A FACTUAL APPRAISAL OF THE "HOLOCAUST" BY THE RED CROSS
From the book "Did Six Million Really Die?"
ICRC, Germany denying access to Holocaust archive
Article From The Washington Post 03-26-06
The Jews And The Concentration Camps:
A Factual Appraisal By The Red Cross.
There is one survey of the Jewish question in Europe during World War Two and the conditions of Germany's concentration camps which is almost unique in its honesty and objectivity, the three-volume Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War, Geneva, 1948.
This comprehensive account from an entirely neutral source incorporated and expanded the findings of two previous works: Documents sur l'activité du CICR en faveur des civils détenus dans les camps de concentration en Allemagne 1939-1945 (Geneva, 1946), and Inter Arma Caritas: the Work of the ICRC during the Second World War (Geneva, 1947). The team of authors, headed by Frédéric Siordet, explained in the opening pages of the Report that their object, in the tradition of the Red Cross, had been strict political neutrality, and herein lies its great value.
The ICRC successfully applied the 1929 Geneva military convention in order to gain access to civilian internees held in Central and Western Europe by the Germany authorities. By contrast, the ICRC was unable to gain any access to the Soviet Union, which had failed to ratify the Convention. The millions of civilian and military internees held in the USSR, whose conditions were known to be by far the worst, were completely cut off from any international contact or supervision.
The Red Cross Report is of value in that it first clarifies the legitimate circumstances under which Jews were detained in concentration camps, i.e. as enemy aliens. In describing the two categories of civilian internees, the Report distinguishes the second type as "Civilians deported on administrative grounds (in German, "Schutzhäftlinge"), who were arrested for political or racial motives because their presence was considered a danger to the State or the occupation forces" (Vol. 111, p. 73). These persons, it continues, "were placed on the same footing as persons arrested or imprisoned under common law for security reasons." (P.74).
The Report admits that the Germans were at first reluctant to permit supervision by the Red Cross of people detained on grounds relating to security, but by the latter part of 1942, the ICRC obtained important concessions from Germany. They were permitted to distribute food parcels to major concentration camps in Germany from August 1942, and "from February 1943 onwards this concession was extended to all other camps and prisons" (Vol. 111, p. 78). The ICRC soon established contact with camp commandants and launched a food relief programme which continued to function until the last months of 1945, letters of thanks for which came pouring in from Jewish internees.
Red Cross Recipients Were Jews
The Report states that "As many as 9,000 parcels were packed daily. From the autumn of 1943 until May 1945, about 1,112,000 parcels with a total weight of 4,500 tons were sent off to the concentration camps" (Vol. III, p. 80). In addition to food, these contained clothing and pharmaceutical supplies. "Parcels were sent to Dachau, Buchenwald, Sangerhausen, Sachsenhausen, Oranienburg, Flossenburg, Landsberg-am-Lech, Flöha, Ravensbrück, Hamburg-Neuengamme, Mauthausen, Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, to camps near Vienna and in Central and Southern Germany. The principal recipients were Belgians, Dutch, French, Greeks, Italians, Norwegians, Poles and stateless Jews" (Vol. III, p. 83).
In the course of the war, "The Committee was in a position to transfer and distribute in the form of relief supplies over twenty million Swiss francs collected by Jewish welfare organisations throughout the world, in particular by the American Joint Distribution Committee of New York" (Vol. I, p. 644). This latter organisation was permitted by the German Government to maintain offices in Berlin until the American entry into the war. The ICRC complained that obstruction of their vast relief operation for Jewish internees came not from the Germans but from the tight Allied blockade of Europe. Most of their purchases of relief food were made in Rumania, Hungary and Slovakia.
The ICRC had special praise for the liberal conditions which prevailed at Theresienstadt up to the time of their last visits there in April 1945. This camp, "where there were about 40,000 Jews deported from various countries was a relatively privileged ghetto" (Vol. III, p. 75). According to the Report, "'The Committee's delegates were able to visit the camp at Theresienstadt (Terezin) which was used exclusively for Jews and was governed by special conditions. From information gathered by the Committee, this camp had been started as an experiment by certain leaders of the Reich ... These men wished to give the Jews the means of setting up a communal life in a town under their own administration and possessing almost complete autonomy. . . two delegates were able to visit the camp on April 6th, 1945. They confirmed the favourable impression gained on the first visit" (Vol. I, p . 642).
