Bronisław Falborski was a Polish car mechanic who claims to have repaired a gas van’s exhaust system near the Chełmno Camp. Interrogated by the Polish judiciary on 11 June 1945, Falborski described the van as a converted moving truck, which at the time of his interview was parked at the Ostrowski factory grounds in Koło, near Chełmno. However, that vehicle was investigated in detail by the Polish judiciary and turned out not to be a gas van at all. The way he describes the repair he did to this “gas van’s” exhaust system confirms that the witness was lying:
- According to him, this truck’s exhaust pipe went all the way to the end of the chassis. However, truck exhaust pipes exit overhead behind the driver’s cabin or on the side behind the motor. They don’t go on for many more meters to the rear. That’s done with passenger cars only.
- Falborski’s description and sketch of the switching system for the exhaust from venting to piping into the cargo box was inconsistent and pointlessly complicated.
- He asserted that the Germans did not allow him and his seven Polish colleagues to investigate the design of the vehicle, but they let him repair the lethal and most compromising part of it! If the Germans wanted to keep anything a secret, they wouldn’t have let Poles do the repair work.
- Two of Falborski’s colleagues – Jozef Piaskowski and Bronisław Mańkowski – confirmed the awkward, nonsensical setup of the alleged exhaust system, showing that they all were under the same spell of wanting to deliver a coherent story, even if it meant agreeing on nonsense. This is a clear-cut case of the “convergence of evidence” on a lie.
Hence, Falborski’s and his colleague’s statements were meant to corroborate the intended claim by the Polish Investigative Commission that the moving truck found in the courtyard of the former Ostrowski Company had been a homicidal “gas van.” That, however, backfired on them and their testimonies.
When Falborski was interviewed for Claude Lanzmann’s 1985 documentary Shoah 40 years after the war, he suddenly knew everything about the gas vans’ operation and even about the entire program of exterminating the regional Jews, something he could not possibly have known in 1945, nor did he claim it back then. To top it off, Falborski tells the tall tale that, on one occasion, the gas van tipped over, the doors burst open, and out came tumbling 50 living Jews, which were then shot by one single German using a pistol. Since that weapon had at most eight bullets, he had to reload seven times – from what ammunition stash is unclear. All the while, all the tumbling Jews needed to sit patiently and await their turn to be shot, and not be tempted to run away into the woods. Clearly, the scene is absurd. Falborski made it up, and Lanzmann swallowed it completely.
(For more details, see Alvarez 2023, pp. 151-156.)