Leaving aside the matters of the Christmas tree affair and the unidentified gas chamber entrance, pending further enquiries, we move on to another noteworthy feature of the Mr. Vrba's testimony before the 1985 'False News' trial in Canada.
Witness the following exchange:
Q. Well, we will discuss that in a moment, but we will find in your book where it says and I am using page ten, but your book is slightly different I am just going to read it to you:
"For the machinery that sucked in 2,500,000 men, women and children in three years and puffed them out in harmless black smoke ...."
Was that what you said?
A. Which page is that?
Q. Mine was ten. Yours is around there in your hard cover.
A. Well, this is a very simple calculation, Mr Counsel, because when I escaped on April 7, 1944, the main message which I was carrying was that everything is prepared for the mass murder of Hungarian Jews. At that time there was one million Hungarian Jews, and as you can find from historical documentation which is presently available, in the time of July 15 to -- May 15, 1944 to July 7, 1944, not less than 437,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz, of which ninety percent were gassed at arrival.
Now, if you add to 1,765,000 those Hungarian Jews which were deported to Auschwitz immediately after my escape, plus as we know many thousands of Jews who were brought to Auschwitz for process of mass murder from the ghetto of Loge and from the ghetto of Theresine in the month after my escape, you will find that my figures are as true as possible or as close as possible to the historical records.
Q. So you are telling me about the facts that you gathered from other sources and you are
telling me that it is ---
A. Plus my judgment, with my accuracy, with trusting to what I have seen, and with knowing what happened in Hungary, because many of my relatives perished at the same time, and with knowing, studying the history of this period, I arrived at a figure of two and a half million dead in Auschwitz, saying that this figure is pretty close to the truth, but the truth cannot be established with my means better than with a maximum possible error of truth minus ten per cent. That is clearly stated at the end of this book. And in my affidavit, which I have put under oath, the Embassy of Israel 1960 the Eichmann trial, and if I am allowed to quote the exact ---
THE COURT: Not at the moment.
Q. MR. CHRISTIE: It was a simple question as to whether you estimated 2,500,000, and I think you said yes, and you've told us why. Maybe I will go on to another question unless there is something you want to say.
A. And you have got here everything how I came to the 2,500,000. You are confusing us here because the jury did not read the book, and therefore you are again pulling out things which I have to repeat and which are here on this page, and I can tell you on this page is written that I have seen only one million three quarters to die until April 7th, and I have also said that the figure two and a half million is made up by the addition of the final value of my statistics in April 1944 plus a known figure of 400,000 Hungarian Jews killed in May, June and July 1944, plus official figure
of about 350,000 registered prisoners who died in Auschwitz.
Thus, as far as I could recollect, according to my memory, observations and opinion, the number of victims in Auschwitz was two and a half million. Thus, my estimation of the death roll in Auschwitz and the estimation made by Rudolf Hoess, the commander of Auschwitz, made independently of each other and using different methods, were nevertheless in good agreement, and I declare by Almighty God that this is my name and signature and that the contents of my affidavit are true.
So you see what is the difference between you tearing out a statement and between presenting the statement in full as I suggested.
Q. I suppose the only difference is, you confirm that your figures now agree with those of Rudolf Hoess. Right?
A. As far as I could see. I read the figures of Rudolf Hoess and I arrived at the same conclusion as Rudolf Hoess. Also, Rudolf Hoess statistics, his method of observation is different than mine, and he came to the same figure. But I gave my figure in April 1944 when Rudolf Hoess was still commander in Auschwitz, and that figure was reached the President of the United States in November 1944, when Rudolf Hoess was still commander in Auschwitz, and it is therefore obvious that it is not likely that I copied my statement from Rudolf Hoess.
Q. No. I quite agree with you. But how do you explain the fact that the estimate given by
you coincided with a statement given by Hoess two years later?
A. Because Hoess knew the truth, and I knew the truth.
Q. How do you explain the fact that experts like Dr Raul Hilberg dispute that figure and say it is closer to one million, or, in Reitlinger's case, 800,000 at Birkenau?
A. It is not for me to explain the scholarships of Reitlinger or Hilberg, because they have different methods of scholarships. For them, if they do not have documents of considerable value and amount, which are very difficult to obtain, they prefer not to include that figure in their final calculation, because they are bound by historical discipline; whereas my figure is based on eye witness account.
Q. You claim that you then were an eye witness to the gassing of 1,765,000 people, right?
A. Right. And I think that in this respect both Hilberg and Reitlinger has made an under estimate. Similarly, both Hilberg and Reitlinger have stated that the number of Jews killed in Einsatzkommandos this means by shooting and not by gassing was 1,400,000, but three years ago I have written a new study by Professor Krowsnick from Germany, Professor in Cologne and Director of the Institute ................................... and this professor Krowsnick [Krausnick], on the basis of exclusivity, German documents, without investigating any of the survivors but investigating only the German officers and their correspondence about it, was able to reconstruct that it was not 1.4 million, but two and a quarter million
who were murdered by the Einsatzkommandos.
So you can see that in spite of the great effort which the Nazis have made to cover up the incredible crimes, modern scholarship is constantly improving with more than scientific methods the truth. The truth is not so simple. So you can ---
Q. Now, sir ---
A. So you can see it is not criticism of Hilberg and Reitlinger. It just shows that better scholars with better methods and better access to sources can give more exact figures and those figures are most close to mine, based on observation, than the figures close to scholars who spend their lives only in limited amount of libraries.
Q. So your experience, then, supersedes your knowledge on the basis of what you said.
A. This would be natural, because I was there.
Q. And you counted 1,765,000 going into the gas chamber.
A. That was told to you twice.
We should further like to quote from Mr. Vrba's affidavit, prepared in 1961 in connection with the trial of Mr. Eichmann. As it happens, the Israeli court apparently refused to accept the affidavit into evidence, on the grounds there was no excuse that the witness could not attend and testify in person. Given Mr. Vrba's performance in Toronto, this was probably for the best.
In summary, my statistics which were conveyed in April 1944 to the representatives of the Zionist Organisations in Slovakia were based on the following:-
a) On direct observation of the trains and the number of waggons.
b) By discussion with those members of the transports who were not killed immediately after the arrival but kept as prisoners in Auschwitz Camp.
c) By having access to data of the so-called Economical Department whihc dealt with the property of the killed people.
d) On the basis of reports of the registry office of the Quarantine Camp in Auschwitz, to which I had access.
e) All these figures were checked by direct information from prisoners who worked in the gas chambers and in the crematoriums in Auschwitz and knew the exact figures because they dealt with the bodies of the killed people.
Seeing that Mr. Vrba was unwilling to accept the scholarship of Mr. Hilberg and Mr. Reitlinger, we find little reason to suppose that he would now be willing to accept the authority of the later scholarly efforts of Dr. Piper and Mr. Jean-Claude Pressac. Despite Mr. Vrba's assurance that his figure of 1.76 million was accurate to within a margin of 10%, how can we account for the fact that his figure appears to be overestimated by a factor of somewhere between 300 and 500%?