My Response to Carlo Mattogno
By John C. Zimmerman
To the Memory of Mark Van Alstine
Last October I had a study published on this website which examined the Auschwitz body disposal theories of Holocaust denier Carlo Mattogno. The title of the study is Body Disposal at Auschwitz: The End of Holocaust Denial, hereafter referred to as Body.1 The material appearing in the Body study is drawn from a book which will be published later on this year by the University Press of America entitled Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies and Ideologies. About a month after the study appeared, Mattogno issued a reply on the CODOH website, hereafter referred to as Reply in this essay.2
I realize that my response to Mattogno is late in coming. However, upon reading Mattogno's reply I realized that there was more information needed for my book and response. It took several months to obtain key documents. After receiving the documents, I decided that it was necessary to complete my book before issuing this response. Also, Mattogno's reply necessitated that I expand certain portions of my book to deal with issues he has raised in the past with which I was not familiar when writing the body disposal study. The book has been completed. Now to Mattogno.
Throughout the body disposal study I referred to the Auschwitz Central Construction Agency as the Bauleitung. I also called it the Auschwitz Construction Agency. Mattogno (Reply, 8) complained about this, noting that the correct term is the Auschwitz Zentralbauleitung. I have similarly used this abbreviated term Bauleitung in my forthcoming book. Mattogno is more adept at preaching the correct terminology than actually using it since in 1996 he referred to "[t]he archives of the Auschwitz Bauleitung" and the "archives of the Bauleitung."3Apparently, Mattogno believes that he is exempt from having to use the correct terminology.
In my study (Body, 15) I was critical of Mattogno's claim that the Birkenau ovens were not overhauled because there were no documents to that effect. I noted that there had not as yet emerged any documents showing even a single cremation at Auschwitz to which I noted: "According to Mattogno's logic this must mean that no cremations took place at Auschwitz." Mattogno's response is that "[p]erhaps Zimmerman finds this idiocy amusing; for me it is only pathetic." (Reply, 15) In fact, I got the idea for this "pathetic" analogy from Mattogno himself. In a 1994 article discussing the criticism that cremation capacity of the Auschwitz ovens far exceeded what would be needed at the camp, he stated that in 1939 German crematoria had the capacity to cremate 14 times more than the number of people who died in Germany that year. He then writes: "perhaps this shows that the Nazis intended to exterminate Germany's civilian population." 4 Once again, Mattogno gives himself an exemption from "idiotic" and "pathetic" analogies.
Lack of Records
Since writing the body disposal study I have obtained more information about the problem of oven durability that Mattogno raised when he wrote about the lack of documentation about oven overhaul. This will be discussed later on in this response. One of the key points I was making when raising this issue is that there is no information about how any of the 52 ovens in Auschwitz operated and that there had not as yet emerged a single documented instance of a cremation occurring at the camp. Mattogno's response (Reply, 15, 16) was to cite a report from August 1940 on the first cremation. The document, which I have obtained, states: "The local building authority reports that the erection work on the cremation oven was completed on August 15, 1940. The test cremation of the first body took place the same day."5
According to Mattogno -- and I believe him -- he has read all 88,200 pages in the archives of the Auschwitz Zentralbauleitung held in Moscow.6 Yet in all of this reading, he is only able to document an instance of a single cremation, and that cremation tells us nothing about how the ovens functioned. He does not cite evidence that even a single cremation took place in any of the 46 Birkenau ovens.
One of the key points I made in the body disposal study was the incriminating implications of the lack of such information. Mattogno never bothered to address this point. In fact, the lack to date of any such information is more incriminating than all of the evidence that does exist on Auschwitz. I cited a large number of eyewitness testimonies to the fact that these records were destroyed by the authorities who were seeking to conceal their crimes; statements that are supported by the absence of such documents. (Body, 30, 31). In fact, there was a separate section of the Auschwitz Political Division that was entrusted with these tasks. It was called the "Registry Office and Crematorium Administration" [Standesamt und Krematorium - Verwaltung].7 Therefore, it can indeed be wondered how it is possible that there can be thousands of documents on the building of these structures and none on how they actually functioned, especially since there was a separate section created by the camp authorities to deal with these issues.
Mattogno has begun to hint that the Soviets have suppressed the records. This is the only denier argument which can be offered to "explain" why there are no records. The only other explanation is that the records were destroyed by the Germans. The claim is made as part of Mattogno's "40 points" delivered by his associate Russ Granata to the convention on "Real History", sponsored by David Irving, in Cincinnati on September 26,1999. The tape is entitled Russ Granata Reports on Carlo Mattogno and is sold commercially by Russ Granata. I obtained a copy.
Mattogno blames Soviet "culling" for the lack of information on oven testing, suggesting that the Soviets weeded out documents they didn't like. This is not surprising. Elsewhere he has argued -- without any proof -- that the Soviets had altered a document from the captured Bauleitung archives to attempt to link Zyklon B to Krema II.8 He has also argued -- again without any proof --that the Soviets suppressed the "correct" version of the Bauleitung report of June 28, 1943, which states that 4756 bodies could be incinerated in a 24 hour period. Mattogno theorizes that this report was corrected in a subsequent report.9
Mattogno knows that the advantage of making absurd arguments like these is that it is impossible to prove a negative. That is, to prove that the Soviets did not tamper with these documents. However, there is very strong evidence that the Soviets never touched these documents. This comes from the interrogations the Soviets made of the Topf engineers they captured.
The interrogations occurred in March 1946. Engineer Kurt Prufer, who built the Auschwitz ovens, stated that the Birkenau ovens could incinerate one corpse per hour and that brick lining on the ovens was damaged after six months because of the enormous strain being placed on the ovens. 10 Prufer's statements directly contradicted a Soviet report on this issue. In May 1945 the Soviets submitted a report to the International Military Tribunal hearing war crimes trials. The report claimed that the ovens could incinerate 279,000 per month or 9,000 per day. This comes out to about 7 1/2 minutes per corpse working non- stop for a period of 24 hours each day without any rest. The report claims that the Birkenau ovens had the capacity to cremate over 5 million corpses during the time they functioned. In other words, the Soviets claimed that the ovens had an unlimited burning capacity. 11 These claims were being directly contradicted by Prufer's statements to the interrogator. The contents of these interrogations would have been the obvious choice of suppression or alteration since they were directly contradicting the official Soviet view of these ovens.
Moreover, if the Soviets were really anxious to suppress unfavorable information then the more likely candidate would have been the Auschwitz Death Books. As is well known, these books -- which are incomplete -- show the deaths of approximately 69,000 registered prisoners. Prisoners brought into the camp and gassed upon arrival did not receive a registration number. However, the Soviets were claiming in their report filed with the International Military Tribunal that 4 million had died in the camp. 12 Why not destroy or alter the death books, which did not lend any support to the 4 million claim. The Soviet failure to destroy the death books is very strong proof that they never tampered with these documents, and may not have ever looked at them. Mattogno's conspiracy theory to the contrary is not very well thought out.
Open Air Burnings
In the body disposal study I had erroneously claimed that Mattogno never addressed the issue of open air burnings. In his reply, he called my attention to a publication entitled My Banned Holocaust Interview where he discussed these issues. At the time of writing the study I was unaware of this publication -- and for good reason: it is very difficult to obtain and not as accessible as Mattogno's other publications. However, thanks to John Drobnicki of "The Holocaust History Project", I was finally able to obtain a copy of this tract.
Much of argument on the issue of open air burnings centers around the May 31, 1944 photo. In my body disposal study I had supposed that Mattogno received any information he had about this topic from John Ball. In the article Mattogno wrote with Franco Deana he had twice referred his readers to an article by Ball when discussing the gravesites in the area outside of the camp that appear on the May 31 photo. He wrote: "John C Ball demonstrates in the present volume that the air photos taken of Auschwitz by the Allies show no traces of mass incineration in pits."13
I was able to show that Ball has lied consistently about those photos. Mattogno now states (Reply, 3) that he possesses all of the aerial and surface photographs of Auschwitz from 1944. This is quite a revelation since he has given no less than three different versions of what is on this photo. Mattogno writes that "[i]f I change opinion concerning interpretation of specific points, that depends only upon progression of my studies, and not due to the fact that later books have published documents which I have already possessed." (Reply, 3) But since he already had these photos, one wonders what could have changed on them to give varying accounts of their contents. Did he actually examine them or did he rely on Ball? I strongly suspect that Mattogno was deceived by Ball but is now too embarrassed to admit it.
The first version was in his 1994 monograph when he wrote that this photo does not show "a trace of smoke, no trace of pits, crematory or otherwise...no trace of dirt extracted from pits." 14 In my body disposal study I quoted extensively from a report by photo imagery expert Carroll Lucas that proves that Mattogno's original claims concerning this photo are outright false. Mattogno has not addressed Lucas's report in his reply -- possibly because he relied on Ball's false account of the photos' contents. The full text of this report will be reproduced in Appendix IV of my forthcoming book. Mattogno already had the May 31 photos, so I wonder how he could have missed the pits near Krema V since he has copies of "all the Auschwitz aerial photographs..." (Reply, 3) The late Mark Van Alstine told me that he was able to identify these pits from the aerial photo reproduced in John Ball's book.
In 1994 the photo was published in a volume of essays entitled The Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp where smoke was identified in the area of the Krema V. In his second explanation, which appeared in 1995 -- and quoted in the body disposal study -- Mattogno now claimed that the smoke was most probably from "trash incineration." Mattogno vehemently denies making any such statement. He writes: "This is false. I never wrote such a thing; not in that booklet or elsewhere." (Reply, 3). What is particularly disconcerting about Mattogno's denial is that he only needed to go to the denier website where his article appears to find that he wrote the following:
It is one thing when Mattogno denies the Holocaust, but quite another when he denies his own writings. However, he still did not address the issue of pits near Krema V
His third version appeared in the 1996 tract, which I recently learned of and acquired. Here he admits that there may have been some open air burnings in the area of Krema V but "supposing that the smoke comes from a [outdoor] cremation facility" meant only that "there was a shortfall for coke in the crematory ovens or when the crematoria were shut down for repairs." 16 Mattogno's problem was to explain why outdoor burnings would be needed at a time when 437,000 Jews were being deported from Hungary to Auschwitz if the ovens were functioning so he tried to argue that the ovens were probably not functioning. He did not present one shred of evidence to support the assertion that the ovens were not functioning.
The source Mattogno cited in support for the possibility of the crematoria not functioning was Danuta Czech's, Auschwitz Chronicle entry for August 2, 1944, three weeks after the Hungarian operation had been concluded. He describes the entry as "cadavers of Gypsies alleged to have been homicidally gassed on 2 August, 1944, were cremated out in the open because the crematory ovens at that time were not working." However, he could cite no sources which mention any oven failures during the Hungarian operation from mid May to mid July 1944. Moreover, he used a technique that, as noted in the body disposal study, he had utilized when trying to justify positions he was advocating for which he could not cite the original source. One of the principal sources Czech used for the crematoria not operating on August 2, 1944 -- not mentioned by Mattogno -- and therefore necessitating outdoor burnings was eyewitness testimony. I obtained this testimony from the Auschwitz State Museum. It was given in Polish by native Poles. My thanks to Dr. William Samelson of THHP for translating this testimony for me.
