The "Gasprüfer" of AuschwitzVersion of 28.XI.2000
Edited and Copyright © MCMXCVII, MM, Russ Granata. All rights reserved.
1) Jean-Claude Pressac's InterpretationNote: Endnote reference numbers are enclosed in square brackets [ ]
THE EXAMINATION of a document can lead to correct historical conclusions only after it has been placed not merely within its general historical context, but after it has also been placed within its bureaucratic context as well as being placed within the context of what is technically possible. Insufficient knowledge of context, or erroneous contextualization inevitably leads to illusions regarding the actual force of the document, and a refusal to acknowledge the problems which this distortion entails.
An example of such methodological deficiency is that of Jean-Claude Pressac in his misinterpretation of two documents relating to "Gasprüfer" of Auschwitz. In his book, Die Krematorien von Auschwitz, Pressac writes:
As soon as Messing's construction work had progressed far enough, the contractor sent a telegram to Topf on 26 February asking for immediate shipment of ten Gasprüfers for construction site 30 (Crematory II). The SS wanted to determine whether the new ventilation system of Morgue I, which was originally installed for mortuary purposes (meaning a high air intake and a low air exhaust) would be sufficient, because for usage as a gas chamber, this installation had to be in reverse order (vice-versa) therefore, a low air intake and a high air exhaust capability. Before continuing, it should be pointed out both in fairness to Pressac and to clarify his line of reasoning, that the ambiguous words I have emphasized are the result of serious misunderstanding by the two translators of the French text; Pressac is actually referring to "high aeration and low de-aeration" and vice-versa  in the sense of aeration or de-aeration [from/of] the top or bottom of the premises. I shall return to this point. Pressac goes on to say: Sander and Prüfer sent the following response on 02 March:
The Bauleitung received the letter on 05 March. This document clearly proves the presence of a gas chamber in Crematory II. 
»Die Bauleitung erhielt den Brief am 5. März Dieses Dokument beweist eindeutig das Vorhandsein einer Gaskammer in Krematorium II.« It is important to emphasize that in his original text, Pressac refers explicitly to a "homicidal gas chamber"  and that in his first work, Pressac, who had already interpreted the term "Gasprüfer as "gas detectors" for hydrocyanic acid, raises a very important question in this regard:
Since Topf's production consisted essentially of brewery equipment (cauldrons vats, etc), metal conduits and containers (ventilation ducting, grain silos, etc), together with the associated components (fans, valves and cocks) and, of course, incineration furnaces, they did not manufacture gas detectors, objects associated with systems totally foreign to their spheres of activity, so they must necessarily have had to order them from another civilian firm. Why did the SS use Topf as an intermediary instead of directly approaching a specialist supplier? The answer must be that in this was [sic] they avoided awkward questions or the putting of two and two together that might have occurred if some civilian firm not knowing the "special activity" of the Auschwitz camp had received such an order. On the other hand there were no such worries in dealing with Prüfer, who was after all technical advisor for the Krematorien. According to Pressac, the outcome was the following:
On 10 March, Schultze and Messing conducted about 16-hour long testings of the Crematory II ventilation. Apparently the installation was still not working properly since Messing worked there again on the 11th for another eleven hours, and once again on the 13th for fifteen hours. Tests were made after the addition of Zyklon B. The measuring of hydrocyanic acid residuals was apparently determined through a chemical process and not by Gasprüfers because these had been ordered too late to have been delivered on time. In the following discussion - which recapitulates and adds to what was presented in the study entitled, Auschwitz: fine di una leggenda  - I will demonstrate on the one hand that Pressac's interpretation is both historically groundless and technically absurd, while on the other hand I will present an alternative explanation which is compatible with the historical and technical context which forms the background of the documents.
