Werner Maser, Fälschung, Dichtung und Wahrheit über Hitler und Stalin, Olzog, Munich 2004, cloth, 478 pp., €34.–
Did Hitler have Jewish ancestors? Was he a homosexual? Was he a carpet-biting psychopath? Was he an untalented postcard-painter during his youth? Or was he even a lazy good-for-nothing? Or perhaps he suffered under an inferiority complex as a young man? Was he unable to have a dialogue? Was he psychologically or physically ill? Did he drive his niece into suicide?
Even if a rumor is really too far-fetched, it has still been spread about Hitler at some point. Since Hitler has turned into the most beloved doormat of the world, everybody seems to react off his own psychosis at him. Trying to write against such historical garbage seems like a never ending, thankless task. In the work reviewed here, Werner Maser is trying to do exactly that. In 42 independent chapters, he corrects just as many historical legends and forgeries mainly about Adolf Hitler. Josef Stalin has only a minor role in this book, appearing only when he crosses the historical path of Hitler.
Prof. Dr. Werner Maser can look back onto an impressive list of publications on recent German history with a focus on studies of Third Reich history. Many of his books on the Third Reich have been translated into various foreign languages. His is considered one of the foremost experts, if not the most competent expert about the historical person Adolf Hitler.
In order to answer the more trivial questions right away: Hitler had no Jewish ancestors; he had nothing to do with the suicide of his niece; he was an active heterosexual person all through his life; he was a fairly gifted painter and composer (!); since his early childhood, he was known as a very courageous and strong-willed individual; even though he had no academic education, he was very well read; he was a virtuous orator, a gifted diplomatic negotiator, a good listener, a talented military strategist, and on top of it all perfectly healthy both mentally as well as physically, aside from a few minor health issues in his later years due to his age and the stress of his life during the war.
It is basically the picture of a humane Hitler with several strokes of genius, which Maser holds up against those many lies and forgeries he refutes, supported with many primary sources. Maser treats the dark sides of Hitler – his animosity toward Jews and his unscrupulous will to power – briefly and does not address the background of Hitler’s ideological views at all.
Even if that were all there is to this book, it would be well worth its price. But Maser has more to offer than the mere correction of gossip about Hitler. He also corrects many historical legends, often only in passing and by referring to other literature. I have summarized some of these cases in the table below.
Maser’s book is a permanent accusation against a considerable number of his historian colleagues, whom he unmasks as either ideologically biased or incompetent. With his book, Maser destroys the belief of even the most naive reader that German historians are usually objective scholars. For instance, in a footnote regarding German historian Hans-Adolf Jacobsen he writes that Jacobsen
“was occasionally accused of being unable to overcome the ideological ‘brain washing,’ which he was subjected to as a young officer during his Soviet captivity. There he joined the Stalinist ‘National Committee Free Germany,’ which had been established on July 13, 1943, in the Soviet Union.” (p. 220, fn 18)
Regarding the legal problems, which historians in Germany may face due to Germany’s strict censorship laws, he writes frankly:
“The sword of Damocles hovers (not just in Germany) over historians, who depict controversial historical eras in a way as it ‘really was’ – and who often identify officially codified ideological guidelines as historical forgeries.” (p. 220)
Maser subsequently offers as an example the case of German Historian Joachim Hoffmann, whose employer, the German government’s Military Historical Research Office (Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt, MGFA), tried to censor him.1 Regarding this official historical research department of the German government, Maser states that it adopted a political guideline close to the historical dogmas enforced by former communist East Germany. After the East German communist state collapsed in 1989, most communist historians were taken over by the MGFA (p. 224).
The real explosives of this book are in those chapters addressing the Holocaust, because Maser dares to tread further on revisionist territory than any other established historian ever did, even though by so doing he makes several mistakes. But because Maser is no expert on the Holocaust, this can hardly surprise.
