David Brockschmidt - Where Lies Carry A Smile:
Paul Rae revises his 1985 Where Death Wears a Smile, 29 June 1985, Channel 7.
Paul Rea has another go at the old Theresienstadt-Terezin Small Fortress story: Where Death Wears a Smile, screened on Channel 7 on 29 June 1985, partly financed and endorsed by the “Hon” Christopher Skase and the Sydney Jewish Community. From the credits listed on the video Paul Rea wrote the script and was in charge of the historical research.
This Aussie Holocaust docu drama won prizes in New York and, of course, in Germany.
Australian solider, Alex McClelland, a POW and survivor of the Small Fortress at Terezin, contends that this production was mainly based on the three totally discredited affidavits given by one Jewish inmate at Terezin, Moritz Mittelmann, and the eye-witness account of Australian POW, Walter Steilberg.
Mittelmann’s affidavits were given to the Czech Regional Court authorities in Bratislava on 2 November 1961, and again on 16 November 1974, and also to the German War Crimes prosecutor at Dortmund on 2 June 1975. Herman Weissing, a senior prosecutor of Nazi war crimes, replied to the Mittelmann accusations: “I am quite certain that this incident did take place”. Weissing must have known better because the 1978 Terezin document states that no allied soldiers were executed or tortured and all 560 of them were released from Terezin at the end of the war.
All three affidavits contain material that is contradictory. Had Rea studied these documents in some detail he should have been aware they contain contradictory information. McClelland confirms that these Affidavits cast doubt on whatever Mittelmann claims is the truth because there were no other alleged witnesses to what he was reporting on.
Both Mittelmann’s and Steilberg’s various affidavits, wherein they claim that German SS guards killed forty Australian and New Zealand POWs at Terezin, is not supported by the official documentation held at the Terezin camp museum.
In his affidavit to the District Court, Adelaide, Australia, of 21 October 1992, Alexander McClelland ripped the whole story apart. McClelland gave an interview to Fia Cumming published in the Sun-Herald, Sydney, 9 August 1998. In this article, ‘POW seeks truth in death camps’, McClelland comments on the atrocity stories told in the video by Walter Steilberg, and recently repeated by him to breakfast presenter Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National on 30 August 2007 at which the ABC publication of Rea’s book Voices from the Fortress was announced.
In the 9 August 1998 newspaper article, we read the following:
“McClelland is also sceptical about atrocities which Walter Steilberg claims in the film to have witnessed, including barrels of human fat, headless bodies and blood-splattered walls. “This is nonsense”, McClelland said. “Not one other ex-POW from the small fortress recalls any such horrors”.
Steilberg also claimed that a cart with dead bodies could be seen heading towards the cook house. McClelland said, “Detailed maps of Terezin showed that Steilberg could not have seen where the carts went. Steilberg claims to have been fed lumps of meat, possibly human flesh, where other POWs were given only bread. Steilberg, who lives on the NSW north coast, could not be contacted by the Sun-Herald last week.
McClelland reminds us that this horror story sounds similar to the one of Donald Watt’s books, Stoker, in which he claims that the gas chambers and furnaces worked twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, although he said they had to be cooled down each night and fired up each morning. Watt claims he fed the Auschwitz fires with huge fir tree logs and that bodies were pushed down a chute to the furnaces and built up >in a sort-of log-jam at the entrance<. Watt counted 5000 corpses a day, burned in each of the two crematories in Auschwitz-Birkenau between May and the end of November 1944, equivalent to one body every two minutes in each retort. But McClelland says Auschwitz was surrounded by beech not fir trees, and photographs of the ovens, including one in Stoker, show they had doors less than half a metre wide.
It has also been argued that the Auschwitz crematorium furnaces were fired by coke not wood. Watt also claims that six to seven hundred Jewish women were kept in a cage and had blood drawn from them each day with >>big syringes<< until they died.
>>There are many more examples of claims in Stoker that are impossible for me and other concentration camp veterans to believe,<< he said.
