The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/v/vrba.rudolf/press/toronto-sun.0185

From Sat Dec 16 12:42:18 PST 1995
Article: 63917 of soc.culture.german
From: (Orest Slepokura)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.german
Subject: Survivor never saw actual gassing deaths
Date: 16 Dec 1995 03:42:43 GMT
Organization: CADVision
Lines: 75
X-Newsreader: Yet Another NewsWatcher 2.0b30

     Book 'An Artistic Picture': Survivor never saw actual gassing deaths

A concentration camp survivor yesterday admitted he never witnessed
anybody being gassed to death and his book about Auschwitz-Birkenau in
only "an artistic picture...not a document for a court."

Rudolf Vrba, now an assistant professor at the University of B.C., told
the Ernst Zundel trial that his written and pictorial descriptions of the
Auschwitz crematoria and gas chambers are based on "what I heard it might
look like."

Zundel is charged with knowingly publishing false information about the
Holocaust that harmed or was likely to harm racial or social tolerance. 

Defence attorney Doug Christie, of Victoria, challenged Vrba's earlier
testimony that he saw a Nazi SS soldier in a gasmask pouring poison gas
into a low bunker conected to a Birkenau crematorium.

Vrba yesterday admitted he was never inside that particular bunker, after
Christie suggested it was the roof of a mortuary Vrba had seen, not a gas

Vrba also admitted some of the thousands of women, elderly and children he
claimed were marched directly to gas chambers upon arrival might have been
going to the camp's bathhouse.

"Yes. Some of them actually went there (bathhouse) and more went to the
gas chambers," said Vrba, who claimed many babies were gassed to death.

Vrba said his 1944 drawings of the Auschwitz camp layout were inexect and
Christie suggested Vrba didn't even know where the bathhouse was located.
Christie said new arrivals had to march between two crematoria to get to
the bathhouse, but Vrba insisted the area ended in a "closed road" and
"nobody ever came out of there except smoke."

Vrba, who escaped the camp in Poland in 1944 with a mission to warn one
million Hungarian Jews of their impending slaughter, insisted he'd made
accurate ("within 10%) estimates of 1,765,000 mass-murder victims up to
that point.

He said some narrative passages in his book I Cannot Forgive are based on
accounts from others.

One Vrba acount says it took 90 minutes to burn a corpse, another said it
took 20 minutes.

"I also include things I heard from reliable sources," Vrba said,
exlaining the changes in his later report.

Vrba's 1961 affadavit quotes a Nuremberg War Crimes Trial document as
relating to Auschwitz gas chambers and claims it backs up Vrba's account.

When Christie pointed out that ("Nazi government") documents say nothing
about gas chambers, Vrba replied: "It might be a typing error [sic]."

Vrba, whose book states the total Auschwitz death toll was 2.5 million,
testified Holocaust historians Raul Hilberg and Gerald Rietlinger were
limited by "historical discipline" when they made lower estimates - 1
million and about 850,000 respectively - and did not have the benefit of
Vrba's eyewitness experiences.

Vrba also said increasing estimates of the Auschwitz death toll in the
decades after World War II [for years it was "officially" held to be 4
million; now, again, "officially," is held to be a number between 1.1 and
1.5 million] "just shows that better scholars with better methods are
constantly improving [sic] the information."

He defended "errors in good faith" in his 1944 Auschwitz accounts, which
he made two weeks after escaping, as due to "great urgency" to warn Jews.

                                       Dick Chapman, Staff Writer
                                       The Toronto Sun, January 24, 1985


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