Verdict on Jan Sehn:
Reassessing Concentration Camp Oswiecim-Brzezinka

By Ross McCullough

If one reads and examines the book written by Jan Sehn, the Judge who presided over the Auschwitz trials in Poland, one is immediately compelled to acknowledge the book's numerous, woeful deficiencies. If researchers are expecting to find any startling revelations from the Auschwitz trials conducted in Poland immediately after the war or entertaining hopes to discover any other convincing evidence as to the existence of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, they should think again. Nary one word from the actual trials of Höss, Grabner, Liebehenschel, et al is cited. For rather predictable reasons, Sehn prefers to rely not on the records of the trials over which he personally presided, or on the affidavits or testimony of the accused and the accusers, or any additional supporting documentation, opting instead to quote liberally from Höss' memoirs. There is a underlying reason for this, of course. Testimonies and statements can be examined and compared for their truthfulness, coherence and consistencies. They can also be examined for their untruthfulness, incoherence and inconsistencies. Ergo Sehn deliberately avoids any mention of embarrassing testimony or statements that might lend themselves to an in-depth scrutiny by impartial researchers. Even the testimony of the former so-called Sonderkommandos is completely ignored, save for Sehn's preferred method of including their allegations merely as a matter of his own personal narration, without ever mentioning where the information he relates was received, by whom, when, where, and by what methods.

In spite of these shortcomings, the book is of value to those familiar with the usual gamut of claims regarding Auschwitz. A few relevant facts amidst a mountain of distortions are grudgingly conceded by Sehn, most notably a rather accurate description of the horrific conditions in the camp, which led to severe outbreaks of typhus, which in turn caused enormous casualties among inmates and staff alike throughout the camps existence.

For example, on pp. 46-47, Sehn writes:

"None of the camp huts had ventilation. The floor was of clay, which during droughts, clouds of dust would rise, while during wet weather a large puddle would form where the roof leaked. In these conditions, the huts were a breeding place for fleas, lice and rats, which plagued the inmates and carried infectious diseases."1

And, on page 66:

"Lice infection, scabies and mange, as well as violent epidemics of typhus which decimated the prisoners especially in winter, were the inevitable consequences of the anti-humanitarian hygienic and sanitary conditions in the camp. They inexorably followed the lack of water, the impossibility of washing and changing underclothes, and the incredible overcrowding in huts.2

"The prisoners were also decimated by typhoid fever in all its varieties, and by malaria."

"The starved and undermined constitutions of the inmates were incapable of resistance to disease, and the death rate among the sick was very high."3

One of the few documents actually produced in the book is in fact highly suspect. On page 80, illustration 20, is a list of checked names of female inmates, which Sehn describes as "Beginning and end of the list of women selected for gassing by Marie Mandel in the Brezezinka (Birkenau) women's camp, on August 21, 1943. However, in closely examining this list, it appears more realistic to suggest that the list was merely a copy of two pages taken from the daily roll call, or Appell, for which names were routinely checked off as "present", as there is absolutely no indication whatsoever on the reproduced documents that these names were any part of a list selected for gassing or Sonderbehandlung. (Special treatment)
List for Roll Call, or Sonderbehandlung?

Occasionally, Sehn ventures to make statements that are totally incredible, such as the following:

In chapter XI, p. 105, it is alleged that Wilhelm Boger, assistant to Maximillian Grabner, "admitted to having shot personally at Oswiecim 25,000 people."4 Of course, in a similar context, Grabner admitted to his interrogators that he was "personally responsible for the deaths of 3.5 million people" at Auschwitz.

Undoubtedly the appropriately numbered chapter XIII is entitled "Gas Chambers," and is of some interest. Sehn declares, again without any supporting proof whatsoever, that two gas chambers were fitted out in the woods near Birkenau in March 1942, which consisted of two peasant cottages transformed into lethal homicidal gas chambers. Two huts were supposedly constructed nearby for the victims to undress. These cottages are referred to as Bunker I, which, according to Sehn, was outfitted with two gas chambers which could kill up to 2,000 individuals at one time, and Bunker II, where there were FOUR gas chambers. In both of these units, Sehn claims that the gas was introduced into the buildings via "gas openings placed in the side walls."

Unfortunately, not one trace of these bunkers exists or has ever been located to the best of my knowledge.

However, the one revealing fact openly admitted by Sehn is the actual source for the claims regarding Auschwitz, as the stories have been handed down to historians, researchers, and general public alike. He writes on page 125:

"The vast documentary evidence accumulated by the Soviet Extraordinary Commission, and the Chief Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland, reveals that the Brzezinka gas chambers could exterminate some 60,000 people per twenty-four hours."5

In view of this candid admission by the Auschwitz trial judge, no further proof need be adduced to substantiate the charge that the Auschwitz case as presented and investigated in Poland was a Soviet managed affair from beginning to end.

