Auschwitz: The Dwindling Death Toll

It was not before 1989, that is 44 years after the liberation of the POW and concentration camp complex known as Auschwitz, that an international dispute started about the actual number of victims who had died in this camp complex. For 44 years, the Polish authorities and with them most of the world's mass media had been claiming that some four million inmates had perished there, but in 1989 they suddenly changed their minds and reduced this figure drastically. As a consequence, the memorial plates on display in the camp Auschwitz-Birkenau were removed in 1990, which had propagated the four million figure in many languages. Following this dispute, an investigative commission was formed to come up with a more acceptable number of victims.[1] When this commission published its results in summer of 1990, it was widely distributed by the international media.[2] The most astounding admission came perhaps from a prominent Polish journalist, who stated that the old, exaggerated figure was an "anti-fascist lie."[3] New memorial plates were installed in Auschwitz in 1995, claiming an alleged "final" victim count of 1.5 millions.

However, this "final" verdict did not end the controversy about the actual death toll of Auschwitz. In 1993 and 1994, the French pharmacist Jean-Claude Pressac, then promoted by the international media as the expert on technical questions surrounding Auschwitz, reduced this figure twice, first down to 800,000, then down to 700,000.[4] The next reduction down to some 550,000 followed in May 2002 by Fritjof Meyer, a leading journalist of Germany's biggest news magazine, the left-wing Der Spiegel. Meyer's article appeared in the German geopolitical magazine Osteuropa, which is published by the German Society for Eastern Europe under the directorship of Prof. Rita Süssmuth, who was once the president of the German parliament.

Since this periodical has a very small circulation, the article went largely unnoticed. Only a few German mainstream media took notice of it, so for example Sven Felix Kellerhoff in the daily newspaper Die Welt, who wrote on August 28, 2002: "[...] the Holocaust deniers and Auschwitz relativizers have a new chief witness." He criticizes Meyer's "flimsy evidence" which he uses for his calculations and that Meyer had selectively ignored evidence that does not fit into his way of arguing. It has some irony that Kellerhoff does not accuse Meyer of the crime of selectivity, but Meyer's adversaries, the Holocaust revisionists: "It is characteristic of Holocaust deniers that they selectively choose their evidence, considering only those arguments which support their viewpoint." Such turnabout criticism of Revisionists has a funny ring to it. Kellerhoff then describes Meyer as "an honorable man" whose article "in and of itself was well intended," but who now receives "approval from the wrong side", i.e., from "diehards and neo-Nazis." Other than that, Meyer's article had an echo only in small German right-wing publications.

The following articles will address the problem of the Auschwitz death toll. As an introduction, the first paper by Prof. Faurisson gives an overview of all major figures that were publicly promoted since the end of World War II. The next two papers critically review Meyer's article, and they refute Kellerhoff's above mentioned claim: It is not the Revisionists who practice selective consideration of evidence and accept only what fits into their world view.

Auschwitz. Fritjof Meyer's New Revisions

By Carlo Mattogno

1. The Background

In 1993, Jean-Claude Pressac published his second study on Auschwitz,[5] which provided even more grist to Revisionist mills than did his first study.[6]

For this reason, Pressac's second book was devastated by Franciszek Piper, head of the history department of Auschwitz Museum, in a long and vicious review.[7] Piper's critique was a kind of ritualistic excommunication of Pressac by the official historiography. As a result, the American and European Holocaust lobbies placed the French researcher under their ban, which continues to this day. It was no coincidence that in the Irving-Lipstadt defamation trial, the defense did not choose Pressac to defend the orthodox version of homicidal exterminations at Auschwitz. Instead they chose Robert Jan van Pelt, who was much inferior to Pressac in historical knowledge, methodology and critical ability.

One of the greatest sins committed by Pressac in regards to his research was that he involuntarily destroyed the fragile evidentiary basis which devotees of the Holocaust story had laboriously cobbled together in decades of tedious effort. The official historiography had until then supported (and to an extent continues to support) the view that in the summer of 1941, Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höß received orders from Himmler to exterminate all the Jews of Europe in his camp. According to this story, Auschwitz was converted to an "extermination camp" with crematories designed and constructed at Birkenau to carry out the alleged policy of extermination.

Pressac, however, definitively proved just the opposite: that the crematories were planned and constructed as ordinary sanitary installations. On the basis of highly questionable "criminal traces" he then declared that around the end of November 1942, they had been converted into extermination facilities.

Another unforgivable sin of Pressac consisted of relegating eyewitness testimony to a lower grade of importance than documentary evidence, even though he himself often failed to live up to the principle. Worst of all, he accepted the scientific methodology of the Revisionists.

In 1994, I concluded my review of the second Pressac book with the following remarks:[8]

"In an article in 'Le Monde' which appeared on 21st February 1979, 34 French historical researchers published a statement which ended with the following words:

'It is impermissible to ask whether such mass murder was technically possible. Mass murder was technically possible because it happened, and it is the obligatory starting point for every historical investigation of the subject...'

Jean-Claude Pressac did not abide by this directive. He wanted to deal scientifically with the questions of crematory ovens and alleged gas chambers in Auschwitz and Birkenau, even though he did not possess the proper professional to undertake such a study.

