The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day010.12

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day010.12
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   Yes.  Tell ----
   A.   The "Dei Feldofen" in this case are "field ovens", and we
        know there is quite a documentation, not only eyewitness
        testimony, but quite an extensive documentation on this
        particular trip which was made by Kommandant Hirst and
        which also Mr Dejaco and Mr Hoessler, all were included
        and they were inspecting actually, they were going to
        Lischmannstadt to see the extermination site there, to
        actually look at the incineration grid, the incineration
        installation created by Studattenfuhrer Bloebel as part of
        Action 1005, to create a way to get rid of corpses which
        had been buried as a result of the killings in Chelmo.  So
        this has nothing to do with kitchens, these Feldofen,
        but with incineration ovens to burn, to incinerate,
   Q.   "Field kitchens" would be "Feldkuchens", would it not?

.          P-99

   A.   That is more likely, yes.
   Q.   So your submission is that this is a reference to going
        there to visit some kind of improvised grating, fire
        grating, of some kind ----
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   --- on a large scale?
   A.   They are actually -- we have Mr Dejaco, the chief of
        design in the Zentrale Bau, he actually made a sketch also
        of this incineration installation.  It had been developed
        by Bloebel who was an architect in order to empty the mass
        graves which had been created in Chelmo as a result of the
        gassings there.
   Q.   Bloebel had the very distasteful task of emptying out the
        mass graves and cremating the ----
   A.   Yes, he had the -- it was called Action 1005.  He was
        going around sites where mass graves had been reacted in
        order to take out the corpses and to incinerate them so
        they were going to be no traces.
   Q.   Why would it include the words an "experimental station"
        for the ----
   A.   Because they were just developing the technology to do
   Q.   Does it take much technology to make a fire in the open on
        a grating?
   A.   The Germans had not done this before yet.  Bloebel was the
        person who developed the technology.  Until then, the

.          P-100

        Germans had not yet emptied mass graves and incinerated
        corpses of people who had been buried for some time.  We
        know that afterwards this, indeed, is going to happen in
        Auschwitz within weeks, the same procedure start to be
        applied in Auschwitz to all the people who are buried in
        the field of ashes next to bunkers 1 and -- bunker 2 in
        this case.
   Q.   When I see the word "Versthutzstation", in my knowledge of
        German documents, I usually think of a place like
        Panamunda or Passodena.  I do not think of somebody
        mucking around with fire grates in a field?
   A.   I do not follow you, Mr Irving.
   Q.   The word "Versthutzstation" does not tend to convey what
        you suggest in your evidence.  That is all that we can
        usefully derive from that.
   A.   I think that maybe even if I have these documents on the
        trip to Chelmo.  It is very well documented.  Apart from
        that, Dejaco was questioned on that in detail during his
        trial, and he confirmed what you probably would call the
        very sinister interpretation of all these documents, that,
        indeed, yes, he was there present with Bloebel at the
        incineration site.
   Q.   And yet he was, of course, acquitted, as we have heard
   A.   He was acquitted of the murder of one inmate who he was
        alleged to have drowned at a building site near

.          P-101

        crematorium (ii).
   Q.   And not charged with any further crimes after that, not
        recharged on any other crime?
   A.   No, he was not, but then we have discussed already the
        nature of ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Irving, may I just ask you, whilst it
        occurs to me, who translated "ofen" as "kitchens"?
   MR IRVING:  I did, my Lord.  Normally, "field kitchens" is the
        only interpretation of [German - document not provided].
        I am willing to be lectured by Mr Van Pelt on this
        alternative meaning.  He claims he has these documents
        which bear out his meaning, translation, of the word, and,
        of course, I put the original German to him so that he can
        correct it if we are wrong.
                  If I can just finally carry on on that point, if
        Dejaco was present on this trip and no consequences flowed
        from it in the law courts afterwards, can we draw any
        conclusions as to the nature of these pits that were being
        excavated or not, these mass graves, what the victims had
        died of or had been killed by?  I am in your hands here
        because I know nothing.  You have seen the documents and I
        do not.
   A.   OK.  I have one of the documents right here in my hand,
        so, I mean, I could give it to you, I could quote it,
        I could read, because we have the report of the trip of
        17th September.

.          P-102

   Q.   Very well.
   A.   I do not want to spring this document on you, but since
        you raised the issue of the significance of it, it gives
        actually a description of the thing.
   Q.   While you are looking, I can tell my Lord the translation
        was actually done at 2 o'clock this morning, so there is
        an element of stress.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.  Thank you.
   A.   I think I have not answered the question yet, so maybe
        could the question be repeated because I ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Shall I repeat it?  Can we draw any
        conclusion as to the nature of these pits that were being
        excavated or not, these mass graves, what the victims had
        died of or been killed by?  In other words, could you tell
        whether they had been gassed or whether they had been shot
        or whatever?
   A.   These people had gassed in gas vans.
   Q.   Why do you say that?
   A.   We know that on the basis of the report created by the
        Polish Commission of investigation in 1945, which itself
        did a forensic excavation at the site and also took many
        testimonies on this.  These people who were brought to
        Chelmo were Jews from the Lischmannstadt ghetto.  They
        started in very late 1941 when Germany was being emptied
        of Jews.  I just want to remind the court, for example,
        Berlin was officially Judenreiden in early 1943.  When the

