A Close Look at Rudolf Reder's "Belzec"

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A Close Look at Rudolf Reder's "Belzec"

Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:52 am)

Today, at my local research library, I was able to locate a copy of Polin. Studies in Polish Jewry vol.13 (2000) which carries the first ever full translation of the Rudolf Reder "eyewitness" account on Belzec - simply entitled "Belzec" - that was published in Krakow in 1946. It is found on page 270-289 of the magazine. That no translation was done until 2000 is pretty astounding, since the established Belzec historiography is based mainly on the account of Reder together with the thoroughly discredited Gerstein "reports" ("confirmed" by the "confessions" of Pfannenstiel). I think most of You will understand why after reading vital parts of it.

Below, I will take a closer look at this account and compare it with natural science and common sense as well as with other testimony and the orthodox historiography of mythographers such as Arad and O'Neill.

Let's begin with the "Translator's Note" found on p.268-9. The translator is named M.M. Rubel by the way.

Rubel starts with a discussion on the importance of the Reder account, based on the allegation that there was only two known survivors of Belzec - Reder and a Chaim Hirszman. Rubel writes that the latter "was murdered in Lublin in 1946 by two youth members of a Polish underground organization the day he began to testify about the camp to the Lublin branch of the Jewish Historical Commission. Thus, Reder's booklet remains to this day the only document written by a victim concerning this most obscure murder camp." He then adds in a footnote to this passage that there are "two other documents" namely those of Gerstein and Pfannenstiel, failing to note that there exists no less than 6 versions of the "Gerstein report" (see theses of Henri Roques available from IHR). He further writes that Pfannenstiel "did not come forward voluntarily to testify about Belzec, but was interrogated about it after the war, first by the Allies and then twice by German legal authorities." He fails to mention that Pfannenstiel initially had stated that he did not knew of Belzec and that the gassing story was preposterous, also that Pfannenstiel thanks to Gerstein's report was put on an exclusive French list of top war criminals (ranking fourth below among others Hitler and Himmler) and only removed from this by producing a vague confirmation of the gassing allegations.

According to Rubel, "Belzec had no attached labour camp and no ordinary prisoners. It consisted of rudimentary murder facilities", a claim that do not fully harmonize with the official claim that there were some workshops and barracks were prisoners worked with sorting clothes and other belongings of the victims. Rubel also states that there were "about thirty pits of different sizes for burying corpses" (an echo of Kola's bizarre investigations perhaps?)

Without blushing, Rubel recounts that although Reder "was then 61 [he waas born on 4 April 1881 in Debica, we are later informed], he was one of the lucky few to be selected on arrival at the unloading ramp to join the Jewish death brigade and to become the camp's odd-job man".

We are also told that (similar to Treblinka crown witness Yankiel Wiernik) Reder "was allowed considerable freedom of movement" and worked both with digging pits, laying bricks and repairing the engine which supplied the gas chambers with the killing agent.

According to Rubel, Reder testified about Belzec 3 times in 1945 alone, "twice for the Jewish Historical Commission, and the third time for Jan Sehn, a district attorney who collected evidence on behalf of the regional commission investigating German crimes in Poland."

Apparently Reder did not write the booklet on his own: "In 1946 Reder collaborated with Nella Rost on the booklet about Belzec, which appeared under his name but was probably written by her."

Rubel cannot provide any exact information on Reder's later life. He states that Reder emigrated to Canada "perhaps in the early 1950s under the assumed name of Roman Robak, the name of his former housekeeper, whom he married" (it was this housekeeper who supposedly hid Reder after his astounding escape), that in August 1960 he made a deposition at the office of the public prosecutor concerning Belzec meant for the trial against former Belzec guard Josef Oberhauser (which took place in Munich in 1965). Rubel does not even know when Reder died: "in the late 1960s or early 1970s in Canada."

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:36 am)

On p.270-1, Reder recounts how he and other Jews were rounded up in the ghetto in Lemberg in August 1942, how he tried to hide in a corner but was found, beaten up and transported to "the Janowska camp". No autobiographical data are given either now or later in the narrative, including the fact that Reder is 61 years old at the time.

The people in the ghetto already "knows" that Belzec is a death camp:

We were in despair, since we already knew well what the word Aussiedlung [Jewish Resettlement] meant. We were being told the story of a worker who had once belonged to a death commando in Belzec, but then eventually managed to escape. While still there he was employed in building chambers disguised as baths which in fact were intended for gassing people. (...) We also heard the story of an Ukrainian guard employed there in murdering Jews recounting his experiences to his Polish girlfriend. The woman was so terrified by what she had heard that she decided to passthe news round in order to forwarn prospective victims. That is how we got to know about Belzec.
p.270

At the Kleparowski railway station he and others are whipped by Gestapo and Ukrainian police, then forced to board "a long train of cattle-trucks". 100 people are forced into each car. The cars are sealed and the train set in motion while the passengers suffer from the heat. The train leaves the station at 8 o clock in the morning and reaches Belzec "about midday".

