The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.17

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.17
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   Do you know anything about the history of that document,
        where it came from?
   A.   No, I do not know.  Moscow, it has been in Moscow.  It has
        been made available, for example, in the Vienna trial.  It
        was available earlier.  There was another copy of this
        document in a Didier archive in Dumburg.  This document

.          P-148

        has been known for many years, since shortly after the
        war.  The document seems to be perfectly in line with
        other documents.  It is a carbon copy.  It is not on
        letter head, like most of the copies in the
        Zentralebauleitung.  It seems to be sitting nice in its
        sequence of other documents.  So I have no reason to doubt
        the integrity of the file or the integrity of the document itself.
   Q.   Professor van Pelt, you were sitting in court yesterday
        when I challenged that document piece by piece, and
        indicated the discrepancies on the document which gave not
        just one discrepancy but several discrepancies which
        indicated there was every reason to doubt whether this was
        an original document or whether it is was, indeed, a true
   A.   You can do that, but I have not changed my mind on this.
        I do not think that you have brought any kind of
        convincing evidence for me to change my mind on this
   Q.   May I ask you the following then, is it not surprising
        that nowhere in the entire Auschwitz construction files,
        in Moscow or in the present Auschwitz State Museum, do you
        find one single other document that reflects the same
        figures or figures of the same magnitude?
   A.   We can talk -- the issue of incineration capacity, how do
        we know about incineration capacity and how do we know

.          P-149

        about the coke use?  We have this document, we have
        eyewitness testimony of people who worked the ovens and we
        have statements by the people who ran the camp.  There is
        a convergence between those things.
   Q.   Except for one thing ----
   A.   Now, if you challenge, if you challenge the coke use,
        I will have to bring up, and, I am sorry, I do not have
        the particular patent, but it is a little technical
        history.  There is a specificity in the design of the
        ovens in Auschwitz which is, basically, that they worked
        with compressed -- that air was blown into the muffle.
        Normally, what happens in these ovens is that ----
   Q.   The flame does not touch the body?
   A.   No, actually frebrennen did happen in the Auschwitz ovens;
        it was not simply incineration.
   Q.   Well, they would self-combust?  When they were raised to a
        certain temperature, they would self-combust?
   A.   That is the idea of a normal incineration.  In Auschwitz,
        actually, the ovens -- the difference between the ovens is
        that one element which is used in normal ovens is with a
        heat kind of regenerator in Auschwitz was replaced by
        compressed air which was blown into the oven.  Now --- -
   Q.   Would this account for the drop of normal coke usage from
        35 kilograms in the crematorium Gussen concentration camp
        per body to 3.5 in Auschwitz, in your opinion?
   A.   Yes, and I think the normal use for Gussen questions the

.          P-150

        normal use of what?  For one, two, three, four bodies in a
        day at a certain moment very high intensity use.  I just
        would like to quote here from a piece which John Claude
        Pressac wrote and I also worked on.
   Q.   Can I interrupt?  I did not quite catch what you said
        about Gussen.  What did you say was the normal rate in
   A.   The normal rate, the question is what is normal rate?  If
        you just fire the ovens in Auschwitz for one corpse, you
        probably need 300 kilos.
   Q.   In Gussen they were talking, if my memory of the document
        is correct, of the order of 100 bodies, or possibly 200.
   A.   If you bring the documents, we can discuss the documents.
   Q.   Well, Professor van Pelt, you were not quoting a document
        there.  You were just stating a figure, speculating.
   A.   I am going to state a figure and it is from a patent.
        I am happy to show you the passage.  The big issue in
        crematorium design is that you need to get the thing
        going, the oven going, and that takes a hell of a lot
        energy.  So, if you incinerate one body, and this is a
        document which is prepared for Dachau in 1939, to cremate
        one body in Dachau was 175 kilos of coke, far exceeding
        the 30 kilos.  However, it says that, by the time you have
        started this incinerator, after you have incinerated a
        number of bodies, and I will quote the thing, "If the cold
        room required 170 kilograms of coke to start up a new

.          P-151

        incineration, it needed only 100 kilo if it had been used
        the day before.  The second and third incineration on the
        same would not require any extra fuel, thanks to the
        compressed air".  Those that followed would call for only
        small amounts of extra energy.
   Q.   Are you saying that for the cremations on the second and
        third day you would not have to put any coke into the
        machine at all?  It would just kind of carry on?
   A.   No.  If you start incinerating on the second day you can
        still use that heat that had built up from the first day.
        If you then insert extra bodies in the oven that same day,
        after the first one, you only need very little extra fuel.
   Q.   That is not what the document said.  You said it needed
        none at all.
   A.   Then it says only little, the first, second and third, and
        then, as you continue, then only very limited amount of fuel.
   Q.   But of course they had more than just one furnace in
        Auschwitz.  In each of these crematoria you are telling us
        they had five times three.  So they did not have to fire
        them all up. They could just fire up one of them and keep
        it running?
   A.   But it seems that there were more bodies than one could
        take.  We also have, of course, the patent application of
        Topf from late 1942, which actually operates on that whole

