(Continuation: The Interrogations of Kurt Prüfer
During the next questioning – it was on February 13, 1948 and was conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Dejertschun – Prüfer had first to report in detail about the position and assignments of Gustav Braun within the firm. Braun directed as production chief the company factory in Erfurt. He was responsible for the hiring and discharging of workers and designed together with the production office the production plans of the company. He knew about all orders of the SS-Bauleitung in the concentration camps and participated directly with their implementation. But he was never personally in concentration camps.
Two days later, on February 15, 1948 Lieutenant Colonel Dejertschun functioned again as interrogator.
»Question: What pieces of equipment were manufactured in the factory of the Topf company for the construction of crematoriums and gas chambers in the concentration camps?
Answer: For the completion of the contracts awarded by the SS-Organs and for outfitting of the crematoriums and gas chambers in the concentration camps (the latter, i.e. the provision of the gas chambers, applied only to the concentration camp Auschwitz), the company bought the material and equipment partially from other firms, partially it fabricated these in their own factory in Erfurt. In the factory were especially made: small doors of cast iron, oven shutters, furnaces as well as all of the steel parts for the cremation ovens, but also individual pieces, with the exception of the electrical motor and ventilation equipment which were mounted in the crematoriums (for the ovens) as well as for the gas chambers. “Schamotte” (fire resistant bricks), bricks, insulation material, electrical motors, electrical elevators and other electrical pieces of equipment were purchased by the firm from other companies.«
Again Prüfer had to incriminate his former co-worker Gustav Braun, by emphasizing that he »was informed about all orders of the SS-Organs« and participated directly in their completion.
During an interrogation on February 21, 1948 which was again conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Dejertschun, a diagram of the production organization of the Topf company, which displayed the relations between the individual departments of the company, was presented to Prüfer. He again listed the equipment pieces for crematoriums which were fabricated in the Erfurt factory.
Four days later, on February 25 the accused Prüfer and Braun were confronted. The negotiation was conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Kusmischin as well as Lieutenant Colonel Dopertschuk. Prüfer again had to explain the official duties of Braun and had to repeat, that he »was always informed from which SS-Organ and for what work the company accepted orders.« Braun retorted, that he as production chief did know that the firm Topf & Söhne made cremation ovens, but where and for what purpose was unknown to him, because this question did not interest him. Prüfer then explained, that nearly all works for the building of cremation ovens in the concentration camps were done with Braun’s knowledge, and quoted in order to substantiate this allegation six points.
This conduct of Prüfer certainly does not leave a favorable impression, but we have no right to judge him, because we do not know under what pressure he stood and how we would have behaved in his situation.
The mutual playing out one against the other of accused is by the way a typical method of show trials and is especially used to make clear to those accused, whose will power has not yet been broken, after being confronted with the charges by former colleagues and friends, of the hopelessness of their “denial”.
»Question for the accused Braun: The statements of the prisoner Kurt Prüfer, which were made here during a direct confrontation, have irreproachably proven, that the works of the firm Topf for the construction and provision of crematoriums in the concentration camps not only took place with your knowledge, but also under your direct participation. Please stop to deny obstinately, and make truthful declarations.
Answers Braun: The statements of the prisoner Kurt Prüfer, which were made here during a direct confrontation do not correspond to the reality, and I cannot confirm them. I declare again to the interrogators, that I did know about the construction of the cremation ovens by the firm Topf and Söhne, but not about for whom and on whose order it was done, and that I was not interested in this.«
While Braun had no questions for Prüfer, Prüfer asked his co-prisoner two questions. He wanted to know from him, whether he remembered certain events within the company, during which Braun met with representative of the SS-Bauleitung in Auschwitz. Braun declared that he does not remember these events.
Of considerable greater importance was Prüfer’s interrogation on March 4, 1948, which we will reproduce here with only minor deletions. The questioning was conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Dopertschuk as well as Lieutenant Colonel Novikov.
»Question: Which works were done by the Topf company in Auschwitz, and which part of it was yours?