First it is necessary to state that Maser assumes that a mass extermination of Jews took place in extermination camps erected for that very purpose. This becomes apparent on the second page of his first chapter covering this topic, which discusses the infamous Wannsee conference. He quotes existing documents properly, which all point to a policy of resettlement or deportation, but which in no case refer to exterminations. But Maser opines nevertheless:
“That the conference, which did not even last two hours, addressed the mass extermination of Jews only peripherally or not at all, as is spread by ‘Auschwitz deniers,’ is not correct: because soon thereafter, in spring of 1942, the first mass killings of Polish and German Jews started in Belzec in the east of the General Government. The gassings in Auschwitz began in spring of 1942. After the loss of Stalingrad at the end of January 1943, the killings increased considerably, but they were considerably reduced in May of 1943 by the order of Himmler. Yet in fall [recte: spring] of 1944 they increased again enormously.” (p. 301)
Although Maser supports almost all of his other claims with an abundance of source material, this claim is totally unsupported, not even by a reference to an encyclopedia. 50 pages later he does the same again when declaring sweepingly:
“In contrast to, e.g., Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec, which had been planned as extermination camps from the start, the Majdanek camp close to Lublin, which was managed by the SS and subjected to the immediate orders of Himmlers, was supposed to operate as a huge industrial production plant between spring of 1941 until the end of 1942, making the SS almost independent from the Wehrmacht regarding supplies. This turned out to be unrealistic, though, and finally turned Majdanek into an extermination camp as well, for probably some 250,000 inmates.” (p. 353)
|Three million soviet soldiers were deliberately left to die of starvation in German POW camps.||1.784 million Soviet soldiers who were taken prisoners by the Germans did not return home, mainly because of Stalin's politics of “scorched earth,” which made it impossible to deliver sufficient supplies to both the German troops and all the prisoners they had taken. (p. 106)|
|Hitler is responsible for the escalation of the air warfare.||The British air force stared the air warfare, and Hitler reluctantly reacted to these provocations. (pp. 111f)|
|The massacre after the so-called Röhm-Putsch was initiated by Hitler.||Röhm had indeed planned a putsch and was thus the initiator of the massacre, of which he became a victim because Hitler intervened personally. (p. 115)|
|Concentration camps were an invention of the Third Reich.||Earlier the first president of the Weimar Republic, Friedrich Ebert, put left-wing extremists into concentration camps, and the USA relocated Japanese residing on U.S. soil into concentration camps. (p. 116)|
|The fire of the Reichstag-building shortly after Hitler rose to power was set by the Nazis; the communist Marius van der Lubbe was only the scapegoat.||Marius van der Lubbe was indeed the sole perpetrator. (p. 143)|
|The Allied victors treated their prisoners decently.||Nicolaus von Below, Hitler's adjutant, reported in detail how he was kept in coercive detention until he “confessed” what his captors wanted him to. Von Below “took them for a ride.” (pp. 158f.)|
|The secret protocol to the Hitler-Stalin-Pact stated that the Baltic countries and other eastern Europeans areas could be annexed by the USSR.||The definition of “spheres of interest” was not considered to be equal to the right to invade and annex other countries, as a German protest note declared on Nov. 3, 1940. (p. 197)|
|Hitler made a wild dance after Paris surrendered.||This is a forged film footage. (p. 203)|
|Hitler attacked the peace-loving Soviet Union without provocation.||The German Wehrmacht waged a preventive war against the Red Army, which made preparations to overrun entire continental Europe. (pp. 216–261)|
Of course, Maser’s claim about Auschwitz having been planned as an extermination camp is in sharp contrast even to what the established literature maintains – Auschwitz-Birkenau had been planned as a POW camp and a reservoir for labor. But Maser is perhaps unaware of it, since he does not give any sources, suggesting that he is merely writing from his own geriatric memory. His claims about Treblinka,2 Sobibor, Belzec,3 and Majdanek4 are just as unfounded. But who cares? After all, aren’t those claims self-evident anyway? But even if a mass murder did occur, that does not prove Maser’s claim that such a mass murder was discussed during the Wannsee conference. The alleged protocol of this conference does not mention mass murder anywhere.
On pages 317f., Maser reproduces both versions of the accompanying letter to the so-called Wannsee Protocol, which was first revealed to be a forgery by Roland Bohlinger and Johannes Peter Ney.5 Maser comments as follows:
“A forged document for the Nuremberg trial: Both letters, allegedly written by Reinhard Heydrich to Under Secretary of State Martin Luther on January 25, 1942, have the same text. One of them is a forgery. It must remain open, which purpose this forgery was supposed to serve.”
Maser does not utter a single word about the fact that there are two versions of the so-called Wannsee Protocol as well – one with normal SS characters, the other with rune-shaped SS characters.6 Is he unaware of it?
For his claim that the Holocaust was indeed ordered by Hitler – verbally of course, which means: without leaving documentary traces, as Maser insists (pp. 311, 371) – he cites two sources: The statements by Wilhelm Höttl and Adolf Eichmann (p. 306). Only in passing I may point out that Maser himself calls Höttl a braggart 23 pages later (p. 329).7
A little later, Maser quotes Eichmann more thoroughly, referring to the interrogations taped while in Israeli custody:
“To the question [...], if the ‘protocol’ compiled by him is accurate, Eichmann answered: ‘The protocol gives the essential points [...]’” (p. 313)
Subsequently, Maser summarizes the essential points of the protocol, during which he emphasizes that it mentions evacuations of the Jews to the east, but not mass murder. In other places as well, Maser asserts repeatedly that in the context of the Final Solution of the Jewish question the words used were always “emigration” or “deportation,” for instance when Hitler talked about it in confidentiality (pp. 310, 312) or when Albert Speer came in touch with this issue while organizing the labor deployment of Jewish forced workers (p. 325).
Let us summarize: Maser claims that there cannot be any doubt that the physical extermination of the Jews was discussed during the Wannsee Conference as an order from Hitler. He calls Eichmann as his witness that there was a verbal order of Hitler. During his interrogation in Israel in 1961, Eichmann confirmed that the protocol properly represents what was discussed during this conference. Yet this protocol does not mention any murder to be committed against the Jews at all. We therefore have to conclude that there was either no discussion of murdering the Jews during the Wannsee conference – which is also claimed by all participants who were interrogated about it after the war – or that the content of the Wannsee Protocol does not properly reflect the real content of what was discussed during this conference. Therefore, at least one of the claims made by Eichmann is wrong: Either the protocol does not reflect what was discussed or Hitler did not order the physical extermination of the Jews. Eichmann’s testimony is therefore not reliable.