2) The purpose of the "Gasprüfer"PRESSAC'S EXPLANATION is incorrect technically and it is groundless historically. The idea that a system of de-aeration from the bottom being unsuitable for a hydrogen cyanide gas chamber has no technical foundation and in fact in the diagrams of the delousing chambers with the DEGESCH-Kreislaufanordnung [circulation arrangement or design], the Ansaugöffnung [induction inlet] was randomly situated in the upper or the lower part of the gas chamber : What only counts for good ventilation is the flow of the ventilators (both exhaust and intake). But even if Entlüftung [de-aeration] from the top were actually indispensable for a hydrogen cyanide gas chamber to operate correctly, Pressac's explanation would still be groundless since the ventilation system of Leichenkeller 1 was installed the other way around that is, with Belüftung [aeration] from the bottom and Entlüftung [de-aeration] from the top: the decision to switch the position of the ventilators was made by Topf in March 1942 , or several months before the alleged decision of the Zentralbauleitung to convert Leichenkeller 1 into a homicidal gas chamber. Accordingly, since the ventilators had been reversed and the Zentralbauleitung was well aware of that, Pressac's explanation remains groundless. So why then would the Zentralbauleitung have ordered "Gasprüfer"? What purpose were they supposed to have served?
Pressac's explanation that "das messen der Blausäure-Rückstände wurde anscheinend durch ein chemisches Verfahren und nicht mit den Gasprüfern ermittelt" [the measuring of hydrogen cyanide residuals was apparently determined by a chemical procedure and not by Gasprüfer] is also historically and technically unfounded. In fact, on the one hand there is no document which has ever mentioned a "Messen für Blausäure-Rückstände", and on the other hand the test for hydrocyanic gas residual (Gasrestprobe) could be performed exclusively "durch ein chemisches Verfahren" [through a chemical process] i.e., with the procedure which was developed by Pertusi and Gastaldi and further improved by Sieverts and Hermsdorf.  If then, according to Pressac, the test for residual gas was performed "using a chemical process" instead of "with Gasprüfer", these did not operate according to a chemical procedure, so then could not have been used for residual gas testing.
With the aforementioned "bavure" [trace or suspicion], Pressac involuntarily demolishes his entire line of reasoning: in fact, the technical term used for the device which was supposed to test for residual hydrocyanic gas was neither "Gasprüfer" nor "Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste" but was instead, "Gasrestnachweisgerät für Zyklon". 
This Gerät was not an instrument but rather a small kit containing various chemical products.  An official publication of the Waffen-SS provides detailed explanations in this regard:
3) The historical contextTHE ZENTRALBAULEITUNG TELEGRAM was issued during a strong recrudescence of the typhus epidemic (Fleckfieber) which broke out in Auschwitz in early July 1942.
On 08 February 1943 the Standortälteste of the camp, SS-Obersturmbannführer and Kommandant Rudolf Höss, issued Standortbefehl No. 2/43 which announced the following to all his subordinates:
By order of SS Brigade Leader and SS General Major Glücks, a total quarantine is issued for KL Auschwitz. The order of the group leader states as follows:On February 12, SS-Sturmbannführer Karl Bischoff, Leiter of the Zentralbauleitung, sent a letter to Amtsgruppenchef C of the SS-WVHA, SS-Brigadeführer and Major General of the Waffen SS Hans Kammler, to inform him of the measures ordered by Glücks. Bischoff writes:
Because of the rise of typhus among the guards, on 09 February, a total quarantine was issued for Auschwitz.On February 13 Bischoff, in response to the letter of the previous day, advised the head of Hauptabteilung C/VI of the SS-WVHA, SS-Standartenführer Eirenschmalz, that
more cases are increasingly occurring, and also civilian workers are becoming inflicted with typhus. All those civilian workers who are living together with those who are ill, will be in quarantine for three weeks by order of the physician in charge.In Standortbefehl no. 3/43 dated February 14, Höss precisely defined the limits of the barred zone [Sperrgebiet] and conveyed the stipulations of the SS-Standortarzt:
Delousing will be conducted with permission of the doctor in charge ... The instructions regarding disinfesting in transportation, have to be followed exactly.Referring to the letter dated the 12th, Bischoff informed Kammler on 18 February that:
the disinfesting of prisoners was concluded and work was resumed on 16 February.On 25 February, the SS-Standortarzt of Auschwitz, in a letter to the Head of Amt D III of the SS-WVHA, summarized the situation existing in the camp:
As already reported, after that typhus epidemic was practically under control, a new rise in typhus cases occurred in November and December among the inmate population as well as among the troops because of the arrival of new prisoners from the East. In spite of immediate measures against the disease, a complete stop has not been achieved.The SS-Standortarzt intended to adopt drastic measures to eliminate the epidemic once and for all; the most important of which was to carry out general disinfestation:
With the exception of the important requirements such as food and fodder production, farm workers in animal care and necessary office personnel, all working troops in the largest areas of K.L. Auschwitz, namely Stammlager; MKL and FKL-Birkenau, and KGL; Bauabschnitt 2; should all be closed for three weeks. During this time, a major delousing and disinfection will be conducted twice so that after the three-week quarantine, one cannot refer anymore to a lice infestation of the camp and the danger of yellow fever should be erased.On the following day, 26 February 1943, the Zentralbauleitung sent the following telegram to the Topf company:
Send immediately 10 Gasprüfer as agreed. Submit price quote later.If these "Gasprüfer" had in fact been "Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste", then the Zentralbauleitung's request would have been more consistent with the actual historical context of a typhus epidemic being fought throughout the camp by using Blausäure (Zyklon-B) than with the purely hypothetical context of a presumed installation of an alleged homicidal gas chamber in Leichenkeller I of Crematorium II. I call it a purely hypothetical context since the Topf letter dated 02 March 1943 in and of itself proves nothing; as I have demonstrated elsewhere , Pressac offers here a classical example of petitio principii [begging the question]: the "Gasprüfer" have a criminal function because in Crematory II there is a homicidal gas chamber - and vice versa there is a homicidal gas chamber in Crematory II because the "Gasprüfer" have a criminal function! The historical context would therefore strengthen Robert Faurisson's interpretation wherein these presumed, I might add - Anzeigegeräte were used for normal disinfestations of the crematorium. In support of this interpretation it could be added that according to the general provisions of the SS-Standortartz, 200 detainees who were working in late February 1943 in Crematory II  would have been able to resume their activity only after a disinfestation of their bodies and of their work-place, i.e., Crematorium II, and that the disinfestation of the morgue chamber of a crematory was standard procedure when the deposited cadavers of deceased prisoners arrived who had died of typhus, is deduced from the following disposition by the president of the Kattowitz police (der Poleziepresident in Kattowitz) concerning the inmates of the auxiliary prison of the police at Myslowitz, where in January 1943 typhus fever was widespread:
“An Fleckfieber Verstorbene sind mit einer desinfizierenden und läusetötenden Flüssigkeit zu behandeln und baldmöglichst einzusargen. Der Sarg ist sofort zu schliessen und in eine besondere Halle zu überführen. Zur Einäscherung werden die Verstorbenen mit dem Leichenwagen nach Auschwitz überführt.” In summary, even if Pressac's preliminary assertions were true, his conclusions would be historically groundless and the historical context would lend credence to Faurisson. But are Pressac's preliminary assertions true? To answer this question we need to examine the bureaucratic context of the documents.
4) The bureaucratic contextIN JANUARY 1943, the Zentralbauleitung had reached the height of its organizational development and was divided into 14 Abteilungen and five Bauleitungen. The Abteilungen were as follows:
The five Bauleitungen were as follows:
The Zentralbauleitung was performing exclusively construction duties, and therefore was under Amtsgruppe C (Bauwesen) of the SS-WVHA directed by SS-Brigadeführer and Major General of the Waffen-SS Hans Kammler. Financial matters - including payment of bills from private companies - were handled by Amt V/2a (Haushalt and Rechnungslegung).