This testimony cited by Czech, when read in its entirety, discusses the gassing of prisoners. Czech describes the testimony as follows: "Trucks drive into the camp and 2,897 defenseless women, men and children are driven to the gas chambers. After the gassing the corpses of the murdered are incinerated in the pit next to the crematorium, since the crematorium ovens are not operating at the time." 17
Mattogno had to argue that the crematoria were not functioning, otherwise he would be unable to offer any justification for outdoor burnings. Why? Assuming that Kremas II and III were operating and further assuming that each of them could only burn one body per hour in a 20 hour period, it would mean that they had the combined capacity to burn 600 bodies, a number which has been advanced by Mattogno on the capacity of the 30 ovens of Kremas II and III. 18 Why would it be necessary to utilize open air burnings if there was a capacity to burn 600 bodies? Such open air burning would be consistent with mass murder. Even if only one of the Kremas was operating there would not be a need for open air burnings absent mass murder.
Mattogno also has another problem which he avoided in My Banned Holocaust Interview. In the article he wrote with Franco Deana and cited throughout the body disposal study, he had admitted to outdoor burnings in the area outside of the camp, but only for the period prior to the building of the crematoria in March 1943. This area, as noted by Mattogno, is visible on the May 31, 1944 photo. The problem is as follows: since there already was an area available for these burnings, why was it necessary to create a second area near Krema V? Why not simply use the site that was available and used previously? The fact that there are two such areas visible on the May 31 photo is consistent with mass murder. In none of Mattogno's writings that I have read has he ever admitted to the existence of both these areas. In the article with Deana he only mentioned the gravesite areas used for outdoor burnings in the area outside of the camp while in his 1996 interview he only mentions the area of Krema V as a possible burning site. However, in this 1996 interview he still does not acknowledge pits in the area of Krema V.
Moreover, there is evidence that the ovens were indeed functioning during the Hungarian operation, thereby not necessitating open air burnings in the absence of mass murder. A key piece of evidence that the ovens were functioning during the Hungarian operation is a memo from the Bauleitung discussing June 16,1944 while the Hungarian operation was taking place. It states: "The concealment [tarnung] of the crematory and security measures through the construction of a second fence (the camouflaging [tarnung] through pipes) which are to be erected by the SS personnel administration are to follow." 19 If the ovens were not functioning there would be no need to camouflage the crematoria. As I noted in the body disposal study, this memo is consistent with Hoess's memoirs where it was stated that the camp authorities were attempting to camouflage the crematoria to hide mass murder. 20 Another piece of evidence that the ovens were functioning is a reference, in a camp document dated June 1, 1944 -- one day after the May 31 photo was taken -- to the production of four pieces of firehooks [feuerhaken] for 30 ovens. 21 Why have such devices for ovens that were not working?
In order to avoid discussing what is actually on the May 31 photo in the area of Krema V, Mattogno attempted to discredit the idea that cremation pits were present by arguing what is not there. In order to do this he misquoted Sonderkommando Filip Muller as writing that "5 (five) 'cremation pits' measuring 45x8 [meters], therefore 360 m2 each or 1800m2 for all five..." 1800 square meters equals about 19,000 square feet. 22
What Muller actually wrote is that under orders his work detail dug "two pits [that] were 40 to 50 meters long, about 8 meters wide and two meters deep." However, it not clear whether he means that each pit measured this amount or both pits together. He then writes that "[t]hree more cremation pits were dug in the back yard of crematorium 5, making up the five [camp guard] Moll had ordered."23 However, no size is specified for these three pits and for all Mattogno or anyone else knows Muller could have meant them to be one tenth the size of the other two pits.
However, Mattogno's attributing 19,000 square feet to Muller was actually an improvement over what he had written a year earlier. In 1995 Mattogno wrote: "So in the aerial photographs of 31 May, the alleged 'cremation pits' ought to be visible, with an area of approximately 2800 square meters [about 30,000 square feet] (calculated according to the declaration of Filip Muller). But there is no trace of them at all!" 24 Indeed, Mattogno is correct. There is no evidence for 30,000 square feet of cremation pits. Of course, he avoided mentioning how much square footage of pits is on the photo. In fact, he would have a difficult time addressing this issue since, as noted above, he claimed in 1994 that no smoke or crematory pits appear on the photo. 25 (Also, recall that Mattogno states that he has possession of these photos.)
Mattogno stated in 1996 that eyewitness testimony attributes a total of 2400 square meters to the May 31 photos consisting of the 1800 allegedly identified by Muller in the area of Krema V and 600 identified by Miklos Nyiszli, a Jewish doctor who worked in the crematoria. Nyiszli did identify two pits in the area of the White Bunker, but only gave the dimensions of one of the pits as being about 3300 square feet while no area was specified for the second pit.26 At any rate, the Lucas Report, which will be reproduced in my book, would not rule out an area of about six thousand square feet of pits in the area of the White Bunker.
Mattogno then writes that the photos "do not reveal the slightest trace of such an appalling extermination: there is no trace of huge 'cremation pits'"27 Once again, by inflating the real area of the pits in the area of Krema V he was able to avoid explaining the pits that are actually on the photo which are identified in Carroll Lucas's report. Thus, Mattogno can argue that he never denied that there are pits, he only denied that there were "huge cremation pits." Of course, Mattogno himself has defined what is "huge." No doubt that if the photos showed 2400 square meters of cremation space Mattogno would then argue that this is not really "huge" and concentrate on some higher number. Mattogno did not address the writings of Sonderkommando Paul Bendel on the pit question. He identified three pits in the area of Krema V as being about 800 square feet each. 28 In fact, Bendel's estimate is conservative considering the actual photo shows more space than this.
Finally, Mattogno challenged my reference to the well known photo of Sonderkommandos burning bodies in the back of Krema V. I stated that there were 14 Sonderkommandos visible on the photo. I specifically made the point that this photo -- which was published under the auspices of the Auschwitz State Museum -- shows more Sonderkommandos and bodies than previous editions of the photos. Thirteen Sonderkommandos can definitely be identified in the photo while a shadow in the background may be an additional Sonderkommando. Mattogno writes (Reply, 3):
This too is false The photograph in question shows only 8 persons (almost certainly prisoners) standing , and a 9th on the left,29 who is probably a guard. As I have explained in My Banned Holocaust Interview, this photograph doesn't only not demonstrate, but refutes the story of mass cremation of "gassed." This lie serves to advance the number of prisoners in that photograph of "25 Sonderkommandos", declared by Filip Muller.
This comment by Mattogno tells us a great deal about his careless methodology. Rather than actually going to take a look at the photo to see if I had represented it correctly, he simply made an uninformed statement. The reason was obvious: the expanded edition of the photo was published in 199330 while Mattogno's comments on the issue in My Banned Holocaust Interview were made in 1996. He did not want to admit that he was not familiar with the photo.
In 1996 he cited the incomplete version of the photo -- even though the expanded version mentioned here was available in 1993 -- as "not show[ing] hundreds of men from the Sonderkommando, or thousands of bodies, but rather, eight men in the midst of about thirty cadavers; that is all. Not only does this therefore fail to confirm the mass extermination thesis, it decisively refutes it." 31 In fact, Mattogno has completely misrepresented the true context of the photo.
First, it is impossible to tell how many Sonderkommandos were involved in this burning operation because the total area of Krema V is not shown in the photo. For all we know, there could have been an additional hundred Sonderkommandos dragging bodies from Krema V. It is impossible to tell how many additional Sonderkommandos and bodies were involved because the photo simply does not cover the total relevant area from Krema V to the pits. As I noted in the study camp documents show that there were a total of 900 Sonderkommandos assigned to the 4 crematoria in two 12 hour shifts on July 28, 1944. (Body, 41)
Second, and more importantly, it is impossible to tell how many bodies are being burned because smoke is obscuring the pits. For all Mattogno knows there could have been hundreds of additional bodies being burned. The photo shows about 50 cadavers -- not the 30 claimed by Mattogno from the incomplete photo -- which have not yet been burned. The thick smoke from the photo shows that a significant burning operation is underway. This means that there were many more bodies than the 30 mentioned by Mattogno. What is particularly instructive about Mattogno's method of argumentation is that he used the fact that there is smoke obscuring the true dimension of the burning operation to argue that the burning did not really involve that many prisoners. This is quite typical of the way deniers argue.
It might also be noted that this burning did not take place during the Hungarian operation -- which occurred from mid May to mid July 1944 -- but in August 1944.
The White Bunker
One of the areas I focused on in the body disposal study was the White Bunker, also referred to in much of the literature as Bunker 2 or Bunker 5. I pointed out that this structure and the huts next to it -- which were used as a gas chamber and undressing huts identified by many eyewitnesses -- is visible on the May 31 photo. Mattogno has yet to address the issue of the existence of these structures on the photo. This is all the more amazing since he claims to have these photos.
Mattogno claimed that I misrepresented him when I wrote that Mark Van Alstine "has identified three burning pits in the area. (Mattogno states there were four)." Mattogno writes that "[i]n reality I referred to traces of four mass graves filled with soil located approximately 200 meters [650 square feet] west of the area BIII of Birkenau. I did not speak of burning pits, nor of open graves, nor of graves "in the area of the White Bunker." (Reply, 4, italics added). Note that Mattogno never said anything in the article I quoted from about the area of the graves being "filled with soil." 32 Nor did I claim that he ever stated there were open graves. Moreover, contrary to what he would have his readers believe, I did state that he "claimed that these gravesites had ceased being used in 1943 with the completion of the four crematoria." (Body, 43). The major point he was arguing is that this area ceased being used for body disposal with the building of the new crematoria -- a fact I clearly acknowledged. I also noted in this respect that Lucas found that this area had been "recently bulldozed", thereby disproving Mattogno's claim that these gravesites were no longer in use. (Body, 43).
Lucas also reports that on the August 25 photo "[t]here is no evidence of mass gravesites." He makes a similar observation for the September 13, 1944 photo. This creates many problems for Mattogno's thesis that the area at which he identified these gravesites were not used after the Birkenau crematoria became active in March 1943. If these areas were not used for body disposal after March 1943, then they should have disappeared by May 31, 1944 -- 14 months after Mattogno claims they ceased being used. 33 The fact they are on the May 31, 1944 photo but gone three months later proves that they were used after March 1943.
In the matter of the White Bunker I wrote: "Mattogno had also assured his readers that the Red and White Bunkers were not found in any German documents and that they had been created by postwar witnesses." (Body, 42) Mattogno correctly states in this regard that in the full quotation he specifically uses the word "designation" when referring to these structures, so that the actual quote states that the "designation" of terms like red house and white house are not to be found in any camp document. He also writes that "[t]here exists no document on the existence of Bunker 1[the Red Bunker] and 2 [the White Bunker]) as homicidal installations."(italics added) 34 Therefore, in a technical sense he did not really deny the existence of these structures; he only denied that they were "designated" as such in camp documents or that they "existed" as such in camp documents.
My problem arises with Mattogno's most recent representation of these structures as was cited in his 40 points which were read to the "Convention on Real History" in Cincinnati in September 1999 by his associate, Russ Granata. Mattogno has been very crafty in the way he has presented the evidence on the existence of the White Bunker. In Point 21 Mattogno states that every building from March 31, 1942 onwards had to have a building number but that there is "no trace of the so called bunkers of Birkenau." He also states that "the so called bunkers of Birkenau never existed." Note that he has not stated that there were no bunkers, only that these buildings did not have a number and the "so called" bunkers of Birkenau did not exist -- that is in the sense that they would be designated as such in camp documents, but are not. Anyone listening to these points would reach the obvious conclusion that Mattogno is flatly stating that these bunkers never existed -- and this is all the more so considering the manner in which Russ Granata emphasized the point about no trace of these installations in camp documents. My impression is that Granata did not believe in their existence. But Mattogno has never stated outright that these structures do not exist. In fact, since he has examined the photos and identified the "four huge parallel pits"35 he has no doubt seen the White Bunker and three undressing huts on the May 31 photo. So why hasn't he acknowledged the existence of structures which -- if not technically labeled as such in camp documents -- are certainly on the photo and existed in the camp? Mattogno understands that by playing these types of linguistic games he can always answer his critics on this issue by claiming that they really don't understand him when in fact his real agenda is deception.
