Auschwitz: the facts and the legend

In early 1940 Auschwitz was still nothing more than a town of 13,000 inhabitants in German Upper Silesia. Then, in May of that year, at the site of a former Polish army artillery barracks on the outskirts, construction of a “transit camp” for 10,000 Polish prisoners was begun.

In the years that followed, and with the worsening of the war, Auschwitz became the centre of a complex of nearly 40 camps and sub-camps and the capital of an enormous agricultural and industrial complex (mines, petrochemical works, munitions factories…) where large numbers of detainees, Polish and Jewish in particular, worked side by side with civilian workers. At the same time, or successively, Auschwitz was a prisoner of war camp, a vast transit camp, a hospital camp, a concentration camp and a camp of both forced and free labourers. It was never an “extermination camp” (a term invented by the Allies).

However, typhus, which was endemic in the population of Polish Jews and Russian prisoners of war, along with typhoid fever and other epidemics, wrought havoc in the camp population – both in the camps proper and in the town of Auschwitz, even among the German physicians – and in the civilian population. And this in spite of drastic hygienic measures and a multiplicity of hospital buildings and facilities, equipped at times with the latest in German medical science. Thus it came about that over the whole period of the camp’s operation – that is, from May 20, 1940 to January 18, 1945 – the epidemics, in tandem, for some detainees, with terrible working conditions in that marshy area, with hunger, heat and cold, led to the death of probably 150,000 persons.[1]

The rumour of Auschwitz

As is usual in times of war and war propaganda, many rumours developed out of these dramatic realities. Above all towards the end of the war and above all in the Jewish circles outside of Poland, people started telling of how the Germans, at Auschwitz, were killing millions of detainees systematically on orders from Berlin. According to these rumours, the Nazis had installed “death factories”, notably for the Jews; they were dissecting prisoners alive (vivisection) or burning them alive (in pits, in blast furnaces or in crematoria); or else, before burning them, they were gassing the Jews in chemical slaughterhouses called “gas chambers”. Here are found again some of the myths of the First World War.[2]

The Soviet liberators’ embarrassment

The Soviets occupied Auschwitz on January 27, 1945. What they discovered there was so contrary to what the propaganda peddled that it can be said they stood with mouths agape. By its very organisation and its sanitary facilities, so modern in the Soviets’ eyes, this camp was the complete opposite of an “extermination camp”. Thus for several days Pravda remained silent and, for the moment, no Allied commission of inquiry was invited to note, on the spot, the truth of Auschwitz. On the 1st of February Pravda finally broke its silence, but only to put the following words in the mouth of a lone prisoner:

The Hitlerites killed, by means of gas, the children and the ill, as well as the men and women unfit for work. They incinerated the corpses in special ovens. There were twelve of these ovens in the camp.

The official Soviet paper added that the number of deaths was reckoned at “thousands and thousands” (not millions). The next day Pravda‘s chief reporter, Jewish journalist Boris Polevoi, stated that the main method used by the Germans to exterminate their victims was… electricity:[3]

[They used] an electric conveyor belt on which hundreds of persons could be electrocuted at once; the dead bodies would then fall onto a belt driven slowly by a chain and in this way move on into a blast furnace.

Soviet propaganda was in disarray, and in its newsreels could show only the dead or dying whom the Germans had left behind in their retreat. And, as contemporary newsreels of the camp’s liberation show, there were also numerous live children as well as adults in good health. Jewish propaganda then came to the rescue of Soviet propaganda.

Jewish propaganda at the end of 1944

In the spring of 1944 two Jewish escapees from Auschwitz had found refuge in Slovakia. There, with the aid of co-religionists, they began to devise a history of Auschwitz, Birkenau (an annex of Auschwitz) and Majdanek, all described by them as “extermination camps”. The better known of these two Jews was Walter Rosenberg, alias Rudolf Vrba, who is still alive today, residing in British Columbia, Canada. Their highly fanciful story then made its way, always in Jewish circles, to Hungary, Switzerland and, finally, the United States. It took the form of a typewritten report published in the United States in November of 1944 by the War Refugee Board, under the stamp of the presidency. The War Refugee Board (WRB) owed its creation to Henry Morgenthau, Jr (1891-1967), Secretary of the Treasury, who would later make himself known for the “Morgenthau Plan” which, had it been pursued by Roosevelt and Truman, would have resulted in the physical annihilation, after the war, of millions of Germans.

This report served as the template for the official “truth” about Auschwitz. The Soviets took inspiration from it for their own official Commission report of May 6, 1945, deemed by the Nuremberg Tribunal to have “probative value”. Along with the Soviet Commission report on the Katyn forest massacre, the Tribunal took “judicial notice” of the Soviet report on Auschwitz, which meant that it could not be challenged. According to this report (Nuremberg document USSR-008) the Germans had killed more than four million persons at Auschwitz, notably by gassing them with the insecticide called “Zyklon B”. This official “truth” was to collapse in 1990.