Medical/sanitation duties - including the purchasing and use of hydrocyanic acid (Zyklon B) - were the exclusive territory of the SS-Standortarzt, which was under Amtsgruppe D III - of the WVHA, directed by SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. Lolling. In February 1943 the SS-Standortarzt of Auschwitz was SS-Hauptsturmführer Eduard Wirths, his deputy was SS-Hauptsturmführer Krebsbach. Under the Standortarzt was the Truppenarzt, who handled medical care for the troops; the Lagerärtzte, who handled the detainees; and the Sanitätsdienstgrade (SDG), specially appointed auxiliary personnel comprised of SS-Unterführer or SS-Männer. Each Lager and each Lagerabschnitt had a Lagerarzt. The Lagerarzt of KGL-Birkenau was SS-Obersturmführer Vetter.
One of the most important duties of the SS-Standortarzt was preventing and combatting the recurrent typhus epidemics with all the medical/sanitation measures that this involved, including disinfestations. It had direct responsibility not only for the disinfection and disinfestation apparatuses of the camp but also for disinfestation of individual buildings or entire Bauabschnitte of the camp. This latter activity was carried out by a division of the Sanitätsdienstgrade, the Desinfektionskommando, directed by SS-Oberscharführer Joseph Klehr. The Zyklon-B used by Desinfektoren and any other material needed for disinfestations was procured in the following manner: the SS-Standortarzt sent a written request to the Leiter of the Verwaltung, stating the reason. The latter forwarded the request to Amt D IV of the SS-WVHA. Once approval was received from the supervisor of this office, SS-Sturmbannführer Burger, who was then the Leiter of the Verwaltung, sent the request to the Tesch und Stabenow company together with the necessary Wehrmacht-Frachbriefe for shipping the load; it could also betaken from the Verwaltung directly to Dessau, and then Dessauer Werke für Zucker und chemische-Industrie would give notice by telegram that the Zyklon B was "abholbereit." 
Bills from Tesch und Stabenow were paid by Amt D IV/1 of the SS-WVHA. Thus, the Desinfektoren of Auschwitz received not only Zyklon B but also the entire disinfestation arsenal which was also supplied by the Tesch and Stabenow company, i.e. instruments for opening the Zyklon B cans (Schlageisen); rubber flaps (Gummiklappen); gas masks (Gasmasken); special "J" filters (Atemeinsätze "J"); and apparatuses which tested for residual gas (Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon). The Standortarzt, or by delegation the Lagerarzt, was responsible for custody, use, and maintenance of all this material.
It is important to point out that this bureaucratic chain of command would still have taken place even if Zyklon B had been used for criminal purposes. In practice, in Auschwitz it was not possible to use Zyklon B without the authorization and knowledge of the SS-Standortarzt.
5) Problems Pressac left unresolved.FROM WHAT HAS BEEN SAID above, it is clear that the two documents on "Gasprüfer", according to Pressac's interpretation, present serious interpretative problems which that French historian has chosen to ignore.
Let us begin with the most important one which he raised in 1989 and left unresolved: why the apparatuses for detecting residual gas:
Let us examine in detail each of these objections.
a) The Zentralbauleitung had no responsibility for the ordering of apparatuses for detection of residual gas, so it would not have been responsible for ordering Zyklon B. If it had actually ordered this, it would not have been able to issue the order for payment, since these apparatuses were not within the administrative domain of Amt V/2a of the SS-WVHA. In other words, the expenditure item would have been missing - and anyone who knows the Zentralbauleitung documentation knows what a major bureaucratic problem this would have been - unless Bischoff had wanted to pay for the "Gasprüfer" out of his own pocket!
Pressac also dodges another fundamental problem: a possible check of the ventilation system of Leichenkeller 1 of Crematory II to ascertain its suitability for the use of hydrocyanic acid with homicidal intent, which would necessarily have required the following:
But then why would Zentralbauleitung have ordered "Gasprüfer" just by themselves? Evidently because it had no need for the rest of the material, but just as evidently, it had no need because it could obtain some for itself by sending a request to the SS-Standortarzt. But then it could also in this manner have obtained the Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon; so what need would there be to request it from the Topf company?
