The VRBA–WETZLER REPORT, also known as the AUSCHWITZ PROTOCOLS, the
AUSCHWITZ REPORT and the AUSCHWITZ NOTEBOOK, is a 40-page document
Rudolf Vrba and
Alfréd Wetzler , two Slovak Jews who escaped from
The Allies had known since November 1942 that Jews were being killed
en masse in Auschwitz. The
Vrba-Wetzler report was an early attempt
to estimate the numbers and the most detailed description of the gas
chambers to that point. The publication of parts of the report in June
1944 is credited with helping to persuade the Hungarian regent,
* 2 Contents
* 2.1 How it was written * 2.2 Crematoria
* 3 Impact
* 3.1 Background
* 3.2 Distribution
* 3.3 Deportations to
* 4 Notes * 5 References * 6 Works cited * 7 Further reading
The Vrba-Wetzler report is sometimes referred to as the Auschwitz Protocols, although in fact the Protocols incorporated information from three reports, including Vrba–Wetzler.
Under the title "German Extermination Camps—
The Protocols included a seven-page report from Arnost Rosin and
Czesław Mordowicz, who escaped from
HOW IT WAS WRITTEN
According to the report's first post-war Slovak edition, Oswiecim,
hrobka štyroch miliónov ľudí ("Auschwitz, the tomb of four
million"), published in
Vrba-Wetzler report contains a detailed description of the
geography and management of the camps, and of how the prisoners lived
and died. It lists the transports that had arrived at
A sketch from the report, showing the rough layout of the crematoria
The report contains sketches and information about the layout of the
gas chambers, describing the large room where victims were made to
undress before being pushed into the gas chambers, as well as the
attached crematoriums. In a deposition for the trial of Adolf Eichmann
in 1961, and in his book I Cannot Forgive (1964), Vrba said that he
and Wetzler obtained the information about the gas chambers and
crematoria from the
Jean-Claude Pressac , a French specialist on the gas chambers,
concluded in 1989 that, while the report was wrong on certain issues,
it "has the merit of describing exactly the gassing process in type
II/III Krematorien as from mid-March 1943. It made the mistake of
generalizing internal and external descriptions and the operating
method to Krematorien IV and V. Far from invalidating it, the
discrepancies confirm its authenticity, as the descriptions are
clearly based on what the witnesses could actually have seen and
Part of a series of articles on
Vrba-Wetzler report timeline
Main railroad track into
Timeline ------------------------- 1942 -------------------------
* 13 APRIL
* ALFRED WETZLER TAKEN TO AUSCHWITZ.
Dionys Lenard from
------------------------- 1943 -------------------------
* 27 APRIL
------------------------- March 1944 -------------------------
* 19 MARCH * Germany invades Hungary . * 22 MARCH * The Washington Post and the New York Herald Tribune report the existence of gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz.
------------------------- April 1944 -------------------------
* 5 APRIL
* Siegfried Lederer escapes to warn Jews in
Theresienstadt and the
Red Cross about the mass murder inside the camp.
* 7–11 APRIL
* VRBA AND WETZLER ESCAPE.
* 22 / 23 APRIL
* Vrba and Wetzler arrive in
------------------------- May 1944 -------------------------
* 15 MAY * Mass transports begin of Hungary's Jews to Auschwitz, at a rate of 12,000 a day. * 27 MAY * Arnost Rosin, a Slovakian Jew, and Czesław Mordowicz, a Polish Jew, escape from Auschwitz. They write a report about the killing of Hungarian Jews.