He felt obliged to embrace the methodological principle of the Revisionists according to which, in case of contradiction between eyewitnesses and forensic science, the latter must be given precedence. In compliance with this principle, he correlated the numbers of "poison gas victims" with the capacity of the cremation ovens, although he greatly overstated the capacity. By doing this, he caused a crack in orthodox historiography. Forensic science clearly demonstrates the physical impossibility of mass homicidal exterminations at Auschwitz and Birkenau; if Pressac wants to pursue scientific arguments he must accept scientific conclusions, for better or worse. Otherwise, he has no choice except to furl his sails and join the French historians in declaring that it is impermissible to inquire about whether such mass murders were scientifically possible."

Faced with this dilemma, Holocaust Historians have reacted in different ways. Some, such as Van Pelt, have sounded the retreat and entrenched themselves in the twilight morass of eyewitness accounts, where the light of science can not shine.[9] Others, such as John C. Zimmermann, violate science and historiography by responding to Revisionist arguments with bald faced lies.[10] Now a real wizard has joined the fray: He accepts the scientific framework of Revisionist arguments and puts Pressac in the shade by simply tossing overboard the "criminal traces" with which the French historian attempted to prove homicidal gassings in the Birkenau crematories.

2. The Revisions of Fritjof Meyer

In May 2002, Fritjof Meyer, former chief editor of the Hamburg news magazine "Der Spiegel," published a rather startling article with the title "Die Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz. Neue Erkenntnisse durch neue Archivfunde" (The Number of Auschwitz Victims: New Revelations Through New Archival Discoveries).[11] Meyer defends the thesis of homicidal gassings but deviates from his predecessors in two important points. In the first place, he moves the center of the alleged mass murders from the crematories to the so-called 'Bunkers' of Birkenau. In the second place, he lowers the number of Auschwitz victims to 510,000. This contrasts greatly with 1,100,000 (the number presently postulated by official historiography)[12] and 711,000 to 631,000 (the numbers postulated by Pressac.)[13].

Meyer maintains that "The actual genocide probably took place in the two converted farmhouses outside the camp" (page 632). Since in his view 510,000 persons were killed in the camp, of whom 356,000 were gassed, it is clear that he thinks the alleged mass murders took place almost entirely in the Birkenau "Bunkers."

Meyer touches on several important themes, including the basic question of whether the Birkenau crematories could have been used as instruments to commit the alleged mass murders. He also deals with the number of persons deported to Auschwitz as well as, of course, the total number of victims.

3. The Two Foundations of Meyer's Revisions

In the following I shall analyze primarily the twin foundations of Meyers thesis, which he summarizes as follows:

"Existing documents concerning camp deliveries provide new evidence about the capacity of the crematories." (page 631)

He continues:

"A key document giving information about the capacity of the crematories at Auschwitz and Birkenau has recently been found, along with a statement of camp commandant Höß concerning their useful life. In conjunction with information about persons sent to the camp, which has long been available but largely ignored, the new evidence allows us to more accurately determine the number of persons murdered at Auschwitz. We now know there were half a million victims of genocide" (page 631).

Meyer gives credit for his "breakthrough" to Robert Jan van Pelt. But as we shall soon see, van Pelt deserves no credit at all.

Since the basis of both of his theses have to do with crematories, Meyer quotes the familiar letter written by Bischoff on June 28, 1943. It states that in Crematories II and III, "working round the clock," 1,440 "persons" could be cremated daily. In Crematories IV and V, the daily number was 768.[14] He adds the following:

Ernst Zündel in 1990 in front of the removed old memorial plates
at Auschwitz-Birkenau

"With his arguments, Irving was completely unable to support his doubts about the accuracy of the document, which in this case was thoroughly justified. Van Pelt's rebuttal was more graphic, although not necessarily convincing. Seven years earlier, the French expert Jean-Claude Pressac had labeled the writing 'an internal propaganda lie of the SS.'" (page 634)

Regarding the historical and scientific analysis of this document, I refer the reader to my article "Key Document: An Alternative Interpretation." It dealt with the doubts about the authenticity of this letter, which was written by the Central Building Administration of Auschwitz. Dated 28th June 1943, it deals with the subject of capacity of the crematories.[15]

4. The First Main Point of Meyer's Thesis

Meyer continues:

"In the report which he prepared for the Irving/Lipstadt trial, van Pelt supplied two new bits of information which were nothing less than sensational. Along with material which was already present but had hardly been considered, the new information allows us to precisely calculate the total number of Auschwitz victims. Van Pelt practically hid this new information in his 570 page work, hardly interpreting it, and he did not introduce it at the trial. It is outside his area of expertise, although it does not support Irving in any way. Van Pelt is the first to quote a document which, to the best of my knowledge, has escaped consideration until now. The document raises questions about Bischoff letter of 28th June 1943, by reducing Bischoff's figures by half.

It says that a letter from head engineer Kurt Prüfer, who was employed in Auschwitz construction, was found in the archives of crematory firm Topf & Sons (now Erfurter Malt and Warehouse) in File 241. It is dated 8th Sep 1943, that is, nine weeks after Bischoff's letter, and after completion of the crematoria. Among other things, it deals with the results of initial operation of the crematory. According to Prüfer, each of Crematories I and II could cremate 800 bodies daily, while each of the smaller Crematories III and IV could cremate 400, for a total of 2400." ( page 634).

Actually, van Pelt has simply expropriated a discovery of Pressac's. I am not exaggerating when I report that this "newly discovered" document was in fact discovered by Pressac seven years earlier, in 1995. He stumbled across it while researching the archives of EMS (Erfurter Malzerei und Speicherbau.) In an article which appeared in 1998, Pressac summarized its contents as follows:[16]

"The question of capacity of the crematories at Auschwitz-Birkenau is answered in an internal memo written by Prüfer on 8th Sep 1942, and bearing the heading 'Reichsführer SS, Berlin-Lichterfelde-West, Krematorium Auschwitz: Confidential and Secret!' The memo states that the three double-muffle ovens of Crematory I could cremate 250 bodies daily, the four triple-muffle ovens of Crematory II 800 daily; those of Crematory III likewise 800; the two four-muffle ovens of Crematory IV 400 daily; and those of Crematory V likewise 400. Theoretically this gives a total capacity of 2,650 bodies per day, which was never realized. This memo, written by the best known German cremation specialist of the time, shows that the total cremation capacity of 4,756 bodies per day, as stated by Auschwitz Central Building Administration in report for Berlin dated 28th June 1943, is greatly exaggerated."

Thus this "sensational" document dates from 8th September 1942, not September 1943. This means it was written at a time when the crematories at Birkenau did not yet exist and thus cannot be considered an indicator of initial operational efficiency.

Pressac has not yet published this document, so I must rely on his evaluation and summarization. For a more detailed treatment of the technical problems raised in this article, please refer to my two volume work on the subject.[17]

As I have emphasized above, the Birkenauer crematories had not yet been constructed on the 8th of September 1942. On or about the 23rd of August the first triple-muffle oven had gone into operation in the crematory at Buchenwald; it was practically identical with the Birkenau model. There is no evidence to suggest that Prüfer knew anything about the capacity of this setup. On the other hand, we know that the average mortality at Buchenwald during the period 23rd August to 8th September was around 10 deaths per day.[18] Thus, the alleged cremation of 800 bodies in 5 ovens, 160 bodies per day in a triple-muffle oven, could not possibly have taken place; it is just an extrapolation. However, this latter hypothesis is likewise technically unsupported. Even the Ignis Machine Works models in the crematory at Theresienstadt[19] needed around 35 minutes per cremation,[20] which corresponds to a theoretical maximal capacity of 41 bodies per oven per day and 123 bodies total for three ovens. Furthermore they burned oil rather than coke, which greatly increased efficiency. They also used an excellent, much improved system for introducing combustion air, which they had taken over from Volckmann-Ludwig Ovens. The Topf Oven System was downright primitive in comparison. Finally, the Ignis ovens utilized a huge muffle. This made possible an extremely efficient cremation system whose performance simply could not be achieved by the Topf ovens. Under these circumstances, it is impossible that a triple-muffle Birkenau oven, which necessarily worked at a lower temperature, could accomplish 53 cremations per muffle per day (160÷3). A capacity of 50 cremations (400÷8) per day using the eight-muffle ovens is likewise impossible.

From all this we conclude that Prüfer's memo of 8th Sep 1942 does not reflect reliable data, but rather wishful thinking.

Did Prüfer really believe he could build a coke fired cremation oven that would cremate a body in less than half an hour on average? I doubt it, for the simple reason that Prüfer was very competent in the field of cremation. In his first proposal regarding the future Crematory II, Prüfer had in mind a triple-muffle oven such as did not yet exist, which could reduce to ashes two bodies within half an hour.[21] Obviously he was envisioning a kind of oven which was radically different from anything in existence, something patterned on an installation for large scale cremation. However, the ovens which were subsequently built were all designed to cremate one body per muffle.

In the memo of Sep. 8, 1942, the capacity attributed to Crematory I is likewise enormously exaggerated. In the previous year, Prüfer himself had stated to the SS Department for New Construction at Mauthausen Concentration Camp that the double-muffle oven could cremate a maximum of 144 bodies in 24 hours:[22]

"Our Herr Prüfer has already informed you that two bodies per hour can be cremated in the proposed oven."

Thus Prüfer was fraudulently attributing to the double-muffle ovens of Auschwitz, the same capacity as the muffles of the oven at Gusen, a satellite camp of Mauthausen. According to a letter from the Topf firm to the SS Department for New Construction at Mauthausen,[23] this oven " approximately 10 hours, can cremate 30 to 36 bodies".[24] This was made possible by an efficient forced draught installation as well as a special muffle grate. Even the resistance movement at Auschwitz Camp, which consistently supplied fantastically exaggerated numbers of exterminations, was content to report a capacity of 200 bodies daily for Crematory I.[25]

A letter dated 10th July 1942 from Bischoff to Stutthof Concentration Camp states that the five triple-muffle ovens of the future Crematory II were designed for an anticipated camp population of 30,000. This indicates that Prüfer had already abandoned his earlier idea of cremating two bodies simultaneously in a single muffle. In order to play along a potential customer for his firm, however, Bischoff stuck to the overly optimistic assumption of a cremation time of 30 minutes per body. This is the reason why he wrote: "According to Topf & Söhne of Erfurt, each cremation takes around a half hour." Practical experiments with these ovens soon exposed Prüfer's wishful thinking. After the war he stated that the ovens of Crematory II (and Crematory III as well, since they were exact copies) were able to cremate only one body per muffle per hour. My sources for this are the interrogations of Engineer Prüfer as carried out by Soviet authorities of the counterespionage organization SMERSH between 1946 and 1948 and published by Gerald Fleming.[26]

In the session of 5th March 1946 the Soviet interrogator wanted to know:[27]

"How many bodies were cremated per hour at Auschwitz?"