In this context, the Pressac assertion "es wurden Versuche nach vorherigem Einwurf von Zyklon B gemacht" raises even more problems: if this were true, from whom would Zentralbauleitung have requested Zyklon B - from the Topf company or from Standortarzt? This problem is purely hypothetical however since the assertion in question not only has no documentary foundation, but is in obvious contradiction to the reports of Messing's work and even with Pressac's own comments in this regard. Messing performed the following work:
10 and 11 March 1943: ..."Be und Entlüftungsanlagen für L. Keller I versuchsweise einprobiert": ... 16 and 11 hours of work respectively. [installed for testing, aeration and de-aeration ventilation system to Morgue Cellar 1.]Pressac comments:
Apparently the installation is not working properly, since on the 11th, Messing worked on it for eleven hours and then on the 13th, he worked there again for fifteen hours.Therefore on March 10, 11, and 13, Messing was simply conducting experiments in mechanical ventilation. So when was this "research" with Zyklon B supposed to have been carried out, seeing that the first homicidal gassing was supposed to have been carried out "on the night of the 13th to the 14th of March 1943"?  And why did Messing never refer to it? All this gets even more mysterious because according to Pressac, in this Arbeitzeit-Bescheinigung [work-time certificate] he wanted to partially reveal the "truth" using the term "Auskleidekeller" [disrobing cellar] instead of "Leichenkeller"  [corpse or morgue cellar].
Moving on to point b):
Suppose hypothetically that the SS-Standortarzt were temporarily out of Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon. Why would the Zentralbauleitung have had to request them from Topf - a company which neither produced them nor sold them, instead of ordering them from Tesch und Stabenow, the company which definitely did sell them? Pressac's explanation of this problem is absurd: according to a letter dated 02 March 1943, Topf would not have acted as a go-between to cover up the alleged secrets of Auschwitz, but would simply have put the Zentralbauleitung in contact with the companies who furnished these Geräte:
When we receive notice regarding this matter, we will immediately get in touch with you so that you may contact a company that is producing these instruments.In other words, Topf would have had to request Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon from Tesch und Stabenow, and if Tesch didn't have any available, Topf would have put Zentralbauleitung in contact with them! This absurd vicious circle would have had the opposite effect from the one presupposed by Pressac: of Tesch und Stabenow company trying to fill an order for Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon from the Zentralbauleitung rather than from the camp Verwaltung as would have been normal practice. That would indeed have been reason for suspicion!
Moving on to point c):
If Pressac's interpretation were to be accepted, there would have been another consequence which the French historian did not take into consideration: a possible check of the ventilation system of Leichenkeller 1 for homicidal gassings with Zyklon B would have been the task of the SS-Standortarzt and would have consequently been organized and performed by the Desinfektoren, while Messing would have been limited to his own area of competence, the ventilation mechanics. Therefore, if Zentralbauleitung who were knowledgeable about the technical terminology of their specialization, could not perform this check without the Desinfektoren, how would the request for "Gasprüfer" instead of Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon be explained?
This takes us to the last point. The hypothesis proposed in point b) that the SS-Standortarzt was at that moment out of Gasrestnachweisgeräte fur Zyklon has little credence because the detection of residual gas was not only a matter of regulation , but also legally obligatory  since this test was a necessary and indispensable complement to the use of hydrocyanic acid gas at Auschwitz in February 1943. The availability of Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon  can be deduced with a sufficient degree of certainty as well. So then what reason could there have been to request it from the Topf company?
6) What exactly were the "Gasprüfer"?NOW THAT THE INTERPRETATION of Jean-Claude Pressac has been shown to be groundless, it is time to provide an alternative explanation which would cover all the aforementioned problems left unsolved by that French historian.
I shall begin by pointing out that "Gasprüfer" was the technical term which indicated an instrument for Rauchgasanalyse which was operating "according to physical methods."  In the early 1940s, there were various instruments for the analysis of combustion gases, from Rauchgasanalyse-Anlagen to Geber für die % CO2, to Anzeiger für % CO2 and für % CO2+H2. 