The Confession of Rudolf Höss

On April 15, 1946, one of the three successive commandants of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss (not to be confused with Rudolf Hess), “confessed” under oath before the Nuremberg judges and before reporters of the world press that, during the time of his command, i.e. from May 20, 1940 to December 1, 1943, at least 2,500,000 Auschwitz detainees had been executed by gas, and that at least another 500,000 had succumbed to hunger and disease, which made a total of at least 3,000,000 deaths for that period alone.[4] But not for a moment was Höss examined or cross-examined on the material specifics of the extraordinary facts he related. He was turned over to the Poles. Under the supervision of his Communist jailers he drew up a pencilled confession in due and proper form.

Afterwards, on April 16, 1947, he was hanged at Auschwitz. Curiously, it was not until 1958 that a portion of this confession was made public under the title Kommandant in Auschwitz.[5]

Physical and chemical impossibilities

The gassing operation, as vaguely and quickly described by Höss in his written confession, is impossible for reasons of a physical and chemical nature. An execution gassing is not to be confused with a suicidal or accidental gassing: in an execution gassing, the aim is to kill without being killed!

Zyklon B is an insecticide with a base of hydrocyanic acid that has been widely used since 1922, and is still in use today. It is extremely dangerous. It sticks to surfaces. It is difficult to evacuate. It is explosive. In a few states of the USA hydrogen cyanide gas is employed to execute condemned convicts. An execution gas chamber is necessarily very sophisticated and the procedure is lengthy and dangerous. However, Höss, in his confession, said that the work crew charged with removing 2,000 corpses from a gas chamber entered the place as soon as a ventilator had been turned on, and set about the Herculean task while eating and smoking; that is to say, if we understand correctly, without even a gas mask. Impossible. No-one could have entered an ocean of hydrocyanic acid in that way and handled thousands of cyanide-poisoned corpses, themselves untouchable because they were infused with a powerful poison that kills by contact. Even with gas masks fitted with a special filter for hydrogen cyanide the task would have been impossible, for the filters, with the strong breathing necessitated by physical effort, even one of low intensity, could never have resisted.

A response of 34 historians

In the issues of the French daily Le Monde of December 29, 1978 and of January 16, 1979, I briefly set forth the reasons why, knowing the locations and the alleged procedure followed, I considered that the Auschwitz gassings were technically impossible. On February 21, 1979, again in Le Monde, there appeared a declaration of 34 French historians that concluded as follows: “One must not ask oneself how, technically, such a mass murder was possible. It was technically possible, since it happened.” In my opinion, the “exterminationists”, as I call them, at that point signed their surrender in open country. On the level of science and of history, the myth of the Nazi gas chambers had just received a fatal blow. No exterminationist work has since brought us any clarifications on this point, and above all not that of Jean-Claude Pressac, fallaciously entitled Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers.[6] To begin with, the time is over when historians dared to tell us that such or such gas chamber presented to the tourists as being “in its original condition”, “in a reconstructed state” or “in a state of ruin” (ruins can be eloquent). The alleged Auschwitz gas chambers were simply cold rooms in which bodies awaiting cremation were kept, as attested by the plans that I discovered in 1976.

 “Show me or draw me …”

In March of 1992 in Stockholm I launched a challenge to the world: “Show me or draw me a Nazi gas chamber!” I specified that I was not interested in a building reputed to house such a gas chamber, nor in a section of a wall, nor in a door, nor in hair, nor in shoes. What I wanted was a complete representation of the crime weapon, of the technique for its use, of its operation. I added that, if it was alleged now that the Germans had destroyed that weapon, a drawing of it would have to be made.

I refused to believe in a “material reality” bereft of any material representation.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum

On August 30, 1994 I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. There I found no physical representation of the magical gas chamber. I then asked its research director, rabbi Michael Berenbaum, in the presence of four witnesses in his office, to explain this anomaly. After becoming violently angry he finally replied that “the decision had been made not to present any physical representation of a Nazi gas chamber”! He did not even bring up the existence in the museum of an artistic model of Birkenau’s crematorium-II. He knew that the model in question (which, for that matter, he did not reproduce in his guidebook to the museum[7]), was but an artistic creation bearing no relation to reality.

