Edited and Copyrighted © MMI by Russ Granata

Numbers in brackets [ ] refer to end notes.

In my final response to Crowell, I have cited his article published as "Bomb Shelters in Birkenau: A Reappraisal." Item # CS 600 Smith' s Report: The Catalog PO BOX 439016 San Diego CA 92143.

1) Background

A long article by Samuel Crowell entitled « Technik und Arbeitsweise deutscher Gasschutzbunker im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Eine Widerlegung von J. C. Pressacs „kriminellen Spuren" » appeared in the September 1997 issue of the journal Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung (pp. 226-243). Noticing the total inconsistency of Crowell's thesis, I wrote the refutation Morgue Cellars of Birkenau: Gas Shelters or Disinfesting Chambers? [1]. Crowell replied with "Comments On Mattogno's Critique Of the Bomber Shelter Thesis"[2], an article even more inconclusive than the first. In my following «Reply to Samuel Crowell's "Comments" about my "Critique of the Bomb Shelter Thesis"» [3] I promised myself not to return to this topic, which, for my part, I considered to be closed. Nonetheless, Crowell's systematic distortion of documents and facts in his article "Bomb Shelters in Birkenau: A Reappraisal "[4] and his unshakeable tenacity for supporting patently false theses, induced me to reconsider my decision. Since his thesis has found proselytes among revisionists - however incredible this may seem - and for the sake of historical accuracy, I again take part in the debate. This is also because Crowell once more put forward arguments that I had already proved to be unfounded, beginning with the argument concerning the doors of the Entwesunsanlage at Majdanek.

2) The gas-tight doors of Auschwitz

Steel door without a peephole
Illustration 1
Hermetically sealed door for shelters
used in general anti-gas defense.
Steel door without a "peephole".
One of the assumptions of the Crowell Bomb Shelter Thesis is that "all air-raid shelter doors were equipped with peepholes" (p. 5). From this assumption Crowell deduces that all gas-tight doors "with peepholes" are "air-raid shelter doors." Because he does not see the necessity of a "peephole" in a disinfestation chamber, Crowell declares that a gas-tight door "with peepholes" cannot be a door of such a chamber (pp. 26, 47, 48) and he concludes that the gas-tight doors of Leichenkeller 1 of Kremas II and III, having been equipped with "peepholes," were necessarily "air-raid shelter doors."

In reality this assumption is completely unfounded as are the consequences that Crowell draws from it. In the first place, it is not true that "all air-raid shelter doors were equipped with peepholes." Some of the doors in regulation air-raid shelters [5] lacked them, such as the one in illustration 1. [6]

It is equally false that an anti-gas door with a "peephole" cannot be a door of a disinfestation chamber, as can be seen from the photographs published by Pressac.[7] Particularly significant is the photograph published on p. 49 of his work (see illustration 2). The sign on the door shows the words "Giftige Gase! Bei betreten des Raumes Lebensgefahr."

Door of  a disinfestation chamber functioning with hydrocyanic acid
Illustration 2
Door of a disinfestation chamber
functioning with hydrocyanic acid
Citing the article "Gasdichte" Türen in Auschwitz by engineers Hans Jürgen Nowak and Werner Rademacher [8] Crowell claims that:
    "the felt-stripping used for the makeshift doors manufactured by the German Armaments Works at Auschwitz would not have been "gastight" in any sense having to do with fumigation or extermination, particularly with cyanide gas" (p. 26).
This assertion is completely refuted by the facts. The two engineers have in effect erroneously taken as the normative model of a gas-tight door in a disinfestation chamber functioning with hydrocyanic acid (hydrogen cyanide), the type of steel door used in the standard Degesch-Kreislauf disinfestation chambers.[9] Now it is a certain and incontrovertible fact that all the known doors of disinfestation facilities actually installed at Auschwitz using hydrocyanic acid were wooden, beginning with the facility of Kanada I. If these wooden doors were not gas-tight and were not suitable for use with hydrocyanic acid, we must conclude that the SS of Auschwitz were candidates for suicide!

Even the "Gaskammer" using hydrogen cyanide in BW 5b had two normal gas-tight wooden doors that are still in existence as can be seen in illustration 3.

Also the two doors of the gas chamber using hydrocyanic acid next to the shower room in the "Entwesungsanlage" at Majdanek had simple gas-tight wooden doors. [10]

3) The gas-tight doors of Majdanek

Door of the Gaskammer using hydrocyanic acid
Illustration 3
Door of the Gaskammer using hydrogen cyanide
in BW5b. © Carlo Mattogno.
The case of the gas-tight doors of the Entwesungsanlage at Majdanek is the clearest example of Crowell's aberrant methodology. Since 1997 he has been instigating Bradley Smith to engage the Washington Holocaust Museum in the well-known sterile controversy. In No. 46 of his Report dated September1997, Bradley Smith wrote:

    «Early this year Crowell discovered that a gas-tight door advertised and sold throughout wartime Germany as defense against poison gas attack (the same door advertisement was reproduced on p.8 of SR 43) is identical, as Crowell has it, "in every conceivable physical feature", to the door at Majdanek, a replica of which is exhibited at the USHMM as the door to a gas chamber. [...]. The door was not a door designed to kill; it was designed to save lives: the one piece of evidence on exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to substantiate the "gas chamber" claim is a hoax».
One of the two doors of the Gaskammer using hydrocyanic acid
Illustration 4
One of the two doors of the Gaskammer using
hydrogen cyanide of BW5b. © Carlo Mattogno.
In my Reply cited above I showed extensively that the gas-tight doors of the Entwesungsanlage at Majdanek were actually doors of a disinfestation chamber operated with hydrogen cyanide.  Because Crowell - who is incapable of providing a single response to my arguments - prefered to remain silent, I present once more the proofs which show incontrovertibly that the four gas-tight doors at Majdanek had nothing to do with a "bomb shelter," but were the doors of a hydrogen cyanide gas chamber.

In the aforementioned book KL Majdanek. Eine historische und technische Studie, Castle Hill Publisher, 1998, I dedicated an entire paragraph to the question of the planning, construction and objective of the gas chamber in this camp (pp. 129-137). In this paragraph, referring to the documents of the Zentralbauleitung of the concentration camp Lublin (Majdanek), I demonstrated that the facility to which the gas-tight doors in question belonged, was planned and constructed as an "Entwesungsanlage." [see Document 36]   On this there is not the slightest doubt. Let us briefly take up the early history of this installation with the following chronology:

K.L. Majdanek Plan
Document 36: Plan of the Gaskammern I-IV, from:
Deficiencies and Incoherences of the Leuchter Report,
Jour J, December 1988, p.X.
  • 27 May1942: the Amt IIB of the SS-WVHA requested an "Entwesungsanlage" for the "Bekleidungswerk Lublin";

  • 19 June1942: the Chef des Amtes Zentrale Bauinspektion of the SS-WVHA, SS-Sturmbannführer Lenzer, communicates to the Bauinspektion der Waffen-SS und Polizei Generalgouvernment the above request "zum Bau einer Entwesungsanlage nach dem System der Blausäure-Entwesung";

  • 10 July 1942: the Leiter der Zentralbauleitung sends the administrative documentation on the "Entwesungsanlage" to the Bauinspektion der Waffen-SS und Polizei Generalgouvernment;

  • 10 July 1942: composition of the "Erläuterungsbericht zur Errichtung einer Entwesungsanlage für die Pelz- und Bekleidungswerkstätte Lublin";

  • 10 July 1942: composition of the "Kostenanschlag über Errichtung einer Entwesungsbaracke für die Pelz- und Bekleidungswerkstätte Lublin";

  • August 1942: composition of design "K.G.L. Lublin. Entwesungsanlage. Bauwerk XIIA"

  • 11 September 1942: the Zentralbauleitung orders two Heissluftapparate from the firm Theodor Klein - Maschinen- und Apparatebau Ludwigshafen, Rhein Knollstrasse 26, for the "Entwesungsanlage";

  • 22 October 1942: in the list of Bauwerke already completed appears the "Erstellung einer Entwesungsanlage" for the Bauvorhaben Pelz- und Bekleidungswerkstätte Lublin. In this list there is no mention of any air-raid shelter.

  • No document indicates a possibility that this facility had to carry out the double function of "Entwesungsanlage" and "Luftschtzbunker".

  • In the "Provisions in case of alarm" (Alarmvorschriften) emanating from the commandant of the camp on 3 September 1942, the possibilty of an air-raid attack is not even contemplated. [11]

  • The installation was planned according to standard norms regarding the construction of gas chambers using hydrogen cyanide. In this respect I emphasize that the Kostenanschlag of 10 July for the entire "Entwesungsanlage" foresaw a reinforced concrete roof of 12 cm thickness ("Eisenbetondecke 12 cm stark") covered on top with a layer of clay 12 cm thick ("Lehmauffüllung 12 cm stark") as an isolating overlay ("als Isolierschicht"). The walls were to be constructed from ordinary bricks ("Ziegelmauerwerk"). The plan "Entwesungsanlage Bauwerk XIIa" dated "August 1942" shows a ceiling consructed from 15 cm of reinforced concrete and 12 cm of clay. The outer walls of the installation display a thickness of 38 cm.

    The standard disinfestation chambers operating with hydrocyanic acid and Degesch-Kreislauf had a ceiling made up of:
    • 15 cm of "Eisenbetondecke"
    • 5 cm of "Wärmeschutz"
    • 10 cm of "Betondecke",

    and had walls 38 cm thick (design of F. Boos of 30.6.1942 for the gas chamber of the "Aufnahmegebäude" at Auschwitz).

  • Regarding the direct inspection of the facility, I observe that

    1) As can be seen in illustrations 5-11, the four doors of the "Entwesungsanlage," had two fastening levers (Hebelverschlüsse) - one above, the other below - with external handles, so that the doors could be hermetically closed only from the outside.

External door of the north-east gas chamber. External door of the north-west  gas chamber.
Illustration 5
KL Lublin - Entwesungsanlage -
External door of the north-east
gas chamber. © Carlo Mattogno.
Illustration 6
KL Lublin - Entwesungsanlage -
External door of the north-west gas
chamber. © Carlo Mattogno.
External door of the north-west  gas chamber External door of the north-east gas chamber
Illustration 7
KL Lublin - Entwesungsanlage -External door
of the north-west gas chamber.
Fastening lever. © Carlo Mattogno.
Illustration 8
KL Lublin - Entwesungsanlage -
External door of the north-east
gas chamber. © Carlo Mattogno.

2) The two doors of the northern side had in addition a central bolt (Zentralverriegelung) which could also be closed from the outside. (illustration 11)

External door of the<BR>
north-east gas chamber, internal view Frame of door of the north-east gas chamber
Illustration 9
KL Lublin - Entwesungsanlage - External door of the
north-east gas chamber, internal view.
Hook of the fastening lever.
© Carlo Mattogno.
Illustration 10
KL Lublin - Entwesungsanlage - Frame of door
of the north-east gas chamber.
The hook of the fastening lever was inserted
on the left into the metallic plate that can be seen
on the frame. © Carlo Mattogno.

Therefore these doors are constucted to be closed from the outside and not the inside, so they could not have been used in a shelter against gas attack.

External door of the north-eastern gas chamber
Illustration 11
KL Lublin - Entwesungsanlage -
External door of the north-eastern gas
chamber. Particulars of the central bolt
for the fastener. © Carlo Mattogno.
3) The presence of huge stains of ferro-ferric cyanide in the walls of the "Entwesungskammer" situated on the north-west shows that hydrogen cyanide was employed in this chamber.  Contrary to what Crowell claims, nothing shows that the disinfestation chambers served also as air-raid shelters.