This is how Reder describes the location and basic layout of the camp:

It was a small station surrounded by little houses occupied by Gestapo. Next to the station stood a post office and the lodgings of the Ukrainian railwaymen. Belzec is on the line between Lublin and Tomaszow, 15 kilometres from Rawa Ruska. At Belzec our train left the main line and moved onto sidings about a kilometre long, which led directly into the camp. [...] The sidings led through empty fields: not one habitable building in sight.
(p.272)

Let's pause a little here. Reder claims there were Gestapo officers at Belzec. In a footnote, Rubel points out that "No members of the Gestapo were ever employed in any of the murder camps" and that "Wherever Reder uses the word Gestapo in reference to the German garrison at the murder camp in Belzec, read SS men". However, consider the passages on page 285:

Although he [the commandant whose name Reder can't remember, Christian Wirth] seldom came to the camp, for the other SS men he was a terror.
(that is, the SS men lived in the camp, as stated on p.282, "The SS men lived without women both in Belzec and within the camp")

and a few lines below we read:

Neither the commandant nor the other Gestapo had personal daily contact with the camp


Which implies that Reder could distinguish between Gestapo and SS.

* * *

The victims are driven out of the rail cars "With shouts and kicks". Then a closer description of the camp layout (p.273):

The camp was under the total control of the SS. No one was allowed to come near. Those who found themselves in the area by mistake were shot at. The train would come into a courtyard 1 square kilometer in size enclosed on all sides by barbed wire and wire netting to a height of 2 metres. This fencing was not electrified. The entrance to the courtyard was through a large wooden gate covered with barbed wire. Beside this gate was a guardhouse with a telephone. By the guardhouse stood a few SS men with dogs. When the train had been brought into the courtyard, one of the men would come out of the guardhouse, shut the gate and then go back in. At this moment the reception of the transport began. Several dozen SS men [we are told by Rubel on p.271 that "all told 20" SS were posted at Belzec] yelling 'Los' opened the trucks, chasing people out with whips and rifle-butts. The doors were about a metre from the ground, and the people, young and old alike, had to jump down, often breaking arms or legs.
(p.273)

Reder claims that the camp measured 1 square kilometer in size, but it was in fact only a fourth of that size.

Reder describes no "Lazarett" at Belzec but claims that:

The sick, the old, and small children - in other words, all those who could not walk on their own - where thrown onto stretchers and taken to pits. There they were made to sit on the edge, while Irrman - one of the Gestapo - shot them and pushed their bodies into the pit with a rifle-butt.
(p.273)

Irrman delivers a very short speech ("Ihr geht jetzt baden, nachher werden Ihr zur Arbeit geschickt" - You are going to take a bath now. Afterwards you will be sent to work, p.273) whereupon the earlier whipped and kicked prospective victims rejoice and applause, relieved (p.274).

This is how the following procedure took place according to Reder (p.274):

And in silence they all went forward: men straight across the courtyard to a building bearing the inscription "Bade und Inhalationsraume" in large letters, the women, some 20 metres further on to a large barracks[sic], 15 by 30 metres. They were led their not knowing why. For a few minutes more there was peace and quiet. I saw that when they were handed wooden stools and ordered first to stand in line and then to sit down, and when eight Jewish barbers, silent as death, came in to shave their hair to the bare skin, it was at this moment that they were struck by the terrible truth. It was then that neither the women ore the men - already on their way to the gas - could have any allusions about their fate. [...] There were cries and shrieking. Some women went mad. Others, however, went to their death calmly, young girls in particular.


How could the cutting of hair, especially that of long-haired women - an often necessary preventive measure during war time with typhus raging - make the Jews sure that they were going to get murdered? Surely, a person not understanding why this measure is taken could probably be scared and struck by hysteria, especially at the hands of what they must have regarded as demons in human shape and when being fed rumors of gas chambers.

Also note that Reder here places the gas chamber building "straight across the courtyard" which is completely at variance with the established view of the Belzec camp layout. We will notice further on that Belzec as described by Reder is at variance with the maps found in for example Arad's book.

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:25 am)

The gassing process described (p.274-275):

Shaving the women took approximately two hours. Two hours were the time it took to prepare for murder and for the murder itself.
A dozen or so SS men drove the women along with whips and fixed bayonets all the way to the building and from there three steps to a hall. There the askers [Ukrainian auxiliaries] counted 750 people for each gas chamber. Those women who tried to resist were bayoneted until the blood was running. Eventually all the women were forced into the chambers. I heard the doors being shut; I heard shrieks and cries; I heard desperate calls for help in Polish and Yiddish. I heard the blood-curdling wails of women and the squeals of children, which after a short time became one long, horrifying scream… This went on for fifteen minutes. The engine worked for twenty minutes. Afterwards there was total silence. Then the askers pushed open the doors that led outside. It was then that those of us who had been selected from different transports, in unmarked clothing and without tattoos, began our work.
We pulled out the corpses of the people so recently alive. We dragged them to pits with the help of leather straps while an orchestra played… from morning until night.