The ICRC also had praise for the regime of Ion Antonescu of Fascist Rumania where the Committee was able to extend special relief to 183,000 Rumanian Jews until the time of the Soviet occupation. The aid then ceased, and the ICRC complained bitterly that it never succeeded "in sending anything whatsoever to Russia" (Vol. II, p. 62). The same situation applied to many of the German camps after their "liberation" by the Russians. The ICRC received a voluminous flow of mail from Auschwitz until the period of the Soviet occupation, when many of the internees were evacuated westward. But the efforts of the Red Cross to send relief to internees remaining at Auschwitz under Soviet control were futile. However, food parcels continued to be sent to former Auschwitz inmates transferred west to such camps as Buchenwald and Oranienburg.
No Evidence Of Genocide
One of the most important aspects of the Red Cross Report is that it clarifies the true cause of those deaths that undoubtedly occurred in the camps toward the end of the war. Says the Report: "In the chaotic condition of Germany after the invasion during the final months of the war, the camps received no food supplies at all and starvation claimed an increasing number of victims. Itself alarmed by this situation, the German Government at last informed the ICRC on February 1st, 1945 ... In March 1945, discussions between the President of the ICRC and General of the S.S. Kaltenbrunner gave even more decisive results. Relief could henceforth be distributed by the ICRC, and one delegate was authorised to stay in each camp ..." (Vol. III, p. 83).
Clearly, the German authorities were at pains to relieve the dire situation as far as they were able. The Red Cross are quite explicit in stating that food supplies ceased at this time due to the Allied bombing of German transportation, and in the interests of interned Jews they had protested on March 15th, 1944 against "the barbarous aerial warfare of the Allies" (Inter Arma Caritas, p. 78). By October 2nd, 1944, the ICRC warned the German Foreign Office of the impending collapse of the German transportation system, declaring that starvation conditions for people throughout Germany were becoming inevitable.
In dealing with this comprehensive, three-volume Report, it is important to stress that the delegates of the International Red Cross found no evidence whatever at the camps in Axis occupied Europe of a deliberate policy to exterminate the Jews. In all its 1,600 pages the Report does not even mention such a thing as a gas chamber. It admits that Jews, like many other wartime nationalities, suffered rigours and privations, but its complete silence on the subject of planned extermination is ample refutation of the Six Million legend. Like the Vatican representatives with whom they worked, the Red Cross found itself unable to indulge in the irresponsible charges of genocide which had become the order of the day. So far as the genuine mortality rate is concerned, the Report points out that most of the Jewish doctors from the camps were being used to combat typhus on the eastern front, so that they were unavailable when the typhus epidemics of 1945 broke out in the camps (Vol. I, p. 204 ff) - Incidentally, it is frequently claimed that mass executions were carried out in gas chambers cunningly disguised as shower facilities. Again the Report makes nonsense of this allegation. "Not only the washing places, but installations for baths, showers and laundry were inspected by the delegates. They had often to take action to have fixtures made less primitive, and to get them repaired or enlarged" (Vol. III, p. 594).
Not All Were Interned
Volume III of the Red Cross Report, Chapter 3 (I. Jewish Civilian Population) deals with the "aid given to the Jewish section of the free population," and this chapter makes it quite plain that by no means all of the European Jews were placed in internment camps, but remained, subject to certain restrictions, as part of the free civilian population. This conflicts directly with the "thoroughness" of the supposed "extermination programme", and with the claim in the forged Höss memoirs that Eichmann was obsessed with seizing "every single Jew he could lay his hands on."
In Slovakia, for example, where Eichmann's assistant Dieter Wisliceny was in charge, the Report states that "A large proportion of the Jewish minority had permission to stay in the country, and at certain periods Slovakia was looked upon as a comparative haven of refuge for Jews, especially for those coming from Poland. Those who remained in Slovakia seem to have been in comparative safety until the end of August 1944, when a rising against the German forces took place. While it is true that the law of May 15th, 1942 had brought about the internment of several thousand Jews, these people were held in camps where the conditions of food and lodging were tolerable, and where the internees were allowed to do paid work on terms almost equal to those of the free labour market" (Vol. I, p. 646).