Maser knows, of course, that German officials like Höttl and Eichmann used to “tune” the truth while in allied captivity in order to avoid or end torture or coercive detention. He describes in detail the case of Hitler’s adjutant Nicolaus von Below (pp. 158f.). But it does not seem to cross Maser’s mind that under such circumstances the testimonies of unreliable witnesses is hardly helpful to illuminate historical facts.
On p. 330, Maser displays considerable naivete when claiming that the Israeli court had sentenced Adolf “Eichmann to death during a fair trial.” I may point out several facts which make his claim rather unlikely.
Whereas the Israeli authorities conducted investigations against Eichmann over many years with a team of several hundreds experts and the support of all governments and archives of the entire world,8 Eichmann and his lawyer Robert Servatius had almost no opportunity to prepare the case for the defense. This massive imbalance between prosecution and defense was similar to those during the immediate post-war trials in Germany. It was no one less than Hannah Arendt who pointed out this massive imbalance and made the comparison with the IMT.9
Franz J. Scheidl mentions that Servatius was not allowed to talk to his client in private and that the Israeli authorities refused to give him access to protocols of Eichmann’s interrogation.10
German witnesses from the side of the “perpetrators” (former members of German authorities) who intended to testify in defense of Eichmann, were threatened with immediate arrest and criminal prosecution when stepping foot on Israeli soil. There were therefore no such witnesses.11
During the rising scandal surrounding the extradition and prosecution of U.S. citizen John Demjanjuk by Israel in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a small Jewish periodical in Germany criticized the show trial character of the Demjanjuk trial, comparing it with the same atmosphere during the Eichmann trial.12 There can indeed be little doubt about the show trial character of both trials, especially if considering their circumstances – staged in a theater, live transmission of the hearings through radio and TV, turning all Israel into a state of mass hysteria.
In my eyes, an effective defense is impossible under such conditions. If considering the defense strategy of Robert Servatius, it becomes clear that he was neither willing nor able to try to fight the show character of this trial. Dr. Servatius did not even try to conduct his defense remotely similar to any other case, during which the defendant is accused of a capital offense: Not a single witness was cross examined; not a single expert report about the claimed mass murder scenarios, the murder methods, traces of the perpetrators, of their victims, of the murder weapon or of any other traces of the crime were requested or offered. In other words: this was not a trial but a put-up job, but not by means of a conspiracy between prosecution, judges and defense. Rather, the ubiquitous propaganda and the show trial character had a mentally paralyzing effect on all participants.
How is it that in cases of trials against serial killers everybody assumes as a matter of course that the prosecution has to come up with forensic investigations on traces of the crime, of the victim, of the perpetrator and his weapon(s), but that even the most competent defense lawyer – together with the rest of humanity – considers it obvious that an even more severe accusation against a defendant, that is, that he is involved in the murder of six million people, does not require such evidence? That was so during the International Military Tribunal and all the other trials immediately after the war, during the Jerusalem trials (Eichmann, Demjanjuk) as well as during all (!) trials against alleged National Socialist crimes held in post-war Germany and in other European nations. Not in a single case did a lawyer, prosecutor, or judge ever come up with the idea of asking for forensic evidence about the biggest crime that defendants were ever accused in the history of mankind. This gigantic accusation of such horrendous crimes is so extremely traumatizing and paralyzing that it seems to blocks every normal process of thinking and acting.
It is of course also necessary to consider what would have happened to a defense attorney, had he demanded such evidence. According to the current German legal situation, a defense lawyer actually commits a crime if asking for such evidence, because by so doing he questions the veracity of the claims made by the prosecution, and this amounts to “Holocaust denial.” This activity, however, is a crime in Germany even if committed merely indirectly by a defense lawyer while asking for evidence.13 This new interpretation of the law was introduced in Germany after lawyers of revisionists (= “deniers”) had woken up and were trying to do their duty (namely: Hajo Herrmann, Ludwig Bock, Günther Herzogenrath-Amelung, Jürgen Rieger, Herbert Schaller, and others). The outrage that resulted when a defense attorney dared to expose contradictions in the testimonies of “eyewitnesses” during the 1980 Majdanek trial in Düsseldorf, Germany,14 indicates that challenging the crime itself by asking for physical evidence would probably had rendered any defense impossible, because such a lawyer would have been exposed to the massive hatred of the media, the audience in the court room, and in particular of the prosecution and the judges. I therefore dare to conclude that it is impossible, for mere psychological reasons, to have any fair trials against individuals accused of having committed – or having been involved in – National Socialist crimes. This is quite comparable to the medieval witch trials, which for similar psychological reasons could not possibly be fair under any circumstances either.
