Af- ter all, one of the most important tenets of science is that a claim must be substantiated, or else it is not much more than mere hot air. To be more precise: substantiating a person's claim requires more than com- ing up with more individuals making the same or a similar claim. If we merely collect claims, we may thus obtain a number, maybe even a great number of identical or similar claims, but they are still mere claims.
Substantiation requires most of all substance: hard, physical, tangible evidence beyond mere statements. In the case investigated here the allegation is made that during the Second World War a huge amount of individuals was killed at various points in time and at numerous locations by means of "gas vans" de- ployed by German units. Some of the killings are said to have happened in the course of fighting partisans in the Soviet territories temporarily occupied by the Germans; others ostensibly happened in the context of the implementation of the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish ques- tion," which, according to orthodox historiography, meant the physical annihilation of many Jews within the German realm of influence during World War Two.
The partisan warfare during World War Two followed its own, at times cruel, rules. In this context, summarily killing partisans was not an illegal activity, if judged by international law as in effect at that time. Since the present study is not about legal considerations but rather about the evaluation of evi- dence presented, the legal aspects will not be discussed any further. Although most of the killings said to have been perpetrated with "gas vans" are claimed to have occurred within the so-called "Final So- lution," I will not enter into a discussion of this term and its historical interpretation either, as this would lead us far astray from our actual topic and because both orthodox and revisionist literature about the "Fi- nal Solution" are replete with considerations on this topic.
In these "gas vans" the Germans are said to have used the vehicles' exhaust gases for homicides, the most toxic component of which is car- bon monoxide CO, sometimes also referred to as carbon oxide. This gas is a result of an incomplete combustion of the carbon component of fuels consisting of hydrocarbons, like gasoline and Diesel fuel. Com- plete combustion leads to carbon dioxide C0 2 , which is much less toxic than CO. I will elaborate on this a little more in chapter 1. Suf- fice it here to say that the claimed weapon of crime in a more narrow sense is said to have been a standard truck or van engine as it was mounted into the vehicle by the manufacturer without any modification.
The truck itself, however, is said to have been retrofitted with certain additional equipment permitting the actual homicide. What exactly the- se changes to the serial trucks and vans were is one of the central ques- tions to be elucidated by the present study, next to determining the make and model of the trucks themselves as well as the engines used. German documents from prove the order of thirty special cargo boxes mounted onto the chassis of Austrian Saurer trucks sporting Die- sel engines. One would therefore have to expect that one or several of these vehicles were captured by the Soviets during their counter-offensives, but this is apparently not the case.
In 5 Many defendants in West German trials claimed that they had only killed or known about the killing of partisans, but the judges usually did not believe them; see chapters 3. In one case, however, the defendant's claim was ac- cepted, resulting in his acquittal, see chapter 3. Santiago Alvarez, The Gas Vans 19 fact, no information exists about a location where one could investigate a wreck of such a gas van or even only some instructive traces of the special retrofitting which inevitably would have been required for the deployment of these vehicles for homicidal purposes.
The Soviets, however, are said to have captured some of those responsible for the homicides in gas vans, which they put on trial in see chapters 3. How do they explain the fact that they managed to catch some of those who had operated the trucks, but that the vehicles themselves simply vanished?
Mainstream historians, like Mathias Beer, are wont to respond to this glaring lack of any material trace of these elusive vans by coming up with a pseudo-explanation see Beer's letter to P. Marais, p. Af- ter all, the lack of evidence does not prove a claim to be true, which is what Beer tries to argue here.
If anything, the lack of evidence refutes the claim. As we will see, the operation of a truck suffocating humans locked inside of it is rather easy. There are no difficulties constructing it, and its production a posteriori would doubtlessly have been quite easy. That no such attempt was ever made makes the whole issue even more mys- terious.
The claim that thirty vehicles retrofitted for mass gassings, which would have served as a vivid example of the "Nazi barbarity," have simply disappeared tracelessly ineluctably had to raise certain doubts about their very existence. Unless new information surfaces, one cannot but conclude that the "murder weapon" in form of these infamous "gas vans" could not be produced to this very day.
There are absolutely no tangible material items: no truck, no part of a truck, no drawing or — blueprint of a truck. As we will see during the analysis of the existing documents, not even a technical study of these ostensible gassing vehi- 7 In the above-mentioned letter Beer claimed that a gas van wreck actually exists as a me- morial in the town of Konin, Poland, near the former Chelmno camp.
But an inquiry by P.
Marais with that town's authorities exposed this claim as false; see Appendix 10, page Material Traces of the Victims Both the Serbs and the Soviets conducted forensic investigations by exhuming mass graves allegedly containing victims of "gas van" mass gassings. The Soviets conducted their investigations right after they had re- conquered territories from the Germans in early A summary of the findings were published during the war in a booklet containing a summary of two trials staged in , where the defendants had been accused, among other things, to have participated in the mass murder of Soviet citizens with "murder vans.
Here I will address only the forensic findings of the Soviet investigating committee, which were quoted as follows in the booklet The People 's Verdict , p.