Answer: For the fulfillment of the orders which it received from the SS- Bauleitung of the concentration camp Auschwitz the firm Topf & Söhne performed work for the construction of cremation ovens, disinfestation installations, but also the installation of ventilation equipment for the cremation ovens and gas chambers during the years from 1940 to 1944. All this work was done by the company with my direct participation, and was done in the following sequence:
The first crematorium in the camp Auschwitz was erected in the second half of 1940 in the camp department Auschwitz. A semi underground building of reinforced concrete which was built by the Poles as a artillery depot or air raid shelter, with an area of 80 m², was used as the crematorium. Originally the firm Topf & Söhne built one two-muffle oven, and then – in the beginning of 1941 – the SS-Bauleitung of Auschwitz inquired at the firm about an increase in capacity of this crematorium, where upon my suggestion another two-muffle oven was mounted.
Additional was on my personal suggestion for these two oven a suction blower installed, which increased the draft in the furnaces and accelerated the cremation, which further increased the capacity of the cremation ovens.
The drawing and technical plans for the suction blowers were prepared by chief engineer Schultze, and the installation work was on the direction of Schultze handled by a mechanic of the firm, who especially for this purpose traveled to the Auschwitz camp.
I personally prepared technical plans and drawings for the mentioned cremation ovens and also reviewed the work at the site.
In the spring or Summer 1942 the SS-construction management of the camp Auschwitz accelerated the works of four new large crematoriums in the camp sector Birkenau, which were assigned the numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5. Number 1 was the old crematorium, located in the camp sector Auschwitz. The crematoriums in Birkenau were completed and placed into service between February and March 1943. They were equipped in accordance with the latest stand of technology and proved to be literally death factories, in accordance with their intended purposes in the camp. This was especially true for the second and third crematorium, which were equipped in accordance with the requirements of the central construction management of the firm Topf. In the buildings of these crematoriums were gas chambers installed, which looked like shower rooms and bath rooms and in which the SS-men murdered inmates by the group; afterwards the corpses were transported with electrical elevators to the cremation ovens and were cremated.
Furthermore special rooms were furnished there for the service personnel consisting of inmates; also medical rooms for the autopsy of corpses, as well as morgues, where the corpses of the inmates which were tortured to death were stacked, because although the crematoriums were in operation 24 hours a day, they were not capable to burn all[the corpses].
In the second as well the third crematorium of Birkenau the firm Topf erected in each five three-muffle ovens (a muffle is an opening for the introduction of corpses into the oven); furthermore electrical lifts for the transport of the corpses.
The Topf company built for the fourth and fifth crematorium only the cremation ovens, four two-muffle ovens in each crematorium.
In these crematoriums were also gas chambers, but the Topf company was not involved with the machinery, and as far as I know there was no provision for ventilation.
At the end of 1943 the Topf company built about 100 m from the area where the gas chambers were located, a large disinfestation plant, where the disinfestation of clothing as well as laundry of the inmates arriving in the camp was carried out.
Also special ovens for the incineration of garbage were erected in crematoriums 2 and 3 by the firm. All this work, with the exception of the mounting of the ventilation systems, were carried out in the camp by mechanics of the company under my direct supervision and review. As a specialist for cremation equipment as well as representative of the company president I verified the correctness of the drawings of the crematoriums, which were submitted to the firm by the SS-Bauleitung for review and technical consultation; I prepared drawings and technical plans of the cremation furnaces erected in these crematoriums, I also traveled from time to time to the Auschwitz concentration camp and conducted there with the management of the construction department negotiations about all questions which concerned the building of cremation ovens as well as the provision of the crematorium, among those also about the equipment of the gas chambers with ventilation installations.
The actual work of preparing the technical plans and drawings for these installations, also the mounting at the site – inside the camp - , were done under the supervision as well as direct participation of the senior engineer of the design office of the Topf Company, Karl Schultze.«
This impressively long and quite detailed statement should be compared with the scant information which Prüfer furnished two years earlier about the extermination procedure!
