Jean-Claude Pressac’s new book on Auschwitz

A widely-acclaimed rebuttal to “Holocaust” revisionism

In 1989 French pharmacist Jean-Claude Pressac published in English an enormous work deceptively entitled Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers. In my review of that book, I showed how the author furnished a plethora of details about the camp itself, the crematoria, the ovens, the typhus epidemics, the disinfestation gas chambers (operating with Zyklon-B or otherwise) and even his private life.

Nothing about homicidal gas chambers

But, as I pointed out, there was nothing to be found in that 564-page book about the alleged homicidal gas chambers except what Pressac himself called not “proofs” but only “beginnings of proofs” or “criminal traces”. The mountain had given birth to a mouse and, in fact, the mouse was a revisionist mouse, for a great number of Pressac’s statements were revisionist.

My unanswered challenge

Since 1978 I have repeated the same challenge :

Show me or draw me a Nazi gas chamber! Stop showering me with words! Stop showing me a building, a door, a wall or even, at times, simply piles of hair or shoes! I need a complete image of one of those fantastic chemical slaughterhouses. I need a physical representation of the extraordinary weapon of an unprecedented crime. If you dare to say that what tourists are shown in certain camps is, or was, such a gas chamber, then good, say it…

This challenge has never been taken up. In Washington, the Holocaust Memorial Museum shows its visitors the door of a gas chamber – the gas chamber in Majdanek – that Pressac himself says in his 1989 book (p. 555-557) was a disinfestation gas chamber, that is, non-homicidal! Pressac did not take up my challenge in 1989. Does he take it up in his new book, Les Crématoires d’Auschwitz. La Machinerie du meurtre de masse?* The answer is manifestly: No.

A proof that isn’t a proof

Pressac’s new book is basically but a summary of his 1989 English-language work. Among the 60 documents supplied, none really pertains to the homicidal gas chambers, except for one (and one only) that Pressac presents as the proof of the existence of a homicidal gas chamber at Auschwitz. Actually, it is a simple letter, a business letter, with no mention of secrecy, from the German firm Topf und Söhne to the construction office at Auschwitz (Bauleitung). It concerns the supply of detectors of hydrocyanic acid (HCN) gas for one of the crematoria. The engineer who signed the letter says that the firm has tried unsuccessfully to obtain from various suppliers the ten detectors required and that, once it has information on this subject, it will advise the construction office. Pressac contends that HCN gas detectors have no useful place in a crematorium unless, as he claims is the case, the latter served as a gas chamber!

There we have an inadmissible conclusion. Zyklon-B (consisting essentially of HCN) is a commercially marketed insecticide used since 1922 in most countries of the world. At Auschwitz it was used intensively for the disinfestation of structures and rooms, especially to fight typhus. In the cold rooms of the crematoria a large number of bodies were stored and these places, from time to time, had to be disinfested. In 1980 I published a German document (classified by the Allies as Nuremberg document NI-9912) about the procedure to follow in a disinfestation with Zyklon-B: the term designating disinfestation was Vergasung (“gassing”), and the term for gas detector was Gasrestnachweisgerät (device to detect residual gas). It was a rather widespread procedure. In Auschwitz the gas was used to kill lice, not people. The utilisation of this gas cannot, in itself, demonstrate the existence of a homicidal gas chamber.

800,000 dead?

In a famous film from 1955, Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard), projected in all the schools of France, the figure of the dead in Auschwitz is said to be nine million. The Nuremberg tribunal established the figure of four million (Doc. USSR-008). The Auschwitz-Birkenau monument also bore the four-million figure but, in 1990, the monument’s inscription plaques were removed. In his 1989 English-language book, Pressac wrote that the figure fluctuated between a million and a million and a half (p. 553). Now, in 1993, in his new book, he speaks of 775,000 dead, rounded to 800,000 (among which, according to him, 630,000 gassed Jews). The true figure of the dead of Auschwitz, for the period 1939-1945, is probably closer to 150,000, most of these due to disease, lack of food and exhaustion from work.

Lanzmann furious

Claude Lanzmann, maker of the film Shoah, is furious with Pressac. He says that the whole content of this new book is “extremely well known”, apart from the gas detector document which, he adds, will certainly not convince the revisionists. For him, revisionism is a catastrophe, in both the ordinary sense of the term and the philosophical sense, that is, a “change of era”! He thinks Pressac is actually a revisionist who uses the material and physical arguments of a Faurisson (see Le Nouvel Observateur, Sept. 30).

A forensic study of the murder weapon

Pressac is actually a cheat. This is what I demonstrated in my review of 1991 review and it is what I will show again in a review to appear in the The Journal of Historical Review. But the positive aspect of Pressac’s book is that the believers in the “Holocaust”, at least in France, finally acknowledge that the “Holocaust” question must now be addressed in a scientific manner. I take them at their word, and tell them:

Good! Let’s begin at the beginning. We need a forensic report on the murder weapon. If you consider that Fred Leuchter is wrong in his report – and likewise Germar Rudolf, Walter Lüftl and the Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow (by the way, why are you silent on this subject?) –, there’s an obvious solution: produce your own forensic report or appoint an international committee for the purpose. In that way you’ll take up my challenge: you’ll show me or draw me a Nazi gas chamber.

December 3, 1993


* English title: The machinery of mass murder at Auschwitz: The Design, Construction, Use, Modifications, and Destruction of the Crematoria and Gas Chambers of the Auchwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps.