Wednesday, October 8, 1997

Samuel Crowell and his air-raid shelter door argument

Samuel Crowell was kind enough to phone me recently when he heard that I seemed to disagree with his views on the air-raid shelter doors (see Smith's Report, September 1997, p. 1, 3-4). We had a long conversation. I told him that, insofar as he explained at length what a German air-raid shelter and the door of such a shelter were, I totally agreed with him, since that was exactly what I had myself discovered in the '70s and what Fritz Berg also studied in the '80s. The last time I mentioned the matter in English was, I suppose, in 1991. At that time I wrote in an article about J.C. Pressac:


A gas-tight door is a Gastür or gasdichte Tür. English speakers use "gas-proof door" as well as "gas-tight door"; this type of door can be used for delousing gas chambers or for airlocks (for example, airlocks in an oven-room or in an air-raid shelter). [...] In a bombing attack, the door to an air-raid shelter is supposed to guard against two effects, among others, caused by exploding bombs: suction of the oxygen out of the shelter and penetration of CO into the same shelter (JHR, Spring 1991, p. 49, 65).


In order to give us an idea of what those air-raid shelter doors could look like, Crowell presents us with some German advertisements. I already had some advertisements coming from F. Berg and also, perhaps more interesting, six or seven photos of such a door in the cellar of a German house in 1939-1940 (in Karlsruhe). I informed Crowell I was ready to send him copies of those photos.

I disagree with Crowell when he says that the presence of such a door is proof that the room equipped with it was necessarily an air-raid shelter. I took the example of Majdanek that he had himself mentioned. I had visited the place in 1975 and noticed that the Germans had used such doors for the disinfestation gas chambers. I even remember that, apparently, they had put into the peep-hole of one of those doors a thermometer in order to control the temperature of the room, which was heated by a stove situated in another little room and connected to the gas chamber itself by a large pipe. I suppose that, once the temperature was appropriate, a device would stop any contact with the stove room.

For Crowell, this place was logically an air-raid shelter above ground. He added that the Germans had many such shelters underground but also above ground. I asked him if he had seen the place. He said he had not visited Majdanek. I told him that, if he had seen the place, he would have noticed that the building was not made of concrete. (In fact, it was made of brick, with a wooden roof, collapsed in July 1944 when the Soviets arrived). I added that J.-C. Pressac himself had to admit that the place was a "disinfestation gas chamber" (Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, 1989, p. 555, 557). The photo given by J. -C. Pressac, with the reconstructed wooden roof, speaks volumes: the place could never have been an air-raid shelter!

Another disagreement: Crowell says that J.-C. Pressac "is a man of integrity and honor" and, as an example of such integrity and honor, he mentions that the man was fair enough to say that nobody had yet explained why on the collapsed roof of the so-called gas chamber of Krema II there were only two openings for Zyklon B instead of the four introduction points mentioned in the "Holocaust" literature. But J.-C. Pressac committed there a damned lie: in fact, there are zero such openings and the two holes he alludes to, considering their place and their shape, could never have been "introduction points" for Zyklon B! If such points had existed, even two instead of four, imagine the fuss in the media and in every book about Auschwitz. In fact, as I said to Crowell, we should go back to my quip: "NO HOLES, NO 'HOLOCAUST'" (which we could also write: "NO HOLES, NO HOLOCAU$T").

In Washington, on April 21, 1993, Mark Weber and I denounced the "Gas Chamber Door Fraudulently Portrayed at US Holocaust Museum" (JHR, September-October 1993, p. 39). We said it was a casting of the door, in Majdanek, of a disinfestation gas chamber, even according to Pressac. It would be a mistake for Crowell to say 1) that the fraud was discovered only in 1997; 2) that the door was that of a place to be considered an air-raid shelter.

Finally, Crowell told me on the phone, if I am not mistaken, that the German word "Gaskammer" could mean "Gasschützkammer". This is more interesting but I do not know if he is right. After our phone conversation, I perused his 29-page essay on the whole matter, dated April 30, 1997. I had previously had no time to read it. I found it interesting for the reason I give in the first paragraph of this very letter.

October 8, 1997

From the Adelaide Institute Newsletter (on-line) no. 66, Dec. 1997.