By Carolyn Yeager
Dear Dr. Neander,
Thank you for your letter of February 3rd. First let me assure you that you are welcome to any assistance I can give you in keeping the facts about Irene Zisblatt and the entire “Auschwitz experience” in order. (See 2nd paragraph at:
As a self-described independent scholar who has moved to Poland from Germany (I gather) and lives in Cracow, close to the Auschwitz-Birkenau (A-B) Memorial Museum, you obviously have a desire to be, or believe that you are, an “expert” on A-B. Very good, since we certainly need real experts to help us deal with the many, many falsehoods and perversions promulgated about this place since at least 1941, but especially after 1945.
You and I have agreed that Mrs. Zisblatt (by the way, she is no more “Mrs.” Zisblatt than I am Mrs. Yeager, so I will just call her Zisblatt and you may call me Ms. Yeager) has written a fantasy with her book, The Fifth Diamond. Of course, that means you also agree that the account she gives of her Auschwitz experience in Steven Spielberg’s documentary film, The Last Days, is also fantasy (a very important and potent point). As you have previously stated, the main theme of her book and of her testimony in the film is her ingesting, defecating, retrieving and ingesting again, over and over during her year spent in camps and on what she terms a “death march,” four diamonds given her by her mother before they entered Birkenau. Thus you agree that Zisblatt is lying in a very bold way about her experience, although you prefer to call her a “confused old lady” with a “dysfunctional memory” who “deserves our pity.” Hmmm, I dare say Zisblatt probably prefers my description of her as liar to yours as object of pity.
But more on that later. I want to follow your comments in a chronological order, so I’ll speak first about Stehzelle. You “prove” the existence of such torture by referring to the Auschwitz archives, saying that out of 275 reports you counted 28 reports that speak of Stehzelle given as punishment. This you expect to be accepted at face value. Yet, the entire holocaust legend is based on false reports, forgeries and lying and/or coerced witnesses. Therefore, a holocaust skeptic such as I am does want to see some physical evidence or unquestionably genuine documentation, which you have not produced.
My reference to the Auschwitz Wikipedia page, where Stehzelle is discussed, was not meant as “gospel” but had a purpose. If the most popular, most-relied upon quick source of information on the Internet cannot give a single real source of documentation for such cells, but instead dissimulates, it just shows how confused the entire subject is. It may have skipped your notice, but Maximilian Kolbe was not in a standing cell at the end, but in a regular cell, yet his detention in this cell was used at Wikipedia as evidence of the existence of “standing cells.” Going to the A-B website, one finds no archival information such as you say you have, but only a panoramic photo of the same reconstruction that I showed a photo of in my critique of your original article. And the Auschwitz archives are not The Gospel either.
It is also possible that “standing cell” was not what was described by some witnesses, who do like to go overboard in their descriptions. Why, for instance, do we only have reconstructions today, as seen in the photo mentioned above taken in Block 11 at Auschwitz, with those ridiculous tiny doors that adults would find it extremely hard to get through (and how did they get sick or unconscious people out, not to speak of dead ones?), and that are NOT shown to regular tour-goers who are not taken into the basement? It is typical that there are a lot of words written and spoken about things like Stehzelle, but no desire to show anything real to the public. Why? Because when the more intelligent of the public can look things over for themselves, they begin to see the improbabilities and impossibilities of the story that’s been given out.
It’s also of note that “standing punishment” has been around for a long time—it was called Field Punishment No. 1 by the British Army in WWI (soldiers referred to it as “the crucifixion”); the French Legionnaires called it “the Silo.” By the 1920’s it was routine police torture in America. In the 1930’s, Stalin’s NKVD used forced standing to coerce confessions for show trials. South African and Brazilian police made prisoners stand on cans or bricks, which caused excruciating pain to the feet. In 1956 the CIA commissioned two experts to study the effects of enforced standing. They found that the ankles and feet swell to twice their normal size within 24 hours; large blisters develop, and it gets worse from there. It follows that it’s unlikely those so punished could work after spending over one day in such a cell.