The reason for his sudden talkativeness is only too clear. Between March 1946 and March 1948 the picture of Auschwitz as a “death factory” which was in the beginning fuzzy had in the meantime be given a clear outline. In Poland the trials against the first Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höß as well as against the guard detail of the camp were carried out and numerous former Auschwitz inmates had described the alleged human gassings.
Let us recollect Prüfer’s statements during the interrogations in Germany: On March 1946 he spoke of a gas chamber which was “connected” to a wooden barrack as well as to the crematorium (he did not say which one). He did not elaborate further information during all interrogations nor during the following, and he was also not further questioned about this by the Smersch-officers, evidently because the latter had only extremely vague perceptions of the “extermination process” in Auschwitz.
However in March 1948 Kurt Prüfer gave declarations, which were in agreement with today’s accepted Auschwitz-version: The four crematoriums which were placed into operation in Birkenau at the beginning of 1943 »proved to be literally death factories in accordance with their intended purpose in the camp«, especially Krema II and Krema III. In these the corpses of the gassed were moved with elevators to the oven room. The ovens there were »operated 24 hours a day«. As a specialist for crematoriums Prüfer of course knew that a cremation oven of the type that was erected in Auschwitz had to be cleaned regularly and had to be cooled down for this purpose, so that a continuous operation was impossible. He therefore would never have uttered such nonsense on his own free will. There is no doubt whatsoever, that Prüfer was before this interrogation thoroughly informed with the latest “discoveries” about the Auschwitz camp and that he had to duly internalize these.
Question: You said before that the firm Topf built in crematorium I in the camp section Auschwitz two two-muffle cremation ovens, while in an official report by the SS- Bauleitung of Auschwitz of June 28, 1943, a photo copy of which lies in front of you, is stated that in that crematorium three two-muffle ovens were installed. Give an explanation for this!
Answer: Now I remember, that in crematorium I, which is located in the camp section Auschwitz, the Topf company erected under my participation three and not two cremation ovens, i.e. it is so as explained in the report of the construction management which is in front of me. In this connection I would like to make clear, that the Topf company built in five crematoriums a total of not 20 but 21 cremation ovens.
Besides I would like to clarify the following facts:
It says on the copy of the report of the SS-Bauleitung which has been presented to me, that in the crematoriums IV and V of Birkenau were eight-muffle ovens. In actuality the Topf company built in each of these crematoriums four two-muffle ovens, but because they were on my suggestion arranged in a quadrate they were considered in practice as eight-muffle ovens. The necessity to arrange these ovens in a square block was because in the crematoriums IV and V the oven rooms were considerably smaller than in the other crematoriums and it was not possible to erect in them four ovens individually.«
The report of the SS-central construction management of June 28, 1943, which was submitted to Prüfer, is about a listing of the capacity of the crematoriums, which according to this document could cremate 4,756 corpses per day. The actual theoretical maximum capacity was about four times lower. While Engineer M. Gerner thought that this document is a forgery, Carlo Mattogno furnished a different interpretation.
Incomprehensibly the Smersch-officers did not ask any questions to the stated capacity of the crematorium in that report, which was in complete contradiction to Prüfer’s testimony on March 5, 1946, according to which only 15 corpses could be cremated in five ovens with 15 muffles within one hour, but was content with a question about the number of ovens in Krema I. It is unlikely that Prüfer gave the wrong number on purpose; it is more probable that he did not remember the number six years after the installation of the ovens.
»Question: Was in crematorium I in the camp section Auschwitz a gas chamber?
Answer: Yes, there was.«
Two years earlier there was never anything mentioned about a gas chamber in crematorium I.
»Question: Who built this gas chamber?
Answer: I don’t know this exactly, but I assume, that the gas chamber in the first crematorium in Auschwitz was installed by the construction management of the concentration camp Auschwitz themselves.
Question: When and how did you find out, that there was a gas chamber in the first crematorium in Auschwitz?
Answer: I heard about this accidentally in the year 1942 under the following circumstances: I traveled to Auschwitz on request of the SS-construction management of the camp Auschwitz in the Spring of 1942, in order to review the project of a planned construction of a new crematorium in the camp section Auschwitz, to submit my conclusions and also to inspect the site, where the erection of this crematorium was planned.
