Last month, Townhall.com columnist Marina Medvin published a column about letters allegedly written by Leon Morin, a 29-year old soldier who helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp in 1945. In his letters, Morin made a number of eyebrow-raising claims about Dachau—claims that Medvin swallowed uncritically:
- The camp contained a gas chamber disguised as a shower room.
- The gas chamber exterminated inmates using chlorine gas.
- There were at least 20 camps just like Dachau on German soil.
Today, no historian—mainstream or revisionist, Jewish or gentile—would agree with these claims. According to the official Dachau website, “Killing people on a mass scale through poison gas never took place in the Dachau concentration camp.” According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Germans operated only five extermination camps: Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. All were located in Poland, not Germany. Neither mainstream historians nor revisionists believe that chlorine gassings occurred at any of the camps.
In his letter, Morin claimed that Dachau’s prison guards gassed thousands of inmates in a three-hour period just before U.S. troops arrived, of which “more than half” were “half cremated.” The point, we are led to believe, was to kill as many Jews as possible immediately before the camp was liberated and to conceal the dead bodies from the U.S. soldiers. If the point was to conceal evidence of gassings, we are left to wonder why the Germans would go to the trouble of half cremating bodies rather than fully cremating them. It is also curious that the guards waited until the very last minute to administer these alleged executions when there would have been ample opportunity to do so earlier.
According to Morin, the gas chamber had a capacity of 250. To gas 2,000 inmates thus would require eight separate gassings. It takes time to load 250 people into a small room. It takes time for a gassing to kill a group of people. And it takes time to drag 25,000+ pounds of human flesh out of that room. To administer 8 or more gassings in three hours the German guards and their staff would have had to average one gassing every 22.5 minutes.
Even more remarkable was the pace at which the gassed bodies were allegedly cremated. According to Morin, there were six crematories at Dachau—two that “can hold three bodies and four more who can hold six apiece.” This appears to be false: there were apparently only two crematoria ever built at Dachau and it is not clear that both were functional when Dachau was liberated. The official Dachau website shows only one crematorium building, referred to as “barrack X.”. Morin presumably meant to say that there were six ovens in this one crematorium and is claiming—improbably—that multiple bodies could be shoved into each oven. For the sake of argument, let’s accept this questionable claim and do the math. To simplify the analysis, we will make the following assumptions: It takes one hour to fully cremate bodies in an oven, no matter how many bodies are crammed inside; it takes half an hour to half cremate a body; time spent moving bodies to the crematorium from the gas chamber and loading them into the ovens is zero; time spent unloading half-cremated bodies from the ovens is zero; time spent moving half-cremated bodies out of the crematorium is zero. So, that gives us:
- 2 ovens that can hold three bodies each = 6 bodies fully cremated per hour
- 4 ovens that can hold six bodies each = 24 bodies fully cremated per hour
- = Total of 30 bodies fully cremated per hour
- = 60 bodies half cremated per hour
- = 180 bodies half cremated in three hours
Under more realistic assumptions, the numbers might look something like this:
- 6 ovens that can hold 1-2 bodies body each = 6-12 bodies cremated per hour
- = 18-24 bodies fully cremated in three hours
- = 36-48 bodies half-cremated in three hours
Of course, if we take into account time spent dragging corpses from the gas chamber to the crematorium, loading them into the ovens, removing half-cremated bodies from the ovens, and hauling half-cremated bodies out of the crematorium, the number would be even lower. It is also reasonable to assume that some time would be required to cool the oven before removing half-cremated bodies. Even under the most generous assumptions, Morin’s claim—more than a thousand half-cremations in just three hours, or one half-cremation every 10 seconds or so—obviously is impossible.
Morin did not claim that he personally witnessed any of the gassings or cremations. He was probably telling stories he had been told by others—stories that likely were promoted by the U.S. Army as part of an anti-Germany post-war propaganda campaign.
Some of Medvin’s readers attempted to rebut Morin’s false allegations, but it appears that their comments have been deleted by Townhall staff. (So much for the idea that conservatives support free speech.)
In a follow-up column, Medvin highlighted Morin’s claim that camp guards used bloodhounds to torture Dachau inmates. She states that this claim is backed by “historic photos” which “show Dachau prisoners fighting the ravenous dogs with clubs to survive.” The only photo she linked to, however, shows no such fight—only a pair of inmates sitting near a dead dog. For all we know, the dog may have died of starvation or old age. Curiously, Medvin has not written about similar allegations directed at Israel (see here, here, here, and here).
If it is real, Morin’s letter is historically significant. It is not evidence that there were gas chambers at Dachau (as Medvin believes), but does illustrate a post-war propaganda campaign designed to vilify Nazi Germany—a propaganda campaign that continues to this day.
One Third of the Holocaust (2008)
Buchenwald: A Dumb Dumb Portrayal of Evil
The Auschwitz Hoax: Why the Gas Chambers Are A Myth