.          P-103

        German Jews were transported to the East, one of the
        places where they were concentrated was in the Rusch or
        Lischmannstadt ghetto.  In order to make place for these
        people who came in, because it was already terribly
        overcrowded, Polish Jews from the Lischmannstadt ghetto
        were in early '42 brought to a little castle near Chelmo.
        This castle in Chelmo was a place where they were brought
        to this castle and then there were gas vans in that
        compound and they were actually walked into gas vans.
        There was a description of the actual camouflage way in
        which they were brought in there, and then these gas vans
        drove from that castle to a forest which was a couple of
        miles away.  By the time the gas vans arrived at the
        forest, all of the people in the back of these gas vans
        had died and then they were buried in that forest.  So
        when the mass graves really had become very large there,
        because ultimately the Polish Commission established that
        around, I think, 180,000 people were killed in that way at
        Chelmno, Bloebel was given the task to start removing the corpses.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That does not appear to me to have much to do
        with the message, the radio message, of 15th September 1942.
   MR IRVING:  We are rather branching out into other fields there?
   A.   It has a lot to do with that.

.          P-104

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  This is Auschwitz, not Chelmno?
   A.   No, but the people in Auschwitz at that time, what has
        happened is that at bunker 2 at that moment, which had
        been in operation since early July, they have been burying
        the people next to bunker No. 2.  In the meantime, there
        is the Himmler visit to Auschwitz and, while there is no
        record of it, it is quite likely probably that he said
        this burying of people very close to the camp, because
        that is actually quite close to Birkenhau, is going to be
        an unhealthy business.  So what happens then that
        immediately -- we are talking again at about the month of
        August and September when all these big changes are taking
        place in Auschwitz.  So, in order to take counsel from the
        only man who is actually doing the incineration of buried
        corpses which is happening in Chelmno with this
        Studattenfuhrer Bloebel, the Auschwitz Kommandant, and
        this is a very high powered trip, the Kommandant, his
        adjutant Hoessler, and the chief designer, who ultimately
        must make sense of it on a practical, technological scale,
        all go for a whole day to Lischmannstadt, and it is not a
        small trip.  They need to get special permission for that
        (because one always needs special permissions for these
        trips) to basically to see what Bloebel is doing there.
                  Then we have also another German, we have the
        original request from Auschwitz to Glucks, we have the
        permit now being produced and we have the final result, a

.          P-105

        report of what happened during that trip.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  So Lischmannstadt is close to Chelmno?
   A.   Yes, Chelmo -- I mean, Lischmannstadt is a very big city.
        Chelmno is just a hamlet.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is what I was missing.
   MR IRVING:  Is it your submission, therefore, that this five
        tonne truck load of Zyklon-B which was fetched, I think we
        agree, the materials, from Dessau to Auschwitz, what was
        the five tonne truck of Zyklon-B, what were the materials
        to be used for?  Just for gassing people?
   A.   OK, so we finished with this document now on the ----
   Q.   Well, would you answer my question?
   A.   I just want to know if I still have to take that into
        consideration in the answer or not.
   Q.   No, you do not, no.
   A.   OK.
   Q.   We are back on the trucks going back and forth between
        Auschwitz and Dessau.
   A.   The trucks went back and forth to Dessau.  They collected
        Zyklon-B and Zyklon-B was used in many different ways in
        the camp.
   Q.   But five tonnes seems an awful lot.  That is the point
        I am making.  Over five tonnes?
   A.   But let us remember, just if we talk -- we do not talk
        about five tonnes Zyklon-B because when we ultimately talk
        about the way Zyklon-B is shipped, it is shipped in

.          P-106

        containers and then the containers themselves contain
        earth in which the Zyklon-B is ----
   Q.   The largest tin was one kilogram, was it not?
   A.   The largest tin was one kilogram, one kilogram of
        Zyklon-B, but the original invoices from the shipping of
        the Daigash of Zyklon-B always gives the brutto weight --
        I mean the gross weight of what a tin is and then
        ultimately also the net wet of Zyklon included in that.
   Q.   But the Zyklon is the pellets;  it is not just the cyanide?
   A.   The pellets too, so in order to -- basically, if you get
        five tonnes weight of tins with contents, the total weight
        actually inside of Zyklon, of hydrogen cyanide, will be
        less than a tonne and I can give you the exact figure.
   Q.   You are saying that is the weight of the tin to be taken
        into account?
   A.   The tin and, of the course, pellets in which the Zyklon
        has been taken in, and all that information is available
        and I can give it to you if you just give me time to look.
   Q.   Are you suggesting that Zyklon is another word
        for hydrogen cyanide?
   A.   Zyklon is a commercial name for a product ----
   Q.   For the pellet containing the hydrogen cyanide?
   A.   Containing the hydrogen cyanide.
   Q.   You are not trying to make out that Zyklon is the hydrogen
        cyanide element in the pellets?

.          P-107

   A.   No, it is a commercial name.

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