Confusion between normal and homicidal uses of Zyklon-B

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michael mills
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Confusion between normal and homicidal uses of Zyklon-B

Post by michael mills » 20 Feb 2003 06:48

A passage in the book "Kalkulierte Morde", by the German leftist historian Christian Gerlach, shows how the normal and homicidal uses of Zyklon-B are sometimes confused by historians. In this case the confusion is not by Gerlach; rather he criticises it in Breitman.

The passage occurs on page 651, in which Gerlach is propounding his (not very well supported) theory that at one stage it was planned to set up a mass extermination centre at Mogilev in Belorussia, to which the Jews of Europe would be shipped.

Bach-Zelewski erklaerte in Nuernberg gegenueber den Us-Amerikanern, eines Tages zu Anfang des Jahres 1943 (vermutlich frueher) sei bei ihm eine "kleine Kommission" aus Hamburg erschienen, die eben in diesem Zwanfsarbeitslager [in Mogilev] in Himmlers Auftrag eine Gaskammer errichten wollte. Fuer sich genommen, erscheint diese Aussage nicht ernstzunehmen, aber sie passt mit Heydrichs Bemerkung in Prag und der Lieferung des Krematoriums zusammen. Himmler erschien bei seinem Besuch in Mogilew am 23. bis 25. Oktober 1941 aus nicht ersichtlichen Gruenden in Begleitung des HSSPF Nordsee, Querner, mit Dienstsitz in Hamburg und mit "8 andere[n] Herren". Es waere moeglich, dass dies zur Vorbereitung des Besuchs der von Bach-Zelewski angefuehrten "Kommission" diente, die den Bau der Gaskammer vorbereiten wollte. Neue Erkenntnisse von Richard Breitman zeigen Verbindungen zwischen Querner und der Firma Tesch & Stabenow in Hamburg, die kurz darauf Vertreter nach Mogilew und Riga fuer den Einsatz von Zyklon-Gasen entsandte. Allerdigns deuten die von Breitman gefundenen Materialien eher auf die verhaeltnismaessig harmlose Erklaerung hin, dass diese Gase in Mogilew und Riga entsprechend ihrer eigentlichen Funktion zur Desinfektion von Textilien oder Gebaeuden insbesondere der Waffen-SS-Einheiten sowie der POlizei im Mittelabschnitt der Front eingesetzt wurden.


My translation:

Bach-Zelewski declared in Nuremberg to the Americans that one day toward the beginning of 1943 (in reality presumably earlier) there appeared at his place a "small commission" from Hamburg, which had been commissioned by Himmler to build a gas-chamber in precisely that forced-labour camp [in Mogilev]. Taken by itself, that testimony appears not to be taken seriously, but it corresponds with Heydrich's observation in Prague [on 10 October; he wanted to deport part of the Prague Jews to the camps for communist prisoners run by Einsatzgruppen leaders Nebe and Rasch] and the delivery of the crematorium [to Mogilev]. On Himmler's visit to Mogilev on 23 to 25 October, he was accompanied, for reasons that are not immediately apparent, by the HSSPF North Sea, Querner, with his seat in Hamburg, and with "8 other gentlemen". It is possible that this was preparation for the visit of the "commission" introduced by Bach-Zelewski, which was to prepare the construction of the gas-chamber. New data from Richard Breitman show connections between Querner and the firm Tesch & Stabenow, which shortly afterward despatched representatives to Mogilev and Riga for the deployment of Zyklon-gasses. However, the materials found by Breitman point more to the relatively harmless explanation that these gasses were used in Mogilev and Riga according to their actual function, for the disinfection of textiles or buildings, particularly those of the Waffen-SS units and of the police in the central section of the front.


Many readers will know that at the post-war trial of Tesch and Weinbacher, the managers of the firm Tesch & Stabenow, reports of the visit of representatives of the firm to Riga for the purpose of using Zyklon-B was accepted as proof that the firm had knowignly supplied that prodcut to the SS for homicidal purposes.

The British judges who sentenced Tesch and Weinbacher to death may be forgiven for their false interpretation of the visit to Riga. At that time the imaginations of Allied officials were filled with reports of the homicidal use of Zyklon-B. to the extent that the possibility of an innocent use was simply disregarded.

Today we know much more about the normal use of Zyklon-B for delousing (even Gerlach confirms that that was its proper use), so there is no excuse for historians confusing the normal and homicidal uses, and Breitman apparently did.

