Auschwitz-Birkenau was not a killing center
Holocaust Deniers Say:
Auschwitz-Birkenau was not a killing center. Collections of camp death certificates (Auschwitz Death Books) list a total of only 69,000 deaths -- all from natural causes.
Holocaust deniers argue:
- Auschwitz-Birkenau "was a camp for Jews who were not able to work, including the sick and elderly . . ." 1
- "Not murdered, not gassed----far more than half of the inmates of the concentration camp of Auschwitz died of natural causes that means, of diseases, of epidemics, of typhus ever, of typhoid, of hunger, of cold or of being overworked or of various other natural causes . . . perhaps 30,000 people at most were murdered at Auschwitz." 2
- The Death Books certificates list about 69,000 deaths, many of which were not even Jews, and who died of typhus, the "weakness of old age," "influenza," "heart failure," "pneumonia," and other natural physical ailments. These books "discredit a central pillar of the Holocaust extermination story." 3
The Auschwitz Death Books:
The Death Books (Totenbücher) compiled the death certificates of those prisoners who were registered, tattooed and died in Auschwitz between July 29, 1941 and December 31, 1943. Although several volumes did not survive the war, 46 of them had been kept by the Gestapo office in Auschwitz and were released from Russian archives in 1989. Each volume is a collection of hundreds of death certificates. As they record only those prisoners who were chosen for slave labor rather than immediate death, they do not list the nearly one million Jewish men, women and children who were sent directly to the gas chambers from the transports. These people were sometimes not even counted.
The death certificates record the date of issue, first and last names, date, time and place of death, date and place of birth and cause of death. The cause of death was apparently often fictitious. In January 1945, when the Russians liberated Auschwitz they took the Auschwitz Death Books back with them to Moscow where their existence was unknown until they were released in 1989 for use by researchers. In 1991 they were repatriated to the Auschwitz Museum. Deniers say that since the death books only list 69,000 people, they prove that Auschwitz was never a killing center, much less the place where over a million Jews lost their lives.
How do we know that vast numbers of Jews were murdered in gas chambers without their deaths ever listed in German records?
Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz from mid-1941, was in December 1943 promoted to the administrative office that supervised all of the camps. In early May 1944 Höss returned to Auschwitz to once again supervise the camp. After the war, Höss was arrested, tried, convicted and put to death for his role in the Final Solution. Before he was executed he wrote his memoirs in which he provided evidence that most of the people killed at Auschwitz were not "registered" in death books or on death certificates:
Höss wrote: "Originally, all the Jews transported to [Auschwitz]. . . were to be destroyed without exception, according to Himmler's orders." But in 1942 because of the steadily growing arms industry which was being developed in the camps that used the slave labor of the prisoners, some able-bodied Jews were ordered to be saved as workers. According to Höss: "The railways cars were unloaded one after another. After depositing their baggage, the Jews had to individually pass in front of an SS doctor, who decided on their physical fitness as they marched past him. Those who were considered able-bodied were immediately escorted into the camp in small groups. Jews selected for gassing were taken as quietly as possible to the crematories." Höss explained the fate of those taken to the crematoria: "In the undressing rooms the Jews were told to take off their clothing and leave it neatly so they could find it again later. After undressing, the Jews went into the gas chamber . . ." 4
Pery Broad, an SS-Unterschaführer in the Gestapo office in Auschwitz said that those from the transports who were inducted into the camp underwent a different process. He provided this information in a series of reports on Auschwitz he wrote for the Allies when he was their prisoner after the war.5
Broad described the registration process for a group of women selected from a transport: "Once fashionable and lively women and girls, they now had their heads shorn and a prisoner's number tattooed on their left forearms; and they were clothed in sack-like, blue and white striped smocks." Once a number had replaced their identity, these prisoners would be the ones accounted for in the Death Books. Like the inventory for a business, they were now property of the Reich and needed to be tracked and that their number be able to be assessed at any given time.