Prüfer responded:

"In a crematory with 5 ovens and 15 muffles, fifteen bodies were cremated."

This means an average cremation time of one hour per body per muffle and indicates that the theoretical maximum capacity of Crematory IV (and each of the ovens of Crematory V as well) in a 24 hour period was 192 bodies--half the number given by Prüfer on 8th Sep 1942.

At his interrogation on 19th March 1946 Prüfer elaborated as follows:[28]

"I have mentioned the enormous load to which the overtaxed ovens were subjected. I told Chief Engineer Sander I was worried about whether the ovens could withstand the excessive load. In my presence, two bodies were placed in one muffle, instead of a single body, and the ovens were unable to handle the load" (my emphasis.)

Thus the simultaneous cremation of two bodies in one muffle was impossible. I am speaking of course of rational economical cremation, in which the muffles will not be damaged and the time requirement as well as consumption of coke are not doubled.

We note that the above mentioned document alone suffices to contradict the assertion that the crematories of Birkenau could have been used for criminal purposes. It shows that there was precisely one muffle for every 2,000 prisoners; that is to say, the 46 muffles of the Birkenau Crematory were designed for 92,000 prisoners. According to future plans of the SS, however, the camp was to receive 140,000 inmates. Therefore 70 muffles would have been necessary,[29] and the number of available muffles was in fact inadequate for the planned camp expansion. How could the crematories, in addition to processing the normal load of bodies of prisoners who died of natural causes, have possibly processed the victims of mass murder?

Meyer resorts to all kinds of reckless calculating tricks to answer that question. At first he maintained that the length of cremation lasted "one and a half hours" (page 634). This was accurate for civilian ovens during the Thirties, but not for the ovens of Birkenau, for which the average cremation time was one hour, as we have seen. The time mentioned by Prüfer in his interrogation corresponds exactly to practical results of several experiments which I carried out in my studies of cremation.[30]

Starting with this interval, Meyer reckoned that, with hypothetical round-the-clock operation, each oven could cremate 16 bodies per day (1,440 minutes ÷ 90 minutes per body = 16). He calculated that, in the 15 ovens of Crematories II and III, the daily cremation of 16 bodies x 15 muffles = 240 cremations. In conjunction with this he made the startling assumption that each muffle could be loaded with three bodies at a time. This raised the total number of bodies (3x240) to 720 per day. For Crematories IV and V he calculated a capacity of 48 x 8 = 384 cremations per day.

Without doubt Meyers second hypothesis (the simultaneous cremation of three bodies in a single muffle) contradicts both the technological possibilities of the time[31] and Prüfer's testimony.

5. The Second Basis of Meyer's Thesis

The second basis for Meyer's thesis is a declaration attributed to Rudolf Höß, which he relates as follows:

"Van Pelt provided a second surprise with revelation of a statement made by Höß during cross examination before the Krakau court in 1947: 'After eight or ten hours, the crematories were no longer available for further use. It was impossible to keep them in continuous operation.' Using a mean average of nine hours of daily operation,[32] each muffle yields, with three bodies per muffle, 18 cremations per day. In Crematories I and II inclusive 270 each, which makes 540 total; in Crematories III and IV 144 each, 288 together. The grand total is 828 per day." (page 635 )

The alleged statement by Rudolf Höß could be the result of a misunderstanding or a mistake in translation. I say this because, during the hearing on 11th March 1947, the former commandant of Auschwitz had given a completely irrelevant answer to a question about the capacities of the crematories. Specifically he stated that Crematories II and III could cremate " a period of 24 hours (na przestrzeni 24 godzin), not more than 2,000 persons each".[33] Technically seen, this statement by Höß is absolutely impossible. We know that the coke burning Topf double-muffle oven at Gusen cremated 677 corpses between 31st October and 12th November 1941 and was in operation an average of 18 hours per day. The length of the Birkenau ovens' daily operation was limited by the necessity of cleaning the combustion grates. The removal of coke cinders[34] was possible only when the oven was not burning, and required around a four hour pause in operation (for cooling, cleaning and reheating.) Therefore, the maximum operation time was on average 20 hours per day.[35] Thus we get for Crematories II and II a daily capacity of 300, and 160 bodies for Crematories IV and V.

In the article which I wrote in conjunction with Engineer Franco Deana "The Crematory Ovens of Auschwitz-Birkenau,"[36] I calculated, in consideration of the numerous operation lapses and breakdowns of the crematories, that Crematories II and III together were in operation 971 days, Crematories IV and V altogether 359 days.[37] In his Footnote 19, Meyer accepts and includes them in his arguments as follows:

"The conclusion is simple: on these 971 days of operation in I and II 262,170 bodies were cremated; in III and IV in 359 days 51,696; altogether 313,866 dead who were cremated in Birkenau." (page 636)

With this, Meyer multiplies the days of crematory operation by the highest possible number of cremations: 971x270 = 262,170 cremations in Crematories II and II; 359x144 = 51,696 in Crematories IV and V.

