Breaking the Spell by Nicholas Kollerstrom Review and Commentary Part Six

In the last post I discussed the death toll in Auschwitz. Kollerstrom writes that the corpses were cremated (Nicholas Kollerstrom, Breaking the Spell, Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield, 2014, p 56),

“All bodies had to be cremated, because the ground around was too swampy for burial.” (Breaking the Spell, p 72).


However, he also writes that “there are no trace of bodies anywhere as remains from the six million gassed.” (Breaking the Spell, p 52, see also p 30, 54, 220)

As I have said earlier, only ignorant revisionists say six million Jews were gassed in the Holocaust.

He also claims there have been no diagnosis or autopsies showing anyone died from hydrogen cyanide gassing (Breaking the Spell, p 28, 30, 61, 70).

If he says the corpses were cremated, how is anyone supposed to diagnose whether they died from HCN poisoning? The Nazis cremated the bodies of their gassed victims and then their apologists argue we cannot tell if they were gassed.

In an article “The Plunder of Victims and Their Corpses” Andrzej Strzelecki writes,

“Ashes and bones from the bodies incinerated in the crematoria were crushed with wooden mortars, then buried in pits or sunk in the Sola and Vistula rivers or in ponds near Birkenau. The ashes and bones were also used as fill in the terrain and bogs as fertilizer for fields belonging to the camp. Camp authorities sought to scatter the remains as broadly as possible  to prevent their being used as evidence of the crimes committed in the camp.” (Andrzej Strzelecki, “The Plunder of Victims and Their Corpses” in Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum (editors), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1998, p 261)


There are trace of their remains. Franciszek Piper writes,

“In 1965, Hydrokop, a chemical mining technical enterprise based in Kracow, was commissioned by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum to carry out geological tests at Birkenau aimed at determining the location of incineration pits and pyres. Specialists at Hydrokop bored 303 holes up to 3m deep. Traces of human ashes, bone and hair turned up in 42 sites. Documentation of all the holes and the diagram of their distribution are preserved in the Conservation Department of the museum.” (Franciszek Piper, “Gas Chambers and Crematoria”, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, p 179)

During the 2000 David Irving Trial, Robert Jan van Pelt described how he had visited Auschwitz in 1990 with Jean Claude Pressac  and was able to pick up burned bones.

Kollerstrom writes that victims of hydrogen cyanide gassing should have pink skin, but witnesses said the victims had blue skin (Breaking the Spell, p 44-45, 63). He does not give any examples of witnesses saying the corpse were blue, but  Henryk Tauber, a member of the Sonderkommando, who worked on the gas chambers, said in his post-war testimony, “We found heaps of naked bodies, doubled up. They were pinkish and in  places red” (Robert Jan van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2002, p 197)

Shlomo Venezia, another member of the Sonderkommoando, said, “Some bodies were all red, others very pale, as everyone reacted differently.” (Shlomo Venezia, Inside the Gas Chambers, Polity, Cambridge, 2009, p 64)

Kollerstrom makes similar claims about skin colour and the absence of remains at Treblinka where the Jews were gassed using carbon monoxide. He claims the skin of carbon monoxide poisoning victims should also be pink, not blue, so all the witnesses, who described blue skin, which he does not give any examples of, cannot be trusted (Breaking the Spell, p 45, 63).

However, according to the Red Cross, blue skin is a symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning,

“A pale or bluish skin colour that indicates a lack of oxygen may indicate carbon monoxide poisoning. For years, people were taught that carbon monoxide poisoning was indicated by a cherry-red colour of the skin and lips. This, however, is a poor initial  indicator of carbon monoxide poisoning.” (Australian Red Cross, First Aid Responding to Emergencies, Mosby Lifeline, Sydney, 1995, p 161)

Kollerstrom says that Jews were gassed in Treblinka by carbon monoxide from diesel engines and this is impossible because diesel engines do not produce enough carbon monoxide to kill (Breaking the Spell, p 135, 182, 188, 222-223). This is based on the arguments of the revisionist Friedrich Berg. Actually, although Berg said diesel engines did not produce enough carbon monoxide to kill under normal circumstances, he said it could produce a fatal amount with a full load on the engine, i.e., put a heavy load on a diesel truck and drive it up a steep hill as fast as possible (Friedrich Berg, “The Diesel Gas Chambers: Ideal for Torture – Absurd for Murder” in Ernst Gauss (editor), Dissecting the Holocaust, Theses and Dissertations Press, Alabama, 2000, p 445-451). Berg said this could be replicated on  a stationary engine by reducing the air supply to the engine which would produce more carbon monoxide, He writes,