.          P-152

   Q.   It was not used, was it?
   A.   No, but it was based on the experience gained.  As it very
        literally says, it is based on the experience gained with
        the multi-muffle ovens used in the East.  The document --
        I am happy to try to find it.  I do not know where the
        patent application is.
   Q.   I do not want do keep flogging this particular horse
        unless his Lord wants to go down this route much further.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I am inevitably being guided by you,
        Mr. Irving.  You must put your case.
   MR IRVING:  I would like to ask Professor Van Pelt to do one
        calculation for me.  On the basis of 8,000 kilogram of
        coke, which we read in that document in the Pressac book,
        7,000 or 8,000 kilogrammes of coke per 12 hour shift, if
        we were to assume 35 kilograms of coke per body, how many
        bodies were actually being cremated per day in those four
   A.   If you were to assume -- I have the figure here -- if it
        was three and a half kilos of coke ----
   Q.   No, 35.
   A.   Three and a half I calculated was 241,000 bodies, so 35
        would be 24,000 bodies.
   Q.   24,000?
   A.   I do not have to make the calculation because it is right here.
   Q.   I do not think that is correct.  If it is 7,000 kilograms

.          P-153

        of coke, 7,000 times 35 into 7,000 is 200, so it will be
        200  per day?
   A.   I am sorry.
   Q.   It would be 200 bodies per day in these crematoria so that
        would give us the lower level.  I am not saying that was
        the amount. I am saying that is the lower limit of these
        two figures we have. We have the figure of ten times as
        large that you offer, and we have the figure of 200 per
        day which would be, if the Gussen figure applied, the 35
        kilograms of coke, which is what crematorium managers
        assure us is the normal figure nowadays for mass
   A.   My Lord, I am very surprised that Mr Irving seems to love
        German documents.  When he is confronted with a German
        document which he does not like, so easily ignores it.
        I think the Jahrling document is very, very
        straightforward.  There are two version of it.  If
        Jahrling made a mistake, he corrected himself.  Obviously
        when you find a document like that, you take it seriously.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  You are now talking about the one with J A
        umlaut at the top?
   MR IRVING:  The one that we challenge, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.  You call it the Jahrling document
        Jahrling was the secretary?
   A.   Jahrling was the man who made the calculation.
   MR IRVING:  Yes.  There are other reasons for challenging it

.          P-154

        but I just rested my case on the reference line across the
        top, which contained enough errors to make the whole thing
        very suspect.  To try and do these calculations the other
        way round, which is what the witness has done, I find this
                  Can we move on from there now, my Lord?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Of course.
   MR IRVING:  Let me come back to the question of the
        eyewitnesses who have described, either to you or to
        historians over the last 55 years in convincing and
        compelling detail, the procedure at the factory of death,
        at crematorium number 2, the arrival of the victims, what
        happened inside the crematoria, the cremation process, the
        robbing of the bodies and so on.  How many eye witnesses
        are we talking about, Professor?
   A.   It depends on which period we are looking.  In my report
        I only looked at the very, very early testimonies.
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   Which means testimonies taken by Dragon, and in this case
        by Tauber, because they are taken in April and May 1945.
   Q.   Are they independent of each other or have they compared
        notes in any way?
   A.   I do not know if they compared notes.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Did they escape?
   A.   They escaped, yes.  No, they did not escape.  In the sense
        that they were on the march, I think, from Auschwitz to

.          P-155

        wherever they ended up in the West, they did escape but
        they did not escape from the camp itself or from the crematoria.
   MR IRVING:  Yes.  So that Dragon, D R A G O N, and Heinrich
   A.   Schloma Dragon.
   Q.   How many others?  You are not relying just on those two
        eyewitnesses, surely?
   A.   No, but these are the two which I mentioned because, if
        one is afraid of pollination and things like that, and
        these were testimonies given immediately after the war.
        These were testimonies which were made before things were
        published, before things were in the newspapers or
        whatever like that.  Other testimonies have been given,
        Filip Muller of course in the 1960s.  He made one in 1946.
   Q.   You said that nothing had been in the newspapers.  When
        was the report published of the War Refugee Board on the
        testimony given by Veroba and Wetzler, two Slovaks?  Was
        that not November 1944?
   A.   Yes, but these were very, very short.  These were very
        short things in the newspaper.  The report itself was
        never published at the time.  So to have a short New York
        Times one column article or less about a fact that there
        is an extermination camp in Auschwitz does not give any
        details about the extermination procedure.
   Q.   You say the report was not published at the time.  In fact

.          P-156

        the War Refugee Board in the United States did actually
        publish the report like a White Paper.  Whether the
        newspapers actually quoted it in detail or not, are you
        saying the newspapers did not quote it very much?
   A.   They did not quote very much.
   Q.   But they did give the more lurid details about the gas
        chambers and so on?
   A.   As far as I remember, the reports, reading the newspaper
        articles, they did not give the kind of details which
        would inspire a person to invent a particular gassing or
        incineration procedure.
   Q.   Procedure, right.  You did not rest in either your book or
        your expert report on just those two eyewitnesses though,
        did you?  Not just on Tauber and ----
   A.   No.  There are other people we quote because, of course,
        after afterwards other people came forward.
   Q.   Did you rely on a woman called Bimko?
   A.   I have already addressed this once before.  I mentioned
        Miss Bimko because of the testimony she gave at the
        Lindenberg trial, which is the Belsen trial.  I did not
        rely on her to come to a conclusion about the incineration
        capacity in the crematoria.
   Q.   I am not talking about the incineration capacity,
        Professor.  I am talking now about the actual procedure,
        the way people walk ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think we have moved on.  We are just

.          P-157

        talking generally about eye witness evidence, are we not?
   MR IRVING:  We are dealing with the question of the integrity
        of eyewitnesses, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is what I was suggesting.
   A.   No, I did not rely on her for procedure.

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