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The Holocaust History Project.
The Holocaust History Project.

The Holes in the Roofs of the Gas Chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau

A forensic investigation proves their existence

"No holes, no Holocaust" has long been one of the denier community's favorite slogans. It refers to the holes in the roof of Kremas (crematoria) II and III at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. The holes were used to introduce Zyklon-B pellets into the gas chambers, thereby killing the Jews who were trapped inside. In late 1944, the SS, on orders from Berlin, dynamited all the still functioning gas chambers to destroy any evidence of the killing that had happened there. Since the holes are not visible in the ruins, Holocaust deniers have claimed that there were no holes at all, and hence no Holocaust.

Readers will quickly note the enormous logic gap in that reasoning. No conventional historian has ever claimed that the Holocaust only consisted of gassing at two gas chambers in Auschwitz. Indeed, the Holocaust is characterized by the mass murders of Jews by shooting squads called the Einsatzgruppen, gassing in the Operation Reinhard death camps, where engine exhaust was employed, and deprivation and starving in artificially created ghettos. The denier gambit is a variant on the falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus (false in one thing, false in all things) formulation which claims that if any one fact about the Holocaust can be proven to be wrong, then all the reported facts are wrong and there was no Holocaust. The illogical nature of this is apparent to anyone who reflects for even a minute.

But the "holes" canard has enjoyed a rather long shelf life. Since the holes cannot be easily seen in the ruins of Auschwitz, it is easy to claim there are none. The French denier Robert Faurisson was one of the first to trumpet the slogan. And British denier David Irving, who incidentally has never been to Auschwitz, did the same in his failed lawsuit against Deborah Lipstadt. In fact, he was prepared to pursue the matter on appeal, having received a report from one of his colleagues, Germar Rudolf. But when Irving saw an expert report the respondent had filed, he dropped the matter like a hot potato. What was the report that scared off Mr Irving?

The expert report in question had been prepared by three members of the Holocaust History Project, and was only a rough draft of the final product. Yet, it sufficiently enough demolished the "no holes" theory that even Irving had the good sense to flee from it. The final report was published by the prestigious journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies in its Spring 2004 issue.

The report is entitled The Ruins of the Gas Chambers: A Forensic Investigation of Crematoriums at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau and its authors are Daniel Keren, Harry W. Mazal and Jamie McCarthy.1

In the report, the authors examine the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau by synthesizing the results of several approaches:

  • engineering techniques
  • computer simulation
  • photographic analysis
  • historical sources

The success they enjoyed is exemplified by the fact that not only were they able to demolish the "no holes" canard, they were able to identify five of the holes in Crematorium I and three of the four in Crematorium II, which today is mainly a pile of rubble. The report is a brilliant combination of engineering analysis, computer analysis of images, and aerial photo analysis (by Carrol Lucas, an expert with more than fifty years experience in aerial and satellite photo analysis). Thus, it is an excellent synthesis of scientific and historical examination.

And what has been the reaction of deniers to this report? Stony silence, as if they were trying to wish it away. As time goes on, the report will become more widely known. In fact, it has already been the object of a story in the respected German newspaper Die Welt. The Holocaust History Project has received permission to reproduce the story.

Does this report alone conclusively prove the utilization of the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau for homicidal purposes? Of course not. To say so would be to commit the same error in logic as the deniers in their "no holes" and falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus formulas. What it does prove - conclusively and scientifically - is that there were holes in the roofs of the crematoriums in Auschwitz, and that fact is consistent with testimonies of survivors and SS personnel, architectural designs, contemporary photographs, and SS documents. This finding adds the final link to the chain of evidence that now indisputably converges in the fact that the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau were used to kill human beings with poison gas.

The report can be found here www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/holes-report/holes.shtml


  1. Daniel Keren, Jamie McCarthy and Harry W. Mazal, The Ruins of the Gas Chambers: A Forensic Investigation of Crematoriums at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Oxford University Press, Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2004, pages 68-103

Last modified: April 26, 2009
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