The crematory ovens were normally equipped with one of these instruments. Engineer Richard Kessler, one of the foremost German cremation experts during the 1920s and 1930s, recommended as "unbedingt notwendig" [absolutely necessary] for proper functioning of the crematory ovens the installation of a series of "Apparate", including:
a CO/CO2 gauge in good working condition, to insure an economical cremation, which also monitors smoke development. Even in the beginning of the 1970s, engineer Hans Kraupner advised:
For a fast elimination of smoke buildup, it is important that the gauges must be installed directly behind the oven and must give a signal to the oven attendant right at the beginning of smoke development.The more reasonable hypothesis is therefore that the Zentralbauleitung had ordered "Gasprüfer" for the crematory ovens of Birkenau. We shall now see if this hypothesis resolves all the problems indicated above.
The telegram dated 26 February 1943 bears the following information typed by the sender:
"Zentralbauleitung Auschwitz gez. Pollok SS-Untersturmführer"
It also has three handwritten notes:
At top right, the abbreviation BW 30 (Bauwerk 30 = Crematory II); at bottom left is the abbreviation "Jaeh", the initials of civil employee Jaehrling; finally at bottom left, near the date and time the telegram was sent, the name of Kirschnek preceded by the abbreviation of his rank "Unstuf." (= Untersturmführer). 
The 02 March 1943 Topf letter  shows a Registrar stamp of 05 March 1943 and also has two handwritten initials: those of Jaehrling (on the left) followed by a date of 08 March 1943.
This letter also indicates the initials of Janisch (at right), preceded by the date 06 March.
Let us consider first of all who these persons were and what duties they performed within the Zentralbauleitung.
SS-Untersturmführer Josef Pollok was the Bauleiter of the Bauleitung Hauptwirtschaftslager der Waffen-SS und Polizei Auschwitz und Truppenwirtschaftslager Oderberg; SS-Untersturmführer Hans Kirschnek was the Bauleiter of the Bauleitung der Waffen-SS und Polizei Auschwitz, K.L. Auschwitz und Landwirtschaft Auschwitz; SS-Untersturmführer Josef Janisch was the Bauleiter of the Bauleitung des Kriegsgefangenenlagers; and finally the civilian employee Rudolf Jaehrling, his profession being Heizungs-Techniker, was part of the Technische Abteilung.
The telegram dated 26 February 1943, was drawn up by SS-Untersturmführer Pollok, because his jurisdiction - relating in general to the Hochbauangelegenheit and in particular matters relating to Bauwirtschaft, Baupolizei, Bauanträge, Kontingentierungsunterlagen, etc. - also extended to the Bauleitung des Kriegsgefangenenlagers.  SS-Untersturmführer Kirschnek, on the contrary, had no jurisdiction over the Kriegsgefangenenlager of Birkenau and probably was responsible only for sending the telegram. The handwritten name which appears in this document is not his real signature.
The most important person involved in that telegram was Jaehrling himself who, on account of his thermotechnical specialty, was responsible for all the heating and combustion facilities in the camp. The largest of such facilities was the Fernheizwerk, which consumed 45-50 tons of coal each day.  Jaehrling was also responsible for thermotechnical matters relating to the crematory ovens; for example, he was the author of the Aktenvermerk dated 17 March 1943 regarding evaluation of the consumption of coke by the crematoria of Birkenau.  In 1944, Jaehrling headed the Heiztechnische Abteilung of the Zentralbauleitung. The fact that Jaehrling - a Heizungs-Techniker [heating engineer/technician] - was involved in the request for "Gasprüfer" is therefore further confirmation of the fact that these were simple instruments for the analysis of the combustion gases in the crematory ovens. Moreover, this interpretation fits well with the historical context.
