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

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Documentary evidence relating to the design and construction of the chambers

7.58 The Defendants assert that there exist contemporaneous documentary records which, on detailed examination, evidence the construction of gas chambers at Auschwitz. The most important Auschwitz archive that survived the war was that of the Central Construction Office at Auschwitz. The main archives of the camp Kommandantur had been destroyed by the Germans before they evacuated the camp in January 1945. The Construction Office was 300 yards away and through an oversight was left intact.
7.59 The first and most significant body of such evidence is the blue print material, which consists of a series of architectural drawings which depict the adaptation of crematoria 2 and 3 and the construction of crematoria 4 and 5. None of these drawings refers overtly to any part of the buildings being designed or intended to serve as gas chambers whether for fumigation or extermination purposes. In particular the drawings for Leichenkeller (morgue) 1 in crematorium 2 make no provision for ducts or chimneys by means of which Zyklon-B pellets might be inserted through the roof. However, van Pelt sought to illustrate by means of detailed analyses of certain features of the drawings that it reasonable to infer that certain chambers were designed to function as gas chambers.
7.60 The principal feature identified by van Pelt is the redesign of the double door to the supposed gas chamber in crematorium 2. When in 1942 the drawings were executed for the adaptation of this crematorium, this door in common with others in the same building was designed to open inwards. Careful scrutiny of the drawings reveals, however, that the drawing of the inward- opening door has been scratched out. A fresh drawing dated 19 December 1942 was made by Jakob, the chief of the drawing office, who rarely undertook drawings himself. It provides for the door to the supposed gas chamber to open outwards. There is no apparent reason for this. To van Pelt the obvious explanation is that the chamber was to be used as a gas chamber. If the door opened inwards, it would be impossible to open it after the administration of the gas because of the crush of corpses against the inside or the door of those who struggled to get out when they realised what was happening to them.
7.61 The next feature identified by van Pelt relates to the entrance to crematorium 2 and the means of which access was gained to the morgue below. In its original design, the entrance was situated to one side of the building. Inside the entrance there was a slide down which corpses would be tipped to reach the level of the morgue. But the drawing shows that this design was changed in late 1942 so as to move the entrance to the crematorium to the street side of the building. At the same time a new stairway to the morgue was designed to replace the pre-existing slide. Van Pelt pointed out that the original design apparently contemplated that only corpses would need to be transported down to the morgue. The new design on the other hand is consistent with a wish to enable people transported to Auschwitz to proceed from the railway station through the new entrance, then to walk downstairs into what is alleged to have been the undressing room and thence into the supposed gas chamber. The stairway has been redesigned in such a way that it would be extremely awkward to carry corpses down to the morgue on stretchers. Van Pelt concludes that the object of the redesign of the stairway was to enable living people to walk downstairs rather than for corpses to be carried down.
7.62 The drawings further provide for the ventilation of the supposed gas chamber in crematorium 2. Van Pelt infers that the purpose of the system for extracting air was to extract poisonous air and so speed up the removal of the corpses to the incinerators.
7.63 Crematoria 4 and 5 were new buildings. The initial drawings are dated August 1942, not long after the visit paid to the camp by Himmler, which the Defendants say marks the inception of the accelerated extermination programme. According to van Pelt the design of these crematoria incorporated undressing rooms (although not so designated on the drawings) and morgues which were to serve as gas chambers. The drawings of the morgues make provision for several windows measuring 30 x 40cms. The size of these windows corresponds with the size of windows referred to elsewhere in construction documents as being required to be gas proof. The windows were to be above eye level. Van Pelt draws the inference that the purpose of these windows was to enable Zyklon-B pellets to be inserted through them into the building (a process which was observed by Sonderkommando Dragon, as mentioned above).
7.64 Van Pelt agreed that the drawings for crematoria 4 and 5 show a drainage system which appears to link up with the camp sewage system. He disagreed with Irving's suggestion that this would have been highly dangerous because large quantities of liquid cyanide would have found their way into the sewage system. Van Pelt claims that the gas would evaporate rather than turn into liquid.
7.65 In addition to the architectural drawings, there are other documents which, according to the Defendants, lend support to their contention that there were gas chambers at the camp which were used for genocidal purposes. I shall not itemise all the documents identified by the Defendants as belonging in this category. They include a patent application for multi-muffle ovens made by Topf. Although the patent application does not in fact relate to the ovens supplied to Auschwitz in 1942/3, it is said that the principle is the same. The two features of the application on which the Defendants focus are, firstly, the method of employing fat corpses to speed promote the rate at which corpses can be burned and, secondly, the claim that no fuel is required after the initial two day pre-heating period, no more fuel will be required because of the amount of heat generated by the burning corpses. Van Pelt noted that both these features are reflected in the account given by Tauber of the way in which the corpses were incinerated.
7.66 Another allegedly incriminating document is the record of a meeting held on 19 August 1942 between members of the Auschwitz construction office and a representative of the engineers Topf to discuss the construction of four crematoria. The note of the meeting refers to the construction of   triple oven incinerators near the "Badenanstalten fur Sonderaktionen" ("bath-houses for special actions": the words are in quotations in the original).
7.67 In a different category is a report dated 16 December 1942 made by a corporal named Kinna, which made reference to an order that, in order to releive the camp, limited people, idiots, cripples and sick people must be removed from the same by liquidation. Kinna stated that the implementation of this order was difficult because the Poles, unlike the Jews, must die a natural death.
7.68 The Defendants relies on a letter dated 29 January 1943 from Bischoff, Chief of Central Construction Managemnent at the camp, to SS Brigadefuhrer Kammler in which there is reference to a Vergasungskammer (gas chamber or cellar). There are also documents from February 1943 referring to the provision of gastight doors and windows. In a letter dated 31 March 1943 Bischoff presses for the delivery of a gastight door with a spyhole of 8mm glass, with a rubber seal and metal fitting. There is a timesheet of a construction worker which makes reference to fitting gastight windows to crematorium 4. Van Pelt pointed to a letter dated 6 March 1943 from Auschwitz to the Topf company which contemplated the use of hot air from the ventilators for the incinerators to pre-heat the Leichenkeller 1. Why, he asked, heat a morgue, which should be kept cool. Answering his own question, he claimed that Zyklon-B evaporates more quickly in high temperatures, so the killing process would be speeded up. (Irving answered that there is nothing sinister about heating the morgue: it was a requirement of good building practice in relation to civilian morgues).
7.69 Finally under this head the Defendants rely on a letter dated 28 June 1943 from Bischoff to Kammler (the authenticity of which Irving challenges) setting figures for the incineration capacity of the five crematoria, according to which their total capacity is 4756 people in every 24 hours. The Defendants' case is that this capacity was at that time deemed to be necessary to burn the bodies of the Jews who were to be brought to Auschwitz to be gassed. Basing themselves on the evidence of sonderkommandos such as Tauber, the Defendants say further that the rate of incineration was broadly in line with the estimate in the letter of 28 June 1943. The Defendants suggest that the apparent urgency of the installation of the ovens, together with their huge capacity which, according to van Pelt, was far in excess of what could possibly have been required to cope with   future typhus epidemics, reflects the policy adopted following Himmler's visit to the camp in July 1942.
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