The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Open Letter to Greg Raven:
Lies, Damn Lies

August 12, 1996
Part 2 of 4

Dishonest Summaries Of Pressac

Pressac writes, regarding Hoess and three other Nazi eyewitnesses to gassings in Krema I (p. 128):

Hoess participated in the "special actions" strictly in accordance with his obligations and occupied his mind with the almost insurmountable tasks imposed by the exponential growth of his camp, thus not allowing his conscience to dwell on the moral questions.

I might point out that this moral numbing was encouraged by Hitler: "Conscience is a Jewish invention." [*] Continuing with Pressac:

He was present, without seeing. In the author's opinion, this attitude explains the involuntary errors found throughout his autobiography.


Whatever criticisms one might level at the accounts of these four witnesses, all affirm one identical fact: homicidal gassings took place in the morgue of Krematorium I. Even if their accounts diverge on the number of holes through which Zyclon-B was poured or on the number of extractor fans, details in fact unlikely to be noted and remembered unless one actually designed or installed them, the utilization of the morgue for criminal purposes is established.

Pressac says that Hoess ignored the details of gassing -- details "unlikely to be noted and remembered" -- because he occupied his mind with other matters. And his account helps "affirm one identical fact," the fact of homicidal gassings in the location in question.

Here's how you paraphrase that page of Pressac:

For example, the often quoted autobiography of Rudolf Hoess (former commandant at Auschwitz) is riddled with errors.

Is this a good way to educate your readers as to what Pressac claims?

Here's how Pressac describes his encounter with Hoess' memoirs (p. 551):

The manuscript of his "Autobiography" was long declared to be "mythical" by the French extreme right. Faurisson claimed it had emerged directly from the headquarters of falsifying Soviet-Polish-Stalinist communists. When I asked Iwaszko [Pressac's friend and Chief Archivist at the Auschwitz Museum] for this manuscript, he brought it to me (Photo 20) without any hesitation and I was able to consult it at my leisure. The thing that struck me the most was that Hoess had written several hundred pages without any crossings out. At first I thought that this could not be his first version, but the resultant of previous draughts. I was no doubt wrong, for many people, being very self-controlled, write in this fashion (which is far from being my own!).

"I was no doubt wrong," says Pressac, in thinking that it was a second or third draft. Yet here's how you paraphrase his point of view:

What is more, the handwritten manuscript of Hoess' diary contains not a single correction or crossing out in several hundred pages, suggesting that it was copied.

Do you think it's honest to summarize Pressac's observations, then to present only your interpretation of them? You are implying that his conclusion and yours agree, when in fact they are completely opposite.

On page 555, Pressac writes:

[In a delousing chamber] According to the technical manuals and the accounts of former prisoners, the contact time with hydrocyanic acid for effects to be deloused varied from several hours to a whole day, depending on the quantity of the product used, and this explains the impregnation of the walls. By contrast, in homicide gassings, the quantity of Zyclon-B used was smaller, man being more sensitive than lice or bugs to hydrocyanic acid. A little of the poison injected was inhaled by the victims and the rest was removed by the extractor fans, so that the contact time was brief and the walls did not have the time to become impregnated.

Here is how you summarize that passage:

...Pressac has as tenuous a grasp on the physical sciences as on historiography. For example, Pressac states that when gassing humans with Zyklon B, the HCN gas goes directly to victims' mouths. (page 555) That is, it does not deposit itself on and impregnate itself into walls, skin, clothing, etc., which Zyklon B is known to do.

Pressac says "A little ... was inhaled by the victims and the rest was removed by the extractor fans," and you paraphrase him "the HCN gas goes directly to victims' mouths." You can't think that's an honest summary of the passage.

Pressac gives some good scientific reasons why Zyklon would not have had time to impregnate the homicidal gas chamber walls, as opposed to delousing chambers. Your refutation is that Zyklon is "known" to behave differently. I think this speaks for itself.

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