Irving v. Lipstadt


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

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The reason for the alterations to crematorium 2: fumigation or alternatively air-raid shelter

7.95 One explanation put forward by Irving for the adaptation work to morgue 1 and crematorium 2 is that the chamber was being adapted to serve the purpose of fumigating clothes (and perhaps other objects). He relied on a document called an Aufstellung sent by Topf to the construction office at the camp in which reference is made Entwesungsofen (disinfestation ovens), which according to Irving proves that such was their true purpose. (Van Pelt countered that these ovens may well have been for disinfecting the clothing of the Sonderkommando or alternatively for a delousing chamber which is known to have been under construction in 1943 between crematoria 2 and 3. But he added that, if it was only clothing which was to be subjected to the gas treatment it was difficult to understand the need for a peephole to be fitted in the door).
7.96 Another thesis advanced by Irving is that the adaptation of crematorium 2 was undertaken in order to convert the building to an air raid shelter rather than to a gas chamber. He claimed that there was, at the time when the reconstruction work was undertaken, concern at Auschwitz about bombing raids. He claimed that this explains why the entrance to building was moved and why the staircase was altered to enable pedestrian access to Leichenkeller 1, which was to serve as the shelter.
7.97 Irving contended that it was standard practice at that time to fit gas tight doors on all air raid shelters in case of Allied poison gas attacks. Irving drew attention to the reference by an eye-witness named Hans Stark to the door of a chamber being luftschutzer which, as van Pelt accepted, signified proof against air raid. (Stark did, however, make that reference in the context of an account of 200 people being gassed). It was, according to Irving, also standard practice for the doors to have peep-holes (although he was uncertain why there should be a metal grill fitted protecting the inside of the peep-hole). Irving was scornful of the claim made by van Pelt that the doors to the chamber were redesigned to open outwards because of the difficulty of pushing the doors open if dead bodies were piled against the inside of the door. Irving claimed that it was standard practice at the time that air raid shelters should have doors which opened outwards. Van Pelt was, however, doubtful if the architectural drawing relied on by Irving to support his contention did indeed provide for doors which opened outwards.
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