With such wide usage, it’s no wonder it became a favorite story at the German concentration camps. No, I do not automatically accept the story that Commandant Liebenhenschel had the standing cells allegedly erected by Commandant Hoess torn down. I do not consider myself a scholar, Dr. Neander, as you do. I am an intelligent person who likes to use a common sense approach (anathema to holocaust scholars!). I think it is very telling that all alleged standing cells were torn down prior to the camp liberation or immediately afterward, leaving us with no physical record. In the case of Dachau, it was the U.S. Army itself that tore them down without taking any photographs. This makes no sense, since they were eager to find all evidence of Nazi crimes and publicize them. An intelligent person has to conclude that the standing cells at Dachau, today represented by a diagrammatic exhibit, are just another false publicity story. Would you not conclude that yourself, Dr. Neander?
This is all there is as evidence of Stehzelle at Dachau. The sign says prisoners were kept in these cells for as much as 72 hours at a time (3 days!). A Dachau exhibit reports that a Soviet prisoner, Yuri Piskunov, was confined to one of these cells for 10 days (!) in October 1944, but with no mention of his crime. According to the CIA study I cited, he would not have survived, but Piskunov was still alive when this exhibit opened in 2000. (photo by litlnemo at flickr)
More evidence? Drawing from a “survivor” of the so-called “Standing Cells” shows how belief is generated from fantasy. From http://www.dachautour.com/
Moving on, you also make the comment that your original statement in your “Diamond Girl” article — “On the other hand, according to her story, Chana obviously did not have health problems with ingesting feces, as the Stehzelle episode shows. During the five days in this dungeon, the girls relieve themselves into the ankle-deep water in which they stand and drink the same water repeatedly (47), without becoming sick.” — was meant ironically, and I was unable to detect this. I doubt very much that I was the only reader who was unable to detect any irony in your wording and presentation of this idea. One would have to be a mind-reader to do so, and scholarly articles do not demand such mind-reading (well, Raul Hilberg does expect us to believe in mind-reading among the Nazi “final-solutionists,” which just shows that he is not a true scholar). Yet, even though you fault me for not picking up your ironies, you have misread or “mystified” several things that I wrote.
For instance, I was not “criticizing” you for not confronting the three main versions of Zisblatt’s story—her book, her Surviviors of the Shoah testimony, and the Spielberg film—and all the unacceptable discrepancies between them, in my first response to you: “Holocaust Scholar Finds ‘Fifth Diamond’ to Be a Work of Fiction.” I only pointed that out so the reader would know there was an even bigger problem with Zisblatt’s integrity as a holocaust survivor than what you presented in your article. I accept your position that you wanted to keep your critique to a manageable length—that is certainly understandable—although the other reasons you give are less convincing. You say that the book cannot be altered anymore and is the product of thorough reflection as opposed to “the contingencies of an interview or a film scene shot live.” I have to object that the (Shoah) interview was taped, with opportunity to change and correct if desired; the film also must have given opportunity for several takes and was carefully prepared for. I don’t think there is any wiggle-room for claiming she was not able to say what she really meant to say. Therefore, we cannot divorce Zisblatt’s book from her Shoah testimony and especially from the film, The Last Days, and from all her public talks; they must be taken as a whole in the long run. I am not saying you are avoiding this; I don’t think, at this point, that you are.
Another instance: You are misrepresenting my words when you say that by “smoothing over” I meant you did not mention everything that was erroneous in Zisblatt’s narrative. That is not at all what I wrote. My words of “smoothed over” were clearly in regard to several of Zisblatt’s errors that you made light of or excused; thus they were in reference to what you DID say—not to what you did not say. An example is her incorrect timing for her arrival at Birkenau, putting herself there a full month before Jews from her area arrived there. She was very clear in Shoah testimony and book (written 10 years later) that all Jews in her town were deported by two days after Passover. This is not something that she would be confused about. Yet you call my criticism of survivors unable to assign correct dates to their memories an unreasonable expectation on my part. You then launch into a lecture of moral outrage at my “ignorance” of how impossible it was for concentration camp inmates to have any sense of time, and suggest I read “some good (non-revisionist) literature” about concentration camp life. This is typical holocaustian tactics of going on the offence rather than defend one’s position.
