Thursday, March 3, 1994

The testimony of the “commandant of Auschwitz” has been declared worthless!


For nearly half a century historians were in the habit of putting forth the testimony of Rudolf Höss, one of the three successive commandants of the Auschwitz camp, as evidence par excellence of the reality of the alleged genocide of the Jews and of the alleged Nazi gas chambers.
However, that testimony has recently been disavowed by two American academics, both known for their commitment to the case for “the Holocaust”: Christopher Browning and Deborah Lipstadt. The revisionists who had long denied it any value because, they said, it had been extorted through torture, were therefore right. Browning, a contributor to the Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust (1990), is author of a book about the activities of a German police battalion on the Eastern Front (Ordinary Men), currently being lauded by the entire French press. Last year Miss Lipstadt published an anti-revisionist book that will be discussed below.
Indeed, in 1985, at the first trial of the revisionist Ernst Zündel in Toronto, I myself, through barrister Douglas Christie who was putting questions prepared by me to one of the prosecution’s expert witnesses, professor Raul Hilberg, had forced that author of the monument of false science entitled The Destruction of the European Jews to make some surprising concessions regarding Rudolf Höss’s testimony (contained in Nuremberg document PS-3868). Hilberg had had to admit:
[It] seems to have been a summary of things [Höss] said or may have said or may have thought he said by someone who shoved a summary in front of him and he signed it, which is unfortunate. [1]
In 1989, Jean-Claude Pressac, in turn, had written that the “errors” committed by Höss on the subject of gassings were to be explained by the fact that “He was present, without seeing” [2]. In 1993 he denounced in Höss’s testimony all at once a “sizeable improbability”, a “clear anachronism”, “frequent [...] chronological errors”, an “imaginary visit by Himmler”, numbers of dead “regularly multiplied by two or three”, and concluded: “Höss, despite his essential role in the ‘Final Solution’, at present can no longer be considered a reliable witness on the dates and numbers ” [3].
Thus the Höss testimony was being called into question by the very defenders of the case for the reality of the Jews’ extermination, but it still kept much of its prestige and usefulness for the Auschwitz legend.
That said, if a journalist writing for Vanity Fair, the famous monthly magazine covering American cultural life, is to be believed, Browning has just given that testimony the coup de grace, and Lipstadt appears to be not far from sharing his judgment. Browning’s verdict has been announced: “Höss was always a very weak and confused witness” and, to make it easier to grasp that the testimony is henceforth good only to be thrown to the dogs, Browning adds, about Höss: “The revisionists use him all the time for this reason in order to try and discredit the memory of Auschwitz as a whole.” This last remark will be quite striking in its impudence for those who recall that the most traditional means of countering the revisionists has been, unfailingly, to fling the name of Rudolf Höss in their faces [4]. Today here is Browning presuming to claim that we revisionists “use Höss’s name all the time”!
When asked about Höss, Lipstadt, who is of Jewish origin, feels it is enough to refer to page 188 of her own recent book Denying the Holocaust. The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, but the content of that page amounts to stating that the ex-Auschwitz commandant’s testimony cannot be trusted; it seems that, for her, the figures he gave for the dead in that camp are more or less to be put away in the same category as the myth of Jewish soap, which she, like others, denounces.
Christopher Hitchens – to name the Vanity Fair writer – has proceeded with a mixture of naiveté and ingenuity. Noting that the proponents of “the Holocaust” case refuse any debate with the revisionists, he got the idea of ​​what he calls an “experiment”. He turned to Browning and Lipstadt to ask them for help in his experiment, and apparently obtained their assent. He then approached the Los Angeles based Institute for Historical Review, which since 1979 has published thousands of pages of revisionist literature. He tells of how he asked that institute to send him its “best shot” and that, in reply, he received “an article by a Frenchman named Robert Faurisson, which claimed that Rudolf Höss, one of the commandants of Auschwitz, had been tortured by the British into confessing to a fantastic and unbelievable number of murders” (it appears our institute actually sent him a volume of documentation, in perusing which he gave particular attention to my article of 1987 [5]). Then, again addressing Browning and Lipstadt, he requested their opinion on that article. But let’s hear Christopher Hitchens:
[t]he Institute for Historical Review in California […] is the target of a recent book by Deborah Lipstadt, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, who wrote Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory as a reply to the proliferation of “denial” on call-in shows, university campuses, and elsewhere – including more recently a leaflet campaign at the national Holocaust Memorial Museum, newly opened in Washington.
Even though Deborah Lipstadt refuses to engage in direct exchanges with Holocaust deniers, because she believes that they are trying to rehabilitate the Nazis, she agreed to help me in an experiment. I contacted the Institute for Historical Review and asked them to send me their best shot. I then ran it by Professor Lipstadt and by Professor Christopher Browning, of Pacific Lutheran University, who is the author of Ordinary Men, a haunting account of one Nazi extermination squad in wartime Poland. The revisionists sent me an article by a Frenchman named Robert Faurisson, which claimed that Rudolf Höss, one of the commandants of Auschwitz, had been tortured by the British into confessing to a fantastic and unbelievable number of murders. “I declare herewith under oath that in the years 1941 to 1943, during my tenure in office as commandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, 2 million Jews were put to death by gassing and a ½ million by other means.” This statement, specially mounted and reproduced, is an important exhibit at the Holocaust Memorial.