According, then, to McClelland the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem investigated Donald Watt’s claims as presented in his book Stoker, and concluded that Watt had not spent any time at Auschwitz-Birkenau or at any of the other Auschwitz camps.
Back to the newspaper article: >>In April 1995 the chairman of the Vidal Sassoon Centre for the Study of Antisemitism, Professor Yehuda Bauer, said claims that the Nazis had made soap from Jews’ fat were known to be false and simply misuse people’s fears and obsessions.<<
Nonetheless, Israel’s chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, demanded that an auction house return a bar of soap to its owner, >>so that it could be given a proper burial<<.
McClelland said he was concerned that escalating claims were being filed, and fuelling racial hatred against the Germans.
>>The danger was that if the exaggerated claims about the Holocaust were disproved, later generations might become sceptical and reject even the horrible truth,<< he said.
The author Gerald Green wrote the book, Artists of Terezin, in which he claimed people were dragged off to the gas chambers in Terezin and the German’s sole intent was to murder their prisoners. But in the same book he said there were no gas chambers at Terezin.
Finally, in this 9 August 1998 article, Paul Rea is quoted as saying that he himself did not verify the claims made in the Mittelmann Affidavit but relied on it because it had come from the Dortmund War Crimes Prosecutor’s office. He did not go into the Terezin archives searching for documents when making this film. Fia Cumming also notes that Rea quoted selectively >>from two of the affidavits in a National Times article in 1985, in which he intermingled paragraphs from both statements to make one consistent account.<<
This makes sense in regard to this Holocaust horror story because if Rea would have used the official Terezin document, dated 19 September 1978, which refutes the claims of Mittelmann and Steilberg, he would most probably not have received funding from Channel 7 and the Australian Jewish community – and would have had no story to tell nor story to sell.
It is to Alex McClelland’s credit that he obtained an official statement from the Terezin Museum about the claim that SS guards had killed 40 Australian and New Zealand soldiers. Dated 19 September 1978 and signed by Vaclav Novak, director of the Terezin Memorial Museum, it stated:
>>The prisoners of war from Great Britain and its dependencies [Australia, New Zealand – ed] came to the Small Fortress since Autumn 1944. … With comparison with other prisoners in the Small Fortress, their position was much better. They were better dressed and received food stuffs from parcels sent by the Red Cross. They did not go, in the most part, to work. The only exception was in March 1945 when almost all prisoners of the Small Fortress had to go and dig anti-tank ditches in the neighbourhood of Terezin. This was only for a very short period of time.
They were never tortured by the prison wardens nor anybody of them executed. They remained here until beginning of April 1945. On the 4th of April 1945 a transport containing 560 prisoners of war was dispatched from Terezin. This transport consisted not only of British prisoners of war but also of other members of the allies, the most numerous group was that of the Soviet prisoners of war.<<
Let me get back to the book, Voices from the Fortress, which Rea calls in his Foreword ‘Stories from the Fortress’. In the photo section there is a notable mix-up with Bob Slater appearing twice, once as himself and the other as Walter Wise, the Australian soldier.
The book is the old recycled Terezin horror story based on the proven false and refuted affidavits and eye witness accounts of Walter Steilberg and Moritz Mittelmann.
Boy, oh boy! When will it ever end? From >Swindler’s List< to human flesh in Terezin and giant injections in Auschwitz, soap made of Jewish fat, and lamp shades made of human skin – there is no end to it. There are hundreds more made-up Holocaust horror stories available on a daily basis.
A closer look at Rea’s book is merely that – more of the same with some revision regarding the Moritz Mittelman affidavit.
In this book Rea and Steilberg accuse the Australian Department of Veteran Affairs of failing former prisoners-of-war of their rights. The Department failed to contact the Czech authorities regarding Australian and other Allies POWs who ended up contrary to the Geneva Convention of War in German concentration camps instead of POW camps. This accusation is correct, and the inaction of this government department for many years is a scandal in itself.
However, the problem is that Rea did exactly the same when he was in charge of research and writing the film script for the TV production, When Death Wears a Smile. One phone call to the Terezin archives would have made it clear that not one of the Allied POWs in the Small Fortress was tortured or killed, something that was well known to Rea, so according to Alexander McClelland, who had given Rea the 1978 Terezin documents before film production started.
