Simone Jacob, the future Simone Veil, her mother and her sister Milou lived for several months in Auschwitz-Birkenau within “a few dozen metres” of what we are told was a factory for exterminating Jews

Yet they suspected NOTHING of the gigantic crime!

The Auschwitz-Birkenau complex is considered to have been the largest “concentration and extermination camp” of the Third Reich. The Birkenau camp proper was, for its part, the biggest “extermination camp”, a term which, coined by the United States War Refugee Board in November 1944, was translated into German at the 1945-1946 Nuremberg Trial as “Vernichtungslager”, and brazenly put forth as a word of the “Nazis’” own making.

Auschwitz, called Auschwitz-I, possessed a building, Krematorium I, consisting of a room with crematory ovens (with a store of coke, funerary urns, etc.) and of another room presented to us today as a mass-execution gas chamber. Unfortunately for the exterminationist argument, my discoveries on site, in 1975 and 1976, obliged orthodox historian Eric Conan to write, regarding those two enclosures shown to visitors as authentic still today: “Everything there is false”, and to specify: “In the late 1970s Robert Faurisson exploited these falsifications all the better as the [Auschwitz State] museum officials balked at answering him” (Auschwitz: la mémoire du malL’Express, January 19-25, 1995, p. 54-73; p. 68; on this subject see my own article, in French, of January 19, 1995).

Birkenau, called Auschwitz-II, possessed four large cremation buildings ultimately numbered from II to V. On March 19, 1976, thanks to a little ruse, I managed to discover the building plans of all five crematoria: that of Auschwitz-I and the four at Birkenau. Since the end of the war all those plans had been carefully hidden by the Polish authorities, by the Western Allies and by the Soviets. As the Internet did not yet exist in 1976 I was able to make them public only somewhat later, in 1978 and 1979. They caused a sensation. They showed that none of the five crematoria had possessed any “gas chambers” but rather simple depositories, of perfectly typical dimensions, designed to store bodies (both bodies not yet put into coffins and bodies already in coffins) awaiting cremation. These depositories were designated as such in the building plans. For example, at Auschwitz-I the space bore the name Leichenhalle (“hall for corpses”), whilst crematoria II and III at Birkenau were both built with a Leichenkeller 1 and a Leichenkeller 2 (“cellars for corpses”).

Birkenau, reputed to have been a “death camp” par excellence, was, in reality, quite to the contrary, a camp fitted with all kinds of facilities conceived in a spirit of attentiveness to hygiene and health. It included a quarantine camp, a men’s camp, a women’s camp, another for families, one for Gypsy families, one for Jews in transit, a camp with hospital blocks for men and another such camp for women, settling basins, a vast Sauna with showers and disinfection chambers functioning with the powerful pesticide Zyklon B – whose active component was hydrogen cyanide (HCN) –, a storehouse for the inmates’ effects nicknamed “Kanada” because of the abundance of belongings confiscated from new arrivals and registered – just as at any entry point of a place of detention –, a volleyball court, a football field adjacent to Krematorium III. Like Krematorium II, this latter crematorium was surrounded by a well laid-out garden, where the soccer players would sometimes have to go fetch their ball. The aerial photographs taken by the Allies during their 32 missions over the huge complex are there to attest: there are no signs, in either of the two crematoria’s gardens, of any of the considerable crowds of people who, we are told, stood waiting to enter the underground spaces in order to undress in one room and then be gassed in another; nor are there any signs of trampling of the garden grounds by those thousands of victims in waiting, or any huge mounds of coke for the cremation of those alleged crowds.

In short, if Simone Veil, her mother and her sister Milou failed to notice anything extraordinary or disquieting there, either upon alighting from the train – which stopped quite close by –, or during their stay from April 15 to early July 1944 when they were transferred to the sub-camp of Bobrek, it is because there was nothing of such nature to notice. If they never grasped that they were just a few dozen metres from the heart of a fantastical death factory it is because that alleged monstrosity had no real existence.

The brief passage where Mrs Veil confesses that she, her mother and her sister never could “understand” that they found themselves in the heart of a factory for exterminating Jews can be read either on pages 65-66 of the first edition of her autobiography Une Vie (Stock, Paris 2007; English translation: A Life: a memoir – Haus Publishing, London 2009) or on pages 55-56 of a later edition (Stock, Le Livre de Poche, 2014).

Mrs Veil begins by telling us that some of her fellow passengers were separated from their families on the ramp at the end of the arrival platform and that, once installed in the block, they worriedly inquired of the kapos as to the fate of their relatives. The kapos, brutal women, “showed them, through the window, the crematoria [sic] chimney and the smoke coming out of it”. In other words, by that gesture the guards informed them that those missing had immediately been put to death and burnt. But Simone, her mother and Milou could not understand the gesture. “We did not understand; we could not understand. What was happening a few dozen metres from us was so unimaginable that our minds were unable to suppose it […]. Everybody talked in a low voice, constructing theories about a destiny of which we knew nothing.” She adds: “Outside, the crematorium chimney smoked incessantly. A horrid smell spread everywhere.” It is rather doubtful that the chimney smoked as described but we shall leave that point aside. Let us merely recall that, despite the kapos’ announcement, the three Veils saw nothing that might confirm the threat of systematic and immediate murder. Besides, were not the two girls assigned before long to “never-ending earthworks” at either Birknenau or Bobrek (p. 70 and 79 in the 2007 edition, p. 59 and 67 in that of 2014)? For its part Le Monde of January 29, 2015 (p. 6) carried a piece entitled À Auschwitz, 70 ans après, l’hommage aux derniers survivants (At Auschwitz, 70 years after, the tribute to the last survivors): there journalist Philippe Ricard wrote not of “a few dozen metres” but of “a few hundred metres”.