When he is finally forced to confront the issue of the White Bunker and the undressing huts on the May 31 photo he will no doubt claim that he did not say that these structures never existed, only that they are not listed in camp documents. Recall that he used a similar technique in discussing the pits near Krema V when in 1996 he did not deny their existence -- as he had in 1994 -- but only that there were no "huge pits," thus once again attempting to give the reader the impression that there were no pits. (See the discussion above)
If Mattogno's theory is that these structures should have turned up in camp documents is correct, then he has demonstrated that they had a secret purpose that camp authorities wanted to conceal. I am assuming here that no buildings matching the physical description of these structures are in the camp documents Mattogno examined -- at least that is the impression I have from his most recent statement on these issues. (But then again who knows?) The evidence from the May 31 photo clearly shows the White Bunker. According to the eyewitness testimony, the Red Bunker was destroyed before the Hungarian operation. The challenge for deniers will be to explain why the White Bunker and three huts are there in the first place.
With the publication of my book and the Lucas Report in Appendix IV of the book, which identifies the White Bunker and adjacent huts, deniers will no longer be able to avoid the issue. Therefore, I predict that they will claim that the White Bunker was a delousing installation while the huts next to it were shower facilities for prisoners. Mattogno himself may not make this argument since he has avoided the issue to date. However, the second string such as Butz or Faurisson may make the argument. This explanation will cause some problems. First, why place these installations in an area not far from mass grave sites? Second, there were already a number of delousing and shower facilities in the camp. In December 1943 the Central Sauna became operative in Birkenau which had new and improved delousing and shower facilities. Why then use primitive facilities? Also, if they are delousing facilities, why aren't they listed as such in camp documents as Mattogno claims they should be? Finally, why did the Germans destroy the White Bunker and huts if they had a benign purpose? None of the real delousing facilities in Birkenau were destroyed. The Central Sauna and two other buildings used for delousing in the Birkenau area of the camp are still standing. The Germans also dynamited the four crematoria which were used for homicidal purposes. This shows the true nature of the White Bunker and its huts, which would have been spared if they did not have a homicidal purpose.
One of the principal arguments Mattogno has made on the issue of body disposal at Auschwitz is that the ovens did not have a sufficient useful life to burn the number of bodies attributed to them. One of the points I made in the body disposal study is that since the Germans destroyed all of the relevant records on this topic, there is no way to really know how these ovens functioned. Mattogno cited a study by German engineer Rudolf Jakobskotter in an attempt to show that these ovens could not really burn that many bodies. Somehow Mattogno has credited me with "bad faith" in referring to the Jakobskotter study because I mentioned that his figures for the lifespan of the electric oven end in 1939. "The bad faith of Zimmerman is quite evident because the article which I am referencing pertains to 1941." (Reply, 14). In fact the article was published in 1941 while Jakobskotter's figures go to 1939. Here is what he wrote:
Die [Da] im zweiten elektrischen Ofen uber 3000 einascherungen [Einaescherungen] getatigt worden sind, wahrend die Muffeln je nach ihrer Ausfuhrungswiese [Ausfuehrungsweise] bislang nur etwa 2000 Einascherungen [Einaescherungen] ausgehalten hatten, kann behauptet werden [,] dass sich die Bauwiese [Bauweise] hinsichtlich der Haltbarkeit vollauf bewahrt hat. Die Herstellefirma rechnet kunftig [kuenftig] mit einer Lebensdauer von 4000 Einaescherungen. Die in fast 3 1/2 jaehrigem
The translation follows:
Mattogno then announces: "Therefore in October 1941 German technology, which was in the leading position throughout the world in the field of cremation, had not yet developed fire resistant muffle - walls which could withstand 4000 cremations." (Reply, 14)
In his reply, Mattogno left out the article's reference to 1939. My point was that it was not known what additional improvements had been made to this oven after 1939. Moreover, Mattogno ignored my basic criticism that the Jakobskotter study deals with electric ovens. The concentration camps used coke fired ovens, many of which had been converted from oil burning. The electric ovens had started to be manufactured in 1933. However, problems arose after the development of the first electric oven in 1933. Jakobskotter writes: " Nachdem in dem elektrischen Ofen uber 1300 Leichen eingeaschert worden waren, machte sich eine Erneuerung notig." 37 [After over 1300 bodies had been cremated in the electric oven, a renovation was required] Therefore, we know that there were problems which had arisen with this type of oven. However, at least Mattogno finally admitted to the 4000 number used by Jakobskotter. In his prior discussions Mattogno never went higher than 3000.38
Another point I made regarding this oven is that we do not know what effect multiple cremations carried on under the conditions described in the body disposal study would have on it. I described a method of burning a single body by which a corpse could be added to the oven before the prior corpse was completely incinerated. (Body, 17) I cited data from Gusen which show that by using this method a body could be burned in 25 minutes. Normally, when referring to the lifespan of an oven, such as in the Jakobskotter study, the reference is to a single body burning in a coffin and waiting for the whole body to be incinerated. This process took much longer than 25 minutes. However, by introducing a body before the prior body was totally incinerated, the effect could have been the doubling of a normal oven's lifespan.
Furthermore, cremation ovens employed in funeral procedures are cooled off after each cycle to allow the safe and complete removal of all the ashes of the deceased. I know of no cremation procedure that allows the co-mingling of ashes from one cremation with those of a subsequent cremation and the laws of most countries are quite clear about this. Cooling down the firebrick of a furnace (and more-so an electric furnace) greatly reduces the number of cycles that firebrick can endure before requiring replacement. Remarkably enough, high temperature ovens have much longer life-spans if they are never allowed to cool down. Ask people who manufacture glass and they will confirm this statement. 39
What is particularly interesting about Mattogno's methodology in this area is that he has focused on a type of oven which was not used in Auschwitz -- the electric oven -- while ignoring and misrepresenting the documentary evidence available on coke fueled ovens which were used in Gusen and Auschwitz. We will now look at that evidence.
In the body disposal study I attempted to address the replacement of the double muffle oven in Gusen after 3200 cremations. Those ovens were installed in February 1941 and overhauled in October 1941. This overhaul has been one of the crucial factors in allowing Mattogno to make claims about the limited lifespan of the Topf oven. I speculated that perhaps the overhaul had to do with a defect in the Gusen ovens. In this respect, I cited the breakdown of the Krema IV ovens in Auschwitz shortly after they were placed in service. I stated that Topf admitted that they were made defectively. Mattogno takes exception with that characterization citing that part of the letter which states "die angeblich in letzer Zeit entstandenen Risse." [the supposed cracks to have occurred recently].(Reply, 15). But when read in its entirety, the letter conveys another impression:
In response to your written communication referred to above, we inform you that we have instructed our foreman, Mr Koch, to take care of the cracks that apparently have recently occurred in the 8 muffle oven of Krema IV. At the same time, we also took note of the agreement between your construction leader, SS-Major Bischoff and our senior engineer Mr Prufer according to which we will take care, at no cost to you, of the defects that have appeared, within two months of their start-up, in the cremation ovens built by us [ innerhalb zwei Monaten nach Inbetriebnahmeder Ofen auftreten.] Understandably we take it as given that the defects have appeared because of defective operation and not because of overheating the ovens or by scraping away the interior masonry with the stoking devices, etc.
Therefore, Topf clearly accepted responsibility for the defects under the warranty -- though reluctantly.
At the time I wrote the body disposal study I did not have access to the full Topf file on the Gusen ovens. I only had a few documents from that file. Thanks to the efforts of Ulrich Roessler of The Holocaust History Project, I now have the complete file NS 4 Ma/54.
The file on the Gusen ovens Mattogno relied on -- when read in its entirety -- does not support any of his theories on the limited durability of those ovens. My theory, expressed in the body disposal study, that the overhaul of these ovens in October 1941 after only about 3200 deaths in the camp was due to a defective construction is supported by the correspondence between Topf and the Gusen authorities. Two weeks after the Gusen ovens were first installed the camp authorities complimented Topf on the ovens. 41 However, on March 13, 1941, six weeks after the ovens had been installed, the camp authorities complained that they had found "several defects" [verschiedene Mangel] in the ovens and requested materials to fix them. More repair materials were ordered in June. 42 Therefore, there is strong evidence that the first double muffle oven installed in Gusen was not made correctly. Mattogno has never acknowledged this letter. In fact, he attacked my original theory as "an unfounded hypothesis which is based upon a simple analogy" (Reply, 15) when he already knew that there was supporting documentation for this "hypothesis."
After examining this correspondence I have also reached the conclusion that the Gusen authorities may not have operated the ovens correctly because they had complimented Topf two weeks after installation. However, whether the ovens did not function because of defect or misuse, the important point is that in either case the overhaul had nothing to do with the lifespan of the oven -- something Mattogno already knew since he had read the file.
However, Mattogno's greatest distortion on the lifespan of these ovens is in his claim that the correspondence is not sufficiently complete to determine whether there were any overhauls after October 1941. In the body disposal study I noted that he had not produced any evidence for the Gusen file that these ovens were overhauled after October 1941, which should have occurred several times if the claim he was making about their ability to not cremate any more than 3000 bodies is correct. Mattogno writes:
It is true that for 1941 the correspondence between the Topf company and the SS Neubauleitung (later Bauleitung) of Mauthausen is nearly complete, but one can not say the same thing for sure for the following years" (Reply, 16 italics added)
This is blatantly and knowingly false. There is not as much correspondence after October 1941 because there was no further oven installation until January 1945 in Mauthausen. Prior to November 1941 there had been two installations in Gusen -- the original one in February 1941 and the overhaul in October 1941. This is what accounts for so much correspondence. However, there is enough of a paper trail in the file to show that no overhaul could have occurred from November 1941 to August 1943, and probably none occurred after August 1943. The file carries the correspondence between Topf and the Mauthausen authorities on the issues concerning the installation of an additional double muffle furnace in Gusen and installing a double muffle oven in Mauthausen. Gusen was part of the Mauthausen concentration complex. This correspondence starts in late 1940 and goes on throughout 1941 and 1942 up until the end of August 1943. In November 1942 and January 1943 the materials for an additional double oven in Gusen and one double muffle oven in Mauthausen began to arrive. However, on January 19, 1943 the Mauthausen authorities informed Topf that the construction of the double muffle ovens in Gusen and Mauthausen was not an option for the time being.43 The Gusen authorities did order materials for repairs of the existing ovens in April and May 1943.44 However, there was no overhaul as in October 1941. Moreover, there was no complaint about defects after the overhaul in October 1941 as there was in March 1941 after original installation of the ovens. Therefore, contrary to Mattogno's false assertion, there is enough of a paper trail to show that these ovens were not overhauled up until August 1943.
