The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Subject: The Eyewitness Accounts of Dr. Hans Munch
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Date: Tue, 06 Jan 2004 03:42:22 GMT
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Category: Eyewitness Testimony
Elements of the case supported: Use of gas chambers, intent to commit 
racial genocide


David Michael has challenged me to mount an argument proving the basic 
facts of the Holocaust using evidence that does not necessitate trust in 
the Allied governments of Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union 
and their various institutions and associates.  Of course such "trust" 
is defined very broadly in Dr. Michael's methodology.  It is a given, in 
his eyes, that the Allies were on the same page in their willingness to 
go to any unscrupulous lengths, and engage in any nefarious means, to 
blacken the good name of their defeated enemy.  Therefore, if there is 
even a hypothetical possibility that one of these governments may have 
had a hand in the evidence, then to attribute any value at all to such 
evidence - to take it as anything other than hopelessly contaminated and 
worthless - is to have such trust in his eyes.

In terms of eyewitness testimony, then, it was made clear from the 
outset that anyone who gave their testimony or wrote their account while 
in the custody or employ of the Allied governments is automatically 
inadmissible.  Dr. Michael will not accept "testimony of persons 
captured by the Allied forces (who might have been tortured or otherwise 
pressured to give certain forms of evidence -- we know, for example, 
that Hoess was subjected to torture)."  As I said at the time, fair 

As the discussion progressed, however, it came out that Dr. Michael had 
several additional conditions that had little or nothing to do with the 
possible interference of Allied governments.  Though they go beyond the 
mandate of the challenge he originally issued to me, I will accept as 
well (at least for the sake of this exercise) these additional 
conditions which exclude my use in any way of additional categories of 
eyewitness testimony on the grounds that such testimony *might* be false 
or contaminated for other reasons.  As he put it, he will only accept 
testimony "from people whose testimony can't reasonably be attributed to 
ulterior motives (for example those who were pro-Nazi even at the time 
of giving such testimony, not on trial themselves, not in a position 
where they or their families could be subjected to retribution should 
they fail to give such testimony, etc.) -- enemies of Nazism, such as 
Jews and concentration camp inmates, obviously have a rather large axe 
to grind;"

Dr. Michael's standards of evidence with regards to eyewitnesses would 
appear to be designed to exclude anyone who could draw breath (and, 
indeed, most of those who no longer can).  Anyone, after all, could have 
*some* ulterior motive if you use enough imagination.  If this renders 
evidence not only problematic but invalid, no human being alive would be 
qualified to give testimony.  We have already ruled out the 
perpetrators, because the people holding them in custody cannot be 
trusted and naturally one would expect that anyone who committed such 
despicable, unredeemable crimes would be in custody.  Jews, of course, 
have a record of bearing some innate and unprovoked resentment against 
Nazis - I dunno, in their genes, I guess - therefore, regardless of 
whatever measure of personal integrity might be reputed to them 
individually, they should all be assumed, without any benefit of doubt, 
willing to lie in order to get their enemies into trouble.  Indeed, any 
victim of the Nazis could be expected to bear a grudge, and hence are 
excluded from telling us what caused them to develop that grudge in the 
first place.  And since only the perpetrators and victims would have 
been allowed anywhere near the gas chambers, and we've dismissed both by 
definition, that should cover everybody.  Oh wait - there were certain 
activists (cf. Jan Karski) who managed to get into the extermination 
camp for the explicit purpose of documenting what was taking place and 
telling the world.  But they were anti-Nazi to begin with, else they 
wouldn't have done such a naughty thing, so who can trust them?  So 
that's everybody then: nobody can be trusted to testify to atrocities 
except for the Nazi perpetrator of those atrocities who is nonetheless 
at large and under no fear of justice (seeing as random bystanders would 
never have gotten into the camps accidentally, and those who did happen 
upon mass-murders of Jews can each be dismissed, one at a time, as 
having merely witnessed "random acts of violence", no matter how many 
identical and systematic random acts of violence we're talking about).

What's more, one need not provide evidence of coercion or falsehood - 
the mere possibility is enough to render an testimony contaminated.  And 
the fact that all of the above witnesses might corroborate each other 
means nothing in terms of increasing the plausibility of their stories, 
because suspicion renders their testimonies not merely problematic but 
worthless, and 0 + 0 + 0 = 0.

