With less clarity, some Protestant pastors, notably Otto Dibe- lius and Kurt Rehling, have acknowledged discussing with Gerstein his experiences in the Polish camps. The texts of the "confessions" nowhere state that Gerstein made a written report to anybody whomsoever.
One of the two Dutchmen mentioned above even declared as a witness during the trial of 29 May CR.
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Nevertheless, one can read from the pen of Saul Friedlander: "In August Gerstein, who had just witnessed extermination gas- sings, tries to meet with the papal nuncio Orsenigo; he is sent away. It is then that he communicates a report to the legal advisor of Msgr. Preysing, Archbishop of Berlin, and requests that it be forwarded to the Holy See. There is no reason to believe that the document was not sent to Rome. The Gerstein report of was probably almost identical to the one he composed on 4 May since he describes 5 the same event Considering the fact that to this day the Holy See has not denied having received the Gerstein report during the war, one has the right to assume that a text basically identical to that which we are about to quote was sent to the Sovereign Pontiff by Msgr.
Preysing at the end of That an assumed recipient has not denied receiving a supposed document is not sufficient grounds for thinking that the document did in all likelihood exist. With his suppositions, Saul Friedlander almost matches the dra- matic license to which the Protestant Rolf Hochhuth had recourse in his play The Deputy. One sees Gerstein on the stage, having gained entry to the Vatican while on furlough, meeting again with the nuncio Msgr. Orsenigo, with whom he has already had a discussion in Berlin. This last point is false: the former SS officer himself wrote in his "confes- sions" that he was sent packing as soon as he presented himself at the nunciature in Berlin.
In Rome, Gerstein converses with prelates very close to the Pope and vehemently reproaches them with the silence of the Sovereign Pontiff on the question of the extermination of the Jews in Poland. Thus, Hochhuth presents to us scenes of pure invention, and his theatrical exaggeration has shocked the entire world.
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But it must be said in his favor that Rolf Hochhuth was not writing as an historian but as a dramatist. In conclusion, there is nothing whatever to indicate that Gerstein might have written any text at all prior to April , 5 either in or thereafter. Gerstein's Biographers Three books have dealt fundamentally with the Gerstein case; all three were published in the 's, after the almost worldwide presentation of Rolf Hochhuth's play, The Deputy, mentioned above. It was by means of a dramatic work that the legend was woven of the SS officer Gerstein who, while the war was still going on, supposedly tried to let the whole world know of the massive extermi- nation of Jews in the gas chambers.
Certain Israeli and Protestant circles sought to have Gerstein rehabilitated: the former SS officer had not in fact been absolved posthumously in by a denazifica- tion board, which was content merely to accord him extenuating circumstances. The desired rehabilitation came about in An old friend of Gerstein's, Franz was active with him in the youth movements of the Evangelical Church between and He stayed in contact with Gerstein and saw him several times during the war.
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At the end of his book, Franz reproduces correctly, but also with deletions which he notes, the typewritten account in German dated 4 May , the only one of which it seems he had knowledge, thanks to Hans Rothfels's publication op. In this book numer- ous details are found on the life of Gerstein before and then during the war. Our own researches have convinced us that certain of these details are not correct.
As for the texts of the former SS officer which are quoted, it is obvious that Saul Friedlander borrowed them from L6on Poliakov. Later on, we shall see the use to which the latter has put them. In this work, there is no longer a question of ambiguity as suggested by Saul Friedlander.
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Pierre Joffroy exerts himself to make the reader share his conviction that Gerstein is a sort of saint, an intermediary be- tween God and men; the latter did not understand him and were, either directly or indirectly, responsible for his death in a Paris prison. The texts of the "confessions" known to Pierre Joffroy were three in number op. We find in this work, on pages to , a fairly long extract from one of Gerstein's narratives. To which version does it relate? Leon Poliakov writes that it bears "the certain date of 5 May "; however, none of the six texts carries this date.
Actually L6on 7 Poliakov has used the typewritten version in French dated 26 April which we designate T II and has made a partial copy of it that includes serious distortions and omissions. The author adheres to the inaccurate text of and inserts sentences appropriated from the German version that Hans Rothfels made known to the public in ; he omits to inform the reader of these additions. L6on Poliakov, Hans Rothfels, and various other writers who repeated the publications of the first two, had, in France, an attentive and critical reader in the person of Paul Rassinier.
L6on Poliakov did not reply to the criticisms of Paul Rassinier and has completely ignored them. If we try to make a schedule of the utilization of the six known versions, we note: 1. T II and T HI have been the versions most utilized for reproduc- tion, sometimes complete, but more often partial and distorted. T V has never been published in full; it has been used only in very fragmentary samplings whose source has never been indicated with exactitude. T I can not heretofore have been known to readers except from the facsimile of pages 3 and 4 which is found in Saul Friedlander 's book op.
Text IV, handwritten in French and dated 6 May , was discovered by us in the Archives of the Evangelical Church of Bielefeld Westphalia , in as much as no one, to our knowledge, ever called attention to it.
Much more than documents.
Butz, Revisionist historian The Hoax of the Twenti- eth Century, , pages , who has nonetheless made some minor errors, notably in the spelling of proper names. This text in English comes from the official American translation of PS The most unfortunate error consists in the omission, from a phrase of the narrative, of the adverb "also.
This text in French is stated to be the translation of the German text op. Of these six passages set off by indentation from the rest of the text, there are two which are faith- fully reproduced and four that contain inaccuracies. Finally, other authors — and these are the most numerous — have written of Gerstein, of his presumed role, of his revelations, but without pub- lishing an extract from this or that "confession. But while the other writers mentioned do not question the veracity of Gerstein's statements, Olga Wormser-Migot expresses her skepticism.
