Comments On Mattogno's Critique Of The Bomb Shelter Thesis
by Samuel Crowell
Recently, Carlo Mattogno has unveiled an article entitled "Morgue Cellars of Birkenau: Gas Shelters or Disinfesting Chambers?" and subtitled "The Samuel Crowell hypotheses in the light of history and technology". The article is at the following URL: www.vho.org/GB/c/CM/leichen.html
The article reveals two documents that are extremely valuable in extending our knowledge of what went on these crematoria, but at the same time I believe that Signor Mattogno has overstated his case; his conclusion is that the crematoria could never have functioned as air raid shelters.
In my present remarks I propose to do two things: to respond to Signor Mattogno's arguments, giving credit where it is due, and second, to show that his documents, or even his refutation, are totally inadequate to their aim. In short, I will argue that the entire concept of his article is flawed: the morgues were not either air raid shelters or disinfestation chambers, but rather, both.
Jean Claude Pressac's Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers was meant to be the final refutation of the revisionists when it was published in 1989. The core of Pressac's demonstration consisted of one single half-proof and 39 "criminal traces."
The "half-proof" on which Pressac depended was the fact that, while the Leichenkeller #1 (Morgue #1) in the basement of Crematorium II was to be equipped with showerheads (by inference with the 14 showerheads for Crematorium III), it was also equipped with a gas-tight door with peephole.
Pressac made great play of the incompatibility of a gastight door with a peephole and showers. To foreshadow our conclusions, I point out that while the Bomb Shelter Thesis has a ready explanation for this juxtaposition, Mattogno's thesis, alone, provides no explanation at all.
At this point it might be worthwhile to enumerate the "Criminal Traces" of Pressac:
By this counting, there are 34 criminal traces (actually, #17 consists of a number of references).
Of these 34 "criminal traces" one half, or 17, concern "gastight doors", and the number of doors being discussed is clearly considerable, insofar as trace #28 discusses 24 bolt-fixtures while trace #23 discusses two hundred and thirty of the same.
But here's the remarkable thing. There is not one word about gastight doors in Signor Mattogno's article. Not one word. Even more remarkable, in his praiseworthy book on KL Majdanek, home to the notorious "Auert" air raid shelter door, a casting of which sits on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, neither Jürgen Graf nor Signor Mattogno chose to say one word about the gas-tight doors at that camp. In a book that painstakingly provides copies of several original documents, they unnaccountably forgot to include any copies of the delivery bills concerning these gastight doors, nor to even comment on them in the text.
Of the remaining 17 traces that Mattogno does not ignore,
2 refer to "Gassdichtenfenstern"
2 refer to "Gasskammer"
2 refer to heating
and then there are seven singletons:
I will now discuss the majority of these seventeen points in the order that Mattogno addresses them.
Summary Of Mattogno's Arguments With Comments
ARGUMENT #1 Mattogno argues that the argument for air raid shelters is historically flawed, because there are no documents about air raid shelters prior to 16, November, 1943. He further asserts his authority by referring to the absence of any prior or any other meaningful documents.
COMMENT: Signor Mattogno is in error, both in fact and by inference. For over a year, there have been three documents pertaining to air raid shelter construction at Birkenau posted on the Internet, at inconausdocs.html. Two of these documents antedate the letter Mattogno cites, and both make it clear that plans for constructing air raid shelters at Birkenau were so far advanced by August of 1943 as to involve the chief architect Walter Dejaco of the Zentralbauleitung and involved the construction of hundreds of air raid shelters.