Crowell asserts that the arguments which I set out in my above-mentioned reply

    "do not merit much space here, not only because they have already been responded to, but also because there is a lot of extraneous matter in his article." (p. 42)

Both claims are false. Crowell has neither responded to these arguments nor does the article contain "a lot of extraneous matter," being a detailed response to his theses.  To show Crowell's bad faith, it suffices to examine what he writes about the above doors:

    "Document 3. Orders from Lublin (Majdanek) to Auert in Berlin, September 26, 1942 (Source: Kogon, E., others, eds. Nationalsozialistischen Massentötungen durch Giftgas, p. 319).

Regarding this, he sententiously judges:

    "In this case, we are lucky to have some of the doors still in existence, where they can be found at the Majdanek concentration camp. Therefore [sic!], we know that these were air-raid shelter doors" (p.9).

So not only has Crowell not responded to my arguments, but with foolish obstinancy, he persists in negating the evidence.

A final observation.

The presumed order of 26 September 1942 is in reality the result of a misaprehension of Adam Rutkowski, who edited the item "Majdanek" in the book cited by Crowell.[12] On p. 242 of this work we read:

    "Die mit Gummidichtungen versehenen Eisentüren, die fest verriegelt werden konnten, sind von der Firma ‚Auert' in Berlin geliefert worden."

Referring to the provincial State Archive of Lublin and the relative note on this, Rutkowski writes:

    "Schreiben Nr. 17; die Liefernummern der Firma lauteten 656, 657, 659" (note 5 on p. 319).

Here Rutkowski misunderstands a piece of information supplied by Józef Marszaek on p.53 of the article "Budowa obozu koncentracyjnego na Majdanku w latach 1942-1944" [13]:

    "The letters on the door indicate that it was manufactured by the firm Auert, that assigned to the door the successive numbers 656, 657, 658 and 659. […]. The limits [that is, the allocation] permitted for the construction of the gas chamber amounted to 70,700 RM." [14]

After this figure Marszaek writes in note 118:

    "Rozkaz budowlany [15] nr 525 z dnia 26 IX 42 r. WAPL, Zentralbauleitung…, nr. 25, s. 39", that is:
    "Construction order No. 525 of 26 September1942. Provincial State Archive of Lublin, Zentralbauleitung, No. 25, p. 39."

Therefore this document does not refer to the order for four gas-tight doors from the firm Auert, but rather to the "Bauantrag" for 70,700 RM. Rutkowski, who did not mention the source, misunderstood Marszaek's previous note (relative to the order of 11 September 1942 for two Heissluftapparate from the firm Theodor Klein) that refers to "WAPL, Zentralbauleitung…, nr 17, s. 9-11." Here nr 17 does not indicate a "Schreiben" of the Zentralbauleitung, as Rutkowski believes, but to dossier No. 17 in the provincial State archive of Lublin from the fund named "Zentralbauleitung der Waffen SS und Polizei Lublin."

If Crowell persists in ignoring these proofs and to negate the evidence, his thesis will be transformed from one of error into one of imposture.

4) The "Bomb Shelter Documents"

This distressful section illustrates perfectly the axiomatic nature of Crowell's methodology. Having found a simple resemblance between two photographs (!) and without knowing the documents nor having inspected the installations, he immediately jumps to a conclusion that is for him final and indisputable, but which is in fact false. In his study of Pressac's "criminal traces" he adopted the same aberrant methodology which formulated the form of rebuke to van Pelt and myself reads:

    "Instead of working from the uncontested observation that the gastight fixures of the Criminal Traces were identical to civil air defence fixures, they proceeded from the premise that the crematoria never could have fulfilled an air-raid shelter function. Instead of working within the structure of the argument, they both preferred to simply look for reasons to reject it" (p.45).

I pass over his presumption concerning the "uncontested (!) observation" of this alleged identity. As I have already written, Crowell simply confuses things which have a superficial resemblance but are different in function and purpose, with things that are identical. But this is not the problem. The real problem is whether at the time when Pressac situates his criminal traces (January-April 1943) measures were taken at Auschwitz for air-raid defense.

Crowell, instead of studying this essential point, started with the firm assumption that air-raid measures were taken in the crematoria of Birkenau, and then tried to justify his assertions with documents.

He first postulated his dogmatic conclusion, and then searched for documents to prove it. Since these documents do not exist, he resorted to systematic distortion of the documents, which in fact demonstrate nothing at all, as will be seen from the following analysis.

Document 1 (pp. 7-8) dates back to 6 August 1942 and considers the "Richtlinien für den Aufbau der Luftschutzes im Bereich des M.i.G. [= Militärbefehlshaber im Generalgouvernement]." It concerns simple norms from which it cannot be deduced neither if nor when air-raid shelters were constructed.

Document 2 (p. 8) consists of two terse citations from the so-called diary of Hans Frank dated 22 and 24 September 1942 concerning "Gasmasken." This document too says nothing about air-raid shelters.

Document 3 (p. 9) refers to the doors of the Entwesungsanlage of Majdanek. As I have shown above, a request for these doors, dated 26 September 1942, does not exist, and the doors have nothing to do with air-raid shelters.

Document 4 (p. 9) is a short citation in English translation of the Stroop report. The original says:

    "Nach gestern und heute gemachten Aussagen wurden im letzten Halbjahr 1942 die Juden angefordert, Luftschutzkeller zu bauen. Unter der Tarnung, Luftschutzkeller zu bauen, wurde bereits damals mit dem Bau der jetzt von den Juden bezogenen Bunker begonnen, um diese bei einer Aktion gegen die Juden [sic] benutzen zu können." [16]

This proves nothing about Auschwitz, because Warsaw was in the Generalgouvernement while Auschwitz was situated in Upper Silesia and was part of the Reich. This fact makes documents 1-3 even more inconclusive.

Document 5 (p.10) is a simple deposition of Bühler at the Nuremberg trial and proves nothing.

Document 6 (p.12) goes back to 14 September 1940 and refers to "Sofortmassnahmen bei Bomben-und Brandschäden". Crowell himself admits that

    "it holds no particular interest, except that is the first document in the Central Construction Office files on the subject of civil air defense."

In other words, it has no value whatever, but serves only to make up a number, like documents 1-5.

Document 7 is a "memo on Fighting Phosphorous Fires December 21, 1940" (p.12). Another inane document to make up a number.

Document 8 (p.12), "Erweiterer Selbstschutz in Barackenlagern" of 4 January 1941 contains instructions on the construction of air-raid shelters and other similar general directives. It proves nothing regarding the actual construction of air-raid shelters.

Document 9 (p. 13) considers "Blaues Licht während der Verdunklung" and is dated 16 April 1941. Another inane document.

Document 10 is a tender by the Berlin firm Heinemann & Co. to the SS-Neubauleitung of Auschwitz and has for its object "Luftschutzdeckungsgräben für Arbeitsläger, Fabriken, öffentliche Plätze usw." and concerns "LS-Stollenrahmen aus Zement." From the letter it appears that the Heinemann firm wrote it on its own initiative to promote its products and was not solicited by the SS-Neubauleitung, nor is there a known response from this office. The document therefore proves nothing.

Document 11 (p.13), "Building Regulations for 1942, March 6, 1942" mentions "quite casually in the context of general building regulations" measures for air-raid defense. Yet another document proving nothing.

Document 12 (p. 13) is a "Civil Defense Security Directive, Himmler to Glücks, February 8, 1943" of which Hilberg gives a brief summary. This is how Crowell comments on it:

    "The document, in our view, is significant in three ways. First, because it establishes an awareness of the need for civil air defense in the concentration camps at the highest level of the SS by early February, 1943. Second, because security needs would certainly justify the alternative use of the Birkenau crematoria in the case of air attack. Third, because an obvious antidote to prevent prisoner escapes would be to provide the prisoners with some measure of security so that they would have a stake in maintaining order in an air-raid" (p.13).

Here is what Hilberg writes:

    "In February 1943 Himmler became worried that air-raids on the concentration camps might occasion mass breaks. To prevent any such occurrence he ordered that each camp be divided into blocks, 4,000 inmates per block, each block to be fenced in with barbed wire. Every camp was to be surrounded by a high wall, and barbed wire was to be strung on both sides of the wall. The interior passageway between wire and wall was to be patrolled by dogs; the outer passageway was to be mined, just in case a bomb tore a hole in the wall. In the vicinity of the camp, dogs trained to tear a man apart (zerreissen) were to roam at night." [17]

Hence this document concerns repressive measures against detainees, not measures for air-raid protection. It therefore proves nothing while Crowell's comments are totally arbitrary.

Document 13 (pp.13-14) is made up of the "Richtlinien" of Kammler and has for object "Luftschutz." It is dated 6 March 1943, but was protocolled by the Zentralbauleitung on 19 June, as appears from the relative stamp. This means that the letter reached Auschwitz on the latter date. Crowell states that

    "there are scribbles at the top of the page, including a large one that appears to be the name of Kirschnek, who was the overall building supervisor at Auschwitz and directly subordinate to Karl Bischoff, the head of the Central Construction Office at this time" (p. 14).

Here Crowell makes another incredible blunder, because the writing in question is "Reg.", the abbreviation for "Registratur," that was the Sachgebiet of the Zentralbauleitung assigned to the registation of arriving post. [18]

To be precise, SS-Untersturmführer Kirschnek was simply the head of one of five Bauleitungen - into which the Zentralbauleitung was then divided - having the function of Bauleiter of the "Bauleitung der Waffen-SS und Polizei Auschwitz, K.L. Auschwitz und Landwirtschaft Auschwitz." In particular, he had no jurisdiction over the Birkenau camp, which was subject to the authority of SS-Untersturmfüher Janisch, Bauleiter of the „Bauleitung des Kriegsgefangenenlagers."

Since these directives reached Auschwitz in June 1943, they prove absolutely nothing regarding the possible implementation of air-raid measures in the crematoria of Birkenau between January and April 1943.

Starting with No. 14, all the documents given by Crowell except for No. 16 postdate Pressac's criminal traces of April 1943. Hence they prove nothing about these traces in the framework of the "bomb shelter thesis." In the following table, I indicate the dates of the respective documents:

Document 14 p. 14 5/4/44 Document 26 p. 20 20/9/44
Document 15 p. 15 30/8/44 Document 27 p. 20 18/9/44
Document 16 p. 15 23/9/42 Document 28 p. 20 11/8/44
Document 17 p. 16 16/6/44 Document 29 p. 21 11/9/44
Document 18 p. 17 28/6/44 Document 30 p. 21 2/6/43
Document 19 p. 18 6/12/43 Document 31 p. 21 9/6/44
Document 20 p. 19 21/9/43 Document 32 p. 21 11/5/44
Document 21 p. 19 25/10/43 Document 33 p. 22 21/3/44
Document 22 p. 19 5/11/43 Document 34 p. 22 25/3/44
Document 23 p. 20 4/10/44 Document 35 p. 22 24/3/44
Document 24 p. 20 18/10/44 Document 36 p. 22 26/8/44
Document 25 p. 20 17/10/44

Document 16 concerns the 23 September 1942 visit of Pohl to Auschwitz. [19] Nevertheless, the itinerary for the visit does not refer to any site having the remotest connection with a "bomb shelter." This was candidly admitted by Crowell himself, who writes "the itinerary makes no visits to possible bomb shelter sites" (p. 16). But then why did he cite this document to support his argument on "bomb shelters"?

Crowell makes another blunder in his commentary stating that the annotations added by hand to the document

    "indicate that the camp capacity of Birkenau is foreseen as 12,000 men and 18,000 women, and suggest that there are only 1,000 persons at Birkenau at this time" (p. 16).

One should ask oneself what annotations "suggest" such an absurdity. In the document in question the term "Birkenau" appears twice with an annotation next to it. The first is the one cited by Crowell ("Lager Birkenau Fassungsvermögen Männer 12.000 u. Frauen 18.000"); the second is "Truppenlager Birkenau 523 mänl. häftl.u. 800 Fr."), that is, "Camp for troops at Birkenau having 523 male detainees and 800 female."

