The Journal of History     Spring 2005    TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preserving Auschwitz

Mr. Ryback is author of
The Last Survivor: Legacies of Dachau

Wall Street Journal editorial page

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

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There is little forensic evidence proving homicidal intent.

[RePortersNoteBook memo: Until just a few years ago, it was considered anti-Semitic to say what the Wall Street Journal published yesterday: "There is little forensic evidence proving homicidal intent".]

The revisionists' plaint is simple: They demand a proverbial "smoking gun" to prove that the Nazis deliberately and systematically designed an industrial system of extermination. They do not deny that millions of European Jews died from malnutrition, exhaustion, and disease. They do not even deny that Zyklon B gas was employed at Auschwitz, but they claim it was used for delousing rather
than homicidal purposes.

[RePortersNoteBook Memo: The tone of the above paragraph suggests that that there were no delousing chambers. Later in this editorial the author clearly states there were delousing chambers.]

Auschwitz has been a particular target of Holocaust deniers--in particular, the gas chamber in Auschwitz I, the original base camp a mile east of Birkenau. It was here that some of the first experiments with poison gas were undertaken in a converted air-raid shelter refitted with air-tight doors and special ducts for homicidal purposes. Dynamited by the Nazis in the autumn of 1944, the
gas chamber was reconstructed after the war.

[RePortersNoteBook Memo: It is only recently that Auschwitz museum officials have conceded the Revisionist contention. What the tourists have been shown since 1948 is a reconstruction of the alleged murder weapon. And the way the reconstruction was built, it cannot function as a homicidal gas chamber. For decades historians and journalists were misled to believe that is was the original.]

As one revisionist notes: "The official view holds that the Soviets and Poles created a 'gas chamber' in an air-raid shelter that had been a 'gas chamber.' The revisionist view holds that Soviets and Poles created a 'gas chamber' in an air-raid shelter that had been an air-raid shelter."

While most serious historians refuse to dignify such statements with a response, Polish administrators have taken the bait. In response to revisionist charges, they tested the gas chamber walls for residual traces of cyanide gas but found none. Unlike the delousing chambers, whose walls still show cyanide "staining," the gas chambers betrayed no residual traces of Zyklon B.

[RePorterNoteBook memo: The above paragraph mentions "serious historians." Professor Rigg is the author of Hitler's Jewish soldiers, I was the first to interview him when his book came out the same week in 2002. In my taped phone interview with him, I was surprised he never exposed himself to Holocaust Revisionist writings. Even though there is no mention of this in his book, he was still led to believe, in my conversation with him, that 'Jewish soap' was made out of the victims body fat and lampshades were made from the victim's skin. I then e-mailed him documentation that informed him of his inaccuracy. Instead of thanking me, he criticized the source ( as Holocaust deniers and wanted nothing to do with my interview with him. So much for "serious historians."]

In response to revisionist charges, they tested the gas chamber walls for residual traces of cyanide gas but found none. Four years ago, this evidence was used by the revisionist David Irving in his libel suit against Emory University historian Deborah Lipstadt. Though the judge handed down an unequivocal verdict against Mr. Irving, the Holocaust deniers remain undeterred.

[RePortersNoteBook Memo: Even Judge Gray in his verdict was shocked at how thin the gas chamber evidence is for the alleged major murder weapon. A snippet from the court transcript of February 15, pp. 91-92.

Judge Gray: I expect you would accept, Professor [Richard] Evans [a defense witness] ... the number of overtly incriminating documents, wartime documents, as regards to gas chambers is actually pretty few and far between?

Evans: Gas chambers, other things such as the systematic nature of the extermination, I am referring to the whole package of evidence....

Irving: Professor Evans, you accept that we cannot do things that way in this court.... As his Lordship has said, you do accept that the documentary basis for the gassings, the gas chambers and for the systematic nature of that is thin compared with the documentation of the Eastern Front shootings?

Evans: Yes ... ]

"While the judgment in the Irving-Lipstadt trial is certainly a heavy blow for Irving personally," a leading revisionist publication observed, "it is only a temporary setback for the ultimately unstoppable march of revisionist scholarship."

[RePortersNoteBook memo: The leading revisionist publication is the Journal of Historical Review ( or The Revisionist (, which this Wall Street Journal editorial refuses to mention to its readers. Don't you think it is strange to critique them and not mention who they are criticizing?]

My immense thanks and appreciation to Michael Santomauro and Mark Weber for publishing this article.


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