Not only did large numbers of the three million or so European Jews avoid internment altogether, but the emigration of Jews continued throughout the war, generally by way of Hungary, Rumania and Turkey. Ironically, post-war Jewish emigration from German-occupied territories was also facilitated by the Reich, as in the case of the Polish Jews who had escaped to France before its occupation. "The Jews from Poland who, whilst in France, had obtained entrance permits to the United States were held to be American citizens by the German occupying authorities, who further agreed to recognize the validity of about three thousand passports issued to Jews by the consulates of South American countries" (Vol. I, p. 645).
As future U.S. citizens, these Jews were held at the Vittel camp in southern France for American aliens. The emigration of European Jews from Hungary in particular proceeded during the war unhindered by the German authorities. "Until March 1944," says the. Red Cross Report, "Jews who had the privilege of visas for Palestine were free to leave Hungary" (Vol. I, p. 648). Even after the replacement of the Horthy Government in 1944 (following its attempted armistice with the Soviet Union) with a government more dependent on German authority, the emigration of Jews continued.
The Committee secured the pledges of both Britain and the United States "to give support by every means to the emigration of Jews from Hungary," and from the U.S. Government the ICRC received a message stating that "The Government of the United States ... now specifically repeats its assurance that arrangements will be made by it for the care of all Jews who in the present circumstances are allowed to leave" (Vol. I, p . 649).
Biedermann agreed that in the nineteen instances that "Did Six Million Really Die?" quoted from the Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War and Inter Arma Caritas (this includes the above material), it did so accurately.
A quote from Charles Biedermann (a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Director of the Red Cross' International Tracing Service) under oath at the Zündel Trial (February 9, 10, 11 and 12, 1988).
The above is chapter nine from the book "Did Six Million Really Die?"
The 'False News' Trial of Ernst Zündel -- 1988
[Charles Biedermann was the fifth witness called by the Crown. He testified on February 9, 10, 11 and 12, 1988.]
Charles Biedermann was appointed a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1981 and appointed Director of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in 1985. (11-2493, 2495)
The management and administration of the ITS was taken over by the ICRC in 1955. Biedermann was employed by the ICRC in Geneva and was required under the Bonn Agreement of 1955 to be a delegate of the ICRC. He spoke as its authorized representative. (10- 2403, 11-2495, 2496)
The mandate of the ICRC was to ensure the fulfillment of the Geneva Conventions. There were four Geneva Conventions and two Protocols, all of which dealt with the protection of persons during war. (11-2493, 2494)
The ITS had four mandates: (1) the assembling; (2) classification; (3) administration; and (4) evaluation of documents of former civilian persecutees of the National Socialist regime for the purpose of enabling these people to obtain pension benefits. (11-2496, 2499) The documents were centralized in one main data file, containing about 44 million pieces of information regarding about 14 million former persecutees. (10-2406; 12-2708).
The ITS had processed just over 1.7 million applications since its inception. Payment of compensation and pensions by West Germany currently totaled between 82 and 88 billion marks. West Germany also paid the cost of running the ITS; approximately 10.5 million marks, or $7-8 million Canadian. (12-2715 to 2719)
The actual ownership of the documents rested with the ten Allied governments which composed the supervisory body (International Commission) of the ITS. These ten governments included the United Kingdom, the United States, the Federal Republic of West Germany and Israel. (11-2496, 2497) All documents were archived in the headquarters of the ITS in Arolsen, West Germany. (10-2405)
Access to the documents was limited by the Bonn Agreements of 1955 to former persecutees and their legal successors on the grounds that the documents were all person-related and therefore not open to the public. (11-2497, 2498). The wording used in the Bonn Agreement was that the archives were "only to be evaluated in the interests of the former persecutees themselves or their successors." (12-2676). The only exception to this rule, as provided for under the agreements, was that representatives of any of the ten Allied governments of the supervisory body had the right to inspect the documents. (11-2497) Any application by one of the ten governments for access was reviewed by the Director of the ITS; if the Director felt it was not justified, he could submit the application to the International Commission for the final decision. He could not remember any request by Israel being denied. (12-2711)
The definition of "former persecutee" was set out in the Bonn Agreements of 1955. (12-2716) If a person had been placed in a Nazi concentration camp because he was a common criminal, he could still make application to the ITS for documentation for a pension. The ITS made no distinction in the reasons why persons were detained in the camps. Whether the former criminal received a pension or not, however, depended on the country in which he resided today and what nationality he was. Next-of-kin of former inmates killed by Allied bombing raids could likewise apply for pensions as "persecutees." (12-2718)
The ITS published a three-part annual report. Since 1979, the second and third parts, dealing with the administration of the archives and the inventory of newly acquired documents, were no longer available to the public and were seen only by the International Commission. (12-2720, 2723)
The Special Registry Office was an agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, responsible directly to the Ministry of the Interior of the Province of Hesse and whose mandate was to certify deaths which occurred in concentration camps. (10 2407) The Special Registry Office consisted of two divisions: the preliminary investigation registry and the regular registry. The ICRC and the Special Registry Office were two separate institutions. (11-2498)