Therefore Crowell takes for the population of the Lager Birkenau to be these 1,323 detainees which simply make up the service personnel of the SS in the Truppenlager!

Even though the remaining documents, for chronological reasons, demonstrate absolutely nothing, I will examine some of them in order to show the hair-splitting nature of Crowell's interpretations. Regarding Document 17 (p. 16), I refer to paragraph 10 (The 6 Leichenkammern of the Aktenvermerk of 17 June 1944).

Document 30 (p. 21) is a simple invoice for 45 RM dated 2 June 1943 concerning work done by detainees in Krema II. What does this document have to do with "bomb shelters"? What does it prove? Absolutely nothing.

5) The Luftschutz-Deckungsgräben of September-November 1943.

Documents 20-22 require a separate discussion. They concern a letter from the specialist SS-Untersturmführer Kirschnek (not by Dejaco, as Crowell erroneously states) dated 21 September 1943, and two letters dated 25 October and 5 November 1943 from the SS-Untersturmführer specialist Dejaco, who was employed in the Sachgebiet Planung of the Zentralbauleitung.

In my two articles cited above on the "bomb shelter thesis" I stated - and here I confirm this - that at Auschwitz no air-raid measures (construction of "bomb shelters") were taken before 16 November 1943. Crowell cited these three documents in order to contradict this fact (to which I return below), and, as it seems, he truly believes that they refute my statement so strongly so as to qualify it as "a ridiculous assertion."[20] If there is anything truly ridiculous here, it is Crowell's interpretation. He actually claims that these three documents refer to the construction of a "trench shelter" at Auschwitz (p. 19).

In reality, Crowell has understood nothing of the problems posed by these documents; let us summarize the course of events.

The «Programm "Luftschutzgräben"» was launched in Upper Silesia in August 1943. This entailed the use of pieces of prefabricated concrete (Betonteile) in the construction of Luftschutzgräben. The job of making these pieces was entrusted to the Zentralbauleitung of Auschwitz, which had them made from its "Beton-Kolonne."[21] For the production, standard metallic forms (Formen) were used that were supplied by the purchaser and into which cement was poured. Thus the excavation was covered with these elements of concrete that formed a kind of huge cement pipe. The most important part was evidently the cover (Deckung), a vault (Bogen, Gewölbe), so that these installations were commonly called "Luftschutz-Deckungsgräben."

Auschwitz was only the place of manufacture (Baudienststelle), but the Zentralbauleitung had also to provide for the delivery (Auslieferung) of the products to the customer. The products were intended for the Baubevollmächtigte im Bezirk der Rüstungsinspektion VIII, but the customer (Auftraggeber) of the work was the Gaubeauftragte des Generalbevollmächtigten für die Regelung der Bauwirtschaft im Raume Oberschlesien (G.B.-Bau), with its seat at Kattowitz. The co-involvement of G.B.-Bau as customer shows that the "Luftschutzgräben" had been requested by Speer, probably for the Todt organisation. In fact, a document pertinent to "Programmbauten" from the "Reichsminister für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion. Amt Bau OT [= Organisation Todt]" of March 1944 mentions a "Luftschutz" plan included in the Bauvorhaben "Kattowitz Stollenbau." [22]

In conclusion, the Betonteile of the "Luftschutzgräben" (or "Luftschutz-Deckungsgräben") were meant for the above-mentioned office of Speer at Kattowitz: Nothing at all shows that a single Betonteil was meant for Auschwitz.

The above documents have an antecedent that Crowell fails to cite. This is Kammler's letter of 3 September 1943 to the Gaubeauftragte des Generalbevollmächtigten für die Regelung der Bauwirtschaft im Raume Oberschlesien with object "K.L.-Auschwitz - Luftschutzmassnahmen in O/S". Kammler writes:

    "Durch Bericht vom 27.8. teilte mir die Zentralbauleitung der Waffen-SS und Polizei Auschwitz mit, dass mit Fertigung von Betonteilen für das Programm „Luftschützgräben" am 30.8.1943 begonnen werden sollte.
    Wie ich bereits mitteilte, habe ich die Baudienststelle angewiesen, in Anbetracht der geschilderten Dringlichkeit, sich für die geforderte Produktion einzusetzen. Ich bitte jedoch dringend, Ihrerseits auch dafür besorgt zu bleiben, dass die erforderlichen Kontigente zeitgerecht zur Verfügung stehen.
    Ferner bitte ich, zu bestätigen, dass die in meinem Fernschreiben vom 21.8.1943 geforderten 10% der Fertigsfabrikate bei einer Kontingentierung durch den Gaubevollmächtigten des GB-Bau für Waffen-SS-Zwecke zur Verfügung gestellt werden." [23]
Kirschnek's letter of 21 September 1943 [24] has for object „L.S.-Deckungsgräben für den Baubevollmächtigten im Bezirk der Rüstungsinspektion VIII" and is addressed to the „Baubevollmächtigte des Reichsministeriums Speer im Bezirk der Rüstungsinspektion VIIIb". Kirschnek justified himself to the consignee of the products for the delay in production stating that it was due to a shortage of fuel (which of course was needed to make the concrete mixer work) and of forms for the cover of the vault:

    "mit der Fertigung der Betonteile für die L.S.-Deckungsgräben mangels Betriebsstoff und nachdem bisher von seiten des Auftraggebers nur 3 Formen für die Gewölbewände geliefert wurde, noch nicht mit Grosseinsatz begonnen werden konnte".

After listing the missing administrative documents, Kirschnek indicated the forms which had to be sent to the Zentralbauleitung and renewed the request of 8 September for fuel coupons.

Dejaco's "Aktenvermerk" of 25 October 1943 has for its object the "Luftschutz-Deckungsgräben." [25]

The document concerns a dispute regarding the breaking of 60% of 7 wagons of concrete vaults (Bogenstücken) for the "Luftschutz-Deckungsgräben" sent to the Zentralbauleitung at Kattowitz on 11 and 12 October, the delivery of which was taken by engineer Andre, a functionary from G.B.-Bau. Dejaco declined any responsibility, declaring that the 176 Bodenstücken were loaded "ordnungsgemäss und ohne Beschädigung" in the presence of a functionary from Kattowitz. The document contains a further request for still outstanding forms ("noch ausstehenden Formen").

Here I emphasize a decisively foolish interpretation of Crowell. He writes:

    "All of the materials have to do with the production and delivery of concrete shells to be used for trench shelter construction at Auschwitz. The October 25, 1943 memorandum mentions 176 of these shells, while the November 5, 1943 memorandum mentions the "first 500 meters of concrete." Consequently, we concluded originally that this document referenced the construction of hundreds of air-raid shelters in the camp.
    However, this conclusion was wrong, first, because the construction of the shells was not understood (they are practically oval) and second because the problem with the high water table at Birkenau was not evident. In addition, whatever the problem with the water table, it seemed to be contradicted by the photographic evidence of what appeared to be trench shelters in Birkenau" (p.19).
How could Crowell infer from the "500 lfdm Betonteile" and "176 Bogenstücken" that they demonstrate the existence of "hundreds of air-raid shelters in the camp"?

He has understood neither that the "Luftschutz-Deckungsgräben" were made from pieces of prefabricated concrete nor that the "176 Bogenstücken" formed part of the "500 lfdm Betonteile," that were earlier mentioned in Kirschnek's letter of 21 September as a program to be implemented. Nevertheless, as Dejaco explicitly says in the "Aktenvermerk" of 5 November, by this date about 250 meters of the program had been completed.

Now, had there been "hundreds" (that is, not less than 200) shelters and if they were meant for the SS troops, they must have been 1.25 (=250:200) meters in length! Here is a further example of Crowell's senseless "deductions."

Dejaco's "Aktenvermerk" of 5 November 1943 again has for its object the "Luftschutzdeckungsgräben."[26] It concerns a report for the specialist SS-Obersturmführer Jothann, who on 1 October 1943 took over from Bischoff as head of the Zentralbauleitung, which he confirmed by taking it into cognizance (zur Kenntnis genommen).

The author refers to a colloquium between himself and engineer Andre, who had returned to the chair of the Zentralbauleitung the day before. The princial theme was the scarcity of fuel which risked stoppage of the production of concrete pieces. The received fuel had been consumed by the production already realized:

    "Da nunmehr bereits mehr als 250 lfdm L.S.Deckungsgräben von der ZBL. fertiggestellt sind, ist diese Kraftstoffzuteilung längst verbraucht."

Nevertheless, Dejaco requested a further allocation of fuel. Moreover, he let it be known that the administrative documents requested in the letter of 21 September were still lacking and he again listed them. Then Dejaco informed the specialist SS-Obersturmführer Jothann that more "Formen" had arrived at Auschwitz on 4 November. Finally, engineer Andre had visited the "Beton-Werkstätten" of the Zentralbauleitung where the concrete pieces were produced.

In conclusion, to claim that these documents prove that during this period „Luftschützgräben" (or "Luftschutz-Deckungsgräben") were installed at Auschwitz, or were intended for Auschwitz, shows that either Crowell has understood nothing or that he is in bad faith [malafede].

6) Genesis and development of "bomb shelters" at Auschwitz

On the basis of the documents examined above, Crowell comes to the following surprising conclusion:

    "It should be possible to say that somewhere between the fall of 1942 and the spring of 1943 the Central Construction Office at Auschwitz became aware of the need to implement civil air defense measures and began implementing them" (p.24).

A few lines earlier he provides a more precise date: "from the beginning of February 1943."

I have already shown that none of the documents cited by Crowell contain not only no proof of this assertion, but not even a vague suggestion of it. This being established, let us pass on to another problem.

Crowell claims that the "measures" for constructing "civil air defense" were carried out on the orders of Himmler to Glücks dated 8 February 1943 (his document 12), which in fact have nothing to do with "bomb shelters." Therefore he believes a directive from above would have been put into effect modifying the crematoria into "bomb shelters." Obviously, being a matter of a directive from above, it had to be executed in more or less the whole Auschwitz complex, so that during this period from 8 February to 16 November 1943 several "bomb shelters" must have been constructed, intended either for detainees or the troops. Crowell subdivides the documents on "bomb shelters" adduced by him into three sections which he labels "high level," "mid-level" and "low level." This tripartite division ultimately serves only to complicate the essential issue to be resolved, which is most simple: Between February and November 1943 were orders imparted and carried out for the construction of "bomb shelters"?

Crowell neither demonstates that such orders were given nor that they were implemented. On the other hand, there is not the minimum trace in the documents that "civil air defense measures" were carried out. Let us examine the most important documents.

1) Prüfungsbericht Nr. 491 über Baustoffeinsparung gemäss G.B.-Anordnung Nr. 22, drawn up by Bischoff on 2 February 1943. [27] This document contains a list of construction work which was to be completed during 1944 (Fertigstellungstermin: 1944). As follows:

182 Pferdestallbaracken, 27 Waschbaracken, 13 Abortbaracken, 10 Wirtschaftsbaracken, 12 Revierbaracken, 10 Blockfürerbaracken, 3 Waschbaracken für die Truppe, 6 Abortbaracken für die Truppe, 3 Wirtschaftsbaracken für die Truppe, 11 Kammer- und Schreibstubebaracken, 16 Mannschaftsunterkunftsbaracken für die Truppe, 1 Waschgebäude, 1 Kommandanturgebäude, Lagerhaus, Drahthindernis und Wachtürme, Kochkessel und Heizöfen, 4 Krematorien, 4 Leichenhallen, Entlausungsanlage für Gefangene, Entlausungsanlage für die Wachtruppe, Wasserversorgungsanlage, Entwässerung, Gleisanschluss, Alarm- und Telefonanlage, Elektrische Lichtanlage, Notstromaggregate, Transformatorenstation, Provisorische Bäckerei, Werkhallen für die D.A.W., 3 Lagerbaracken für die D.A.W., 1 Wohnbaracke (D.A.W.), Entlausungsanlage I (Zivilarbeiter), 4 Unterkunftsbaracken (Zivilarbeiter), Entlausungsanlage II (Zivilarbeiter), 2 Abortbaracken (Zivilarbeiter), 2 Waschbaracken (Zivilarbeiter).