On 29 January 1943, Engineer Prüfer inspected the construction sites [Bauplätze] of the crematoria and wrote up a report in which he noted in regard to Crematorium II that:
The five 3-muffled cremation ovens are finished and are being heat-dried.In his Tätikeitsbericht [activity report] dated 29 March 1943, Kirschnek jotted down the following for Crematorium II:
The whole masonry work completed and on 20 February 1943 put into operation.It is clear therefore that Zentralbauleitung, in ordering Rauchgasprüfer, wanted to ensure optimum combustion in the crematory ovens. And it is also clear that for this reason the Zentralbauleitung, in order to obtain these thermotechnical instruments, turned to Topf, a "Maschinenfabrik und feuereungstechnisches Baugeschäft." 
One last question which Pressac preferred to ignore needs to be cleared up: why did Zentralbauleitung order exactly ten "Gasprüfer"? The answer is simple: they were intended for the ten Rauchkanäle [smoke flues] in Crematory II and III, or for the ten chimney pipes (Schornsteinrohre) of Crematory II-V. 
In summary, if the "Gasprüfer" were simple analyzers of combustion gas, then it is perfectly understandable:
As for the text of this letter, I should point out first of all that the request for information from Topf ("bereits vor 2 Wochen") [already two weeks ago], was made at least ten days before the telegram from Zentralbauleitung, which refers to a previous conversation ("wie besprochen") [as agreed upon], of which however, there is no trace in the documentation.
The wording of the telegram - ("Absendet sofort 10 Gasprüfer") - leads one to think that Topf already had the "Gasprüfer" available.
The next mention of the Kostenangebot [to submit a tender or quotation] and Topf's response, raises another problem, because according to the bureaucratic practice, upon the request from Zentralbauleitung, Topf - as was the procedure with all the other companies - submitted a bid Angebot in the form of a Kostenanschlag; if the bid was accepted, the Zentralbauleitung would make the order, which could be verbal, and then would always confirm in writing Auftragerteilung. Within this bureaucratic procedure, Kostenangebot was not the term in practice; the designation was always Kostenanschlag. But with these documents which we are questioning, the normal practice is reversed and the order by Zentralbauleitung preceded the Angebot and the company's Kostenanschlag which was contrary to the normal bureaucratic practice. Instead [of the normal practice] we have on the one hand the Zentralbauleitung which could not order an item before a company had sent it the related Angebot with Kostenanschlag, and on the other hand we have Topf, which could not submit an Angebot with a Kostenanschlag for something which it neither produced nor sold.
In the second place, since Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon were normally distributed by the Tesch und Stabenow company; or by the Heerdt und Lingler company; or by Degesch, then Topf's difficulty in locating them is incomprehensible.
In the third place, neither is it comprehensible why the Zentralbauleitung would have had to make this request from Topf instead of from the SS-Standortarzt.
Finally, as I have revealed, "Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste" did not exist at all; the term "Anzeiger" had absolutely nothing to do with a chemical Gerät, but rather with an instrument. It designated either the entire instrument Anzeigeinstrument or the Zeiger des Anzeigeinstruments; for example, one could refer to instruments for measuring % CO2 and %CO+H2.
How does one explain all these anomalies? Is it because Pressac was not interested in being complete? Well, if a historian pretends that a document furnishes the "definitive proof" of something, he should also confront and resolve the problems which that entails, and it is not right to avoid this dutiful task. I therefore gladly leave to Pressac the solutions of the problems reported above.
Apart from these problems and beside the fact that the two documents discussed in this study have no criminal character in that they refer to disinfestation of mortuary chambers - my conclusion is that if there is really something which definitely demonstrates something - it is precisely because of the fact that the Topf letter of 2 March 1943 does not in the least constitute "definitive proof" - it is not even a vague piece of evidence for the existence of a "homicidal gas chamber" in Crematory II.
TCIDK = Moscow Center for the Custody of Historical document collection.
APK = State Archive of Kattowice
APMO = Archives of the National Museum of Auschwitz
APMM = Archives of the National Museum of Majdanek