The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/l/larson.charles/gassings-at-dachau

From Mon May 13 09:34:47 PDT 1996
Article: 36649 of alt.revisionism
From: (Mark Van Alstine)
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Re: Rekindling Ovens:  Dachau Gassings?
Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 07:31:50 -0700
Organization: rbi software systems
Lines: 112
References: <4mlnte$>
X-Newsreader: Yet Another NewsWatcher 2.0.5b5

In article <4mlnte$>,
(Ehrlich606) wrote:

> In a message dated 96-05-05 05:49:21 EDT, Ehrlich 606 wrote:
> >>Mark van Alstine has got a good quote from "The Crime Doctor" which
> >>carries a strong implication of gassings at Dachau.  But a couple of
> >>questions:  is the doctor saying "in his opinion" that few of the
> >>inmates "were" or "could have been"? 

When Dr. Larson said: 

"...But, in my opinion, only relatively few of the inmates I personally
examined at Dachau were murdered in this manner..." 

I read it as he personally _examined_ corpses which, in his opinion as a
forensic pathologist, died from poison gas. Given that he also concluded,
as a result of his questioning: 

"...they [the victims] were taken to a big windowless building next to the
crematorium where the ceiling was covered with false shower heads. The
victims were then ordered to strip and take a 'shower.' Outside the
building, guards dropped in cyanide pellets. Then they'd blow the cyanide
gas out and remove the bodies next door to the crematorium ovens...."  

The implication, as I read it, is that they died from HCN poisoning. Do
you, perhaps, reach a different conclusion? If so, why? 

> >>...I don't mean to take the words out of the doctor's mouth, but the
> >>primary thrust of that passage is to scotch rumors that large scale 
> >>gassings were taking place there, n'est-ce pas?

Perhaps that is one, somewhat biased, way to read it. One that is not
altogether incorrect, either, as historians have never claimed that Dachau
was an extermination camp like Auschwitz. However, IMO, a more objective
way to read it is that it simply states that a small number of homicidal
gassings did take place against the backdrop of a great many deaths by
other causes, as well as the abysmal living conditions in the camp. 

In addition to mentioning the gas chamber, Dr. Larson also commented on
the general conditions of the camp (_Crime Doctor_, pp.59-63):

"Many of them died from typhus... Dachau's crematoriums couldn't keep up
with the burning of the bodies... I found that a number of the victims had
also died from tuberculosis. All of them were malnourished. The medical
facilities were most inadequate. There was no sanitation.'

"Dachau was a city of the dead when we got there. We found heaps of bodies
outside the crematoriums, 400 to 500 bodies to a heap. Such human
waste.They were horribly emaciated, horribly scarred with infected ulcers.
They died in all sorts of positions: some of the legs were flexed, some
not flexed, there was little muscle tissue left in the legs; many of them
weighed less than 100 pounds. Most of the bodies were eastern Europeans,
civilians from Poland and Rumania, most of them Jewish.... Those prisoners
still alive were mere scarecrows. They had gone for days with nothing to
eat, and yet, right up to the very end, the German guards were still
trying to march them back and forth to work This was despite the fact that
they were dropping dead from typhus with 105-degree temeratures....

> >>If your quote of the doctor contradicts someone else's characterization
> >>of him, that is fine.  But I would want to know why there has not been any
> >>consensus among historians hitherto on this subject, along with
> >>quotations from the doctor.

It's a good question. As to the lack of consensus among historians, much,
I imagine, has to do with the fact that part of the IMT trials at
Nuremburg regarding Dachau focused on Rascher's activities with medical
experiments, including possible testing of war gases, and the testimony of
Dr. Blaha in regards to it. It is probably also worth noting that the
U.S.investigators had a report, from a _French_  military mission,
entilted _Chemical Warfare_, which had been drawn up in May. I'm not aware
that they did indeed reference any reports, at the time, from Dr. Larson
for use in the trial. 

In addition, much of the claims that no homicidal gassings took place in
Dachau comes from a letter, written in 1960's, by the director of the
Institut fuer Zeitgeschichte (Institute for Contemporary History), in
Munich, that stated no gassings took place in Dachau. However, since that
letter the Institut had
performed more research and came to a new conclusion that:
"...a gas chamber was established [in Dachau] in which...a few
experimental gassings were undertaken, as more recent research has
> >>PS: it would be good to know when the book was written and published.

78-16403: McCallum, John Dennis, 1924-  Crime Doctor : Dr. Charles P.
Larson, world's foremost medical-detective, reports from his crime file 
Mercer Island, Wash. : Writing Works, c1978.  x, 262 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
LC CALL NUMBER: RA1025.L37 M3 1978

As can be seen, Dr. Larsen's personal accounts regarding Dachau were
published some time after the war and the IMT trials. Not only that, but
the book itself is not specifically about his war experiances, but his
career in general, so it is possible, given the title and the fact that
the book is somewhat obscure and has been out of print for some time, that
historians and Holocaust researchers might not have been (or continue to
be) fully aware of his accounts during the war. 



"Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes 
not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties--but
right through every human heart--and all human hearts." 

-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "The Gulag Archipelago"

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