Do you suggest I read the most famous concentration camp literature of all — Night and other books by Elie Wiesel? How about Deborah Lipstadt’s works, or Danuta Czech? There are so many books to choose from, I wouldn’t know where to start. Perhaps you could direct me to the ones you most recommend.
Dr. Neander, do you deny that prisoners at A-B were able to subscribe to newspapers that were delivered to them in the camp? Do you deny that they received mail from family and friends, which certainly had dates on it? Do you deny there was a network of rumor and talk of all sorts, including an underground that managed to send radio messages to London? Let’s get real here. Even poor Zisblatt with her dysfunctional memory says they “somehow” knew when Jewish holidays came up and fasted for Yom Kippur for 24 hours, dumping their soup into the dirt, even though they were “starving.” How heroic! They were punished for that by the SS, she says, who deprived them of soup for the next five days. Contradictory to that, she also says she lost her faith in God and disassociated herself from her religious beliefs as soon as she found herself in the camp—survival became her only goal. How does that fit with choosing to fast when you’re starving?
So when you say that “for the average prisoner even the possession of paper and pencil — to take notes, to write a diary — was a ‘crime’ punishable by severe flogging, Stehzelle, or, if the SS man had a bad day, by killing on the spot” it is you that is showing ignorance, not I, by exaggerating beyond belief.
You continue in this vein when you still insist that “All the atrocities reported by Zisblatt did happen, somewhere, sometime” (tearing Jewish babies in half and throwing them in a river or into burning pits or banging their heads against trucks, or skinning prisoners with “smooth skin” to make lampshades, or putting anti-fertility chemicals into the soup?) and that “There can be no doubt that a multitude of criminal medical experiments” were performed on prisoners. (You also use the phrase “doubtless” many times, which any debater knows is a mark against you because it is used in place of proof or solid argument.) Now, I did not say that the medical experiments you refer to are absolutely untrue; I just know that it is necessary to doubt the simplistic, broad-brush claims you make about them.
Taking the camp doctors you mention one by one, let’s fact check your claims to be a scholar against what you’re now calling my “deep ignorance.”
1) Dr. Sigmund Rascher, contrary to what you say, was never sentenced to death by an SS court; he was not even put on trial in an SS court or any other court. Rascher and his wife were arrested by the Munich police in April 1944 and put into a Munich jail for a crime that had nothing to do with his “experiments” at Dachau, but for Kindesunterschiebung, the kidnapping of two infants that they claimed Mrs. Rascher had given birth to. This was a very serious crime in Germany. They were also charged with financial irregularities and scientific fraud. Rascher was later moved to the Dachau prison bunker in preparation for being sent to the South Tyrol as part of a prisoner-exchange ; his wife to Ravensbruck. They were “executed” right before liberation under unclear circumstances that are too complicated to go into, but were not according to SS procedure. As a doctor, Rascher used Dachau for his investigations into the effects of high altitude on German pilots, commissioned by Himmler for the Luftwaffe. According to the post-war testimony of his assistant Walter Neff (who was also a prisoner), 180 to 200 prisoners, only one a Jew, were provided—the great majority of whom had already been condemned to death by German courts. Forty of them were Russian POWs who were also subject to death because they were Communist Commissars (the “Commissar Order”) and 10 were ‘volunteers.’ Again according to Neff, about 70 to 80 of these prisoners died. Himmler is said to have told Dr. Rascher that the subjects who survived should be pardoned to life imprisonment. If so, this is another indication that the prisoners turned over for this experiment were condemned to death already. It’s also noteworthy that three of the doctors who worked with Rascher on the Luftwaffe high altitude experiments were acquitted at the Nuremberg “Doctor’s Trial” in 1947.