Concerning the removal of a warning scent in Zyklon B, Sehn constructs a completely imaginary scenario as cited on p. 128:

"Contrary to effective German regulations, cyclon B for Oswiecim was produced without a warning ingredient (ohne Warnstoff), which means that the producer, consignors and SS wanted those who breathed air polluted by cyclon [sic] not to realize the danger of poisoning."

What Sehn omitted from his manuscript was the testimony of the Head of Fumigation at Auschwitz, Artur Breitweiser, who testified that the warning agent in Zyklon had been removed, not at the request of the SS, but at the discretion of the manufacturer, which issued appropriate advisories to the SS fumigation teams to that effect. Thus, here Sehn can be seen as clearly espousing Soviet propaganda relating to the deletion of a warning ingredient in the manufacture of Zyklon, which had absolutely nothing to do with exterminating people.

Rather startling, though, is Sehn's revelation pertaining to the trial of Dr. Gerhard Peters, the former managing director of DEGESCH, the firm which manufactured Zyklon B. Sehn writes,

"...Dr. Gerhard Peters...appeared eight times before German courts. His defence included the claim that, in producing cyclon B [sic], he acted in good faith thinking that he "was bringing relief to people sentenced to death in any case." Peters appeared in the dock for the last time in 1955, when a Frankfort-on-Main jury returned a verdict of "guilt not proven." Giving judgment, the court emphasized "although Peters did voluntarily agree to supply the camp with poison gas, it is impossible today to prove beyond doubt that people were really killed in Oswiecim with cyclon B [sic]."6
What an admission!

In presenting detailed information as to how homicidal gassings were accomplished, Sehn writes that the underground bunker at Krema II was 210 sq. m. in area, in which three thousand victims were crammed at one time. In order to facilitate the release of the Zykon B pellets more efficiently, Sehn informs us that: "the gas chamber was being heated with portable braziers," (!) adding that "this was done to give better conditions for the evaporation of the hydrogen cyanide."7

"Then" he continues, "the door was quickly screwed shut, and the waiting disinfectors immediately infused cyclon into the gas chambers through special openings which acted like sprays [sic!] and ensured a rapid and maximum effect of the poison. Gas formed immediately."8

Additional descriptions are likewise puzzling. For example:

"The evidence of crematoria stokers 9 reveals that after the door of the gas chamber was closed, the victims would crowd near it, break the glass panes in the peepholes, damage the electrical wires and ventilation."10

Yet, after referring to the testimony of those who claimed to have worked as Sonderkommandos at Auschwitz, Sehn writes:

"All the work with the bodies of the gassed was performed by special detachments of Jewish prisoners who lived in a separate block, inaccessible to other inmates. According to Eichmann's instruction, they too were to be destroyed after every major gassing operation."11

Yet, if this were so, how were people like Tauber and Dragon, both of whom claimed Sonderkommando status, able to elude their fate as decided by powerful men such as Eichmann?

Aside from the gassing accusation, Sehn is careful to note that Auschwitz always had a problem with extraordinarily high death rates, as mentioned above and amplified upon this topic below:

"Even before the mass extermination of Jews began, the very high death rate in the Oswiecim camp, both "natural" i.e. caused by exhaustion and diseases, and resulting from the deliberate murder of inmates, produced a large number of bodies which had to be disposed of...."12

As to the exact numbers of dead from all causes at Auschwitz, the former trial judge was quite explicit, writing:

"The entire mass of evidence collected reveals that, taking into account the time during which the crematoria and other installations at Brzezinka were in operation, the number of people gassed and burnt in them was not less than four million. This tallies with the findings of the Soviet commission, already mentioned, and is also substantiated by the judgments of the International Military Tribunal delivered at the trial of the principal Nazi war criminals."13

In what is now an embarrassing footnote to the statement above, Sehn thought fit to add:

"Judgment of the International Military Tribunal, official English text p, 252-252. See also Father Küble, "Die Konzentrationslager, eine Gewissensfrage für das deutsche Volk und für die Welt, Third edition. A. Weber Varlag, Singen Hohentwiel; also Dr. Weber E., Zwölf Jare Nationalsozialismus, Second edition, Praktikus, 1945. Both these authors give the number of people murdered at Oswiecim as four million."

Amazingly, Sehn does not cite even one document from the Auschwitz trials in support of the four million claim, opting instead to rely upon the "blind leading the blind" method, but his statement makes incontestably clear the actual originators of the bogus four million figure and how it was meant to be disseminated as incontestable fact.

The final item of interest in this otherwise extremely disappointing volume is a curious quotation cited by either Sehn or the publisher, which may have some relevance as to how the bogus Soviet manufactured claim relating to the Nazis alleged manufacturing of emaciated Jewish corpses into soap came into being. On page 144, we read: "It is worth mentioning in this connection an extract from the paper by Dr. E. Brack, on the significance of the phenomenon of death as regards court proceedings: (German text omitted. English translation follows:

"It might be added here as a curiosity that the impious Americans wanted to extract from bodies all that could be used as "material": above all they speculated whether human bodies could not be used for soap manufacture. They also disliked the idea of dental gold lying unproductively in the earth). Dr. Brack E., Form und Wesen des gerichtlich wichtigen Todes, Lubeck, 1942, p. 73."