Never mind the inherent irrationality of this formula.  Dr. Michael no 
longer wants to discuss that.  Let us see whether it is possible to work 
even within these extreme parameters.

Indeed, there are simply so many witnesses to the various aspects of the 
Holocaust, that the law of averages dictates that surely at least one 
must exist whose extraordinary circumstances allow him to slip through 
the cracks of Dr. Michael's seemingly airtight defenses.  I have chosen 
Dr. Hans Munch as my characteristic witness, not because I personally 
feel he is the "best" witness.  Indeed, it is only in the irrational 
universe of David E. Michael's Holocaust denial methodology that the 
notion of there being one "best" piece of evidence makes any sense.  In 
the real world of history, each piece of evidence has its own place in 
the overall picture, and hence there is no "best" piece of evidence any 
more than there is a "best" piece of a puzzle.

No, I have chosen Dr. Hans Munch because he is, to my limited knowledge, 
the witness who best meets David Michael's criteria.  Indeed, when he 
cited his example of the woman from Cape Town who he considered a 
credible witness to the Ardeatine Caves massacres, Dr. Munch's name was 
the one that popped directly to mind.  Here is what Dr. Michael said: 

"I met an elderly lady in Cape Town about a decade ago. She was living 
in Rome during the war. She certainly had no sympathies with your sort. 
Nevertheless, she assured me that the Ardeatine Caves massacres did take 
place. I would trust her word on that matter far more than any number of 
'captured documents' because she had no reason to lie about it -- quite 
the contrary, it was a source of embarrassment to her."

Dr. Michael trusts this woman because she had "no sympathies with your 
sort" (anti-Nazis, I suppose) and because she had "no reason to lie 
about it".  In short, she was credible because: 1) her biases, if any, 
would be expected to favour the perpetrators rather than the victims, 2) 
she was under no apparent pressure to say what she did not believe was 
true.  Dr.  Michael makes no mention of what I would think to be a 3rd 
factor - 3) whether she was actually in a position to have first-hand 
knowledge of what she was talking about - but I consider this important, 
so will add it to the list.  One can hardly accuse me of trying to take 
advantage of loopholes.


Hans Munch was a GP just out of medical school when the war began.  
Coming from an upper-middle class, nationalistic upbringing, he enlisted 
during the period of patriotic fervor surrounding Germany's early 
victories.  According to him,  the SS offered the best opportunities for 
doctors to serve (he had already been a member of the Nazi student 
organization during the early days of the regime - at a time when only 
20% of students belonged - and he claims to have joined the Party in the 
late 1930's not just for opportunistic reasons but "with a positive 
feeling... [and with] no obligation, no force."; Lifton 314).  He was 
assigned to one of the Hygienic Institutes, considered "a normal 
medical-military command within the Waffen-SS."  From there, after 
interviews in which his ideological views were explored, he was 
transferred to the special concentration camp division.  His impression 
was that those so chosen were considered "ideologically steadfast... 
[and] reliable."  He was assigned to Auschwitz in mid-1943.(Lifton 304)

Not knowing what to expect at Auschwitz, Munch made the mistake of 
arriving with his wife, only to be scolded for this by Dr. Bruno Weber, 
supervisor of the Hygienic Institute at Auschwitz with whom Munch 
already had an affinity having worked for him at an earlier post. 
According to Munch, this was when Weber told him that Auschwitz was the 
location where the "Final Solution of the Jewish question" was to take 

"He said, 'If you want to see how it works, go look out of the window.  
You will see... two large smokestacks... The normal kind of production 
of this machine... is a thousand men in twenty-four hours."(Lifton 305)

Weber, however, stressed that the activity of the Hygienic Institute was 
independent from the camp hierarchy, and that they should be able to 
keep their own hands clean.  Their role was to do research for the 
Institute with the help of prisoner physicians and subjects, and to 
serve the labour camp's medical needs, primarily in the control of 
typhus epidemics.

