In the mid 1970s Arthur Butz already invoked "the constant menace of typhus as carried by lice" to explain why there was so much Zyklon around in Auschwitz.
In view of the particular hospitability of the Auschwitz-Kattowitz operations to the typhus-bearing louse, in view of the fact of epidemics at Auschwitz which actually forced work-stoppages, and in view of the tremendous importance of the Auschwitz industry to the German war effort, it is not surprising that the Zyklon was used in liberal quantities at Auschwitz, and in the surrounding region, for its intended purpose. 108
The theme of the prevalence of exanthematous typhus during the Second World War, and the German inability to suppress it, was enthusiastically taken up by Robert Faurisson, who made it into a pivot of Holocaust denial. 109 In 1990 Irving took up this theme in his lectures. He was emboldened in propagating this line by a history, published in 1981, of the British interception of radio messages sent by the administration of the concentration camps to Berlin. The history, written by the British historian F.H. Hinsley, mentioned that "the daily return consisted of a series of unheaded, unexplained columns of figures," which were interpreted by the students of the Government Code and Cypher School as information about "(a) number of inmates at the start of the previous day, (b) new arrivals, (c) departures by any means, and (d) number at the end of the previous day." Departures by any means was interpreted as a euphemism for deaths. "The returns from Auschwitz, the largest of the camps with 20,000 prisoners, mentioned illness as the main cause of death but included references to shootings and hangings. There were no references in the decrypts to gassings." 110 It must be remembered, however, that the mortality figures which the concentration camps sent to Berlin only applied to the deaths of registered prisoners, and not to the gassing of deportees who were selected after arrival for immediate extermination (the vast majority). This was made clear after the war during the trial of the head of the central administration of the SS, Oswald Pohl. Pohl stated that the information he got from the camps only involved the causes of death of inmates who had been registered in the camps. When asked if the numbers also included people who had been killed on arrival, Pohl responded that "the figures about exterminations were not reported to the Inspectorate at all." 111
Irving, however, interprets in a lecture given in Toronto on November 8, 1990 Hinsley's book as support that there were no gassings in Auschwitz, and that disease was the major cause of death.
He states "that upon analysis of the daily returns of the Auschwitz concentration camp it becomes completely plain that nearly all of the deaths, nearly all of the deaths, were due to disease. The others were by execution, by hanging, and by firing squad. There is no reference," and I am quoting this page, "there is no reference whatever to any gassings." So why has not this extraordinary revelation been headlined in the newspapers around the world? It is not just some cranky, self-appointed British neo-fascist, neo-Nazi, pseudo historian. And you journalists who are present can take those words down. It is not just some pseudo historian from Britain saying this. This is the British official historian, Professor Hinsley, who had unlimited access to the archives of the SIS, the Secret Intelligence Service, and to the archives of the British code-breaking agency, who says that in Auschwitz nearly all the deaths were due to disease. There is no reference whatsoever to gassings. 112
As we have seen, the actual text reads quite differently from the version Irving claimed to quote. Hinsley did not make any judgement concerning the causes of death in Auschwitz. He merely observed that there were no references to gassings in the decrypts, leaving the question open about the relationship between the information contained in the numbers wired by the Auschwitz Kommandantur to Berlin and the actual situation in the camp.
In the early skirmishes of the trial, the issue of Zyklon deliveries came up. Irving mentioned it in his "Reply to Defence of Second Defendant"
In the case of Auschwitz-Birkenau the Plaintiff is troubled by the refusal of the authorities to call for site examinations, forensic tests and other investigations, the more so since documents in the National Archives indicate that equal tonnages of Zyklon-B pesticide granules were delivered to Auschwitz and Oranienburg camps, at which latter camp nobody has ever suggested that gas chambers existed, and to camps in Norway . . . . 113
In my expert report I did not deal with this question. Irving obviously wanted to raise it in my cross-examination, and therefore, less than a month before the beginning of the Trial, he wrote James Libson of Mishcon de Reya, Solicitors, and Mark Bateman of Davenport Lyons a letter containing the following paragraph.