From November 1941 until the end of August 1943 -- the period for which there is a paper trail between Topf and the camp authorities -- there were 13,600 deaths in Gusen. Another 5000 died from September 1943 to December 1944. In 1945 slightly less than 9000 prisoners died in Gusen. 45 As just stated, we know that there was no overhaul of the Gusen ovens from November 1941 until the end of August 1943. What about after that date? There is no information in the Topf file for September 1943 until December 1944. However, this is probably due to the fact that there was no longer any need for a correspondence. The Topf file shows that the Mauthausen ovens were not installed until January 1945. The correspondence picks up again in December 1944. Therefore, there is a paper trail for the three installations which did take place -- February 1941 and October 1941 in Gusen and January 1945 in Mauthausen.
Moreover, there is other compelling evidence that the Gusen ovens were not overhauled after August 1943. Recall that the materials for two double muffle ovens -- one each for Gusen and Mauthausen -- were delivered in early 1943 but that the authorities informed Topf that they would not be installed. From September 1943 until December 1944 the number of deaths for Mauthausen was 8470 whereas they were about 5000 for Gusen for the same period. 46 Mauthausen also underwent a substantial expansion of its population to more than twice that of Gusen in 1944. Mauthausen only had one single muffle oven while Gusen had double muffle oven, or two ovens. Since Gusen and Mauthausen were part of the same concentration camp complex, the administration for the camps would have certainly installed the ovens in Mauthausen before Gusen. This is especially the case since the materials for both ovens had been delivered. However, the ovens for Mauthausen were not installed until January 1945. This means that there was certainly no overhaul of the Gusen ovens between September 1943 and December 1944.
Mattogno was also critical of my suggestion that the single muffle Kori oven in the Mauthausen concentration camp had a long useful life because over 27,500 bodies were burned there. He writes; "The first crematory oven at Mauthausen was installed by the Kori Company and concerning this there doesn't exist any correspondence. Therefore, for all we know, the Kori Company could have replaced the refractory walls ten times." (Reply, 16, italics added). It is true that, as far as I have been able to ascertain, there is no correspondence between Kori and the Mauthausen authorities. However, the cancellation of the Topf ovens for Mauthausen provides information as to the life of the single Kori oven in that camp. In 1943 and 1944 there were 8439 cremations in Mauthausen. 47 Although there is no information as to whether this oven was ever overhauled, we can be fairly certain that it was not overhauled in 1943 or 1944. This is because the Mauthausen authorities would hardly have incurred the expense of overhauling that oven when it had already received materials for the Topf double muffle oven in January 1943, but waited until January 1945 before the actual installation. Moreover, the correspondence between Topf and the Mauthausen authorities, whether it involved Gusen or Mauthausen, shows that Topf was continuously chasing the authorities for payment. It is unlikely that Kori would have been continuously overhauling their oven since their experience for payment would probably not have been any more successful than Topf's.
As further proof of the limited durability of the Topf ovens Mattogno cites the Leuchter Report about the American firm "Industrial Equipment and Engineering Co" which in 1944 stated: "The refractory and insulating materials used in the construction of the Ener-Tek II are of a very high quality which will ensure many thousand[s] of cremations before repair of the brick work is required." (Reply, 14, 15). Mattogno comments on this information:
Documentation concerning the "Ener - Tek II" oven comprising various technical designs is published by Fred Leuchter in his report which Zimmerman well knows, but he prefers to ignore this data which contradicts his baseless conjectures." (Reply, 15, italics added)
It appears that Mattogno knows Leuchter considerably better than myself since I have been unable to find this reference in my copy of the Leuchter Report, which was published by Ernst Zundel in Canada, or in the online edition published by the denier Institute for Historical Review. Nevertheless, I will accept the fact that Mattogno has access to an edition which I have not seen and that this reference is indeed valid. There are three observations.
First, the Ener-Tek II can burn "many thousand[s]" of bodies before repairing the brick work. It does not say that the oven must be replaced and overhauled as the Topf oven was in Gusen in 1941. Second, the reference to many thousands of bodies is a great deal more than the 3000 Mattogno has claimed in his writings that could be burned by the Topf oven. In fact, the Enek-Tek II data is consistent with the data I examined from the Gusen Topf file following the overhaul in 1941. Third, Mattogno will be very surprised to learn that Leuchter and I agree on this issue. Mattogno has ignored the fact that I wrote (Body, 15) that "his [Mattogno's] own data on the Topf ovens [the Gusen file] suggested that they could burn many thousands of bodies." (italics added) Therefore, I used the same language as the Enek-Tek II builders even though I was unfamiliar with the report.
Mattogno has set up a false strawman by claiming, on the basis of the Enek - Tek II data, that it refers to "many thousand[s], not to "tens of thousands", as would have been necessary at Auschwitz if the ovens had also cremated the cadavers of the 'gassed'." Reply, 15). I never stated nor did I ever give the impression in the body disposal study that that an Auschwitz oven could burn "tens of thousands" of bodies. In fact, I acknowledged that many of the gassed were burned in the open air prior to the operation of the 46 Birkenau ovens, the first of which became operational in March 1943. It was also stated that of the 400,000 Hungarian Jews who were murdered from mid May to mid July 1944, that I believed at least 75% were burned in the open. (Body, 46) In addition, I also offered the possibility that there were open air burnings in the 14 month period between the time the first of the Birkenau crematoria went into operation in March 1943 and before the Hungarian operation began in May 1944. I realize that these views differ from those of denier critic Jean-Claude Pressac. However, each researcher is entitled to draw his own conclusions from the evidence and then have those conclusions subjected to critical scrutiny.
How many bodies did the Auschwitz-Birkenau ovens burn? Since the camp authorities destroyed all of the evidence we will never know for certain. However, in my opinion, an Auschwitz -- Birkenau oven had the capacity to burn between 10,000 and 15,000 bodies. Since the Krema IV ovens went down shortly after being placed in operation, the 44 remaining ovens probably burned about half of the 1.1 million killed in the camp. This estimate is based on the information available on the Gusen ovens after their overhaul in 1941, the Enek-Tek II data cited by Mattogno, the multiple cremation testimony I cited by Sonderkommando Henryk Tauber -- who noted that the authorities had ways to place the bodies in the ovens to maximize efficiency (Body, 28) -- and the method of burning a body in 25 minutes, instead of the usual 50 or 60 minutes, mentioned earlier in this response. Also, I noted that in Gusen there were only heavier men being incinerated whereas in Auschwitz there were lighter women and children. (Body, 21)
However, the best evidence is the camp administration's destruction of the documents on this issue which would not have been necessary had the ovens only been used for normal purposes. Whatever the actual number, we can categorically reject Mattogno's claim that the ovens could not have disposed of more that 162,000 bodies.48
We now come to figures I reproduced for the Paris crematorium for the years 1889-1892 in order to show that a late 19th century oven had a longer useful life than what Mattogno was attributing to the Auschwitz ovens. Although this issue is only tangential to the operation of the Auschwitz ovens, it reveals the shallowness and inadequacy of Mattogno's methodology. I quoted figures showing that this crematorium disposed of 10,85249 over a four year period, more than one third of whom were classified as embryos. Mattogno disputed these figures by quoting a source from 1929 which gave much lower figures for the same four year period. Mattogno writes: "I don't know if the deception is from Zimmerman or from his sources, but that's of little importance: the topic is absolutely bogus." (Reply, 13, italics added) This tells us a great deal about Mattogno's methodology. He has attacked my numbers but admits he has not really bothered to check them out because he "doesn't know" from where this "deception" arises.
The numbers are reproduced in a publication of the New York Cremation Society from 1893 -- a contemporaneous source -- from a speech given by Georges Saloman, the Secretary General of the Crematory Society of France, in Paris on March 8, 1893. In fact, the numbers cited by Mattogno are also reproduced in the source I used. Mattogno stated that the figures for the crematory were 49 cadavers in 1889, 121 in 1890, 134 in 1891 and 159 in 1892. But had Mattogno actually bothered to look at the source I cited he would have found that these numbers are far from being complete. The figures he cites are those for cremations ordered by families and appear in the first column. But there was also a separate category for paupers and dissecting tables. These figures, which appear in the second column, are: 1889-709, 1890 - 1188, 1891- 2369 and 1892- 2389. The third category is for embryos which are 1079 in 1890, 1238 in 1891 and 1426 in 1892.51
In the body disposal study I made some errors to be discussed later on, and on several occasions relied on inaccurate sources -- in one case resulting in a significant error. However, I am willing to look at contrary information. Mattogno never even bothered to look at the source I cited to see if there was a problem with his numbers. This raises the issue as to whether he is actually competent to deal with these issues. Does Mattogno really believe that the New York Cremation Society and the Secretary General of The Cremation Society of France made these numbers up? Like most deniers, he will believe anything.
Finally a point needs to be made about a book Mattogno mentions he has written on cremation. Parts of the book deal with the Auschwitz ovens. I responded to an e mail address on a denier website where this book is mentioned for sale. I did not receive a response. I then contacted an associate of Mattogno's in London who could not give me any information about how to obtain the book. I also did a computer search of all American libraries, but the book did not show up. I am sure this book exists -- somewhere.
Cremation Capacity and Coke Usage
One of the central areas of contention in Mattogno's reply deals with cremation capacity. I wrote (Body, 4) that Mattogno had stated that the original six Auschwitz ovens could only burn a total of 120 bodies per day, or 20 per oven even though he was familiar with a document showing that 26 per muffle could be burned in the Gusen ovens which were of the same construction. Mattogno writes (Reply, 6) that the "Zimmerman falsification consists in the omission of factors which permit such a cremation capacity" and he goes on to cite from his writing in the same source I quoted from that under certain conditions an oven could burn a body in 40 minutes when there was an intake draft system. However, he did not cite any evidence to this effect nor did he provide evidence that the Gusen oven had any features that differed from the Aushcwitz ovens. The cost sheet for the Gusen double muffle oven installed in October 1941 lists no such item.50
With specific reference to the original six Auschwitz ovens he made up a table which states that these ovens had an actual capacity to burn 120 per day. In fact, he was not even certain that this level could be achieved because with reference to these six ovens he wrote: "This is the maximum theoretical capacity. The existing documents show that the effective capacity was much less."52 Therefore, he was not even certain that the Auschwitz ovens could achieve this level. He did not state what these "existing documents" are.
The central point I was making is that the original six Auschwitz ovens were built along the same lines as the Gusen ovens. Mattogno writes that the type of oven Prufer is referring to is "the 'Auschwitz model' oven because 'the oven presented above' [in the letter] is precisely that model." 54 It is true, as Mattogno writes, that in this letter Prufer stated that the ovens which would be built in Gusen could only burn one body per hour.55 However, we know from the workers' timesheet, which I cited -- and which Mattogno has read -- in the body disposal study, that this number could be substantially exceeded. It is probable that Prufer's numbers in this respect reflected the traditional method of burning a body in a coffin and waiting until the body was totally incinerated before introducing a new body. It is also possible that Prufer may not have been aware of the actual capacity of a Topf oven working under the concentration camp conditions that existed in Gusen. As I noted, there was a very high death rate in Gusen, much higher than at other camps except Auschwitz. Also, two Topf engineers on July 14, 1941 stated that the Gusen double muffle oven could burn 30 to 36 bodies in a ten hour period, 54 which is considerably higher than Prufer's 1940 estimate.
In the study I noted that on November 7, 1941 the workers' time sheet shows that 94 bodies were burned in the double muffle oven over a period of 19 hours and 45 minutes, resulting in a 25.2 minute per body burning. 56 Mattogno has not addressed this issue directly. Rather, he states that with regard to the November 7 numbers that 25.2 minutes per body "is unfounded [sic] documentarily, and is truly technically absurd." (Reply, 11) In fact, contrary to Mattogno's knowingly false statement, the workers' timesheet clearly shows this to be the case. Moreover, this information also shows that more coke was used for these bodies than on other days of operation. Mattogno is more than willing to accept the coke information, but not the information about the total number of bodies burned. The Holocaust History Project now has this timesheet on its website.
