The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/mueller.filip/comment-on-german-txt


Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 16:45:19 GMT
Message-Id: <9603041329.AA09429@gwdu20.gwdg.de>
From: uroessl1 

John Morris wrote:

> One of the current threads on alt.revisionism concerns the
> denier claim that former Sonderkommando Filip Mueller wrote
> that there were hollow concrete pillars in the gas chambers
> at Krema II, Birkenau of which no trace can be found in the
> present-day ruins. The quotation that we have been given is
> in French and thence translated into English. The published
> English translation of Mueller's memoir, however, has Mueller
> saying that the wire mesh Zyklon B introduction columns were
> separate from the concrete columns.

> I am wondering if the French version does not somehow mistake
> the German, and I would be grateful if one of our German or
> German-speaking readers could locate and quote back to me
> the original German of the following passage:

>    We left the mortuary and came to a huge iron-mounted
>    wooden door; it was not locked. We entered a place 
>    which was in total darkness. As we switched on the 
>    light, the room was lit by bulbs enclosed in a protective
>    wire cage. We were standing in a large oblong room measuring
>    about 250 square metres. Its unusually low ceiling and
>    walls were whitewashed. However, not all the pillars served
>    this purpose: for there were others, too. The Zyclon [sic]
>    B gas crystals were inserted through openings into hollow
>    pillars which were made of sheet metal. They were perforated
>    at regular intervals and inside them a spiral ran from the
>    top to bottom in order to ensure as even a distribution of
>    the granular crystals as possible.

> The passage is from the English translation of Filip Mueller,
>  _Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers_, trans.
> Susanne Flatauer (New York; London: Stein and Day; Routledge and
> Kegan Paul, 1979). The passage should be found about 40% of the
> way through the third chapter entitled, in English, "The new death
> factories." Although originally written in Czech or Slovakian,
> I believe the first publication was in German.

I got finally the German text (I suspected the translation posted
on a.r. and elsewhere for some time already.):

	Als ich mit Kaminski und Jukl die Leichenkammer verlassen
	hatte, kamen wir zu einer massiven, eisenbeschlagenen Holz-
	tuer, die nicht verschlossen war. Der Raum, in den sie fuehrte,
	war in undurchdringliches Dunkel gehuellt. Als wir das Licht
	einschalteten, leuchteten an den Waenden Gluehbirnen auf, die
	von einem Drahtgeflecht umfasst waren. Vor uns lag ein etwa
	250 Quadratmeter grosser Raum. Seine auffallend niedrige Decke
	und die Waende waren geweisst. Zwischen den Waenden der beiden
	Laengsseiten standen Betonsaeulen, welche die Decke abstuetzten.
	Wer glaubt, die Saeulen in diesem Raum wuerden nur diesem Zweck 
	dienen, befand sich in einem Irrtum. Die Zyklon-B-Gas-Kristalle
	wurden naemlich durch Oeffnungen in der Betondecke eingeworfen, 
	die in der Gaskammer in hohle Blechsaeulen einmuendeten. Diese 
	waren in gleichmaessigen Abstaenden durchloechert und in ihrem 
	Innern verlief von oben nach unten eine Spirale, um fuer eine
	moeglichst gleichmaessige Verteilung der gekoernten Kristalle
	zu sorgen.

[From: Filip Mueller, Sonderbehandlung/ Drei Jahre in den Krematorien
und Gaskammern von Auschwitz.
Deutsche Bearbeitung von Helmut Freitag,
Verlag Steinhausen, Muenchen 1979 ISBN 3-8205-3464-04, p.95f]

1) The English translation, if it was German -> English, is not entirely 
faithful on a word by word basis(see 1st sentence e.g.), however, faithful 
(and somewhat clearer) as regards the contents. 

2) The German text may be misunderstood, because of its construction:
In the room _standen Betonsaeulen_ [there were concrete pillars], 
and, next sentence, _die Saeulen_ served another purpose (than only 
to hold the ceiling). One is tempted to relate falsely these pillars 
back to the previously mentioned _Betonsaeulen_. Only in the next 
sentence, openings ending in _hohle Blechsaulen_, it becomes clear, 
that Mueller speaks about these other pillars which were there too 
(as stated in the English translation by way of clarification), not 
about the concrete pillars when explaining this other purpose.

3) It is possible that the French translator bungled his job, and 
confused concrete pillars and tin pillars - but only if he was really
bad at his job. I don't believe this, I stil believe, that the deniers'
French translation is fraudulently confusing the issue.

4) Regarding Mueller's words, it would still be desirable to get the
Czech or Slovakian original if there is any published. The bibliography
of his book escaped me - and the German, also being the first issue, 
is not the original text, but doesn't say anything about the manuscript,
and the participation of the author in this _Bearbeitung_, whatever that
may mean.

5) There is another problem, because Mueller's description doesn't match
the description given by the inmate of Auschwitz, M.Kula about the wire
mesh introduction devices. There do also exist the pictures and drawings
by D.Olere, member of the Sonderkommando and eye-witness. At least one
of them shows these devices, resembling the reconstruction by Pressac
in his book (Operation and technique). 
I think the picture, I have in mind, is in Pressac's volume.

Pictures by Olere may be found in this book:

L'oeil du temoin : un peintre au Sonderkommando a Auschwitz = The eyes of a
witness / David Olere. Serge Klarsfeld [Hrsg.]. - New York, N.Y. : Beate
Klarsfeld Foundation, 1989. - 111 p.

Regards,

Ulrich Roessler


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