2. Please advise your witness Van Pelt that I shall be asking in detail about Zyklon B deliveries and consumption rates for the various camps including Oranienburg, Sachsenhausen, Auschwitz; and that it would be useful if he would bone up on the quantities need to delouse buildings (i.e. how many kilograms per thousand cubic meters) and clothing (i.e. how many grams per outfit). 114
Given the by then quarter of a century-old denier attempt to explain away all Zyklon use in Auschwitz through reference to exanthematous typhus, I decided to take Irving's advice, and prepare the ground for a cross-examination on Zyklon B use. It is important to note that I did so in response to Irving's announcement that he would raise this issue. In my introduction to this supplementary report, I wrote the following:
While Mr. Irving did not announce the material he was going to introduce as evidence, it seems likely, given the specific reference to Oranienburg, that he will use the invoices from the firm of Degesch to SS-Obersturmführer Kurt Gerstein, covering the period February to May 1944, for deliveries of Zyklon B to the concentration camps of Oranienburg and Auschwitz. These invoices were submitted as evidence in the Nuremberg trial. This supplement to my expert opinion aims to put these invoices in their historical context, and discuss in more general terms what we know about deliveries of Zyklon B to concentration camps in general and Auschwitz in particular, and the conclusions that can be drawn from that knowledge. Given the fact that Mr. Irving also mentioned Sachsenhausen, I have also considered the information about Zyklon B deliveries to Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen and other camps that emerged during the trial of Dr. Bruno Tesch, Karl Weinbacher and Dr. Joachim Drosihn, held before a British Military Court from March 1 to March 8, 1946 in Hamburg.
As far as the invoices were concerned, I reconstructed Irving's argument as one based on the following crude syllogism:
In early 1944 Oranienburg and Auschwitz received the same quantity of Zyklon B
Or one could make the syllogism more refined by creating a combination of three syllogisms:
In early 1944 the concentration camps at Auschwitz was 1.5 times as large as the concentration camps at Oranienburg/Sachsenhausen (90,000 vs. 60,000).
This would make some sense if we knew that the invoices represented a relic of typical shipments to the concentration camps, and that they could therefore be taken as the basis for the kind of statistical speculations embodied in the proposed syllogisms. Yet after a lengthy consideration of the provenance of the invoices, I came to the conclusion that the purchase of these 158 boxes containing each 30 x 500 g. tins of Zyklon B was not part of the usual supply of Zyklon B to those camps, and "that the extraordinary character of these shipments forbids us to draw any conclusions from these invoices concerning the regular shipments of Zyklon B to Auschwitz and other places." 115
As Irving had raised the issue of Zyklon-B deliveries, I thought that it would be good to study the matter further. Using data that had emerged in the War Crimes Trial of the distributors of Zyklon B - Dr. Bruno Tesch, Karl Weinbacher and Dr. Joachim Drosihn who had run the pest-control company Tesch und Stabenow (TeSta) - held from March 1 to March 8, 1946 at Hamburg, it was clear that in 1942 TeSta had supplied a total of 9,131.6 kg Zyklon B to various concentration camps. Of this amount, 7,500 kg (or 82% of all Zyklon B supplied to the camps) went to Auschwitz. In 1943, TeSta supplied 18,302.9 kg to the camps. Again Auschwitz was the largest recipient, with 12,000 kg Zyklon-B (or 65%).