The exterminationist fiasco

I had the occasion to remind Berenbaum of some events that had been disastrous for the exterminationist cause, viz., in 1968 French-Jewish historian Olga Wormser-Migot had acknowledged in her doctoral thesis that there existed a “problem of the gas chambers”, and had written that the Auschwitz-I camp was “without a gas chamber” (that “gas chamber” visited by millions of tourists!).[8]

In 1983 a British author, albeit a defender of the extermination legend, revealed how Rudolf Höss, prior to his deposition before the Nuremberg Tribunal, had been tortured by members of the British military security service, who were Jews, and had confessed only after being kicked, punched and whipped, exposed to the cold and deprived of sleep.[9]

In 1985, at the first trial of Ernst Zündel in Toronto, the Number One witness of the exterminationist case, Rudolf Vrba, and its Number One historian, Raul Hilberg, both completely collapsed during cross-examination by barrister Douglas Christie, whom I was assisting.[10]

In 1988 Jewish-American historian Arno Mayer, who affirmed that he believed in the genocide and in the gas chambers, wrote:

Sources for the study of the gas chambers are at once rare and unreliable […] Besides, from 1942 to 1945, certainly at Auschwitz, but probably overall, more Jews were killed by so-called “natural” causes than by “unnatural” ones.[11]

In 1992 Yehuda Bauer, professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, described the claim that the decision to exterminate the Jews had been made at Berlin-Wannsee as “silly”.[12]

In 1993 J.-C. Pressac estimated the number of deaths at Auschwitz (Jews and non-Jews) at a total of 775,000 and, then, in 1994, at a figure somewhere between 630,000 and 710,000.[13]

In the same year American professor Christopher Browning, contributor to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, stated: “Höss was always a very weak and confused witness.” He then had the gall to add: “The revisionists use him all the time for this reason, in order to try to discredit the memory of Auschwitz as a whole.”[14]

Until early 1990 any visitor to Auschwitz could see, inscribed in 19 different languages on 19 metal plaques of the big Birkenau monument, the claim that four million persons had died in the camp; but towards April of that year those plaques were removed by the Auschwitz Museum authorities who, still today, do not know what to put in place of the mendacious figure before which the great and the good of this world, including Pope John Paul II, had come to bow their heads.

The revisionists, in support of their case, have at their disposal the results of forensic studies of the alleged crime weapon – i.e. the “gas chamber” – by three different experts (Fred Leuchter, Germar Rudolf, Walter Lüftl) and even the beginnings of a Polish expert’s report, whereas the exterminationists still dare not undertake such a study. All the Jewish survivors of Auschwitz and, in particular, the “children of Auschwitz”, that is, those who were born in the camp or who spent their early years there, are living proof that Auschwitz could never have been an “extermination camp”.

Not only was there never any order, plan or trace of any directive or budget for the vast enterprise that the systematic extermination of the Jews would have been; not only does there exist no post-mortem establishing the death of even a single prisoner by poison gas, or any official study of the crime weapon, but (and despite what some best-selling authors would have us believe) there exists not a single witness of the gas chambers. Elie Wiesel, in his autobiographical testimony Night published in 1958, does not once mention the gas chambers of Auschwitz; he says that the Jews were exterminated in burning pits or in crematory furnaces! In January of 1945 the Germans gave him and his father the choice of either waiting on the spot for the Soviets or of leaving for the heart of Germany.

After due consideration, father and son decided to flee with their German “exterminators” rather than await their Soviet liberators. All this is to be found in plain words in Night, which need only be read with attention.[15]

The Auschwitz Lie

In December 1980 I declared: “Your attention, please! Not one of the 60 words of the sentence I am about to pronounce is inspired by any political opinion. — The alleged Hitlerite gas chambers and the alleged genocide of the Jews form one and the same historical lie, which has permitted a gigantic political and financial swindle whose main beneficiaries are the State of Israel and international Zionism and whose main victims are the German people – but not their leaders – and the Palestinian people in their entirety.

Today I see not one word to withdraw from that declaration despite the physical attacks, despite the court cases, despite the fines I have endured since 1978 and despite the imprisonment, exile or persecution of so many revisionists. Historical revisionism is the great intellectual adventure of the end of this century. I have just one regret: not being able, within the limits of this article, to find the space needed to pay homage to the hundred revisionist authors who, from the Frenchman Paul Rassinier to the American Arthur Butz, the German Wilhelm Stäglich, the Italian Carlo Mattogno and the Spaniard Enrique Aynat, have accumulated so many works of striking merit on the historical reality of the Second World War.

One final word: the revisionists are neither negators nor persons driven by dark designs. They seek to tell of what has happened and not of what has not happened. They are positive. What they announce is good news. They continue to propose a public debate, in the light of day, even though, up to now, they have been answered above all by insults, by violence, by the unjust force of the law or else by vague political, moral or philosophical considerations. The legend of Auschwitz must, among historians, give way to the factual truth.