------------------------- June 1944 -------------------------
* 4 JUNE
* The New York Times reports that a young Pole who escaped from
------------------------- July 1944 -------------------------
* 1–10 JULY
* Several newspapers report that, between April 1942 and April 1944,
1.5 to 1.7 million Jews were killed at
" Blood for goods "
* v * t * e
The dates on which the report was distributed became a matter of
The Allies had been told on 12 November 1942 that Jews were being killed en masse in Auschwitz; the New York Times published a report to that effect on 25 November 1942. From March 1943 the Polish government-in-exile forwarded intelligence about what was happening inside the camp. But it remained an "inside story", according to historian Michael Fleming—unpublished or not published prominently—as a result of antisemitism and the British Foreign Office 's refusal to confirm the reports as genuine. A document named Aneks 58 from the Polish underground (which named its report Aneks) was received by Britain's Special Operations Executive in November 1942 and noted that, by the end of 1942, 468,000 Jews had been killed at Auschwitz.
Fleming writes: "ews of the true function of
Oscar Krasniansky of the Jewish Council, who translated the report
into German as Vrba and Wetzler were writing and dictating it, made
conflicting statements about the report after the war, according to
Yehuda Bauer . In his first statement he said he had
handed the report to
Kastner's reasons for not making the document public are unknown.
Vrba believed until the end of his life that Kastner withheld it in
order not to jeopardize negotiations between the Aid and Rescue
Adolf Eichmann , the SS officer in charge of the
transport of Jews out of Hungary. Shortly after Vrba arrived in
Kastner copied the German translation of the report to Géza Soós, a
Hungarian Foreign Ministry official who ran a resistance group, writes
Bauer. Soós gave it to József Éliás, head of the Good Shepherd
Mission, and Éliás's secretary, Mária Székely, translated it into
Hungarian and prepared six copies. These copies made their way to
several Hungarian and church officials, including
The Jewish Council in Budapest did hand the report out to individuals. The Hungarian biologist George Klein , as a teenager in Budapest, was working for the Jewish Council as a junior secretary at the time. One day in late May or early June, his boss, Dr. Zoltán Kohn, gave him a carbon copy of the report, and told him that he should tell only his closest family and friends about it. Klein told his uncle, a well-known physician, who "became so angry that he nearly hit me", and asked how he could believe such nonsense. It was the same with other relatives and friends. The older ones refused to believe it, while the younger ones believed it and wanted to act. When it came time for Klein to get on the train, he chose to run instead, and that saved his life.
DEPORTATIONS TO AUSCHWITZ CONTINUE
Bratislava, c. June 1944.
Rudolf Vrba on the right, and on the
left, Arnost Rosin, who escaped from
On 6 June 1944, the day of the Normandy landings , Arnošt Rosin and Czesław Mordowicz arrived in Slovakia, having escaped from Auschwitz on 27 May. Hearing about the Battle of Normandy and believing the war was over, they got drunk using dollars they had smuggled out of Auschwitz. As a result they were arrested for violating the currency laws, and spent time in jail before the Jewish Council paid their fines. On 15 June, the men were interviewed by Oscar Krasniansky. They told him that, between 15 and 27 May, 100,000 Hungarian Jews had arrived at Birkenau, and that most were killed on arrival, apparently with no knowledge of what was about to happen to them. John Conway writes that Vrba and Wetzler concluded that their report had been suppressed.
REPORT\'S ARRIVAL IN SWITZERLAND, PRESS COVERAGE
Braham writes that the report was taken to Switzerland by Florian
Manoliu of the Romanian Legation in Bern, and given to George Mantello
, a Jewish businessman from Transylvania who was working as the first
secretary of the El Salvador consulate in Geneva. It was thanks to
Mantello, according to Braham, that the report received, in the Swiss
press, its first wide coverage. According to
David Kranzler ,
Mantello asked for the help of the Swiss-Hungarian Students' League to
make around 50 mimeographed copies of the Vrba–Wetzler and other
As a result of the Swiss press coverage, details appeared in the New York Times on 4 June, the BBC World Service on 15 June, and the New York Times again on 20 June, which carried a 22-line story that 7,000 Jews had been "dragged to gas chambers in the notorious German concentration camps at Birkenau and Oświęcim ".