None of these bear any relation to anti air-raid measures.

2) Tätigkeitsbericht of the SS-Untersturmführer Kirschnek on works executed between January 1 and March 31 1943. [28] The report mentions the following Bauwerke:

BW 7a, BW 20M, BW 20N, BW 20O, BW 20Q, BW 43, BW 20D, BW 64, BW 81, BW 76, BW 26B, BW 71A, BW 63, BW 71B, BW 26B, BW 32 B, BW 4, BW 68B, BW 66E, BW 86, BW 4, BW 71, Unterkunft H. 834, BW 83, BW 207, Garage neben Haus 7, BW 71, BW 81, BW 30, 30a.

None of these Bauwerke are related to anti air-raid measures.

3) Aufteilung der Bauwerke for the Bauvorhaben Kriegsgefangenenlagers drawn up by SS-Untersturmführer Janisch on 9 April 1943. [29] The following Bauwerke are listed here:

BW 1, BW 2, BW 3a, BW 3b, BW 3c, BW 3d, BW 3e, BW 3f, BW 4a, BW 4b, BW 4c, BW 4d, BW 4e, BW 4f, BW 5a, BW 5b, BW 6a, BW 6b, BW 6c, BW 7a, BW 7b, BW 7c, BW 8a, BW 8b, BW 8c, BW 9, BW 10, BW 11, BW 12a, BW 12b, BW 12c, BW 12d, BW 12e, BW 12f, BW 13, BW 14 (Barackenlager für die Wachtruppe), 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d, 14e, 14f, 14g, 14h, BW 15, BW 16, BW 17, BW 18, BW 18a, BW 19, BW 20, BW 21, BW 22, BW 23, BW 24, BW 25, BW 26, BW 26a, BW 26b, BW 27, BW 28, 29, BW 30, BW 30a, BW 30b, BW 30c, BW 31, BW 32, BW 33, BW 34a, BW 35, BW 45, BW 66, BW 77.

None of these Bauwerke are related to anti air-raid measures.

4) Erläuterungsbericht zum Ausbau des Kriegsgefangenenlagers der Waffen-SS in Auschwitz O/S, drawn up by Bischoff on 30 September 1943. [30] The document lists the following Bauwerke:

BW 3a-3c, BW 4a, BW 5a, BW 6a, BW 7a, BW 3b, BW 4a, BW 4b, BW 8a, BW 12c, BW 12d, BW 12e, BW 12f, BW 3d, BW 4c, BW 4d, BW 6b, BW 7b, BW 12a, BW 12d, BW 34a, BW 33, BW 3e, BW 4c, BW 4e, BW 4f, BW 6c, BW 7c, BW 12b, BW 12d, BW 33a, BW 9, BW 10, BW 11, BW 15, BW 18, BW 30, BW 30a, BW 30b, BW 30c, BW 31, BW 32, BW 35, BW 13, BW 16, BW 17, BW 18, BW 18a, BW 19, BW 21, BW 22, BW 23, BW 24, BW 25, BW 26b, BW 27, BW 29.

None of these Bauwerke are related to anti air-raid measures. BW 29 refers to "Feuerlöschteiche," but as we shall soon see, has nothing to do with "civil air defense measures."

5) Baufristenplan of the Kriegsgefangenenlager written up by Jothann on 15 December 1943.[31] In this document all the camp's Bauwerke between April 1943 and March 1944, either in construction or already completed, together with an indication of the degree of work completed in %, the date started as well as the projected date for finished work are drawn up:

BW 2, BW 3a, BW 3b, BW 3c-d, BW 4a, BW 4b, BW 4c, BW 5a, BW 5b, BW 6a, BW 6b, BW 6c, BW7c, BW 7a, BW 7b, BW 8a, BW 9, BW 12a, BW 12c, BW 13, BW 14, BW 16, BW 17, BW 18, BW 19, BW 20/21, BW 24, BW 25, BW 26, BW 30, BW 30a, BW 30b, BW 30c, BW 31, BW 32, BW 33, BW 35, BW 36, BW 10, BW 14a.

None of these documents are related to anti air-raid measures.

This total absence of references to "civil air defense measures" in the documents of the Zentralbauleitung before 16 November 1943 is explained only by the fact that before this date such measures did not exist and could not exist. In fact, the program for anti air-raid protection that was launched in Upper Silesia in August of 1943 was initially intended for the structures of the Todt organisation and was extended to the Auschwitz camp only in the middle of November. The decision was made official by SS-Obersturmbannführer Liebehenschel, who at that time was the SS-Standortälteste of the Auschwitz camp.  In the Standortbefehl n. 51/43 of 16 November 1943 he communicated the following:

"11. Luftschutzmassnahmen im Stardort Auschwitz.
Nach Mitteilung der vorgesetzten zuständigen Dienststellen sind nunmehr auch im Standortbereich Auschwitz sofort die erforderlichen Luftschutzmassnahmen in Angriff zu nehmen. Mit Durchführung dieser Massnahmen beauftrage ich in meiner Eigenschaft als örtlicher Luftschutzleiter den SS-Untersturmführer Josten als meinen ständigen Vertreten. Ich bitte sämtliche Dienststellen, SS-Untersturmführer Josten in jeder Weise zu unterstützen." [32] (see illustration 12).
Luftschutzmassnahmen im Stardort Auschwitz
Illustration 12
„Luftschutzmassnahmen im Stardort Auschwitz". From the Standortbefehl n. 51/43 of 16 November 1943.

This document irrefutably proves that Crowell's ponderings are mere fantasies - and that is why he took good care not to say a single word about it. This is not surprising since in order to play it down or disguise this document he would have had to have recourse to even more foolish fantasies.

Let us return to our story.

Liebehenschel assumed the post of "Der SS-Standortälteste als örtlicher Luftschutzleiter" and his office was called „LS-Befehlstelle (für das Interessengebiet des K.L. Auschwitz O/S.)". This heading was printed as a letterhead on his stationary that was used for his correspondence in his capacity as Luftschutzleiter.

It was precisely in this capacity that Liebehenschel sent a letter on 17 February 1944 to the Zentralbauleitung which begins as follows:

    "Mit Anordnung vom 1.1.1944 über die Durchführung des Luftschutzes im Interessengebiet des KL Auschwitz wurde die Erstellung von Feuerlöschteichen verfügt." [33]
Therefore the decision to officially put into effect air-raid protection measures in the pertinent area of Auschwitz on 16 November 1943, became construction orders only on 1 January 1944. In execution of these orders, "Feuerlöschteiche," intended specifically for extinguishing fires caused by bombardments were also constructed, so that these "Feuerlöschteiche" of BW 29 mentioned in the Erläuterungsbericht of 30 September 1943 had nothing to do with air-raid protection measures, but served only for normal fire-fighting in the Auschwitz camp, a camp consisting mainly of wooden barracks. In fact, already from 31 March 1942 a "Feuerlöschanlage" for Auschwitz had been projected as BW 206. [34]

Following practice, an appropriate Bauwerk, BW 98, was established in which all projected air-raid shelters were included. BW 98 refers to the first air-raid installation planned for Auschwitz. A document not cited by Crowell indicates that BW 98 was established for "Luftschutzdeckungsgraben" and concerns the "Leistungsverzeichnis über die Ausführung der Erd-, Mauer-, und Isolationsarbeiten für die Luftschutzdeckungsgraben BW 98 im KL Auschwitz" drawn up on 25 March 1944 by Jothann.[35] The "Leistungsverzeichnis" is a contract in which all the work to be done is specified, but without indication of the cost per square or cubic meter, showing that on 25 March 1944 the Bauwerk 98 was still at the planning stage. The air-raid shelters of BW 98 successively constructed constituted sections of BW 98 that were marked with a sign such as the addition of a letter. For example, the Luftschutzkeller for the house of the camp commandant was BW 98J, the Luftschutzbunker constructed in Krema I was BW 98M.

    BW 14k, "Splitterschutzgräben für die Truppe," was established at Birkenau, forming a section of BW 14 that incorporated the "Barackenlager für Wachtruppe BA II." [36]

In the above-mentioned documents, neither BW 98 nor BW 14k appear by 15 December 1943, since both were established in 1944.

The Luftschutz program at Auschwitz was realised gradually.

The anti air-raid installations requested (gefordert) and realized (erstellt) are listed in Jothann 's Aktenvermerk of 28 June 1944, which has for its object "LS.-Massnahmen im K.L.Auschwitz."

The completed installations were the following:

    „An Luftschutz-Anlagen wurden bisher erstellt:
    1.) Kommandantur Lager I
      12 Stück Feuerlöschteiche von je 400 cbm Inhalt
      10 Stück Splitterschützgräben in Fertigbetonteilen für je
      130 Personen
      1 Bunker für die Häuser
      22 Stück 1-Mann bezw. 2-Mann-Splitterschutzbunker für kleine

    2.) Kommandantur Lager II.
      8 Feuerlöschteiche von je 400 cbm Inhalt
      1 Splitterschutzgraben für 130 Personen". (See illustration 13)
Aktenvermerk of Jothann of 28 June 1944
Illustration 13
Aktenvermerk of Jothann of 28 June 1944. Detail.

The facilities requested but not yet realized were an additional 220. Even the air-raid shelter for the camp commandant's house was planned very late, as can be seen in "Erläuterungsbericht zum Bau eines Luftschutzkellers für das Kommandantenhaus BW 98 J" [37] and the relative "Kostenvoranschlag," [38] both dated 10 October 1944.

The following anti air-raid installations were in construction on 4 September 1944 and have their degree of completion in % indicated on the right:

Splitterschutzgräben für die Wachtruppe: 60%
Feuerlöschteiche im Gebiet des KL: 90%
Splitterschutzgräben im KGL: 80%
10 Feuerlöschteiche von je 400 cbm Inhalt: 50%
Feuerlöschteich für die Weichsel-Metall-Union: 10%
Sicherheitslinie für Lager I - 15 Stück 1 Mann-Splitterschutzbunker: 95%
Ausbau einer LS-Befehlsstelle mit Funkstelle u. Fernsprechvermittelung im Kommandantur-gebäude I: 70%
Ausbau eines gasdichten Behandlungsraumes im früheren Krema für den Standortarzt: 5% [39].

7) Pressac's criminal traces

In the article "Technik und Arbeitsweise deutscher Gasschutzbunker im Zweiten Weltkrieg" Crowell claimed to have explained all Pressac's criminal traces with his "bomb shelter thesis":

    "jede als Indiz für die Gaskammern angeführte Spur kann genauso als Beweis für einen deutschen Luftschutzraum oder, genauer gesagt, für die Ausrüstung eines Gaschutzraumes interpretiert werden." (p. 226)

Now he has been constrained to admit that neither of the two more serious traces [40] - the „Vergasunskeller" and the „Gasprüfer" (or "Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste"), that he imprecisely calls "gas detectors" - bear any relation to presumed "bomb shelters." He interprets the first according to the "disinfection thesis," the second, if only "superficially," according to the "gas chamber thesis"! (pp. 32-34). On p.34 he concludes that
    "the Vergasungskeller and the gas detectors have no clear explanation under any thesis, but we are now inclined to think that they too have something to do with disinfestations."
On the whole, Crowell's proposed explanation of Pressac's criminal traces is artificial and often clearly captious. Starting from a false thesis he is constrained to twist the significance of the documents in order to force an "explanation" of such a thesis. Here we examine the most obvious cases of this aberrant methodology.