After six months which Munch spent getting accustomed to his extreme 
surroundings by earning a measure of confidence from the prisoner 
doctors and acceptance from his SS colleagues, the camp's Chief doctor 
Eduard Wirths requested that Munch begin performing selections.  It was 
the summer of 1944, when enormous numbers of Hungarian Jews were 
arriving in Auschwitz making it impossible for the relatively small 
number of camp doctors to handle the selections on their own.  Munch 
already had first-hand experience of what that entailed.  Though most of 
his research work took place at the Institute, he was also responsible 
for health issues at the barracks and, in that capacity, had visited 
Birkenau and witnessed the selections and the operation of the gas 
chamber.  In a statement that he wrote in 1995, as part of a visit to 
Auschwitz along with Eva Kor (a survivor who, as a child, was a subject 
of Josef Mengele's medical experiments), he described the selection 
process as determining "those who were to live and those who were to 

"I saw thousands of people gassed here at Auschwitz.  Children, old 
people, the sick and those unable to work were sent to the gas 
chambers... I, a former SS physician, witnessed the dropping of Zyklon B 
into simulated exhaust vents from outside the gas chambers.  Zyklon B 
began to work as soon as it was released from the canisters.  The 
effects of the gas were observed through a peephole by an assigned 
doctor or the SS officer on duty.  After three to five minutes, death 
could be certified, and the doors were opened as a sign that the corpses 
were cleared to be burned."

Wirths could not order Munch to participate, as the Hygienic Institute 
was outside of his jurisdiction, but he could apply considerable 
pressure.  He was able to persuade Weber, but Munch continually found 
excuses, finally declaring to Wirths that he simply could not handle it 
psychologically.  "I... observed it [selections] and... could stand it 
for only half an hour [and then] had to vomit" to which Wirths replied, 
"That will pass.  It happens to everyone..."(Lifton 308)

Munch went right to Berlin to meet with the head of the Hygienic 
Institute about the matter, who personally intervened to ensure that 
Munch would no longer be pressured to involve himself in the 
extermination process.  As part of the agreement, the Hygienic Institute 
provided another doctor who would work part-time with the camp and 
therefore would be compelled to participate in the selections.  
According to Munch, this doctor, too, had serious pangs of conscience, 
though was eventually persuaded to go along.  Robert Jay Lifton (who 
interviewed Munch extensively for his psychological study, "The Nazi 
Doctors") reports that Munch showed feelings of personal guilt over the 
eventual fate of this doctor (he shot himself before he could be 
captured by the Americans) who "had to do the job which I had succeeded 
in getting out of..."(311)

Munch was taken into custody by the Americans at Dachau.  After about a 
year, his identity was discovered and was tried as part of a process 
that took place in Krakow between 1946-1947.  Of the 40 defendants, 23 
were sentenced to death and hanged.  16 received prison sentences 
varying from 5 years to life.  Munch was acquitted.  The prisoner doctors he 
had worked with at Auschwitz rallied behind him, testifying under oath 
in corroboration of his claim that had had refused to perform 
selections, that the medical experiments he had been engaged in had been 
benign, and, indeed, that he had done his best under the circumstances 
to ameliorate conditions for the prisoners and to save lives. (As an 
aside, this would seem to contradict David Michael's assumption that 
Jews and other prisoners can be expected to lie whatever the 
circumstances just to get at anything in an SS uniform).

After his acquittal, a former prisoner now in a high position offered 
Munch an academic post, but, deciding he was through with experimental 
medicine, he instead went into practice, settling down in Munich with 
his family.   Aside from his giving testimony at the Auschwitz trial in 
Frankfurt in 1964 (which is itself quite interesting, but which I will 
leave aside as I have resolved, for the sake of this exercise, to steer 
clear of anything presented during legal proceedings), that's the last 
we hear of him in relation to the Holocaust until, in 1981, he agreed to 
give an interview on Swedish television.


Muench: I received eight weeks of normal military training and then came 
to the Waffen-SS Institute for Hygiene in Berlin. That was the highest 
authority for all institutes of hygiene within the Waffen-SS. The 
Waffen-SS was considered to be on an equal footing with the German army. 
>From Berlin I was ordered to Field Laboratory South-East, and this Field 
Laboratory South-East had been set up to deal with the diseases that had 
appeared in Auschwitz. 

Swedish Television: So you came to Auschwitz? Did you know what 
Auschwitz was? 

M: No! It was in 1943, in the spring, early summer. There I... That 
field laboratory had been established because of the diseases that were 
prevalent in the camp and that leaked out through the camp fence, and 
threatened the men and the civilian population. Expert bacteriological 
research had to be conducted and adequate measures taken. That was our 

ST: Not to save the prisoners? 