On 19 June Richard Lichtheim of the Jewish Agency in Geneva, who had
received a copy of the report from Mantello, wrote to the Jewish
Agency in Jerusalem to say that they knew "what has happened and where
it has happened", and reported the Vrba–Wetzler figure that 90 per
cent of Jews arriving at Birkenau were being killed. Vrba and Oscar
Krasniansky met Vatican Swiss legate Monsignor Mario Martilotti at the
Svätý Jur monastery in
Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2012
On 26 June Richard Lichtheim of the Jewish Agency in Geneva sent a telegram to England calling on the Allies to hold members of the Hungarian government personally responsible for the killings. The cable was intercepted by the Hungarian government and shown to Prime Minister Döme Sztójay , who passed it to Horthy. Horthy ordered an end to the deportations on 7 July, and they stopped two days later.
Hitler instructed the Nazi representative to Hungary, Edmund
Veesenmayer , to relay an angry message to the Admiral. Horthy
resisted Hitler's threats, and Budapest's 200,000–260,000 Jews were
temporarily spared from deportation, until the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross
Party seized power in Hungary in a coup on 15 October 1944. Henceforth
the deportations resumed, but by then the diplomatic involvement of
the Swedish, Swiss, Spanish and Portuguese embassies in Budapest, as
well as that of the papal nuncio, Angelo Rotta, saved tens of
thousands. The Swedish delegation under
* ^ Vrba-Wetzler report (two paragraph breaks have been inserted for ease of reading): "At present there are four crematoria in operation at BIRKENAU, two large ones, I and II, and two smaller ones, III and IV. Those of type I and II consist of 3 parts, i.e.,: (A) the furnace room; (B) the large halls; and (C) the gas chamber. A huge chimney rises from the furnace room around which are grouped nine furnaces, each having four openings. Each opening can take three normal corpses at once and after an hour and a half the bodies are completely burned. This corresponds to a daily capacity of about 2,000 bodies. Next to this is a large "reception hall" which is arranged so as to give the impression of the antechamber of a bathing establishment. It holds 2,000 people and apparently there is a similar waiting room of the floor below. From there a door and a few steps lead down into the very long and narrow gas chamber. The walls of this chamber are also camouflaged with simulated entries to shower rooms in order to mislead the victims. This roof is fitted with three traps which can be hermetically closed from the outside. A track leads from the gas chamber to the furnace room. "The gassing takes place as follows: the unfortunate victims are brought into hall (B) where they are told to undress. To complete the fiction that they are going to bathe, each person receives a towel and a small piece of soap issued by two men clad in white coats. They are then crowded into the gas chamber (C) in such numbers there is, of course, only standing room. To compress this crowd into the narrow space, shots are often fired to induce those already at the far end to huddle still closer together.
"When everybody is inside, the heavy doors are closed. Then there is a short pause, presumably to allow the room temperature to rise to a certain level, after which SS men with gas masks climb on the roof, open the traps, and shake down a preparation in powder form out of tin cans labeled 'CYKLON For use against vermin', which is manufactured by a Hamburg concern. It is presumed that this is a "CYANIDE" mixture of some sort which turns into gas at a certain temperature. After three minutes everyone in the chamber is dead. No one is known to have survived this ordeal, although it was not uncommon to discover signs of life after the primitive measures employed in the Birch Wood. The chamber is then opened, aired, and the 'special squad' carts the bodies on flat trucks to the furnace rooms where the burning takes place. Crematoria III and IV work on nearly the same principle, but their capacity is only half as large. Thus the total capacity of the four cremating and gassing plants at BIRKENAU amounts to about 6,000 daily." * ^ Mike Thomson (BBC, 13 November 2012): "The BBC broadcast every day, giving updates on the war, general news and opinion pieces on Hungarian politics. But among all these broadcasts, there were crucial things that were not being said, things that might have warned thousands of Hungarian Jews of the horrors to come in the event of a German occupation. A memo setting out policy for the BBC Hungarian Service in 1942 states: 'We shouldn't mention the Jews at all.' By 1943, the BBC Polish Service was broadcasting about the exterminations And yet his policy of silence on the Jews was followed right up until the German invasion in March 1944. After the tanks rolled in, the Hungarian Service did then broadcast warnings. * ^ Kranzler places the cable to Jerusalem on 26 June 1944, and writes that Lichtheim referred in the cable to 12,000 Jews being deported daily from Budapest.
