The sentence of Holocaust denier Gerd Honsik in a court in Austria has been recently reduced from 5 years to 4 years in prison. Honsik had appealed his sentence of 5 years, and the prosecution had also appealed, asking that the sentence be increased to 20 years, the maximum allowed in Austria for Holocaust denial. Honsik won his appeal and he will now spend only 4 years in prison in Austria for the crime of Holocaust denial, even though he still denies that there were gas chambers at Mauthausen and Dachau. You can read all about the case here.
I’ve been to Austria twice and each time I was really impressed by the Austrian people, who are extremely friendly and polite. I did have some trouble understanding their German because the language is a bit different in Austria. The Austrians made an effort to speak High German very slowly for my benefit when talking to me.
On my first visit to Austria in 1958, I went on a tour down the Danube that went right past Mauthausen, but the tour guide didn’t even point it out. I didn’t know anything about Mauthausen at that time; I had never even heard of the Mauthausen gas chamber.
I’ve been to Dachau several times and I took lots of photos of the gas chamber which you can see here. Both of these gas chambers look like shower rooms to me, but what do I know?
Austria is such a beautiful and wonderful country, so why are the Austrians acting crazy about whether or not there were gas chambers at Mauthausen and Dachau, which Gerd Honsik denies. Who cares?
What about the famous German historian Martin Brozat, who said there were no gas chambers in the Old Reich, which would include Dachau, but not Mauthausen, because Austria was in the Greater German Reich during World War II?
Brozat wrote a letter to the Hamburg weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” with a headline that read “Keine Vergasung in Dachau.” The letter ran in the German edition on August 19, 1960, and in the US edition on August 26, 1960. Dr. Broszat was with the Institute for Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte) at that time. He is now dead.
This quote is from the English version of Brozat’s famous letter:
Neither in Dachau nor in Bergen-Belsen nor in Buchenwald were Jews or other prisoners gassed. The gas chamber in Dachau was never entirely finished or put “into operation.” Hundreds of thousands of prisoners who perished in Dachau and other concentration camps in the Old Reich were victims, above all, of the catastrophic hygienic and provisioning conditions: according to official SS statistics, during the twelve months from July 1942 through June 1943 alone, 110,812 persons died of disease and hunger in all of the concentration camps of the Reich. The mass extermination of the Jews by gassing began in 1941-1942 and occurred exclusively in a few facilities selected and equipped with appropriate technical installations, above all in the occupied Polish territory (but at no place in the Old Reich) in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Sobibor on the Bug, in Treblinka, Chelmno and Belzec.
It is at those places, but not in Bergen-Belsen, Dachau or Buchenwald, where the mass extermination facilities, spoken of in your article, were built and disguised as shower baths or disinfection rooms.
What about Simon Wiesenthal, the famous Nazi hunter, who was a prisoner at Mauthausen? Wiesenthal famously wrote that there were no gas chambers on German soil, which would include both Dachau and Mauthausen, although he later denied that he ever wrote this.
Even Sir Hartley Shawcross, the chief British prosecutor at the Nuremberg IMT, didn’t mention Mauthausen in his closing address on July 26, 1946, when he said that murder was “conducted like some mass production industry in the gas chambers and the ovens” of Buchenwald, Dachau, and Oranienburg (Sachsenhausen).
Strangely, no one was ever charged with the crime of killing prisoners in a gas chamber at Dachau; you can read about the reasons why on my web site here.
A recent visitor to Mauthausen wrote this on her blog which you can read here:
This is the gas chamber at Mauthausen. It had been 10 years since I stood inside a gas chamber but this time, I think it impacted me even more. I stood there thinking about holding Smith as they turned on the “shower”. Then quickly realizing that it wasn’t a shower, it was gas. Then realizing that me and my baby were going to die. I don’t even hesitate drawing such a graphic picture because it’s truth. It’s history. It happened. If we don’t study this, it can happen again. I stood in a room where thousands of people died.
Another visitor to Mauthausen took a guided tour and wrote this on a blog here:
Stop #6- Gas Chamber
This was the cheapest and most effective method for direct killing. They chose 50-80 people every one or two weeks an (sic) could fit between 30 and 40 in one chamber. The SS lied to the prisoners telling them they would be taking a shower. They brought them outside the chambers where numbered hooks were mounted on the walls. “Remember your hook number so you can retrieve your clothes after the shower.” Many Jewish prisoners were well educated when told they would be taking a shower, realized their (sic) was no drain in the floor. However, at thsi (sic) point it was too late. Their destiny was in the hands of the SS.
Do the tour guides at Mauthausen really tell visitors that the educated Jews knew the shower room was a gas chamber because there was no floor drain? Visitors can see that there is one floor drain in the middle of the room; it is shown in my photo above.
The “numbered hooks” were allegedly used at Auschwitz-Birkenau, according to Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant. If there were “numbered hooks” at Mauthausen, they had been removed before I visited the camp.