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.




Author: Malcolm Nicholson

I am a small business owner and I live in northern Tasmania. I am a graduate of the University of Tasmania and I have a Master of Arts in Early Christian and Jewish Studies from Macquarie University. I am a member of the Churches of Christ. I have been a teacher librarian, New Testament Greek teacher, branch president and state policy committee chairman of a political party, university Christian group president. My interests include ancient history, early Christian history, the Holocaust, Bible prophecy, revival, UFOs, peak oil and science fiction.

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