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February 1, 2013

Was there a “gas chamber” at Natzweiler? It depends on your definition of the term “gas chamber.”

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 8:28 am

In a comment on my blog post about the alleged “gas chamber” at Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in the French province of Alsace, this statement was written:  “… Carlo Mattogno had conceded in his November 2011 book that the Nazis gassed Jews at Natzweiler-Struthof…”  If you don’t know who Carlo Mattogno is, stop reading this right now and go to the Inconvenient History blog, where you can read his articles about the Holocaust.  Carlo Mattogno is the foremost revisionist scholar; if he says that people were “gassed” at Natzweiler, it must be true.

But…it depends on what Mattogno means by the term “gassed.”  Does he mean “gassed” as in put to death, using poison gas, in a chamber like the one that was formerly used in Jefferson City, MO to execute criminals?  I don’t think so.

The building where Jews were gassed at Natzweiler

The building where Jews were gassed at Natzweiler

Building where criminals were gassed to death in Jefferson City, MO

Building where criminals were gassed to death in Jefferson City, MO

I visited the Natzweiler-Struthof Memorial Site in 2004 and wrote about the “gas chamber” on my website here.  The building shown in the old black and white photo above, which is about a mile from the former camp, was not open when I was there in 2004.

This quote is from my website page about Natzweiler:

At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, charges were brought by the American prosecutor against the Nazis for medical experiments performed at Natzweiler, but there were no documents introduced in which it was claimed that a gas chamber had been used there to murder Jews.

The abandoned Natzweiler camp was discovered by both French and American troops, so it was the responsibility of the French and the American prosecutors to introduce the evidence of the gas chamber there.

On December 9, 1944, Colonel Paul Kirk and Lt. Colonel Edward J. Gully of the US 6th Army made an inspection of the Natzweiler camp, three months after it had been abandoned by the Nazis. According to Robert H. Abzug, the author of Inside the Vicious Heart, they qualified just about every observation that had to do with instruments of death and torture. The following is a quote from Abzug’s book:

They found, among other things, “what appeared to be a disinfestation unit” and “a large pile of hair appearing and reputed to be human female.” They were shown a building with a space “allegedly used as a lethal gas chamber. ” In this building was “a cellar room with a special type elevator,” and “an incinerator room with equipment obviously intended for the burning of human bodies…a cell room and an autopsy room.” Kirk and Gully then described in detail the “so-called lethal gas chamber,” noting every pipe and outlet and its two steel doors. In the cellar they found four coffins and a sheet metal elevator “of a size which would take a human body” with “stains which appeared to be caused by blood.”

Kirk and Gully wrote a report that was sent to the War Crimes Division, in which they referred to a “so-called gas chamber” at Natzweiler. Based on their report, there were no charges, pertaining to a gas chamber at Natzweiler, brought against the Nazis on trial before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.

The “so-called lethal gas chamber” that Kirk and Gully mentioned in their report was in the building shown in the photo below.

Crematorium building at Natzweiler-Struthof

Crematorium building at Natzweiler-Struthof

What Kirk and Gully saw was the shower room that is located next to the one cremation oven.  The outside wall of this shower room is what is shown in Judisman’s painting.  Yishai Jusidman based his painting on the photo below, which he modified, to make it look like the inside of a gas chamber.

Outside wall of a shower room in the Natzweiler crematorium

Outside wall of a shower room in the Natzweiler crematorium

When I visited the Natzweiler Memorial Site in October 2004, the room next to the cremation oven was not open to visitors. I peeked through the window shown in the photo above and saw what looked like a shower room. This is probably the “so-called lethal gas chamber” which the two American officers described in their report, but there was no sign on the wall which said that this was a gas chamber. The shower room is not the room that Josef Kramer, the former Commandant of Natzweiler, described in his confession to the British after he was arrested at Bergen-Belsen, where he was the last Commandant of that camp; Kramer described a room in the building that is located about a mile from the camp.

Le Struthof, as the camp is known to the French, was located 31 miles from Strasbourg where Dr. August Hirt, a Professor at the University of Strasbourg, was conducting research on racial characteristics. When he requested Jewish skeletons that were undamaged by bullet holes or body blows, Heinrich Himmler ordered that Jews should be brought from Auschwitz to Natzweiler so that they could be killed in a gas chamber there.

In August 1943, a special gas chamber was constructed by adapting an existing building, formerly owned by the Struthof hotel, which was located about a mile from the concentration camp on a side road. This room had previously been used as a refrigerator room by the hotel.