I then got in touch with Lipstadt and Browning for their responses, which were surprising: “Höss was always a very weak and confused witness,” said Browning, who has been an expert witness at trials involving Auschwitz. “The revisionists use him all the time for this reason, in order to try and discredit the memory of Auschwitz as a whole.” And Professor Lipstadt directed me to page 188 of her book, which is quite a page. It says that the stories about the Nazis making Jews into soap are entirely untrue, and it also says that while the memorial stone at Auschwitz itself lists the number of victims – Jews and non-Jews – at 4 million, the truer figure is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million. Since Höss was the commandant of the place for only part of its existence, this means that – according to the counter-revisionists – an important piece of evidence in the Holocaust Memorial is not reliable. A vertiginous sensation if you like.
“It’s the same with the soap story.” said Lipstadt. “I get protests from survivors, saying that I shouldn’t admit it’s not true, because it gives ammunition to the enemy. But I’m only interested in getting at the truth.” An old-fashioned concept. [6]
The sudden concession of our two “Holocaust” historians is more serious than all the subsequent concessions, all the relinquishments, all the harrowing revisions that the official history has been compelled to make in the past few years under the pressure of historical revisionism.
Höss’s testimony of April 15, 1946 at the Nuremberg trial had shaken the world. At the time it had appeared so far from being “weak and confused” that not one German lawyer had dared to cross-examine the witness about his fantastic allegations. It is that testimony that served as the centrepiece for the accusers of a vanquished Germany, and it figures prominently in the Nuremberg judgment itself. Höss had in fact been tortured by Jews of the British military police. He had been obliged, when barely conscious, to sign a statement that can indeed be said to have come straight from sick minds. Then Höss was handed over to the Polish Communists. Again Jews were waiting for him. He “improved” his testimony and expanded it considerably. After which, condemned to death, he was hanged at Auschwitz on April 16, 1947. Eleven years later, to the disgrace of German historiography, a historian called Martin Broszat, at the time a member – and future director – of the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, published those writings, not without truncating them, as if they were a sincere and genuine work. In the heart of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, inaugurated on April 22, 1993, the two main items of evidence for the physical extermination of the Jews are the door of a ... delousing gas chamber (acknowledged as such even by a Jean-Claude Pressac) and the testimony of Rudolf Höss. Finally – need one add? – our schools’ modern history textbooks present that same testimony as an authentic document of the greatest import.
The revisionists have incessantly offered their opponents a public debate. The Vanity Fair article allows us to understand why the latter avoid any proposal of debate like the plague. Christopher Browning, in particular, has personal reasons for dodging it. In 1988 he committed the reckless act of testifying against Ernst Zündel at the second Toronto trial (Hilberg, singed by his experience at the first trial in 1985, refused to return to the witness stand). Barrister Douglas Christie, whom I once again advised on historical points, had utterly demolished Browning, who gave one the impression not of a historian – his ignorance was stupefying – but rather of a remarkably naive prosecutor for whom the history of “the Holocaust” of the Jews could be written only by listening to the accusation. Browning seemed never to have suspected that when “Nazis” or “war criminals” appeared in the Allied courts they had to deal with the prosecution on its own terms, play the game set by an almighty adversary and pretend to admit the existence of the worst horrors, if doing so meant a possibility of minimising or denying their own personal participation in those horrors. Today, Browning passes for an authority in “Holocaust” history!
In a way, Hitchens has put me to the test, pitting me against Browning. I note that my study on the Höss testimony has indeed passed the test. I am delighted, but still have one regret: that of not having stood face to face with a man capable of stating that it is the revisionists who “always use” the case of Höss. I think I would have asked him to explain the reasons underlying such a statement, which seems to me one of the most brazen lies of recent years. I would also have asked him why, in his opinion, Höss had “always been a very weak and confused witness” before his British interrogators, his American interrogators, at the Nuremberg Tribunal, before his Polish interrogators and in court in Krakow.
But let us forget these considerations and salute here one of the very most important advances in contemporary historiography: the Höss testimony has finally been declared worthless. By the same token, the most damning “evidence” ever exploited to accuse a vanquished Germany of the most horrible of crimes collapses.
To use Hitchens’s expression, one feels “a vertiginous sensation if you like”.
March 3, 1994



[1] “I will, without any question, state that this particular document, for that kind of information and a lot of other, is evidently not – it is a very short thing, a page, that is correct. It cannot be supported by the kind of fact that seems to have been a summary of things he said or may have said or may have thought he said by someone who shoved a summary in front of him and he signed it, which is unfortunate” (6-1230 of the transcripts of Queen vs. Zündel, on line at http://www.zundelsite.org/archive/english/dsmrd/dsmrd09hilberg.html).
[2] J.-C. Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, New York, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1989, p. 128.
[3] Les Crématoires d’Auschwitz. La Machinerie du meurtre de masse, Paris, CNRS éditions, 1993, p. 102-103.
[4] Just recently one Richard Malher of Vancouver, Canada thought he had found a decisive rebuttal of revisionist arguments in evoking the Höss testimony (“Even Holocaust criminals refute prof’s numbers”, North Shore News, December 19, 1993, p. 8).
[5] How the British obtained the confessions of Rudolf Höss, commandant of Auschwitz, Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1986-87 (vol. 7, no. 4), p. 380; French original published in my Ecrits révisionnistes (1974-1998), vol. II, p. 657.