By Carlo Mattogno
Smith’s Report no. 185 of October 2011 published an article by Arthur Butz entitled “Two Cutting-Edge Works of Holocaust Revisionism“ (pp. 3-7).[i] It was a review of Samuel Crowell’s recent book The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes, and Other Writings on the Holocaust, Revisionism, and Historical Understanding (Nine-Banded Books, Charleston, WV, 2011), and of my own Auschwitz: The Case for Sanity (The Barnes Review, Washington, 2010), which is the American edition of Le camere a gas di Auschwitz (Effepi, Genoa, 2009).
Butz does not need any introduction; his position as a leading light on the international Revisionist scene is uncontested, but for this very reason what he writes here is somewhat disappointing, as it does not remotely live up to his reputation.
I quote his recent review:
“Carlo Mattogno, together with his long-time colleague Jürgen Graf and, more recently, Thomas Kues (familiar to readers of this newsletter) are among the most energetic and productive revisionists working today. They have accumulated a wealth of documentary material with long, presumably self-financed, trips to the various archives, especially in eastern Europe.
Mattogno has published a number of books and articles on Auschwitz, the core of the ‘Holocaust’ legend, and this two-volume work is the most recent. Past readers of IHR’s Journal of Historical Review and Germar Rudolf’s The Revisionist may recall that I have occasionally clashed with Mattogno. I do have a problem with Mattogno’s writings and, partly because I have already read many of them, and partly for reasons I shall presently elucidate, I did not read these recent two volumes in their entirety.
A major reason I did not read all of Mattogno’s books is simply that I have great trouble following his arguments and, even after taking all that time and trouble, I can feel I have been left in the lurch.
Our most recent clash was on the subject of a document showing the Auschwitz construction department attempting to get cyanide gas detectors from the oven manufacturer Topf for use in a crematorium then under construction. Pressac and others had held this document up as proving the existence of gas chambers in the crematoria. Those wishing to revisit that exchange can see my original article,[ii] Mattogno’s original article, [iii] and the Butz-Mattogno exchange.[iv] It suffices to say that Mattogno’s theory was that the document ‘was falsified by an ignorant forger’, while I speculated that the wish for cyanide gas detectors arose from a waste incinerator that shared ducts with the crematorium ovens. We agreed that Zyklon was not involved, as there was a special department at Auschwitz for that, which had all the cyanide detectors needed for that application.
It was therefore with great interest that I read his new discussion of the alleged gas detectors, which is admirable for its copious documentation. It takes 22 pages but, mainly because Mattogno’s trains of thought contrast so much with mine, I found the going rough. It seemed that Mattogno was coming around to my theory, with the change that a cyanide danger was seen in the cremations (I had never encountered an association of cyanide with cremation). I say it ‘seemed’ because throughout the considerable labor of reading this section it was not clear where he was headed, but that’s okay if the matter is clarified in the end. Twice (pp 94, 107) he promised to ‘furnish an alternative explanation’ to the interpretation of Pressac et.al. He did not consider the possible involvement of the waste incinerator.
I was to be disappointed as he suddenly, and without warning, concluded his analysis with this single paragraph (p. 114):
‘For all these reason [sic] the Topf letter of March 2, 1943, is at least suspicious. Although it seems formally authentic, its content is utterly untenable.’
What does that mean? I don’t know. If anything, Mattogno appears to want to come back to his original claim of falsification, but perhaps understands that the evidence gives no support to such a conclusion, so he has left the matter in confusion. He did not ‘furnish an alternative explanation’.
Thus I warn that the fruits of the reader’s considerable labor may be more in learning the relevant documents than in formulating reliable conclusions. In knowledge of the documents, Mattogno seems to have no peer.”
And this is all that Butz can find to say about a two-volume book of 750 pages!
He does not explain what is its purpose, yet this is clearly indicated in the subtitle: “A Historical & Technical Study of Jean-Claude Pressac’s Criminal Traces and Robert Jan van Pelt’s Convergence of Evidence” It is therefore a critical work that should be evaluated for what it promises, namely to present an exhaustive, radical, systematic and detailed rebuttal of all the arguments put forward by these two exterminationist authors concerning the alleged homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz. A serious review should assess whether the task was performed in an accurate manner, and if the arguments are sound and the demonstration convincing.