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Hans
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Re: Confusion between normal and homicidal uses of Zyklon-B

Post by Hans » 20 Feb 2003 09:05

michael mills wrote: (even Gerlach confirms that that was its proper use)


I'm confident that sometime you will take down your blinkers regarding supposed "German leftist historians".

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Roberto
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Re: Confusion between normal and homicidal uses of Zyklon-B

Post by Roberto » 20 Feb 2003 11:18

michael mills wrote:Today we know much more about the normal use of Zyklon-B for delousing (even Gerlach confirms that that was its proper use), so there is no excuse for historians confusing the normal and homicidal uses, and Breitman apparently did.


And what was the purpose of this exercise, apart from taking a leak on Mr. Breitman?

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Post by Dan » 20 Feb 2003 14:17

New data from Richard Breitman show connections between Querner and the firm Tesch & Stabenow, which shortly afterward despatched representatives to Mogilev and Riga for the deployment of Zyklon-gasses.


I can see how that would look sinister for someone unaware of the basic use for Zyklon. I wonder how Breitman presented his info?

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Post by Jonathan Harrison » 12 Nov 2007 14:05

It should be noted that several Tesch & Stabenow's own employees testified in 1946 that Zyklon-B was used for murder. Note the testimony of the witnesses cited in Part 4 of this report on the case:

http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/zyklonb.htm#Remaining

Tesch had written about the murderous use of Zyklon-B in his own company's records, and these notes were seen by his employees. This is not therefore a question of witnesses being confused between delousing and murder. The OP on this thread is simply ignoring what the witnesses actually said and, in effect, taking a Straw Man approach to their testimony.

It is frankly incredible that the 'delousing' gambit is still being used in some quarters when this issue was settled incontrovertibly by the company's own employees 61 years ago.

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Post by Ship of Fools » 12 Nov 2007 20:20

Many readers will know that at the post-war trial of Tesch and Weinbacher, the managers of the firm Tesch & Stabenow, reports of the visit of representatives of the firm to Riga for the purpose of using Zyklon-B was accepted as proof that the firm had knowignly supplied that prodcut to the SS for homicidal purposes.


My understanding is that the trip to Riga in 1941were not presented at the trial rather unspecified later trips were.

Anna Uenzelmann, a former stenographer of the firm, said that in about June 1942 Tesch, after he had dictated a travel report on returning from Berlin, had told her that Zyklon B was being used for gassing human beings, and had appeared to be as terrified and shocked about the matter as she was.


Presumably Tesch must have been present at the gassing of Russian POWs, as according to Hoess he only made the decisions regarding the bunkers and Zyklon B after visiting Treblinka and being unimpressed with their methodology.

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Post by Ship of Fools » 12 Nov 2007 20:31

Just to add, I believe the Riga trip was only discovered in the 1990s from the British intercepts of Police coded messages. But I am open to correction on this point.

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Post by Jonathan Harrison » 12 Nov 2007 20:45

A reasonable hypothesis, which fits the eyewitness accounts, would be that Tesch goes to Riga in 1941 or 1942 to install benign Zyklon facilities for delousing; while there, he meets Wehrmacht and SS personnel and discusses the difficulties caused by shooting; they agree that Zyklon-B might be a useful solution; Tesch takes the idea to Berlin later in 1942; at the same time Hoess is visiting Treblinka and isn't happy with its methods; Tesch and Hoess are put in contact via Berlin and submit a joint proposal to use Zyklon-B at Auschwitz.

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Post by Ship of Fools » 13 Nov 2007 17:42

A reasonable hypothesis, which fits the eyewitness accounts, would be that Tesch goes to Riga in 1941 or 1942 to install benign Zyklon facilities for delousing; while there, he meets Wehrmacht and SS personnel and discusses the difficulties caused by shooting; they agree that Zyklon-B might be a useful solution; Tesch takes the idea to Berlin later in 1942; at the same time Hoess is visiting Treblinka and isn't happy with its methods; Tesch and Hoess are put in contact via Berlin and submit a joint proposal to use Zyklon-B at Auschwitz.


No that is not a reasonible hypothesis.

There is a specific date in the police decodes for the Riga visit and that is (from memory) October 1941.

The Riegner telegram which claims a high level decision had recently been made to use Zyklon B for extermination dates from August 1942.

There is no particular reason to think that Tesch had any involvement in that decision - nor was there any allegation of that in the trial. Simply that he somehow knew in June 1942 that Zyklon B gassings were taken place.

To my limited knowledge the only confirmed gassing that had taken place by June was the experimental gassings of Soviet POWs in September 1941.

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