Witness indecisive: Lawyer challenges crematoria theory
Ernst Zündel’s lawyer challenged the testimony of a Holocaust survivor yesterday, telling the man he couldn’t have seen concentration camp chimneys belch smoke and flames from exterminated Jews because crematoria don’t emit anything.
“I suggest it is quite impossible for smoke to come from a crematoria from human beings,” said Doug Christie, whose client is charged with spreading false news. “What do you say about that, sir?”
“Nothing,” Arnold Friedman, prisoner number B14515, initially replied. “If you’re talking of crematoria in Toronto and crematoria in Auschwitz, those are two different things. In Birkenau, smoke came out of the chimney.”
“I put it to you that you don’t really understand anything about crematoria, to say: ‘Aha, that is a crematorium,’ because that is quite wrong, sir,” Mr. Christie said.
Many observers in the packed courtroom were left shaking their heads or fidgeting uncomfortably as Mr. Friedman, 56, then agreed that perhaps Jews were not being burnt in the chimneyed buildings.
Over a two-day span, Mr. Friedman has testified repeatedly to seeing thousands of boys herded toward the crematoria, and of seeing trainloads of people unloaded near the ominous buildings.
He told of how he and other internees even thought they could tell whether fat or skinny people, Ukrainians or Poles, were being cremated by looking at the color of the smoke.
Mr. Friedman’s sudden indecision in the face of Mr. Christie’s forceful questioning touched off an almost-perceptible shockwave in the courtroom. “Couldn’t there have been other explanations [for the smoke and flames]?” Mr. Christie asked, pressing home his advantage.
“Yes, there could have,” Mr. Friedman replied. “If I had listened to you at the time when I was listening to other people [in the camp], I might have listened to you. But at the time I listened to them.”
The dramatic testimony took place at the trial of Ernst Zündel, who has pleaded not guilty to two charges of knowingly publishing false news which caused or was to cause damage to social and racial tolerance.
In one of two articles forming the subject of the charges, the author maintains information on the Holocaust has been grossly exaggerated or faked. One of the Crown’s tasks is to prove Mr. Zündel knew the articles were false.
Source: Kirk Makin
The Globe and Mail
January 12, 1985