Surprisingly, Butz instead pays no attention to all of that. He cites my work without even mentioning the subtitle: What can his reader infer from the simple title Auschwitz: The case for Sanity? In his article van Pelt (to whom over 200 pages are devoted in the book) is not even mentioned, while Pressac, whose theses are, directly or indirectly, the subject of the rest of the book, is mentioned only in passing and in relation to a specific interpretation by him.
The fact that Butz has “problems” with my writings, that he has “great trouble” in following my arguments, that 22 pages are for him a “considerable labor,” are clearly his personal limitations that concern only him[v]: nobody forced him to read this book, but if he really wanted to submit a review of it, he should read it and take account of it in its entirety.
The book is divided into 19 chapters and further subdivided into 110 sections, containing about 170 sub-sections, each of which makes several points.
Butz, however, focuses on one: in quantitative terms, he takes into consideration 22 pages out of more than 750. It is as though someone were to review his famous The Hoax of the Twentieth Century by examining only the twenty pages devoted to this so-called War Refugee Board Report (I will explain below why I have chosen this example), ignoring all the rest, and claiming, from these twenty or so pages to assess the value of the work as a whole.
This section (2.6, pp. 93-114) is divided into 7 sub-sections which cover the following topics: 1) “Pressac’s Interpretation”; 2) “The Destination of the ‘Gasprüfer’”; 3) “The Historical Context”; 4) “The Bureaucratic Context”; 5) “Problems Not Solved by Jean-Claude Pressac”; 6) “What Were the ‘Gasprüfer’?” (in which I give my “alternative explanation”); 7) “Prüfer and the ‘Gasprüfer’”. The argument presented is simple and linear: what is there that is so difficult to understand?
Butz’s exposition is all the more imprecise in that he speaks of “a document” of the Zentralbauleitung relating to alleged “gas detectors, whereas there are two documents in question: the telegram to Topf of 26 February 1943, which contains an order for “10 Gasprüfer” and the letter, also addressed to Topf, dated 2 March 1943, which mentions the “Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste” (but which also quotes the above-mentioned telegram). The reason why he insists on this issue is precisely the fact that in this regard, he and I have in the past had a disagreement. But this “our most recent disagreement” goes back to 1998: was it really worth digging it up?
Given that Butz has done so, it would be as well to summarize what this disagreement concerned. Anyone interested in a more thorough examination of the issue can read my updated article “Osservazioni sull’articolo di A. Butz “Gas Detectors in the Auschwitz Crematorium II” (Observations on A. Butz’s article ‘Gas Detectors in the Auschwitz Crematorium II”)[vi]. I state that Butz starts from two erroneous assumptions which already, in principle, invalidate his arguments. The first is the unfounded conjecture that the Gasprüfer and the Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste were “gas detectors”, more specifically, hydrocyanic acid vapor detectors. In fact, as I have demonstrated in the above-mentioned work (and earlier in the paper I Gasprüfer di Auschwitz. Analisi storico-tecnica di una “prova definitiva”[vii]), the “Gasprüfer” were straightforward flue-gas analyzers (see figure 1).
Figure 1 – Entry “Gasprüfer” in section “Thermo-technical measurement /Technical gas analyses” in the prestigious Hütte. Des Ingenieurs Taschenbuch. Verlag W. Ernst & Sohn, Berlin, 1931, vol. I, p. 1013. (Click to enlarge).
In the early Forties there existed a number of instruments of this type, from devices to analyze flue gases (Rauchgasanalyse-Anlagen) to % CO2 detectors (Geber für die % CO2), to indicators for % CO2 and for % CO+H2 (Anzeiger für % CO2 und für % CO+H2) (See Figure 2).
Figure 2 – Siemens “Gasprüfer” from the Thirties. From: Alberto Cantagalli, Nozioni teorico-pratiche per i conduttori di caldaie e generatori di vapore. G. Lavagnolo Editore, Torino, 1940, p. 308. (The captions have been erroneously inverted). (Click to enlarge).