M: By no means...There was the possibility, but the risk for a major 
epidemic among those close to 100 000 people in unhygienic conditions 
and in a not too hygienic environment... 

ST: The purpose was to save the personnel? 

M: Yes, and the surroundings. The town of Auschwitz was not far away. A 
major epidemic would certainly have erupted. [...] During my time, the 
crematories were used several times a week to burn the corpses that 
came. Soon after my arrival, at the latest towards the end of the 
summer, transports came that were exterminated and Auschwitz was then 
used as an extermination camp. 

ST: The camp that was seven kilometers from Auschwitz was Birkenau, 

M: Yes, five or seven kilometers. Next to the camp Birkenau was the 
machinery of extermination. 

ST: How do you know that the extermination there was carried out with 

M: When one's professional task is to inspect the hygienic conditions of 
the camp and one has to pass through the camp it was impossible not to 

ST: Did you see the crematories yourself? 

M: Yes, of course. It wasn't part of my daily routine, but it was 
impossible to avoid it, even if I hadn't known what it was. Everybody 
active in the SS in Auschwitz knew of course what the crematories were, 
and it was impossible not to notice the smoke and the chimneys and feel 
the smell. In the SS the use of gas was discussed quite openly. 

ST: Were doctors present at the gassings? 

M: They had to be present. According to strict regulations they had to 
be present, as in civilized states at every normal individual execution 
for legal reasons. In the same way there was a military order that at 
least one doctor had to be present at exterminations by gas in 
Auschwitz, for two reasons. Firstly, the whole thing had to be under 
medical supervision. And the gas wasn't thrown in by the regular camp 
personnel but by the camp doctors' medical orderlies. 


ST: When you were off-duty you spoke about this? About special 
treatment, about the gassing? 

M: It was discussed very intensely, hardly ideologically, whether it was 
ideologically correct to exterminate the Jews, but rather the technical 
problems that always occur at this overstraining of the camp. 

ST. You refused to participate in it. Could you say so openly? 

M: I had nothing to do with it in the first place. I was ordered there 
and belonged to the Hygienic Institute. One has to explain those 
bureaucratic things precisely... 

ST: I understand that, but did you discuss it with each other? 

M: Yes, very intensely, also ideologically. 

ST: Did you object to it, for example because of medico-ethical reasons? 

M: Yes, exactly. Among doctors we could discuss it openly, like we talk 
about it today. There was no limit at all. Outwardly you were completely 
isolated. Everybody knew very well that among civilians or military 
personnel he should never say a word. I was for instance often in 
Plaszow... No, not in Plaszow. It was a training camp for the Waffen-SS, 
near Krakow. It was also important, a military camp. There I ate in the 
messroom, the officers' mess. There were SS doctors and SS officers too. 
"Do you come from Auschwitz?" - everybody wanted to know how it was 
there. "Is it really like that? One hears the most horrible things." It 
was very difficult to be evasive. I would never have dared to tell any 
SS officer, who still had to be considered an "insider", anything at all 
about Auschwitz. In Auschwitz it was completely different. 

ST: There you could dissociate yourself from it? 

M: Absolutely. 

ST: What objections did your colleagues have who were for it? 

M: "Is it necessary to do this in the middle of the war? There will be 
time for it later." "One should try to get as big a work force as 
possible. It would be better if the people were fed better." That was 
one view. Then there was the opposite view. "It has to be done at once. 
If we wait any longer there will be objections, and there are those who 
are against it." 

ST: From a purely technical point of view, people were against it? And 

M: That was the main problem. 

ST: But ideologically? 

M: Ideologically... 

ST: The majority was for it? 

M: The majority of the doctors were against it from a purely technical 
point of view, and also because of economic reasons. 

ST: But ideologically in favour? 

M. Ideologically nobody differed. 

ST: What was the ideology? 

M: Simply National Socialism, as expounded by [Alfred] Rosenberg. The 
Germanic race was the future of the world and a guarantee against 
corruption and mismanagement and for keeping our Europe pure. The root 
cause of every evil in culture, of every degeneracy was the Jews, which 
is clear from the fact that the Jews weren't tolerated already in the 
Middle Ages. There must have been good reasons to put them into ghettos. 
There were constant pogroms, not only in Germany, in the whole of 
Europe. That is because the Jewish race is a destructive factor. There 
is no development, no peace, nothing worth living for when the Jews have 
a finger in the pie. 

