Gerstein, Kurt

Kurt Gerstein
Kurt Gerstein

Kurt Gerstein (11 Aug. 1905 – 25 July 1945), SS Obersturmführer, was a mining engineer by education, and from early 1942, head of the technical disinfection services of the hygiene department of the Waffen-SS’s health services. In that role, he was involved in supplying the Auschwitz Camp with the pesticide Zyklon B. He also inspected the Belzec and Treblinka Camps’ hygienic situation in 1942, together with Dr. Wilhelm Pfannenstiel, professor at, and director of, the Hygienic Institute at the University of Marburg and hygienic adviser to the Waffen-SS.

Gerstein suffered from type-one diabetes, which likely contributed to his emotional instability and resulted in several delirious events throughout his adult life. He also was an opponent of the NS regime. He was sentenced to prison several times for spreading anti-government propaganda, but at the same time he repeatedly affirmed his loyalty to the Führer and the NS state, asking unsuccessfully not to be expelled from the party, and later to be readmitted. He joined the Waffen-SS in early 1941. Considering his police record of multiple thought-crime offenses due to his opposition to the regime, he most certainly would not have been allowed to assume a position within the Waffen-SS hierarchy that gave him access to top-secret matters, let alone go on trips to visit the active annihilation of the Jews at the so-called extermination camps Belzec, Sobibór and Treblinka.

At the end of the war, Gerstein wrote several texts – some in French, some in German – which claim to describe his visit to the Belzec Camp, among other things. Gerstein was held captive by the French for three months, at which point he (allegedly) committed suicide in 1945 at the age of 40. His text was brought to public attention only in 1953, when a German government-sponsored historical periodical published one version of it, praising it as a reliable first-hand account of the claimed extermination activities at the Belzec Camp (Rothfels 1953). Gerstein’s “confessions” had an enormous impact on the orthodoxy, in particular with its dramatization in Rolf Hochhuth’s play The Deputy.

Because Gerstein’s various texts are riddled with contradictions and historically as well as technically impossible statements, they are no longer taken seriously by mainstream historians. In plagiarized form, however, Gerstein’s claims live on in countless texts and movie scenes, which is why a wide range of evidently untrue claims are exposed here (for more details, see Roques 1989; Mattogno 2021b):