“It must be conceded that it would have been theoretically possible to commit the deeds alleged for Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor with Diesel engines.” (Dissecting the Holocaust, p 464)

However, there may have actually been petrol engines at Treblinka, not diesel. The authors of Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka, Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard writes,

“[W]itnesses who had closer experiences to the actual gassing engine share a large agreement that they were run by gasoline/petrol, while those witnesses with only an indirect hearsay knowledge of the engine were more likely to identify it as diesel.” (Jonathan Harrison, et al., Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard, 2011, p 315)

At Treblinka and the other Operation Reinhard camps, Belzec and Sobibor, the corpses were buried, then dug up and cremated on pyres. Kollerstrom doubts this is possible and actually says that “human bodies are not flammable” because they are 70% water (Breaking the Spell, p 17, 135) He writes that Treblinka “enjoys not one but two Holo-miracles: there was the gassing of 875,000 Jews by diesel exhaust, a non-lethal gas, followed swiftly by their thousands of somehow flammable corpses burning in the huge, Hellish pyres (just watch Schindler’s List, O scoffing Unbeliever).” (Breaking the Spell, p 135)

I have focused on Kollerstrom’s arguments, rather than his angry tone.

As mentioned earlier, the most reliable witnesses said the Jews at Treblinka were gassed using petrol engines. Moreover, they were not cremated “swiftly” after being gassed. Many of the corpses would have been buried for several months and become dehydrated so they would have easier to burn (Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard, p 469, 475).

It is still possible to mass cremate bodies  even when they have just died. Here is a photo from David Irving’s website of the mass burning of bodies after the bombing of Dresden in February 1945


Kollerstrom also discusses the archaeological work of Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls at Treblinka beginning in 2006. He writes that Sturdy Colls did not find a single body at Treblinka (Breaking the Spell, p 73, 183), even though he also discusses how the bodies were cremated (Breaking the Spell, p 73, 135, 183). What does he expect?

Treblinka is now basically a park. It has been tidied up since 1945 when there was a lot more evidence of human remains. In 1946 the Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes said about Treblinka,

“For example, in the north-eastern part, over a surface covering about 2 ha. (5 acres), there are large quantities of ashes mixed with sand, among which are numerous human bones, often with the remains of decomposing tissue.

As a  result of an examination made by an expert it was found that the ashes were the remains of burnt human bones. The examination of numerous skulls found in the camp has shown that they bear no external injuries. Within a radius of several hundred yards from the camp site an unpleasant smell of burnt ash and decay is noticeable, growing stronger as one approaches.” (German Crimes in Poland, Vol. I, Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, Warsaw, 1946, p 96-97)

Kollerstrom does not mention these earlier findings nor the mass graves  which were discovered at Belzec between 1997 and 1999. The revisionist response to the Belzec findings is discussed here.

Kollerstrom also writes about Treblinka,

“Miraculously enough, the wicked Nazis also removed completely from the site “all buildings, all concrete foundations, all fresh water and waster water pipes, all the rubbish. all glass fragments, all barbed wire fences, all narrow-gauge rails, all air0raid shelters and all roads, and they left the area as if the camp never existed.” (Breaking the Spell, p 186)

It sounds like Kollerstrom is saying that the Treblinka camp did not exist at all, but elsewhere he writes that Treblinka was only a transit camp. Kollerstrom claims that Treblinka, along with Belzec and Sobibor, were transit camps, the Jews were sent through them further East and resettled (Breaking the Spell, p 182, 187-189, 228).

In a section headed, “The Final Solution Finally Solved” (as though he is the one who thought of it and other revisionists have not been saying it for years) Kollerstrom quotes from Nazi documents, including Goebbels’ Diary, about deporting the Jews and resettling them in the East (Breaking the Spell, p 214-216).

As mentioned earlier, Kollerstrom ignores the passage from Goebbels’ Diary which said that 60% of the Jews would have to be liquidated.

I also mentioned earlier that there is no denying there are Nazi documents saying the Jews would be deported and resettled in the East. The “controversy” is what happened when they got there  – were they really resettled or were they killed? In his post-revisionist conversion book Goebbels, Mastermind of the Third Reich, David Irving described how the Jews in Germany were told they were going to be resettled and put on trains, but when they arrived, they were killed (David Irving, Goebbels, Mastermind of the Third Reich, Focal Point, London, 1996, p 374-403).