To put this in perspective, let me remark that the Nazi justification for these experiments was that this was done in an effort to save the lives of German pilots. Please remember that the “good” Americans claim their “experimental” atomic bombing of Japanese cities was justified because it saved American servicemen’s lives. These hundred thousand plus of Japanese citizens had not been condemned to death by a court for criminal activities, but they were condemned by the American President and Military Command in absentia! The moral seems to be: killing to save American lives can be justified, but not German lives—victor’s justice. Also, America confiscated the results of the experiments they found by Dr. Rascher and used them for the U.S. Air Force. They also used the results of experiments at Buchenwald. Many of the doctors who did experiments in the camps were brought to America to continue their experiments.
2) Dr. Waldemar Hoven was accused of being the commandant’s wife’s lover. According to the Buchenwald camp guidebook “Ilse (Koch) selected prisoners with tattooed skin to be killed by her lover, Dr. Waldemar Hoven, in order to make leather lamp shades to decorate her home.” We know that is not true—it is one of the famous atrocity legends (lies)—so why believe anything in the Buchenwald guidebook, or Buchenwald archives either if they have them? (I was at Buchenwald and I could see how hard they try to make it seem like a much worse place than it was. They have something of an inferiority complex because they don’t have a gas chamber, poor things, so they’ve turned the crematorium into a shrine and invented the “killing room” in the basement below.) The prisoners didn’t like Ilse Koch and because there were so many complaints about them, both Hoven and Ilse Koch were tried by Dr. Konrad Morgen in his tough SS court. Ilse Koch was acquitted, but Hoven was convicted and sentenced to death for murder. He spent 18 months in prison at Buchenwald, but was then reprieved because of the critical wartime shortage of doctors. He remained practicing at Buchenwald. He was not sent to the Eastern front by Himmler, as you said.
Strangely, an official U.S. Army Report dated April 24, 1945 accused Dr. Hoven of being a communist ally who was charged with killing anti-communist prisoners in Buchenwald with lethal injections. He was prosecuted by the IMT at “The Doctor’s Trial” and executed in 1948. Who is to say of what he was really guilty?
3) Dr. Carl Clauberg and Dr. Horst Schumann are accused by holocaust crazies without any evidence. In the few articles about them on the “world wide web,” there are no sources or exhibits to confirm the nonsense about Clauberg’s sterilization of women “experiments,” and the same goes for Schumann. Nothing on the USHMM or A-BMM sites except the same accusatory words. You speak of a thick paper trail, yet all that is found is one unverified letter to HH, that could very well be made up, and probably is because it sounds ridiculous. Dr. Clauberg was known to be a respected medical doctor in Germany.
So, Dr. Neander, do you repeat any holocaust rumors and character assassinations that come down the pike, with little concern for true scholastic rigor? And still you accuse me of ignorance of the “facts.” What actual facts have you presented? What is going on here is that holocaust “Exterminationists” can’t stand it that there were capable doctors, nurses, hospitals and infirmaries in all the main camps taking good care of the prisoners who were ill or injured, so they have to turn these doctors into “Frankensteins” who were only concerned with evil and crazy experiments. You are the one who should better inform yourself before making rash statements.
As for Zisblatt’s hateful attitude toward Germans, it speaks for itself throughout her book and testimonies. She also makes it clear that her hateful attitude is directed toward all Gentiles—there is not a decent one in any of her versions of her story. (Of course, to holocaust-obsessed people like Zisblatt, a “good Gentile” is only one who helps Jews; there is no other standard.) It is astounding that you defend this on the basis that a German woman would feel and write the same against the Soviet and Jewish-Allied “retribution” they experienced at the end and after the war. As you must know, German women who suffered horrendous experiences (some far worse than anything Zisblatt could have experienced) do not write books or make speeches about it in anywhere near the numbers that Jews do.[9[ Even this statement is overly generous—the ratio must be something like 1000 to 1. So yes, there is a great deal of resentment against “the Tribe”, not just from me, and it is well-deserved.