On the other hand, there were no Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste: these did not exist and could not exist, because the term Anzeigegeräte refers to “indicators”, that is to mechanical instruments functioning on a physical principle (exactly like those shown in Figure 2), but at that time the presence of hydrocyanic acid vapor could only be detected using a residual gas test (Gasrestprobe), which was carried out with the Gasrestnachweisgerät für Zyklon (Zyklon [B] residual-gas testing kit), the process developed by Pertusi and Gastaldi and perfected by Sieverts and Hermsdorf and carried out with chemical reagents and papers contained in a special box (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 – “Gasrestnachweisgerät für Zyklon” found by the Soviets at Auschwitz in 1945. Archive of the Auschwitz State Museum, negative no. 627. (Click to enlarge).
This kit was normally sold by the two German distributors of Zyklon B, Heerdt und Lingler (Heli) and Tesch und Stabenow (Testa) (see Figure 4).
Figura 4 – Letter from Tesch & Stabenow to the KL Lublin administration dated 29 July 1942. Archive of the State Museum of Majdanek, I, d 2, vol. 1, p. 107. (Click to enlarge).
Figure 4a – Enlargement (Click to enlarge).
Butz’s second assumption is the hypothesis, equally unfounded, that there existed “a gas detector differing from that used in the Zyklon delousing operations” even equipped with an audible alarm.[viii]
Since testing for residual gas could only be done using the chemical procedure of the Gasrestnachweisgerät für Zyklon, in practice Butz’s conjecture that these alleged “gas detectors” were for the waste incinerator (Müllverbrennungsofen) of Crematorium II at Birkenau (assuming that material could be burned there whose combustion produced hydrocyanic acid), is incongruous and in contradiction with his admission that “We agreed that Zyklon was not involved, as there was a special department at Auschwitz for that, which had all the cyanide detectors needed for that application.” In fact, as I have explained in my study (pp. 100-102) the acquisition and the use of Zyklon B with associated accessories, including apparatus for residual-gas testing, were the responsibility of the SS-Standortartz (garrison physician). This makes complete nonsense of the Zentralbauleitung’s order from Topf for Gasprüfer/Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste which according to the theory of Pressac and of Butz were Gasrestnachweisgeräte, or apparatus for residual gas testing for hydrocyanic acid: if the Zentralbauleitung had had a requirement for such equipment, either, hypothetically, for homicidal purposes in the alleged gas chambers or for testing waste incinerators, they would have ordered them from the garrison physician, since they fell within his institutional scope and certainly not from Topf, who neither produced nor sold them.
Butz’s conjecture is also not very sensible because it completely ignores historical, technical and documentary reality. There is not even the faintest indication in its favor, and, as I showed in my article on the subject, it is in no way supported by the historical, technical and documentary context.
To Butz it seems that I am turning around his theory, by referring to the danger of production of hydrocyanic acid at cremations. His impression is mistaken, since I have never maintained such an absurdity. He then states that I twice promised to “furnish an alternative explanation” to Pressac’s interpretation, whereas, in fact, I would not have done so. In reality this explanation, as I have already mentioned, can be found in subparagraph 6, specifically on p. 111, where I have concluded that the 10 Gasprüfer were, in fact, simple flue gas analyzers destined for the 10 flues (Rauchkanäle) of Crematories II and III.
Crematory II came into service on February 20, but at reduced capacity, because the electrical power supply only allowed a “limited use of existing machines”. The “Gasprüfer” were, therefore, used to determine whether the limited use of the draft and blower installations would allow economically viable combustion.
And since they were thermo-technical instruments, it is obvious that the Zentralbauleitung would have ordered them from a firm specializing in combustion equipment.
And the letter of March 2, 1943, with its notional “Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste”? In that regard, I stated that:
“If a historian affirms that a document furnishes ‘the ultimate proof’ of some fact, he must also address and resolve all the problems which arise in this connection and he must not evade this burdensome task.” (p. 112).