In the rest of her book the author mentions the “gas chambers” or “gassings” a total of fifteen times but never reveals how, when and as a result of what circumstance she began to “understand” what until then, with her sister and her mother, she had not been able to “understand”. Was it only after the war that she could “understand” that, for months, the three of them had lived “a few dozen metres” from a chemical slaughterhouse where, day and night, Jews were gassed? Had she in fact behaved like, for example, the Treblinka locomotive driver? In Claude Lanzmann’s film Shoah that man is presented as the privileged witness of the daily transport of Jews from Warsaw to the “gas chambers” of Treblinka. However, when I came across him in his native Poland in 1988 and asked through an interpreter: “So then, each day, you led the Jews to their death that way?”, he was jolted, answering that he had learnt of the “gassing” of the Jews only after the war.

For the revisionists, this confession of Simone Veil’s is a testimony of exceptional value. It begets, later on in her book, a remarkable consequence: this woman, so hard, so severe in her judgments, refuses to bring against the Allies the accusation of having failed to bomb the railways leading to Auschwitz or the Auschwitz or Birkenau camps themselves. I recommend in this regard the lengthy elaboration she devotes to the subject on pages 96-98 of the 2007 edition (p. 80-82 of the 2014 edition). It must indeed be acknowledged that she could hardly censure the Allies for their ignorance of an absolute horror that she herself, like her sister and her mother, had been unable to see while all three were literally on the spot.

That said, the Allies were perfectly well informed about the realities of Auschwitz and indeed presumed that the stories of industrial gassings of detainees might actually be nothing but a rumour (see my article Worse than Le Pen, the revisionists Churchill, Eisenhower and de Gaulle, October 20, 1998).

What is odd in Simone Veil’s case is that, over time, she has ended up bowing to the customs of her “community” and serving the cause of holocaustic propaganda. In 1983 she did not believe the “witnesses” of the gassings. She stated then: “In a case brought against Faurisson for having denied the existence of gas chambers, those bringing the case [have been] required to produce formal proof of the gas chambers’ existence. However, everyone knows that the Nazis destroyed those gas chambers and systematically eliminated all the witnesses (France-Soir Magazine, May 7, 1983, p. 47). Nonetheless, in 2007, she was to write a foreword for the grotesque “testimony” of the proud survivor of the Sonderkommandos Shlomo Venezia (a book composed with five co-authors) entitled Sonderkommando / Dans l’enfer des chambres à gaz (Albin Michel, Paris 2007, 269 p. (English edition: Inside the gas chambers: eight months in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz, Polity, Cambridge 2009, XV-202 p.). On January 27 of the same year, before the United Nations General Assembly, she declared: “What haunts us above all is the memory of those from whom we were brutally separated, learning from the kapos, in the next few hours, that they had been taken directly to the gas chamber” […] “For us who saw them and knew what awaited them, it was a vision of horror. Their faces, those women carrying their young children, those crowds unaware of their fate who walked towards the gas chambers, are still in my memory. I was in a block close by the ramp where the trains arrived. Of all the things I saw that was the worst” (2007 edition, p. 390-392; 2014 edition, p. 336-338). All of the foregoing is in contradiction with the passage reproduced above starting with: “We did not understand; we could not understand” (2007 edition, p. 65-66; 2014 edition, p. 55-56.). Her block, described as being “close by the ramp”, was thus, by that very fact, near both Krematorium II and Krematorium III, and the latter was adjacent to the football field (Sportplatz), whose existence she does not once mention – nor, for that matter, does she mention the nearby volleyball court or the hospital blocks for detainees. She makes very much of the massive arrival of Hungarians, the majority of whom were allegedly exterminated straight away (2007 edition, p. 73-74; 2014 edition, p. 62). However, as a scholarly reader has reminded me, another famous “survivor” of Auschwitz, the chemist and writer Primo Levi, wrote altogether otherwise about those newcomers, specifying: “The Hungarians arrived among us not a few at a time, but en masse. In the space of two months, May and June 1944, they invaded the Lager […]. All the blocks and all the work squads were flooded with Hungarians” (Lilit e altri racconti, Einaudi, Turin 1981, p. 25). And Levi made no mention then of either the disappearance or the extermination of those Hungarians.


An astonishing destiny, that of Simone Veil who, to start, was recorded as “gassed at Auschwitz” (sic) and who, to finish, has belatedly produced, in her autobiography, a candid testimony apt to lead one to believe that there existed no homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz. Our star witness, as we have seen, had nonetheless lived right near the scene of the crime. For several months. With her mother and her sister Milou in the vicinity of a crematorium in action. However, none of the three had noticed the spectacle worthy of Dante’s Inferno which, it would seem, was played out day and night with batches of at least two thousand Jews – men, women and children – rushing, in single file, down a small staircase into a crematorium to disrobe in a first room and, in a second room, to die screaming under the effect of a pesticide poured in, according to what we are told, by SS-men through four openings in the roof, itself also visible from a distance! For so many days and so many nights, the three Veils apparently saw NOTHING, heard NOTHING, understood NOTHING of the tragedy taking place, so to speak, before their eyes and in their line of hearing. They were aware that in the crematorium in question corpses were regularly burned but never imagined that crowds of Jews were being methodically gassed to death there.

Élie Wiesel and Simone Veil are two extraordinary witnesses of Auschwitz. They agree in affirming that the Jews were exterminated there. But, for the former, the extermination was carried out by fire, not gas: the Germans pushed their victims into open-air blazes. As for the latter, she states, at least in her autobiography, that she lived for some months in Auschwitz right near a crematorium but without realising that, inside, crowds of Jews were being systematically gassed.

The two have something in common: they enjoy esteem, prestige and unmatched glory. For how much longer?

 March 20, 2015