* ^ A B "Details Reaching Palestine", The New York Times, 25 November 1942, 10.
James MacDonald (25 November 1942). "Himmler Kills Polish Jews", The New York Times, 10. * ^ A B Gilbert (1989), 305. * ^ Kárný (1998), 564. * ^ Conway (2002), Appendix I, 292–293, n. 3. * ^ "Document index", Trial of the Major War Criminals"], Nuremberg: The International Military Tribunal, 1949, 122. * ^ Szabó (2011), 90–91 * ^ Vanden Heuvel (2011), v. * ^ Oswiecim, hrobka štyroch miliónov ľudí, Bratislava, 1946, cited in Kárný (1998), 564, n. 5. * ^ A B C D Kárný (1998), 564, n. 5. * ^ Vrba (2002), 402–403. * ^ Karny (1998), 554; van Pelt (2011), 123. * ^ Kárný (1998), 555. * ^ Van Pelt (2002), 149. * ^ Świebocki (1997), 218, 220, 224; also see "The Vrba-Wetzler Report", part 2. * ^ Pressac (1989), 464, * ^ van Pelt (2002), 151 * ^ For Vrba's allegations, see Braham (2000), 276, n. 50.
* ^ Mike Thompson (13 November 2012). "Could the BBC have done more to help Hungarian Jews?", BBC News.
Also see Kathryn Berman and Asaf Tal, "The Uneasy Closeness to Ourselves", interview with Götz Aly , German historian, Yad Vashem. * ^ Fleming (2014b), 258. * ^ Fleming (2014b), 258–260. * ^ Fleming 2014(a). * ^ Fleming (2014b), 260. * ^ Fleming (2014b), 260–261. * ^ Bauer (2002), 231. * ^ Braham (2000), 95. * ^ A B Klein (2011), 258–263. * ^ Vrba (2002), 419–420 * ^ A B Bauer (1994), 157; Braham (2000), 95. * ^ Braham (2000), 97. * ^ A B Conway (1997) * ^ Vrba (2002), 406. * ^ Braham (2000) 95, 214. * ^ Kranzler (2000), 98–99.
* ^ "Senators appeal on Hungary\'s Jews; Foreign Relations Committee Pleads With People to Stop \'Cold-Blooded Murder\'", The New York Times, 4 June 1944.
E. C. Daniel, "Pole Says Nazis Plan Slave Town: Reports 75,000-Acre Plot in Poland Even Contains Permanent Factories", The New York Times, 4 June 1944, 6. * ^ van Pelt (2002), 153–154.
"Czechs Report Massacre; Claim the Nazis Killed 7,000 in Prison Gas Chambers", The New York Times, 20 June 1944, 5. * ^ A B Kranzler (2000), 104. * ^ van Pelt (2002), 152. * ^ Kárný (1998), 556–557 * ^ Bauer (2002), 230. * ^ Phayer 2000, 107; Braham (2000), 95, 214; Bauer (2002), 230. * ^ van Pelt (2002), 153–154. * ^ Daniel T. Brigham (6 July 1944). "Two Death Camps Places of Horror; German Establishments for Mass Killings of Jews Described by Swiss", The New York Times. * ^ Rees (2006), 242–243. * ^ Dwork and van Pelt (2002), 314. * ^ Dwork -webkit-column-width: 26em; column-width: 26em;">
* Bauer, Yehuda (1994). Jews for Sale? Nazi–Jewish Negotiations
1933–1945. New Haven: Yale University Press.
* _________ (2002). Rethinking the Holocaust. Yale University Press.
* Braham, Randolph L. (2000). The Politics of Genocide: The