ST: Therefore they must be exterminated? 

M: Because it hasn't succeeded so far in spite of all the severe 
measures, but they continually take hold of decisive posts in the 
economy, in the state, in cultural life. It has to be stopped. That can 
be done only by total physical extermination. 


ST: Isn't the ideology of extermination contrary to a doctor's ethical 

M: Yes, absolutely. There is no discussion. But I lived in that 
environment, and I tried in every possible way to avoid accepting it, 
but I had to live with it. What else could I have done? And I wasn't 
confronted with it directly until the order came that I and my superior 
and another one had to take part in the exterminations since the camp's 
doctors were overloaded and couldn't cope with it. 

ST: I must ask something. Doubters claim that "special treatment" could 
mean anything. It didn't have to be extermination. 

M: "Special treatment" in the terminology of the concentration camp 
means physical extermination. If it was a question of more than a few 
people, where nothing else than gassing them was worth while, they were 

ST: "Special treatment" was gassing? 

M: Yes, absolutely. 

ST: And "selection". 

M: That was the selection of those who were still fit for work and those 
who were no longer economically useful. 

ST: Doctors made the "selection"? 

M: It was supposed to be that way, but it was impossible considering the 


We must now explore the question of whether this evidence meets the 
burden of proof I resolved to satisfy at the outset, derived from Dr. 
Michael's stated standards of evidence and from his hypothetical 
example.  Do Dr. Munch's statements, as cited above, come from someone:

1) who is actually in a position to have first-hand knowledge of what he 
is talking about 
2) who is under no apparent pressure to say what he does not believe is 
true (particularly from anyone associated with any Allied government)
3) whose biases would be expected to favour the perpetrators rather than 
the victims

Munch satisfies all three tests.

1) Clearly, as an SS doctor with the Hygienic Institute, Munch was in a 
privileged position to see what was going on.  He had the run of the 
place, and was required on occasions to be at the kremas further to his 
responsibilities over the hygiene of the camp.  He would have to have 
had first-hand knowledge of the extermination process, even if he was 
not directly a participant himself.

2) Once Munch had been acquitted, there was no earthly reason for him to 
voluntarily come forward decades later just to lie to Swedish 
television, to Robert Jay Lifton, or to Eva Kor about what he'd seen and 
experienced at Auschwitz.  No "Allied governments" of any kind were 
involved in any of these projects, nor is there any rational cause to 
suspect any other manner of threat or inducement.  According to Lifton, 
Munch "expressed enthusiasm about meeting me and discussing his 
experiences with me in detail."(301) "Compared with other former Nazi 
doctors I met, [he was] extraordinarily enthusiastic and ingratiating.  
He seemed to pour out all he could about almost anything I asked him, 
and volunteered a great deal on his own."(328)  As Lifton respected his 
anonymity (identifying him in the book only as "Dr. B."), there was, on 
that occasion at least, no personal reason for him to censor himself or 
tell anything other than what he remembered as the truth.

3) The question of bias is an interesting one.  Naturally, someone like 
Munch, who was, in his capacity as an SS doctor, both witness and 
conscientious objector to the worst of Nazi atrocities, could not be 
expected to take an unequivocally pro-Nazi position today.  Nonetheless, 
he was a member of the SS and an acknowledged part of the system at 
Auschwitz.  If he were indeed to fudge the truth, one would expect it to 
be in such a way as to gloss over the extent of the horror he was a part 
of, not to exaggerate or fabricate it.