I inspected the site in the company of an SS-man.
When we passed by the first crematorium, I noticed through the half-open door in one room of the crematorium building human corpses lying on the floor in different positions. There were more than ten. When I approached this room, someone closed quickly the door from the inside. Because I did not know the purpose of this room in the crematorium I, I asked the SS-man who accompanied me about it. The latter told me, that a gas chamber was erected in this room, and in it inmates were poisoned with gas.
On my following question, how this gas chamber functions, answered the SS-man evasive, he did not know exactly, but he did tell me that he knew that in the town of Lodz are gas chambers, in which SS-men killed inmates with exhaust gases from automobile engines; but later they improved the speed of the killing process and began to use some kind of gas.
As the SS-man explained the killing process duration could be reduced to one to two minutes as a result of the use of gases.
The killing process in the gas chambers of the town Lodz was according to the words of the SS-man as follows: Inmates were chased into the gas chamber, the doors were hermetically closed and then open bottle of gas were thrown through a special opening. Based on this description I concluded, that the inmates were murdered in the same way in the gas chambers, which were erected by the SS-men in the crematorium I in Auschwitz.«
Prüfer therefore gives the following to protocol:
– The SS-man who accompanied him strangely knew »not exactly«, how the gas chamber in crematorium I in Auschwitz worked, but the operation of the gas chamber in Lodz, which is 200 km away from Auschwitz he could describe very well!
– In Lodz inmates were first killed in gas chambers with exhaust fumes from automobiles. Today’s “Holocaust”-history does not know a thing of such gas chambers in the town of Lodz, except of gas wagons in the camp Chelmno (Kulmhof) northwest of Lodz. This example shows concisely how the “Holocaust”-history changed during the years after the war and only slowly gained its present form.
– In order to accelerate the killing process they converted in Lodz from exhaust fumes to »some kind of gas«, where »open bottles with gas« were thrown in through special openings; now the death did not occur only after 15 minutes, but after one to two minutes. Prüfer concluded from this description, that the murders in crematorium I were committed in the same way. Although Prüfer does not talk about the disinfestant Zyklon B, which was used for the alleged mass murders in the crematoriums of Auschwitz I and Birkenau, the method described by him – respectively the »SS-man who accompanies him« - reminds remotely of the procedure as described in the “Holocaust”-literature: as is generally known Zyklon B was allegedly introduced through openings in the ceiling of the gas chamber, but not thrown in with bottles, but poured out of tins. The stated time of one to two minutes for the killing with Zyklon B would not have been possible, because the poison discharged from the granulates only slowly.
It appears that those people who instructed Prüfer during the preparation for this interrogation were only insufficiently aware of the Auschwitz-version which was in the meantime accepted; otherwise they would have let him talk of Zyklon B-granules in tins rather than »open bottles«.
»Question: Therefore you were informed about the existence of gas chambers [Plural] in the crematoriums [Plural] of the camp Auschwitz since spring 1942?
Answer: Quite right. As I already earlier explained, I was aware for the first time in the spring of 1942, that in the crematorium I in the concentration camp Auschwitz was a gas chamber [singular] and that inmates were murdered brutally there by the SS-men.
Question: Why then did you declare during the earlier interrogations, that you heard for the first time of the real purpose of the cremations and gas chambers in the concentration camps Auschwitz in 1943?
Answer: In my testimonies during the earlier interrogations I simply erred with the date. In reality I learned about this, as I said, in the spring of 1942«.
This “correction” followed logically from the development of the official Auschwitz-version between March 1946 and March 1948. It was necessary, because the alleged murders in the “gas chamber” of the main camp – of which Prüfer knew nothing during his earlier interrogations – took place in 1942 and not in 1943.
Prüfer then repeated, that he knew about the mass extermination of inmates in Auschwitz since »beginning of 1942« and still participated in the construction and installation of new crematoriums until 1944.
(will be continued