To say the least, Rea and producer Heinman, were both selective with their evidence here in order to get their story together. Had they mentioned the 1978 documents regarding Allied POWs in Terezin, the story would immediately have fallen apart and there would have been no story to tell and to sell.
At page 195 of his book Rea quotes Alexander McClelland:
>>McClelland developed an infected leg but was still ordered to the anti-tank ditch where he believes he was saved by one of the Waffen SS men who noticed his condition and gave him a first aid kit. He recalls getting near a window in the cell facing the yard and seeing a kapo dressed in black bringing two prisoners in striped uniforms from the small cell opposite. [According to McClelland’s book, these were not Allied POWs but concentration camp prisoners – DB] The kapo stood the prisoners by the window of cell 44 and went to work on them with a club until he had beaten them to death. … One day the kapo in black opened the door and came into the cell. He found McClelland, brandished his club and said: >Herr Doktor thinks you need some medicine<. McClelland, unable to move away, did his best to protect his head from the blows. …<<
This quotation appears in both McClelland’s and Rea’s books. Let me augment the quote by adding from McClelland’s book:
>>In a letter I had in 1989 from Charles Croal, the New Zealand Airforce bloke I had swapped identities with in 1942 (so he could escape), he mentioned the Jewish kapo in Compound 4 of the Small Fortress who split his ear in two. He must have been the same kapo as he was the same kapo that bashed me up, as he was the only kapo that carried a heavy stick, of the two kapos in Compound 4.<<
Rea omits the fact that McClelland described these kapos in his affidavit as being Jewish. I wonder why Rea omitted that? Does Rea fear of being called an antisemite if he pointed out that the kapos were mainly Jewish at Terezin? Kapos is the abbreviation for concentration camp police – Konzentrationslagerpolizei.
Alexander McClelland, who can claim credit of having published the important Terezin document, is pushed by Rea into the anti-Zionist right-wing Holocaust denier corner in order to make Steilberg more credible – which, in my opinion, he is not. Rea also omitted to mention the two Affidavits that state Alexander McClelland was a POW in the Small Fortress.
According to McClelland, Rea knew about the two Affidavits, one from Herbert George Moles, Bletchley, Milton, dated 21 August 1979, states:
>>Alexander McClelland was in the same group of British POWs who left the Small Fortress Terezin concentration camp in early May 1945. We were liberated by the Americans.<<
The other affidavit is from James Roy Daniels, London, dated 20 August 1979:
>>I was in the same group of British POWs as McClelland an Australian. We left the Small Fortress, Terezin in early May and were liberated by the American forces three days later in a small village.<<
Interestingly, Rea calls Mittelmann’s contradictory affidavits as >>unproven<<. To that I respond: they are simply false because the official documents from Terezin museum confirms that.
In order to make Steilberg more credible, Rea attempts to neutralise McClelland’s Terezin document. At p 248 Rea quotes McClelland where McClelland condemns Mittelmann:
>>In his view [McClelland] Mittelmann was wrong and because I [Rea] had conflated his statement I had wilfully distorted and sensationalised his allegation about the massacre of Australians. According to McClelland, this was intended to fabricate a lie to >Australianise the Holocaust and promote Zionist racial hatred<. He continued to write letters to politicians including Prime Minister John Howard, denouncing, accusing and pleading. Ultimately, he found himself in the far right of Australian politics.<<
This paragraph Rea footnotes as 35, which reads: >>Adelaide Institute Report 20 May 2005 >Exposing Literary Frauds and documentaries about the Holocaust<. <<
After all, his book Voices from the Fortress, which he also calls Stories from the Fortress is based mainly on Walter Steilberg’s Affidavits and eyewitness accounts. Rea dedicated the book To Walter Steilberg ‘… he was our mainstay, he was the backbone of us all.’