If dependents of former persecutees who had died during the war requested a death certificate, the ICRC passed the request together with any evidence it had concerning the individual to the Special Registry Office. Such death certificates were required in order to make restitution or pension claims. (11-2498, 2499) The latter organization decided whether the information was sufficient to certify a death. (10-2407, 2408)
Biedermann confirmed that as of December 31, 1983, the total number of deaths registered with the Special Registry Office and various other registry offices was 373,468. (11-2515) This figure represented death certificates issued pursuant to received applications and was based, with respect to the Special Registry Office, on camp records kept by the Nazis during the war. (11-2516, 2517)
Biedermann agreed that at an international conference held by the International Committee of the Camps in Vienna in 1977, the then director of the ITS, Albert de Cocatrix, gave a speech which indicated that as of December 31, 1976 a total of 357,190 names of persons who died in concentration camps had been registered at the Special Registry Office. Biedermann confirmed that these numbers actually came from the ITS. (12-2640 to 2646) He pointed out, however, that these figures resulted from applications. If an entire family had died, there was no one to make an application for a death certificate. Secondly, the ITS had complete documentation for only two of the twenty-two concentration camps. For the remainder, it had either partial or no documentation. Therefore, if an application was made for a person who had allegedly died in one of these camps, the ITS would not have the records to justify a request to the Special Registry Office for a death certificate. (12-2647)
Biedermann agreed with a statement in the de Cocatrix speech that "persons destined for extermination were brought to the gas chamber without being registered." He gave as an example a Paris- Drancy transport of 1,000 people, where only a part were registered in Auschwitz. Although this did not prove gassings, it proved to Biedermann that they disappeared without coming back again to be liberated. (12-2649; speech entered as Exhibit 26)
To determine whether a deportee obtained a number at Auschwitz, the ITS compared transport lists and arrival dates with the number lists prepared by the Auschwitz Museum in Poland. It also checked other sources which might prove that a deportee was registered, such as an effects card, a sick card or a registration card. (12-2655, 2556) Biedermann believed the ITS had all of the registration particulars from Auschwitz in copy form (12-2661) but admitted that it did not have all of the Auschwitz records "by far." (12-2656, 2657) He later stated that the ITS had the registration camp numbers for every day of the period only "as far as they could be reconstructed" by the Auschwitz State Museum. (12-2663) Other records which the ITS obtained from Auschwitz included copies of death books, cremation lists, death records from the camp doctor and a list about the death books. (12-2661)
Biedermann agreed that in the nineteen instances Did Six Million Really Die? quoted from the Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War and Inter Arma Caritas, it did so accurately. He felt, however, that the quotations from the three Red Cross volumes should not have been combined. (11-2530, 2592)
In February, 1978, the ICRC published in its monthly Bulletin No. 25 an article to make it clear, after the publication Did Six Million Really Die? came to its attention, that it did not compile the statistics being attributed to it. He denied it was done pursuant to political pressure. (12-2910, 2921)
Biedermann testified that while records of the ICRC demonstrated that Nazi prisoner of war camps were inspected regularly and found to be well-administered during the war, the records did not show concentration camps to be well administered. (11-2504, 2505)
The ICRC made a distinction between "concentration camps" and "extermination camps." It had records concerning the former, no records concerning the latter, specifically, Treblinka, Sobibor, Chelmno, or Belzec, except for records relating to railway transports. (11-2505, 2506) Biedermann testified that the organization did have records for Majdanek and Auschwitz, as these doubled as both "extermination" and "concentration" camps. (11-2506)
Biedermann testified that the parcel programme to concentration camp inmates was available only to those detainees whose names and places of detention were known to the ICRC. It was therefore available to Nazi prisoners of war from the beginning of the war because their names were known, while the civilian detainees were not known and therefore could not obtain parcels. Supervision by the ICRC relating to people who were interned for security reasons was possible only from March or April of 1945. (11- 2508, 2509)
Biedermann testified that the article from Die Tat of Zurich, January 19, 1955, cited by Harwood at page 30 of the pamphlet did not mention the ICRC as alleged by Harwood. (11-2513)
He confirmed several other statements in Did Six Million Really Die?, such as the fact that the ICRC never succeeded in sending any relief supplies to prisoners in Soviet camps and that the ICRC received a number of acknowledgments of receipt from inmates at Auschwitz before the Soviets overtook the camp in January, 1945. (11- 2569, 2570) Thereafter, the camp was "liberated" according to the Geneva Conventions and any persons interned there by the Soviets were under the mandate of any national Red Cross organization. (11- 2570)
The Crown quoted to Biedermann that part of Did Six Million Really Die? at page 18 in which Harwood quoted from Thies Christophersen's book Die Auschwitz Luge, in which Christophersen claimed that:
€ "...In September 1944 a commission of the International Red Cross came to the camp for an inspection. They were particularly interested in the camp at Birkenau, though we also had many inspections at Raisko."