Even though Maser himself quotes numerous documents mentioning an “evacuation” of Jews, he does not believe Eichmann who claimed during his defense in Jerusalem that he only organized this evacuation. But if what Eichmann organized was indeed merely an evacuation – the circumstances of which were terrible enough for the victims – what is supposed to be wrong with this statement of Eichmann? And which “circumstantial evidence” is Maser talking about, which in his mind “irrefutably” speaks a different language? He does not give us the slightest clue.
To cut a long story short: Maser does not even try to refer to any evidence supporting his thesis regarding the mass murder of the Jews. He does not even quote a single secondary source! I do not know if he, at some point, intended to correct that deficiency by trying to deceive his readers, because that is the impression one must get on page 307, where he tries to create the illusion of such a proof. He reproduces a document (see illustration) and adds the following caption:
“Hitler’s order (‘Top Secret!’) of December 1942 to Himmler, after coordination with him and the French Minister President Pierre Laval (1883–1945), who had visited Hitler on December 18, 1942, in East Prussia, to ‘deport’ and exterminate 600,000 to 700,000 French Jews.”
But in the document he reproduces, not a single word mentions extermination, not even if one applies the infamous “code language.”
In other words: The result of his research is already predetermined for Werner Maser: Hitler has ordered the killing of Jews, and it was thusly executed. That there is no evidence for either the order or the execution of it does not bother him.
Maser touches upon the role of Albert Speer during the Third Reich and criticizes Speer’s autobiography as an attempt at whitewashing himself (pp. 320–325). Maser is correct, as far as Speer’s attempts are concerned to suggest for posterity that he had no knowledge at all of the bad treatment of the Jews deployed as forced laborers in the construction projects supervised by him. A multitude of documents with Speer’s signature, however, proves that he knew very well what was done to the Jews. But Maser clearly overstretches his criticism when claiming that Speer had any knowledge of the Holocaust. The documents quoted only prove that Speer knew about forced deportations to the east and that those Jews were deployed at will as slave workers. After all, it was Speer
himself who organized these construction projects. But Maser is insincere when trying to construct knowledge of mass extermination from these facts.
After producing so much hot air about the Holocaust, Maser makes some very interesting points from p. 332 onward:
“Although [...] the extermination of the Jews is considered to be one of the best researched aspects of contemporary history [...], yet this is not the case. [...] Entire territories are still terra incognita, not only, [...] but also because [...] German historians shy away from addressing these horrors and to dig up details, which do not agree with depictions multiplied for years.” (S. 332).
Remember what German historian Prof. Hellmut Diwald wrote back in 1979 in the first edition of his book Geschichte der Deutschen (History of the Germans):15
“What really happened [under the header ‘Final Solution’] during the following years [after 1940], is still unclear in central issues despite all the literature.”
The outrage of the “politically correct” mob following this statement has been thoroughly documented by Dr. Armin Mohler and Prof. Robert Hepp:16 The German publisher of Diwald’s book withdrew the book from the market and without asking the author for permission replaced this sentence with a plethora of politically correct statements about the incomprehensible horrors of the Holocaust devoid of any factual content. Now Maser commits a similar sin, but in contrast to Prof. Diwald, he supports his thesis with evidence. Will that help him against the mob? We will see.
After this spicy introduction, Maser discusses the questionable basis for the victim count of the Holocaust: he juxtaposes the 26 million victims claimed by the Swiss newspaper Berner Tagwacht on August 24, 1945, to the 1.5 million victims claimed by another Swiss newspaper, the Baseler Nachrichten of June 13, 1946 – two classic sources often quoted by revisionists (p. 333). He then confuses the total Holocaust victim number of six million spread by soviet propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg several months before the end of the war17 with the four million victims of the Auschwitz camp as claimed by the Soviets at the IMT. In connection with the official reduction of the Auschwitz death toll from four million to 1.5 million, Maser quotes the Polish journalist Ernest Skalski:
“I admit that one has to hide the truth sometimes – that is, one has to lie, sometimes even for honorable motives, for example due to compassion or sensitivity. [...] Even if the truth is not always the good thing, the lie is more often the evil thing. [...]” (p. 334)
Somehow I cannot get rid of the impression that Werner Maser has read my Book Lectures on the Holocaust, in which I quoted Skalski exactly in that way.18
Next Maser quotes Yehudah Bauer, professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, as well as Leon Poliakov, Gerald Reitlinger, and Raul Hilberg, each of them giving different numbers for the total victim count of the Holocaust. His line of argument and the sources he quotes follow a pattern well known to revisionists, even if the way he tries to connect the dots indicates that Maser does not fully master this topic.19 And indeed: In lack of a “better” source he quotes my German revisionist journal Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, the German sister magazine of The Revisionist, for the first time in his footnote 73 on p. 334! Of course by making some denigrating remarks:
“Although this journal is obviously an obscure organ of right-wing radical contemporaries, the documents reproduced in it doubtlessly have documentary value. This journal is quoted in this book only where this is clearly the case.”
In other words: Maser claims that some of the documents I reproduce in my journals may not have documentary value, i.e., they are suspected to be forgeries. This implicit suspicion of forgery is of course completely unfounded and amounts to defamation.20 Subsequently Maser quotes only those documents and contributions from my journal which support his thesis. Ignoring evidence and arguments that run contrary to one’s thesis is what he seems to call scholarly behavior. But at least Werner Maser is reading revisionist journals and cannot help but quote them at least once in a while. That is at least a start!
