Much was made in the Lipstadt Trial of the "convergence of evidence" on Auschwitz and its gas chambers. The evidence converges only if it is carefully selected to omit the more divergent items.
Our thanks to David Hebden for this contribution, posted Saturday, December 7, 2002
THE main prosecution witnesses at the Belsen trial held in the British Occupation Zone of Germany who testified about the gas chambers in Auschwitz were Charles Bendel and Ada Bimko (now Hadassah Rosensaft of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC: she testified to being shown by an SS officer the huge cylinders of gas in a room above the gas chanmber! -- Another passage omitted by the experts in the Lipstadt Trial); but another witness was Sophia Litwinska, a Polish Jewess. Here is an excerpt from her testimony of September 24, 1945 as recorded in the book The Belsen Trial (ed. R. Phillips).
WHILST I was fetching food one day I fell down and broke my leg, and was taken to the camp reception station, and was in hospital at Christmas, 1941.
What happened on the day before Christmas Day? - There was a big selection in Block No. 4, the hospital block. Over 3000 Jewish women had to parade in this selection, which was under the charge of Hoessler. We had to leave our beds very quickly and stand quite naked to attention in front of him and the doctors, Enna and Koenig. All those who could not leave their beds had their numbers taken, and it was clear to us that they were condemned to death. Those whose bodies were not very nice looking or were too thin, or whom those gentlemen disliked for some reason for other, had their numbers taken, and it was clear what it meant. My number was also taken. We stayed in Block No. 4 for a night and the next day were taken to Block No. 18. About half-past five in the evening trucks arrived and we were loaded into them, quite naked like animals, and were driven to the crematorium.
When you reached the crematorium what happened there? - The whole truck was tipped over in the way they do it sometimes with potatoes or coal loads, and we were led into a room which gave me the impression of a shower-bath. There were towels hanging round, and sprays, and even mirrors. I cannot say how many were in the room altogether, because I was so terrified, nor do I know if the doors were closed. People were in tears; people were shouting at each other; people were hitting each other. There were healthy people, strong people, weak people and sick people, and suddenly I saw fumes coming in through a very small window at the top. I had to cough very violently, tears were streaming from my eyes, and I had a sort of feeling in my throat as if I would be asphyxiated. I could not even look at the others because each of us concentrated on what happened to herself.
What was the next thing you remember? - At that moment I heard my name called. I had not the strength to answer it, but I raised my arm. Then I felt someone take me and throw me out from that room. Hoessler put a blanket round me and took me on a motor cycle to the hospital, where I stayed six weeks. As the result of the gas I had still quite frequently, headaches and heart trouble, and whenever I went into the fresh air my eyes were filled with tears. I was subsequently taken to the political department and apparently I had been taken out of the gas chamber because I had come from a prison in Lublin, which seemed to make a difference, and, apart from that, my husband was a Polish officer.
AT AUSCHWITZ, on 24th December, 1942, I was paraded in company with about 19,000 other prisoners, all of them women. Present on parade were Doctors Mengele and Konig and Rapportfuhrer Tauber. I was one of the 3000 prisoners picked out of the 19,000 by the doctors and taken to our huts, where we were stripped naked by other prisoners and our clothes taken away. We were then taken by tipper-type lorries to the gas chamber chute. They were large lorries, about eight in all and about 300 persons on each lorry. On arrival at the gas chamber the lorry tipped up and we slid down the chute through some doors into a large room. The room had showers all around, towels and soap and large numbers of benches. There were also small windows high up near the roof. Many were injured coming down the chute and lay where they fell. Those of us who could sat down on the benches provided and immediately afterwards the doors of the room were closed. My eyes then began to water, I started to coughing and had a pain in my chest and throat. Some of the other people fell down and others coughed and foamed at the mouth. After being in the room for about two minutes the door was opened and an S.S. man came in wearing a respirator. He called my name and then pulled me out of the room and quickly shut the door again. When I got outside I saw S.S man Franz Hoessler , whom I identify as No. 1 on photograph 9. He took me to hospital, where I stayed for about six weeks, receiving special treatment from Dr. Mengele. For the first few days I was at the hospital I found it impossible to eat anything without vomiting. I can only think that I was taken out of the gas chamber because I had an Aryan husband and therefore was in a different category from the other prisoners, who were all Jews. I now suffer from a weak heart and had two attacks since being at Belsen. I do not know the names of any persons who went into the gas chamber with me.
ON 25th December 1943, I was sick with typhus and was picked out at a selection made by Doctors Mengele and Tauber along with about 350 other women. I was made to undress and taken by lorry to a gas chamber. There were seven gas chambers at Auschwitz. This particular one was underground and the lorry was able to run down the slope and straight into the chamber. Here we were tipped unceremoniously on the floor. The room was about 12 yards square and small lights on the wall dimly illuminated it. When the room was full a hissing sound was heard coming from the centre point on the floor and gas came into the room. After what seemed about ten minutes some of the victims began to bite their hands and foam at the mouth, and blood issued from their ears, eyes and mouth, and their faces went blue. I suffered from all these symptoms, together with a tight feeling at the throat. I was half conscious when my number was called out by Dr. Mengele and I was led from the chamber. I attribute my escape to the fact that the daughter of a friend of mine who was an Aryan and a doctor at Auschwitz had seen me being transported to the chamber and had told her mother, who immediately appealed to Dr. Mengele. Apparently he realized that as a political prisoner I was of more value alive than dead, and I was released.