Biedermann testified that if an inspection by the ICRC of the camp had taken place, the ITS would have the documents, but they did not. While records of the ICRC did refer to a visit to the camp in September of 1944, the delegates did not enter the camp, but were allowed only to see the camp commandant in order to discuss the effectiveness of the current system of distributing parcels to the inmates. The delegates were not able to establish direct contact with the inmates, but were able to meet with several representatives of different nationalities. (11-2501 to 2503)
Biedermann testified that in 1987, the ICRC had given the rector of a university in Geneva, as a neutral third party, the mandate to revise the history of the ICRC from 1933 to 1945 as there were uncertainties in some areas, such as the parcel distribution system. (11-2530) The ICRC had been attacked on numerous occasions for not having done enough, specifically for the civilian persecutees in the concentration camps, and one of the reasons for the rewriting was to show that the ICRC had done all that it could do at the time. He could not exclude the possibility that the ICRC was under more pressure in 1988 than in 1948 to emphasize the Holocaust. (12-2744, 2745)
Asked if the ICRC was becoming revisionist in their history, Biedermann replied: "We're human beings like everybody else. If something isn't clear and we become aware of it, we're obliged to correct it." (11-2531) He stated: "The writing of history does not always take place immediately after the events. So the ICRC goes according to the principle, after the completion of a programme, to only 25 years after that completion to draw up a final report, to intentionally gain certain historical distance." (12-2745)
Biedermann was shown a large, two volume work entitled Gedenkbuch, which had been prepared by the State Archive in Koblenz with the assistance of the ITS as a gift from the Federal Republic of Germany to the state of Israel. It was published in 1962 and took the place of a monument stone. The book consisted of pages of names, many of which had beside them the words verschollen meaning "missing," and another German word meaning "unknown." (11-2596 to 2598)
In the preparation of Gedenkbuch, the ITS had been asked to check some 498,000 names that had been collected by the Federal Archive. In the final book itself, there were some 129,000 names. Biedermann could not say what steps the Federal Archive or other archives had taken to see if those persons were alive; for example, by checking the names with Soviet authorities or with the Departments of Vital Statistics in such countries as Canada. (11-2597, 2598)
While the ITS itself did not search records of deceased persons with registries in other countries, many of the applications it handled came via national Red Cross Societies which had tracing service departments making such searches. Biedermann had no personal knowledge, however, of what the Canadian Red Cross, for example, did to check with the Departments of Vital Statistics of various provinces. (11-2599, 2600)
Biedermann could not recall any document from Nazi authorities from between 1939 and 1945 which used the word vernichtungslager, meaning "extermination camp." He did not know the origin of the word but understood it to mean a camp where people were not registered and were never released. (11-2600, 2601)
He acknowledged that in a map contained in the Report of the International Tracing Service, 1986, (Exhibit 25), both Auschwitz and Majdanek were referred to only as "concentration camps" while two other camps, near Riga and Minsk, were referred to as "extermination camps." He did not know whether these camps had ever before been listed as "extermination camps." (11-2602)
It was decided by ITS to classify Auschwitz and Majdanek as "concentration camps" only because the use of both symbols to indicate their double function "would cause further questions in the minds of people [which] would remain unanswered in that case." (12- 2632) The only documents which they had for "extermination camps" such as Riga were transport lists to that destination or an order for such a transport. (12-2706)
Under present German law, twenty-two of the camps which existed in Nazi Germany must be called "concentration camps"; these twenty-two camps had together over one thousand sub-Kommandos of different sizes which depended for administration on one of the main "concentration camps." Statistics were reported daily from the sub-Kommandos to the main camps. (11-2603).