Just imagine that, thousands of corpses being dragged from the gas chamber building to the pits using leather straps while an orchestra plays, day and night. Quite dante-esque, don't you think?

Regarding the number of victims per gas chamber, Rubel notes (p.274):

The building with the gas chambers had six cubicles, each about 25 sq.m. It is almost impossible [duh!] to squeeze such a large crowd into such a small space. The figure of 750 people was provided by Christian Wirth, the camp's first commander, to a company of high-ranking SS officers who visited the camp in the middle of Aug.1942. Wirth's purpose was to impress them with the efficiency of his methods of murder, which they had come to improve. The figure must then have become official, although highly unrealistic, and the source of the wild overestimate made by Reder after the war of 2.5 million victims.


Without giving their names, Rubel is of course referring to Gerstein and Pfannenstiel. The lack of reference is possibly intentional - if one reads the Gerstein reports, one will find that never is the figure of 750 persons squeezed into 25 square meters, 45 cubic meters (a figure that is repeated in most versions of the "report") suggested to have emanated from the mouth of Wirth, but rather it is portrayed as stemming from Gersteins own observations.

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:51 am)

The gas chamber is described in more detail on page 275:

The camp was surrounded by a dense forest of young pine. Although the forestation was thick, extra branches were cut and intervowen with the existing ones over the gas chambers to allow a minimum of light to penetrate. Behind the gas chambers were a sandy lane along which we dragged the corpses. Overhead the Germans had put wire netting intervowen with more branches. This part of the camp was covered by a sort of greenery and was darker than elsewhere. I suppose the Germans wanted to conceal the area from aerial observation. The main gate led to a sizeable courtyard, surrounded on all sides by a fence 3 meters high. It was made of close-fitting wooden boards, greyish in colour. The courtyard led directly to the gas chamber. Thus no one on the outside would have been able to see what was happening within. The building containing the gas chambers was not high, but long and wide. It was made of grey cement blocks, and was covered by a flat roof made of asbestos sheets. Immediately above it stretched wire netting covered with branches. The door to the building was approached by three steps a meter wide and without railings. In front stood a large flower-pot filled with plants. There was an inscription in large letters on the front: 'Bade und Inhalationsraume'. The steps led to a completely empty and unlit corridor; just for cement walls. It was very long, though only about a meter and a half wide. On both sides of it were doors to the gas chambers. These were sliding doors made of wood, with wooden handles. The gas chambers hade no windows. They were dark and empty. In each gas chamber there was a hole the size of an electric socket. All the walls and floors were made of cement. Both the corridor and the gas chambers were no more than 2 meters high. On a wall opposite the entrance to each gas chamber were more sliding doors 2 metres wide. Through these the corpses of the gassed were thrown outside. On one side of the building was an adjoining shed no bigger than 2 metres square. This housed the engine, which was petrol-driven. The gas chambers were about a metre and a half above ground level. The doors leading to the ramp, onto which the bodies of the victims were thrown, where on a level with the gas chambers.


Notice the curious variant on the treebranch-fence story. Tree branches vowen into other tree branches above the gas chamber or its vincinity? :? ?

Rubel informs us that the small hole "was the outlet of a gas pipe". But if the gas chamber was not higher than 2 meters, why couldn't the prospective victims try to cover this opening with their hands?

Reder do not mention any device, such as tree balks, that would hold the outer doors to the gas chambers in place if the victims panicked and tried to break open this door.

Why is there no "Tube" (Schlauch, Himmelstrasse) mentioned? There was one, according to the official historiography and other witnesses, during the phase when Reder was in the camp.

Why the inscription and the flower pots placed on the outside in order to deceive and calm the victims, but only darkness and concrete on the inside of the building?

If the Germans were afraid of aerial observation, how come that no aerial photos of Belzec during its "death camp" days has yet surfaced?

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:20 am)

Excursion: Two Blind Railway Workers

When recounting the arrival of his transport to Belzec (p.272), Reder writes that "an old German with a thick black moustache" who "look like a butcher" took charge of the train. Rubel identifies this nameless man as

a German career railway official by the name of Rudolf Göckel (1883(?)-21 Aug.1960). In 1941 he was posted to Belzec as a station-master. When Jewish transports began to arrive at Belzec in the middle of Mar. 1942, he was relieved of his post and became a liaison officer between the station and the camp. In 1946 Göckel was arrested in Berlin and in May 1947 deported to Poland, where he was kept in protective custody in Zamosc. There, on 19 Nov. 1948, he was interrogated by Hieronim Rolle, the district attorney. In the course of the inquiry Göckel stated that: ‘I stayed in Belzec from July 1941 until January 1943. During that period I worked as a station master. If I remember well, transports with Jews were coming to Belzec from about Pentecost 1942 until September that year. I cannot be sure, but not all trucks were always full: only five to six trucks on average. I was not allowed to look inside the trucks, nor had I the right to expect them in anyway. Trucks that were empty were open. I did not count Jewish transports arriving in Belzec. Therefore, I cannot say how many came. I also do not know the number of victims, but I could see that most of them were already dead on arrival… I did not have permission to enter the camp, and therefore know nothing about what was going on inside. But, on the basis of hearsay and talk with the locals, I imagined the camp in Belzec to be like other concentration camps of isolation which received and dispatched transports. I believed that only bodies of those already dead were burnt there, and not of those who had arrived alive.’ In 1950 Rudolf Göckel was released from protective custody without charge. He returned to Germany a free man (Se Coll.OB, 2 pt.11, Archiwum Glownej Komisji Badania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, Warsaw.)
(p.272)

Göckel's testimony is interesting.