Taking these and other figures that emerged in the TeSta trial as my basis, I made a whole series of detailed calculations, concentrating on 1943 as that year typhus in Auschwitz was very much under control. My conclusion was that of the 12,000 kg Zyklon B delivered to Auschwitz in that year, a maximum 9,000 kg could have been used for "ordinary" delousing procedures (2,730 kg would have been used for the delousing of clothing, blankets, and other items in use by the prisoners, while some 6,270 kg could have been used for the delousing of barracks). This would mean that all the rest of the Zyklon-B shipped to Auschwitz in 1943 (3,000 kg) would have been available for purposes above and beyond those engaged in other camps such as Sachsenhausen. I calculated that 400 kg of Zyklon-B would have been used for the delousing of the clothing of the deportees in the delousing chamber in Canada I, before shipment to the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (VoMi) for redistribution amongst the ethnic Germans. I also calculated that a maximum of 940 kg could have been used for the occasional delousing of the railway freight carriages before their dispatch back to origin. I concluded that at least 1,660 kg Zyklon B was unaccounted for, and I asked the obvious question how many people could be killed by such an amount? The German Health Institution of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in Prague calculated that 70 mg of Zyklon-B suffices to kill one person. 117 This would have meant that, in theory, the surplus of 1,660 kg Zyklon B, if used with 100% efficiency, could have killed (1,660 x 14,000 =) 23.2 million people. But, of course, the efficiency was much lower. Pery Broad testified that the SS used two 1 kg tins to kill 2,000 people., or 1 kg per 1000 people - a ratio of 1 kg per 1,000 people that was also used by Gerstein when he assumed that 8,500 kg of Zyklon B sufficed to kill eight million people. This implies that the 1,660 kg Zyklon-B could have killed 1.6 million people. Testifying in Hamburg, Dr. Bendel stated that 1 kg tin was good for the murder of 500 people, which would mean that 1,660 kg Zyklon B would have allowed for the murder of 800,000 people. I concluded that Auschwitz had a surplus of Zyklon B of between 3 to 6 times necessary to kill the 250,000 people murdered in Auschwitz in 1943.
As Rudolf accuses me of introducing "stated assumptions" that are "pure speculations," I will provide here a section of the text of my submission which did convince Mr. Justice Gray.
On first sight, the enormous imbalance between the shipments to the concentration camp system as a whole insofar as it existed in the TeSta monopoly area and Auschwitz is remarkable: in the year 1942, Auschwitz uses 82% of all Zyklon B shipped to the concentration camp system as a whole east of the Elbe, while in 1943 it share is 65% of all Zyklon B.! Before we rush to conclusions, it is good to consider how much there is of an imbalance. This forces us to consider the relative size of Auschwitz to the concentration camp system as a whole in de TeSta area in 1942 and 1943. One point of departure of such a comparison could be a comparison of the size of the inmate population. The figures in the first and second columns are rough approximates, derived from various sources, and especially in the first column it is not always clear if the figure includes concentration camps only, or also certain SS-administered forced-labour camps. 118 Thus a calculation subtracting the size of the camps in the HeLi sales area from the total figure sometimes results in a different figure from that arrived at adding the sizes of camps in the TeSta sales area. The only figures that seem quite reliable are those tracing the growth of Auschwitz.
Sept1939: 021,400 all camps; Aug 1941 - - all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 012,000 Auschwitz Feb 1942 - - all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 011,500 Auschwitz May 1942: 100,000 all camps; 075,000 TeSta area; 021,000 Auschwitz Aug 1942: 115,000 all camps; 080,000 TeSta area; 024,000 Auschwitz Nov 1942: 083,000 all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 028,000 Auschwitz Dec 1942: 088,000 all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 030,000 Auschwitz May 1943: 200,000 all camps; 100,000 TeSta area; 050,000 Auschwitz Aug 1943: 224,000 all camps; 125,000 TeSta area; 074,000 Auschwitz Nov 1943 - - all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 087,000 Auschwitz Dec 1943 - - all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 085,000 Auschwitz Jan 1944 - - all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 080,000 Auschwitz Apr 1944 - - all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 082,000 Auschwitz Jul 1944 - - all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 092,000 Auschwitz Aug 1944: 524,268 all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 105,168 Auschwitz Jan 1945: 714,211 all camps; - - - - - TeSta area; 065,000 Auschwitz119
By drawing these not altogether reliable statistics into a graph, one comes to a rough estimate that the total average size of the camp system in the TeSta area in 1942 is 75,000 inmates, and that the average size of Auschwitz in that same year was 25,000 inmates, or 33 % of the whole concentration camp system. In 1943 the average size of the concentration camp system within the TeSta area was 110,000 inmates, and of Auschwitz 60,000, or a little over 50%. But, as we have seen, in the year 1942, Auschwitz uses however 82% of all Zyklon B shipped to the concentration camp system as a whole, while in 1943 it share is 65% of all Zyklon B.
