Gerstein's Report is a Forgery and all Other Eyewitness Evidence is Flimsy or Tainted

 

The Holocaust deniers say:

. . . the existence of the death camps in Operation Reinhard hinges on "flimsy" eyewitness evidence that is "mere hearsay." 1
The Holocaust deniers’ claim that Gerstein's report about the mass gassings in Belzec and Treblinka is such an obvious "forgery" that the whole story cannot be believed. The testimony of Jewish survivors and SS perpetrators follows Gerstein’s account and so cannot be believed either.

What about eyewitness testimony and the existence of the gas chambers in these three death camps?

Contrary to the statements of the Holocaust deniers, the existence of the gas chambers is not based "almost entirely" on Gerstein’s report or on the "crazy" testimony of survivors. 2 Witnesses to mass murder in Belzec include both survivors and perpetrators:
Let us look at what these four people had to say about the murder operation in Belzec and compare it to what Gerstein writes:6
This testimony relates to Belzec only. There is similar testimony for Treblinka and Sobibor.

Gerstein’s report and other eyewitness testimony

The Holocaust deniers claim that both survivor and perpetrator eyewitness evidence is tainted by Gerstein’s original account. However, Rudolf Reder initially gave his testimony to a Polish investigatory group in 1945, long before Gerstein’s account was even made public at the Nuremberg trials in November 1946. How, then, did he tailor his account to an unknown report?
What about the testimony of the SS guards in the Belzec trial of Josef Oberhauser, the camp’s commandant, in the early 1960s? The Holocaust deniers claim Gerstein’s "story" quickly became the accepted truth about the Operation Reinhard camps, and the SS guards tailored their testimony to this "truth," hoping to receive lighter sentences by cooperating with their prosecutors. What the deniers do not tell their readers is that although these former SS guards were originally arrested and questioned, they were released without trial. Thus they were only witnesses at the trial of Josef Oberhauser, the commandant of Belzec, and were in no danger of losing either their freedom or their lives. Why should they need to lie?
As for Pfannenstiel, he gave multiple depositions to various authorities over the years but he was never arrested and was only a witness in the Oberhauser trial. In his testimony he maneuvered to paint himself as having been appalled by what he saw and not an enthusiastic supporter of the mass murder of Jews as Gerstein wrote, but he never denied that he witnessed a mass gassing at Belzec and corroborated all the important details of Gerstein’s report related to the actual gassing.

Conclusion

Responsible history is written by comparing eyewitness and documentary evidence to each other to determine the most reasonable interpretation between all the sources and work out errors and speculation. In this case, the evidence of perpetrators survivors corroborates Gerstein’s account and each other on all the major points of the process of mass murder.
Although the Holocaust deniers’ do their best to pick apart and discredit Kurt Gerstein’s report, in the end the core of the report-the account of mass murder in Belzec-can be corroborated by the testimony of a variety of others. Notwithstanding his guesses and exaggerations, the Gerstein report is sound.

Notes

1. Ditlieb Felderer, "Certain Impossibilities of the 'Gerstein Statement," at http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v01/v01p-69_Felderer.html" and "More Impossibilities of the 'Gerstein Statement,’" at http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v01/v01p169_Felderer.html.
2. Clip 7: "Abraham Bomba" at www.onethirdoftheholocaust.com.
3. The only other Jewish survivor who spoke about the activities in Belzec was a man named Chaim Hirszman. Hirszman escaped from the transport taking the last 300 Jews of Belzec to Sobibor (where the others were shot). He survived the war but he was shot by Polish antisemites on March 19, 1946 on the very day he began giving evidence to the Jewish Historical Commission in Lublin. See Robin O’Neil, Belzec: Prototype for the Final Solution: Hitler’s Answer to the Jewish Question at www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/belzec/bel001.html, (Introduction).
4. See www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/p/ftp.py?people/p/pfannenstiel.wilhelm/pfannen.001 and www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/p/ftp.py?people/p/pfannenstiel.wilhelm/pfannen.002 for the text of one of his depositions as quoted from Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, Volker Riess, editors, "The Good Old Days": The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders (Free Press, 1988), p. 238-244. (Statement of Wilhelm Pfannenstiel made April 25, 1960).
5. "Josef Oberhauser (war criminal)" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Oberhauser_(war_criminal). See also Robin O’Neil, Belzec: Prototype for the Final Solution: Hitler’s Answer to the Jewish Question at www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/belzec/bel001.html, (Introduction).
6. All exact quotations are taken from Gerstein's Report 3 (German, typed, May 4, 1945). However, Reports 1 and 2 are all but identical.
7. See Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps (Indiana University Press, 1987) in Appendix A for a fairly complete list of deportations to the Operation Reinhard camps. See also Robin O’Neil, Belzec: Prototype for the Final Solution: Hitler’s Answer to the Jewish Question at www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/belzec1/belzec1.html, Appendix 1 at www.jewishgen.org./yizkor/belzec1/bel901.html.
8. Rudolf Reder, "Belzec," Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, V13 (Focusing on the Holocaust and its Aftermath), edited by Antony Polonsky (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2000): pp. 268-289 (see page 275).
9. See www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/p/ftp.py?people/p/pfannenstiel.wilhelm/pfannen.001 and www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/p/ftp.py?people/p/pfannenstiel.wilhelm/pfannen.002.
10. See www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/p/ftp.py?people/p/pfannenstiel.wilhelm/pfannen.001 and www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/p/ftp.py?people/p/pfannenstiel.wilhelm/pfannen.002.
11. Reder, "Belzec," Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, pp. 268-289 (see pages 273, 274).
12. Kogon, Langbein, and Rückerl, editors, Nazi Mass Murder, p. 120.
13. Reder, "Belzec," Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, pp. 268-289 (see page 278).
14. Kogon, Langbein, and Rückerl, editors, Nazi Mass Murder, pp. 118, 119.
15. Reder, "Belzec," Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, pp. 268-289 (see page 279).
16. Kogon, Langbein, and Rückerl, editors, Nazi Mass Murder, pp. 118, 119.
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