Can this be true?

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michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 16 Mar 2004 07:32

I have now had a chance to recheck the report on Treblinka in the 1946 book "The Black Book: The Nazi Crime Against the Jewish People".

It occurs in the section called "Annihilation" (pp. 241-413), written by a Patricia Lowe Fox, described as a writer and journalist. It appears on pages 398-413, and there is a note saying that it was written by Vassili Grossman.

Here is the relevant section, on page 407:
The killing in the chamber took ten to twenty-five minutes. At first, when the new chambers were put to work, and the executioner could not regulate the gas production and was merely experimenting with the doses of the various poison gases, the victims were subjected to dreadful tortures, as they continued living for two to three hours. During the first days the suction equipment worked poorly, and then the tortures of the unfortunates lasted from eight to ten hours.

Various methods were used in killing. One was by inhalation of waste gases from the motors of the heavy tanks which supplied motive power for the Treblinka station. This waste gas contains two to three percent of carbon monoxide which binds the hemoglobin of the blood into one solid combination called carboxihemoglobin. This carboxihemoglobin is a much more durable conglutination than oxihemoglobin which is formed through contact, in the olveoli [sic!] of the lungs, of the blood with oxygen of the air. Within fifteen minutes the hemoglobin in the human blood combines with the carbon monoxide, and then the victim breathes into emptiness. Oxygen ceases to enter his body and symptoms of oxygen deficiency appear: the heart begins to work furiously and drives the blood into the lungs, but the blood poisoned by carbon monoxide fails to extract oxygen from the air. The breathing becomes raucous and a feeling of dreadful suffocation follows. Consciousness dims, and the victim perishes as if strangled.

The second Treblinka method, and the most widespread one, consisted of pumping all the air out of the chambers with large special pumps. By this method death ensued from approximately the same causes as from poisoning with carbon monoxide: man was deprived of oxygen.

And, finally, the third method, less widespread, was killing by steam, based also on deprivation of oxygen: the steam drove air out of the chamber. many kinds of poison gases were used too, but these were only for experiments. The industrial methods of mass killing were those mentioned above.
So it appears I was mistaken in my recollection that in this specific report Grossman had said that the method of killing with exhaust gas was insufficent to have dealt with the vast numbers killed at Treblinka.

However, I do have a definite recollection of reading that claim somewhere. It may have been made by a survivor of Treblinka, or another commentator on Treblinka, or by Grossman himself in another context. The statement is connected with Grossman in my mind, since he claimed that as many as three million persons were killed at Treblinka (he makes that claim in the report quoted), and therefore may well have thought that such a huge number (vastly in excess of what is now believed) could not have been killed in a ten-month period by engine exhaust.

Another possibility is that the statement was made by Rachel Auerbach in her immediate post-war report "In the Fields of Treblinka", in which she certainly commented on Grossman's claim if three million killed, and criticised it. But I cannot be certain; I will have to check that work again when I get the chance.

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Post by michael mills » 16 Mar 2004 08:12

I have also rechecked the section on Belzec, which occurs on pages 312-313. It is headed "Death Underground", and a note says that its source is the Bulletin of the Jewish Agency Committee for the Jews of Occupied Europe, 1944.

The relevant section, on page 313, reads:
A few Poles went to Belzec to investigate the matter. The former Russian-German frontier had been near Belzec. The Russians had built extensive underground fortifications there. After their withdrawal these fortifications fell into German hands. Consignments of Jews began to arrive at Belzec. The trains entered the underground area at a certain point. Each train carried about 10,000 Jews. An hour later an empty train left at another point. This was the regular procedure at Belzec.

.............[paragraph on Jews escaping from death trains]............

The Belzec camp is built underground. It is an electric crematorium. There are two halls in the underground buildings. People were taken out of the railway cars into the first hall. Then they were led naked to the second hall. Here the floor resembled an enormous plate. When the crowd of men stood on it, the flor sank deep into a pool of water. The moment the men sank up to their necks, a poerful electric current of millions of volts was passed through, kiling them all at once. The floor rose again, and a second electric current was passed through the bodies, burning them until nothing was left of the victims save a few ashes.

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UberQuagmire
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Post by UberQuagmire » 16 Mar 2004 09:03

Penn44 wrote:
Dan wrote:Tell them it is just another rumor, like the Soap Libel, or the Lampshade Libel. It didn't happen, even though many bad things happened to many people all over the world during the 30s and 40s.
Dan, you seem to be minimizing the significance of the Holocaust. Do you deny that the Germans genocidally murdered 4.2-6 million Jews?