The ITS had complete original records for only two of the "concentration camps," Buchenwald and Dachau. Although he knew the ITS had transport records to various camps, he did not know to which camps or transports the records pertained. The transport lists in the possession of the ITS were deemed to be incomplete as the agency had to assume, based on the literature or general documents, that there were more. An example of this was a transport from Drancy, France, of 1,000 Jews, a segment of whom were registered in Auschwitz two days later. The rest of the transport was not registered. Biedermann was aware that prisoners went from Auschwitz to other camps, but did not believe they did so without first being registered. (11-2603 to 2607)
Biedermann knew that the ITS had at least one transport list for Treblinka but did not know how many names were on it. He mentioned that in the Düsseldorf trial regarding the Treblinka camp in the 1960s the court, by expert testimony, set the death figure at 900,000. He did not know whether the ITS provided any records for this trial. (12-2632, 2633)
There were thirty-nine or forty death books from Auschwitz. Of these, the ITS had copies of only three of the books. The remainder were in Moscow (11-2609, 2610) and Biedermann had last requested the authorities in January 1988 for copies. (12 2675) The books were in loose-leaf form and gave the name, date and cause of death for each inmate, together with other data such as detainee numbers. (12- 2622)
Although ITS had the complete original Nazi documents from Buchenwald and Dachau, including death lists, it had not made a count of deaths. Asked why, Biedermann said the documents from Dachau alone "would fill a whole hall," and it would exceed the capacity and financial means of ITS to undertake such work. (12 2672, 2673) He later admitted, however, that the ICRC had given the definite instruction to the ITS not to establish or draw up statistics. He stated: "I have the clear order not to draw up statistics, so all the statistics that you might show me now must come from a different source than from our source. The same refers to general historical research and camp records.." (12-2701, 2702)
Shown the chart of deaths in Dachau from 1940 to 1945, Biedermann stated that Dachau had been liberated by the Americans who therefore had large numbers of records concerning the camp in copy form. However, he personally did not have knowledge of the statistics for the reasons given. (12-2701) Biedermann agreed that the German authorities kept meticulous camp records at Dachau and Buchenwald. (12-2674) Biedermann believed that all "extermination camps" were the ones captured by the Soviet forces. (12-2675)
Documents only became part of the ITS inventory after being authenticated. The documents were either copied or filmed on microfiche. ITS was obliged, in the event of a legal dispute, to know the location of the original document and also that access to that original document was guaranteed. (12-2693, 2694)
The ICRC had official camp records of executions in the camps by hanging or shooting. These documents were not marked secret. It was suggested to Biedermann that if exterminations were going on of unregistered inmates in the camps the ICRC had many contacts in Europe to find out about it. Biedermann replied that they had always tried to do so but had never received any confirmations at the time. He agreed there was never any indication by the Red Cross from all its reports that gas chambers were being used during the war. (12- 2624, 2625)
He was not aware of any request by the Allies to investigate the accusations of alleged homicidal gas chambers in any of the camps after the war but he knew "for sure" that the ICRC never made any such investigation. (12-2735)
The ITS did not have any records of visits to Auschwitz other than the September, 1944 visit report. Biedermann acknowledged that the 1944 report by Dr. Rossel spoke of a "rumour" of a very modern shower being used as a gas chamber, but that the detainees said nothing about it. He stated that it was definitely possible that the delegate could have spoken to inmates outside of the camp and agreed that the report said nothing about smoke. (11-2613 to 2618) He knew that the commandant's house was very close to the alleged gas chamber in Auschwitz I. (12-2667)
Biedermann agreed that the sentence, "In its relief work for civilian populations, the ICRC paid special attention to the Jews," appeared in volume three of the Report of the ICRC, and explained that this special protection was required especially by civilians persecuted for racial or religious reasons. He agreed that the Joint Relief Committee received large sums from Jews in countries either neutral or at war with Germany, particularly America and Switzerland. He agreed further that at the beginning of the war, the ICRC had considerable contacts with Jews in Europe. He did not agree that this contact extended into 1943 or 1944, except for the parcel distribution programme. He agreed parcels were sent to Auschwitz during the war to Jews. (12-2627 to 2630)
Biedermann stated that the ICRC's parcel distribution programme to the German concentration camps was negatively affected by the Allied blockade and the destruction of roads and railways by Allied saturation bombing. (12-2637).