With these calculation exercises Meyer commits an incredible error of logic. He is postulating not a purely theoretical maximum of cremations, but rather an actual number, as though the crematories had been operated full blast every day with a full load, never hindered by malfunctions and breakdowns! Here we must make clear that by "days of operation" of the crematories, is meant simply every day on which the crematories were technically functional. It does not mean that they were in constant operation. Here Meyer is committing a double fallacy: First he makes the assumption that the crematories were in actual operation every day they were functional, secondly he assumes that they were operated at full capacity as well.

Meyer's unfortunate inability to think logically leads him to massively overestimate the actual number of cremated bodies. For the year 1943, we are able to compare the numbers which he alleges, with the accurately documented numbers.

Beginning with 15th March, when large scale cremations in Crematory II began, until 25th October 1943, a total of 607 tons of coke and 96 cubic meters of firewood were delivered to all the crematories of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Since the heat value of the firewood corresponds to 21.5 tons of coke, we can simplify and speak of an additional 628.5 tons of coke. During this period Crematory II was in operation for 110 days, Crematory III for 123 days, Crematory IV 50 days, and Crematory V 82 days.[38] In addition, Crematory I in the original camp continued in operation until 17th July 1943, 125 days. To cremate a moderately emaciated corpse, the double-muffle oven needed around 25 kilograms of coke; the triple-muffle oven around 19 kilos, and the eight-muffle, 14 kilos.[39] If we take into consideration the mean average of all these figures, as well as the length of time the crematories were in operation, we arrive at an average coke consumption of around 20 kilos per cremation. With the 628.5 tons of coke delivered to the crematories, one arrives at a theoretical maximum of 31,400 bodies (628,500÷20). I say "theoretical maximum" because a very considerable part of the coke was consumed in preheating the ovens, rather than for actual cremation.

Using his basis of calculations, however, Meyer estimated that the following numbers of cremations took place during our period of debate:

This gives a total of 95,418 cremations, which is more than three times the theoretical maximum.

According to the death books of Auschwitz, around 16,000 prisoners died between 15th March and 25th October 1943 (the number of continuing registrations extends from around 15,000 on 15th March to 31,000 on 25th October.) According to this, each cremation (including warming the oven) required around 39 kilos of coke per body (628,500÷16).

In Danuta Czech's Kalendarium, however, it is alleged that around 118,000 people were gassed in this same period. If this were true, a total of around 134,000 corpses would have been on hand.[41] Each corpse would have been cremated by around 4.7 kilos of coke, which would be radically impossible under the laws of thermodynamics.[42] The cremation of 16,000 persons who died of natural causes corresponds easily to the documented consumption of coke, but the cremation of 118,000 victims of poison gas could not have been possible under any conditions. This is proof that there were no deaths from poison gas.

This leads to another example of the crass absurdity of Meyer's structure of argumentation. In July of 1943, Crematory II was in operation from the 18th until the 31st of the month, but Crematory III was in operation the whole month; together they were in operation a total of 45 days. According to Meyer's calculations they could have cremated 12,150 bodies (45x270)--and therefore did cremate that number. According to the death books, however, 2,000 people died that month. Danuta Czech in her Kalendarium mentions a single gassing of 440 French Jews, on the 20th of July.[43] If one proceeds from the hypothesis that the gassings actually took place, the number of bodies would have risen to around 2,400, or a fifth of the number derived from Meyer's calculations.

Meyer ignores still another significant argument, which I develop in Dissecting the Holocaust. That is the maximum service life of the fire resistant masonry in the Birkenau ovens, which, as I have shown, amounted to around 3,000 firings per muffle. Given 46 muffles, this gives a maximum number of 138,000 cremations.[44] After reaching this number, it would have been absolutely necessary for Building Maintenance to replace the firebrick. However, in the correspondence between the Topf company which constructed the crematories and Central Building Maintenance there is no mention whatsoever of such an extensive undertaking.[45] This provides still more evidence that the theoretically highest number of cremations in the Birkenau cremation ovens is around 138,000 rather than 314,000.

6. The Number of Victims

Let us now consider the method Meyer used to calculate the total number of Auschwitz victims.

He begins with a figure of 313,866 bodies cremated in Birkenau (which he rounds off to 314,000), then adds 50,000 cremated under open skies prior to November 1942. Then he adds another 57,000 for the period from December 1942 until March 1943, as well as 12,000 cremated in the base camp. These produce a grand total of 433,000 cremated bodies. In order to reach his final goal of 510,000 bodies, Meyer still needs 77,000 bodies. He recruits them from among the Hungarian Jews.[46] These dead bodies, he writes, were all cremated in the open air.

Of his total of 510,000 corpses, he tells us, 326,000 were incinerated in crematories (314,000 in Crematories II--V and 12,000 in Crematory I.) The remaining 184,000 bodies were cremated under open skies.

He believes that 356,000 prisoners were gassed, while another 154,000 died of "natural causes." Meyer arrives at his "gassed" figure by taking the 315,000 unregistered deportees and adding the 40,564 who, according to Danuta Czech, were gassed "in October of 1944 alone" (see page 638.) The latter, he says, were incinerated in the crematories. However, since he accepts my figures for the crematory operational days, and Crematories II, III and V were all functional in October, he would have to take the theoretical maximum number for that month of 21,204 (Crematories II and III: 31x270x2 = 16,740 bodies; Crematory V: 144x31 = 4,464 bodies, altogether 21,204.) But, why does Meyer accept the figure of 40,564 cremations in October 1944?