What is particularly instructive about Mattogno's methodology is that he never revealed that the time sheet contained such a number -- 94 bodies. The highest number he acknowledged was 72 bodies and then he overstated the time period that it took to burn those bodies by 8 hours. (See the discussion below) Even if Mattogno thought the 94 number incorrect or a forgery, he had the duty to at least acknowledge that such a number was present on the timesheet. This shows that he cannot be relied on to reveal information contrary to his predisposed views and that he tries to filter the information given to his readers. What has he concealed from the Auschwitz Zentralbauleitung archives in Moscow?
I explained that 25.2 minutes per body could be accomplished by adding a body to an oven before the prior body was totally incinerated. Specifically, I cited evidence from a British cremation conference from 1975 -- also cited by Mattogno, but in another context -- and Topf's instructions for the Auschwitz ovens which suggest the feasibility of this practice. (Body, 17, 21) I also noted that an analysis of the remaining data in the time sheet for the other 12 days that the double muffle oven functioned, from October 31 to November 12, 1941, suggest that this time efficiency was achieved every day.
What is particularly interesting about Mattogno's methodology is that he was quite willing to accept this timesheet as authoritative when he was trying to make arguments about the amount of coke that would be needed to incinerate the bodies of the gassed at Auschwitz. Now, however, that this timesheet shows that the Topf ovens were able to function in a very efficient and timely capacity, Mattogno claims that such numbers are "technically absurd."
One of the factors I noted in the study is that the ovens were still undergoing repairs at the time these efficiencies were being achieved. (Body, note 118). Thus on November 6, 7 and 8 there were four hours of repairs on the ovens each day. Yet the ovens were able to incinerate 57, 94 and 72 bodies on these days. These numbers suggest very high efficiencies even when undergoing repairs.
Mattogno attempts to show that I misrepresented the time that a Topf oven could work. He cites (Reply, 12) my reference (Body, 20) to a letter by two Topf engineers where I state: "Contrary to Legace and Leuchter, it is known that a Topf oven could work on a continuous basis." He attempts to give the reader the false impression that when I said continuous I meant 24 hours. He then cites Pressac: "Also Pressac admits a 3 hour pause in continuous activity. This affirmation appears in the article, "The Machinery of Mass Murder at Auschwitz," 57 but naturally Zimmerman prefers to ignore this."(Reply, 12, italics added)
In reference to the letter by the two Topf engineers I wrote, and Mattogno ignored, the following: "...two Topf engineers stated that the Topf double muffle furnace could incinerate 60 to 72 bodies in a 20 hour period with three hours of maintenance required." (Body, 21,italics added) The source I cited is none other than Pressac's essay, "The Machinery of Mass Murder at Auschwitz !" Also, in referring to figures given by Pressac about five triple muffle ovens being able to burn 800 bodies in 24 hours, I wrote: "Reducing the time by four hours means that 44 bodies per muffle could be burned in a 20 hour period." (Body, 21, italics added). Therefore, I actually allowed for an additional hour of downtime. I also wrote that the "Gusen ovens did not always work around the clock. The records show that on most days they only operated part time." (Body, 20)
Mattogno has tried to discredit the idea that the Gusen timesheet supports the idea of a 25 minute cremation by arguing that the numbers on the sheet which represent the times of cremation do not really mean the hours that the cremation was taking place. He writes that because of my
utter ignorance of camp thermotechnology, it is not surprising that he [Zimmerman] has not understood anything: First of all, the first column of the document bears the inscription 'Uhr' "hour", but nowhere is it specified to what this "Uhr" corresponds. However, Professor Zimmerman decides to authorize it to refer to the time of cremation, but this is not merely an unauthorized interpretation, it is also technically absurd, because if that were the case the oven would have been able to cremate one cadaver in 8 minutes with grill speed. (Reply, 10, italics added)
In fact, the timesheet in question specifies the time that the oven was operating on each day. It does this by clearly showing at what time of day various loads of coke were added. It then gives the total number of prisoners cremated on each day. The timesheet unambiguously shows this information. However, the time sheet does not show how long the last operation of each day took. It only shows the time of the day when coke was added. The exception is the November 7, 1941 operation when 94 bodies were burned in 19 hours and 45 minutes in two ovens. We know the time because the operation started at 11:15 A.M. The last load of coke was added at 5 A.M on November 8. We know that this last burning only lasted two hours because the time sheet for November 8 starts at 7 A.M.
Mattogno's real problem is that he himself had relied on the times listed in this sheet. In the article he wrote with Franco Deana, Mattogno stated that on November 8, 1941, 72 bodies were cremated in a period of 24 1/2 hours. He writes: "On November 8 and 9, for example, 72 bodies were cremated in 1470 minutes..."58
In the body disposal study, I was able to show that Mattogno had misread the timesheet for this date. (Body, note 136 for a detailed discussion). He had placed the November 8 cremations as beginning at 7 A.M. on November 8 (which is correct) and ending at 7:30 A.M. on November 9, 59 when in fact the last bodies were burned at 1:30 A.M., according to the time sheet. Moreover, Mattogno also misread the time sheet in that he believed the burnings ended with the introduction of the last load of coke -- which he places at 7:30 A.M. but which is in reality 1:30 A.M. Coke loads 30 through 35 were added at 1:30 A.M. We don't know how long the remaining burnings lasted. I extrapolated from the other coke load information that day that the final burnings lasted about two hours. We must then subtract four hours because the engineer time sheet for this day shows four hours of work on the oven.60 This work probably occurred from 7 A.M. to 11 A.M. because only 2 loads of coke were introduced at 7 A.M. More coke was not added until 11 A.M., so that the actual day's operation probably did not begin until 11 A.M Therefore, the actual burning time for these 72 bodies was between 16 and 17 hours, from 11 A.M. on November 8 to about 3:30 A.M. on November 9.
Throughout his reply Mattogno constantly boasts about looking at documents and questions my competence. Yet, he is unable to read a simple time sheet that deals with these issues. Worse yet, he attacks the competence of those who are able to read this sheet.
Rather than simply admit that he made an error, he now calls such an approach "technically absurd" -- referring to me, but not to himself -- without mentioning that he in fact read the time sheet in the same way -- when he thought that it referred to 24 1/2 hours. I was probably naïve to think that Mattogno would at least admit that he made an error in the reading. But, of course, relying on Mattogno's initial representation of this timesheet as indeed referring to the times of operation is an "unauthorized interpretation." Who authorizes such an interpretation? Mattogno, who cannot read this timesheet?
Mattogno does not define what he means when he states that by interpreting the times on the sheet as indeed referring to times of burning results in an eight minute burning. The timesheet shows how much coke was added at a certain time of the day. It does not say how many bodies were burned during that period time. It only gives the overall number of bodies burned during the total time of operation. I think -- though I cannot be sure -- that he may be arguing that if the amount of bodies are prorated in accordance with coke consumption, that there are some instances of 8 minutes per body. 61 However, if this is Mattogno's rationale -- and again I am not sure if this is what he means -- it assumes that each body was incinerated using an equal amount of coke. It also assumes that the introduction of the bodies into the furnace corresponded with the introduction of coke.
These are unwarranted assumptions -- if indeed they are his assumptions. We don't know how the Gusen workers decided to add coke to the ovens. At certain times of the day they may have added more than was necessary. Also, I pointed out (Body, 24) that for the period from October 31 to November 12 there is no information about the total amount of coke used in the ovens. There is only information that states how many wheelbarrows of coke were used, but no weight is attached to the barrows. I noted, in this respect, that figures for the period from September 26 to October 15 list the weight of each barrow as 60 kilograms for a total of 9180 kilograms (153 barrows x 60) and this number appears on a backup sheet. Therefore, certain loads of coke from October 31 to November 12 could have weighed less than other loads.
Part of the theory that Mattogno may be advancing in attacking the timesheet is that each coke load weighed the same, so that if, for example two loads at a total of 120 kilograms were added at 1 P.M. while the next load was added at 1:20 P.M., both muffles could be assumed to be represented in the timesheet to have incinerated 4 bodies at 10 minutes each since he was claiming that it took about 30 kilograms to incinerate one body. However, this assumption rests on the theory that each load of coke weighed 30 kilograms and that the timesheet is claiming that one body had been completely incinerated as each new load of coke was being introduced. In fact, this view -- if it is his view -- is unwarranted because we don't know what each load of coke weighed or how the bodies were introduced during the period from October 31 to November 12. In the above hypothetical illustration, it is possible that each load of coke weighed considerably less than 30 kilograms and that only one body was introduced for every two loads. But that later on, heavier coke loads were introduced into the ovens.
Mattogno was very critical of my suspicion (Body, 24) that 60 kilograms per barrow may have been a generic figure. (Reply, 18). I based this on the incongruence between figures showing 71 kilograms per body on October 3 and 29 kilograms per body on October 15 - the amount of coke that would be needed if the 60 kilograms per barrow was correct. Indeed, these numbers are out of proportion to the other data on the sheet. Part of Mattogno's argument is that it would take more time to warm up the ovens which could account for increased coke usage. (Reply, 17) The day it purportedly took 71 kilograms per body, the ovens had not operated for two days. However, the ovens had also been down for two days when on October 8 twelve bodies were burned using 600 kilograms (10 barrows times 60 kilograms) for 50 kilograms per body. Assuming 60 kilograms per body means that on October 13 - a time when the ovens had not operated for three days - there was an average usage of 41.7 kilograms (that is 23 bodies burned using 16 loads of coke for purportedly 960 kilograms.) In looking at this conflicting information I reached the conclusion that perhaps the workers were assigning a generic number to each wheelbarrow regardless of the actual weight. Such a hypothesis is not unreasonable. It might also be pointed out that these numbers were achieved immediately prior to the overhaul of the double muffle furnace. In other words, the oven was not functioning at peak performance because it needed to be overhauled.
My principal argument on coke usage involved the information that we have on the amount of coke used at Auschwitz for the period from April through November 1943, which according to the existing records are 497 tons. I noted in this respect that there is no way of ascertaining whether these records are complete since we know that the records dealing with cremation matters were destroyed and the Death Books for registered prisoners are missing many volumes. My criticism of Mattogno is that he has represented this information as being complete when he has made coke limitation arguments. By comparing information from the Death Books for registered prisoners with monthly coke totals, I was able to show that the information on coke deliveries might indeed be incomplete because of the disproportionate amount of bodies relative to the available coke delivery information for those months. (Body, 23). I noted in this respect that there are no central documents showing total monthly coke deliveries.
Mattogno never addressed the issue of possibility of incomplete coke records in his response. Rather, he criticized my observation (Body, 23) that the records could be incomplete because in May 1943 there were 95 tons of recorded coke delivery and only 2000 deaths of registered prisoners. I stated that in the month of the second highest recorded coke delivery (May 1943) there were only 2000 deaths of registered prisoners. This suggested incomplete records. Mattogno's "answer" is that "[f]ew cremations signify major cooling of the oven and major consumption of fuel for operating temperatures; many cremations signifies instead minor cooling down of this oven." (Reply, 20) Therefore, his more coke means less bodies cremated theory is supposed to explain why in October 1942 there were only 15 tons of recorded coke delivery for 5900 deaths of registered prisoners or 52 tons of coke delivery in September 1942 for 9000 deaths of registered prisoners!