This is because the original story as depicted in the video was based mainly on Mittelmann’s false affidavits, which McClelland demolished in his book: The Answer – Justice. An Australian Prisoner of War and Witness in the Small Fortress Terezin Concentration Camp in 1945, published in 1998 by HIP, PO Box 887, Toronto 2283, Australia, ISBN 0-906879-41-8.
Likewise with Walter Steilberg who has a flowering fantasy, especially in regard to torture and murder of Allied POWs in the Small Fortress of Terezin. The notorious meals made of human flesh and fat gives the reader goose bumps. I wonder if Steilberg read the book, Hanibal the Canibal, who went into a Pizza Hut outlet, ordered a giant pizza with everyone on it!
Steilberg’s human flesh story is the Silence of the Lamb movie all over again, much like the Watt’s Stoker story in Auschwitz-Birkenau where the Germans hold six to seven hundred Jewish women in a giant cage. From time to time the Dr Mengele boys came with giant syringes, stuck them into the ladies through the bars, draining their blood out of their bodies until they dropped dead. I’m surprised that Hollywood has not made Holocaust films yet out of these >>true horror<< stories. After all, the refuted lamp shades made of human skin and soap made from Jewish fat were very successful and profitable, even until today. Doesn’t it also reminds you of the chopped-off hands from Belgian’s children cut off by German soldiers during World War One? I assume the Krauts had them for lunch. During the 1920s the British government actually apologized to the German government for having spread these horror war propaganda stories. There is no business like Shoah business.
Another interesting matter raised by Rea in the book is the 5 million Soviet POWs captured by the German Army of whom two million died. He does not inform us of the cause of their deaths. He quotes from another horror story where a German guard used his German Shepherd dog to kill prisoners, slowly then have the dogs eat all the flesh until only the bones were left. I wonder why the dogs didn’t also eat the bones!
In order to bring balance here, Rea should have mentioned what happened at the various Allied POW camps holding German POWs, which had no shelter, for example the Rhein Wiesen in Germany, where the Americans slowly starved to death about a million German POWs. Canadian James Baque writes in detail about this tragedy in his books Other Losses and Crimes and Mercies.
How could this have happened that the German POWs were treated like that? According to the Geneva Convention of War they should have been treated like any POW, but Eisenhower decided to remove this protection by declaring them >non-combatants< and this removed such protection. The USA is still doing the same, for example at the US Army base on Cuba, Guantanamo Bay prison where the US military is still holding captured individuals indefinitely without laying any charge.
According to my knowledge Eisenhower was never charged by the International War Crimes Tribunal at Nürnberg or any other tribunal for ordering this genocide of these German POWs.
Rea’s book is in my view a rushed, revised and recycled job. There are translation errors, photographic stuff-ups, and the language is, to say the least, unsophisticated, the story is sexed up, important documents like the Terezin documents are not mentioned again, like in the earlier video production.
Some politically correct critics will give Rea five stars. I give him six lemmings* and rest my case, and add the following for your consideration:
*Lem-ing (lemming) n. 1. Any of various volelike rodents of the genus Lemmus and related genera, of northern regions, such as the European species L. lemmus, noted for its mass migrations as a result of periodic population increases. 2. A person who wilfully follows a disastrous course of action; a self-destructive person.
History Lessons at the People’s University,
The Guardian Weekly, 18 May 2007, By Tatum Anderson.
From German Stalags to Malaysia, Douglas Gillam gave up a math degree to fight the Nazis. So when his plane was shot down over enemy territory in 1943 he might have been surprised had he known how soon he would be back at university.
While he was a POW in Stallag IV, B, near Leipzig in eastern Germany, he began to receive textbooks and exam papers sent from England.
>>I attempted to sit a three-hour paper in the corner of a room with 350 other men in it, many of whom were playing games. My hut commander was given the job of sitting next to me to make sure that nobody gave me assistance.<<
A camp university flourished as prisoners began to teach each other. Gillam became one of more than 30 lecturers, holding math lessons twice a week. Other subjects ranged from ecumenical Greek to car repairs. Professor Stephen Guest, whose father Frank, gave lectures to fellow prisoners at Stalag IV, B says:
>>Even the Germans used to attend the lectures on economics and psychology.<<
Guest followed in his father’s footsteps, teaching distant learning courses.
