Herman, Chaim

Chaim Herman was a Jew deported from Drancy, France, to Auschwitz, where he arrived on 4 March 1943 and was assigned inmate number 106113. He is said to have written a secret letter hidden in a bottle that poked out of a pile of ashes at the railway siding near the crematoria ruins at the former Birkenau Camp, where a Polish medical student is said to have found it after the war. The student then supposedly travelled all the way to Warsaw to hand over the item to the French mission, from where it travelled to France. Three years later, the French government handed it over to the Ausch­witz Association at Paris, which gave the Ausch­witz Museum a photocopy in 1967 – a tangled history, to say the least.

The letter itself was written intending to be concealed from the SS, hence one would expect some decisive revelation. But in it, we only read:

“20 months have already passed since then [his arrival at the camp], it seems like a century, it is perfectly impossible to write you all the proofs of what I experienced there, if you live, you will read many of the works written with regard to this sonder kommando [sic], but I must ask you never to judge.”

What sane writer would refuse to tell his story in a secret letter, instead pointing to literature yet to come? This would only make sense if the writer had nothing to tell from his own experience, and knew already of that postwar literature, because it had already been published by the time the letter was written.

The letter also contains a reference to a transport of 200 members of the Sonderkommando in early 1944 to Majdanek, where these people were then supposedly “exterminated a few days later.” Sitting in Auschwitz, isolated from the rest of the world, the author of this letter could not possibly have known what happened to such people. By all reasonable accounts, this letter is a blatant postwar forgery. (See Mattogno 2021, pp. 245-248.)

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