The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/mueller.filip/muller.007


Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Eyewitness Auschwitz: Birkenau crematoriums
Summary: Problems at Auschwitz with crematorium lead to building new
         and more efficient crematoria at Birkenau...selection process
         described, deceptions used, Sondercommando replacements taken
         directly from transports...
Reply-To: kmcvay@oneb.almanac.bc.ca
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Auschwitz,Birkenau,Brzezinka,Moll

Archive/File: holocaust/poland/auschwitz muller.007
Last-modified: 1993/09/22 
XRef: index auschwitz

Holocaust denial is fond of asserting that eyewitness accounts of specific
events are often flawed. This tack, of course, is immediately followed by an
abrupt dismissal of any such account raised in rebuttal to their arguments.

While witnesses to historic events are certainly subject to common human
failings, including memory lapses, incorrect memories and/or understandings
of witnessed events, their testimony often contains statements of such
general scope that it is impossible for observers to deny their accuracy.

Consider Mu"ller's testimony below (and in all the Mu"ller articles archived
on oneb.almanac.bc.ca) in that context, and ask yourself whether or not it
can be credited. In the first paragraph, for instance, one might address the
following questions:

1. Did a new chimney get built?
2. Are Mu"ller's comments about SS expectations reasonable?
3. Is it probable that lining bricks did come loose?
4. Did technical problems occur to a degree sufficient for him to recall,
   given his three years at Auschwitz?
5. Did the whitewashed farmhouses exist? Would Mu"ller likely know if
   they had been converted into gas chambers?

With the possible exception of #2, I would reply that the answer to all of
the questions above is yes - I believe that anyone surviving three years at
Auschwitz can be relied upon to testify as to these things.

   "The building works department of the SS had expected that, once the
   new square chimney was built, operations would run smoothly and
   without a hitch.  However, it turned out quite soon that this new
   chimney could not cope with the work-load: while it was in use,
   lining bricks kept coming loose, blocking the flue.  It was no longer
   possible to 'despatch' the transports of Jews which continued to
   arrive as before without constantly recurring technical trouble.
   Therefore, in the autumn of 1942 operations had to be restricted.
   From the start this small 'death workshop', into whose gas chamber
   more than 700 people could be crammed, served to relieve the two
   extermination centres at Birkenau.  Known as Bunker 1 and 2 these
   were two whitewashed farmhouses with thatched roofs, all that
   remained of the village of Brzezinka.  Converted into gas chambers
   they were sited to the west of the future crematoria 4 and 5."

Now ask yourself whether or not Filip Mu"ller's remark about victims being
buried in mass graves is accurate? Is it possible that he could be confused
about something like this? Keep in mind that Mu"ller was one of the
Sondercommando who worked with the bodies of victims, and ask yourself
whether or not it would be likely that such things would be forgotten.

   "The people gassed here were simply buried in mass graves which had
   been dug near by.  When, in the summer of 1942, the hot sun began to
   burn, the corpses started to swell and the earth's crust to burst
   open.  A black, evil-smelling mass oozed out and polluted the
   ground-water in the vicinity.  One day we were ordered to take
   several barrels of chlorinated lime there.  Large quantities of this
   chemical were spread over the decomposing bodies, but to no avail.
   For, when in October 1942 we returned to the pits with several
   containers of oil, I managed to speak to a few prisoners of the
   Sonderkommando there.  The majority were Slovak Jews, a few came from
   France.  They were busy digging up and burning the decomposing
   corpses.  This ghoulish work took place in an area enveloped in black
   smoke and acrid fumes.  At the edge of the mass grave lay a heap of
   blue-black bodies covered with maggots.  They were flung on trucks by
   a group of prisoners.  A second group moved these to a pit where the
   bodies were burnt."

Do you think Mu"ller invented these stories? If not, could he be confused
about something as horrid as the situation he describes?

   "Among the prisoners working here I recognized two friends with whom I
   had been at grammar school.  From them I learned that they had been
   working at the bunkers since the spring of 1942.  But bodies had been
   buried in mass graves even earlier, for there was a first
   Sonderkommando of eighty who, as they were privy to the mass
   extermination, had all been liquidated by Hauptscharfu"hrer Moll.
   While we were talking a couple of SS men appeared and separated us.
   Obviously they did not know that I was among those who knew about
   their secret."

With regard to the problems associated with eyewitness accounts, the above
paragraph finally presents us with a possible flaw: was the SS member's name
really Moll? Perhaps it was Jones, or Smith? This is a point I wouldn't
argue - Mu"ller might not have the name right... but as to the man's
actions, i.e. killing Sonderkommandos, I accept that his comments are most
certainly accurate - some SS man killed a large mass of Sonderkommando, and
Mu"ller knew of this. He continues his account below, adding detail:

   "In mid-December 1942 all who belonged to this Sonderkommando were
   gassed and cremated.  On removing their bodies from the gas chamber
   we found on some of them scraps of paper with notes scribbled on them
   to the effect that their plan to escape had been betrayed by certain
   barrack orderlies.