7. The Number of Cremated Bodies

As we have seen, Meyer maintains that around 314,000 people were converted to ashes in the Birkenau crematories. Let us now analyze this figure.

We have already pointed out that the numbers suggested by Meyer for the period 15th March to 25th October 1943 as well as October 1944, are infinitely exaggerated. For the first period his calculations produced 95,418 cremations, while the theoretical maximum number was 31,400. For the second period he suggests 40,564, even though his own system of calculating produces a theoretical maximum of 21,204. For these eight months we are dealing with a total of 95,418 + 40,564 - (31,400 + 21,204) = 83,378 postulated bodies which were cremated!

Between November 1943 and September 1944, according to Czech's Kalendarium, 95,000 people were gassed and cremated, not including the Hungarian Jews and those from Lodz. Concerning the first batch Meyer writes that they were cremated under the open sky, while he makes no mention of the second batch. According to his logic their bodies must have been cremated in the open, as well. Furthermore if we deduct the individual figures of cremated bodies from the grand total, we get (314,000 - (31,400 + 21,204 + 95,000) =) around 166,400 too many who were cremated. Who could these have been?

According to the estimates of F. Piper, around 80,000 registered prisoners died in Auschwitz in 1943,[47] and around 30,000 in 1944-45.[48] As for 1943, we have already calculated, on the basis of coke deliveries, that a maximum of around 31,400 bodies could have been cremated for the period from the beginning of operations of Crematory II until the end of October. This leaves the months of November and December, in which, if we extrapolate the number proposed by F. Piper, approximately 13,500 prisoners died, bringing the maximum number of dead and cremated to a total of around 44,500. Even in this case, however, there are still (166,400 - 44,500 =) 121,900 postulated bodies cremated. This is more than a third of all cremations that took place during the existence of the camp, according to Meyer

8. Irreconcilable Contradictions

Fritjof Meyer's thesis contains contradictions which are even more glaring than those we have mentioned so far. He assumes the number of 510,000 dead, of whom 356,000 are assumed to have been gassed. In addition he alleges that the alleged mass murders occurred "for the most part" in the 'Bunkers' of Birkenau. Since he rejects the theory of mass gassings in the Birkenau Crematories, however, and since the story of the "gas vans" on which it depended has been rejected by even orthodox historiography as propaganda of the immediate postwar period, it is obvious that the alleged 356,000 gassing victims met their death in the so called "Bunkers." As far as method is concerned, Meyer's thesis is a black hole of logic, and nothing else.

As we have already noted, he is in fact defending the proposition that all gassings took place in the "Bunkers."

"It cannot be discussed here that the existing evidence, i.e., documents pertaining to the refitting of these buildings which were not originally designed to be gassing cellars (for example, insertion shafts and devices for measuring gas) as well as the well-known witness accounts, rather indicate that attempts were made in March and April of 1943 to use the mortuary cellars for mass murder in the early summer of 1943.

Apparently, the tests were not successful, both because the ventilation was counterproductive3 and because the expected masses of victims did not arrive during the ensuing eleven months. The actually committed genocide probably took place mainly in the two converted farmhouses outside of the camp. The foundations of the first of these houses, the 'White House,' or 'Bunker I' has recently been discovered." (Page 632)

With the above statement, Meyer is challenging the traditional theory of homicidal gas chambers in the Birkenau Crematories. He says he is relying on "existing evidence" but he does not specify a single item.

It is all too clear what has moved Meyer to this incisive revision: It is the evidence provided by Revisionist researchers, whose conclusiveness he cannot and will not acknowledge. Meyer disputes the gassings, despite the fact that Jean-Claude Pressac collected dozens of documents from which he extracted around forty "criminal traces." These are best described as "arguable" but there is no doubt that the documents themselves point to cellar morgues. Pressac and other Exterminationists assumed they were homicidal gas chambers as well. Thus Meyer transfers the location of the alleged mass murders to the 'Bunkers,' although not a single document indicates that they were used by the Central Building Administration of Auschwitz for anything, not even as ordinary houses--not to mention mass murder!

Meyer quotes a "Construction Contract of the Building Administration to WVHA in Berlin" which deals with the "remodeling of an existing house for special purposes" (no blueprints are available). The costs ran to "14,242 Reichmarks each" (his note #7). However as I have explained elsewhere, this document has absolutely nothing to do with the alleged 'Bunkers.'[49] This is because the construction contract appeared in a "Cost Proposal for Refurbishing of the Auschwitz Prisoner of War Camp of the Waffen-SS" dated 1st October 1943. The reason why Meyer hesitates to mention the date is all too obvious.[50] Furthermore this document contains nothing more than reference to a "house for special purposes." It mentions one house but not two houses, so Meyer's statement that "both houses are mentioned" is false and misleading. Furthermore this house is mentioned in the "Preliminary Report on Enlargement of the Waffen-SS POW Camp in Auschwitz" dated 30th September 1943. It is listed in Construction Zone III rather than among the outlying buildings, however. It was not outside the camp, like the so called "Bunkers," but rather inside, along with Houses 903 - 914. All these houses were located in the area of Construction Zone III. They were taken over by Zentralbauleitung (Central Building Administration) and numbered as housing units, as is shown in Plan Nr. 1733 dated 5th October 1942. The house was used as "Temporary Sauna and Hygiene Station for the Troops." In a letter from Bischoff to Kammler dated 9th January 1943, he mentions the following: [51]

"A disinfection device manufactured by Werner and a heater of the forced air type manufactured by Hochheim, along with a Sauna of the same type, have been provisionally installed for the troops in the existing building in Birkenau. They have been in operation since December 1942."

