The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.09

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.09
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   No.  Would you accept from me that this is a coal bunker?
   A.   A coal bunker?
   Q.   Or coke bunker.
   A.   I thought you meant another one.  This particular thing
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   That is a coke bunker.  I have not got equipment here for
        measuring the size of that bunker, but it appears to be
        about 10 feet square, in other words a very small space.
   A.   It seems to be a larger to me from what I remember but,
        again, 10 feet, 13 feet square, whatever.  It is not a
        very large bunker.

.          P-75

   Q.   Not very large bunker for holding the fuel supplies for
        fuelling a mass incineration programme, I believe
        Mr Rampton would have called it, for incinerating hundreds
        of thousands of bodies?
   A.   May I remind you, Mr Irving, that also in the crematorium
        itself was a very large coke storage space right next to
        the incineration building.
   Q.   Yes, I am familiar with the position of that in the
        drawings of the building.  Not very much larger than that
        little hut outside?
   A.   I think it will be probably possible to establish the size
        of that when we consult a plan, and I am happy to consult
        the plans in my trial bundle.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Was there a coke bunker in each crematorium
        or just one?
   A.   Each crematorium has its own coke bunker, yes.
   MR IRVING:  It is also right to say that these crematoria were
        adapted to burn trash as well, the regular camp trash that came in?
   A.   The trash furnace in crematorium 2 was never installed.
        There was a trash furnace in crematorium 3, largely used
        to burn identity papers of people, and there were no trash
        incinerators in 4 and 5.
   Q.   Very well.  The last picture that I wish to show the court
        and the witness and ask a question on is this large
        picture.  This is crematorium number 2.  You can see the

.          P-76

        scale of it from the people standing down there, the
        tourists who arrived up that path, and this is
        Leichenkeller number 1, morgue number 1, on which we have
        now zeroed in, in other words.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Mortuary number 1?
   A.   Morgue number 1.
   Q.   Will you describe the condition of that building, that
        particular mortuary, which is the one that you pointed at
        and said 5 "00,000 people died here", or you also said
        "this is the instrument with which millions were
   A.   We just saw the state of that room in more detail when we
        looked at the film clip.  When we see Fred Leuchter
        measuring, together with his assistant, the size of the
        ruins, and there is my voice-over saying that Fred
        Leuchter is no Sherlock Holmes, we are actually looking at
        the site of the morgue 1 of crematorium 2.
   Q.   Was this building destroyed by the Nazis or by the
        Russians, I think there is some dispute on this, at the
        end of World War II?
   A.   The evidence points to the fact that the Nazis destroyed
        this building in two phases, and specially morgue 1.
        First of all, that when the gassing ceased in late 1944 we
        have the testimony of sonderkommandos and others that the
        gas chambers were dismantled, which means that the actual

.          P-77

        installation within the morgue number 1 and of crematorium
        2 and number 3, which had been created to adapt this room
        into a gas chamber, was removed, and that later the shell
        of the room, so to speak, was destroyed by dynamiting.  It
        was a very detailed account of one sonderkommando, how
        they actually made holes in the columns.  Dynamite is put
        in it and ultimately, in the case of crematorium 2, all
        the columns collapsed, with the exception of one.  In
        crematorium 3 they were more successful and virtually
        everything collapsed there.  So what you have now in
        crematorium 2 is that we have the remains of a concrete
        roof, which is basically collapsed on the floor.
   Q.   It is pancaked downwards?
   A.   It is pancaked downwards.  One column is still there and
        in some way it has folded over, that one column.
   Q.   So there are reinforced steel bars inside the roof?
   A.   Reinforced steel bars in the roof yes, and there is a hole
        right next to the column, and that is the hole through
        which Fred Leuchter climbed into that space at a certain
        moment.  It is a very tiny space under that roof.
   Q.   When do you say this happened?  In 1945?
   A.   The demolition of the gassing equipment happened in late
        1944, November 44, and the ultimate demolition, the final
        demolition, of the crematoria happened in January 45.
   MR IRVING:  Just so that we can get this quite straight, the
        evidence for this is verbal evidence from a member of the

.          P-78

   A.   Yes.  There are no construction documents about the
        demolition.  Also, the construction office had been closed
        for some time.
   Q.   Are there any written orders from the camp commandant or
        from Liebehenschel or from some other official saying,
        I order that this building must be destroyed for whatever
   A.   There are no records but I have to point out that the
        archive of the commandant, which was virtually
        systematically destroyed, began in that same period of the
        evacuation and that only by accident the bauleitung papers
        survived because they were forgotten.
   Q.   I was about to come on to that, Professor. Is it not
        extraordinary that the Nazis in their ruthless efficiency
        would go round destroying buildings and removing
        incriminating equipment which might have helped us very
        much today in this courtroom otherwise, but at the same
        time they allowed the Red Army to capture the entire
        construction files without the slightest murmur?
   A.   There are reasons for that which have to do with first the
        fact that the construction office was closed at the end of
        1944 but none of the architects any more dared to oversee
        the destruction of the archive.  They have been drafted
        back into the SS to fight on the Eastern Front, which by
        then had more or less come to Auschwitz.  Second of all,

