Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles Gray

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Holes in the roof of morgue 1 at crematorium 2?

13.81 The strength of the criticisms of the Leuchter report may explain why, as the trial progressed, the emphasis of Irving's case on Auschwitz appeared to shift from the absence of cyanide in the brick and plaster to the roof of morgue 1 at crematorium 2. As I have explained in paragraphs 7.91 to 7.93 above, Irving argues that there is no evidence of the presence of the chimneys or ducts by means of which, on the Defendants' case, Zyklon-B pellets were poured down from the roof of morgue 1 into the gas chamber below (where the Defendants claim most of the deaths occurred). In particular Irving relied on a photograph of part of the collapsed roof which displayed no evidence of the apertures through which the chimneys would have protruded.
13.82 As the Defendants point out, this argument has some curious features. Firstly, Irving embraced it relatively recently in late 1998 (so that it cannot have been the basis for his denials before that date of the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz). Secondly, Irving appeared at one stage to accept that there was a gas chamber in morgue 1 at crematorium 2, albeit one that was used for fumigation and not for killing. In that case it would seem that ducts or some other form of aperture would have been required to introduce the pellets into the chamber, since the morgue had no windows and a single gas-tight door. Thirdly, the argument is confined to morgue 1 at crematorium 2. Although Irving spent hardly any time in his cross-examination of van Pelt on the evidence that gassing took place elsewhere at Auschwitz, it is the Defendants' case that gassing took place in other gas chambers, notably at crematorium 3.
13.83 Despite those curious features, Irving's argument deserves to be taken seriously. I have summarised the Defendants' response to it at paragraphs 7.109 to 7.111 above. In the end, the task for an historian is to weigh the evidence of the absence of signs of holes in the roof of the morgue against the opposing evidence that there were chimneys running through the roof. In my view van Pelt is right in his opinion that it is after so many years difficult to verify whether or not holes at one time existed in a roof which collapsed as long ago as 1944. It is unclear how much of the roof can be seen in the photograph on which Irving relies. The roof is in a bad state, so that it is hard to tell if there were holes in it. There is a possibility that the holes were backfilled. There is the evidence of eye-witnesses who observed or at least described pellets being poured down through the roof of the morgue.   Olere's drawing depicts clearly the chimneys running up towards the roof the gas chamber. Their appearance in his drawing corresponds with the description of them by Tauber and others. Photographs taken in 1942 (or 1943) and 1944, whilst difficult to interpret, are consistent with the presence of protruding chimneys. In these circumstances, I consider that an objective historian, taking account of all the evidence, would conclude that the apparent absence of evidence of holes in the roof of morgue at crematorium 2 falls far short of being a good reason for rejecting the cumulative effect of the evidence on which the Defendants rely.
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