First, if he was not allowed to inspect the contents of the trucks in any way, how could he judge that most of the deportees were dead on arrival? Is this merely the notion of death camp supersecrecy articifialy transplanted unto an otherwise believable testimony?

The claim that most of the deportees were dead on arrival is likely an exaggeration.

Göckel worked with the trains that arrived from Belzec. According to the established version of the Belzec legend, all trains later left empty. If this is true, how could Göckel possibly have come to believe that Belzec was an ordinary camps where transports were received as well as dispatched?
Was it perhaps because he saw transports with Jews leave Belzec as well arrive there? Also, since Belzec was a very small camp (about 300x300 meter), how could Göckel not believe that Belzec was a death camp, if hundreds of thousands of Jews entered the camp and never left it? The only possible solution is that Göckel saw Jews leave the camp.

All this remind me of a passage from an article Robert Faurisson wrote on Treblinka:

One of Claude Lanzmann's most prominent witnesses was Henryk Gawkowski, seen in the film Shoah dressed in his driver's uniform, wearing a cap and driving an engine as he had during the war years when he transported trainloads of Jews from Warsaw to Małkinia, and then to Treblinka. In a reenactment scene, he leans out of the cabin door and, running a finger across his throat, he directs that gesture towards the space formerly occupied by the Jews as a sign that they were about to be killed.[1]

I came upon Gawkowski in Małkinia, where he was born in 1922. In the mornings, our question and answer sessions went smoothly enough, but in the afternoons, under the influence of alcohol, he became an endless talker, incapable of replying coherently to questions. He went on about everything as if he had seen it all. He did not recall Lanzmann's name. Possibly, though, Lanzmann had, as is his habit, introduced himself under some assumed name, arrogating academic titles to boot.[2] All the same, he spoke with fond remembrance of the film's director, a Frenchman who, as he let us know, had supplied him with such fine "Spanish wines".

One morning, while he was reciting stories that he had plainly read and not lived, I interrupted Gawkowski to put to him, point-blank, a question that would topple the whole edifice of his boastings and regurgitations of what he had taught himself. I asked him:

"But then, were you aware of taking all those Jews to their death, day after day, and over a period of nearly 15 months?"

His reply burst forth:

"No, of course not!"

I asked him at what moment he became aware of such killings. Answer:

"After the war."

In other words, to take up the parable of the American revisionist Arthur Butz,[3] Gawkowski was another one of those who, at the time, had not seen "the elephant." He had neither seen it, nor heard it trumpet, but a good while later had become convinced that, in this particular corner of Poland, a monstrous pachyderm had, for nearly 15 months, secretly haunted the area, spreading terror as it went. Enough to make one think that "the elephant" was magical, unless it were only a mirage!


http://www.vho.org/tr/2004/1/Faurisson78-82.html
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Postby Pauvre France » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 10:39 am)

Laurentz Dahl wrote:Just imagine that, thousands of corpses being dragged from the gas chamber building to the pits using leather straps while an orchestra plays, day and night. Quite dante-esque, don't you think?

I would say that it looks a lot like Treblinka. The leather straps, the orchestra, the SS, the Ukrainians, the whole thing ... The origin of the lie is the same.
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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:33 pm)

Pauvre France wrote:
Laurentz Dahl wrote:Just imagine that, thousands of corpses being dragged from the gas chamber building to the pits using leather straps while an orchestra plays, day and night. Quite dante-esque, don't you think?

I would say that it looks a lot like Treblinka. The leather straps, the orchestra, the SS, the Ukrainians, the whole thing ... The origin of the lie is the same.


Yes.

The real Treblinka II, Belzec and Sobibor were probably three similar looking transit camps (provided with some work shops war effort related installations). They probably all had some form of installations for delousing and desinfection of clothing as well as for the deportees, as well as electrical generators powered with engines (since those small camps were likely not connected to local power lines). The cutting of the hair of the female prisoners were part of the delousing measures, and the fence &c around the sector housing the delousing chambers (which possibly utilized steam) was there to a) keep the "clean" (=deloused) part of the camp separated from the "dirty" one (see http://www.forum.codoh.com/viewtopic.php?t=3713 ) and b) give some privacy to the undressed prisoners (which is also likely why the sexes were "gassed" separately). Jews who died on their way to the camps (probably 10 000 or so for each camp in total), plus Warsawa insurgents and other who were shot close to Treblinka I, as well as cut hair and some of the clothing were probably cremated on open air pyres and the ashes buried.