As for the inference of large scale air raid shelter construction, in addition to the above, we have:
Second, the basement of Block 11, one of the older Stammlager buildings, is explicitly referred to as an air raid shelter in a Nuremberg Document. [2223-PS]
Third, RFSS Himmler issued a directive to all concentration camp commandants about air raid protective measures (I have seen this quoted only in terms of protecting against escapes: I have not yet seen the document) dated February 2, 1943. [Himmler to Glücks, Himmler Files, Folder 67, National Archives]
Fourth, it is well known that Majdanek received shipments of air raid shelter doors the previous fall, at the same time as the German authorities prioritized supplies to the Jewish inhabitants of the Warsaw ghetto for the purpose of constructing -- air raid shelters. [For Majdanek, consult Kogon, at al., "NS Massentötungen durch Giftgas", p. 319, 4n, 5n; for Warsaw, 1061-PS "The Stroop Report", passim, testimony of Buehler at the IMT, 23 April 1946, vol. XII,. pp. 74-77]
Fifth, it is known that the "Arrest-Bunker" at Neuengamme was fitted out with ventilation and wooden shutters at the same time. [Remarks of Fritz Bringmann, former prisoner, of his time in Neuengamme (remembered in 1996), quoted in "Die Haendler des Zyklon B" Juergen Kalthoff & Martin Werner, VSA Verlag, Hamburg, 1998, p. 202]
Sixth, the concentration camps are routinely referred to in KZ correspondence as being vital to the war industry, and the "Air Raid Shelter Guidelines" from 1941 specify that all new constructions especially in the war related industries must have air raid shelters.
The conclusion I draw on the basis of these inferences is that there was an ongoing attempt to construct air raid shelters in the concentration camps and ghettoes at least from the Fall of 1942, or to adapt existing structures with air raid shelters as a matter of course. Mattogno can disagree with my conclusion, but it is meaningless to do so without confronting the inferences.
Finally, the assertion that there were no air raid provisions made before November, 1943, is refuted by documents that have long been available on the Internet.
ARGUMENT #2 Parenthetically, Mattogno refers to a visit to
Auschwitz by Oswald Pohl where a number of construction projects were
approved, including the construction of 15 1-man "Splitterbunker".
Mattogno claims that it does not appear that these projects were ever
ARGUMENT #3 Mattogno calls the claim that there were numerous
"Splitterbunker" for the prisoners "shaky".
ARGUMENT #4 Mattogno argues that the basement morgues in the
crematoria would never have been designed as air raid shelters because
otherwise there would exist many documents about this, and he hasn't seen
ARGUMENT #5 Mattogno argues that air raid shelter provisions
must have figured in the transfer documents for the crematoria.
ARGUMENT #6 Mattogno argues that the "undressing rooms" were not
equipped with gastight doors.
ARGUMENT #7 Mattogno argues that the morgue's ventilation
capacity was inadequate for an air raid shelter.
ARGUMENT #8 Mattogno corrects the calculation of the capacity of
the morgue at 4,800 cbm per hour, as opposed to twice that capacity that I
cited from Pressac.
ARGUMENT #9 Mattogno corrects my calculation of the morgue's
volume, it was 499 cubic meters versus 525 as I roughly calculated.
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENTS #7, #8, #9: The volume of the morgue was 499 cubic meters. The rule of thumb is 1.5 meters per person per hour. This means that this morgue would still offer 2.5 hours of air raid and gas protection even with no operating ventilation system for 200 people.
ARGUMENT #10 Mattogno makes three points about the ventilation
system: (a) a filtration system places a load on the air conditioning
system, (b) two separate systems are required, (c) the need to install the
ventilation system in the bunker itself.
ARGUMENT #11 Mattogno argues that the presence of corpses would
make the use of these spaces as air raid shelters impossible.
ARGUMENT #12 Mattogno argues that "Vergasungskeller" does
not mean a "cellar for treating those who have been gassed."
ARGUMENT #13 Mattogno argues that the "Gasskammern" in
Crematoria IV and V could not have served as aboveground gastight air raid
shelters because a direct hit would have killed everyone.
ARGUMENT #14: Mattogno contends that the
"Drahtnetzeinschiebvorrichtung" and the "Holzblenden" for
Crematoria II could not have had anything to do with covering openings in
an air raid shelter context, because there were no such openings.