This curious state of affairs was facilitated by the 1929 Geneva Convention. While Europe was ripped apart by war, the Germans allowed the University of London, the Red Cross Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem to deliver exam papers to 17,600 POWs. Almost 11 thousand exams were taken at 88 camps between 1940-45.
The University of London collected exam papers from institutions across the UK and dispatched them from Oxford University’s New Bodleian Library in Red Cross parcels. They were sent to the camps in Germany and Italy by a circuitous route through Allied Europe. Completed papers returned to Oxford along the same route.
This is one remarkable chapter in the history of the University of London’s Distance Learning Department, the External Program, which celebrates its 150th Anniversary next year.
David Brockschmidt’s final comment:
Here you go, dear reader, Shakespeare for lunch instead of human flesh, Keynes for dinner instead of lampshades made from human skin, John Stuart Mill for breakfast instead of blood transfusions from Auschwitz-Birkenau and real soap in the shower. These were the real Hogan Heroes.
I shall claim here that historical revisionism will grind historical lies into the ground and expose the individuals and groups who pull the strings behind the scene in order to cover up their own war crimes and genocides in order to secure their financial, social and political status. No memory hole is deep enough for the liars and deniers to hide historical truth from the public forever. The arms of Revisionists are very long and we will get to the bottom of it. Remember what the assassinated US President, Abraham Lincoln said: >>You can lie to some people for some time; you can lie to all people for a long time, but you cannot lie to all people forever.<<
Home from Nazi Hell to be called a liar,
The Australian, Aug.30, 2007
By Lauren Wilson
When Walter Steilberg returned to Australian after being liberated from Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp in the former Czechoslovakia, the Australian government told him he had never been there. It was only 40 years later, in 1987, that Canberra officially recognized the horrors experienced by Mr Steilberg.
Yesterday he helped launch a historical account of the crusade for recognition, Voices from the Fortress, by journalist Paul Rea. The book chronicles the illegal detainment of Australian and New Zealand servicemen in the Nazi concentration camp known as the Small Fortress of Terezin.
The book is dedicated to Mr Steilberg, who Rea describes as >>an inspirational man<<
Mr Steilberg escaped from eight POW camps across Europe, some comparatively comfortable because he believed part of a soldier’s job was to try to make his way back to the front line.
>>I often think now, what the bloody hell was I doing, but it was duty<<, Mr Steilberg said.
As punishment for escaping, Mr Steilberg was sent to Terezin in 1944, where he shared a cell with six British and New Zealand soldiers. Nothing could prepare him for the horrors of Terezin, a site he described as being designed to >>liquidate as many prisoners as possible<<.
The atrocities Mr Steilberg witnessed left him with enduring scars. He describes still being able to >>smell the dead bodies<< when he travelled back to Terezin with Rea in 1984.
When the camp was liberated in 1945 after Adolf Hitler’s suicide, Mr Steilberg returned to Australia.
But because the Army had no documentation of his detainment in a Nazi concentration camp, it denied it happened.
The government’s refusal to recognise the illegal detainment of Mr Steilberg was a cruel insult to the serviceman and a product of bureaucratic laziness on the part of the Australian Army, according to Rea.
It also prevented him from approaching West Germany for rightful war crimes compensation. While Mr Steilberg eventually received $10,000 compensation from the Australian government following its official recognition of Terezin in 1987, he said >>It was too late<<.
Today Mr Steilberg is grateful that Rea pursued his story. He is also relieved his experience is now on the public record.
And his wife, Doris, who has stood by him throughout the writing of the book, said: >>He’s better and more at ease with himself these days<<.
Allied POWs in 1944
Bob Slater, foreground, white shirt; Wal Steilberg top row, third from right; Stan Roper foreground, left.
PoW seeks truth on death camps
An Australian who was held prisoner in a World War II concentration camp has denounced other veterans for making wild claims about German brutality. Fia Cumming reports.