Penn44
Don't forget the other victims as well, 3 million Catholics, Jehovah's witness, handicaps, gypises, Communists and resistors, and gays. I think it's fair enough to say Holocaust had 12 million victims.

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Penn44
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Post by Penn44 » 16 Mar 2004 09:26

UberQuagmire wrote:
Penn44 wrote:
Dan wrote:Tell them it is just another rumor, like the Soap Libel, or the Lampshade Libel. It didn't happen, even though many bad things happened to many people all over the world during the 30s and 40s.
Dan, you seem to be minimizing the significance of the Holocaust. Do you deny that the Germans genocidally murdered 4.2-6 million Jews?


Penn44
Don't forget the other victims as well, 3 million Catholics, Jehovah's witness, handicaps, gypises, Communists and resistors, and gays. I think it's fair enough to say Holocaust had 12 million victims.
Welcome UeberQuagmire:

This forum has debated ad nausem the difference between genocide and democide, which groups falls into which destruction catagories, as well as the meaning and appropriateness of the term, "Holocaust." Yours truly does not deny that there were other victims of Nazi policies. However, I use the the term, Holocaust only in connection to Jews and Romani as to denote the Nazi genocidal policy towards these groups (as opposed to demicide to the other groups), and the relative uniqueness of how the Nazis orchestrated their deaths (See the Browning thread). I do not use the term, Holocaust solely for Jews and Romani because I believe that the qualitiative "suffering" or the quantitative deaths of these groups were greater that the other groups you mentioned. I tend to use the term, "concentration camp experience" or "Nazi oppression policies" or a variation thereof to describe the experiences of the other groups.


Penn44

Jarkko Hietala
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Post by Jarkko Hietala » 03 May 2006 13:37

In some movie can’t remember name Gestapo forced Jews to sit top of heated stove as torture method.

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Post by David Thompson » 03 May 2006 20:05

Let's stick to sourced, historical facts in our discussions.

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Mark H
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Post by Mark H » 04 May 2006 05:43

[/quote]
The account released by Scwarcbart and Zygielbojm was appropriated in 1944 by Kozielewski alias Karski as the basis for his mendacious claim in his book "Story of a Secret State", that he himself had entered Belzec disguised as an Estonian guard.

I gather from the above excerpt from Michael Mills' earlier post that Karski's claimed visit to Belzec has been proven to be untrue. I was not aware of that fact - where does it appear?

Mark

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Sergey Romanov
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Post by Sergey Romanov » 04 May 2006 08:47


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Mark H
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Post by Mark H » 05 May 2006 04:46

Thanks Sergey.

Perhaps I expressed myself poorly in my previous post. I am aware of Karski's visit to the Warsaw Ghetto and Belzec etc. I dont have and haven't read the linked book, but the editorial comments on the link don't seem to mention anything about the suggestion that Karski's account of his visit to Belzec is a lie. If anything, they tacitly acknowledge the truth of the story, central as it is to the legend of Karski's achievements during the war. Mr Mills seems to be implying that the visit to Belzec has been shown to be a fabrication, ie that Karski lied about going to Belzec.

I'm not saying that it is or is not the case that Karski went to Belzec, I am just curious as to where the claims that he did not are to be found - I have never seen anything that suggests that is the case, nor, for that matter, that any of Karski's other claims are false. Of course, I do not purport to have read every book on the subject...

Regards,

Mark

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Sergey Romanov
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Post by Sergey Romanov » 05 May 2006 05:14

I dont have and haven't read the linked book
Well, you should.

Karski never was in extermination camp Belzec, as the authors have established. Moreover, the book has Karski's imprimatur, so to say.

As to whether it was a lie it's for you to decide.

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Mark H
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Post by Mark H » 05 May 2006 08:19

Thank you, I will endeavour to read that book.

Meanwhile, does the book deal with the claims made that K went to Belzec? (set out, for example in Rashke's "Escabe from Sobibor" amongst many other places)

That is, does it establish that it is a blatant falsehood created for the purpose of giving force to his mission to the US and UK, or that he went to a camp other than Belzec and mistook his location, or that he never made such a claim at all?

Regards,

Mark

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Post by robota » 05 May 2006 09:38

The book Mr Romanov refers to says that Karski visited Izbica and that he was simply mistaken in his identification of the place with Belzec.

I am not sure how it deals with the death by quicklime part of his account. Whether it says that still did happen or that Karski simply say a transport going out and assume they were going to be killed by quicklime that had been put in the carriages.

Perhaps Mr Romanov can enlighten us on this matter?

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Post by michael mills » 05 May 2006 11:39

I will restate my view here.