If Mayer disputes the existence of homicidal gas chambers in the crematories, for which the Exterminationists have produced dozens of consistently misinterpreted documents, how can he then speak of homicidal gas chambers in the 'Bunkers' for whose existence there is no documentary evidence whatsoever?

By disputing homicidal gassings in the crematories, Meyer is also questioning the credibility of numerous eyewitness accounts. Why then believe the less numerous accounts of gassings in the "Bunkers?"

The whole thing is all the more foolish because the story of the 'Bunkers' and their homicidal function is founded entirely on eyewitness accounts. To accept the "Bunker" eyewitness accounts while dismissing the crematory eyewitness accounts of homicidal gassings is just one more logical salto mortale on Meyer's part.

In spite of everything, we have to credit Frijof Meyer with considerable moral courage. His article, to an even greater degree than Pressac's, proves that a serious technical debate with the Auschwitz problem represents a fall over the precipice for orthodox Holocaust historiography. Sooner or later, after the xth reduction of number of victims and the xth concession to Revisionists, orthodox historians must arrive at the same conclusion at which revisionist historiography arrived years ago.


First published in Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung 6(4) (2002), pp. 378-385; translated by James M. Damon

[1]Cf. for this "Commission try to defuse Auschwitz controversy", The Canadian Jewish News, Oct. 3, 1990, p. 5.
[2]Daily press of July 18, 1990, e.g.: Krzysztof Leski, Ohad Gozani, "Poland reduces Auschwitz death toll estimate to 1 million," London Daily Telegraph, July 18, 1990; UPI, "Poland lowers Auschwitz toll", Toronto Sun, July 18, 1990. In Germany, it was the left-wing radical daily newspaper die tageszeitung which published the lowest new victim figure on July 18, 1990: 960.000.
[3]"'Ich empfinde Verlegenheit.' Der polnische Publizist Ernest Skalski über die neue Auschwitz-Diskussion in Warschau" ("I feel embarrassed." the Polish author Ernest Skalski about the new Auschwitz discussion in Warsaw), Der Spiegel no. 30 (1990), p. 111.
[4]See the article by R. Faurisson, in particular his notes 33 and 34.
[5]Die Krematorien von Auschwitz: Die Technik des Massenmordes, Piper, Munich-Zürich 1994.
[6]Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York 1989.
[7]Zeszyty oświęcimskie, 1995, pp. 309-329.
[8]Auschwitz: Das Ende einer Legende, in: Herbert Verbeke (ed.), Auschwitz: Nackte Fakten. Eine Erwiderung an Jean-Claude Pressac, Vrij Historisch Onderzoek, Berchem 1995, p. 162.
[9]Just as Judge Gray wrote in his verdict following the Irving-Lipstadt trial (11 April 2000, Point 7.125), van Pelt assures us that the amount of coke required to cremate a body is "no more than 3.5 kilograms." Proportionally, that is the same as saying that Schumacher's Ferrari F2002 can go 1600 kilometers per hour!
[10]See my article "Supplementary Response to John C. Zimmermann on his 'Body Disposal at Auschwitz'" at:
[11]Osteuropa. Zeitschrift für Gegenwartsfragen des Ostens, No. 5, May 2002, pp. 631-641. The article is available online at and in English at
[12]F. Piper, Die Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz, Verlag Staatliches Museum in Auschwitz, 1993, p. 202.
[13]Die Krematorien von Auschwitz, op. cit. (note 1), p. 202.
[14]RGVA (Rossiiskii Gosudarstvenni Voienni Archiv), formerly TCIDK (Tsentr Chranenija Istoriko-dokumentalnich Kollektsii), Moskau, 502-1-83, p. 269.
[15]VffG, 4(1) (2000), pp. 51-56.
[16]Jean-Claude Pressac, Enquête sur les chambres à gaz, in: Les Collections de l'Histoire, Supplement to the magazine L'Histoire, No. 3, October 1998, p. 41.
[17]I forni crematori di Auschwitz. Studio storico-tecnico in collaborazione del dott. ing. Franco Deana; Anticipated publishing date with Edizioni di Ar, Padua, is early 2003.
[18]335 prisoners died at Buchenwald between 3 and 30 August 1942; 203 died between 31 August and 27 September. Konzentrationslager Buchenwald. Bericht des internationalen Lagerkomitees Buchenwald. Weimar, without year, p. 85.
[19]There are numerous lists of cremations which give the corresponding time required to complete each procedure. See also I forni crematori die Auschwitz, op. cit. (note 13), Vol. I, 2nd part, chapter XI.
[20]The Ignis-Hüttenbau muffles were 2.6 meters long, as compared to 2 meters for the Topf ovens. Cadavers were encased in a lightweight coffin of unfinished boards and shoved into the muffle. After about 35 minutes the cadaver, dehydrated and disintegrating, was shoved further back in the muffle, where the most important part of cremation took place. Meanwhile another cadaver was placed in the front part of the muffle. In this system two cadavers were always in the muffle, one undergoing dehydration in the front and one undergoing actual cremation in the rear. Introduction of the second cadaver was considered the end of cremation of the first, even though it lasted another 20 or 30 minutes in the oven.
[21]Erläuterungsbericht zum Vorentwurf für den Neubau eines Kriegsgefangenenlagers der Waffen-SS Auschwitz O/S, October 30, 1941. RGVA, 502-1-233, p. 20.