The "eye witnesses" then added the homicidal gassings allegations as well as other tall tales (the massive pits, the over the top sadism, burning of corpses without fuel &c). Some of the witnesses, such as Reder, Wiernik and Cukierman were plain liars. Others, the ones who claim that they never actually saw the gas chambers or the gassings (those make up the clear majority of the sixty or so Aktion Reinhardt "Death Camp" survivors who have left some kind of witness account), may have been led to believe in the existence of them during their stay in the camp by propagandists and underground leaders such as Herszl Cukierman.
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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:49 pm)

Housing and Mass Graves

According to Reder, the Jewish "death commando" at Belzec consisted of 500 people, divided into two groups of the same size, "the workers doing miscellanous jobs" and "the so-called 'professionals'". They were housed in two barracks with 250 bunks each. (p.276)

Not far from the barracks was a kitchen, the camp's store, an office, a laundry, a tailor's shop, and, finally, comfortable barracks for the askers.
(p.276) ("askers" is what Reder calls the Ukrainian guards posted at the camp).

There were mass graves on both sides of the building housing the gas chambers. Some were already full; others were still empty. I saw many graves filled to capacity and covered high with sand. It took quite a while for them to level down. There always had to be one empty pit, just in case...
(p.276)

Here let us consider for a while the layout of the camp according to Reder. The fact is, that a map of the camp was drawn up by a certain according to the instructions of Reder himself and included with the original Polish language edition of Reder's booklet. Rubel do not mention this in his translator's note or anywhere else for that matter. It has, however, been reproduced in Carlo Mattogno's book on Belzec, on p.119. This map is in harmony with Reder's narrative, but completely at odds with other maps of the camp, early and late (see page 120-121 of the same book) as well as with the remains of buildings (and "mass graves") found by Kola (ibid. map on page 117-8 ).

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 10:23 pm)

The handling of transports

I stayed in Belzec death camp from August until the end of November [1942]. This was a period which saw the gassing of Jews on a massive scale. I was told by some of the inmates who had managed to survive from the ealier transports that the wast majority of the death convoys came during this precise period. They were coming each and every day without respite. Usually they arrived three times a day. Each convoy was composed of fifty cattle-trucks, each truck containing 100 people. If a transport happened to come during the night, the victims were kept in locked cars until six in the morning. The average death toll was 10,000 people a day. Some days the transports was not only larger, but even more frequent. Jews were brought in from everywhere: no one else, only Jews.
(p.276)

Each transport received the same treatment. People were ordered to undress and to leave their belongings in the courtyard. Each time there was the same deceptive speech. And each time people rejoiced. [...] But a minute later, and with extreme brutality, babies were torn from their mothers, old and sick were thrown on stretchers, while men and little girls were driven with rifle-butts further onto a fenced path leading directly to the gas chambers. At the same time, and with the same brutality, the already naked women were ordered to the barracks, where they had their hair shaved. I knew exactly the moment when they all suddenly realized what was in store, Cries of fear and anguish, terrible moans, mingled with the music played by the orchestra. Hustled along and wounded with bayonets, first the men were made to run to the gas chambers. The askers counted 750 people to each chamber. Before all six chambers were filled to capacity, those in the first had already been suffering for nearly two hours. It was only when all six chambers were packed with people, when the doors were locked into position, that the engine was set in motion.
(p.276-7)

Here the "tube" suddenly makes an appearance, whereas previously it was only stated that the gas chamber building was situated strictly across the courtyard. It is not present in any form on the Bau/Reder map.

Why have an orchestra play music by the gas chambers, and why have flower pots placed before the building, when the victims were treated with extreme brutality on their way there?

Here again the 750 figure for each of the chambers makes an appearance. Rubel previously claimed that it must be an exaggerated figure given by Commandant Wirth, but here it is stated that the Ukrainian guards counted the victims entering the chambers until 750 had been squeezed in.

It seems more likely to me that Reder copied the figure from some version of the Gerstein report that he or his cohorts had access to.

The victims in the first filled chambers had to wait for two agonizing hours. Being 750 people stuffed into a bedroom sized chamber, wouldn't they have suffocated well before 2 hours had passed?

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:32 pm)

The Nebulous Murder Agent

The engine was large, about a metre by a metre and a half. It consisted of a motor and wheels. The engine whirred at intervals and worked so fast that one could not see the spokes turning. It worked for twenty minutes. Afterwards it was turned off. The doors leading from the gas chambers onto the ramp were then opened. Bodies were thrown out onto the ground in one enormous pile a few metres high. The askers who opened the doors took no precautionary measures. We did not smell any particular odour; I saw no balloons filled with gas, or any powder thrown in. What I saw were petrol canisters. The machine was manned by two askers. But once, when the engine went wrong, I was called in to put it right. In the camp they called me an Ofenkünstler [stove-setter]. That's why they selected me. I looked it over and saw glass tubes connected to metal pipes, which led to each gas chamber. We thought that the engine worked either by producing high pressure, or by sucking air away, or that the petrol produced exhaust fumes, which suffocated the people. The calls for help, shrieks, and terrible moans of people locked in and slowly asphyxiated lasted between ten and fifteen minutes.
(p.277)

In the translator's note (p.268), it is mentioned by Rubel that Reder was a former soap-manufacturer. What technical qualifications could he have had that made the Germans call him in to repair the engine?