January 11, 1995



[1] This figure of 150,000 deaths perhaps equals the number of those killed in what has been called the world’s greatest “crematorium for the living” – that of the bombing of Dresden, “Florence on the Elbe,” in February 1945 by the British and American airforces.
[2] During the First World War the Allies accused the Germans of using churches as gas chambers and of operating cadavre factories. On the first point, see “Atrocities in Serbia. 700,000 Victims,” Daily Telegraph (London), March 22, 1916, p. 7:

That same newspaper reported similar charges during the Second World War. See: “Germans Murder 700,000 Jews in Poland. Travelling Gas Chambers,” Daily Telegraph, June 25, 1942, p. 5:

(See also: R. Faurisson, A Request for Additional Information on the Myth of the ‘Gassing’ of the Serbs in the First World War, Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1991, p. 254-255.)
[3] Report by B. Polevol, Pravda, Feb. 2, 1945, p. 4. I first learned of this article while doing research in 1979 in the National Archives, Suitland (Maryland) branch, when I came across a brief report from the Washington Daily News of Feb. 2, 1945, p. 2, 35 (“‘Ageless, Sexless Ghosts’ Rescued From Murder Mill,” United Press dispatch by Henry Shapiro from Moscow), which was based, more or less, on the Pravda article.
[4] International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (IMT “blue series”), Nuremberg 1947-1949, Vol. 11, p. 414-415.
[5] Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1958. To his shame, the person responsible for this publication was Martin Broszat.
[6] Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York 1989).
On the work of Pressac, see the reviews and critical responses that have appeared in the  Journal of Historical Review: M. Weber in Vol. 10, No. 2 (Summer 1990), p. 231 – 237; C. Mattogno in Vol. 10, No. 4 (Winter 1990-91), p. 461-485; R. Faurisson in Vol. 11, No. 1 (Spring 1991), p. 25-66, and in Vol. 11, No. 2 (Summer 1991), p. 133-175; A. Butz in Vol. 13, No. 3, (May-June 1993), p. 23-37; S. Thion in Vol. 14, No. 4 (July-August 1994, p. 28-39.
[7] M. Berenbaum, The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust As Told in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (Little-Brown, Boston 1993), p. 137-143.
[8] O. Wormser-Migot, Le Système concentrationnaire nazi (1933-1945) (Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1968), p. 157, 541-545.
Eight days after this essay was written, the prominent French weekly L’Express acknowledged that, as Robert Faurisson had said “at the end of the 70s,” “everything is false” in the Auschwitz I “gas chamber” that for decades has been shown to tens of thousands of tourists yearly. (See Major French Magazine Acknowledges Auschwitz Gas Chamber Fraud, Journal of Historical Review, Jan.-Feb. 1995, p. 23.)
[9] Rupert Butler, Legions of Death (Arrow, London 1983), acknowledgments page and p. 234-238.
[10] Barbara Kulaszka, compiler and editor, Did Six Million Really Die?: Report of the Evidence in the Canadian “False News” Trial of Ernst Zündel, 1988 (Samisdat Publishers, Toronto 1992); see the index listings “Vrba, Rudolf” and “Hilberg, Raul.”
[11] Arno Mayer, The “Final Solution” in History (Pantheon, New York 1988), p. 362, 365.
[12] Wannsee’s importance rejected,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency dispatch, Canadian Jewish News, January 30, 1992.
[13] J.-C. Pressac, Les Crématoires d’Auschwitz (CNRS editions, Paris 1993), p. 148; J.-C. Pressac, Die Krematorien von Auschwitz (Piper Verlag, Munich 1994), p. 202.
“From 600,000 to 800,000,” wrote J.-C. Pressac in “La Technique des chambres à gaz,” an article included in La Déportation: Le Système concentrationnaire nazi, a book published under the direction of François Bedarida (BDlC, Paris 1995), p. 196.
[14] Christopher Hitchens, Whose History is It?, Vanity Fair (New York), December 1993, p. 117.
[15] E. Wiesel, Night (Avon/Discus, New York 1960), p. 41, 42, 43, 44, 79, 93. (French edition: La Nuit, editions de Minuit, Paris 1958, p. 128-130). In the German edition (Die Nacht zu begraben, Elischa [Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1962]), the words “crematorium,” “crematoria” and “crematory ovens” have been systematically replaced with the term “gas chamber” or “gas chambers” (in German: Gaskammer[n].) Embarrassed about the gas chambers, Wiesel wrote in his 1994 memoir: “Let the gas chambers remain closed to prying eyes, and to imagination.” English language version: All Rivers Run to the Sea (Knopf, New York 1995), p. 74. The words that follow show that Wiesel does not believe the “testimonies” of Filip Müller and others like him who, supposedly, have described what happened in the gas chambers.