Indeed, his attitude towards Nazism and to his own Nazi past is more 
ambiguous than one might expect, and than many are comfortable with.  
According to Lifton, during his second to last interview, Munch spoke 
about how one should recognize what was good about the Nazis as well as 
the bad: "At the end of the interview, when comparing Nazi times with 
the present, he said that despite the "full liberation" today, there is 
an absence of "ideals" for youth, a "lack of commitment," which leads to 
"chaotic conditions" and the absence of "a coherent community."  The 
Nazis "overdid it" in the opposite direction, he acknowledged, but in 
Hitler's admittedly "primitive methods" there was "something right," 
something that was "good with the Nazis."(Lifton 330)

Nor does he appear afraid to say things stemming from his own personal 
experiences that fly in the face of conventional attitudes towards 
people commonly viewed as amongst the most guilty perpetrators of the 
Holocaust.  Lifton claims that in the course of his interviews, Dr. 
Munch never tried to distance himself from his fellow SS doctors.  He 
spoke unfavourably about verdicts against men he had known being 
convicted and hanged as war criminals when he felt these verdicts to be 
harsh or unfair.(Lifton 309)  His positive impression of his former 
colleague, Dr. Josef Mengele, is another example.  He referred to 
Mengele as "the most decent colleague that I met there" and has 
steadfastly defended his character and activities.(Lifton 321)  Such 
statements about Mengele made publicly in the 1990's led to certain more 
hysterical members of what DEM calls the "anti-revisionist movement" 
advocating that he be charged under Germany's hate speech laws (an 
effort which came to nothing, much to the relief of anyone who's ever 
had an opinion on anything, but which only serves to illustrate that if 
Munch had any personal interest in the matter after his acquittal it was 
in keeping his head down and his mouth shut, not in going public, 
whatever it was he had to say).

As with Dr. Michael's quintessential woman from Cape Town, Munch saw the 
gas chambers and the extermination of the Jews as a source of shame to 
the institutions and ideology he once identified with, and to some 
extent continued to identify with after the war.  And though legally 
acquitted of war crimes, Munch expressed a strong sense of personal 
guilt over what he had been a part of, if not specifically what he did.
(Lifton 319-20)  He had no motive to make it up.

In order to confirm this further, I will apply the other set of criteria 
that Dr. Michael proposed to measure the validity of an eyewitness.  The 
testimony had to be "from [1] people whose testimony can't reasonably be 
attributed to ulterior motives (for example [2] those who were pro-Nazi 
even at the time of giving such testimony, [3] not on trial themselves, 
[4] not in a position where they or their families could be subjected to 
retribution should they fail to give such testimony, etc.)"

(1) There is no indication of an ulterior motive on the part of Dr. 
Munch, (2) he was certainly pro-Nazi at one time and continued to 
identify with certain elements even when he was interviewed, (3) he was 
not on trial on any of those occasions, and (4) there is no indication 
that either Swedish TV, Robert Jay Lifton, or Eva Kor threatened any 
retribution against him or his family, were in any position or had any 
reason to do so, or that anyone else did so on their behalf. (Indeed, I 
met one of his daughters once at a lecture she was giving along with Eva 
Kor, and I can personally attest that she didn't seem the least bit 

Concluding, then, that Munch meets the criteria of a reliable and 
credible witness, even by Dr. Michael's stated standards, what does his 
testimony support?

- He has witnessed the use of gas chambers for the large-scale mass 
murder of Jews at Auschwitz.  Indeed, he can confirm from his own first-
hand experience every stage of the process as it is traditionally 
understood to have happened, from the selections of those fit and unfit 
for work, to the use of Zyklon B to mass-murder the latter, to the 
cremation of the remains.  He was present and aware throughout the 
period when this process was at its peak.

- Axiomatically, the presence and use of gas chambers excludes the 
possibility of "random acts of violence".  The construction of such 
facilities proves both intent and systematic plan.  Even so, it helps 
that Munch speaks openly about his discussions with fellow SS about the 
racial ideology behind the mass murder of Jews.  That this was taking 
place, that it was something they were ideologically expected to approve 
of or at least tolerate, is something of which they were all well aware, 
according to Munch.  


Anticipating one possible objection, I recognize that Hans Munch is only 
one man.  And, no matter how convincing the testimony, no matter what 
stringent, even impossible criteria the witness might meet, the 
testimony of one man is not enough to carry the burden of proof for the 
murder of millions.  But, as I said, I was only going to provide a 
sample of evidence we have available to us for the purpose of this 
exercise.  Everyone knows that there are many other witnesses - of 
various levels of credibility - who can corroborate what Munch's 
statements in the 1980's and 90's merely confirmed.  Still, it is 
important to explore how this one piece of evidence can serve to answer 
concerns about the credibility and interpretation of other evidence used 
to shed light on the series of events known as the Holocaust.