But neither Pressac nor van Pelt, nor Butz, nor anyone else has resolved these problems, which can be summarized as follows:
1) an order for combustion gas analyzers (Gasprüfer) by the Zentralbauleitung to Topf is followed by an offer, by Topf, of Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste, instruments which did not, and could not, exist;
2) the alleged purpose of the order for these instruments, to test for residual hydrogen cyanide gas, is nonsensical and impossible, because it could not be carried out either with Gasprüfer, or with notional Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste, but only with the Gasrestnachweisgerät für Zyklon;
3) according to Pressac’s interpretation and in effect Butz’s, the order for alleged residual gas-testing equipment for hydrogen cyanide would have been addressed not to the garrison physician, under whose institutional responsibility it fell, not to the companies that produced it and sold it – Degussa (Deutsche Gold-und Silber-Scheideanstalt), Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung), Heli and Testa – but to a company that dealt with combustion equipment![ix]
And it is clear that, as long as there is no resolution of the mystery of the Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste, a designation, I repeat, not found in any of the specialist literature on disinfestation and the detection of toxic gases, a designation which in fact appears only in the letter of March 2, 1943, no “alternative explanation” is possible, simply because no explanation is possible. That of Pressac and his associates is in fact a false explanation, because it translates literally (residual hydrogen cyanide gas detectors) from a contrived term for something that has no tangible existence in the real world (Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste).
As for Butz, his approach to this document is so superficial that he presents only a translation into English, without even mentioning the suspicious novelty of the German expression “Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste”[x], relegating it to the literal “residual HCN detection devices”[xi] . In effect he completely sidesteps the key issue in this document. In stressing that “Mattogno’s theory was that the document ‘was falsified by an ignorant forger’, when I speculated that the order for hydrocyanic gas detectors related to the waste incinerator, without the slightest explanation of the reasons for this hypothesis, and opposing it with his own alleged “alternative” explanation, Butz completely misrepresents my position, painting me, like some Holocaust apologists, as someone who declared a document false because he was unable to explain it, when in fact this hypothesis derived from the manifestly absurd contents of the document.
Regarding the content, in fact, the document in question has no value, no more than a military document that mentioned a flying attack donkey. Precisely what I meant with the conclusion:
“For all these reasons, the Topf letter of 2 March 1943 is at least suspect. Although it seems formally true, its content is completely unreliable.”
Was this so hard to understand?
The military document would be formally true, but what about the flying attack donkey? It would be too facile to solve the riddle (as, by analogy, do Pressac and Butz with regard to “Anzeigegeräte”) that “flying donkey” means, for example, “helicopter”. This would not be an explanation, but simply a cop-out, as is identifying “Anzeigegeräte für Blausäure-Reste” with residual gas test kits for hydrocyanic acid.
So it is not true that I leave the matter “in confusion”: it is the document that creates confusion. This is admitted by Butz himself, who, in the second edition of his book, wrote:
“The letter from Topf dated March 2, 1943 is strange and for some time I have had doubts as to its authenticity.”[xii]
His suspicion was dispelled by his “alternative interpretation”, but, as I have shown above, this is limited merely to circumventing the problems inherent in the document.
In finally adding to my words a pointless “[sic]”, Butz confirms that he has serious problems in understanding what I wrote, since “for all these reasons”, which I have summarized above, is printed on pp. 111-112.
All this amounts to anything but calm historical criticism. And we wonder why Butz wanted to review a book containing arguments which, by his own admission, he can follow only with “great difficulty”.
In his examination of Crowell’s theses, Butz dwells at length on the so-called War Refugee Board Report, the series of reports by prisoners who escaped from Auschwitz in 1944, also known as the “Auschwitz Protocols.” I have also dealt with this document, devoting a section of just over 14 pages to it (pp. 563-577). The fact that Butz does not speak of this, although obviously interested in the subject, gives rise to the suspicion that, in my book, he has only read the 22 pages mentioned above.