Prolorovsky [ The Commission stated: Tf the outlet for the carbon monoxide including waste gases is in closed premises, the concentration of carbon monoxide in those premises increases very rapidly and may cause death even in the course of a few minutes from five to ten. This forensic expert report, also dating from , was introduced as evidence for the prosecution dur- ing a West-German court of law in see chapter 3. I have so far not been able to obtain a copy or even a summary of this expert report.
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Maybe the exhumed chil- dren shown in Illustration 1 are from that source. Santiago Alvarez, The Gas Vans 21 [ That there is something very fishy about this "expert report" results from the fact that even with today's refined forensic methods, finding carbon monoxide in severely decomposed corpses is impossible with modern spectroscopic methods, which are far superior to the crude spectroscopic methods used in the s. Only in a method based on gas chromatography was established which allowed reliable detection of carbon monoxide levels in severely rotten tissue and blood samples Walch et ah , p.
Hence, how would it have been possible for these Soviet experts to prove carbon monoxide poi- sonings in corpses which have been rotting in their graves for many Illustration 1: Photograph taken by Soviet commission of corpses exhumed in from a grave near Krasnodar. Photo shows corpses of children poisoned with carbon monoxide gas by the German invaders. The dead bodies have been extracted from a pit for medico-legal examination.
How decomposed the corpses were can be gleaned from a photo added to one of the reports, see Illustration l. In addition to the Soviets, their loyal communist allies in Yugoslavia also performed an investigation by having a War Crimes Commission exhume two mass graves after the liberation of Serbia. They presented their results in March Orthodox historian By ford writes about this , p.
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And yet its report, published a year later, stated that the total num- ber of casualties was as high as 40, This figure was arrived at by adding up the various unverifiable approximations offered by a relatively small number of witnesses and former inmates whose statements were collected in the course of the investigation. Similar- ly, in the case of Banjica, although log books discovered after the war suggested that the total number of inmates was 23,, of whom 4, were executed, the War Crimes Commission dismissed both figures as too low and stated that the actual number might be as high as 80, dead.
If the commission did indeed find 11, corpses - who guarantees us that this number was not al- ready exaggerated? Serbian name: Sajmiste. Santiago Alvarez, The Gas Vans 23 In early , the Semlin Anhaltelager was called Judenlager camp for Jews , as almost exclusively Jews were interned there, until they were allegedly killed with gas vans in the spring of The number of Jews killed in gas vans is supposed to have been around 7, to 7, Byford , p.
After all Jews had been removed from the camp by May , the camp changed its function and was renamed to Anhaltelager. Byford writes about this phase of the camp ibid : "[ Between May and July , 32, inmates mainly Serbs passed through the camp, of whom 1 0, died of starvation, exposure and disease or were killed. There does therefore not seem to by any forensic proof that even a single person had died in a gas van. If they did, where are their bodies? Christopher Browning has the following answer to that question , p.
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Dare I say that this would have been an impossible feat? But if I am wrong, I wonder why the Germans did not perform this same miracle again on those 11, vic- tims of the later phase of the camp. Forensic and Technical Considerations 1. The Toxicity of Diesel Exhaust Gas During this study we will encounter over and over again the claim that the alleged mass murder with "gas vans" is said to have been con- ducted with the exhaust gases of Diesel engines, either expressly or im- plied by the vehicle make used Saurer.
It is important to know that by the mid- s the Diesel engine had displaced the gasoline engine al- most completely on the heavy utility vehicle market in Europe. Whether one can commit murder with Diesel engine exhaust within the time spans claimed is a forensic question. Berg has done thorough research about this, which he first published in and, in his latest revised and expanded form, in in Rudolf , pp. Berg also elaborated in detail about the toxic ef- fects of carbon monoxide and other constituents of Diesel engine ex- haust gases. I will not repeat any of this here, as it would be repetitive and would lead us too far afield.
The interested reader might either con- sult Berg's paper or any handbook of toxicology from any library di- rectly. Whereas gasoline engines operate with a dearth of oxygen and there- fore produce rather high amounts of toxic carbon monoxide, Diesel en- gines always operate with a huge excess of oxygen, as a result of which its exhaust gases contain only minor amounts of carbon monoxide, the lethal compound in engine exhaust gases. If a Diesel engine runs idly or with only a minor load, it 12 13 14 15 See www.
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It must be kept in mind that the CO contained in the exhaust gases is an incompletely combusted item resulting from a lack of oxygen. Santiago Alvarez, The Gas Vans 25 must even be considered impossible to produce an exhaust gas whose composition can become acutely dangerous to persons with an average health within the time span of interest here up to half an hour. In contrast to this stands the drastically larger carbon monoxide con- tent in the exhaust gases of gasoline engines, which can be manipulated in various ways to increase it even more, for instance by closing the idle-mixture adjustment screw of the carburetor.
For this reason gaso- line engines would have imposed themselves to be used for the con- struction of "gas vans" but also for the generation of carbon monoxide for the stationary "gas chambers". Did the Germans know about the difference between Diesel and gasoline engine exhaust?