  • Gasprüfer - Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste
The story of the "Vergasungskeller" as a "decontamination center" having been demolished - thanks to my criticism - let us go on to the "gas detectors." In his treatment of this trace, Crowell returns to his piece "Technique and Operation of German Anti-Gas Shelters in World War Two." Before examining his explanation I wish to consider how he looks at my interpretation, which he sets out in the article "The Gasprüfer of Auschwitz." There writes:

    "On the other hand, we consider the Mattogno explanation weak, because there is no causal chain to accompany the claim of forgery or falsification. In other words, if a document is forged, common sense dictates that there be a reason for the forgery. To say that such a document is altered, which isn't explicit in any case, tells us nothing. In order to make the argument for falsification stick, one has to propound a scenario under which it was altered, and why. For example, if the document was used in a judicial proceeding against Kurt Prüfer, that might set us on the proper trail. But Mattogno offers no evidence for this.
    Noting the ambiguity of this trace, we leave it aside for now, observing only that superficially it tends to support the gas chamber thesis as opposed to either the disinfection or bomb shelter theses" (p.34).
This is the same objection raised by Zimmerman. Now when Zimmerman lays down such an objection, it doesn't surprise me in the least, but when someone who should be a researcher for truth does this, it is extremely painful. Like Zimmerman, Crowell has avoided the obstacle by taking a short cut.

In the first version of the above-cited article, I showed that the telegram of 26 February 1943 sent by the Zentralbauleitung ("Gasprüfer") and the reply of 2 March from the Topf firm ("Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste") raises so many unsolvable problems that the only solution seemed to be the hypothesis that the second document had been falsified. This hypothesis served only to give a response to those problems that are of a technical and bureaucratic nature and do not minimally concern the specific question of a possible request by the Zentralbauleitung for an apparatus to test for residual hydrogen cyanide.

Indeed, I devoted an entire paragraph to these questions where I reconstructed the historical context in which these two documents are set and I showed that this validated the interpretation already formulated by Robert Faurisson that the "Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste" served for normal disinfestation purposes of Krema II.

Reviewers with few scruples or openly deceptive [malafede], and who opportunistically passed over this demonstration remembered only the fact that Mattogno had asserted - without proof - that the second document is a falsification, shrewdly insinuating that I had recourse to this expedient because of an inability to provide an adequate response to the document's reference to "gas."

The reality is that Topf's letter of 2 March 1943 preoccupied me so little that I was most disposed to accept its authenticity, with the result that I did indeed formally accept it in the latest version of my article [41] and retracted the falsification hypothesis. In any case, those who, like Crowell, claim to seriously analyze documents, cannot escape the duty of discussing problems that documents provoke nor the obligation to resolve them.

In our case the problems are many and grave. We briefly summarize them.

  1. The apparati for testing of residual hydrocyanic gas were pertinent to the SS-Standortarzt. But why then were they requested from the Zentralbauleitung and not from the SS-Standortarzt?

  2. Such apparati were distributed by the firm Tesch und Stabenow. But why were they requested from the Topf firm?

  3. Such apparati were called "Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon" [42] (see illustration 14). Why then were they called "Gasprüfer" and "Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste" in the two above-mentioned documents?

    Letter  from the firm Tesch and Stabenow of 29 July 1942
    Illustration 14
    Letter from the firm Tesch & Stabenow of 29 July 1942 to the Verwaltung of KL Lublin.
    The apparatus for testing for residual hydrocyanic gas was called "Gasrestnachweisgerät für Zyklon"

  4. The"Gasprüfer" were analysers of combustuion gas. Why did the "Zentralbauleitung" ask for analysers of combustion gas if instead it wanted apparati to test for residual hydrogen cyanide?

  5. Why were exactly 10 "Gasprüfer" requested?

  6. The "Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste" did not exist in the German technical litterature of the time and the term „Anzeiger" did not designate a chemical apparatus (testing for residual gas was carried out exclusively by chemical means), but rather a mechanical instrument or the gauge of a mechanical instrument. How is one to explain the usage of such terminology?

  7. If the Zentralbauleitung desired apparatuses to test for residual hydrogen cyanide, why did it not also request the indispensable apparati needed for usage of hydrogen cyanide, that is, masks and "J" filters for protection against the gas?

Let us now consider Crowell's interpretation. In Technique and Operation of German Anti-Gas Shelters in World War Two" [43] he writes:

    «As noted above, Gasprüfer and Gasspürer were common in German chemical warfare equipment and in anti-gas shelter equipment. [Source: US 525ff]. A benign interpretation is possible, therefore it is not a criminal trace.
    If we chose, we could dismiss this criminal trace right now: the Germans had been gassed with HCN in World War One, expected its use, and had prepared for it. The presence of HCN detectors has no criminal significance at all.
    But there is still a problem: why would one ask an oven maker to purchase gas detectors? In other words, we know that the manufacturers of Zyklon had HCN gas detectors, and we are certain that the Wehrmacht and the SS had their own. Thus, why would one ask the builders of the cremation ovens for gas detectors, and why ten in number? The simplest answer is that these gas detectors were meant for the 10 three-muffle cremation ovens that comprised Crematoria II and III, and they probably were meant to have some characteristic (heat resistance) to make them usable in or by the ovens. That the gas detectors would be meant for Crematoria II and III makes sense, because, first, Pressac notes that the crematoria were always discussed as pairs (II and III, IV and V) [ATO, 452], and because Crematoria IV and V did not have 10, but rather 4 double muffle ovens apiece.
    Then we have to ask what their function would be. Pressac argues that these detectors prove gassings with Zyklon B in the crematoria: but in the event of such gassings, certainly the crematoria operators would not have needed to be informed that dangerous concentrations of the gas were nearby. In other words, the need for detectors for the ovens suggests the ability to detect the presence of HCN residues created by other processes, but not by the release of pure HCN in the Crematoria.
    In early March, 1997, Dr. Arthur R. Butz argued that the incineration chute behind the cremation ovens of Crematoria II and III could have generated high levels of HCN in the crematory ductwork if certain fabrics were burned. There is merit to this argument, since it is known that German uniforms from the beginning of the war were composed of a wool-rayon combination, and that the proportion of rayon increased throughout the war [US 541ff]. It is not unreasonable to assume that most concentration camp fabrics contained similar proportions of wool and rayon, nor is it unreasonable that highly flammable rayon fabrics would be treated with flame retardant which would provide a catalyst for HCN release when burned.[…].
    Recognizing that the problem is not a question of the criminality of these detectors, but rather a question of why Topf should be acquiring them, I accept the general validity of Dr. Butz' thesis and direct the interested reader there». (pp. 25-27).
In my critique of the A.R. Butz article, "Gas Detectors in Auschwitz Crematorium II" [44] I showed that the A. R. Butz hypothesis is untenable from a documentary, historical and technical point of view.  Its untenability is already proven by the fact that the assumptions on which it is based are inconsistent:

  • The fact that the combustion of rayon impregnated with a "flame retardant" substance can develop hydrocyanic acid was only discovered in the 1970s, so it is anachronistic to ascribe this knowledge to 1943.

  • In 1943 the only "gas detector" for hydrocyanic acid was the chemical method developed by Pertusi and Gastaldi and there did not exist any "gas detector differing from that used in the Zyklon B delousing operation […], perhaps a detector generating an audible alarm." Precisely because of this it was never mentioned in propagandistic pamphlets on "Abfall-Vernichtungs-Öfen" in connection with the two most important firms which operated in this sector, that is, the firm of Hans Kori [45] and the Topf firm itself. [46]

  • On the other hand, this presumed "gas detector" is not mentioned in either the description of the Müllverbrennungsofen of Krema III dated 11 February 1943 [47] nor in the related invoice of 23 August 1943. [48] If this presumed instrument was indispensable for the Müllverbrennungsofen of Krema II, why was it not also ordered for the Müllverbrennungsofen of Krema III?

That having been said, let us examine Crowell's explanations.

He asserts
    "As noted above, Gasprüfer and Gasspürer were common in German chemical warfare equipment and in anti-gas shelter equipment."
The reference "as noted above" is deceptive since "above" Crowell mentions the term "Gasspürer" once (with the misspelling "Gaspürer") [49] but he never mentions the term "Gasprüfer," which has nothing to do with the "Gasspürer" nor with air-raid shelters. Thus Crowell deceptively introduces the term "Gasprüfer" as a synonym of "Gasspürer" to make us believe that also the first is found in the technical literature on air-raid shelters.

Crowell then claims that
    "the Germans had been gassed with HCN in World War One, expected its use, and had prepared for it. The presence of HCN detectors has no criminal significance at all."
As to usage of the chemical agent hydrocyanic acid and its derivatives during the First World War, the French used:

  • Hydrocyanic acid (HCN), with the war-time name of "Vincennite."
  • Cyanic chloride (Cl.CN), with the war-time name of "Mauguinite."
  • Cyanic bromide (Br.CN), with the name "Campiellite."
  • Nevertheless, these three agents showed themselves to be the least efficient, as Captain Dr. Attilio Izzo shows:

    "Apart from the technical difficulty which must be confronted when passing from the production of small laboratory quantities to the production of the tens of tons needed every day for war requirements, in order to decide whether a substance was less or more efficient for chemical warfare, the confirmation of that immense laboratory is needed, which is the battlefield.
    It is one thing to kill an innocent mouse or rabbit under a laboratory tarpaulin, quite another to annihilate entire detachments of men in the open air under the immense sky. The past conflict [World War One] gave us numerous demonstrations of this assertion. Hydrocyanic acid, one of the most poisonous compounds known, and on which so many hopes were based, is unsuccessful in the practical field of battle because of its high volatility." [50]
As to cyanic chloride, Captain Izzo writes:
    "It was used by the French as an agent but without great success." [51]
And regarding cyanic bromide he asserts:
    "During the war it was used mixed with 25% acetone bromide and 50% benzol (Campiellite), but without great results." [52]
Finally, describing the properties of hydrocyanic acid, Captain Izzo asserts:
    "It is one of the most poisonous compounds known to man and it was used during the 1914 - 1918 war as a chemical agent, generally mixed with substances of low volatility. It has a high vapour pressure (567 mm. of mercury at 18° against 0.115 mm. for mustard gas at 20° ) and a low specific gravity, so that it is impossible to maintain strong concentrations in the open." [53]
Thus protection against a chemical attack with hydrocyanic acid would have been only the last preoccupation of the Zentralbauleitung.

Crowell then goes on to explain why the "Gasprüfer" were intended for a crematorium and why there were 10. He asserts that
    "these gas detectors were meant for the 10 three-muffle cremation ovens that comprised Crematoria II and III, and they probably were meant to have some characteristic (heat resistance) to make them usable in or by the ovens."
He rules out the possibility that these instruments could have been intended also for Kremas IV and V because the latter "did not have 10, but rather 4 double muffle ovens apiece."

Here Crowell reproduced my explanation but he has distorted it into a silly argument. In fact, as combustion analyzers, the "Gasprüfer" were not, as he thinks, installed in the ovens, but in the smoke conduits or at the base of the chimneys, and in Kremas II and III there were altogether 10 smoke conduits. On the other hand, there were 10 chimney flues in all four crematoria (since the chimneys of Kremas II and III were subdivided into three separate flues).

My interpretation is based on the fact - as I have already indicated - that "Gasprüfer" in German technical literature of the time were simple analyzers of combustion gas regularly installed in civilian crematoria, and also because they could have been installed in the 10 smoke conduits or in the above-mentioned 10 chimney flues. The first possibility is the most probable.

Crowell, on the other hand, creates a hybrid explanation that is not only unfounded but also silly.