In the introduction to his new book on pp. 25f., Maser clearly indicates that his knowledge of Revisionism is not very deep, because he make a series of embarrassing mistakes:
On his pages 335f., Maser positively mentions a paper authored by German journalist Fritjof Meyer, in which he reduced the Auschwitz death toll down to half a million and in which he decommissioned the Auschwitz crematories as locations of mass extermination.23 Maser attacks polemic critics of Meyer’s work, written by German journalist Sven Felix Kellerhoff and former German left-wing terrorist turned right-wing radical Horst Mahler, who had the chutzpah to file a criminal complaint against Meyer for Holocaust denial (which was, of course, ignored). It seems, though, that Maser’s knowledge of the topic is not deep enough to enable him to get involved in the factual debate around Meyer’s thesis.24
On p. 336, Maser briefly mentions the microwave delousing facility installed in Auschwitz, but wrongly places its location in the so-called “Central Sauna” in Birkenau (BW 32). As a matter of fact, this device was installed in BW 160, the new reception building at the Auschwitz main camp.25
On the same page, Maser refers to an alleged inspection of a homicidal gassing by Himmlers in Auschwitz in summer of 1942 – without reference. However, using numerous documents, Carlo Mattogno has exposed this myth to be unfounded.26
On page 339, Maser’s own revisionism gets some momentum:
“Stalin’s four million dogma initiated the creating of entire libraries, whose authors were primarily concerned to support this guideline of Stalin and not only to prove it with ‘source references,’ but to even correct it following Ilya Ehrenburg’s fantasy figure [...]. Neither he nor other chroniclers understood that Stalin’s only concern was to prevent by means of his own exaggerations and artificial criteria that he and his responsible functionaries would be exposed as criminals against humanity in front of the world. [...] For many of them it did not matter that Stalin had untruthfully depicted those two million Jews, which could not return home from the USSR after the war because they had lost their lives there, as victims of the NS regime.” (emphasis added)
“On Hitler’s 53rd birthday, April 20, 1942, German counter intelligence reported from Krakow that the Polish underground movement had printed thousands of posters similar to the format and style of the German ‘announcements,’ which state that the General Government has ordered as ‘announcement no. 35’ ‘an ... excursion of a committee of all ethnic groups living in Poland to Auschwitz’ to be organized. ‘The excursion shall investigate,’ so the ironic-dreadful text presumably originating from the infamous lying ‘poison kitchen’ of Sefton Delmers and Ellic Howes, which followed the first German public reports about 3,000 Polish victims exhumed from mass graves in Katyn, ‘how, in comparison to the methods used by the bolshevists, humanitarian the means are which are used for the mass extermination of the Polish people. German science performed a miracle for European culture; instead of brutal massacres against troublesome rabble, one can see the gas and steam chambers, electric plates, asf., with which thousands of Poles are delivered most rapidly from life to death, and in a way which will be to the honor of the entire German nation. It suffices to indicate that the crematorium alone can finish up 3,000 corpses a day.” (S. 341, emphasis added)
In footnote 103 he explains:
“In a personal interview with me Ellic Howe stated on June 12, 1967, that he could no longer remember exactly who had written that text.”
As explosive as Maser’s statement seems, he probably made a mistake with the year, because the mass graves of Katyn were discovered only at the end of March 1943 and subsequently used by the German propaganda. But let’s hear more of what Maser has to say:
“In May or June of 1942, the underground movement in Auschwitz succeeded for the first time to send a report to London, in which a reference to ‘gassings in gas chambers’ during ‘recent times’ can be found. On August 25, 1942, the British Secret Service was informed by these Poles that sick people had been gassed; on August 29 that the SS had erected two ‘chambers specifically built for that purpose,’ in which 1,200 inmates would fit; and that until August of 1942 300,000 had already been killed, which the Brits accepted without a word as well, even though everybody could see that this was a fantasy figure that had nothing to do with reality. But not even the report of the camp partisans of October 10, 1942, which stated that only 30,000 male and 150 (yet probably 15,000) female Jews had been deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, of which 10,000 had been murdered, led to any corrections.
For the British Secret Service, the decisive reason for covering up these propaganda lies was that they had to make an effort to oppose the German propaganda, which was supported by authentic facts, in spite of the fact that the British knew about the Katyn crimes of the Red Army and Stalin’s mendacious disinformation measures. But not only the British ignored their knowledge in favor of Stalin; the Americans did the very same thing. Thus, the U.S. Office of War Information in London decided to ‘blow up the crimes of the Germans in Poland and other occupied countries.’
