I previously blogged here about the Auschwitz legend that became known as “the Belsen incident.”
Rudolf Hoess, who was the Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau when the Belsen incident took place, gave a deposition concerning the incident, which was entered into the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.
Here is the text of the Rudolf Hoess deposition regarding the Belsen incident:
Sometimes it happened that prisoners knew what was going to be done. Especially the transports from Belsen knew, as they originated from the East, when the trains reached Upper Silesia, that they were most likely (being) taken to the place of extermination.
When transports from Belsen arrived, safety measures were strengthened and the transports were split up into smaller groups which we sent to different crematoriums to prevent riots. SS men formed a strong cordon and forced resisting prisoners into the gas chamber. That happened very rarely as prisoners were set at ease by the measures we undertook.
I remember one incident especially well.
One transport from Belsen arrived, approximately two-thirds, mostly men, were in the gas chamber; the remaining third was in the dressing room. When three or four armed SS Unterführers entered the dressing room to hasten the undressing, mutiny broke out.
The light cables were torn down, the SS men were overpowered, one of them stabbed and all of them were robbed of their weapons. As this room was in complete darkness, wild shooting started between the guard near the exit door and the prisoners inside.
When I arrived I ordered the doors to be shut and I had the process of gassing the first party finished and then went into the room together with the guard carrying small searchlights, pushing the prisoners into a corner from where they were taken out singly into another room of the crematorium and shot, by my order, with small caliber weapons.
The Belsen incident happened on October 23, 1943 when a transport of around 1700 “Jews from the East” were brought on passenger trains from the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp to Auschwitz-Birkenau. They had supposedly been told that they were being taken to a transfer camp called Bergau near Dresden, from which they would continue on to Switzerland where they would be exchanged for German POWs.
Strangely, Hoess did not mention, in his deposition, that one of the victims was Franceska Mann, a beautiful dancer who was a performer at the Melody Palace nightclub in Warsaw. In July 1943, she was among the 600 Jewish residents of the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side of the Warsaw ghetto, who were arrested. Some of them were sent to the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp since they had passports which would have allowed them to enter another country.
According to Jerzy Tabau, a prisoner who later escaped from Birkenau and wrote a report on the incident, the new arrivals were not registered at Birkenau. Instead, they were told that they had to be disinfected before crossing the border into Switzerland. They were taken into an undressing room next to one of the gas chambers and ordered to undress. The beautiful Franceska caught the attention of SS Sergeant Major Josef Schillinger, who stared at her and ordered her to undress completely. Suddenly Franceska threw her shoe into Schillinger’s face, and as he opened his gun holster, Franceska grabbed his pistol and fired two shots, wounding him in the stomach. Then she fired a third shot which wounded another SS Sergeant named Emmerich. Schillinger died on the way to the hospital.
According to Tabau, whose report, called “The Polish Major’s Report,” was entered into the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal as Document L-022, the shots served as a signal for the other women to attack the SS men; one SS man had his nose torn off, and another was scalped, according to Tabau’s report which was quoted by Martin Gilbert in his book entitled The Holocaust. According to Tabau, reinforcements were summoned and the camp commander, Rudolf Hoess, came with other SS men carrying machine guns and grenades.
According to a report entitled “Jewish Resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe” written by Reuben Ainsztein and quoted by Martin Gilbert, the women were then removed one by one, taken outside and shot to death. However, Eberhard Kolb wrote in his book about the history of Bergen-Belsen that the women were all murdered in the gas chamber.
Before the Nuremberg IMT started in November 1945, Hoess had already made numerous confessions about the gas chambers and the millions of Jews who had been gassed to death. His deposition about the Belsen incident assumes that gas chambers existed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. How would someone who denies the gas chambers at Birkenau interpret the Hoess deposition?
First of all, Hoess claims that armed SS men entered the undressing room. Didn’t they have Kapos (Jewish helpers) who assisted the SS in the crematoria? Would armed SS men have entered a room full of Jews who were undressing before being gassed? That would have been a job for the Kapos.
Hoess said in his deposition that two-thirds of the Jews on this transport were already inside the gas chamber, and while there was wild shooting going on in the undressing room, he ordered that the men already inside the gas chamber be gassed as planned. Then the women were taken out of the undressing room and shot. This reveals the flaw in the gassing procedure: after a number of Jews were gassed, there was no place to put the bodies so that another group could be gassed. However, note that Hoess said that the women were taken into “another room” in the crematorium where they were shot. He doesn’t specify which crematorium was involved in this incident, but there were only two underground rooms in Krema II and Krema III.
What if a riot in the undressing room had not happened? How would the gas chamber have been emptied so that another gassing could take place? Would the bodies have been taken outside to await cremation so that the next group, waiting in the undressing room, could enter the gas chamber? According to the official Holocaust story, the two rooms that should have been morgues were instead an undressing room and a gas chamber.
What about the elevator that took the bodies from the gas chamber up to the ovens? The elevator was a bottleneck that was a major flaw in the gassing procedure.
The deposition given by Hoess assumes that he did not know that Bergen-Belsen was an exchange camp in October 1943. In the deposition, it is assumed that the staff at Birkenau took precautions when processing prisoners from Bergen-Belsen because the prisoners there allegedly knew about the extermination camp at Birkenau. The gas chambers first became known in June 1942 when the British broadcast it over the BBC, but were the prisoners from “the East” (Poland) aware of the gas chambers?
The Hoess deposition sounds very suspicious to me — like maybe it was written by some British chap and Hoess was forced to sign it after he was tortured half to death.