To begin with, once we have even one reliable, irrefutable testimony on 
the existence and use of gas chambers from someone with no reason to 
lie, "revisionist" suspicions surrounding other sorts of testimony no 
longer apply to constrain our use of such testimony as valuable 
additional evidence.  Think about it rationally.  If I have just 
presented evidence that there really WERE homicidal gas chambers at 
Auschwitz, suddenly there is no more motive for the Allied governments 
to force Nazis in their captivity to fabricate testimony for something 
that was in fact true and that they would inevitably have seen.  Take 
Hoess' memoir (written after he had already been sentenced to death), 
which contains many enlightening details about the functioning of the 
camp and the evolution of the extermination process.  If the basic fact 
that there *were* gas chambers used on humans is confirmed (the only 
element that anyone would have motive to fabricate, even in DEM's 
hypothetical scenario), there is no reason not to trust these technical 
details which do no particular government or ideology any particular 

Once we confirm that gas chambers were in use on human beings, what 
reason would there be for the British government to fabricate or coerce 
the memoir of SS Unterscharfuhrer Pery Broad, who worked at Auschwitz 
>from 1942 onward in the "Political Section", and wrote while working as 
an interpreter for them after his capture on May 6, 1945.  The document 
was translated and used at the Nuremberg trials in September, 1947.  
Shortly afterwards, Broad was released.  When called on again to testify 
at the Auschwitz trial in 1959, he acknowledged his authorship of the 
memoir, confirmed its validity, and retracted nothing.  Broad was never 
tortured.  He had little to gain and everything to lose by confessing.  
When given the opportunity to recant, he did not.  Here's how he 
described the gas chambers:

"The disinfectors are at work... with an iron rod and hammer they open a 
couple of harmless looking tin boxes, the directions read Cyclon (sic) 
Vermin Destroyer, Warning, Poisonous.  The boxes are filled with small 
pellets which look like blue peas.  As soon as the box is opened the 
contents are shaken out through an aperture in the roof.  Then another 
box is emptied in the next aperture and so on.  After about two minutes 
the shrieks die down and change to a low moaning.  Most of the men have 
already lost consciousness.  After a further two minutes... it is all 
over.  Deadly quiet reigns... The corpses are piled together, their 
mouths stretched open... It is difficult to heave the interlaced corpses 
out of the chamber as the gas is stiffening all their limbs."

Now, whatever lack of evidence there might be of coercion against Pery 
Broad, he was, indeed, in the custody of the British and something could 
have been done to him that escaped our notice.  To assume otherwise 
would be to "trust" the British, right?  But not when he's merely 
confirming what Munch has already told us.  So thus far we have Munch, 
Hoess and Broad - three corroborating testimonies.  I could offer more 
>from the perpetrators, but I think we get the point.  

What about the victims?  I can grant that they would bear a deep and 
lasting grudge against the captors who treated them so harshly, and that 
the humiliations and deprivations they suffered pushed their 
psychological endurance to the limit.  And, yes, their accounts must be 
read with that in mind.  But are you suggesting that on the basic 
question of what happened to the Jews who arrived at Auschwitz, they 
just happened to all have the same hallucination, or coincidentally 
decided to make up the same story, all of which just happened to 
corroborate those of Munch, Hoess and Broad and have never been 

Filip Muller, a young Slovakian, arrived in Auschwitz in April 1942, but 
managed to survive because of his forced work assignment as a stoker in 
the Auschwitz crematorium and then as a jack-of-all-trades in the 
Birkenau extermination plant squad, the Sonderkommando. His descriptions 
of the facilities and of the process are the most precise and chilling 
accounts we have:

"Two of the SS men took up positions on either side of the entrance 
door.  Shouting and wielding their truncheons, like beaters at a hunt, 
the remaining SS men chased the naked men, women and children into the 
large room inside the crematorium.  A few SS men were leaving the 
building and the last one locked the entrance door from the outside.  
Before long the increasing sound of coughing, screaming and shouting for 
help could be heard from behind the door.  I was unable to make out 
individual words, for the shouts were drowned by knocking and banging 
against the door, intermingled with sobbing and crying.  After some time 
the noise grew weaker, the screams stopped.  Only now and then there was 
a moan, a rattle, or the sound of muffled knocking against the door.  
But soon even that ceased and in the sudden silence each one of us felt 
the horror of this terrible mass death...
"Once everything was quiet inside the crematorium, Unterscharfuhrer 
Teuer, followed by Stark, appeared on the flat roof.  Both had gas-masks 
dangling around their necks.  They put down oblong boxes which looked 
like food tins; each tin was labelled with a death's head and marked 
Poison!  What had been just a terrible notion, a suspicion, was now a 
certainty: the people inside the crematorium had been killed with poison 

