Alan Dershowitz   Letter 07   19-Apr-2001   The Josef Hirtreiter confession
"Subject was arrested and interrogated by this office on 6 July 1946; the following facts were ascertained." Counter Intelligence Corps

19 April 2001
Alan M. Dershowitz
Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law
520 Hauser Hall
Harvard Law School
1575 Massachusetts Avenue
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA   02138

Alan Dershowitz:

In the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) document reproduced below, SS-Unterscharführer Josef HIRTREITER is said to confess to working with an SS Sonderkommando at Malkinia, Poland, there leading Jews into gas chambers, witnessing the burial of bodies in mass graves, and witnessing bodies being disinterred and burned.  Malkinia, as the CIC appears to learn from HIRTREITER, was a death camp of major significance, as one period of four or five days saw the gassing of 4,000 Jews.  This Counter Intelligence Corps document is not easy to dismiss as a fabrication, as it comes with identifying notation which facilitates verification.

However, consulting leading books on the Jewish holocaust, I find that Malkinia is rarely listed in the index, and when it is mentioned at all, it is never as a death camp or a camp employing gas chambers, and not even as a concentration camp or a work camp, but only as a transfer facility.

Perhaps the following are the three chief hypotheses among which might be found an explanation of the incongruity between the HIRTREITER confession and the absence of historical coverage:

  1. As major death camps like Malkinia are being overlooked by Jewish-holocaust historians, the Jewish holocaust is of larger proportions than is commonly recognized.

  2. Josef HIRTREITER's confession was obtained under duress, possibly even under torture.

  3. Josef HIRTREITER's confession was fabricated by Counter Intelligence Corps personnel.

If the first of the above hypotheses is true, then it would suggest that contemporary Jewish-holocaust historians are of limited competence, and their limited competence should be recognized and explored whenever they testify as expert witnesses in war crimes proceedings.  A historian capable of overlooking the gas chambers of Malkinia should be revealed to the court as being of reduced help to either side in war crimes litigation the prosecution should be disappointed by his failure to appreciate the magnitude of the Jewish holocaust, and the defense should fear that his blindness may extend to vital exculpatory evidence.

On the other hand, if either or both of the last two hypotheses are true, then it might be speculated that the hyperbolization of the Jewish holocaust that is evident around us today was ongoing even during the earliest post-war investigations, and that some perhaps substantial proportion of the evidence that has been entered into the historical record is false.

In view of the HIRTREITER confession, then, and in view of the troubling hypotheses that it calls to mind, do you not feel that it would be prudent to exercise caution in the prosecution of suspected Nazi war criminals today, and to exercise caution as well in the dissemination of Jewish-holocaust stories that come unsupported by forensic evidence?  And would you not be performing a great service to truth, and to uplifting the depressed credibility of the Jewish people, if you called upon the U.S. Office of Special Investigations (OSI) to begin allocating some of its resources to prosecuting those who may have coerced or tortured German prisoners, or fabricated evidence against them?  One hears today how frequently re-examination of DNA evidence reveals wrongful convictions; one wonders if, similarly, a re-evaluation of Nazi confessions might not reveal many that were like Josef HIRTREITER's palpably false, and in some cases lead to a posthumous exoneration of Germans who had been wrongfully executed.

To return to a more immediate case, perhaps justice would be better served if more of the targets of OSI prosecution today were people like confession-extorting CIC Special Agent Jack Friedlander, and fewer of the targets were people like retired-blue-collar-working WW II victim John Demjanjuk.

Lubomyr Prytulak