Thus, your efforts to continue to “smooth over” and “soften the blow” to Zisblatt are noticeable. You attempt to pass over to me the blame of wrongdoing by calling me “harsh and disparaging” in my attitude toward this woman who is involved in a “noble cause.” I do not agree with that, but still you are confusing things badly when you say I called her insane, mentally retarded, and a congenital liar. What I said, as you well know, was that she could not subjectively believe what she wrote was true (as you suggested) UNLESS she was insane, mentally retarded or a congenital liar, which I did not think she was. Therefore she must be seen as an egotist and a business woman marketing herself. Are those words too harsh, in your opinion, for what she had done and continues to do, Dr. Neander? Do you deny she is marketing herself and her fantasy story? Do you deny she is paid for many of her public appearances? Do you deny she loves the limelight and the attention? She began doing this in 1994 when she was 16 years younger than she is today, so you really can’t blame it on her old age. It would be distasteful to “market herself” as she is doing even if her story were true—that it is completely false makes it over-the-top disgusting.
And speaking of disgust … I wonder why you lower yourself to post your articles on a site with such low standards as “Holocaust Controversies?” Is that the only place that will accept them? Or are you one of the team? You appear to want to personally uphold good manners and proper forms, but the people you associate with there are anything but “proper.” They are name-callers and haters extraordinaire! Regular contributor Sergey Romanov seems overly reliant on four-letter words. Here are some he used to describe me after my article in response to yours was posted on Inconvenient History Blog: “neo-nazi scum,” idiotic paranoid,” “not very bright,” “dumb neo-nazi liar,” and just yesterday a friend of theirs named Nathaniel called me an “ignorant fuck.” I would think you would not want to be associated with such language that reveals such immature behavior. I certainly don’t! Therefore, while I am willing to converse with you in the further exposure of Irene Zisblatt as the fraud that she is and in putting other myths about Auschwitz-Birkenau in their proper perspective, be informed that I will not reply to anything more that is posted at “Holocaust Controversies.” Good day to you, Sir.
 In the last days of the war, the “prominent” prisoners from all the camps and prisons were sent to Dachau, from which they were then sent to the South Tyrol, allegedly as part of Himmler’s negotiations with Allies for a conditional surrender. Both Nerin E. Gun, a journalist and prisoner at Dachau, in his book The Day of the Americans, 1966, and veteran holocaust writer Gerald Reitlinger in his book The SS, Alibi of a Nation, 1922-1945, say that Dr. Rascher was on that trip. Reitlinger wrote “Captain Payne-Best met Sigmund Rascher during the southward evacuation of the Dachau political bunker at the beginning of May 1945.” However, Payne-Best was a British intelligence agent who was arrested in 1939, given special treatment in camp, and whose book The Venlo Incident must be taken with that in mind. Gun wrote that Dr. Rascher was shot in Innsbruck, after the VIP prisoners had been turned over to Captain Payne-Best.
 Paul Berben, Dachau 1933-1945: The Official History, London: The Norfolk Press, 1975. pp. 125-135
 George J. Annas, Michael A. Grodin, The Nazi doctors and the Nuremberg Code: human rights in human experimentation. Oxford University Press US. 1995. pp. 71–73.
 “Dr. Hans Wolfgang Romberg, [mentioned above], was put on trial at Nuremberg in the Doctors Trial which started on December 9, 1946 and ended on August 20, 1947. Dr. Romberg was acquitted, as were Dr. Siegfried Ruff and Dr. August Weltz who were also involved in the Luftwaffe experiments at Dachau.”
 A. Scott Berg, Lindbergh, G.P.Putman, 1998
 Jewish survivors are encouraged to speak out, write books and even to embellish and fabricate (The Last Days “documentary” film is an example), and are rewarded (and given awards) for it, while the far more numerous German survivors have been discouraged to the point of ostracism if they should “complain” or “whine” about their sufferings. Once again, victor’s justice.