Rubel remarks in a footnote (nr 13 on page 277) that "the engine, said to have come from a captured Russian tank, was installed and supervised by SS Scharführer Lorenz Hackenholt (b. 25 June 1914), a mechanic responsible for the gassing installations constructed first in Belzec and then in Sobibor and Treblinka". He also informs us that Reder, during his interrogation by Jan Sehn on December 29 1945, claimed that the engine was sometimes switched on-and-off by a Jewish former taxi driver called Moniek. So why didn't the SS call on Hackenholt or Moniek when the engine failed to work? Why call on Reder? Rubel seems not aware of the fact that the Soviet tank engines were diesel engines.

Note that even after having fixed the engine in question and seen the glass(!) tubes and pipes leading to the gas chambers, Reder does not have much of a clue as how to the gassings were conducted. Among the alternative murder agents, he notably mentions "sucking air away", i.e. death in impossible "vacuum chambers" as claimed by Rajzman and other for Treblinka. Compare the above passage with what Reder said during his interrogation by Jan Sehn (as quoted in Mattogno, Belzec..., p.37-8):

I am not in a position to say precisely what chemical process was used to murder the people in the chambers at Belzec. I know only that from the engine room a pipe, one inch in diameter, went to each of the gas chambers. Those pipes had their outlet in the individual chambers. I cannot say whether any gases were fed through those pipes into the chambers, whether they compressed the air in the chambers, or whether the air was pumped out of the chambers. I was often on the ramp at the moment the doors were opened, but I never smelled any odor, and on entering a chamber right after the doors were opened I never felt any ill effects on my health. The bodies in the chamber did not show any unnatural discoloration. They looked like live persons, most had their eyes open. Only in a few cases were the corpses bloodstained. The air in the chambers, when they were opened, was pure, transparent and odorless. In particular, there was no smoke from the exhaust gas of the engine. The [exhaust] gas was evacuated from the engine directly into the open air, and not into the chambers.


The detail about the exhaust gas being evacuated directly into the air needless to say rules out exhaust gas as a murder agent. In his account written a few months later (in early 1946) he again claims to have seen pipes leading from the engine to the chambers, but cannot say if the victims were killed by exhaust gas, high pressure or vacuum. On the other hand, he do not mention what happens to the exhaust gas from the engine. Why this subtle change? It seems as if in giving his earlier account, Reder was inspired by the Treblinka "vacuum chambers" and implied this method. Later he probably became more aware of the confusion regarding murder methods at the "death camps" and therefore included both exhaust, vacuum and air pressure as possible killing agents.

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:09 am)

The Nationality of the Deportees

Apart from Polish Jews there were also transports of Jews from other countries. The majority of foreign transports came from France. There were also Jews from Holland, Greece, and even Norway. I do not recall seeing German Jews. On the other hand, I do remember Jews from Czechoslovakia.
(p.277)

To this passage, Rubel adds this footnote (nr 14):

Reder is wrong. No French Jews were deported to Belzec. Some Dutch Jews were deported to Sobibor. Some Greek Jews were taken to Treblinka. But there were German Jews in Belzec (...)


So how explain Reder being this wrong about the foreign Jews' nationalities? One explanation could be that since Rubel and other mythographers rely mostly on the spurious and sourceless data given by Martin Gilbert, some Jews from these nations may indeed have been sent to Belzec and from there eastwards. Another explanation is that Reder was lying in order to justify his claims of 2,5 million Jews killed in Belzec.

Rubel forgets to note that only 770 Norwegian Jews were deported, and that those were sent to Auschwitz.

Reder claims (p.278) that the foreign Jews were "treated by the German thugs in the same way as the Jews from the other transports" and that about 100 000 foreign Jews were killed in Belzec during his time there. One may contrast this to other Reinhardt eyewitnesses, such as Blatt, who often makes the claim that the foreign Jews were treated in a much more deceptive manner than the Polish Jews, because the latter already at arrival "knew" they were in a death camp.

* * *

This is how Reder describes the appearance of the dead victims:

When, after twenty minutes of gassing, the askers pushed open the tightly shut doors, the dead were in an upright position. Their faces were not blue. They looked almost unchanged, as if asleep. There was a bit of blood here and there from bayonet wounds. Their mouths were slightly open, hands rigid, often pressed against their chests. Those who were nearest to the now wide-open doors fell out by themselves. Like marionettes.
(p.278)

Note that Reder describes their faces as unchanged, as compared to the light reddish hue of CO victims.