[22]Letter from the Topf firm addressed to SS Department of New Construction (SS-Neubauleitung) at Mauthausen Concentration Camp, dated November 1, 1941. German Federal Archives, Koblenz, NS4/MA 54.
[23]Staatsarchiv Weimar, LK 4651.
[24]This corresponds to a cremation period of 33 to 40 minutes per oven. The grates of the Gusen ovens had eight square openings measuring 30x25 centimeters. After about 35 minutes the remains of the dehydrated disintegrating cadaver fell through these openings into the ash receptacle below, where the principal cremation took place. Meanwhile another cadaver was placed in the muffle, which was now empty. In this system, two cadavers were always in the muffle. The heat was intensified by a bellows, which made possible replenishing the consumed coke every hour on each grate. In the triple-muffle oven, the bars of the muffle openings were 21 centimeters in diameter, just as in civilian ovens. The cadaver remains fell into the ash receptacle only during an advanced stage of the cremation process. It took place after approximately one hour.
[25]Obóz koncentracijny Oświęcim w świetle akt Delagatury Rządu na Kraj, In: Zeszyty oświęcimskie, special edition I, 1968, p. 42. On 4 March 1943, resistance fighters attributed to the "new crematorium" (Krema II) the fantastic daily capacity of 3,000 cadavers! Same as above, pp. 93f.
[26]Hitler and the Final Solution. University of California Press, 1994.
[27]Ibid., p. 200.
[28]Ibid., p. 207.
[29]Map of the POW camp dated October 6, 1942. Vojenský Historický Archiv, Prag, Fond OT 31 (2)/2.
[30]I forni crematori di Auschwitz, op. cit. (note 13), Vol. I, sec. part, chapter VIII.
[31]Ibid., chapter IX, 2. At that time, the only other existing facilities in which multiple cadavers per muffle were burned, were ovens for animal cremation. In these extremely efficient devices, constructed by the Kori firm in Berlin, 300 kilograms of flesh could be cremated within 13.5 hours using 300 kilograms of fossil fuel. This would correspond to simultaneous cremation of 12 cadavers weighing 75 kilograms each, in a period of 67 minutes and using 25 kilograms of fuel. Thus if simultaneous cremation of 3 cadavers per muffle had been possible in the Birkenau ovens, they would have lasted three times as long and required three times as much fuel as single muffle cremation and would not have been the least bit more economical.
[32]Since Bischoff's letter dated 28 June 1943 mentions "24 hour utilization" in describing crematory capacity, this document would have to be a falsification , according to Meyer's theory.
[33]Archiwum Głównej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu/Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, Warsaw, NTN, 105, p. 99.
[34]By this is meant the incombustible remains of the coke, which melt in the high temperatures. They then drip through the fuel, are cooled by incoming air and coalesce on the grill. Here they form a deposit which clogs the spaces through which air flows.
[35]I forni crematori di Birkenau, op. cit. (note 13), Vol. I, second part, chapter IX, 1.
[36]In: Ernst Gauss, Dissecting the Holocaust, Theses and Dissertations Press, Capshaw, AL 2000.
[37]Ibid., p. 403.
[38]Ibid., p. 402. For Crematories II and III, deduct the 67 days between 26 October and 31 December from the operational days given (respectively 177 and 190).
[39]I forni cremator di Auschwitz, op. cit. (note 13), Vol. I, second part, chapter X. Coke consumption was determined on the basis of actual coke consumption at the camp in Gusen.
[40]According to Meyer's hypothesis, 18 cadavers per muffle per day = 108 cadavers per day in 6 muffles.
[41]No witnesses or historians have alleged that there were open air cremations during this period.
[42]According to him, cremation of three cadavers required 14.1 kilograms of coke. In reality, a triple-muffle oven operating at 800 degrees Centigrade required around 17 kilograms just to compensate for loss of heat from conduction and radiation.
[43]D. Czech, Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1989, pp. 535-560.
[44]I discuss John C. Zimmermann's counterarguments, which were based on ignorance and deceit, in my article against him. Cf. note 6.
[45]In addition to the absence of documents related hereto, the list of invoices which the Topf firm submitted for work and deliveries in and around Auschwitz proves that this work never took place.
[46]Meyer is assuming here that 180,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz, of whom 100,000 to 110,000 were transferred to other camps and 70,000 - 80,000 were gassed (page 638).
[47]This number is actually greatly exaggerated.
[48]F. Piper, op. cit. (note 8), p. 164.
[49]Carlo Mattogno, „Sonderbehandlung" ad Auschwitz. Genesi e significato. Edizioni di Ar, 2001, pp. 77f.
[50]The document also mentions construction projects which were already completed, but F. Meyer, whose only familiarity with it was through R. J. van Pelt, is unaware of this.
[51]RGVA, 502-1-332, p. 46a.

Source: The Revisionist 1(1) (2003), pp. 30-37.

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