Also surprising is that Butz has left out another important issue on which we disagree: that of “Vergasungskeller“. In the book in question, I examined in depth (pp. 55-69) the problem with this term, which appears in the letter from the Zentralbauleitung to SS-Brigadeführer Kammler, head of Office Group C of the SS-WVHA, dated January 29, 1943 and which translates literally as “gassing cellar”. My conclusion, which is supported by the historical-documentary context, is that this referred to a project for an emergency disinfestation chamber. Butz believes rather that the “Vergasungskeller” was a “gas shelter”, that is a gas-tight air-raid shelter[xiii]. Then[xiv] Samuel Crowell developed the thesis that Pressac’s “criminal traces” could be explained in the context of air defense architectural measures.
In light of the known documents, this interpretation is completely unfounded, as I have abundantly shown in my “clash” with Crowell[xv]. It is enough simply to say that the “Air-raid protection measures for the Auschwitz” garrison (Luftschutzmassnahmen im Standort Auschwitz) were only ordered on November 16, 1943, when the construction of the crematories was already completed (the “criminal traces” date from the first half of 1943); SS-Untersturmführer Heinrich Josten, appointed “Luftschutzleiter”, Head of Air-Raid Protection[xvi], began to handle this task precisely from this date.
With regard to the “Vergasungskeller”, I have demonstrated that in every document from Auschwitz where “Vergasung” appears, this always and exclusively relates to disinfestation (pp. 67-68). What is more, the German term designating anti-gas protection is “Gasschutz” (as is demonstrated by the title of an important specialist review of the Thirties: Gasschutz und Luftschutz, Protection against Gas and Air Raids), so that, in the event, the Zentralbauleitung document would have spoken of a “Gasschutzkeller”, and certainly not a “Vergasungskeller”.
It has been commented that in my book neither Butz nor Crowell is even mentioned, even though van Pelt criticized their theses. The reason is precisely that I consider their arguments irreconcilable with the historical, technical and documentary context; that is that since from a historical, technical and documentary point of view they are unfounded, such arguments can therefore not make a positive contribution to criticizing the positions of Pressac and van Pelt in interpreting documents or ascertaining facts.
These are my interpretations; of course, I do not pretend that they are indisputable; I limit myself to observing that they are the only ones which are reconcilable with the historical, technical and documentary context.
To Butz’s rescue promptly rushes Robert Faurisson, who writes:
“I totally agree with your review of Crowell’s book and Mattogno’s book.
I, for one, had decided not to write anything about Mattogno. For a very long time he appeared to me as a man suffering a terrible complex because he was not a scholar. This already is not a sign of intelligence. I would appreciate more an intelligent mason talking about history than many University professors teaching history. Mattogno wants to show what he thinks is science instead of being simply scientific. He makes everything complicated and this is too bad for our revisionist cause. For example, we do not need pages and pages on the cremation or the crematory ovens. The reader might think: ‘Dear, this is too complicated for me. I cannot decide whether those revisionists are right or wrong’. […]. Congratulations, dear Art”[xvii].
The two best-known revisionists in America and Europe have joined forces against me: I do not know if it is an honor or a disgrace. Is to have carried out in-depth studies on multiple “complicated” issues that Butz and Robert Faurisson have barely mentioned bad for revisionism?
Faurisson’s message seems animated by obvious personal animosity. To someone interested in revisionist issues, personal disagreements are in fact of no interest, so I will not respond on this level. But I must point out that my supposed “terrible complex” is certainly not suggested by the judgments made by Faurisson on me toward the beginning of my revisionist activities. I summarize the most salient ones taken from Écrits révisionnistes (1974-1998):[xviii]
Vol. II, p. 562 (1985): “An Italian revisionist, Carlo Mattogno, the quality of whose work is exceptional…”.
p. 723 (1987): “Carlo Mattogno, who is only 35, is a researcher of exceptional erudition”,
pp. 983-984 (1990): “C. Mattogno shows a type of erudition in the tradition of his ancestors of the Renaissance; he is both meticulous and prolific; in the future he will figure in the first rank among revisionists”.
As for the example cited by Faurisson, if Pressac has devoted “pages and pages” to the question of cremation and crematories at Auschwitz, I do not see how one can refute it without also devoting “pages and pages” to the subject.