* * *

On page 278, Reder relates further details on the shaving of the women. He claims that the hair was collected in jute sacks and that a Jew named Schreiber told him that a "railway truck full of hair" had been sent to Budapest. He then goes on to talk about the extracted gold teeth:

Apart from hair, the Germans also sent away baskets filled with gold teeth. In those few hundred metres separating the gas chambers from the pits stood some dentists with pliers. They stopped everyone as they dragged the corpses away. They opened the mouths of the dead and yanked out the gold teeth, which they then threw into baskets ready for the purpose. There were eight dentists, usually young men specially selected to do the work. [...] The dentists occupied a small separate barracks, which they shared with a doctor and a chemist.
(p.278-9)

The gold was melted into ingots by the dentists and later sent away, together with confiscated money and other valuables, via the Belzec camp main office (outside of the camp) to "the headquarters in Lublin". The clothing was searched through for valuables by ten workers in a store. Reder relates that the workers never tried to steal any valuables, since they could not buy anything with them. However, some workers are related to have done so openly as a form of suicide, since workers were shot for stealing.

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:32 am)

Reder wins the lottery

Reder relates his work experiences (p.280):

I was a member of the permanent death commando. We were 500 men all told. The 'professionals' accounted for half of the total, but even they were employed where no special skills were required, like digging pits and dragging corpses. We dug pits, enormous mass graves, and pulled bodies along. [...] We dug with spades, but there was also a machine which loaded sand, brought it to the surface, and emptied it beside the pits. There was a mountain of sand which we used to cover the pits when they were filled to overflowing. On average 450 people worked around the pits on a daily basis. What I found most horrible was that we were ordered to pile bodies to a height of about a metre above ground-level, and only then to cover them with sand. Thick, black blood ran from the mounds and covered the whole area like a sea. In order to get to the next empty grave we had to cross from one side of an already empty pit to another. Ankle deep we waded through the blood of our brothers. We walked over mounds of bodies. And this was most dreadful, most horrible...


Why on earth pile the corpses higher than the ground-level, especially since they would later swell when decomposing? Wherefrom the sea of blood? Corpses do not bleed.

Reder then goes on to recount something that so to say blow the fish completely out of the water (280-1):

No fewer than thirty or forty workers were shot each day. Usually it was a camp doctor who prepared a list of those too weak to work, but sometimes it was a kapo with the function of Oberzugsführer who submitted names of so-called criminals. At least thirty to forty men from the death commando were shot daily. They were taken to the pits during the lunch break and shot. The death commando was supplemented daily by other men from the incoming transports. One of the jobs of the camp's administration was to keep records of all the workers of the death commando, both past and present, in order to make sure that the figure of 500 was always kept up. But there were no records concerning the number of transports or victims. We knew, for example, that Jews built this camp and set the death machine in motion. Not one of those who worked on the original installations survived until my arrival there. It was a miracle if anyone survived for longer than five or six months at the most.


30-40 workers shot each day would mean that the whole of the "death commando" was replaced about twice monthly. Yet Reder, who had no special working skill, managed to stay in Belzec for about 3,5 months. Also, if those shot everyday were mostly killed because they were too weak to work, how come the 61 year old Reder was never selected? Quite a miracle indeed!

One may also remark on the obvious trouble for the Germans, Ukrainians and Kapos to train 30-40 new Jewish workers every day.

Rubel, however, remarks on none of this.

(He however has the following to note on the arrivals (p.281, note 19):

Bills of lading were delivered to the German station-master. They contained not personal names, but average numbers and the names of localities where the Judenzüge (Jewish deportation trains) originated. Belzec railway station was set on fire by a bomb dropped from a Soviet plane in 1944, and the documents did not survive. Documents from the other murder camps of Aktion Reinhard was destroyed on Himmler's specific orders after the termination of the murder operations, to obliterate all traces - written and material - of the massacre.


Rubel does not notice the contradiction - train records supposedly preserved in Belzec until 1944, while all the other documentation in the other camps was destroyed following the liquidation of the camps in 1943)

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:46 pm)

Reder tells us some more about the evil of the Ukrainians:

The gassing machine was serviced by two askers - always the same two murderers. When I came to Belzec they were on the job, and they were still at it when I left. The Jewish workers had no contact with either of those two, or with any other askers for that matter. When the people in the transports begged for a drop of water, the askers shot those Jewish workers who tried to bring some.
(p.281)

Rubel notes (footnote nr 20) that Reder contradicts his other testimonies here, since in an interrogation by Sehn he listed the name of four of the askers, which means that there had to have been some contact. More interestingly, he notes that Reder knew the name of only three SS men (Irrman, Schwarz and Feix) and when confronted with the names of Oberhauser, Fichtner, Floss, Dubois, Girtzig, Groth, Dachsel, Barbel, Kamm, Schluch, Zierke and Gley by the prosecutor in Munich in 1960, declared that he recognized none of the above names.