The boundless exaggerations of the enemy propaganda – not just that of the Soviets – about Auschwitz and the concentration camp Birkenau, which was erected later, were based on the data and news of secret reports of the communist Auschwitz inmates, who sent their version of the events in the camp – by radio transmitters – via Krakow to London. ‘I believe it is no exaggeration if I say,’ explained the former communist functionary Bruno Baum in 1949, ‘that the most part of Auschwitz propaganda, which was spread around the world during that time, had been written by ourselves in the camp.’ That these propaganda versions, which were intended to attract attention, were exaggerated, was even admitted by Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, the president of the Allied ‘Joint Intelligence Committees’ in August of 1943, when he explained that statements from Polish and Jewish sources about gassings were invented and comparable to the propaganda of Germany’s enemies during the First World War, where Germans were accused to have produced soap from the fat of corpses. ‘I think’, he admitted, ‘that we weaken our case against the Germans by publicly giving credence to atrocity stories for which we have no evidence ... As regards putting Poles to death in gas chambers, I do not believe that there is any evidence that this has been done.’
If the British had published what their Secret Service knew since summer of 1941 and what he was able to learn in the following time, they would have contributed to revealing certain aspects of the extermination of Jews, but at the same time they would have back-stabbed their ally USSR, who tried hard to stabilize her propaganda lie about the killings of Katyn, which had been personally ordered by Stalin on March 5, 1940, by inventing further untrue propaganda versions and by depicting the crime committed by Soviet forces as a crime of the German Wehrmacht. Furthermore, the British would also have been forced to assume responsibility for publicly spreading Soviet forgeries of history as authentic information. On March 23, 1943, for instance, 37 days after the opening of the Katyn mass graves by the Wehrmacht together with Polish helpers had started – in the first mass grave the remains of 3,000 murdered Poles were exhumed – the radio station ‘Swiet’, run by the British Secret Service and broadcasting in the Polish language, published the invented claim, meant as counter propaganda, of their eastern agent Stefan Karbonski, according to which the Germans would burn some 3,000 people every day in the crematory of Auschwitz, ‘mainly Jews.’ On April 15, 1943, ‘Pravda’ tried energetically to thwart the figure 3,000, which had also been published by the German broadcasting service on April 13, 1943, in the context of the first exhumed Polish victims of mass murder. ‘Pravda’ attempted to blame the Germans for the crime of Katyn.
The morgue of the concentration camp Auschwitz had a area of 210 square meters, which was known to the British Secret Service due to reports smuggled out of the camp by the Stalinist underground movement inside the camp. Considering the horrible situation, in which the authors of these reports found themselves, their reports cannot be considered historically accurate. The British knew therefore that it was impossible to put 14 persons onto one square meter. But they silently put up with this version.” (pp. 342f., emphases added)
And now some samples of what Maser has to say about some of the better known Auschwitz witnesses:
“[...] the information given by Wetzler and Vrba were compilations of statements by other inmates; because they themselves had never either witnessed a gassing or seen a gas chamber. What they conferred, they had been told in Auschwitz for example by their communist comrade Filip Müller. [...] What they [the Allies] learned from Wetzler and Vrba were descriptions from ‘hearsay’ [...]. Additionally, neither of these two reporters could be described as reliable couriers. Vrba evidently tended to exaggerations, and Wetzler [...] turned out to be a would-be poet [...].” (p. 344)
To this, Maser adds a quick criticism of the claims made by Wetzler/Vrba. Maser does not only accuse both of inaccuracies, but also of boundless exaggerations, which “was also done by the Auschwitz ‘supplier of facts’ Filip Müller,” whose 1979 book27 Maser, with reference to Jean-Claude Pressac,28 considers to be a “novel based on a true story” (p. 345). With at least one of his “facts,” however, Müller proves himself a liar, which I want to explain to Prof. Maser so he can better understand the scope and scale of the lies of this witness:29
“The two pits that had been excavated had a length of 40 to 50 meters, were roughly 8 meters wide and 2 meters deep. But the large extermination site was far from finished. After the rough work had been done, the details thought out by Moll were to be implemented, which revealed an extermination fantasy of horrifying inventiveness.
Together with his assistant Eckart, the killer engineer climbed down into a pit and marked a strip some 25 to 30 centimeters wide onto the bottom, running along the length of the pit. By taking out the soil, a canal was to be made with a slight slope from the middle to both ends, so that the fat of the corpses burning in the pit could flow into two collecting containers excavated at the end of the canal at the both sides.”
“Because the heap of corpses collapsed more and more and would not get any air from outside, we stokers had to constantly pour oil, methanol, and human fat onto the burning mass in the pit. The fat had accumulated in abundance in the two collecting containers at the head ends of the pit, where it was boiling. Using a long iron pole that was bent like a walking stick at the lower end, the simmering fat was scooped out with buckets, which we grabbed with thick gloves. When the fat was poured into the pit at all possible places, huge flames shot up with intense hissing and crackling.”
Yet fat does not boil. It decomposes and automatically bursts into flames at high temperatures. It is therefore impossible that fat can accumulate within a fire, because in the presence of embers or flames, it catches fire when heated above 184° C (363° F). It follows from this that fat flowing out of corpses, which are lying in a fire, would automatically burn (compare the grease dripping onto the embers of a barbecue grill).