It has not been definitively proved that Kozielewski-Karski did not enter Belzec or any other camp disguised as a guard, or that he was not smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto in the autumn of 1942, both events supposedly occurring shortly before he left Poland as a courier for the Polish Underground. In the nature of things it is very doifficult to prove a negative.

Nor to my knowledge has any historian explicitly accused Kozielewski-Karski of having invented the accounts of his having secretly visited the Warsaw Ghetto and Belzec or some other camp, although Raul Hilberg did say that the account of the visit to Belzec was incompatible with what was reliably known of that killing centre.

The historian who has done the most to call into question Kozielewski-Karski's reputation as "the man who tried to stop the Hlocaust" is David Engel. Engel points out that Karski's mission had no direct relation to the situation of the Jews in Poland at all. He was a courier for the Polish Underground with the mission of carrying messages from various parts of the Home Army to the Polish Government-in-Exile in London.

According to Engel, it was only shortly before Karski left Poland that the leaders of the Zionist and Bundist organisations in Warsaw contacted the Underground and asked that Karski also take messages from them to the two Jewish representatives in the Government-in-Exile, Szwarcbart and Zygielbojm. Since Karski gave an accurate description of the two leaders in his later accounts, it seems most probable that he personally met the two men and received and oral message from them.

It is however extremely unlikely that there was time for him to be taken on a tour of the Warsaw Ghetto or be be smuggled into a camp to which Jews were then being deported. Moreover, there was no necessity for such dramatic actions; for the two jewish leaders, Karski was simply a Polish messenger boy to whom they were entrusting a communication.

Engel points out that when Karski arrived in London, he gave first priority to conveying the messages from the Home Army, which after all was the essential part of his mission. It was only after he had been in London for a number of months that he met the Jewish representatives and conveyed to them the message from the Jewish leaders in Warsaw. As Engel says, the conveying of the Jewish messages was not important for Karski. In fact, his dilatoriness in making contact with Szwarcbart and Zygielbojm is hardly compatible with his having had such a traumatic experience as seeing what was going on inside a major killing centre.

Even before Karski had met Szwarcbart and Zygielbojm in London for the purpose of passing on the message from the Jewish leaders in Warsaw, they had jointly published an account of the deportations of Jews from Warsaw to an extermination centre, which they claimed to have received from a Polish officer but which most likely was compiled from a number of reports that had arrived in London from various sources. According to the Szwarcbart-Zygielbojm account, Jews deported from Warsaw were taken first to a sorting camp (oboz rozdzielczy) at an unidentified location, and then to an extermination camp, erroneously identified as Belzec (in fact it was Treblinka), where they were killed by electricity or gas.

The Szwarcbart-Zygielbojm account was published in February 1943 in a Jewish labour newspaper, and later in the book "The Black Book of Polish Jewry". Since according to Engel Karski did not meet the two Jewish representatives until sometime later, he cannot have been the source of their account.

Karski's claim to have made secret visits to the Warsaw Ghetto and an extermination camp first appears in his book "Story of a Secret State", published in 1944. Since he wrote that piece of propaganda at the direction of the Polish Government-in-Exile, it seems to me that the claim was not something invented by him for the purpose of self-aggrandizement, but rather inserted into his composition on the orders of his superiors, for the purpose of showing how seriously the Government-in-Exile took the Jewish question, and rebutting accusations of anti-Semitism made by the rival Polish government set up by the Soviet Union.

It is apparent that Karski, or whoever was feeding him information, took the Szwarcbart-Zygielbojm account and rewrote it as if it were based on a visit that he himself had made. In doing so, Karski adopted the erroneous identification as Belzec of the camp to which Jews from Warsaw were being deported.

In the first few decades after the war, Karski seems no to have made any further reference to his claimed visit to an extermination camp. Like many of his fellow exiles from Eastern European countries that had fallen under Soviet domination, he worked as a propagandist for the United States Government, spreading the anti-Communist message. Apparently, it was only in the 1980s that he jumped aboard the Holocaust bandwagon and resurrected his claims of having tried to alert an uncaring world to what was being done to the Jews, which is nonsense. The historical record shows that while he was active as a courier for the Polish Underground he attached very little importance to the Jewish issue.

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Post by Sergey Romanov » 05 May 2006 16:26

I am not sure how it deals with the death by quicklime part of his account. Whether it says that still did happen or that Karski simply say a transport going out and assume they were going to be killed by quicklime that had been put in the carriages.

Perhaps Mr Romanov can enlighten us on this matter?
They're vague. For example, they say that Karski at first knew he was not at Belzec, but later wrote that he was. They never call it a lie, but neither they explain exactly why Karski said that he was in Belzec.

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