Following me he claims on the one hand that the "Gasprüfer" were meant for the 10 ovens of Kremas II and III; following Butz on the other hand, he asserts that they did not serve for analyzing fumes, but rather for "the presence of HCN residues created by other processes," that is, hydrogen cyanide produced from the combustion of rayon impregnated with a "flame retardant" substance. Nevertheless, Butz clearly refers to the Müllverbrennungsofen of Krema II, an incinerator in which camp refuse was destroyed. By contrast, Crowell claims that refuse - or rather military uniforms [54] - were destroyed in the crematory ovens, which is senseless.  On the other hand, it is known that the cadavers were burnt nude and that certainly no hydrogen cyanide developed from the combustion of a corpse!  Crowell's explanation is therefore totally inconsistent. As to Butz, he does not even explain the reason for requesting the 10 "Gasprüfer." Given that there was a single Müllverbrennungsofen in Krema II, what was the point of the 10 "Gasprüfer"? Indeed, this hypothesis does not answer any of the seven problems posed above.

In conclusion, the explanation of Crowell is not only unfounded but also foolish.

A final observation.

Discussing the "regular" doors made gas-tight following the concept of engineers Nowak and Rademacher, Crowell writes:

    "On the other hand, "gastight" in a civil air defense context was not directed so much against cyanide gas as against aerosols such as mustard gases, for which felt would suffice" (p.26).

By contrast, when Crowell busies himself with "gas detectors" he asserts that "in Technique, we showed that there was a real threat of aerial cyanide gas attack" (p. 33).

So, according to Crowell, when it conerns all the wooden doors in the presumed "bomb shelters" of the crematoria (beginning with those in Leichenkeller 1 of Kremas II and III), the Zentralbauleitung did not foresee any "real threat of aerial cyanide attack"; but when it concerns "gas detectors" it foresaw a "real threat of aerial cyanide attack"!

Another example of the Crowell oportunistic argumentation.

  • Drahtnetzeinschiebvorrichtungen and Holzblenden
Crowell claims that
    „the wire mesh devices were simply wire mesh screens to fit into windows which the wooden shutters would cover, probably to provide some protection against bomb splinters, such a screen being normally called a 'Splitterschutzvorrichtung.' "
A few lines later Crowell adds:
    "We see no reason to abandon our position on either this trace or the Holzblenden, although it is clear that proper location for such paraphernalia would be vertical wall openings and these have not yet been discovered" (p. 27).
This criminal trace is found in the documentation of the Übergabeverhandlung of Krema II to the camp commandant (31 March 1943) and refers to Leichenkeller 2. [55] Crowell's explanation is unfounded not only by the documents, but also architecturally. From the documenary point of view it is arbitrary, since on the one hand we are ignorant of what the Drahtnetzeinschiebvorrichtungen and relative Holzblenden really were; on the other, German anti air-raid technical literature knew Holzblenden but not Drahtnetzeinschiebvorrichtungen. The claim that the latter were simple Splitterschutzvorrichtungen is another non-proven assertion.

The statement that the presumed vertical apertures "have not yet been discovered" is false, since the walls of Leichenkeller 2 of Krema II are quite visible and show not the slightest trace of these presumed four "vertical wall openings." Therefore, there is really nothing "yet" to be discovered in these walls.

  • Drei gasdichte Türme
One reads in the letter of 31 March 1943 from the Zentralbauleitung to the Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke:

    "Es wird auf c.a. Schreiben mitgeteilt, dass drei gasdichte Türme gemäss des Auftrages vom 18.1.43 für das Bw 30 b und c auszuführen sind, genau nach den Ausmassen und der Art der bisher angelieferten Türme." [56]

There is still in existence a carbon copy of this same document in which the first occurrence of "Türme" is corrected in ink to "Türen." [57] It is not known who made the change.

Crowell considers as "unconvincing" Pressac's explanation that Gastürme "is a misspelling for Tür and that this is a reference to 'three gastight doors' " (p.27).  He asserts

    "in Technique we argued that this was probably a reference to three gastight ventilation chimneys, another common object in the civil air defense literature" (p. 27)

and concludes his explanation thus:

    "Document 29 presented a picture of a Luftschutz-Verschlüss, or gastight ventilation chimney, of the kind used for the known trench shelters at Auschwitz. Other documents also indicate that gastight chimneys were common at Auschwitz for gas protection. Certainly, such gastight ventilation chimneys could be described as 'gasdichte Türme', and we remain confident in our interpretation of this trace" (p. 27).

This explanation is totally inconsistent in that it is based on the absolutely arbitrary supposition that "such gastight ventilation chimneys could be described as 'gasdichte Türme'. The "proof" of this alleged terminological equivalence is just an adverb: his own "certainly"!

In order to support this arbitrary assertion Crowell has recourse to a trick: his "document 29" does not in fact present a "Luftschutz-Verschlüss," but a "Gasdichte lüftungsrohrverschlüsse" (see document 15) [58] , so that the "ventilation chimneys" that Crowell speaks of were actually called "Lüftungsröhre," certainly not "Türme." On the other hand, the ventilation chimney of Krema II and Krema III was called a "Schacht" ("Entlüftungsschacht"). So to claim that the "gastight ventilation chimneys could be described as 'gasdichte Türme' " is false and foolish.

Gasdichte Lüftungsrohrverschlüsse
Illustration 15
"Gasdichte Lüftungsrohrverschlüsse", not "Luftschutz-Verschlüss"

In "Technique and Operation of German Anti-Gas Shelters in World War Two" Crowell writes:
    "We observe the drawings of Crematoria IV and V with their shuttered cupolas surmounting the roof, and might easily conclude that they are the same thing: however, it appears that the extermination gas chambers were at the opposite end of the building. But this end of the buildings also had chimneys, although much smaller ones. Our conclusion is that Türme are references to gas tight chimneys of some kind: the idea, offered by Pressac, that Türme was a stenographic error, even though it was repeated four times seems very strained"(p. 34).
He then makes another gross blunder, mistaking chimneys attached to two ovens for ventilation chimneys! [59] .

This being cleared up, let us see what the "gasdichte Türme" were. The following request dated 19 February 1943 appears in the Schlosserei documentation:
    "19.2.43. Nr. K.G.L. BW. 30 b. Przedmiot [object]: 4 dichte Türen, mit Tür futter - lt. Angabe der Bauleitung Ausmass 100 x 205 cm i.l. Auftrag Nr. 2261/:80/17:/ vom 18.1.43 der Zentralbauleitung. Von der ehme. [= ehemaligen] Häftl. Tischlerei übernommen." [60]
The above-mentioned letter of 31 March 1943 has for object (Betrifft): "Auftrag 2261/80/17 vom 18.1.43 Bw 30 b". Therefore it was about the very same job that concerned not "Türme," but "Türen" of 100 x 205 centimeters. So on this score Pressac is perfectly right while Crowell has made another big blunder.

  • Gasskammer
Regarding this trace Crowell writes:
    "In Technique, our interpretation was that there were several repetitions of the "Gass-" spelling here and elsewhere in the documents, and we interpreted it in a civil air defense context, thus "Gasskammer" was interpreted as a bracket form for a gas shelter, or Gass[chutz]kammer" (p. 28).
It concerns another baseless forced explanation. In fact, he displays no similar case. In "Technique and Operation of German Antigas Shelters in World War Two" Crowell presents the following recurring terms from the German technical litterature of the time:
    "A similar prolificity affects bomb shelters (Gasschutzraum, -keller, Gaskeller [as Dr. Butz has noted], Luftschutzraum, -haus, -keller, Schutzraum, even Selbstschutz; LS-Bunker only rarely)" (p. 37).
Not only does he not offer a single example of this presumed abbreviation, e.g. a "Gassraum" for "Gasschutzraum", but he doesn't even show that the term "Gasschutzkammer" was actually in use. The most logical explanation is that "Gasskammer" is a simple orthographic error for "Gaskammer".

8) The suicidal "bomb shelters" of Kremas IV and V

The idea supported by Crowell that the Zentralbauleitung could use the rooms in the west wing of Kremas IV and V as air-raid shelters is decisively stupid. In my article "Morgue Cellars of Birkenau: Gas Shelters or Disinfesting Chambers?" I showed that
    «since those facilities were entirely surface-buildings with walls of only 25 cm thickness, and had very fragile roofing ("Bretternagelbinder, doppelte Pappdeckung, Decke mit Heraklithplatten benagelt" (nailed boarding, double felt-paper roofing, roofing with nailed Heraklith sheets) then the Crowell theory appears to be technically flawed, because according to a technical manual of the 1930s,
    "medium weight bombs, when falling from a normal bombing height, have a penetration of 0.40 to 0.50 m into reinforced concrete, and a penetration of circa 1.20 m into an ordinary full-brick wall and even deeper into a hollow brick wall" » (pp. 5-6).
This is how Crowell responds:
    "It is of course true that Crematoria IV and V were built above ground and would not offer much protection in an air-raid in the case of a direct hit. Probably no shelter at Auschwitz would. Nevertheless, aboveground shelters and aboveground conversions were common for civil defense purposes. We have also seen that there was a preference to simply use wooden struts and other materials to reinforce walls and the ceiling of such structures. Certainly, the western rooms of Crematoria IV and V, equipped with fireproof sheets of Heraklith in their ceiling, and gastight window-shutters, would have provided some protection from bomb splinters and incendiaries."
In conclusion Crowell says:
    "while they would not have functioned very well as bomb shelters, they would have been better than nothing, and they certainly would have worked as gas shelters" (pp. 43-44).
Now it is true that "aboveground shelters and aboveground conversions were common for civil defense purposes", but Crowell does not say how such a "conversion" had to be effected.

This is displayed in detail in a document well-known to him: the Richtlinien of Kammler dated 6 March 1943 cited by Crowell as document 13. The following guidelines are provided in section III, "Die bauliche Ausführung von Splitterschutz. Bestimmungen des Reichsluftfahrtministeriums in der Fassung September 1942", paragraph B „Splittersichere Gebäudewände und freistehende Splitterschutzwände", subsection 2 „Mauerwerk":
    "1) Splitterschutzwände aus Mauerwerk müssen mindenstens 51 cm dick sein, wenn verwendet werden:
    Mauerziegel 1. Klasse DIN 105 (Mauerziegel).
    [There follow another 5 types of masonry].
    2) Sie müssen mindestens 64 cm dick sein, wenn verwendet werden:
    Mauerziegel 2. Klasse DIN 105 (Mauerziegel)
    [There follows another type of masonry]".
In paragraph C - which refers to a specific method for the "conversion" of existing buildings, (Splittersicherung der Wände bestehender Gebäude) - the Richtlinien lay down the following provisions:
    "9. Mauerwerk (vgl. Bild 7).
    Die Dicke der Splitterschutzwand, die aus der bestehenden Gebäudewand und der neuen Splitterschutzwand besteht, muss bei Verwendung von Baustoffen nach Nr. 2 (1) mindestens 51 cm und bei Verwendung von Baustoffen nach Nr. 2 (2) mindestens 64 cm betragen".
Paragraph D lays down provisions for the protection of windows (Sicherung von Wandöffnungen):
    "13. Wandöffnungen, die splittersicher hergerichtet werden sollen, sind zuzumauern oder durch Splitterschutzwände ausserhalb oder innerhalb des Raumes zu sichern. Splitterschutzwände im Innern von Räumen sind zu verankern oder abzustützen, damit sie durch Luftstoss von aussen nicht eingedrückt werden.
    14. Splitterschutzwände, die vor die zu schützenden Öffnungen gesetzt werden, müssen diese seitlich und oberhalb mindestens um 0,50 m überdecken." [61]

How the the exterior of windows were to be protected is revealed by the following drawing published by Crowell.[62]

Splitterschutzwand before a window
Illustration 16
Splitterschutzwand before a window

Now the perimeter walls of Kremas IV and V were realised in "Ziegelsteinmauerwerk ohne Aussenputz" [63] and had a thickness of barely 25 cm. [64] The small windows and doors of the west wing (allegedly used as a "bomb shelter") had no type of Splitterschutzung. Thus Kremas IV and V could not serve as "bomb shelters," nor could they be protected from "bomb splinters".

