Sunday, 2 March 2014

1.2m killed at Auschwitz in just one day

Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert Mantout of the French Air Force and the French War Crimes Investigation Office spoke with Reuters news agency on August 30, 1945, its subsequent report stated that Mantout "had collected evidence showing that on one day in April 1944 1,200,000 people were liquidated in the various camps of Auschwitz," [a]t least 26,000,000 person were methodically exterminated" in German concentration camps, and "that the figure of 26,000,000 was if anything, well below the actual total of people put to death." "Human bones from the camps were used for raw material for the manufacture of chemical fertilisers, while the fats were turned into soap." The article quoted Mantout as saying: "These are facts about which there is no longer any possibility of doubt." 1

According to this website, Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert Mantout should be visible in the above photograph of 
General De Gaulle leading the French 2nd Armoured Division along the Champs-Élysées on August 26, 1944.

"a very smooth Jewish lawyer ... a man who has moved in influential circles." 

- Description of Mantout in a British Security Service report dated May 27, 1942

Gilbert Mantout was born in French Algeria during 1907 and the country remained his home until the Second World War. He was a lawyer specialising in maritime insurance cases, but also bred race horses, his horse "Jemmapes" won the Grand Prix de Nice in 1938. He performed his National Service for France in Algeria during 1929/30, and in 1938, at the time of the Munich Crisis, he was again called-up by France, this time opting to join the Air Force for which he subsequently travelled to Bordeaux to train as a pilot. In December 1939 his regiment was dispatched for further training to Rabat in the French protectorate of Morocco, where he was promoted to Lieutenant around May 1940. Despite the Armistice between Germany and France being signed in June 1940, Mantout remained in North Africa until March 1942 when he escaped into British Gibraltar. This cast some suspicion over Mantout's activities during the period, but the British Security Service could find no fault in him, believing his story that prior to his successful escape, twelve previous attempts had all failed. The British were in fact keen to employ Mantout as an agent, although it appears that this never happened.2 From what little information I've been able to discover about his activities during July 1942-1944, he was part the Free French Forces and supposedly a constant shadow of De Gaulle.

Mantout's 26,000,000 figure given to Reuters is reminiscent of the truly enormous figures (20 or 25 million killed at Belzec and Treblinka alone) supposedly thrown about by Kurt Gerstein in his various confessions to the French in April and May of 1945. Which is surely no coincide, as Mantout was the head of the organisation (Organe de Recherche des Criminals de Guerre: ORCG) which interrogated Gerstein, and he was even present during his interrogations, as he admitted decades later to French author Pierre Joffroy:

`Sturmführer Kurt Gerstein, who had been arrested—one might say, at his own request—by the ORCG in Germany, was sent by the Constance section to our Paris headquarters, where he was interrogated before being handed over to the military courts. My attention was drawn to this rather special case, and I remember being present on two occasions when he was questioned. My impression of the man was that he was a mystic in a state of traumatic shock, and desperate because no one, neither the Germans nor the French, would take him seriously. As it were, a discredited Joan of Arc deprived of her funeral pyre.' 
- Gilbert Mantout 3

French researcher Henri Roques in his study of Gerstein's confessions quotes a June 6, 1945 letter written by Mantout which accompanied a transcript of an interrogation of Gerstein dated June 6, 1945 (which Roques denotes as document: "T Va") in which Gerstein states: "I estimate the number of defenseless human beings murdered by Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler at about 20 million." 4

Liberty • Equality • Fraternity 
Presidency of the French Government 
Paris, 6 June 1945 
General Directorate of Studies and Research, (references illegible), Head of the Bureau for the Investigation of War Criminals to Monsieur le Professor Gros, CARLTON GARDENS 4, LONDON
I have the honor to send you herewith the copy of the interrogation by my office of the person concerned: GERSTEIN OF TUBINGEN.
This document will not fail, I believe, to interest you. 
In any event, I leave it in your care to decide whether it should be sent to the WAR CRIMES COMMISSION. 
I am satisfied with the first results obtained by the French teams for investigation of war criminals who are working in Germany, and I inform you that my services are at the present time in possession of 41,000 record cards on war criminals. 

1. "26,000,000 were Liquidated," The Western Daily Press and Bristol Mirror (Bristol, U.K.), Friday, August 31, 1945, p. 1.
2. Report and summaries on Gilbert Mantout all dated 1942, in UK National Archives: HS 9-985-6
3. Pierre Joffroy; Norman Denny (translator), A Spy for God: The Ordeal of Kurt Gerstein, London: Collins, 1971, p. 251.
4. Henri Roques, The Confessions of Kurt Gerstein, Los Angeles, CA: Institute of Historical Review, 1989, p. 64.
5. Ibid., p. 129.

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