Thus, it appears that the Soviets had actually happened upon this book written by Dr. Brack, which applied to alleged American practices, and then transferred the imagery to their list of alleged Nazi atrocities.

Undoubtedly realizing that Sehn's appalling lack of documentation left too many unresolved questions unanswered, the book's publishers opted for an attempt at damage control by adding a preface to the book in which they sought to nip any possible criticisms of the book by the use of broad generalizations. They wrote:

"After the liberation of Oswiecim by the Soviet Army in January 1945, the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission conducted its preliminary inquiry into criminal acts perpetrated behind the electrified wires of the camp; the investigation lasted about a fortnight and could not, of course, bring to light all the facts. The whole truth about the Oswiecim camp was uncovered and reviewed during the intense and thorough inquiry made by the Chief Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland. This investigation, starting almost immediately after the liberation of Oswiecim by the Soviet Army, and lasting more than a year, was presided over by Judge Dr. Jan Sehn, member of the Chief Commission. During the investigation, the vast area of the extensive Oswiecim camp complex was thoroughly studied. Special commissions of experts were set up to examine the ruins of the crematoria and gas chambers - destroyed prior to the evacuation of the camp - and of the pits in which the bodies of the gassed victims used to be burnt. All documents, plans and maps, found in the camp and in its subsidiaries or in various ways recovered, were studied in detail. Although only a fragment of the prodigious quantity of camp records, they do constitute authentic evidence of the greatest importance. Hundreds of witnesses were examined from among the former inmates and from the population in the vicinity of the camp. All the investigations were carried out in accordance with court procedure and the provisions of the Polish Criminal Procedure Code. The results of this investigation by the Chief Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland were later used as evidence before the Polish Supreme National Tribunal in 194714....Rudolf Hoess and his chief associates were sentenced to death, other members of the camp staff to various terms of imprisonment. One of the defendants, Hans Muench, from the SS Hygiene Institute at Rajsko, was found not guilty, evidence produced having shown that he did not take part in the crimes committed in the camp15....Of the 400,000 or so inmates registered at Oswiecim, only one-third survived. Millions of innocent people, never recorded in the camp files, arrived in drafts and perished at once in the Brzezinka gas chambers and crematoria. Altogether, some four million human beings met their death at Oswiecim." - Taken from the preface to the book written by Janusz Gumkowski, Director, The Chief Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland," pp. 7-9.

Significantly, the surest proof that Jan Sehn was a Soviet dupe was provided by Sehn himself. Taking into consideration the fact that Sehn's book was published in 1957, ten years after the conclusion of the Auschwitz trials, it is interesting to note that the Polish judge relied exclusively on Höss' discredited memoirs rather than publishing direct testimony from the trials. His arbitrary selection of quotes from that volume is quite telling, for he cites only those statements that supposedly prove the prosecutor's case against the accused, while ignoring contradictory statements. For example, Sehn totally ignores the fact that Höss had actually reduced the death figures at Auschwitz on at least three occasions, finally settling for 1.5 million.16 The surest proof that Sehn was working on behalf of Soviet propagandists may be confirmed by the fact that he ignored these lower figures and insisted, directly in line with Soviet propaganda, that the true figure for total deaths at Auschwitz was indisputably set at four million.

What a web they weave!

SOURCE FOR THE ABOVE: Concentration Camp Oswiecim-Brzezinka (Auschwitz-Birkenau), Jan Sehn, LL.D., Warszawa, 1957, translated by Klemens Keplicz.


1 What Sehn avoids mentioning is that the SS fumigated these barracks regularly, according to the testimony of the Chief of Fumigation at Auschwitz, Artur Breitweiser.
2 Actually some of the worst typhus epidemics occurred in the summer months.
3 A similar situation existed at Belsen during the final months of the war.
4 The figures are prima facie ridiculous.
5 Note the careful construction of this sentence by Sehn. He does not write that 60,000 people WERE actually exterminated in the gas chambers every twenty-four hours, but that they COULD be so exterminated. In either case, it is an impossible claim.
6 p. 128.
7 p. 131.
8 p. 131
9 This would be the testimony of people like Tauber and Dragon.
10 p. 132.
11 p. 132.
12 p. 134.
13 p. 143.
14 What the publishers did not tell the readers is that the Chief Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland was in reality a rubber stamp agency for the Soviets.
15 It should be noted that Muench was the only individual among the accused to collaborate with his interrogators, testifying on behalf of the Soviet prosecution.
16 Even that estimate must be regarded as vastly inflated.


Source: The Revisionist, Codoh Series, No. 3, 2001, pp. .
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