In 1943 Himmler commissioned the SS statistician Richard Korherr to prepare a report on the final solution to the Jewish question. Kollerstrom writes that the Korherr Report said that by the end of 1942,  1,274,166 Jews “were sifted through the camps in the General Government”, that is, Belzec, Lublin, Sobibor and Treblinka (Breaking the Spell, p 226-227).

This may sound like the camps were transit camps and the Jews were channelled through them and resettled further East. However, Kollerstrom does not tell his readers there are two versions of the Korherr report and he is only quoting from the second one.

In Hitler’s War David Irving describes how the original version the 1,274,166 Jews had bene subjected to “special treatment”, but Himmler told Korherr to change it. Irving writes,

“According to the new text, the Jews would have been “channelled through” the camps to Russia – not “subjected to special treatment” at the camps. As he wrote on April 9, the report would serve magnificently for “camouflage purposes” in later years.” (David Irving, Hitler’s War, 1942-1945, Macmillan, London, 1977, p 504)

As mentioned earlier, there are times when “special treatment” meant killing. If it only meant delousing as Kollerstrom claims, why did Himmler feel the need to change and camouflage it?

Modern day Holocaust revisionists are doing exactly what Himmler hoped they would do, using the second version to camouflage what happened to the Jews.

Kollerstrom admits in a footnote (literally in the fine print) that “there may be no records of where they went.” (Breaking the Spell, p 188) There are no records of where they went because they did not go anywhere, they were killed in Treblinka and the other camps.

Like other revisionists, Kollerstrom demands an impossibly high standard of proof from conventional historians, autopsies of cremated corpses and documentary proof of undocumented arrivals, but when it comes to their version, they put forward a theory for which there is no historical evidence.


In my 2011 article “What is Wrong with Holocaust Revisionism Part II” which was published in Hard Evidence, Volume 11, No 5, Sept-Oct, 2011, and can be found here, I argued that the fatal flaw with Holocaust revisionism is that they cannot show what “really” happened to the Jews, if they were not killed. There is a lot of speculation, but no evidence, i.e.. resettled Jews.

Kollerstrom is no different.



Breaking the Spell by Nicholas Kollerstrom Review and Commentary Part Five

In my last post I mentioned that Franciszek Piper, Director of the Auschwitz State Museum, estimated that 1.1 million Jews had died in Auschwitz. This is close to the November 1946 estimate of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolph Hoess. Piper calculated that 1.3 million people had been deported to Auschwitz, including 1.1 million Jews, however only 400,000 were registered as inmates. This means that about 900,000 people were sent to Auschwitz but  never made it to the registration office. About 200,ooo of the 400,000 registered inmates survived the war, meaning the other 200,000 would have died in the camp, so about 1.1 million people died in Auschwitz, although not all of them were Jews (Franciszek Piper, “The Number of Victims”, in Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum (editors), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1998, p 68-71).


Nicholas Kollerstrom claims that only registered inmates died in Auschwitz. He relies on the Auschwitz Death Books which record the deaths of registered inmates for part of 1941, all of 1942 and 1943, but nothing for 1944 and 1945. They list 69,000 deaths, including 29,000 Jews (Nichols Kollerstrom, Breaking the Spell, Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield, 2014, p 81).


The exact number is 68,864 deaths, including 53,370 men and 15, 454 women, and 40 unknown. There was a separate book for Soviet POWs recording 8320 deaths. The revisionist Carlo Mattogno has suggested there may have been another book containing more female deaths (Carlo Mattogno and Franco Deana, “The Crematoria Ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau” in Ernst Gauss (editor), Dissecting the Holocaust, Theses and Dissertations Press, Alabama, 2000, p 400).

Kollerstrom also relies on the work of the International Tracing Service based in Bad Arsolen, Germany. He claims the “Bad Arsolen archives list everyone who lived and died in all the German labour camps.” (Breaking the Spell, p 64) The International Tracing Service lists 296,000 deaths in the Nazi concentration camps, including  60,000 in Auschwitz (Breaking the Spell, p 88-89). This is not “everyone” since they say 60,000 died in Auschwitz for the entire war, while Kollerstrom had already said that the Death Books record 69,000 deaths for largely 1942 and 1943 (Breaking the Spell, p 81). Franciszek Piper concluded that 200,000 registered inmates died in Auschwitz (Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, p 71). Around 600,000 inmates died on other concentration camps, but not all of these were Jews (Nikolaus Wachsmann, KL, A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps, Little, Brown, London, 2015, p 628).

The Death Books do not record any deaths by gassing, however they say that 25,000 deaths were from heart problems which seems hard to believe (John C. Zimmerman, Holocaust Denial, University of America Press, Lanham, 2000, p 63). An entry for May 10, 1943 says that a 3 year old died of old age, which suggests the entries were sometimes falsified and the real cause of death was covered up (KL, A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps, p 340).

