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    Gerstein Report: Gerstein’s Death

    How do we know there is no mystery surrounding Kurt Gerstein’s death?

    Holocaust deniers claim:

    The circumstances of Kurt Gerstein’s death are mysterious. No one knows when or where Gerstein died, how he died or what became of his body. The Holocaust deniers claim that Gerstein may have been tortured by his French and American interrogators to get his “confession” about German atrocities against the Jews during which process he died. Gerstein’s interrogators then secretly disposed of his body to hide the marks of torture. The secret disposal of his body also made it possible for anyone to refute their story of his “suicide.”[1]

    The facts are:

    There is no mystery about the circumstances of the discovery of Gerstein’s body or of its disposition. The evidence points overwhelmingly to the fact that Gerstein killed himself because he was despondent over being charged with war crimes instead of being treated like a star witness. The Holocaust deniers’ claims are unfounded speculation.

    The facts about Gerstein’s death.

    On July 5, 1945 Gerstein was sent to the Cherche-Midi military prison in Paris, France for interrogation. He was assigned to a private cell.

    On July 10, 1945 he was interrogated for the third time. Later he was indicted on charges of “war crimes, murder and complicity.”

    On July 25, 1945 around 2:15 p.m. he was found hanging in his cell.

    The guards tried to revive him but he was declared dead by Dr. Trouillet, the doctor of Cherche-Midi, at 5:25 p.m.

    On July 26, 1945 his body was handed over to the Police Superintendent of the ward of Notre-Dame-des-Champs.

    On July 26, 1945 the Police Superintendent confirmed in writing the receipt of Gerstein’s body and reported that it had been transported to the Medico-Legal Institute for autopsy.

    On August 3, 1945 Gerstein’s body was released for burial at the cemetery of Thiais outside Paris.[2]

    The final report on Gerstein’s death in the French prison.

    All this information was forwarded by letter from the commandant of the prison to various French officials on October 26, 1945. The letter noted that Gerstein had “voluntarily taken his own life by hanging” and that the cause of death was a “visible furrow on the neck of the subject and the position in which the body was found.” The autopsy report prepared by an independent French police coroner confirming the commandant’s original observations was attached to the letter.[3]

    A separate report written by the commander added more details to his account in his October 26, 1945 summary letter: “At 2:15 P.M. on July 25 the sergeant major and guard Dubois-Dandien advised me that the chief sergeant Entz, working on the second floor, had just found, hanged in his cell, the prisoner Kurt Gerstein . . . Sergeant Entz, assisted by André Lucci, cut the rope and began artificial respiration . . . The prisoner hanged himself with the help of a small rope made up from a piece of blanket which he had afterwards hung on the window of his cell; his head was turned towards the wall and his feet touched the floor . . . At the request of Colonel Sauzey, Gerstein had been placed on July 20, 1945 in an individual cell in order not to be able to repeat the facts of his interrogation to his fellow-citizens.”[4]

    These reports are the files of Military Justice, Central Depository of Archives in Paris, France.

    Thiais Cemetery, Paris, France. By Martin Ottmann (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.
    By Martin Ottmann (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

    Conclusion

    There is no mystery about the circumstances of the discovery of Gerstein’s body or of its disposition. Gerstein was alone in his cell. The last time he was interrogated was 15 days before his death, so it is unlikely that he died in the middle of an interrogation at the hands of brutal Allied torturers intent on forcing a false confession out of him. According to the independent police coroner, there was no evidence of murder or torture. The evidence points overwhelmingly to the fact that Gerstein killed himself because he was despondent over being charged with war crimes instead of being treated like a star witness. Rassinier’s assertion that Gerstein’s death was mysterious is unfounded speculation.

    NOTES

    [1] Paul Rassinier, Debunking the Genocide Myth (“Chapter Thirteen: Witness, Testimonies, and Documents, IV. The Witness Kurt Gerstein”) at http://www.ihr.org/books/rassinier/debunking2-13.html. This is the internet version of his original title, The Drama of the European Jews (Steppingstones Publications, 1975).

    [2] Gerstein’s body was buried mistakenly under the name ‘Gastein.’ It was never corrected and that part of the cemetery was razed in 1956.

    [3] Georges Wellers, “The Existence of Gas Chambers, The Number of Victims and the Korherr Report” in The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythomania, edited by Serge Klarsfeld (Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1978), pp. 124-126.

    [4] Georges Wellers, “The Existence of Gas Chambers, The Number of Victims and the Korherr Report” in The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythomania, edited by Serge Klarsfeld (Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1978), p. 125.