I also cited information from the Bauleitung which states that the 46 ovens in Birkenau could function for 12 hours on 7840 kilograms of coke. This information was supplied by Topf . I noted that this is the only information on coke efficiency that is available from Auschwitz on the functioning of the triple muffle furnaces of Kremas II and III and the 8 muffle furnaces of Kremas IV and V. I noted that the information shows that these furnaces could operate on this amount of coke for the time period involved regardless of the number of bodies burned. (Body, 25) Once again, Mattogno did not address this issue.
In dealing with the issue of coke efficiency and cremation capacity, I cited the Bauleitung's numbers of June 28, 1943 that the 46 Birkenau ovens could burn 4416 bodies in 24 hours for 15 minutes per body. I stated that when 2208 bodies - the number for 12 hours - are divided into the 7840 kilograms it comes to about 3.5 kilograms per body. (Body, 26) I also noted that wood could be used to fuel the ovens and that Birkenau was located near a heavily forested area with an abundant supply of wood that could be used to fuel the ovens. (Body, 30)
With reference to the June 28 numbers, I noted that there was no known technology which could result in 15 minute per body burning, but that the situation changed if multiple burnings are considered. I cited from history of the Dachau concentration camp which stated that 7 to 9 "emaciated" bodies could be burned in an oven over a period of 2 hours. (In the Body study I erroneously omitted the word "emaciated", which is used in the Dachau history. 62) Mattogno's answer is "that's simply so foolish it doesn't even merit a response." (Reply, 17) However, I did not only rely on that history but also quoted Birkenau Sonderkommando Henryk Tauber who also spoke of burning 8 "emaciated" corpses simultaneously (Body, 28) and the testimony of a Hartheim castle crematorium worker who mentioned 2 to 8 bodies. (Body, 26). I also cited the testimonies of others who witnessed multiple body cremations at Auschwitz (Body, 26, 27).
Mattogno was critical of my citing the experience from Japan in 1887 that 3 bodies could be burned in a period of 4 hours because this came out 80 minutes per body "and not 25 minutes or less." (Reply, 18) He did not mention, in this regard, that I also cited a Japanese oven displayed in Germany in 1911 that could burn 5 bodies in a period of 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Body, 26).
Mattogno writes that there were a group of ovens which could engage in multiple burnings but they were completely different from the ones at Auschwitz "so therefore any comparison is meaningless." (Reply, 18) He refers to his most recent book on this topic, which -- as noted earlier -- I have been unable to obtain despite my best efforts. Even assuming arguendo that there were such ovens that were different from the ones built at Auschwitz, this does not mean that the practice was not carried out at Auschwitz. I cited the example in the United States where the practice of multiple cremations is outlawed but that there were illegal burnings of 7 or 8 bodies simultaneously in Southern California mortuaries in the 1980s. (Body, 26)
A final note on this topic is one mentioned in the body disposal study. Since the camp authorities destroyed all of evidence that could have addressed these issues, we are forced rely on eyewitness testimony. However, that testimony is consistent in the area multiple cremations being carried out at Auschwitz.
Crematoria: Origins and Necessity
In the study (Body, 12) I cited an article by camp historian Danuta Czech that the negotiations for the four crematoria began in July 1942,63 before the announcement of a planned expansion to 200,000 on August 15. Elsewhere, Czech cites a Bauleitung document from July 1, 1942 as follows:
The Central Construction Administration of the Waffen SS and Police in Auschwitz contacts the companies that have already carried out building contracts in Auschwitz C.C. [Concentration Camp]. It asks the Huta [Engineering Company] and Lenz Industrial Construction Company of Silesia, located in Kattowitz to submit proposals to build new crematoriums." (Italics added). 64
Mattogno's response is to cite the following Aktenvermek of August 21, reproduced by Jean-Claude Pressac:
Regarding the construction of a 2nd crematorium with 5 3 muffle furnaces, together with the ventilation and air extraction systems, it will be necessary to await the results of negotiations already under way with the Reich Main Security Office on the subject of rationed materials." (Italics added).65
Mattogno then announces: "Therefore, no decision to construct Crematory II had yet been made [by August 21]" (Reply, 7, italics added). Before continuing, I need to strongly emphasize that nowhere in the body disposal study did I ever state when the contract negotiations for any of the crematoria were completed or when any final decisions were made. I only stated, on the basis of Czech, when they began and in a footnote when the authorization was given to begin. (Body, note 80) My purpose was to show the Bauleitung mindset.
Mattogno has not read Pressac very carefully. Pressac reproduced the contract for Crematorium II, which was signed on July 29. The contract shows that the negotiations had begun on July 13. 66 The reference in the Aktenvermerk to the "2nd crematorium with 5 3 muffle furnaces" is Krema III, the twin crematorium for Krema II. However, this memo does not refute Czech's placing the negotiations as beginning in July. The memo states that these negotiations have been ongoing. We don't know when they began. Nor does this Aktenvermerk refute Czech's placing the authorization to enter into such negotiations as July 1.
Mattogno then goes on to cite the same document to the effect that "there is evidence that the [Topf oven builder] Prufer proposal to transfer two 8 muffle ovens from Mogilev to Auschwitz was made on 18 August... So this signifies that the number of oven muffles for Crematory IV and V had not yet been decided upon at that time." (Reply, 7). Once again, this does not tell us about when the negotiations began or when they were authorized. Moreover, Pressac reproduced a diagram from Auschwitz Zentralbauleitung head Karl Bischoff, dated August 14, for blueprints for eight muffles in Krema IV.67
Mattogno's conclusion, based on the fact that negotiations were still continuing for three of the Kremas after August 15 is: "Therefore, Zimmerman knows he lies." This would be true if I represented these negotiations as being concluded in July 1942, which I never did. Moreover, for someone who has distorted, misrepresented and concealed every significant aspect from the open air burnings, the White Bunker, oven durability and cremation capacity, Mattogno is hardly in a position to call anyone else a liar. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
In reference to my statement about the first evidence for planned expansion of the camp as being August 15, Mattogno cites Pressac, who is claimed to be my "main source," as contradicting that view. (Reply, 8) Mattogno did not read my writing on this very carefully since I never quoted Pressac in this regard. Rather, I cited Czech's Auschwitz Chronicle's entry for August 15, 1942.68 (Body, 12, and note 80)
Mattogno (Reply, 8) then quotes Pressac as writing in his essay on "The Machinery of Mass Murder at Auschwitz" that "Himmler ordered that the camp should accommodate 200,000 inmates, and the Zentralbauleitung had completed a design for the enlarged camp at the end of July." However, Pressac did not cite a source. Pressac also wrote about Himmler's visit to the camp on July 17:
...Himmler ordered Hoss [the camp commandant] to speed up the work, to raise the camp's population capability from 100,000 to 200,000, and to get rid of the repugnant pits full of corpses behind the bunkers. Hoss also received a promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the SS. 69
However, the only source Pressac cites is a document dated July 2, which means that it could not have dealt with Himmler's visit which occurred more than two weeks later. Similarly, Mattogno (Reply, 8) cites from the French language edition of Pressac's work where the 200,000 number is also mentioned in connection with the Himmler visit in the second half of July. However, the document Pressac reproduces in connection with the expansion is dated August 15. 70 Similarly, Dwork and van Pelt's diagram of the expansion is also dated August 15.71
Unlike Mattogno, I am willing to examine new evidence and change my opinion on events if the evidence warrants a change. It may indeed be true that the Bauleitung did have such plans for expansion in the second half of July following Himmler's visit. Czech writes that Himmler ordered Hoss to speed up the camp's expansion on his visit, but does not specify any number for the expansion. She then writes that a new plan was approved by Bauleitung chief Bischoff on August 15.72 The only available evidence I have seen to date is August 15. My guess is that if Mattogno had documentation for his assertion that the 200,000 was planned in July he would have cited it by now. However, what is particularly instructive in Mattogno's willingness to seize Pressac's interpretation in these matters is that he has been attempting to discredit Pressac for many years.
The principal argument on this issue deals with whether it was necessary to build so many ovens. Mattogno has cited a document from the head of the ZentralBauleitung, dated July 10, 1942, which anticipates 15 ovens for a camp of 30,000 or one muffle per 2000 prisoners. (Reply, 12) It appears that he has reproduced this document in his book to which I have not had access.
Mattogno's argument is that according to the logic of the July 10 memo a planned expansion to 140,000 would justify 70 ovens. He writes: "In practice, the number of muffles at Birkenau [which eventually totaled 46] were really inadequate in regards to the projected expansion of the camp" to 140,000. (Reply, 12) Mattogno's argument in this regard needs close scrutiny. As noted in my study, the first major planned expansion of the ovens was in October 1941 with the arrival of Soviet POWs. It was anticipated that there would be 125,000 POWs. The Bauleitung wanted to order an additional 15 ovens. I also noted that at the time the mass extermination of Soviet POWs began in the camp and that the morgue registries show that approximately 73% of the 10,000 POWs died in a four month period from October 1941 through January 1942. Therefore, I stated that the origins of the new crematoria could be traced to mass murder. (Body, 8)
Mattogno does not see any significance in the fact that the Bauleitung wanted to go from approximately 1 oven per 8000 prisoners (15 ovens into 125,000) to one oven per 2000. Moreover, since the one per 8000 arose within the context of the beginning of mass murder, this suggests that 15 ovens would be a high number in a normal concentration camp with 125,000 prisoners. But Mattogno tells that one oven per 2000 is normal! What Mattogno has actually shown is that the Auschwitz authorities were planning more murder in July 1942 than in October 1941.
In the body disposal study I cited data from Gusen. Let us now look at the Gusen data and Mattogno's response. In 1944 Gusen expanded from two to three camps, but did not add any ovens. Figures for Gusen show that that 14,500 entered the camp in 1940 and 1941, 6000 in 1942, 9100 in 1943, 22,300 in 1944 and 15,600 in 1945. Death rates from 1940 to 1945 were very high. From 1940 to 1944 slightly less than 25,000 of the 52,000 prisoners who entered the camp died. The population for the camp exceeded 22,000 by September 1944.73 Yet there was never more than one double muffle oven in Gusen. As noted earlier, the Mauthausen authorities ordered another double muffle furnace for Gusen, but never installed it.
Gusen offers the best comparison with Auschwitz because its high death rate in proportion to its prisoner population in 1941 and 1942 allows us to compare oven needs to that of the death rate of the registered prisoner population of Auschwitz. I noted in this respect that while Auschwitz had six times as many deaths as Gusen it had three times the cremation capacity. This suggests that a doubling of the number of ovens would be justified. What is also important about Gusen is that despite such a high death rate there were no plans for one oven for every 2000 prisoners.
Mattogno was careful in his reply to avoid Gusen. Rather, he decided to focus on Buchenwald which had 8 ovens after the installation of two Topf triple muffle ovens in August and December 1942. Mattogno notes that there was an average monthly death during this period of 241 and a total of slightly less than 10,000 prisoners in Buchenwald. Mattogno concludes from this information that the installation of so many ovens in Auschwitz was justified. (Reply, 19). Not surprisingly, Mattogno did not reveal some crucial information about the installation of the additional six ovens in Buchenwald. Shortly after the installation of those ovens the camp began to undergo a dramatic expansion in its population. It rose from 9500 at the end of 1942 to over 37,000 by the end of 1943. Buchenwald continued to grow until by September 1944 it held over 84,000 prisoners. 74 Seen in light of the actual growth of the camp, the new six ovens were not unusual. The Buchenwald authorities certainly must have anticipated this growth when the oven additions were made. The prisoner to oven ratio in Buchenwald reached 10,000 to 1. Therefore, Mattogno is impeached by his own evidence.