So far my own text.
In hindsight I made one mistake. Originally the delousing gas chamber of BW5a was, like that of BW5b 360 cubic meters. This gas chamber was taken out of commission in July 1943, and replaced by two small hot-air disinfestation chambers of 60 cubic meters total. This has the implication that, in 1943, the average delousing capacity of BW5a and BW5b combined was not 420 cubic meters, but 540 cubic meters. As a result, the paragraph discussing the use of Zyklon B in delousing installations should be rewritten as follows (I have printed the old figures in italics, and the new one in bold]:
Hence the total delousing space was 450 + 70 +  180 + 360 =  1060 cubic meters. At what concentration were these rooms used? The instructions issued by the war-time, German-run Health Institution of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in Prague ("Gesundheitsanstalt des Protektorates Böhmen und Mähren in Prag") is that one needs 8 g of Zyklon-B per cubic meter applied for a period of 16 hours to kill vermin such as "bugs, lice, fleas etc., with eggs, larves and chrusales." 127 Thus it is likely that the delousing rooms of Block 3 and 1, and the gas chambers of BW5a and BW5b would have operated on a concentration of 8 g per cubic meter. This meant that assuming one gassing per day, Auschwitz used for the purposes of delousing clothing, blankets, and other items in use by the prisoners [(940 x 8g =) 7.5] (1060 x 8g = ) 8.5 kg Zyklon-B per day, or a little over [2,730] 3,100 kg Zyklon B per year. This figure assumes that every delousing room was used once every day (with exception, of course, of April 20). This would have sufficed to delouse 500,000 prison uniforms, or at an average inmate population of 60,000, each uniform would have been deloused every six weeks, or less so when other items were also included for delousing.
My mistake underestimated the potential use of Zyklon B for delousing purposes by 370 kg. This would still leave between 1,290 kg and 2,790 kg Zyklon as unaccounted for - amounts that were more than sufficient to kill, using Dr. Bendel's conservative estimate, around 650,000 people.
Remarkably enough, Rudolf did not notice the error in my figures - perhaps because he was satisfied to respond to my calculations with an utterly unsupported statement which, as I will show, contains an instance of factual reasoning that is plainly wrong:
Van Pelt's "stated assumptions" are pure speculations. One single delousing in the delousing chambers of BW5a and 5 b would require at least 5 kg of Zyklon B, so these two facilities alone could consume 3,650 kilos per year if they were used once a day. (p. 318)
Rudolf does not state how he came to his assumption that BW5a and BW5b would each use 5 kg per day (only in this way can he come to a total use of 3,650 kg per year). In order to reconstruct what his assumptions could have been, I will examine the instructions issued by the war-time, German-run Health Institution of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in Prague ("Gesundheitsanstalt des Protektorates Böhmen und Mähren in Prag"). This organization stipulated that one needs 8 g of Zyklon-B per cubic meter applied for a period of 16 hours to kill vermin such as "bugs, lice, fleas etc., with eggs, larve and chrysales." Thus it is likely that the delousing rooms of BW5a and BW5b would have operated on a concentration of 8 g per cubic meter. Five kilo of Zyklon B would be enough for (5000 / 8 =) 626 cubic meters. Thus Rudolf assumes that the delousing chambers of BW5a and BW5b had a total capacity of (2 x 626 =) 1,252 cubic meters. Before July 1943, actual capacity of the delousing chambers of BW5a and BW5b was 720 cubic meters, and after July 1943 it had been reduced to 360 cubic meters. Rudolf's figure of 1,252 cubic meters has no basis in the facts.
Rudolf continues with the suggestion that I ignored the fact that there were other delousing facilities:
These were not the only delousing facilities in Auschwitz, and this does not even take into consideration that inmate barracks might have been fumigated as well, which would invalidate van Pelt's "assumptions".
The extract of my report on Zyklon B given above shows that I did consider all the various delousing spaces in Auschwitz in great detail, and also the fumigation of the inmate barracks.
In conclusion, Rudolf's affidavit does not merely offer no new evidence or arguments, but also completely fails to address or challenge the evidence that was introduced in court.
Last modified:May 23, 2002