Biedermann felt the ICRC was impartial during the war and attempted from the beginning of the war to obtain confirmation of rumours of atrocities. He did not know, however, why the ICRC refused the invitation of the German Red Cross to investigate the Katyn Forest massacre. (12-2638) Nor was he aware that the ICRC was invited to witness the exhumation of the bodies at that place. (12- 2639) He knew that for many years after the war thousands of German prisoners of war were used as forced labour for the Allied countries, but was unaware of any ICRC report on this matter (12- 2727) or of any condemnation by the ICRC of the use of compulsory German labour. (12-2733) Although he was aware of the displacement of large numbers of Germans from their ancestral homes, he believed they were not under the protection of the Geneva Convention. (12-2733, 2734) He did not know anything about the murder of 560 guards at Dachau concentration camp upon its liberation or the fact that photographs existed which showed the presence of an ICRC representative during the massacre committed by American troops. No mention was made of the massacre in the official ICRC report on Dachau. (12-2736 to 2741)
Biedermann was not aware of the ICRC or any delegate ever testifying before in a criminal proceeding for the prosecution of the publisher of a book. (12-2726)
Reproduced gratefully from: The Journal for Historical Review (http://www.ihr.org
ICRC, Germany denying access to Holocaust archive
Source: The Washington Post (3-26-06)
SIXTY-ONE YEARS ago this spring, the Allies liberated the German concentration camps. Sixty-one years is a long time -- so long that few European leaders have personal experience of the war. Why, then, are the German government and the International Red Cross still conspiring to prevent historians from gaining access to the world's largest Holocaust survivors' archive?
There is no easy answer to this question, particularly since both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Germany flatly deny they are doing so. Officially known as the International Tracing Service, the archive contains comprehensive documentation from Dachau and Buchenwald, as well as prisoner lists and records from other concentration camps, slave labor camps, displaced-person camps and ghettos. These records, thought to contain more than 17 million names, were deposited in Bad Arolsen, Germany, by the Allied powers after the war and have been managed since 1955 by an international treaty with 11 signatories. The treaty gave the ICRC management of the archive on behalf of survivors and required the German government to fund its operations.
But in recent years it has become clear that this system no longer works. The backlog of victims waiting for information about their lives is now in the hundreds of thousands; evidence that archivists hold back documents is overwhelming; survivors' groups in Germany and elsewhere are protesting; and historians are demanding better access.
In theory, the 11 countries have now agreed to open the archives to historians. But in practice, the longtime director of the archive, Charles Biedermann -- a Swiss employee of the ICRC -- together with the German government has thwarted efforts by the United States, the Netherlands, France and others to make the documents more accessible. Mr. Biedermann, while claiming neutrality, has written letters to German officials in an effort to influence committee deliberations and has recently issued a statement calling wider distribution of the documents "neither morally nor legally justifiable." In conversation, he lists conditions -- his conditions -- that researchers would have to meet before the International Tracing Service could "agree" to open itself up to historians.
The German interior ministry, meanwhile, joins him in pointing out multiple legal issues that prevent them from making the archives more accessible, ranging from the privacy of relatives of camp collaborators to questions about archivists' liability -- despite the fact that similar archives in Belgium and Israel have posed no special problems. Germany, along with Italy, also opposed the creation of a scholarly group to assist the 11-nation commission, which meets once a year and is mostly composed of diplomats without special knowledge of the Holocaust or of archives in general. Perhaps, some suspect, the Germans and the Italians fear a flood of new compensation claims. Or perhaps archive employees simply fear for their jobs.
Both the Germans and the ICRC also claim that any change in the archives' regime requires unanimous approval of all the treaty signatories -- which is not clearly the case and is, of course, impossible, because the Germans object. Yet these are not, and were never intended to be, Germany's archives to control. Clearly it is time to raise this issue's significance, to involve diplomats at a higher level, and to reach a compromise. If possible, the archives should be made completely accessible, with no unusual restrictions, in Bad Arolsen. If legal issues make it impossible to open the archive in Germany, then yes, the documents should be copied and placed in appropriate archives abroad, where they could be managed under the rules of other countries. Sixty-one years later, survivors, historians and the rest of the world have a right to know what happened. http://www.gnosticliberationfront.com/a ... _cross.htm