Kollerstrom also relies on the transmissions from Auschwitz and other concentration camps which the British Government Code and Cypher School intercepted and decoded. He cites Frank Hinsley in British Intelligence in the Second World War saying,

“The return from Auschwitz, the largest of the camps with 20,000 prisoners, mentioned illness as the main cause of death, but included references to shootings and hangings. There were no references in the decrypts to gassings.” (Breaking the Spell, p 96)

The complete passage says,

“From the spring of 1942 until February 1943 when it ceased to be sent by W/T. GC and CS decrypted in another cypher a daily return of prisoners at Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz and seven other concentration camps – not all of them, but a good cross section. The daily return consisted of unheaded, unexplained columns of figures which GC and CS worked out to mean (a) number of inmates at the start of the previous day, (b) new arrivals, (c) departures by any means, and (d) number at the end of the previous day. It also specified the various categories of prisoners, such as politicals, Jews, Poles, other Europeans and Russians. GC and CS interpreted column (c) – “departures by any means” – as being accounted for primarily by deaths. The return from Auschwitz, the largest of the camps with 20,000 prisoners, mentioned illness as the main cause of death, but included references to shootings and hangings. There were no references in the decrypts to gassings.” (Frank Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War, Volume II, HMSO, London, 1981, p 673)

In what is arguably his only useful contribution to the study of the Holocaust, Kollerstrom has put the British Intelligence decrypts and the Death Book figures on the website What really happened.

Those inmates, who were released or transferred, were grouped together with those who  died as “departures”. Hinsley wrote that most of the departures were deaths. “Departures” was what British Intelligence called the figures, not the Nazis. The figures had no titles.

However, Kollerstrom writes, “Instead, a majority of the departures were Jewish. That ought to settle quite a bit of the ongoing debate.” (Breaking the Spell, p 101)  He seems to be giving the impression the departures meant the Jews left Auschwitz and went elsewhere, when, in fact, they died in Auschwitz.

British Intelligence assumed (but did not actually know) that the high rate of Jewish deaths in Auschwitz could be explained by a typhus epidemic (Breaking the Spell, p 99, 100). Kollerstrom writes,

“On 26 July 1942, a devastating typhus epidemic broke out in Birkenau. As many as 20,00 died in three months.” (Breaking the Spell, p 190)

He does not mention it, but the Death Books say only 2060, not 20,000, out of the 68,864 recorded deaths were from typhus (Holocaust Denial, p 63). This suggests that the typhus epidemic was not as bad as Kollerstrom and other revisionists have made it out to have been.

As mentioned earlier, Kollerstrom writes that in Auschwitz in 1942 39% of the registered inmates were Jewish and 65% were Polish, but nearly 60% of the deaths were Jews (Breaking the Spell, p 104). If they were dying from typhus, we would assume that around 40% of the deaths would have been Jewish, reflecting the percentage of Jews in Auschwitz. It looks like British Intelligence assumed the Jews were dying from  typhus when they were really being killed.

Kollerstrom claims that the SS instituted measures called “special treatment” to control the typhus epidemic,

“New protocols called “special treatment” (“Sonderbehandlung”) were swiftly developed and  implemented for all camp members, which involved routines of hair shaving, use of showers, with cleansing and delousing of clothing, bedding and living quarters.” (Breaking the Spell, p 99)

Kollerstrom frequently refers to the delousing of bedding and mattresses (Breaking the Spell, p 27, 28, 36, 40, 99, 121, 126, 130, 146), even though the camp inmates did not have mattresses. He also claims the inmates got their clothes back after they had been deloused (Breaking the Spell, p 129). Has he never seen photos of Auschwitz inmates in their striped uniforms?

Vols. 1,2


Perhaps the Jews used to sit on their mattresses in their own clothes while eating cake and ice cream (Breaking the Spell, p 197).

If “special treatment” just meant “delousing”, why didn’t they just say “delousing”? Conventional historians say the term “special treatment” was a euphemism for killing. Its meaning would depend on the context, but even other revisionists agree there are times when “special treatment” meant killing. Carlo Mattogno writes,

“It cannot be disputed that in numerous documents of the Third Reich, the term ‘special treatment’ is, in fact, synonymous with execution or liquidation, but this does not mean that the term always and exclusively had this significance.” (Carlo Mattogno, Special Treatment in Auschwitz, Theses and Dissertations Press, Illinois, 2004, p  7)

David Irving has written that special treatment was “evidently a thinly veiled reference to the termination of the Nazis’ enemies.” (David Irving, Churchill’s War, Volume II, Triumph and Adversity, Focal Point, London, 2001, p 702)


Kollerstrom’s sources, the Death Books, the International Tracing Service and the decoded transmissions are concerned only with the registered inmates. Most of the Jews, who were killed in Auschwitz, were gassed shortly after arriving without being registered. Kollerstrom claims there is no documentary evidence this ever happened (Breaking the Spell, p 36, 83, 105, 107). This is arguing in circles. If they were killed without being registered, of course their deaths are not going to be documented.

