Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Kurt Berstein - Eye-Witness to Gassings Followup-To: alt.revisionism Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA Keywords: Belzec,Gerstein Archive/File: holocaust/poland/reinhard/belzec belzec.02 Last-modified: 1993/03/05 "... Kurt Gerstein, born ... of an old Prussian family, was early invovled in Christian evangelical movements that drew to they young Germans who were repelled by the paganism of the Hitler Jugend. Gerstein believe that, since both polarized groups yeared for a strong, creative Germany, he could reconcile the passionate nationalism of the Nazis and the fervent religious sensibilities of authentic Christians. Seeking to work from within, he joined the Nazi party in 1933. From the fanatic reactions of the Hitler Jugend he realized almost at once that a formula for compromise was impossible. Outspokenly critical of Nazi blasphemies, Gerstein was expelled from the party in 1936 and, in 1938, was sentenced to a term in a concentration camp to reappraise his premises. ... ... Upon release, he came to what he called the salient decision of his life. He took it upon himself to expose the Nazi menace by gathering evidence of the extent of its depravity. [Although never fully trusted ...] he was put to use where it served a Nazi purpose. Gerstein had studied mining engineering and was considered an authority on the properties of gas. The Nazis were just then searching for a more economical and efficient mass method of killing, and Gerstein was assigned to Belzec to devise some method of accelerating the machinery of death. He gave a favorable report on what was called Zyklon B, a gas produced when prussic acid crystals were exposed to air, already widely used by manufacturers of particularly strong vermin sprays. Gerstein wrote what became perhaps the most horrifying eye-witness account of death in the Belzec chambers, a process that took thirty minutes, with 600 to 700 victims crushed into an area of approximately 270 square feet: `Inside, the people were still standing erect, like pillars of basalt, since there had not been an inch of space for them to fall in or even lean. Families could still be seen holding hands, even in death. It was a tough job to separate them as the chambers were emptied to make way for the next batch. The bodies were tossed out, blue, wet with sweat and urine, the legs soiled with faeces and menstual blood. A couple of dozen workers checked the mouths of the dead, which they tore open with iron hooks. `Gold to the left, other objects to the right.'<15> The chief at Belzec was the notorious Globocnik, who proded Gerstein to deliver ever larger quantities of gas and to step up daily quotas from the August 1942 high of 15,000. When Globocnik was disappointed in the capacity of Zyklon B to achieve faster results, the gas chambers were supplemented by firing squads. Gerstein said that he realized he was dealing with a monster when he queried Globocnik about the wisdom of creating mass graves that would be evidence for adverse interpretations by future generations. Globocnik replied: `If there should ever be, after us, a generation so cowardly and so soft that they could not understand our work which is so good and so necessary, the entire National Socialist movement will have been in vain. On the contrary, we ought to bury bronze tablets stating that it was we who had the courage to carry out this gigantic task.'<16> Gerstein later claimed that he had stalled as best he could, offering any ingenious excuse that would obstruct the orders from on high. Meanwhile, he smuggled out confidential appeals to diplomats of the free world who were posted to Germany and whom he felt he could trust. He tried the apostolic nuncio in Berlin and several Swedish and Swiss diplomats, pleading that they make known the Nazi crimes. On one occasion, when traveling by train from Warsaw to Berlin, Gerstein poured out his heart to Baron von Otter, a Swedish diplomat, later ambassador to Great Britain. The baron described the encounter: `From the very beginning as Gerstein described the atrocities, weeping and broken hearted, I had no doubt as to the sincerity of his humanitarian intentions.'<17> Von Otter reported Gerstein's story to his own government, which found it, as did other neutrals, too bizarre for credibility. Gerstein's appeal to the papal nuncio in Berlin, Father Orsenigo, was also ignored. Gerstein sent scores of letters to other church leaders, but if there were any replies, they must have been private, for none has come to light. ..." When the Nazi regime collapsed, Gerstein turned over to a French intelligence team his detailed report on atrocities in Belzec and Treblinka. His date provided the Allies in later trials with their most detailed accounts of the Nazi murder mills, and it was used at Nuremberg. Gerstein was, however, arrested by the French, who concluded that he was a war criminal now trying to weasel out of retribution. Gerstein argued that he had endangered his own life by appealing to important public figures, all of whom were ready to vouch for him. He made little headway with the French. The court noted that he was not stationed in some remote administrative office but was assigned to Belzec, where the gas chamber deaths were watched by him. In July 1945, Gerstein was found hanged in his cell. The inquest concluded that he had committed suicide. ... The documents that Gerstein submitted and the notes that he made in his cell were lost or destroyed, deliberately or otherwise. ... In 1950, a denazification court in Tuebingen identified Gerstein as a willing Nazi collaborator for his role in supervising the manufacture of Zyklon B. It was not until authorities in the state of Baden Wuerttemberg again reviewed the case, with access to considerably more documentary evidence and the testimony of reliable witnesses such as Baron von Otter, that the Gerstein's good name was redeemed.<18> In the judgement of the distinguished French historian Leon Poliakov, Gerstein's testimony about the activities at Belzec remains one of the most harrowing accounts in the vast literature of the genocide.<19> The German Federal Republic Information Service distributed many thousands of copies of Gerstein's account in its campaign to disabuse the younger generation of any lingering admiration for the achievements of the Third Reich." <15> Saul Friedlander, "Kurt Gernstein: The Ambiguity of Good," pp. 110-111 <16> Ibid., p. 105 <17> Ibid., pp. 201-209 <18> Ibid. The battle for vindication is documented in the last part of Friedlander's biography of Gerstein. <19> Commentary. August 1965 Extracted from--------------------------------------------------- "THE REDEMPTION OF THE UNWANTED", Abram L. Sachar (New York: St. Martin's/Marek, 1983. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Individual files are now available via listserv. Send your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and include the single word 'index' for a list of available articles. For individual files, use the 'get' command, and the archive flag 'holocaust' to have them mailed to you.. Example: get holocaust
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