Since Broad worked in the Gestapo office in Auschwitz he had valuable information on the record-keeping process, including the preparation of the Death Books. He wrote: "When information was requested by the Reich Main Security Office concerning a past transport, as a rule nothing could be ascertained. Former transport lists were destroyed. Nobody could learn anything in Auschwitz abut the fate of a given person. The person asked for 'is not and never has been detained in camp,' or 'he is not in the files'--these were the usual formulas given in reply. At present, after the evacuation of Auschwitz and the burning of all papers and records, the fate of millions of people is completely obscure. No transport or arrival lists are in existence any more." 6
Stanislaw Jankowski was a member of the sonderkommando at crematorium/gas chamber 5 in Auschwitz-Birkenau in July 1943. Jankowski gave a deposition to the Russian authorities after the war in which he wrote: "I have to stress here that only persons destined to do various kinds of work were included in the registers of prisoners' strength and were given camp numbers. No camp numbers were given and no registering was effected both in the cases of all those who went straight on to the gas from the transports . . . "
Jankowski further noted: "Circa 30% of the then arriving transports (of Hungarian Jews) . . . were selected to be put in the camp . . . The rest were gassed and cremated in the crematoria ovens." 7
Historical Records say:
Francizek Piper, director of the Museum and Archives at the Auschwitz Museum conducted extensive research on the total number of people that were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau from all over Europe from 1942 to 1944. According to Piper's research, the total number of people who arrived at Auschwitz was at least 1,305,000. Of this total figure about 1,095,000 were Jews and 900,000 of them were sent directly to the gas chambers. The remaining number of deportees were Poles, Gypsies, Soviet POWS and prisoners of other nationalities (non-Jewish).
That left, over three years, about 405,000 people who were registered in the camp. About 202,000 died there of starvation, execution, hard labor, etc. Another 188,000 were transferred to other camps over the course of several years. These included Anne Frank, who died in Bergen-Belsen, and Elie Wiesel, who was liberated in Buchenwald. In January 1945, those who could still walk were driven on death marches into Germany, during which many died on the road. The 8,000 people found in the camp when it was liberated were those who were sick or too weak to walk.
Using research that tallied the total numbers of Jews who had been deported from various countries to Auschwitz, Piper discovered that the following countries sent thousands of victims: Hungary (438,000), Poland (300,000), France (69,000), Holland (60,000), Greece (55,000), Bohemia and Moravia- Theresienstadt (46,000), Slovakia (27,000), Belgium (25,000), Germany and Austria (23,000), Yugoslavia (10,000), Italy (7,500), Norway (690). From Poland alone, Piper details 154 separate transports with an estimated number of deportees for each (the original lists were destroyed) between 1942 and 1944.(54-57)8
Piper relied on exhaustive research done at the Auschwitz Museum that accounted for every day's events throughout the operation of the camp. Using this method, he was able to trace the fate of these transports once they arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. For instance, the transport listed by Piper on August 10, 1943 consisted of about 3,000 Polish Jews from Sosnowitz. The daily account shows that: "Following the selection, 100 men, given Nos. 136303-136412 and 195 women, given Nos. 54332-54526, are admitted to the camp. The other almost 2,700 people are killed in the gas chambers." 9
1. Mark Weber, the director of the Institute of Historical Review, in an article in the Institute's Journal of Historical Review (Volume 12, p. 265)]
2. [David Irving: Moers, Germany, March 9, 1990]
3. [Mark Weber, the director of the Institute of Historical Review, in an article in the Institute's Journal of Historical Review (Volume 12, p. 265)]
4. Höss, Rudolph, Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz. Edited by Steven Paskuly (Prometheus Books, 1992): pp. 34-35, 43.
5. He was eventually tried and in 1965 was given four years in prison.
6. KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS (Rudolf Höss, Pery Broad, Johann Paul Kremer) (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 1995): pp. 132,133 (females inducted into the camp); p. 142 (transport lists).
7. Robert Jan van Pelt Report page 174 (IV Attestations, 1945-46)
8. Franciszek Piper,Auschwitz: How Many Perished Jews, Poles, Gypsies . . . Krakow, 1994): pp. 53-57.
9. See also large foldout chart in the back of the book listing transports by year from all countries.