But back to Maser’s witness critique:
“The ‘witnesses’ Wetzler and Vrba were not the only ones who told their stories in order to achieve the use of military force to liberate the inmates. [...] In order to achieve this, propaganda versions, lies and forgeries were justifiable in his eyes and in the eyes of Vrba.” (p. 346, emphasis added)
Miklos Nyiszli is ripped apart in Maser’s footnote 145:
“Nyiszli [...] lied excessively [...] in his book that appeared in 1947 in communist Romania.” (p. 348, emphasis added)
As a reason why the crown witnesses of the gas chamber murder lied, exaggerated, and forged so excessively, Maser states:
“The witnesses reporting about the murder with gas in the Auschwitzer crematoria I and II, the inmates Henryk Tauber and the physicians Charles Sigismund Bendel and Miklos Nyiszli, did not do that under the circumstances of a state under the rule of law, but under the psychological and physical pressure of their interrogators.” (pp. 348f.)
Maser does not say more about Henryk Tauber, a witness who, according to Maser, had seen more than Vrba and Wetzler “while being a stoker at the Auschwitz crematorium I.” But similar to Müller – and similarly ignored by Maser – Tauber as well reported about a31
“pit close to the crematorium, which was full of boiling human fat. At that time, corpses were being burned in open pits, from which the fat flowed in a separate reservoir that had be dug into the ground. This fat was poured over the corpses in order to accelerate the incineration.”
Tauber reaches another climax of his invented tales when describing his activity as a stoker in crematorium II:31
“When cremating these corpses, we used coke only to ignite the fire, because fat corpses burned by themselves, because their body fat burned. Occasionally, if we were short of coke, we put straw and wood into the ash container underneath the muffle, and once the fat of the corpses had caught fire, the other corpses started to burn by themselves. [...] We generally burned four to five corpses at once in one muffle, but often we put more corpses into the oven. One could put eight Muselmen [emaciated corpses] at once into it. Such a large number of corpses were burned at once without the knowledge of the head of the crematorium, if air raid alarm was given; the especially large flames shooting out of the chimneys were meant to attract the attention of the pilots. We believed that this way we could give our fate a push.”
As early as 1993 I explained why this description is technically absurd for various reasons:34 a large part of the corpses consists of water, which is why enormous amounts of energy is required to cremate them within a short period of time in a crematorium oven. A brief call at a crematorium would suffice to find out that corpses do not burn by themselves. It is not necessary to consult expert literature for this.35 However, only the consultation of original construction plans of the Auschwitz crematory ovens reveals that it would have been impossible to put four, five, or even eight corpses into one muffle at a time, because the oven doors were constructed for introducing only one corpse without coffin at a time. The doors were only 60 cm wide, and above the roles upon which the corpse stretcher was placed, the doors measured only 50 cm, the upper 30 cm being part of a circular arch (see illustration 2f). It is also impossible that flames shoot out of crematory chimneys36 or that one could start cremations in the Auschwitz ovens by lighting a fire in the ash container underneath the muffle. This would have reversed the flow of the oven gas: fresh air would have been drawn from the chimney, and the hot exhaust gasses would have been pushed into the oven room.37 So compared to the other liars, what exactly is more credible about Tauber’s statement?
Even though Maser concedes that it was not always the free decision of the inmates to tell their lies and exaggerations, but that they did so “under the psychological and physical pressure of their interrogators” – what are we supposed to consider as “physical pressure”? – he refuses to acknowledge the same kind of circumstances when witnesses from the SS were interrogated.
For instance, he mentions that during his Krakow trial former Auschwitz camp commander Rudolf Höß recanted his affidavit introduced at the Nuremberg trial, but Maser does not mention at all that Höß was tortured by his British captors to make him sign an affidavit he could not even read. The veracity of this “third degree” interrogation is today generally acknowledged.38 Maser also omits that Höß reported during his custody in Poland about very rough treatments he received from his Polish prison guards.39
In the same sentence about Henryk Tauber, who had allegedly “seen more,” Maser also refers to SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Aumeier as a reliable witness for the gas chambers. Aumeier was commander of the Auschwitz main camp from February 16, 1942, until August 15, 1943. He was captured by the British on June 11, 1945, in Norway. During his first interrogation he still naively claimed to have no knowledge about homicidal gassings, but after Aumeier had been interrogated again and was ordered to give exact answers about the how and how many of such gassings as well as about his own responsibility for them – he was no longer given the choice to argue that it did not happen or that he did not know – his British captors could announce success:40
“The interrogator is satisfied that the major part of the material of this report is in conformity with the truth as far as the facts are concerned, but the personal reactions of Aumeier and his way of thinking may change a bit when his fate gets worse.” (emphasis added)
Thus, the “truth” had already been “established” beforehand by the British in summer of 1945, because they had been “enlightened” about it by the Soviets. And the British were confident that they would be able to completely break Aumeier’s already weakening resistance.
Did Aumeier therefore make his confessions “very obviously without force,” as Maser proclaims, so that his testimony “does not allow for doubts about the gassings”? (p. 347) But already the content of Aumeier’s testimony as quoted by Maser reveals a different story:
“‘According to my memory’, he confessed – very obviously without force, ‘it was in the month of November or December 1942 when the first gassing of some 50–80 Jews inmates was conducted. [...]