I do not think it is up to Faurisson to determine what revisionism needs or does not need. If he believes that his readers need simplification, good for him and good for them. Other readers want instead to go more deeply and to read longer, more articulate works. I hope to satisfy these readers and at the same time pose a few puzzles for holocaust historians.
I do not see why there should be a conflict between these two different approaches, which are simply complementary: do both not contribute to the “cause”?
[i]Also published in the on-line review “Inconvenient History”; text available at http://www.revblog.codoh.com/2011/09/two-cutting-edge-works-of-holocaust-revisionism/.
[ii] Published on the Web at: www.codoh.com/butz/di/dau/detect.html and www.vho.org/aaargh/fran/techniques/ABgasprufer.html
[iv] http://www.codoh.com/viewpoints/vpmatbutz.html and http://www.vho.org/GB/c/CM/vpmatbutz.html
[v] No other reader with whom I have been in direct contact has made similar complaints. Some, indeed, have understood my arguments well enough to offer constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement.
[vii]I Quaderni di Auschwitz, n. 2. Effepi, Genoa, 2004.
[viii] ‘A “Criminal Trace”? Gas Detectors in Auschwitz Crematory II’, in: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 16, n.5, September-October 1997, pp. 26-27.
Since the early thirties there was a Dräger-Schröter “Gasspürergerät” (gas detector) designed to reveal aggressive chemical warfare agents (eg. Phosgene and mustard gas) after an air strike. It was essentially a “test tube” containing silica gel into which outside air was introduced using a small pump. The coloration of the gel indicated the kind of aggressive agent. It could also detect hydrogen cyanide, but in this case was using the usual reaction of benzidine acetate and copper acetate (normally used in Gasrestnachweisgerät für Zyklon), which turned the tube blue. G.Stampe, G.A.Schröter, F. Bangert, “Gasspürergerät Dräger-Schröter und seine Anwendung im Luftschutz”, in: Gasschutz und Luftschutz, year 4, no.1, 1934, pp. 16-19.
Such a device was not specifically for hydrogen cyanide and was nothing like the detector imagined by Butz.
[ix] Butz tries to counter this nonsense by assuming that the Topf company was involved in the use of Zyklon B for delousing purposes in equipment manufactured by it, but this assumption is completely unfounded – Topf only built h gassing facilities for the silos it installed at Areginal (Areginal-Begasungsanlagen), for a disinfectant made of ethyl formate – and this would not justify his conjecture even if it was well founded, because in that case Topf would have used Gasrestnachweisgeräte für Zyklon and the Zentralbauleitung would have no reason to request it from Topf rather than from the garrison physician at Auschwitz. See my article “Osservazioni sull’articolo di A. Butz ‘Gas Detectors in the Auschwitz Crematorium II’”.
[x] The only German word worth mentioning in the document Butz has come up with is “wenn”, “if”.
[xi] “A ‘Criminal Trace’? Gas Detectors in Auschwitz Crematory II”, art. cit., p. 24. Thus also in the latest edition of his book: The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. The Case against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry. Theses & Dissertations Press. Chicago 2003, p. 434.
[xii]The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. The Case against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry, op. cit., p. 436. The general argument is presented in “Supplement 4: Zyklon B and Gas Detectors in Birkenau Crematorium II”, pp. 431-439
[xiv] Butz’s hypothesis was presented in 1996.
[xv]“Leichenkeller di Birkenau: Gasschutzräume o Entwesungsräume?”, in: http://vho.org/ITA/c/CM/leich-it.html; “Risposta ai ‘Comments’ di Samuel Crowell sulla mia “Critique of The bomb shelter thesis””, in: http://vho.org/ITA/c/CM/risposta.html;“Auschwitz. La “Bomb shelter thesis” di Samuel Crowell: un’ ipotesi storicamente infondata”, in: http://vho.org/ITA/c/CM/Crowell-critique-finale.html. These articles contain quotations in English and German not translated into Italian. Their publication is due to an excess of zeal by the late Russell Granata.
[xvi] Standortbefehl n. 51/43 del 16 novembre 1943.
[xviii] Édition privée hors-commerce. © Robert Faurisson, 1999.
Editor: The following brief note was received from Arthur Butz on 1 January 2012.