Again, I could produce additional Sonderkommando and other survivor 
testimony that tell the same story, including the buried Sonderkommando 
accounts from those who didn't survive.  But I think we get the point.  
Let's turn to other forms of evidence.  Take, for example the transport 
and registration records.  The usual revisionist objection to such 
documents is that the mere fact that people were transported from one 
place to another, and are thereafter unaccounted for by the 
documentation, does not mean that they were killed when they got there.  
A "non-sequiter" as DEM put it.  Indeed, this would be a compelling 
argument if we had no other evidence as to what happened when they 
arrived.  But we have cited the testimony of Hans Munch, corroborated by 
others, who has described specifically what was done to them - the 
selections between those who were fit and unfit to work, the fact that 
only those deemed fit were kept alive and registered, the fact that the 
rest were doomed to death by gas and cremation.  Therefore we can indeed 
use the transport records in concert with the registration records as a 
good way to approximate how many people this was done to, when and from 
where. (And no, the transport records do not qualify at all as "captured 
documents".  Governments have shown no interest in them, for the very 
reason the revisionists contest their validity - they are useless, in 
themselves, for proving any specific crime, and therefore only came to 
the attention of historians seeking to piece together the precise 
details once the crime in question had already been proven, rather than 
prosecutors seeking to condemn).

Or the traces of cyanide found on the walls of the gas chamber.  You 
have proposed an alternative explanation - fumigation.  Never mind that 
Auschwitz had perfectly functional fumigation facilities, that no other 
camp had additional fumigation facilitates of such ungodly size, and 
that no one living or dead ever saw those rooms used for fumigation.  
Let's say this explanation is superficially plausible.  You still have 
to deal with the fact that Hans Munch saw this room in use as a gas 
chamber, witnessed the mass murder of the Jews, was aware of it as an 
ongoing fact, and that his story is perfectly consistent with and 
corroborated by this, at best, unusual piece of physical evidence.

Shall I recap the items of evidence I have personally quoted or 
mentioned in the course of this post.

1) Hans Munch's interviews
2) Hoess' memoir
3) Broad's memoir
4) Filip Muller's account
5) Train / registration records
6) traces of HCN on the walls.

I've also, in passing, mentioned (7) Jan Karski, and (8) the buried 
accounts of the murdered Sonderkommando.

And, of course, you know that this is just a sampling of eyewitness, 
documentary and physical evidence.  You cannot deny that all of the 
cited evidence at least points to and is consistent with the same 
conclusion: that Jews were gassed en masse in the gas chambers at 
Auschwitz.  No evidence contradicts this conclusion.

Or, alternately, one could concoct and accept as equally plausible eight 
(8) separate *post-hoc* rationalizations, one for each piece of evidence 
- one that pretends that these are the ONLY eight pieces we've got: each 
of the witnesses - perpetrator, victim, bystander and activist - was 
either lying or coerced to tell the same story and maintain it 
throughout their lives, co-ordinated by an entity that did so without 
leaving any trace of the effort, and in such a way as just 
coincidentally happened to correspond to the documentary and physical 
evidence once it was uncovered.  And no evidence is or need be available 
to substantiate any of it.

If that's the road you plan to take, Dr. Michael, I warn you it will 
only get bumpier.  And it will have to begin with your supporting a 
solid argument as to why Dr. Hans Munch would come out of comfortable 
retirement to lie to Swedish TV and to Robert Jay Lifton in the 1980's.

Steven Mock

Works Used:

* Lifton, Robert Jay; "The Nazi Doctors: A Study in the Psychology of 
Evil"; MacMillan Publishers Ltd., London, 1986; Ch.16, pp.303-336

* Shermer, Michael; Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, 
Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time; W.H. Freeman & Co., New 
York, 1997; Ch. 14, pp. 211-241




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