Translation of a crucial sentence in the Kozak testimony
Kozak in his testimony describes three different barracks raised close to the railway sidespur. For two of them, he gives only brief descriptions, the focus of the testimony is the third barrack, which is interpreted as housing three homicidal gas chambers.
I am interested here mainly in the description of the second barrack. It is described in a single sentence. The problem is that widely differing translations are given for this sentence.
Arad, on page 25 of his book Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka...
translate it as follows:
The second barrack, 25 meters long and 12.5 meters wide, was for the Jews destined for the "baths."
Carlo Mattogno and Jürgen Graf in their Belzec...
(p.45) has it as
The second barrack, measuring 25 m in length and 12.5 m in width, was destined
for the Jews going to the bath.
Finally, The Holocaust Research Project (H.E.A.R.T.) website translate it as
The second barrack – 25m long and 12.5m wide – was appointed for the Jews to bathe in.
Thus the translation given by Arad implies that the victims passed through
this second barrack on their way to the "bath", which would be the alleged homicidal gas chambers located in the third barrack. The translation in Mattogno and Graf is similar, but without the quotation marks surrounding the noun bath
(here in plural). I will return to those quotation marks later on. The translation found on the H.E.A.R.T. website on the other hand differ very much in meaning from the two others. The words "appointed for the Jews to bathe in" can only mean that the second barrack itself
was the baths, and a real bath to boot (since equalling bath with gas chamber here would render the interpretation of the third barrack as the gas chamber building meaningless).
What then is the origin of those three translations?
Arad gives as his source
Belzec-Oberhauser, Band 6, pp. 1129-1130.
In Arad's "Bibliographical Key to the Notes" (p.401) we read
Belzec-Oberhauser. YVA, TR-10/517, the trial of Josef Oberhauser, Landgericht München.
So Arad's source is an archived copy of the documentation from the Oberhauser Belzec Trial found in the Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem.
Matogno and Graf state in their book (p.45, note 106):
ZStL, 252/59, vol. I, pp. 1129f. (translation from Polish into German).
"ZstL" is Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen in Ludwigsburg, Germany. This is were the documentation from the post-war West German NS trials is kept. The page number shows that Arad and Graf/Mattogno are using the same source, a German translation of the original Polish testimony used in the Belzec trial.
Finally H.E.A.R.T. gives as their source "Trial of Josef Oberhauser - Statement of Stanislaw Kozak , YVA TR-10/517", in other words the same as Arad. Apparently they have made their own translation of the document.
If the Kozak testimony is a transcription of a spoken statement, the quotation marks would of course be the arbitrary addition made by the transcriber. It is noteworthy that neither Graf's nor H.E.A.R.T.'s translation contains them. Presumably they are not in the German court translation, but an addition made by Yitzhak Arad. Unfortunately, no German edition of Mattogno and Graf's book seems to be available. This would provide ready access to the German translation used as original for the three translation.
What we really need is of course the original statement in Polish. Thus far I have not managed to find any reference to this document. First then would we know which translation is the most correct.
Until then, I will simply remark that Jean-Claude Pressac in his notes on the Reinhardt camps described (as per Graf's translation found in his and Mattogno's book Treblinka: Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?
, p.291) the first part of Kozak's testimony as follows:
There were three barracks built next to one another: the first served as a waiting
room for the Jews, in the second they bathed and in the third they were gassed in three rooms.
Pressac must have read either the German translation or the original Polish documents. The reason for this is that Arad quotes the first part of the testimony in this way:
In October 1941, three SS men came to Belzec and requested from the municipality twenty men for work. The municipality allotted twenty workers, residents of Belzec, and I was among them.... We began the work on November 1, 1941. We built barracks close to the side track of the railway. One barrack, which was close to the railway section, was 50 meters long and 12.5 meters wide.... The second barrack, 25 meters long and 12.5 meters wide, was for the Jews destined for the "baths." Not far from this barrack we built a third barrack, 12 meters long and 12.5 meters wide.
For comparison, the H.E.A.R.T. translation reads like this (passages left out by Arad marked in bold):
There arrived in Belzec in Oct 1941, three SS-men who demanded 20 workers from the Belzec community. The municipal office appointed 20 inhabitants of Belzec as workers – I was one of them. The Germans selected the area to the SE of the Railway station where a siding ended. Alongside the siding ran the railway to Lemberg (Lwow). We began work on 1 Nov 1941 with the building of barracks at the end of the siding. One barrack – which stood right next to the siding – was 50m long and 12.5m wide; it was a waiting room for the Jews. The second barrack – 25m long and 12.5m wide – was appointed for the Jews to bathe in. Near this barrack we built a third barrack which was 12m long and 8m wide.
Thus the reader of the quote in Arad will not know that Kozak stated that the first barrack was a "waiting room" (more likely an undressing room). Arad in fact never touches on the function of this barrack. An "undressing barrack" is mentioned later (p.70) but it is not identified as either Kozak's first or second barrack. Furthermore the only map of Belzec that Arad produce shows the camp as it supposedly was during its second phase (when those three barracks had supposedly been demolished). To me it seems that Arad wanted to hide the function of the first barrack and implicate the second barrack as an undressing room. If the gassing scenario was correct, only two barracks would be required: one for undressing and one for the gas chambers. Why would the victims wait in one barrack, undress in another and then be gassed in a third? As Pressac points out, it is more likely that the first barrack was for undressing, the second housed showers and the third contained hot air disinfestation chambers. On the map of Belzec during its first phase shown at H.E.A.R.T. (as well as ARC) the first barrack is called "warehouse", the second barrack is called "undressing barrack" and the third is, of course, the alleged homicidal gas chambers.
It follows that Pressac did not base his critique on what he read (or could have read) in Arad's book, but instead on either the German translation or the Polish original. That Pressac clearly identifies the second barrack as a bath indicate that the H.E.A.R.T. translation is the most correct.