There were three camps in Auschwitz – the original main camp, Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II or Birkenau, and Auschwitz III or Monowitz. The first gassings in Auschwitz took place in a gas chamber in Auschwitz I during 1941 and 1942. It has been estimated that less than 10,000 people were gassed there (Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York, 1989, p 134). The majority of the Jews who were gassed in Auschwitz were killed in Birkenau or Auschwitz II. Some Holocaust revisionists or deniers have been claiming that the Auschwitz museum authorities have admitted that the gas chamber in Auschwitz I is a fake.
One of the main sources for this claim is this 1992 video featuring David Cole, a Holocaust revisionist of Jewish background (yes, there is such a thing) and his trip to Auschwitz.
Cole hired a private tour guide Alicia who “had to take a class and memorize a spiel” in which Cole claims the Auschwitz museum authorities such as Dr Piper and the tour guide supervisor “teach their tour guides to say things they know aren’t true” (10 mins).
Inside Auschwitz I’s gas chamber Cole shows that one of the doors is an ordinary wooden door with a glass pane which is clearly not gas-tight, while there is no door at all connecting the gas chamber to the crematorium room, internal walls have been removed and holes in the roof through which the Zyklon B was dropped were added later (16-18 mins).
When Cole asks Alicia, she says that the gas chamber is in its original condition, including the roof holes. She gets flustered and confused when Cole shows her where the internal walls clearly used to be (18-19 mins).
Alicia sent for the supervisor of tour guides who explains that the roof holes are not original but were added after the war and suggests Cole make an appointment with Dr Franciszek Piper of the Auschwitz State Museum (20-21 mins).
Piper explains that the gas chamber in Auschwitz I stopped operating in December 1942 while the crematorium in the same building continued until July 1943. In 1944 the building was converted into an air raid shelter, walls were added and the roof holes were blocked up. After the war the internal walls were removed and the roof holes were added again (24-28 mins).
Cole claims that this is a “clear deception” because “the gas chamber is shown to tourists as being in its original state even though the museum officials know better” (28 min).
It is not a deception at all. Alicia had taken “a class”, she was not an expert and English was clearly not her first language. She was being asked questions she did not know the answers to. She should have just admitted she did not know. The more senior officials had no problem explaining that it is not in its original condition. There is no cover up.
You can read Franciszek Piper’s opinion of the interview here.
Furthermore, Piper’s statement, that the Auschwitz I gas chamber is not original but a reconstruction, is not a new revelation. In 1989 Jean-Claude Pressac wrote in Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers that the building had been converted from a gas chamber into an air raid shelter in 1944 and restored after the war (p 132-133).
(The question of the location of the original insertion holes in Crematorium I in Auschwitz I and Crematorium II in Birkenau is examined in Daniel Keren, Jamie McCarthy and Harry W. Mazal, “The Ruins of the Gas Chambers: A Forensic Investigation of Crematoriums at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau”, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, Spring 2004, p 68-103. The section concerning Auschwitz I’s gas chamber can be read online here.)
In 1993 after David Irving had been banned from entering Australia, he released a video The Search for Truth in History.
In this video Irving defines the Holocaust as, “The Holocaust, with a capital H, is what’s gone down in history in this one sentence form, so to speak, “Adolf Hitler ordered the killing of 6 million Jews in Auschwitz” (21 min). A few minutes later, Irving says that in 1989 (before Cole’s interview of Piper), Professor Bernd Martin of the University of Freiburg told him that Piper had told him “the gas chamber, the one they show tourists in Auschwitz is in fact a fake, built after the war by the Poles” (27 min).
Nobody who knows anything about the Holocaust thinks 6 million Jews were killed in Auschwitz. As the David Cole video explains, about 1.1. million Jews died in Auschwitz. The rest died in other camps, ghettos or were killed in mass shootings behind the Eastern Front. Instead, Irving gives his listeners the impression that all the Jews in the Holocaust were killed in Auschwitz and then says the gas chamber in Auschwitz is a fake, so they could not have been gassed in a fake gas chamber. He does not even tell them that most of the Jews who were gassed in Auschwitz were not killed in the supposed fake gas chamber in Auschwitz I, but in the gas chambers of Auschwitz II or Birkenau. The only people, who would be convinced by Irving’s argument, would know nothing about the Holocaust in the first place.
This video Judea Declares War on Germany by Frederick Toben of the Adelaide Institute in Australia is dated 2004, but I saw it around 1997.
Toben also argues that the Auschwitz I gas chamber could not have been a gas chamber because it has an ordinary wooden door which is not gas-tight (3 min, 51 min). However, he also says that the 1996 book Auschwitz 1270 to the Present by Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt said the Auschwitz I gas chamber “is nothing but a fraud” (1:06 min).
Toben cannot have it both ways. If the building is not in its original wartime condition, he cannot argue that its current condition means it could not have been a gas chamber.
David Irving would also accuse van Pelt of saying the gas chamber is a fake, “You quote Broad on pages 301-2 describing, in a 1991 book of memoirs, the “effective gas chamber which could hold 900 people” in the main camp (i.e. Auschwitz I), but on pages 363-4 you confirm that there never was a gas chamber at Auschwitz I, and that the one shown to the tourists since the war is a fake built by Polish Communists.” (Robert Jan van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2002, p 120)
Van Pelt did not “confirm there never was a gas chamber at Auschwitz I”. He said there was one (Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt, Auschwitz 1270 to the Present, W.W. Norton, New York, 1996, p 301-302). He did not say the gas chamber is a fake, but a reconstruction (p 363-364).
Other monuments, such as the Parthenon, Angkor Wat and the Great Wall of China, have been restored. They are not fakes. These revisionists are dishonestly equating a reconstruction with a fake. They are not the same thing.
Revisionists know the difference. Around 7 minutes into another video about his trip to Auschwitz, David Cole and Canadian revisionist Ernst Zundel stand in front of the swimming pool in Auschwitz I which Cole says is a reconstruction, it has been restored to its original state.
Unlike the reconstructed gas chamber, Cole does not suggest the reconstructed pool is a fake.
Yes, there was a water storage tank which was also used as a pool in Auschwitz I. Revisionists get really excited about it because they want us to believe Auschwitz was actually a nice place, but only some of the more privileged non-Jewish inmates were allowed to use it (Lawrence Rees, Auschwitz, The Nazis and the Final Solution, BBC Books, London, 2005, p 253-254).
Likewise, the barb wire at Auschwitz is not original. It loses its tenacity after a few years and has to be replaced. That does not mean the barb wire fences are fake.
The Auschwitz I gas chamber is not a serious attempt to deceive the tourists. As revisionists point out, it has a wooden door and no door connecting the gas chamber to the oven room. If the Auschwitz authorities had really wanted to deceive people, they would have done a better job and put some proper gas-tight doors in.
After a few years on the Holocaust revisionist circuit Cole lost interest in Holocaust revisionism. He changed his name to David Stein and went on to make several documentaries saying the Holocaust happened. His IMDb page is here. He founded a group called Republican Party Animals which threw wild parties for conservative celebrities and politicians until an ex-girlfriend exposed his past in 2013. His autobiography Republican Party Animal can be read here.