In 1942 Mauthausen experienced about a 50% death rate for its registered prisoners. This percentage dropped to 15% in 1943. In 1944 Mauthausen expanded its camp population from 17,000 to 50,000, and experienced a 15 % death rate for the year. Moreover, Mauthausen operated with one oven in 1942 and 1943 when its population reached more than 17,000.75 However, the camp only added one double muffle oven to the existing single muffle oven in January 1945 for a total of three ovens. Recall in this respect that a double muffle oven was delivered to Mauthausen in January 1943, but that it was not installed until January 1945. This results in a prisoner to oven ratio of 17,000 to 1 at the end of 1943. However, in 1944 the prisoner to oven ratio reached 50,000 to 1 with 7300 deaths.
The most informative comparison of oven needs versus camp expansion comes from the Dachau concentration camp. Dachau had six ovens. A total of 22,675 prisoners arrived at Dachau in 1940; 6255 in 1941, 12,572 in 1942, 19,358 in 1943 and over 76,000 in 1944. Therefore, the prisoner population of the camp had reached over 41,000 by the end of 1942, over 60,000 by the end of 1943 and over 137,000 by the end of 1944. By contrast, the registered Auschwitz camp population never reached more than 92,000 - 112,000 if 20,000 transit prisoners to be shipped to other camps are counted in the summer of 1944. Moreover, there were typhus epidemics in Dachau in the winters of 1942-43 and 1943-44. Therefore, Dachau should have undergone a dramatic expansion of its cremation capacity if the denier arguments about Auschwitz are correct. Thus, at a time of typhus epidemics and a doubling of Dachau's camp population, there were never more than six ovens.76 Why did Auschwitz need 52 ovens and Dachau only six? The principal difference between Dachau and Auschwitz is that while many prisoners were murdered in Dachau, it was not an extermination camp.
The Dachau information is in accord with early Auschwitz numbers I cited in the study. I noted in this respect that the planned expansion of Auschwitz in March 1941 to 130,000 was not accompanied by any proposal to expand the cremation capacity from the existing four ovens. (Body, 12) The only proposal for additional ovens came in the following September for one more double muffle oven which was added in the Spring of 1942. Auschwitz was not an extermination camp in the Spring of 1941. However, in October 1941 as Auschwitz became an extermination camp for Soviet POWs there is a proposal for an additional 15 ovens. This number jumps to 46 additional ovens as the camp becomes an extermination center for Jews.
I noted that the denier argument is that the high death rate Auschwitz was experiencing during the typhus epidemic coupled with the expansion meant that the cremation capacity provided by 46 additional ovens was justified. However, this argument assumes that the camp administration was expecting something on the order of 30,000 to 50,000 deaths per month from typhus as a result of this proposed expansion. In fact, the camp would not have been able to function under these circumstances and would most certainly be forced to close down with a continuous epidemic of this proportion.
More importantly, I also noted that during the period of the typhus epidemic when the camp experienced its highest death rate for registered prisoners, the camp population remained static at about 30,000. I cited a Bauleitung report dated July 15, 1942 --12 days after the typhus epidemic hit the camp -- which stated that for the time being the camp population would remain at 30,000. (Body, 13) I pointed out in this respect that the actual expansion of the camp was accompanied by a substantial decrease in registered prisoner deaths from the summer of 1942. This means that the authorities anticipated fewer deaths on a higher camp population as the camp expanded, not a higher number of deaths of registered prisoners than occurred in the summer of 1942. (Body, 13, 14)
Anyone who has followed denier arguments -- and not only Mattogno's -- over the years knows that the typhus epidemic which swept the camp beginning in July 1942 is claimed to be the catalyst for building so many ovens. I disputed that typhus really caused as many deaths as has been asserted. Mattogno writes that "if Zimmerman doesn't want to see a cause and effect connection between these two facts [typhus and the high mortality rate], that's his business." (Reply, 19) In fact, he has not read what I wrote on this issue very carefully. In discussing the high death rate for registered prisoners in the summer of 1942 I wrote that "[p]art of this has to do with typhus." [Body, 6] Therefore, I never denied that typhus was related to the deaths occurring in Auschwitz. Rather, my broader point -- and Mattogno knows this -- is that most of the sick prisoners were being murdered en masse in Auschwitz because it was easier to kill them than to hospitalize them.
In this respect I cited the causes of death in the Auschwitz Death Books. There are nearly 69,000 death certificates for registered prisoners which have become available. Even though these death books are far from being complete, they afford an opportunity to view first hand what was killing prisoners. I noted that these death certificates only show a little more than 2000 deaths from typhus.
I also cited extensively from those familiar with the death certificates who claimed that they were being falsified to read heart attack for those who were murdered by the camp authorities. In this respect, it was also pointed out that many of these death certificates were claiming that thousands of prisoners were dying from heart attacks but that such a cause of death was not possible for so many people in the listed age categories. Therefore, the reasonable conclusion is that those familiar with the death certificates were correct when they stated that false causes of death were being listed by the camp doctors who were writing them. It was also noted that the accounts by those who were familiar with the real causes of death were given many years before the discovery of those certificates. Therefore, the death certificates themselves verify the critical accounts. (Body, 5-7)
I cited the example of a death certificate which listed the cause of death as decrepitude for an infant. Mattogno's response is that this certificate "most probably deals with an ordinary error here." (Reply, 19) Predictably, he ignored the case of the 168 prisoners who were shot on May 27, 1942 but whose cause of death is listed as "heart attack." (Body, 6)
Mattogno's answer to the death books showing so few deaths from typhus is that the typhus caused
the general prostration of their physique, the weakening of their immune system, and because of the scarcity of medicinals, they could easily incur other ailments and died from other causes. In my opinion this explains the relatively small number of deaths from typhus in the Sterbebucher [death books] of Auschwitz.(Reply, 19)
This is not a new explanation. It is similar to one given by Arthur Butz in 1977 when only 1500 of these certificates were available. Butz also noted the relatively low number of typhus deaths.77 However, we can test this hypothesis by looking at prisoner deaths which occurred before the typhus epidemic of July 1942.
The Auschwitz Death Books, though incomplete, provide useful information in this regard. They show that from August 4 to September 10, 1941, 1498 registered non-Soviet POWs died. An additional 1490 died from October 21 to November 22, 1941. Although there are two death books missing for this period, each death book carries between 1400 and 1500 names. This means that about 6,000 non-Soviet prisoners died in the five month period from August to December 1941. 78 Camp documents show that of the 36, 285 prisoners who were known to have been in Auschwitz from May 20, 1940 to January 31, 1942, 20,565 cannot be accounted for. This number includes Soviet POWs. From February 1942 to the end of June 1942 approximately 12,500 registered prisoners died.79 The camp population at the beginning of July 1942 was slightly less than 16,000. 80 This means that before the typhus epidemic, the Auschwitz camp population was experiencing a death rate of about 15% monthly from September 1941 to July 1942.
The real test is in the deaths of the Soviet prisoners. I noted that the Auschwitz morgue registries --not be confused with the death books because Soviet POWs are not listed in the death books -- show that 73% of the approximately 10,000 who entered the camp died in the four month period from October 1941 through January 1942. (Body, 8) Does Mattogno really believe that these prisoners died from typhus when no such epidemic existed in the camp during this period of time? The major point is that there had already developed a mass murder mentality by the camp administration before the typhus epidemic, which is supported by the death books attributing so many deaths to heart attacks and witnesses who were familiar with the real causes of death.
In attempting to figure a monthly death rate going back to 1941, I noted that there was no information about the number of registered prisoners in Auschwitz until January 19, 1942. (Body, 8) I therefore extrapolated from those figures for 1941. Mattogno takes me to task by citing from the German language edition of Czech's Auschwitz Chronicle which he alleges "states explicitly that in 1941 there were 17,270 "registered" (eingeliefert) prisoners and 9,997 Soviet captives." (Reply, 7, italics in original). The problem is that eingeliefert does not mean registration. Rather, it means to bring in or to deliver, which is what the English language edition says. 81 The word Mattogno was looking for is eintragung, which means registration. I had already addressed the issue of the total number of prisoners who had been brought into the camp since May 1940 through January 1942. (Body, 8) I was searching for information which would give the number of registered prisoners for any point in time in 1941, and that information is not available until January 1942.
One of the interesting facets of the claim that typhus was responsible for building so many new ovens is that there has not as yet emerged any document cited by Mattogno or any other denier from the camp administration which states this. At present we have a Bauleitung memo from August 21, 1942 which states that new ovens will be built near the "bathing installation for special actions." 82 Another Bauleitung memo dated October 13, 1942 states: "As regards the construction of the new crematorium building, it was necessary to start immediately in July because of the situation caused by the special actions." 83 This letter is crucial because it is stating that the purpose for the new crematorium is to deal with these special actions. Consequently, the reason for the crematoria turns of the definition of special actions.
I noted that the term "special action" appears 14 times in a diary kept by Auschwitz doctor Johann Kremer. After the war he testified that it meant gassing of prisoners. His testimony is in accord with the entries I cited from his October 12, 1942 entry where he discusses the 10th special action in terms a Dutch contingent. "Terrifying scenes in front of the last bunker..." (Body, 9) In his September 2 entry he discusses the first special action by writing: "It is not without reason that Auschwitz is called the camp of the annihilation." At the 11th special action on October 18 he writes: "Terrible scenes when three women begged to have their bare lives spared."84 The October 12 and 18 entries occur very close to the October 13 Bauleitung memo which ties the new crematorium to these special actions.
Denier critic Jean-Claude Pressac found a document which mentions a special action among all the civilian workers on December 16, 1942. I cited, in the text, from that part of the memo which mentions that the special action was to take place "among all civilian workers" (Body, 9, italics added) and reproduced the full text of this memo as it related to these special actions:
Pressac believed that this special action involved a security check among all of the civilian workers. I did not dismiss Pressac's interpretation out of hand since I wrote that it "is possible in this instance..." However, I expressed doubt because, as Pressac noted, the "special action" takes place within the context of a strike among the civilian workers. 85 I theorized that the camp authorities might want to make an example of some of the workers by executing them. (Body, 9) This special action was issued within the context of a quarantine which had been in effect since July.
Mattogno attacks me on this point because the memo states that the special action will take place among "all civilian workers." He writes: "If the Zimmerman interpretation is correct, the Gestapo executed all civilian workers." (Reply, 10) Wrong. I would point out in this respect that it would be possible to carry out executions among all classes of civilian workers involved in the strike without executing all of the civilian workers.
My problem with Pressac's interpretation is that the memo is marked "secret." I wondered why a memo that dealt with security checks would have such a marking. Rather, if this memo really dealt with security checks it should have been distributed to all departments of the camp and received wide attention. Certainly everyone should have been made aware of such checks. Yet, the document shows that it is only being distributed to two individuals and one department. 86
At the time of writing the body disposal study, I was not aware of a document which can irrefutably prove that "special actions" had nothing to do with typhus, quarantines, or security checks. It is Garrison Order [Standortbefehl] Number 19/42 dated July 23, 1942 signed by the camp commandant Rudolf Hoess dealing with the typhus epidemic that was sweeping the camp. This quarantine memo, which deals with the typhus epidemic, was not marked secret and was intended to be distributed throughout the camp. It provides a sweeping ban on travel for all SS officers, their dependents, workers and civilian officials. These civilian officials must go back and forth to work on designated roads. Curfews are imposed and medical examinations required. The memo is three pages, singled spaced and extremely broad in its scope. Moreover, the order is directed to go to 22 departments.87 Compare this with the "special action" memo of December 1942 which is marked secret and slated for a very limited distribution.