   Despite constant trouble with the chimney, the Auschwitz crematorium
   remained in use.  During the first few months of 1943 it served
   simultaneously as a training centre for a new team of stokers.  They
   were to be employed in the crematoria of Birkenau which were then
   being built.  About twenty Jewish and three Polish prisoners were
   instructed in the duties of a crematorium worker by Kapo Mietek.
   Most of them had come towards the end of 1942 from the ghetto of the
   Polish town of Ciechanow.  Their subsequent fate was decided when
   their transport arrived on the ramp at Auschwitz.  For this happened
   to be the day when the SS men on duty were selecting more slaves for
   the new Sonderkommando, which they did by placing the youngest,
   healthiest and strongest males on one side.

   In the end there were three groups on the ramp.  The first contained
   mainly women with small children, as well as middle-aged and old
   people; in the second group were young men and girls as well as women
   without children; while about 200 strong men had been selected for
   the third.  None of them could imagine what this sorting into three
   groups might mean.  Had the women and children been put together so
   that the mothers could look after their little ones; were the younger
   ones intended for normal work and the strong and healthy men for
   heavy physical labour?  When they saw women, children and older folk
   climbing into trucks and being driven away their hopes of staying
   with their families were dashed.  Later they were taken to the camp
   where they encountered older prisoners and had their first sobering
   experience: one of them, a student who was being trained as a stoker
   in the Auschwitz crematorium, told me how, when he inquired after his
   relatives, he had been informed quite cynically and with complete
   indifference that they had long since snuffed it.  Others had similar
   experiences and, as a result, were completely stunned and shocked
   during their first few days.  However, once they had recovered, they
   would begin to speculate about their own chances of survival.  They
   knew full well where they were and what they might expect.  And yet,
   in his heart of hearts every man hoped that he would be the one lucky
   enough to get out of here alive.

   To fill up empty places in the Sonderkommando the SS employed all
   manner of deceptions.  A friend of mine was among the many prisoners
   taken in by their tricks.  One day he was told that strong and
   healthy men were wanted for well-paid work in the Bata shoe factory
   200 kilometres away.  Eagerly and suspecting nothing he volunteered
   for this work.  When a little later he was taken to the crematorium
   he realized that he had been tricked: but by then it was too late.

   Rumours that the new crematoria at Birkenau would soon be completed
   increased.  By mid-July 1943 they were ready.  The old crematorium at
   Auschwitz was shut down.  Eight SS men of Ukrainian origin were among
   the last to be cremated there.  Because of their nationality they had
   feared that one day they might be gassed or shot; they managed to
   escape but were pursued into the mountains where they were cornered,
   and during the ensuing gunfight all eight of them were killed.  When
   one of our team was searching their pockets for cigarettes he found
   three 'pineapples'.  He hid them in an empty urn.  But then we were
   suddenly transferred, and there was no time for anyone to collect the
   hand-grenades.  We had to leave them behind until a week later when
   we managed to smuggle them into Birkenau.  They were the first
   weapons we managed to lay our hands on.

   The old death factory of Auschwitz stood empty and silent as the
   grave.  Tens of thousands of Jews from Upper Silesia, Slovakia,
   France, Holland, Yugoslavia and the ghettos of Theresienstadt,
   Ciechanow and Grodno had been put to death and cremated there, and
   their ashes scattered in the river Vistula.  Occasionally an urn,
   supposedly containing the ashes of a dead prisoner was sent to his
   relatives - as long as he was not a Jew - against payment of a fee.
   Needless to say they were never the remains of any particular person:
   the urn was simply filled with a handful of ashes of which there was
   always a plentiful supply.

   We were no longer needed here.  That we had a chance to go on
   living, however, was due solely to the fact that the four new
   crematoria at Birkenau were now in operation." (Mu"ller, 49-52)

With regard to works like that of Filip Mu"ller, I reject any assertion that
his witness is flawed to the point where none of it may be credited. His
testimony, much of which was written in 1946, establishes the existence of
the killing machine Auschwitz, the nature of the people running it, the
purpose to which it was put, and its general operational nature. It answers
the question about where the ashes went, explains how the killing process
worked, how the bodies were treated and disposed of, and a good many other
questions.

It is interesting to note that while arbitrarily dismissing accounts such as
that above, Dan Gannon and others are quick to cite testimony from any
eyewitness source which supports their assertions. I maintain that this
practice clearly demonstrates their bias and lack of interest in maintaining
any semblence of truth. While specific names and dates may most certainly be
called into question, it is clear to me that Mu"ller's account provides
damning evidence as to the nature and purpose of the Auschwitz death camp.

                              Work Cited

Mu"ller, Filip. Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers.
New York: Stein and Day, 1979

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