ARGUMENT #15 Mattogno argues that the "Fenstergitter" are
not screens but rather "Gitterfenster" that is, not screens but
ARGUMENT #16 Mattogno argues that the "little doors" were closed
from the outside, as evidenced in a photograph, and therefore could not
have been used for air raid shelters.
I don't know what to make of this except that:
ARGUMENT #17 Mattogno's argument that the "Gaspruefer"
document is a forgery.
Recapitulation Of Mattogno's Conclusions
#1 Absolutely no air raid protective measures were undertaken
before the end of 1943.
#2 The existence of gastight air raid shelters in Crematoria II
and III would be unfeasible because: (a) the outer doors were not
gastight, (b) the ventilation system was inadequate, (c) a direct hit on
the ventilation system would have crippled it, so why even bother, (d)
morgues would be nasty places to go during an air raid.
#3 Crematoria IV and V could not have functioned as air raid
shelters because of their unprotected aboveground
#4 There are no documents that support air raid shelter
In other words, I have argued that there were such gastight air raid shelters and that I would like to see others -- who have better access to the materials than I do -- to make a conscientious effort to see if any other evidence exists. In this case, however, it seems that there has been minimal effort in this direction.
Mattogno's Positive Contribution
The postive part of Mattogno's article involves the unveiling of two documents that strongly support the contention that the "Vergasungskeller" was a disinfection installation. One of these documents speaks of the use of hot water generated by the crematorium/waste disposal thermal energy for showers, and the other speaks of "disinfection ovens" (Entwesungsofen).
These are excellent documents because they prove that the "Vergasungskeller" as well as the associated space in Crematorium III, were equipped with showers, as well as hot air delousing installations. This strongly supports the notion that they were not and could not have been used for gassing.
However, Mattogno, by failing to say even one word about the gastight doors with peepholes falls into the trap laid by Pressac. He still cannot explain what such a door would be doing on a space containing showers.
To recapitulate, if Krema II had two disinfection ovens then these could only have been applied to a small portion of the morgue's (very large) area. In all likelihood, bearing in mind the configuration in the disinfection literature, and at Majdanek as well, the hot air disinfection facilities would have been placed at the far end of the morgue, while the rest of the space would have been given over to delousing showers and, yes, areas for corpse-cleansing or storing. After all, even Henryk Tauber in May, 1945, argued that the morgue was subdivided by other walls.
But in any case one would still have the shower-space closed off by a gastight door with a peephole. And that is where Pressac's question arises, just as it arises at Dachau and Majdanek: why would a space containing showers need a gastight door, particularly one with a peephole? To be sure, one can argue that, technically speaking, these doors were not "gastight". But that gets one nowhere. The doors may have been unsuitable for sealing off HCN gas, but they were certainly suitable for the liquid aerosol which is what mustard gas actually is.
Mattogno doesn't answer this question, and he systematically avoids dealing with it. This is a pity, because as I have indicated in my other writings for two years now, the dual purpose of disinfection facilities and gastight air raid/decontamination facilities are in no way contradictory, and, in addition, explain -- instead of avoiding -- the various types of evidence that make little or no sense in a disinfection context, including:
#3 wooden shutters
#4 "little doors"
#5 gasdichte Tuerme
#6 red lamps
#7 reinforced concrete roofs and walls
#8 underground location
#9 attested use as air raid shelters
In short, the concept of air raid shelter protection, combined with the disinfection paradigm, explains completely and without omission all of the so-called "criminal traces" of JC Pressac, while the disinfection paradigm alone leaves behind a number of anomalies such as those listed above which are simply ignored.
The crematoria at Birkenau were large buildings that served a multitude of functions, and I have argued since July, 1997 that corpse handlers, new arrivals, and potential mustard gas victims all could have used the showers in the basements of the crematoria. They were sturdy, prominent structures of sufficient size and expanse to allow both the disinfection paradigm and the air raid shelter paradigm to exist side by side. By the same token, both functions should be able to coexist in the minds of most revisionists. Not only would it "only have been common sense" to do this, as Dr. Stäglich observes, compelling evidence shows that this was indeed the case.