The assertion that since their roofs were "equipped with fireproof sheets of Heraklith in their ceiling" they "would have provided some protection from bomb splinters and incendiaries" is simply foolish.

The roof framework of these crematoria was beams made from easily ignitable seasoned timber that rested on the perimeter walls. Pressac has published both the plan of these structures and its implementation. [65] A double layer of "Pappdeckung" (highly inflammable cardboard impregnated with tar) was spread over the woodwork to make the roof waterproof and a cover of "Heraklithplatten" (Herculite sheets) was placed on top. This thin sheeting was fastened with 20,000 small iron layers (Eisenblät[t]chen). [66]

Illustration 17 shows barracks in the Auschwitz camp with the roof covered with Heraklith sheeting. At the bottom a "Splitterschutzbunker" can be seen for one or two men with a roofing consisting of one layer of concrete 15 cm in thickness and a layer of bricks 33 cm thick. The thickness of the Herculite sheets is estimated to be a few centimeters.

Splitterschutzbunker for one or two men at Auschwitz
Illustration 17
Splitterschutzbunker for one or two
men at Auschwitz.
At the back can be seen barracks
with roof made of Heraklith sheeting.
© Carlo Mattogno.

This photograph shows vividly how foolish it is to claim that the roofs of Kremas IV and V could have offered "some protection from bomb splinters." Obviously they could not offer any protection at all, not even against incidiary bombs, the explosion in the vicinity of the crematoria of which would have blown away the Herculite sheeting and taken off the roof, while the inflammable substance would easily have ignited the wooden framework as well as the cardboard impregnated with tar.

Finally, the hypothesis that these two crematoria "would have worked as gas shelters" is senseless. In what would the enemy have put the toxic gas for a possible chemical attack if not in a fragmentation bomb?

And given that the crematory could not have resisted a fragmentation bomb, how could they have been protected against the possible toxic gas contained in them?

Furthermore, the 12 small gas-tight windows of Kremas IV and V could be closed only from the outside - as can be clearly seen in the photographs published by Pressac [67]
- an absurd arrangement for an anti-gas shelter.

Finally, the presumed anti-gas shelter had no ventilation. Crowell gives much weight to the fact that all anti-gas shelters were equipped with ventilation funnels - and, as we have seen, it is precisly for this reason that he claims to interpret the trace "Türme" as ventilation funnels.  We have also seen that the alleged ventilation funnels in the west wing of the crematory were in reality ordinary oven chimneys. It follows that this presumed anti-gas shelter was deprived of ventilation, another absurdity.

In conclusion, any type whatever of "shelter" in Kremas I and II would have been sheer folly and suicidal as well.

9) The "emergency exits" of Leichenkeller 1 of Kremas II and III

Crowell claims that the Leichenkeller 1 of Kremas IV and V were provided with emergency exits, and this would be a proof that they were suitable for "bomb shelters":
    The relevance is that this description matches the two concrete tubes that lie in the center of the western walls of Morgue #1 of both Crematoria II and III. These were already identified as emergency exits in Defending. Pressac claimed that these had something to do with drainage, but there is no documentary basis for this view. (Pressac referenced Drawing 1300, which shows the drains converging about six to eight feet away from the western wall, which is irrelevant ). Furthermore, these concrete tubes, which still exist today, do not appear on any architectural drawings. Nor do these concrete tubes have any relevance for either the disinfection or gas chamber theses. The conclusion, which we consider unavoidable, is that Morgue #1 of both Crematoria II and III were adapted by means of these emergency exits into auxiliary bomb shelters at some point. We do not have the documents that tell us exactly when these concrete tubes were put in place, but our guess is that it must have taken place prior to Pohl's inspection of June 16, 1944, because that puts his request for "six mortuaries" into a comprehensible context (p. 21).
Then Crowell adds that all the crematoria had "emergency exits" and that "in the case of Crematoria II and III, the emergency exits, in the form of concrete tubes, were actually installed" (p.45). On the same page Crowell publishes two photographs with the following caption:
    "The first figure shows the collapsed crematoria roof with the emergency exit tube visible at back center. The second figure is an inside view of the ladder inside the tube".
The second picture is taken from Pressac's work Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, p. 228, "document 45". On the same page Pressac presents two photographs of what Crowell calls a "tube" ("document 47" and "document 48"), and also two photographs of a sewer manhole for inspecting the drainage facility of Krema II or III ("document 44" and "document 45"). Pressac presents the captions for these photographs on the next page and we quote those of interest to us:

Document 47. General view, looking roughly south-north, of the ruins of the Krematorium III
Document 48. Close-up view of the manhole of document 47
Illustration 18
"Document 47. General view, looking roughly
south-north, of the ruins of the Krematorium III,
very overgrown with vegetation.
In the center the four supporting pillars are still upright.
The top of the sewer manhole is on the left, against
the west wall, raised considerably above the gound."
Illustration 19
"Document 48. Close-up view of the manhole of
document 47, made up of 4 to 6 sections of
concrete pipe and with a concrete lid in
two pieces (only one of which remains).
This type of manhole has no built-in access
In the background is one of the pillars that
supported the roof of the Krematorium III
gas chamber."
Document 44. Entrance to the Leichenkeller 1 (gas chamber) sewer manhole Document 45. View of the inside of the manhole of document 46 with its access ladder
Illustration 20
"Document 44. Entrance to the Leichenkeller 1
(gas chamber) sewer manhole, situated on the
outside, against the center of the western wall.
The top rung of the metal ladder can be seen."
Illustration 21
"Document 45. View of the inside of the manhole
of document 46 with its access ladder.
On the left is the rod running from the waste water
stop cock to its control wheel above ground.
The location can be seen on Bauleitung drawing
1300 of 18/6/42."

Document 46. Concrete cover with metal handle
Illustration 22
"Document 46. Concrete cover with metal handle,
weighing about 20 kg, originally made for the
manhole of documents 44 and 45, now next to
the remains of an opening on the roof of
Leichenkeller 1 (the gas chamber) of
crematorium II, through which Zyklon-B
was poured".
From illustrations 23 and 24 it appears that the manhole in documents 47 and 48 had a semi-cicular cross-section (like a horseshoe arc) while those in documents 44, 45 and 46 had a square cross-section. According to Pressac, the manhole with the round cross-section had no "access ladder"; a "metal ladder"existed only in the manhole with a square cross-section. In addition, the manhole with a round cross-section was situated only in the area of Leichenkeller 1 of Krema III, whereas in the corresponding area of Krema II there would be only a manhole with a square cross-section. I shall explain why I use the conditional "would be."

With unheard of mystification Crowell first of all invents the second "tube", the one relevant to Krema II, in that he abusively places it in the same position as that of Krema III, as the latter appears in the photograph published by him. Then - totally unacceptably - he criticizes Pressac's interpretation with the excuse that in plan 1300 of the Zentralbauleitung the presumed "tube" was situated "about six to eight feet away from the western wall" of Leichenkeller 1, whereas it should have been behind this wall. But this is just one of his inventions. In fact, Pressac simply says that the square manhole was situated "on the outside, against the center of the western wall", without specifying at what distance. In reality Pressac is mistaken because - as can be seen in illustrations 25 and 26 - toward the center of the western view of Leichenkeller 1 of Krema II there is no manhole cover neither behind the wall nor at a distance of about 2.40 meters from it (inferred from plan 1300).

Leichenkeller 1 of Krema III in 2000 Leichenkeller 1 of Krema III in 2000
Illustration 23
Leichenkeller 1 of Krema III in 2000.
© Carlo Mattogno.
Illustration 24
Leichenkeller 1 of Krema III in 2000.
Enlargement of the "tube".
© Carlo Mattogno.

Finally, Crowell opportunistically passes over in silence the certainly not irrelevant fact that the only manhole existing behind a wall of a Leichenkeller, that of Krema III, is without an "access ladder." But then how could one use such a hypothetical "emergency exit"?

On the other hand, that this manhole was connected to the Leichenkeller across a hole in the wall - an essential condition for it to be of use as an "emergency exit" - is a purely arbitrary assumption of Crowell without the support of any evidence.

Leichenkeller 1 of Krema II  in 1992 Leichenkeller 1 of Krema II  in  2000
Illustration 25
Leichenkeller 1 of Krema II in 1992. © Carlo Mattogno.
The western aspect is toward the trees.
Illustration 26
Leichenkeller 1 of Krema II in 2000. © Carlo Mattogno.
The western aspect is on the right.

In conclusion:
  • it is false that behind the eastern wall of Leichenkeller 1 of Krema II there was a "concrete tube";
  • it is unproven that the manhole relevant to Krema III was connected to the Leichenkeller through an opening in the wall;
  • it is senseless that this manhole could be an "emergency exit" from the Leichenkeller since it had no "access ladder".
As can be seen from illustration 27, the type of "tube", the function of which Crowell distorts, was part of the camp's Entwässerung system.

A manhole cover of the drainage system at Birkenau and the ruins of Krema II
Illustration 27
On the left: A manhole cover of the drainage system at Birkenau. In the background: The ruins of Krema II.

10) The 6 Leichenkammern of the Aktenvermerk of 17 June 1944

Crowell's comments on document 17 are another brilliant example of his arbitrary and false deductions. Regarding the Aktenvermerk of 16 June 1944 he writes:
    "The part that we find most curious is the reference to the construction of six mortuaries (Leichenkammern) in Ba I and II, that is, in the two main Birkenau camps. This strongly suggests that the morgues of the crematoria were no longer being used as morgues at this time. Otherwise, it would not be necessary to build more of them. Furthermore, this directive is frankly incomprehensible in terms of the alleged burn rates attained at this time, in which some ten thousand people could be incinerated per day in the crematoria and the associated burning pits. It needs to be said that there is no hint of this other activity in this document at all" (p.16).
Although this is an arbitrary hypothesis unsupported by the sightest evidence, he insists on it another three times (pp. 21, 43 and 47) in order to prove that since in June 1944 the mortuary chambers of Birkenau were not used as such, therefore they were used for some extraordinary purpose, that is, for "bomb shelters". On p. 21 he returns to his baseless thesis concerning the "concrete tubes", explaining:
    "We do not have the documents that tell us exactly when these concrete tubes were put in place, but our guess is that it must have taken place prior to Pohl's inspection of June 16, 1944, because that puts his request for "six mortuaries" into a comprehensible context."
Here Crowell makes another gross blunder.

The construction of the 6 Leichenkammern had nothing to do with alleged inactivity of the crematory Leichenkeller but simply closed a dispute between the SS-Standortarzt (Dr. Wirths) on one side and Bischoff, Höss and Kammler on the other. The dispute started on 20 July 1943 when Wirths in his capacity as Leiter der Zentralbauleitung sent Bischoff in his capacity as Leiter der Zentralbauleitung [as SS-Standortarzt] a request for brick Leichenkammern.  The letter begins as follows:
    "In den bereits belegten Lagern des Bauabschnittes II fehlen noch betonierte, beziehungsweise gemauerte Leichenkammern, deren Erstellung vordringlich ist."
The request was justified by the fact that the existing mortuary chambers were made of wood and rats had penetrated them and were feeding on the cadavers:
    "In den bisher zur Verfügung stehenden Holzschuppen sind die Leichen ausserordentlich stark dem Rattenfrass ausgesetzt, sodass beim Abtransport der Leichen kaum eine Leichen ohne Zeichen von Rattenfrass festzustellen ist."
Wirths then mentioned that rats are the carriers of disease and to avoid the danger of epidemics it was necessary to preserve the cadavers in an unexceptionally hygienic way. Whence no doubt his request. [68] .