.          P-79

        that the architecture office was at some distance from the
        camp itself and that there were two archives in the camp,
        one archive which was kept in the kommandantur, where
        people were until the very end, people who could attend to
        the destruction of incriminating evidence, and then there
        was in the Bauleitungbaracke, which was at some distance
        and I can point it out on the air photo if you want, this
        second archive which had been bundled up and simply was
   Q.   So the Nazis remembered to destroy the buildings and
        remembered to take out every nut and bolt which might have
        helped us today, but they allowed the Russians to capture
        all the incriminating paperwork, except that it is not
        very incriminating either?
   A.   I do not think that simply they allowed.  I do not think
        that by early 1945, as the Russian Army was pushing
        through and Silesia was on the point of collapse, that the
        German Army was still very efficient or the SS in
        Auschwitz.  I mean they were on the run and they were in a
   Q.   A bit of panic and these things just got left behind?
   A.   Yes.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Irving, I have a feel there is a
        suggestion lurking there and I want to try and put my
        finger on it. Are you suggesting that what the Russians
        captured were not authentic documents, or what the

.          P-80

        Russians had produced were not authentic documents?
   MR IRVING:  No, my Lord, totally the opposite. I am sorry I am
        being so frightfully obtuse in my cross-examination.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, you are not.  You are doing very well but
        I want to understand the suggestion.
   MR IRVING:  I am indebted to my Lord. The reason I am asking
        this is for two reasons.  I am laying a bit of a trap, if
        I may put it like that, which will be sprung either before
        or after lunch.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I see. Then I will not enquire any further.
   MR IRVING:  I wanted to bring to your Lordship's attention the
        detail that the incriminating equipment that had
        apparently been carefully dismantled, every nut and bolt,
        and yet they had allowed all these records to fall into
        Russian hands, which does seem odd.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I know, but I was wondering what the
        underlying suggestion is.  You develop it after lunch.
   MR IRVING:  We have discovered in fact that the Nazis were in a
        blue funk and in a terrible panic and just anxious to get
        away.  How far away?  Was the Russian line stationary for
        sometime on the River Vistula?
   A.   The Russian offensive of either the second Ukrainian Front
        and the Russian Front started moving on 12th January.
   Q.   12th January 1945, yes, in the early hours?
   A.   Until then it had been stationary.  That is also one of
        the reasons that the Auschwitz camp remained from, let us

.          P-81

        say, November 1944 until that offensive began on 12th
        January in a kind of limbo state.  Then, after that
        offensive started on 12th January, in fact the decision
        was taken, no document again but a decision was taken, to
        actually evacuate the camp population and to destroy the
        most incriminating parts of the crematorium.
   Q.   So how far away was the Russian front during that limbo
        period, in rough terms, 20 miles, 50 miles?
   A.   No.  I think they were -- they were substantially east of
        Cracow still at the time.
   Q.   On the River Vistula that basically was not there ---- -
   A.   Yes -- no, no, but the River Vistual more to the east.  At
        that time they would have been as south as Auschwitz.
        They would probably have been, I would say, 100/150
        kilometres away.
   Q.   Very well.  So we have narrowed it down to this building
        which has collapsed.  The roof, as we see it in the air
        photographs, is in a mess.  Beneath that roof we would
        have found all the equipment, bits and pieces, that would
        have been incriminating, but the Russians -- somebody blew
        up the building and it pancaked downwards, this roof, and
        for some reason the archeologists have never gone in there
        to find out what is still there, have they?
   A.   No.  People, I mean, Fred Leuchter went down there.  I
        mean, it is on this tape.
   Q.   Hats off to Fred Leuchter, in other words ----

.          P-82

   A.   But, I mean, which archeologist, I mean, what kind of
        expedition are you looking at?  I mean, I do not think
        that many archeologists would have been particularly
        interested, given all the choices available in doing
        archaeology, in actually going down into that very small
        space under the roof to do their investigations there.
   Q.   Not only in this particular building, of course, there are
        many archaeological sites around the Auschwitz camp,
        I would have thought, which would have helped to solve a
        lot of questions.  For example, mass graves, burning pits,
        which could have been investigated with modern
        archeological means like proton magnetometers, something
        which would detect the pattern of burning, things like
        this.  Has any investigation like that been conducted by
        the Polish or any other authorities?
   A.   As far as I know not.
   Q.   Yes.  But investigations like that have been conducted at
        one or two other sites, though, have they not?  I think
        recently at Treblinka or Maidanek?
   A.   At the moment very big investigations have been done in
        Belzec, and part of this is as a result of the
        transformation of Belzec, to create actually a monument in
        Belzec, and like many of these, you know, when, in fact,
        you are going to make a change to the site, you want to
        know, first of all, what the site is, and let us say in
        Rome, when you put up a new apartment building, you first

.          P-83

        send in the archeologist to see what is below there.  So
        Belzec is -- actually still very serious work is being
        done right now.
   Q.   Am I right in saying the investigations being done at
        Belzec are roughly into discovering the size of any mass graves.
   A.   They are finding large mass graves and I have not seen
        detailed results.
   Q.   Have they been able to quantify the size of the mass
   A.   I have only this by hearsay, what the size of mass graves
        are.  I mean, that these are large mass graves, I cannot
        further comment on it.

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