Sun-Herald, 9 August 1998
Alex McClellandc was a PoW of the Germans for four years, including three months in the infamous Small Fortress at Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia.
He has just published an autobiography, funded entirely from his war pension, which he hopes will help set the record straight about Nazi atrocities.
McClelland, 78, said shocking claims about concentration camps had been made in the past 15 years by Australians.
He is most concerned about the 1985 documentary film Where Death Wears A Smile, scripted by Paul RFea and the 1995 book Stoker, the autobiography of Donald Watt.
The documentary, produced by Frank Heimans of Cinetel Productions, was billed as the horrifying true story of Australians in concentration camps.
Screened twice on Australian television, it found a worldwide audience after winning the award for best political film at the New York Film and TV Festival in December 1985.
Stoker, billed as the true story of an Australian who stoked the fires at Auschwitz, has sold 40,000 copies here, has a British print run and is being turned into a feature film by Sydney company Tristram Miall films.
But McClelland, who now lives in Cyprus, claims that, like many other works on the Holocaust, the book and the film contain significant errors.
“Their distortions have been accepted as truth and are being taught to innocent children in schools to convince them that some people – Germans – are evil by their very nature,” McClelland said.
“In fairness to all the people who now look on Australia as their home, we must ensure that history is the truth, not just politically correct.”
McClelland was captured in May 1941 while fighting the Germans in Crete, then transported to Germany. After several attempts to escape, he was taken with other PoWs to the Small Fortress, a Gestapo prison inside Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp for Jews.
He suffered appalling conditions and daily beatings until May 1945, when the Americans liberated the camp.
McClelland began to investigate Terezin and other camps after the Australian and British governments refused to acknowledge that any Australians had been held in concentration camps. In 1978 his campaign caught the attention of journalist Paul Rea. As Rea discovered more Australian survivors, he decided to make the film.
When it appeared, however, McClelland was amazed by a claim by one of the Australians, Walter Steilberg, that he saw 28 people killed in the anti-tank ditch close to the camp.
As secretary of the Small Fortress Association of survivors, McClelland was able to contact British PoWs who were in the same section as Steilberg. None had seen the mass killing.
McClelland was also intrigued by a claim in the film that 40 Australians and New Zealand prisoners were slaughtered by Waffen SS guards.
The Dortmund war crimes prosecutor, interviewed in the film, said be believed the incident happened, based largely on evidence of Czechoslovakian Jew Morris Mittelman, who gave evidence at the 1965 trial of the Terezin commandant, Stefan Rojko. Rojko was acquitted of Mittelman’s allegation but found guilty on hundreds of other murder charges.
Keen to learn more, McClelland went to the German War Crimes Office in Dortmund in 1988 and asked to see Mittelman’s evidence. Instead of one affidavit, he was given three.
The first, dated 1961, stated that he “saw how about 40 to 50 Australian soldiers were shot” by Rojko and two other officers, Burian and Jockl.
In the second statement, in November 1974 to a municipal court, Mittelman said he saw one Australian hit on the ear and in the stomach and another with a rifle butt by Rojko and Mende, and then there was shooting. ?The story then went around that about 40 Australian and NZ prisoners had been shot,” he stated.
In the third statement, on June 2, 1975, to the State Attorney of Dortmund, Mittelman said he was ordered by Rojko to tell the prisoners in English what they had to do. He said “wild shooting began. I saw how many of the prisoners of war fell to the ground. However, we were immediately formed up into columns on the road and led off in the direction of the Small Fortress. I also saw before marching off that Mende and another officer were firing their rifles. I naturally do not know if they hit anyone. Then I read in the American soldiers’ newspaper that these prisoners had been shot.”
McClelland said the affidavits cast doubt on Mittelman’s account. There were no other alleged witnesses.
Paul Rea said yesterday the affidavit shown on the film had been provided by the prosecutor, and he had not searched the archives himself.
However, Rea also quoted selectively from two of the affidavits in a National Times article in 1985, in which he intermingled paragraphs from both statements to make one consistent account.
“The information I got was sufficient for us to include it in the film out of the prosecutor’s mouth. I wouldn’t have thought it was a major point in the film,” he said.