From this resulted a correspondence which went on for some months. In the end it was decided to install the mortuary chambers in brick buildings already in existence. On 12 June 1944 Jothann, who had taken over from Bischoff as head of the Zentralbauleitung, drew up a "Bauantrag zum Ausbau des Lagers II der Waffen SS in Auschwitz O/S. Errichtung von 6 Stück Leichenkammern in bereits erstellten Unterkunftsbaracken BW 3b und 3d". The relative „Erläuterungsbericht" explains that the mortuary chambers were constructed in brick (aus Ziegelmauerwerk) and that the work had already begun. [69] The mortuary chambers were distributed as follows: one in the Bauabschnitt (BA) Ia, and one in each of the Bauabschnitte BIIa, b, c, d and e. [70]

On 16 June 1944 Pohl, during his visit to Auschwitz, did no more than ratify this state of affairs by authorizing the "Erstellung von 6 Leichenkammern in BaI und II." [71]

The Crowell hypothesis is therefore totally unfounded.

Moreover, he claims to have validated this hypothesis using a fantastic deduction from Jothann's "Aktenvermek" of 28 June 1944.  Crowell asserts:
    "Furthermore, the document assumes the use of existing buildings for civil air defense purposes, although the individual buildings are not specified. Given the fact that Crematoria II and III as well the Central Sauna were all equipped with basements, and given that they were among only a handful of fixed structures on the western side of Birkenau, the use of these basements can certainly be inferred from this date" (pp. 17-18).
This "deduction" is a distortion of the document's significance that proves exactly the opposite of what Crowell claims.

He makes his "deduction" from the following passage:
    "Als Schutzmassnahmen für Häftlinge des Lagers I ist die Anlage von Splitterschutzgräben nicht möglich auf Grund der vorhandenen Freiflächen. Es können jedoch 2 - 3000 Häftlinge in den vorhandenen Kellerräumen untergebracht werden.
    In Lager II können ebenfalls Splitterschutzgräben für Häftlinge mit Rücksicht auf den Grundwasserstand und die vorhandenen Freiflächen auch nicht angelegt werden." [72]
The only sensible inference that can be drawn from these words is that at Auschwitz (Lager I) it was possible to provide protection for 2,000-3,000 detainees in the existing basements (those of the brick Blöcke), while in Birkenau (Lager II) that was not possible.  I do not say because there were no basements, but because those existing in the Zentralsauna and Kremas II and III had another use.

If that was not the case, Jothann would have also specified in relation to Lager II that "so many prisoners can be given protection in the existing cellars" ["können jedoch so viele Häftlinge in den vorhandenen Kellerräumen untergebracht werden"].

But there is a more important point: If the Birkenau crematoria had been modified so as to function as air-raid shelters, why are they not mentioned as such in Jothann's Aktenvermerk? The reason is that the crematoria had nothing to do with air-raid shelters. Actually, as we have seen above, the unique "Luftschutz-Anlagen" that had been realized in Lager II by 26 June 1944 consisted of only "8 Feuerlöschteiche von je 400 cbm Inhalt" and "1 Splitterschutzgraben für 130 Personen."

In conclusion, the "Aktenvermerk" of Jothann dated 28 June 1944 proves not only that the crematoria of Birkenau were not modified into air-raid shelters, but that they were not even contemplated as emergency shelters.

11) The "disinfection thesis"

Originally claiming to have explained all Pressac's criminal traces with his "bomb shelter thesis", Crowell had to admit finally that
    "the dual use of the crematoria for hygienic purposes may have included the installation of ad hoc disinfection stations" (p.31).
He then displays "A Disinfection Chronology" in which he does no more than to take up and develop information I had already provided in the article "Morgue Cellars of Birkenau: Gas Shelters or Disinfesting Chambers?"

So the only positive aspect of his article has nothing original to offer.

12) Conclusions

Crowell asserts that van Pelt's and my efforts to criticize his theses are "rather weak because they are solely negative in character" (p. 45). As far as I am concerned, this statement is clearly false because it is precisely from my article that Crowell took the cue to develop the positive thesis of disinfestation.

He then adds that
    "instead of working within the structure of the argument, they both preferred to simply look for reasons to reject it. We do not consider this very productive or intelligent scholarship" (p. 45).
Well, as can be seen, Crowell's conceit is boundless; he claims that his thesis is indisputable, that it can be discussed only from within it! The reality is that his thesis is absolutely unfounded from the historical, documentary and technical point of view and should be rejected altogether.

In my view, revisionist "scholarship" before even becoming "productive" and "intelligent" must be honest and scientific and consequently must firmly reject captious interpretations which are totally without scientific foundation, such as the Crowell "bomb shelter thesis".

Completed in March 2001


AGK: Archiwum Glównej Komisji Badania Zbrodni w Polsce (Archive of the Central Commission of inquiry concerning German criminality in Poland), [ Warsaw, Poland ]

APMM: Archiwum Panstwowego Muzeum na Majdanku (Archive of the State Museum of Majdanek)

APMO: Archiwum Panstwowego Muzeum Oswiecim - Brzezinka (Archive of the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau)

GARF: Gosudarstvenni Archiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii (State Archive of the Russian Federation, Moscow)

TCIDK: Tsentr Chranenija Istoriko-dokumental'nich Kollektsii (Center for the Custody of the Historical-Documentary Collection, Moscow)

VHA: Vojenský Historický Archiv, Praha (Military Historical Archive, Prague)

WAPL: Wojewódzkie Archiwum Panstwowe w Lublinie (Provincial State Archive of Lublin)


1. Published on the web by Russell Granata:

2. Published on the web by Bradley Smith:

3. Published on the web by Russell Granata:

4. Published on the web by Bradley Smith:

A German translation of this article appeared in the periodical, "Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung" with the title "Bombenschutzeinrichtungen in Birkenau: Eine Neubewertung" (December 2000, pp. 284-330).

5. Shelters planned and constructed as such, with air regeneration and filtration systems etc.

6. See: Captain Dr. Attilio Izzo, Guerra chimica e difesa antigas. [Chemical warfare and anti-gas defense.] Publisher: Ulrico Hoepli, Milan, 1935, p. 254.

7. J. C. Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers. The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York 1989, pp. 46-49.

8. In: "für freie Geschichtsforschung," December 1988, pp. 248-261.

9. One of the reasons for using this type of door could be the fact that these rooms worked with a heated air and gas mixture circulated by a fan with a pressure of 80 millimeters of a column of water, therefore with a heavier pressure that could have provoked gaseous mixtures escaping with the use of the normal wooden doors of Auschwitz.

10. See J. Graf and C. Mattogno, KL Majdanek. Eine historische und technische Studie. Castle Hill Publisher, 1998, photographs XVI, XVIa and XVII.

11. GARF, 7021-107-2, pp. 13-17.

12. Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giffgas. Eine Dokumentation. Herausgegeben von Eugen Kogon, Hermann Langbein, Adalbert Rückerl u.a. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt/Main 1983, pp. 242 and 319.

13. „Zeszyty Majdanka", IV, 1969.

14. The letter from the head of the Zentralbauleitung to the Bauinspektion Ost der Waffen-SS und Polizei of 10 July 1942 mentions "Bauantrag zur Errichtung einer Entwesungsanlage" for an amount of 70,000 RM. WAPL, Zentralbauleitung, 141, p. 3.

15. This expression is the translation of the German term "Bauantrag."

16. PS-1061, IMG, XXVI, p. 672.

17. Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of The European Jews, Holmes and Meier 1985 (3 volumes), vol. 3, pp. 913-914 and footnote 86.

18. In this regard see my study the Zentralbauleitung der Waffen-SS und Polizei Auschwitz, Edizioni di Ar, 1998, pp. 25 and 45-48.

19. Besichtigung des SS-Obergruppenführers Pohl am 23,9,1942. TCIDK, 502-1-19, pp. 86-87.

20. S. Crowell, Comments On Mattogno' s Critique Of The Bomb Shelter Thesis, p. 6.

21. 10 November 1943 Jothann requests from the field commander a food supplement for the Kommando Beton-Kolonne because: "Das Kommando der Bauleitung ' Beton-Kolonne' hat zur Zeit dringende und schwere Arbeiten für die Anlegung von Luftschützgräben zu verrichten." TCIDK, 502-1-256, p. 129.

22. VHA, Fond OT, 26/7, p. 342.

23. TCIDK, 502-1-401, p. 80.

24. TCIDK, 502-1-401, pp. 91-91a.

25. TCIDK, 502-1-26, p. 178.

26. TCIDK, 502-1-26, pp. 186-186a.

27. TCIDK, 502-1-28.

28. TCIDK, 502-1-26.

29. TCIDK, 502-1-26.

30. TCIDK, 502-2-60.

31. TCIDK, 502-1-320.

32. GARF, 7021-108-32, p. 71.

33. TCIDK, 502-1-401, p. 100.

34. TCIDK, 502-1-210, p. 20. Directory of the BW of the Bauvorhaben Konzentrationslager Auschwitz.

35. TCIDK, 502-1-404, pp. 51-52.

36. AGK, NTN, 94, p. 156.

37. TCIDK, 502-1-404, pp. 33-33a.

38. TCIDK, 502-1-404, pp. 34-34a.

39. TCIDK, 502-1-85, pp. 195-196.

40. Crowell himself writes that: "...this criminal trace [ Vergasungskeller ], along with the residual gas detectors for cyanide, remain as rather forceful evidence in support of the gas chamber thesis" (p. 33).

41. The " Gasprüfer " of Auschwitz. Version 28/XI/2000. Published on the web by Russell Granata:üfer.html

42. Letter from the company Tesch & Stabenow to the Verwaltung of the KL Lublin. APMM, Sygn. I.d.2, vd.1, p. 107.

43. S. Crowell, Technique and Operation of Anti-gas German Shelters in World War II: A Refutation of J. C. Pressac's "Criminal Traces.":


45. Verbrennungöfen für Abfälle aller Art. 1927. APMM, sygn. VI-9a, vol. 1.

46. Topf Abfall-Vernichtungsöfen, not prior to January 1940. TCIDK, 502-1-327, pp. 161-164a.

47. APMO, BW 30/34, pp.88-89.

48. Topf, Rechnung Nr. 1314 with object: "Lieferung und Errichtung eines Topf-Müllverbrennungsofen im Krematorium III." TCIDK, 502-1-327, pp. 13-13a.

49. "The entire structure would be equipped with gas detectors (Gaspürer) [ LDB 208 ], and the people entering would go through a gas tight steel door" (p. 7).

50. A. Izzo, Guerra chimica e difesa antigas, [Chemical warfare and anti-gas defense], op. cit., p.10.

51. Idem, p. 67.

52. Idem, p. 68.

53. Idem, p. 65.

54. Nobody has yet explained why they needed to burn military uniforms in Auschwitz, a place where, as is well known, they collected everything and even recycled rags.

55. TCIDK, 502-2-54, p. 8.

56. APMO, BW 30/34, p. 49.

57. APMO, BW 30/34, p. 50.

58. Gasdichte Lüftungsrohrverschlüsse für L. S. Deckungsgräben Kenn-Nr. RL3-43/81 DRGM. TCIDK, 502-1-401, (page number illegibile).

59. Plan 2036 of 11 January 1943. The two chimneys are adjacent to two rectangles with an X in the center that distinguishes two stoves. In: J. C. Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, p. 401.

60. Höss Trial Proceedings, volume 11a, p. 84.

61. TCIDK, 502-1-401, pp. 101-202a.

62. Defending Against the Allied Bombing Campaign: Air Raid Shelters and Gas Protection in Germany, 1939-1945, p. 50.

63. Gebäudebeschreibung of Crematory IV. TCIDK, 502-2-54, p. 26.

64. Plan 2036 of 11 January 1943. In: J. C. Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, p. 401.

65. Idem, Photographs 4, 5 and 6 on p. 415.

66. TCIDK, 502-2-54, p. 35.

67. J. C. Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, op. cit., pp. 426-427.

68. TCIDK, 502-1-170, p. 249.

69. TCIDK, 502-2-95, p. 10a.

70. TCIDK, 502-1-52, p. 12.

71. NO-2359.

72. TCIDK, 502-1-401, p. 38.