  • On 8 June 1942, Gerstein received an order to procure 100 kg – or perhaps 260 kg – of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) – or perhaps potassium cyanide (KCN) – for an extremely secret mission.
  • The quantity of substances to procure was either specified to him or set by himself.
  • The destination of this secret mission was known only to his driver, but Gerstein gave Prof. Pfannenstiel (“more by accident” than on-purpose) a ride along this secret mission to an unknown place.
  • Gerstein decided himself (or was ordered) to drive from Berlin to Kolin near Prague in order to pick up the above substances, then drive them to a secret place in Poland.
  • In Kolin, he did not pick up 100 (or 260) kg HCN (or KCN), but rather 44 steel bottles of liquid HCN. Gerstein never mentions Zyklon B, even though he actually bought tons of it and had it delivered to the Auschwitz Camp, among others.
  • When Gerstein finally went on his trip in August 1942, he stopped over in Lublin to see Odilo Globocnik, commander “of the four extermination camps,” who revealed to him and Pfannenstiel the Reich’s greatest secret, which was so secret that anyone revealing it to outsiders would be shot on the spot – and thus Globocnik, in revealing this to the accidental hitchhiker Pfannenstiel and the regime’s opponent Gerstein, should have been immediately executed. (He was not).
  • Gerstein arrived in Lublin with 44 steel bottles of HCN in his vehicle, although the Lublin Camp received large supplies of Zyklon B on a regular basis for pest control, and hence all Gerstein had to do to get HCN was ask Globocnik for some, rather than haul 44 steel bottles across Europe.
  • Gerstein has Globocnik claim that the Belzec Camp so far (March through August 1942) had killed on average 11,000 Jews daily, hence some (150 × 11,000 =) 1.65 million Jews – while only some 434,500 Jews were deported to or through Belzec during its entire existence until the end of 1942.
  • Gerstein has Globocnik claim that the latter didn’t know where the Sobibór Camp was located, but that he knew that there, on average, some 20,000 Jews were killed daily since June 1942, hence after some two and a half months of operation, around (75 × 20,000 =) 1.5 million Jews, while today’s orthodox death-toll figure for the entire time of the camp’s existence stands at “only” some 300,000.
  • For Treblinka, Globocnik allegedly claimed 13,500 daily killings on average, also since June of that year, thus some (75 × 13,500 =) one million for just that short period of time, while the orthodoxy claims a total death toll of 700,000 to 900,000 victims for the entire time of the camp’s existence. But more importantly: the camp opened only at the end of July 1942.
  • Gerstein has Globocnik claim that textiles confiscated from the Jews processed in his camps so far amounted to some 400,000 to 800,000 tons, meaning that every Jew had carried with them clothes weighing about one metric ton.
  • Gerstein has Globocnik claim that Hitler and Himmler had recently visited the camps Belzec, Sobibór and Treblinka, requesting that the process be accelerated – although neither of them ever set foot in these camps.
  • Gerstein claimed that his secret mission was to convert the existing gas chambers operating with Diesel exhaust gases to something better and faster, such as hydrogen cyanide. Gerstein later described the gassing operation at Belzec with a Diesel engine. As a mining engineer, Gerstein certainly could recognize a diesel engine, and knew that their exhaust gases were relatively harmless and useless for murder.
  • Gerstein also met Christian Wirth in Lublin, the commandant of the Belzec Camp. He drove in Wirth’s car to Belzec, yet when getting there, Wirth was either already there to receive him, or Wirth was not present at all; and the 44 steel bottles were in the vehicle, but Wirth’s car was a passenger car, while the transport of 44 steel bottles requires a large truck. Globocnik also came along, as only he could grant entry into the camp for outsiders.
  • When arriving at the Belzec Camp together with his accidental hitchhiker Pfannenstiel, Gerstein hid the 44 HCN steel bottles from Wirth and Globocnik some 1,200 meters away from the camp, although he had traveled in Wirth’s car, presumably with Wirth, and accompanied by Globocnik. (And how does one hide a pile of 44 steel bottles?) Or, if we follow another version of the text, Gerstein (with or without Wirth?) parked the vehicle with the bottles 1,200 meters away from the camp and walked the rest of the way – or, according to yet another version, Gerstein took the bottles into the camp.
  • Gerstein convinced Commandant Wirth not to use the HCN steel bottles, but to stick to his Diesel-exhaust system, which Wirth gladly accepted as “satisfactory.”
  • Gerstein saw a 500-m long train pull into the Belzec Camp spur, which was only 260 m long.
  • Gerstein saw a gargantuan pile of shoes 35 or 40 meters high (or 25 m in another version).
  • 700-800 people were crammed into a room of only 25 square meters, or 28-32 persons per square meter in a room only 1.8 m high – which is both nonsensical and a physically impossible packing density. To this blatant nonsense, orthodox historians reacted either by hushing it up, falsifying the numbers claimed by Gerstein – Neumann (1961, p. 192) reduced the number of people, while Poliakov (1979, p. 223) increased the room size – or by absurdly declaring that this “error” “reinforces the credibility and good faith of the story” (Adam 1985, Note 85, p. 260).
  • During an alleged gassing event, the Diesel engine wouldn’t start, and so the victims had to wait almost three hours in the closed gas chambers before the gassing commenced. At that point, all victims were still alive, according to one version, yet if we follow another, all were already dead. In fact, hardly anyone would have survived being jammed into a sealed room for three hours.
  • The gassing took 32 minutes (or perhaps one hour).
  • Either the victims fell as they died, or they remained standing like “columns of basalt” due to a lack of space to fall over – but no matter the packing density, any dying person slumps down.
  • After Gerstein had abandoned the 44 steel bottles and had convinced Wirth not to switch from Diesel to Zyklon B, Globocnik still allowed him and his accidental hitchhiker Pfannenstiel go on to see the Treblinka Camp, although Gerstein’s mission of switching Diesel for Zyklon B had become moot.
  • At Treblinka, Gerstein saw another mountain of clothes 35-40 meters high.
  • Although Gerstein never returned to any of these camps, he claimed to know that “later” all corpses buried in mass graves were exhumed and burned using “gasoline and Diesel oil” – a physically impossible technique, since liquid fuels only singe superficially; sprinkling gasoline on a corpse and setting it afire will not even begin to totally consume the body.
  • Although the victims had not been counted exactly, Gerstein claimed to know that the total death toll of those camps amounted to 25 million (or perhaps 20 million) “according to my secure documents”! This is an outrageously high figure, far above anything ever claimed for the Holocaust.
  • Gerstein was not asked to, and did not report to anyone about his top-secret mission initiated by Hitler and Himmler personally, and ultimately did nothing to implement the requested changes to “speed up the process” by replacing the Diesel engines with some Zyklon-B procedure.
  • When he found out that large quantities of hydrogen cyanide had been ordered by German authorities, he claimed to know that a plan existed to kill vast numbers of people in “reading or club rooms,” so he made sure that this pesticide disappeared. Documents show, however, that those orders were meant for lice disinfestations, and that they were all delivered.
  • Gerstein claimed that the German pest-control company DEGESCH produced HCN “in vials” for killing people. No such vials ever existed.
  • He also insisted that “millions of people have disappeared” in the Mauthausen Camp “in gas chambers and gas cars (mobile chambers),” which no mainstream historian takes seriously.
  • “In Auschwitz, millions of children alone were killed by holding a swab of hydrogen cyanide under their noses.” This is ridiculous and utterly without confirmation.
  • “Attempts have also been made with compressed air: people were put into cauldrons, into which compressed air was pressed by means of the usual asphalt-road compressors.” Even more ridiculous than above.

By all accounts, Gerstein was either delusional and in need of serious mental-health assistance, or he was tortured and coerced into writing nonsense. It is tragic that his testimony is the main basis upon which the myth of the Belzec extermination camp rests. There is only one other witness who made detailed statements about Belzec, Rudolf Reder, whose testimony is similarly unreliable, although for other reasons.

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