Killing the Jews in one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz and shipping the skeletons to Strasbourg wouldn’t do – the skeletons had to be prepared with great care by Dr. Hirt himself.

According to a Tübingen Professor, Dr. Hans-Joachim Lang, two anthropologists, who were both members of the SS, Dr. Hans Fleischhacker and Bruno Beger, were sent in June 1943 to Auschwitz to select Jews to be gassed so that their skeletons could be added to the rassistische/rassenideologische collection of Dr. August Hirt. There were 57 men and 29 women in the group that was selected.

In the documents submitted to the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, it is mentioned that the Jewish victims were put into quarantine for a time at Auschwitz because there was a typhus epidemic in the camp; then they were brought to Natzweiler-Struthof. The Nuremberg IMT documents show that 86 corpses were brought to the Anatomie Institute of the Reichsuniversitat Strassburg and that an assistant of Prof. August Hirt saw the tattoos on the arms and secretly wrote down the 86 numbers on a piece of paper.

In the museum at Natzweiler-Struthof, Josef Kramer’s confession, regarding the gas chamber, is on display. In his confession, Kramer described how he personally mixed “salts” with water to produce a lethal gas. The gas was dumped through a hole which had been chiseled through the tiled wall of a room previously used for the refrigeration of perishable food. Then Kramer watched through a peephole as the Jews died from the fumes of the poison gas.

Josef Kramer was convicted by a British Military Tribunal held in 1945, and hanged for the crimes he had committed at Auschwitz II and Bergen-Belsen. The charges against Kramer at the proceedings of the British Military Tribunal did not include the crime of gassing Jews at Natzweiler-Struthof. Rather, he was charged with crimes committed at Bergen-Belsen and with gassing Jews at Auschwitz, where he was the Commandant of the Auschwitz II camp before being transferred to Bergen-Belsen in December 1944.

At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, charges were brought by the American prosecutor against the Nazis for medical experiments performed at Natzweiler, but there were no documents introduced in which it was claimed that a gas chamber had been used there to murder Jews. The abandoned Natzweiler camp was discovered by both French and American troops, so it was the responsibility of the French and the American prosecutors to introduce the evidence of the gas chamber there.
In 1989, a plaque was placed at Struthof, in memory of the “87 Jews who were gassed” there. This was accomplished through the joint efforts of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a New Jersey lawyer, Stephen Draisin. The number 87 includes the 86 Jews who were brought from Auschwitz to be gassed and one Jewish inmate who died during the same time period.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “the gas chamber [at Natzweiler] was also used in pseudo-scientific medical experiments involving poison gas. The victims of these experiments were primarily Roma (Gypsies) who had been transferred from Auschwitz. Prisoners were also subjected to experiments involving treatment for typhus and yellow fever.”

A book which I purchased from the Natzweiler Memorial Site has this to say about the gas chamber, shown in the black and white photo:

4. The affair of the Israelite corpses

Hirt, professor of anatomy in Strasbourg, received corpses from the camp of Russian war prisoners at Mutzig, but as he thought they were too lean, he asked for people in a good physical condition for studies on heredity.

87 Israelites (30 of whom were women) were sent from the camp at Auschwitz. They were shut up in block 13 at the Struthof where they were measured, and they had to undergo experiments on sterilization. On August 11, 13, 17, 19, 1943, under the direction of doctors from Strasburg, the S.S. gassed the 87 Israelites in the gas chamber at Struthof with cyanide. Death occurred after 30 to 60 seconds. The corpses were transported to the Institut d’Anatomie in Strasburg. 17 entire corpses (3 of which being women’s) were found at the liberation as well as many dissected pieces.

“The liberation” referred to in the above quote probably means the liberation of France in August 1944. The Natzweiler-Struthof camp was abandoned in September 1944 so it was not actually “liberated.”

According to Dr. Hans-Joachim Lang, there were 16 of the 86 bodies (3 women and 13 men) that were found intact in November 1944, not 17, and an autopsy was performed on the bodies.

Dr. Lang was able to identify the 86 Jews who were gassed at Natzweiler after locating their prisoner numbers in the Auschwitz archives. The 29 women and 57 men who were gassed had been deported to Auschwitz from Norway, Poland, Greece, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The bodies of the 86 victims were buried in the Jewish cemetery of Strasbourg and a grave stone with the 86 names was placed there in December 2005.

Dr. Lang has published a book with the names of the 86 Jews who were gassed at Natzweiler. His book can be purchased at this web site:

http://www.die-namen-der-nummern.de