The key point about Garrison Order 19/42 is that is says nothing about a special action. Therefore, in July 1942 -- the focal point of the October 13, 1942 Bauleitung memo -- "special actions" had nothing to do with anti-typhus and security measures. If these special actions really had anything to do with such measures, then the term would have been used in the July order.
Other evidence that special actions had nothing to do with typhus control comes from Kremer's diary entry of September 1, 1942: "In the afternoon was present at the gassing of block with [Z]yklon B against lice." 88 As is well known, Zyklon B was a deadly insecticide which was used for mass murder in addition to disinfestation of lice. Here, Kremer is speaking of a disinfestation not murder. Yet, nothing is said about a special action.
In answer to the question about why the December 1942 "special action" memo is labeled "secret", Mattogno writes:
The fact that the document bears the term "geheim" [secret] doesn't matter: for example, that does not appear at all on the letter by [Zentralbauleitung head] Bischoff of 29 January 1943 which would have been much more compromising in that it displays the term 'Vergasungskeller' [gassing cellar] (Reply, 10)
Mattogno's reference is to the well known letter by Bischoff which states that there is a "gassing cellar" in Krema II. This answer does not explain why the term special action does not appear on the garrison order issued by Hoess on July 23, which also dealt with a camp quarantine.
Mattogno's argument in this respect is one which David Irving has been promoting for some years. That is, the absence of labeling the "gassing cellar" document as "secret" shows that it did not have a sinister purpose. However, Mattogno is not aware that the reason for this is that all documents relating to crematoria construction were under a blanket order of secrecy going back to June 1942, meaning that it was not necessary to label each document as such. This is the reason these documents were not labeled secret. I mentioned this in the study. (Body, 12) The relevant document is an internal decree issued in May 1943 which refers to an order issued in June 1942 as follows:89
Internal Decree [Hausverfugung]No. 108
This memo shows that the authorities were particularly concerned about the crematoria when compared to all of the construction projects. Also, it shows that there was a blanket order of secrecy on building projects dating from at least June 1942. This answers denier claims about why documents such as the "gassing cellar" memo are not specifically labeled secret. It should be noted that the reference in this document to secret matters required by regulations is very similar to those issued to the participants in Operation Reinhard on July 18, 1942 which stated "that the process of the evacuation of Jews is a subject which comes under "Secret Reich Document," in accordance with censorship regulation." 90
Also significant in this memo is the mention of Walter Dejaco, an architect with the Bauleitung. He worked on modifications of a crematorium in January 1942 when it was still in the proposal stage, designed an entrance to the basement of Krema II in December 1942, and drafted a final design for Krema IV in January 1943.91
I made some errors in the body disposal study which will be corrected. The most serious was in my discussing the possibility that the open air burnings may have continued between the time the first of the crematoria went into operation in March 1943 and the beginning of the Hungarian operation in May 1944. I cited a letter as being dated June 13, 1943 to show the possibility that such open air burnings were continuing. I cited from the English language translation appearing in one of the volumes published in 1947 popularly known as the Green Series. However, the original German document has the date of January 13, 1943, the true date. I had a copy of the original German document, but never crossed checked the date from the translation. A careless error, to be sure, but an honest one. The error originated in the official translation of document NO-4466 by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal translator, whereas the original German document under the same NO-4466 has the correct text. This was verified by the librarian of The Holocaust History Project, Harry Mazal, who has housed the vast collection of the entire NO-series.
Relying on a secondary source, I gave the date of July 1944 as the time for installing the Topf double muffle oven in Mauthausen. Now that I have the file dealing with these matters, it can be seen that the oven was not installed until January 1945. This fact was noted earlier in the response.
In citing a report by Topf engineers dated July 14, 1941 describing the efficiency of an oven as being able to burn 10 to 35 bodies in ten hours, I believed that it was a different report than one cited by Pressac from the same day which talks about burning 30 to 36 bodies in 10 hours. Mattogno notes that these are the same report but that the 10 to 35 was incorrectly transcribed when the document was published by Reimund Schnabel in Macht Ohne Moral. I am in the process of obtaining the original from archive where it is being kept. However, I have no reason to doubt Mattogno on this point.
Citing the Auschwitz Chronicle I identified a Sonderkommando who gave testimony about multiple burnings as being Mieczslaw Morawa. According to Mattogno, this individual was incorrectly identified by Czech and is really Henryk Tauber. I have not been able ascertain whether this was Morawa based on information I received from Auschwitz State Museum. For the time being, I will refer to this individual as a Sonderkommando.
In writing of open air burnings in the 19th century I gave the date of 1814. In fact, the event transpired during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. In citing a document on special treatment which mentions five barracks, I stated that these five barracks were in Birkenau. In fact, only four of the barracks were in Birkenau -- as correctly noted by Jean-Claude Pressac. 92 In speaking of the Red and White Bunkers, I stated that they were completely destroyed and no trace remains. In fact there are some minor traces of the White Bunker, but none for the Red Bunker.
In citing figures that 15 Topf ovens could burn 800 bodies in 24 hours, I attributed this figure to engineer Kurt Prufer. In fact, this was an extrapolated number by Pressac of a letter written by Prufer, who never mentioned any figures in the letter. However, as noted earlier, I did reduce the functioning time to 20 hours to allow for four hours of maintenance and reduced the number of bodies from 800 to 660. Considering the rate that bodies could be burned in a Topf oven from Gusen -- discussed earlier -- my number of 660 was not unreasonable.
I misinterpreted an Aktenvermerk dealing with events of June 16, 1944. It states: "Erstellung von 6 Leichenkammern im BA I und II." 93 [Building six chambers for corpses in BA I and II] I thought that the reference to BA I and II was to Birkenau Kremas I and II, known in most literature as Kremas II and III. However, upon further research I now realize that the reference is to construction sites BI and B II in Birkenau. The crematoria were in Sector III. Professor Robert-Jan van Pelt has informed me that these morgues were constructed from horse stable barracks. He states that the designs and physical remains for these morgues still survive. He explains that they were intended to give each of these camps "their own admittedly limited morgue capacity, probably because whatever opportunity had existed in the crematoria to accommodate the corpses of those who had died in the camp had been lost as the result of the constant use of the crematoria in the Hungarian Action." 94
However, it might be pointed out in this respect that the Lucas Report identifies construction work going on in the May 31, 1944 photo at Krema V. This suggests that the authorities were expanding Krema V's functions during the Hungarian operation.95
In a review of Deborah Lipstadt's Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, Mattogno was critical because she argued that gas tight doors were incompatible with a shower facility. Mattogno's criticism was based on a document he found in the Auschwitz Archives. He asked: " If a gas tight door and a shower facility are "absolutely incompatible" then why did the Auschwitz Zentralbauleitung [Central Construction Agency] on 13 November 1942 order '2 100/200 gas-tight doors for the sauna' of the disinfestation installation BW 5a?"96 BW 5a was a disinfestation facility in the Birkenau area of Auschwitz.
The document he cited is a work order, which I have obtained. It states: "For: Delousing Barrack. The following work is to be done: The creation of two steel gas proof doors for the sauna."97 Mattogno was attempting to show that gas tight doors would not be incompatible in a shower facility. But why would gas tight doors be needed in a shower facility unless prisoners were being gassed? The sauna is a reference to delousing barracks BW 5a which contained legitimate prisoner shower facilities and rooms where clothing was deloused with Zyklon B. Any logical person reading this document would realize that the gas tight doors were for that portion of the sauna used to disinfest clothing, not for the shower facilities. If Mattogno's explanation of this document is to be believed, then he has demonstrated that prisoners were gassed in the shower facilities of the sauna because the work order specifically refers to the type of gas tight doors which were used in the clothing disinfestation facility!
Mattogno may have believed that because the word sauna was used the argument could be made that it referred to the shower portion. But in fact the building known as the Central Sauna -- which began operation in December 1943 -- had legitimate shower facilities and places where clothing was disinfested. Not even Mattogno has claimed that the prisoner shower facilities of the Central Sauna had gas tight doors. Moreover, Lipstadt's broader point was that the document she was referring to had nothing to with a sauna, but was a reference to the installation of phony showers in the morgue of Krema III. What would these showers and gas tight doors be doing in a morgue?
Mattogno's approach to the document found shows that he has a mindset which will allow him to draw any absurd conclusion from information he examines as long it fits his preconceived notion that there were no homicidal gassings. In this respect his methodology is very similar to David Irving -- who I examine in a separate chapter in my book.
One of the interesting factors to note in Mattogno's reply to my essay is that he never addressed the demographics of Hungarian Jewry. I was able to show that at least 80% -- and the real number is 90% -- of the 437,000 Hungarian Jews who were deported from mid May to mid July 1944 disappeared and that their destination was Auschwitz. Mattogno -- and indeed the whole denier movement -- could easily prove their case of no genocide by simply producing some evidence that these Jews were somewhere other than Auschwitz. Like all deniers, Mattogno cannot actually explain what happened to the Jews who came under German control.
In the recent tape about Mattogno's 40 points, mentioned earlier, it is noted that he has carried out research in many European countries and examined 150,000 pages of documents. I am sure that this is accurate. I also know that his archival research goes back to the 1980s. Yet for all of this research he can produce no evidence as to what happened to these Jews. The same goes for David Irving. Seen in its totality, this is a stunning lack of achievement for the denier cause and indeed discredits all of their arguments.
This is the reason that Mattogno must attempt to make a case about ovens. He has stated: "Revisionism has attempted to apply its criticism to the Holocaust on a technical level."98 Indeed, there is no place left for deniers to go since they cannot produce any evidence about what actually happened to the European Jews of World War II if they were not murdered. Therefore, why not argue about oven efficiency and the like? I spend the first four chapters of my book on the issue of demographics in Holocaust denial.
I pointed out in the body disposal study that since Mattogno has admitted to outdoor burnings at Auschwitz, even if all of his false theories on oven limitations are correct they are irrelevant because open air burnings were not subject to any restrictions that might be imposed on the ovens. Mattogno stayed away from answering that point. However, I have been able show that none of his major theories about Auschwitz and the ovens can withstand critical scrutiny. The simple fact is that the evidence he has proffered from many years of research does not support any of his major conclusions. Mattogno cannot make any of his theories fit into the Procrustean bed he has made for them. Once again, this is something he shares in common with David Irving when it comes to the Holocaust.
Over the years Mattogno has emerged as the top gun of Holocaust denial. His research is far more sophisticated than Robert Faurisson's and method of argumentation and writing ability far superior to Arthur Butz. However, look beneath the veneer and one will see the same bag of tricks employed by all deniers going back to Paul Rassinier -- the godfather of modern Holocaust denial -- and his successors: the absurd conspiracy theories of forgery and evidence manipulation when there are no longer any implausible rationalizations, and the stretching of some evidence and ignoring of other evidence. Mattogno assures us that he has more works on the way, so we can look forward to the familiar pattern. However, in the final analysis, he will be no more successful than in the past.
My thanks to Rich Green for editing and preparing this response for the web. The following individuals rendered valuable translation assistance: Judith Jenner of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Gord McFee, Ulrich Roessler and Dr. William Samelson, all of The Holocaust History Project.
Last modified: December 20, 2000