In particular she writes: "The recurring leitmotifs of the confession, including the prayers of the victims, are so identical to fifty other memoires — including those of the Hoess Memoires — that, for our part, we find it difficult to accept the complete authenticity of the Gerstein confession or the truth of all its elements" op.
In beginning the present thesis, we were therefore confronted by: — six versions of the "confessions" written in three different languages; — reproductions, often partial and distorted, of three of them only; — utilization of these narratives by numerous writers who were content to make only a partial summary.
The fundamental task thus seemed to us: to establish the texts with a rigorous exactitude. What follows is the text of the Le Monde article referred to on page 2: The Hitler Policy of Extermination: A Declaration by the Historians Since the end of the Second World War, it has happened on several occasions that publicists, sometimes taking the title of historians, have cast doubt on the veracity of the evidence on the Hitler policy of extermination.
This evidence had, in , a glaring obviousness.
The great majority of the deportees today are dead. Their writings remain in the archives of the Third Reich, but this documentation does not always prevent reactions which are in the form of a "cri- tique" in appearance only. To contend that Zyklon B merely extermi- 11 nated lice, it is really necessary to admit in one's conscience that the Jews, the Gypsies or if need be the Slavs, or men worn out by labor, were really only lice. That said, it is natural that the generation which did not receive the shock of today asks itself questions. It is for their use, and not in reply to just any Tom, Dick, or Harry, that we are publishing this present declaration.
We do so in our capacity as historians, which gives us no right but only a duty, that of being, through the schools of thought of which we are members, the servants of the humble truth, with only one mission, that long since put into words by the "Father of History": "To prevent what men have done from being effaced, by time, from human memory.
It is generally estimated that 6 million Jews, , Gypsies, and , Germans, the latter considered hereditarily degenerate, were exterminated in the course of the war. We must add to that several million Poles, Russians, and other Slavs, whose numbers were to be artificially reduced by hunger, the limitation on births, or extermination by reason of the needs of the SS state, its living space, and its contempt for "subhumans," for those whom Himmler called "human animals.
Some of these killings arose from a "political" decision, others finished off the bodies of those who had become incapable of further work for the Nazi war machine. The solidarity of the facts is established at the same time by the evidence of thousands of deportees, by the administrative documents coming from the archives of the Third Reich and which remain meaningful, even when written in what Eichmann called "Amtspra- che" bureaucratese and, lastly, by the detailed confessions of the executioners.amintutila.tk
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This policy has gone through several stages. As far back as 1 September , Hitler gave the order to kill off the German men- tally ill, described as useless mouths. Six extermination centers with gas chambers were installed in Germany Brandenburg, Grafeneck, Bernburg, Sonnenstein, Hartheim, Hadamar. In the face of the public protests of the German clergy, Hitler was, however, com- pelled in August to suspend this "euthanasia program.
At first, this extermina- tion was essentially the work of the special detachments, the "Ein- satzgruppen. These methods involved psychological difficulties for the military and civil authorities and were not applied outside Soviet territory, the field par excellence of the ideological war.
Everywhere else, the exterminations were effected thanks to the creation of special instal- lations, principally in Polish territory. During the first months of , five extermination camps over and above that of Auschwitz, which existed previously and which was then situated in the territory of the Reich, were created with all necessary installations and nota- bly with gas chambers: Chelmo 1 , Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Maidanek. An adequate setting of the scene disguise of the build- ings as ordinary railway stations with the aid of appropriate posters and signs was intended to mislead the victims, to prevent any desperate rebellions at the last moment.
From among so very much evidence, which obviously can not come from those who have been killed, is it necessary to drag in that of the SS officer Gerstein who tried in vain to alert, as early as , the civil and religious authori- ties on what was happening in these camps? Written by himself on 26 April for the French authorities in hesitant French, his account of what he saw at Belzec, indisputable in its essentials, is all the more moving: "Myself with the Hauptmann Wirth, police, we find ourselves before the chambers of death.
Totally naked, the men, the women, the young girls, the children, the babies, those with only one leg, all naked, pass. In a corner, a strong SS man, with a high unctuous voice, says to the poor people: 'Nothing will happen to you! But the women are not obliged. Only if they wish they can help with the housework or in the kitchen. Then they mount the little stairway and see the truth! Mothers, nursing mothers, the babies at the breast, naked, many children of all age, naked they hesitate, but they enter into the chambers of death, most without saying a word, pushed by 13 the others behind them, harried by the horsewhips of the SS.
A Jewess, 40 years about, eyes like torches, calls down the blood of their children on their murderers. Receiving five blows of the horse- whip in the face from Hauptmann of police Wirth himself, she disappears into the chamber of gas. A great many make their prayers, some others say: 'Who is it who gives the water for death? In the chambers, the SS push the men. Till up well' the Hauptmann has ordered.
The naked men are standing on the feet of the others, to 25 m2, to 45 m3! The doors close. It was at Auschwitz that the Nazi plan of extermination was brought to perfection. Created in the summer of , at first for political prisoners or Polish or German criminals, this camp, or this gigantic complex rather, covering some dozens of square kilometers, became at the same time a place for immediate extermination and a labor camp of especially inhumane working conditions. The average life expectancy of the detained was six months.
It was in June that Himmler charged Rudolph Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, with establishing an extermination camp there. After preliminary ex- periments carried out on Soviet prisoners, Hoess opted for the gas "Zyklon B," an insecticide product which was currently in use by the German army.