By 24opole.pl and Michael Hoffman
Opole, Poland, June 16, 2010 -- The body of a former Polish history professor, Dariusz Ratajczak, convicted by a Polish court in 2002 of claiming that mass gassings of human beings in Auschwitz-Birkenau was impossible, has been found dead in a shopping center parking lot in the western Polish city of Opole.
Prof. Ratajczak was suspended in April 1999 from his teaching post at Opole University's Historical Institute after state prosecutors opened an investigation into the publication of his book Tematy niebezpieczne ("Dangerous Themes").
"The body, which was severely decomposed, has been identified by Ratajczak's family, so additional DNA tests will not have to be carried out," says Lidia Sieradzka from the Prosecutor's Office in Opole.
Judging by the state of the body and recent high temperatures, the man has been dead for up to two weeks, say police. Security guards at the Karolinka shopping centre claim, however, that the historian's Renault Kangoo was left at the car park on the same day, June 11, that it was discovered. In the car police found documents which belonged to 48-year-old revisionist historian Ratajczak. Recordings from CCTV are being examined.
The cause of Ratajczak's death remains uncertain. Police think it is unlikely that he was murdered because it is alleged that no injuries were found on the body during the autopsy.
Police established that the historian, who had problems finding employment in Poland, planned to go to Holland or Belgium to work in a company to do menial labor. For that purpose he acquired a Renault Kangoo automobile, in which his body was found stuffed between the front and rear seats. It is reported that he may have been living in his car. He worked at odd jobs for food.
In 2000, Dariusz Ratajczak was fired from the University of Opole, where he worked for eleven years, and banned from teaching at other universities for three years after the publication of Tematy niebezpieczne, in which he claimed that it was not scientifically possible to kill millions of people in alleged Auschwitz death camp gas chambers.
Earlier in 1999, a Polish court found Ratajczak guilty of "public denial" of German war crimes – which is against the law in Poland – but because the book was self-published with a print run of only 260 copies it was not thought to be able to create a "social annoyance" and he was not punished. In his defense, Prof. Ratajczak told the court that his book was merely a survey of many dissenting views on the "Holocaust," including revisionist works by British historian David Irving and others. "Holocaust denial" is a crime in Poland, Germany, Hungary, France, Switzerland and Austria.
Mr. Ratajczak is survived by a son and a daughter.