We were all quite scared and excited, but he [the camp commander] continued to say to us that the entire affair would be a top secret matter and that due to our oath we could be punished with death by the RFSS [Himmler] if we talked about these events. We also had ... to sign a declaration, which was stored at the L.K. [camp commander.]
In the meantime, two empty houses close to the burial sites were equipped with gas chambers by the construction office. One house had two, the other four chambers. The houses were called Bunker I and II. Each chamber could hold roughly 50 to 150 people. End of January ‹1943› or in February, the first gassings were performed there.’” (pp. 347f.)
Historically seen, Aumeier’s testimony doesn’t make any sense, because he massively contradicts other statements: His chronology of the alleged events of mass murder are in crass contradiction to the version, which is considered to be “true” by the established Holocaust historiography and which was compiled by calculating a statistical average of many contradicting witness statements. According to this, the first gassing is supposed to have happened in fall or winter of 1941 in the arrest bunker 11.41 The bunkers in Birkenau are not supposed to have gone into operation during January/February 1943, but in spring or summer of 1942.40 The number of chambers and their maximum load is also not in agreement with what we are told today to be “true.” Even Aumeier’s claim that the SS men had to sign a declaration under threat of death penalty is not in conformity with what various German courts have determined after the war: There was neither ever a threat nor even a putative threat, because no SS man was ever forced to do what they are claimed to have done, and there is also no evidence that they ever had to sign any document of secrecy.
But why did Aumeier make up these bold lies in his second testimony, if he did not tell such lies during his first interrogation? The answer is easy regarding the false dates he gives: He moved the gassing stories to a time frame, during which he was present at Auschwitz (spring 1942 to summer 1943), because this was the only way that enabled him to confess the things his captors demanded him to confess.
Considering all this, who can seriously believe that Aumeier made his statements without force?
As his last sentence in his chapter about the Holocaust, Maser writes this summarizing sentence:
“And not rarely the contradictions [of the official Holocaust version] were striking indeed. (p. 350)
It seems that Prof. Maser has scratched only the surface of these contradictions.
Maser’s chapter following his elaborations on the Holocaust with the title “Controversial: Gas Chambers for Mass Extermination on German Soil” is probably the best chapter in Maser’s book, seen from a revisionist viewpoint. In it, he not only summarizes this controversy raging now for some 45 years, for which he – horribile dictu – quotes my German journal Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung two more times.42
Maser also adds new aspects to this discussion. For example, he discusses the case of the alleged gas chamber in the Sachsenhausen camp in detail, during which he also quotes the witness testimonies of Fritz Dörbeck and Gerhart Schirmer. Both witnesses were German soldiers who had been incarcerated as POWs in the Sachsenhausen camp by the Soviets after the war. In separate sworn affidavits, Dörbeck and Schirmer had testified that they were ordered by the Soviets to build a gas chamber in that camp after the war for propaganda purposes, so that the gruesome device could be shown to visitors. Maser concludes:
“That the Soviets ordered the erection of the gas chamber [in the Sachsenhausen camp] in fall of 1945 was a result of the boundlessly exaggerated claims by the Soviet prosecutors during the Nuremberg trials about the number of victims murdered in the camps. The Nuremberg trials had just ended at that time, and the Soviet death toll figures were going around the globe and were discussed widely. Right after occupying the Sachenhausen camp, the Soviets had forced a captured SS officer to state during a ‘documentary film’ that a gas chamber existed in the camp. But what he had to show and label a gas chamber under massive threats had nothing to do with a gas chamber.” (p. 358)
Maser also deals with the gas chamber lie of the Buchenwald camp and discusses the problem of the skin of deceased or murdered inmates of that camp allegedly used for producing a wide array of items (lamp shades, gloves, purses, etc.), without offering these things as “indubitable truth.”
The only alleged homicidal gas chamber in a former National Socialist camp on German soil that is still completely intact, however, the one in the former Dachau camp, is ignored by Maser, even though the background of this facility is the best documented of all, including a forensic examination of the place.44 But perhaps even Prof. Maser is still one of those historians, whom Prof. Robert Faurisson once called “paper historians.”
With Fälschung, Dichtung und Wahrheit über Hitler und Stalin Maser has presented his most revisionist book ever. Although it hardly contains any new research results, the many summaries of various older studies are well worth reading. If dealing with the Holocaust, it becomes quickly apparent that Maser is not an expert in that field, as he commits many mistakes that could easily have been avoided. Even though he generally adheres to the traditional view on the Holocaust, his statements are so riddled with revisionist arguments that the book deserves to be called sensational. After all, it was written by nobody else but the world’s foremost expert on Hitler.
Several years ago, Maser stated in a private circle to a mutual friend of ours45 that as a historian in Germany he could not say and write what he should say and write when considering the evidence, because this would jeopardize his career or even get him in conflict with the law. He even expressed shame over the fact that he would cowardly avoid the issues and tell half lies rather than the entire truth.
His new book indicates that he gained a little more courage after he retired, because he has no career to lose anymore. Another reason may be the paper published recently by Fritjof Meyer, behind whose anti-fascist back Maser can comfortably hide. Let us hope that Maser’s courage will grow steadily.