The Auschwitz Myth
a book by Wilhelm Stäglich
The Auschwitz Myth by Wilhelm Stäglich
As the years went on, Auschwitz by and large receded into the background. A decade after the war, the public knew virtually nothing about it. This may be attributed partly to the fact that the Soviets did not permit outsiders to inspect the grounds of the Auschwitz complex. What is more, none of the German and Austrian soldiers interned at Auschwitz, which served for several months as a Soviet prisoner of war camp, found any traces of the alleged mass murders, not even in Birkenau, supposedly the actual extermination camp, and so reported after their release. Of course, remnants of the crematoria were there to be seen, but the quantity of rubble did not match what would have been left behind by crematoria of the size required for the mass extermination of several thousand people per day.
One may well ask: If this allegation were true, why then did not the Soviets immediately exhibit the camp to journalists from all over the world and place the evidence of the alleged mass murders under international control? I shall leave it to the reader to answer this question for himself.
The Birkenau camp ("Auschwitz II"), which is the focal point of the extermination claims, served primarily as an internment camp for specific groups of prisoners, such as Gypsies, women with children, as well as the chronically ill and those who were otherwise incapable of labor. It also served as a transit camp and, initially, even as a prisoner of war camp. In the spring of 1943, several crematoria-- allegedly containing "gas chambers" for the extermination of Jews -- were put into operation there, while the original camp crematorium in "Auschwitz I" was shut down in July 1943.
This is hardiy the place to examine the manifold causes of such distortion. Of one thing there can be no doubt: All politically related "information" that appears in the mass media today is designed to serve a purpose. The vaunted "independence" of the communications media is little more than a soothing copybook platitude. Though every once in a while ostensibly dissenting viewpoints are aired in the mass media, so as to give a certain substance to pretensions of "balance," that does not alter in the least the fact that the clique which, by virtue of its enormous wealth, largely controls the communications media is primarily interested in manipulating individuals and nations to attain its political objectives.' The ultimate achievement of propaganda is, as Emil Maier-Dom has so vividly put it, to "make millions of people eagerly forge the chains of their own servitude."2
Whenever Germans show signs of deviating from what Gob Mann calls the "sociopedagogically desirable view of history" ("das volkspädagogisch erwünschte Geschichtsbild"), one need only utter the catchword "Auschwitz" to remove all doubt as to the basic depravity of the German people.4 Not only does the very mention of "Auschwitz" call a halt to rational discussion of the Third Reich, since beside "Auschwitz," this symbol of absolute evil, everything else seems inconsequential; it can also be used to cast a shadow over any other aspect of the German past. So long as the Auschwitz Myth retains its terrible power, the recovery of our national self-esteem is virtually impossible.5
there was some uncertainty about what position the Soviets would ultimately take on the "extermination of the Jews," especially since Stalin himself was reputed to be an "anti-Semite." For whatever reason, the Auschwitz Myth was not widely publicized until well into the 1950's. At least, it still had not acquired the crucial significance attributed to it today. No distinction was as yet made between the various camps when the "Final Solution"--the physical destruction of European Jewry allegedly ordered by the leadership of the Third Reich -- was discussed. They were all supposed to have played basically the same role in this enormous "murder plot." Every concentration camp, it was said, had one or more "gas chambers" in which Jews were asphyxiated with volatile cyanide (in the form of "Zyklon B," a proprietary fumigant) or carbon monoxide -- in usu vulgi: "gassed."
As early as 1960, the Institut für [8-9] Zeitgeschichte in Munich felt itself called upon to issue the following statement, perhaps in response to the findings of the French historian Paul Rassinier:
Neither in Dachau nor Bergen-Belsen nor in Buchenwald were Jews or other inmates gassed. The gas chamber in Dachau was never finished and put into operation . . . The mass extermination of the Jews by gassing began in 194142, and occurred in a very few places, selected exclusively for the purpose and outfitted with the appropriate technical facilities, above all in occupied Polish territory (but nowhere in the German Reich proper).10
If Reitlinger's statement was a rearguard action, the statement of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte was a general retreat. What made it so sensational was that not only had a host of former inmates testified that "gassings" took place at concentration camps in the Reich, but several commandants of these camps even signed "confessions" affirming the existence of the alleged "gas chambers."11 At the Nuremberg IMT trial, the British Chief Prosecutor Sir Hartley Shawcross specifically cited Dachau, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, and Oranienburg as places where murder was "conducted like some mass production industry in the gas chambers and ovens."12
For a long time, Auschwitz and other camps that had existed in the German-occupied eastern territories played a subordinate role in the extermination legend. But after Dr. Martin Broszat, a leading member of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, made the statement quoted above, the view that any concentration camps in Germany were "death factories" became completely untenable.