McClelland is also sceptical about atrocities which Walter Steilberg claimed in the film to have witnessed, including barrels of human fat, headless bodies and blood-spattered walls.
“This is nonsense,” McClelland said. “Not one other ex-PoW from the Small Fortress recalls any such horrors.”
Steilberg also claimed that a cart with dead bodies could be seen heading towards the cookhouse.
McClelland said detailed maps of Terezin showed that Steilberg could not have seen where the carts went.
Steilberg claimed to have been fed lumps of meat, possibly human flesh, whereas other PoWs were given only bread.
Steilberg, who lives on the NSW north coast, could not be contacted by The Sun-Herald last week.
McClelland is also highly critical of Stoker. Since his first public criticism early in 1997, historians have cast doubt on aspects of the book, including whether Watt had spent part of his imprisonment at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Watt claimed he had fed the Auschwitz fires with huge fir logs and that bodies were pushed down a chute to the furnaces and built up “in a sort of log-jam at the entrance”.
He said the gas chambers and furnaces worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, although he also said they had to be cooled down each night and fired up each morning.
Watt counted 5,000 corpses a day burned in each of the two crematoria between May and the end of November 1944, equivalent to one body every two minutes in each retort.
But McClelland says Auschwitz was surrounded by beech, not fir trees, and photographs of the ovens, including one in Stoker, showed they had doors less than half a metre across.
It has also been argued that the Auschwitz crematorium furnaces were fuelled by coke, not wood.
Watt also claimed that 600 or 700 Jewish women were kept in a cage and had blood drawn from them each day with “big syringes” until they died. Although he did not see this, he says he saw “corpses, with their arms and bodies covered in puncture marks”.
McClelland said this and some other claims in Watt’s book were unsubstantiated.
“There are many more examples of claims in Stoker that are impossible for me and other concentration camp veterans to believe,” he said.
When The Sun-Herald tried to contact Watt his wife, Joan, insisted he “does not tell lies”, but an agent later rang to say all queries had to be directed to the film company, Tristram Miall, to which the Watts were contracted.
McClelland said the public was easily mislead about German war atrocities.
“Many works considered authoritative can be easily demonstrated to be contradictory,” he said. “Yet they are never criticised in public, because they are part of the untouchable Holocaust mythology.”
In April 1995, for example, the chairman of the Vidal Sassoon Centre for the Study of Anti-Semitism, professor Yehuda Bauer, said claims that the Nazis had made soap from Jews’ fat were known to be false and simply misused people’s fears and obsessions.
Nonetheless, Israel’s chief rabbi, Israel Meir Laur, demanded that an auction house return a bar of soap to its owner “so that it could be given a proper burial”.
McClelland said he was concerned that escalating claims about the Nazis was fuelled by, and fuelling, racial hatred against the Germans.
“The danger was that if the exaggerated claims about the Holocaust were disproved, later generations might become sceptical and reject even the horrible truth”, he said. “The death toll from typhus has been almost completely ignored as a cause of the bodies which went into the crematoria in concentration camps,” he said.
Author Gerald Green wrote a book called Holocaust, which he said was fiction but which was turned into an eight-hour film “documentary”.
Green also wrote Artists Of Terezin, in which he claimed people were dragged off to the gas chambers and the Germans sole intent was to murder their prisoners. But in the same book he said there were no gas chambers at Terezin and more than 33,000 prisoners who died there were victims of “starvation, beatings, disease, exhaustion” – not gas.
In 1993, an American documentary which revealed the role of a regiment of black soldiers in liberating Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camp was found to be false.
The documentary, Liberators: Fighting On Two Fronts In World War 2, had been nominated for an Academy Award and praised by the Mayor of New York and black and Jewish leaders.
But after a five-month review New York WNET/Channel 13, which aired it, said there was no evidence the unit had liberated either camp.
Dachau survivor Ernest Seinfeld said at the time: “It is far from my purpose to diminish any credit or gratitude due to black soldiers. However, nothing good can come out of distortions of history.
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