However, Piper’s conclusions, that 1.1. million Jews had been sent to Auschwitz and 900,000 were never registered, were calculated by starting at the other end, the countries from which the Jews were deported and how many were deported from them to Auschwitz. Kollerstrom does not address this.

British Intelligence had also decoded the German railway transmissions. Richard Breitman writes that they “knew that the Auschwitz camp population was not taking in Jews comparable to what the transports must have brought and that Jews were not departing.” (Richard Breitman, Official Secrets, Viking, London, 1998, p 116)

It looks like the Nazis did record how many Jews were fit for work  and how many were considered unfit, but most of the records have been destroyed (Robert Jan van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2002, p 110). One which survived is a telegram dated 8 March, 1943,

“On 5 and 7 March, the following transports of Jewish prisoners arrived: (and 96 women). Transport from Berlin. Arrivals 5 March 1943. Total 1,128 Jews. 389 men were selected for work (Buna). 151 men and 492 women and children were given special treatment. Transport from Breslau. Arrival 5 March 1943. Total 1,405 Jews. 406 men and 190 women were selected for work (Buna). 125 men and 684 women and children were given special treatment.

Transport from Berlin. Arrival 7 March 43. Total 690 including 25 prisoners in protective custody. 153 men and 65 women were selected for work (Buna). 30 men and 417 women and children were given special treatment.” (J. Noakes and G. Pridham (editors), Nazism 1919-1945, A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts, Volume II, Schocken Books, New York, 1988, p 1184)

This telegram can be cross-referenced with the admission records. On March 5, the 389 men from Berlin and the 406 men from Breslau were given numbers 106,369 to 107, 163 and the 190 women from Breslau were given numbers 37743 to 37932.  On March 7, the 153 men from Berlin were given numbers 107,164 to 107,316 and the 65 women were given numbers 38001 to 38065 (Danuta Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945, Henry Holt, New York, 1990, p 347).

Kollerstrom claims that “all camp inmates” received “special treatment” which meant they were deloused and treated for typhus (Breaking the Spell, p 99). The opposite is the case. The fit Jews were deloused, registered and became camp inmates. The unfit Jews received “special treatment” and were not registered as camp inmates.

The conventional explanation that special treatment meant killing makes sense. If they were not killed, where did they go?

Kollerstrom argues that hundreds of thousands of unregistered Jews could not have been gassed and cremated in Auschwitz, because there was not enough coke delivered to Auschwitz to cremate that many. Based on an article “The Crematoria Ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau” by Carlo Mattogno and Franco Deana, Kollerstrom writes that between March and October 1943 about 600 tons of coke were delivered to Auschwitz. About 40 to 50 kg of coke is needed to cremate a body, so there would only have been enough to cremate the 16,000 registered inmates who died there (Breaking the Spell, p 94).

Kollerstrom mentions the coke delivered during the period March to October 1943. Actually, we have delivery records for the period February 1942 to October 1943. In 1942   332.5 tons were delivered (Jean Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York, 1989, p 224). Kollerstrom says that 37,ooo inmates died in 1942 (Breaking the Spell, p 104). It looks like they cremated over twice as many registered inmates with about half the coke. The revisionist argument just does not work.

Between June 1942 and Spring 1943 about 100,000 Jews were gassed in the provisional gas chambers Bunkers I and II. These were cremated on pyres and would not have needed coke (Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, p 161-164).

Robert Jan van Pelt
Robert Jan van Pelt

In contrast, Robert Jan van Pelt argued, based on Auschwitz documents, that only 3.9 kg of coke was needed to cremate a corpse (The Case for Auschwitz, p 122). This may seen low, but it was not the flames which the coke gave off that burned the bodies. It was the heat which the coke generated. There are numerous reports of more than one body being cremated at a time in the ovens. Once  a body started burning, it became fuel and the heat it generated could be used to cremate other bodies.

The coke supply was also supplemented by burning wood in the crematoria (Holocaust Denial, p 231-232).

To be continued.