* * *

More on the handling of the corpses:

Besides digging graves the commando was also employed in emptying the gas chambers, piling the bodies on a ramp, and dragging them all the way to the pits. The ground was sandy. Two workers dragged one body. We had leather straps with metal braces, which we put round the hands of a corpse. Then we pulled, while the head of the dead man often dug deep into the sand... As regards small children, we were ordered to carry them in pairs on our backs. [...] This 'work' was done only in full daylight.
(p.281)

So the workers had to drag 10000 corpses a day from the gas chambers to the pits using only leather straps? Were not even handcarts available?

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 3 years ago (Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:27 pm)

Reder next recounts some details of the daily life, as well as individual cases of brutality and torture, for example, he describes how the leader of the Judenrat in Zamosc is whipped and beaten for seven hours while forced to dance to German evergreens played by the camp orchestra (p.283-4). Here's another one:

Soon after my arrival at Belzec the Germans picked out from a transport [...] several young men, including a young boy. He was the picture of youth, health, and strength. He also amazed us by his good humour. He looked round and asked most playfully, 'Did anyone ever sneak out of here?' And that was that. He was overheard by some Germans. As a result this young boy, practically a child, was tortured to death. They stripped him naked and hung him upside-down on the gallows. He was there for three hours - and he was still alive. So they took him down, threw him onto the ground, and pushed sand down his throat with sticks. He died.


In the seventh chapter of his account, Reder tells us some about the commandant of the camp, whose name he cant remember (but that he wrongly gives the rank of Obersturmführer):

One day, the death-machine went out of order. When he [the commandant] was informed, he came on horseback and ordered an immediate repair. He did not allow the gas chambers to be opened to let the people out: let them asphyxiate slowly and die in agony for a few hours longer. He crouched beside the engine, yelling and shaking with fury. Although he seldom came to the camp, for the other SS men he was a terror.


As can be expected, Rubel informs of the earlier engine-breakdown incident recorded in the Gospel of Gerstein.

By the way, how come Reder knew of this? Was he called again, for some mysterious reason, to help fix the engine?

Neither the commandant nor the other Gestapo had personal daily contact with the camp. They had their own canteen and a cook from Germany, who prepared meals for all the Germans. [...] They kept large flocks of ducks and geese. People said that early in the summer they received whole baskets of cherries. Deliveries of wine and other alcohol arrived daily. I repaired an oven there once and saw two young Jewish women plucking geese. They threw me an onion and some beetroot. I also saw a vilage girl working there. There was no one else besides them, except orderlies. Every Sunday they took an orchestra from the camp and had a drinking orgy. The Gestapo drank and stuffed themselves like pigs.


Jewish prisoners working with people from the local village? Any security issues here?

Next Reder gives some portraits of individual guards. The following description of a Volksdeutsch named Schmidt is representative:

Agile, thin, and quick - looking like a real cut-throat and constantly drunk - Schmidt rushed around the camp from four o'clock in the morning until night. He beat whomever he could find with evident pleasure. [...] Schmidt always turned up where harassment was at its worst. He never missed an opportunity to see victims being driven to the gas chambers. He stood there listening to the terrible piercing cries of women being gassed. He was the real soul of the camp, bloodthirsty, monstrous and degenerate. It gave him real pleasure to observe the expressionless features of the death commando returning exhausted to the barracks at night. On the way back each one of us received a blow on the head from his riding-crop. If anyone tried to evade it Schmidt would run after him.
(p.286-7)

Reder claims that Himmler visited Belzec in the middle of October (p.287). Rubel acknowledges that not even Arad believes that Himmler ever visited Belzec, but say that "according to the post-war testimonies of Polish inhabitants of Belzec and Tomaszow Lubelski, Himmler visited Belzec twice: once in Aug. and then in Oct. or Nov. 1942". Surely, there would be left some documentary evidence showing the whereabouts of the Reichsfuehrer SS during those months. Why cannot those be shown?

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Postby Carto's Cutlass Supreme » 1 decade 3 years ago (Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:09 am)

Hi Laurentz,

I haven't read all of your commentary, but it seems like Rubel might have omitted some stuff. It doesn't look quite the same as Yitzhak Arad's excerpts but I'm not sure.

Not to mention that Mattogno points out that Reder didn't believe the people were killed by exhaust.

The tree branches interwoven with trees. Whoops. He has a lighting problem. That whole area is dark from overhead covering. A narrow entrance, a narrow hall. At this point you have no light. And the rooms off the hall would be pitch dark. How are you going to get all those people in those rooms. Surely a few SS or Ukrainians had to be in that hallway to make this work.

He mentions one little socket in the room, probably because he thinks that was where the air got pumped out of the room. Rather than air pumped in. But we know that's absurd. Why didn't he see an outtake pipe? or outtake hole?

And sliding wood doors. Whoops.

Not to mention his meter wide entrance and meter and a half wide hall is too narrow for the 600,000 people, or for him 2.5 million people estimates.


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