Although the Auschwitz propaganda campaign was aggressively pursued from the very beginning, it still had a lot of catching up to do. To be sure, "extermination camps" in occupied Poland had been mentioned in the so-called Gerstein Report, a document allegedly composed by a onetime SS man named Kurt Gerstein. At first, nobody seemed to take this document seriously, and it was not even admitted in evidence at the IMT trial.15 At least three versions of it were circulated: two French versions and one German version. Numerous passages in these texts vary from one another.16 According to the French version published in 1951, the following "extermination camps" were in existence as of August 17, 1942:
One notes that the supposedly well-informed Gerstein does not include Auschwitz on this list, though "mass murders" are now alleged to have begun there in the spring of 1942.(The first "gas chambers" were, it is claimed, two converted farm houses) 18 Since, according to this document, Gerstein was responsible for the procurement and distribution of Zyklon B, he certainly would have been aware of the existence of Auschwitz. As a matter of fact, Auschwitz is mentioned as an "extermination camp" at the end of the English version of the document -- along with Theresienstadt, Oranienburg, Dachau, Belsen, and Mauthausen-Gusen!19 This version of the "Gerstein Report" (the one that appears in Dr. Butz's volume) was used by the Americans in the "trials" they conducted on their own after the IMT proceedings.
At the outset, we should make a few general comments about the authenticity of the documents that allegedly come from German official files. It is -- or should be -- well known that America has thus far returned to Germany only selected portions of the tons and tons of documents it confiscated from German archives.41 (By "Germany" I mean the Federal Republic of Germany: I do not know whether the German Democratic Republic has received any confiscated documents from the Soviet Union or another of its allies. That is most unlikely.) Official documents relating to what happened in the concentration camps were assembled and evaluated in connection with the various "war crimes trials" staged by the victorious Allies, especially the Nuremberg trials, which were largely an American production. There they received the number and letter designations by which they are cited in the standard works on our subject, seldom with any indication of where the originals are to be found. At best, one finds a footnote indicating that a photocopy of this or that document is to be found at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte or in some other archive. Very often, however, it is not even a photocopy of the original, but rather a photocopy of a "transcription of the original made by the Allies." Nobody seems to know where the originals of the "Nuremberg Documents" -- as they are called -- repose today. Evidently, "scholars" and "professional historians" have not taken the trouble to locate the originals of these documents. (When I tried to locate the so called Wannsee Protocol, which is constantly represented as the key document on the "extermination of the Jews," I had no success whatsoever.) It is doubtful, by the way, that an independent expert has ever examined a single "Nuremberg document" for its authenticity. The documents are, as Udo Walendy puts it, "nearly inaccessible."42
genuine contemporaneous documents that can in any way be construed as supporting the allegation that Jews were "exterminated" at Auschwitz-Birkenau are almost non-existent.
As Rassinier has noted, not a single document has been presented, either at the Nuremberg trials or in the concentration camp literature, that substantiates the allegation that "gas chambers" were installed in German concentration camps, on orders from the Reich Government, for the purpose of mass extermination of Jews.57 In this regard, the Auschwitz Trial changed nothing.
It is worth noting that Bischoff, who resided in Bremen under his own name until his death in 1950, escaped the usual post-war harrassment.88 He was never prosecuted as a "war criminal," nor, so far as I know, was he ever called to testify as a witness in any "war crimes trial." That is strange indeed when one considers that the former head of the Auschwitz Central Construction Office would have been an ideal witness on the Birkenau "death factory," since he supervised the building of the camp crematoria. Was someone afraid that he could have proved, maybe with documents still at his disposal, that all the allegations about the crematoria were baseless? The prosecution at the NMT "Concentration Camp" Trial, for instance, instead of Bischoff, made do with the testimony of one Wolfgang Grosch, who obviously had never laid eyes on the buildings about which he gave "evidence."89
As early as January 1934, Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, declared in the Jewish paper Tatscha Retsch: "Our Jewish interests require the final destruction of Germany; the Germans, each and every one of them, are a danger to us." Likewise, on May 24, 1934, the publisher of The American Hebrew, a leading Zionist, reportedly told the American publicist Robert E. Edmondson that Jewry was "going to bring a war on Germany." And on April 16, 1936, the Youngstown Jewish Times (Youngstown, Ohio), commented that after the next war there would no longer be a Germany. It predicted that "on signal from Paris," France and Belgium, as well as the peoples of Czechoslovakia, would be set in motion to attack the "German colossus," and, in a "deadly pincer-movement," sever Prussia from Bavaria, thus bringing Germany to extinction. (The only difference be tween this fantasy and the reality of post-war Germany is that the new borders were set elsewhere and the German people are not yet extinct, though they certainly seem to be heading in that direction.) Not long after this article was published, The American Hebrew, in its issue of April 30, 1937, expressed the same idea in a more general way when it stated that Germany deserved to be eliminated from the family of nations. This statement was echoed by the British newspaper The People, which, on September 3, 1939, described the German people as the "mad dog of Europe," and demanded their destruction. On the very same day, Churchill declared in the House of Commons that this war was England's war and its aim the destruction of Germany, ending his outburst with the paradoxical battle-cry: "Onward Christian Soldiers!"
No German statesman ever spoke of another people in such terms as the British hate-monger Lord Vansittart used against the Germans when attempting to justify the terror bombings: "The only good Germans are dead Germans, so let the bombs fall!"