by Paul Eisen
How could the Holocaust not be true? How could such a delusion and deception have taken place? How could all those survivors be so wrong in their testimonies? How could all those perpetrators be so wrong in their confessions? How could all those documents, unspecific as they are, have been falsified? Arthur Butz called his groundbreaking revisionist study “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century”, but a hoax of this size and nature just defies belief. Conspiracy theories rarely convince, nor do those who propagate them, so surely the sheer absurdity of the revisionists’ claim tells us all we need to know. So, if revisionism is to have any credibility at all, it must demonstrate how, if false, the Holocaust narrative, as we know it, came to be.
The first reports of the mass slaughter of Jews by the Germans were propagated in the spring of 1942 by Jewish and Zionist agencies and published in the Jewish press. These entirely uncorroborated reports received immediate and unmatched credibility by being broadcast (on one occasion in Yiddish) back into Poland by the BBC, and by repetition in the American press, particularly the New York Times. They spoke for the first time of extermination, but not only by gas. According to these reports Jews were being steamed to death, suffocated to death, pressed to death and electrocuted as well as being gassed. It is only later in reports compiled by the Soviet authorities, when they liberated the camps of Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944 and 1945, that gassing emerges as the main method of slaughter and even later, as just one element in the shower-gas-cremation sequence which now lies at the heart of the Holocaust narrative.
It is with these Soviet reports, plus others from the World Refugee Board, that the now-familiar extermination narrative emerges. The victims disembark from trains for selection. Those designated for extermination are taken to complexes designed to look like disinfection facilities. There they are separated into sexes and led to undressing rooms where they undress. Then they are led, 600-700 at a time, into huge rooms resembling shower rooms. When the rooms are crammed full, Zyklon B pellets are dropped from apertures in the roof and, as the temperature rises, hydrogen cyanide gas is released. The victims take about five to fifteen minutes to die, watched all the time through glass peepholes in the doors by SS personnel. An interval of about half an hour is allowed for the gas to clear, assisted by a ventilation system, after which a Jewish Sonderkommando (special detachment) enters with gas masks, rubber boots, gloves, hooks and hoses to disentangle, hose down and remove the bodies. The bodies are taken to mortuaries, where gold teeth etc. are extracted with pliers, and they are then transported to crematoria where they are burned to ashes. If the number of corpses should prove to be too great for the cremation facilities, then those remaining are taken to be burned in specially designed open pits.
But if such a narrative is false, it is interesting to speculate as to how it took the form it did. Possible answers may be found in the 50-100 year history of Europe prior to the events under investigation. This period saw huge movements of people westwards, many of them Jews and many of them migrating to or through Germany. All over central and western Europe, but particularly in Germany, there was a problem with, and a fear of epidemics, particularly of typhus – and many of the receiving authorities, and particularly the German authorities, were intent of developing and implementing mass disinfection and disinfestation procedures. These included mobile and stationery mass steam and shower baths and mobile and stationery facilities for the disinfestation of clothing by gas. The gas used for disinfestation was of course hydrogen cyanide gas in the form of Zyklon B pellets.
This use of gas for delousing and disinfestation must be set against the background of the very real use of poison gas as a weapon in the Great War and in various other areas of conflict both real (such as by the Italians in Abyssinia) and imaginary (as by the Martians in The War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938). It should also be noted how after the introduction of gas onto the battlefield in 1915, stories of homicidal gassings of civilians began to appear in atrocity propaganda. In March 1916 the Daily Telegraph reported that the Austrians and Bulgarians had murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbians using poison gas.
At roughly the same time cremation was increasingly being used for the disposal of bodies and particularly for the mass disposal of epidemic victims. Cremation as a means of corpse disposal was widely promoted by the German National Socialist regime – a regime noted for its modern attitudes to technology – and it was also universally used in its euthanasia programme. One result of the use of cremation in these euthanasia killings, was that it fed the general suspicion that cremation was used to conceal the cause of death by gas poisoning (deaths in the euthanasia programme are now thought more likely to have been by lethal injection) which was widely (and falsely) believed to cause disfigurement. So cremation became associated with attempts to deceive the population about the cause of death. In effect, all these techniques of disinfection and cremation, considered to be at the very cutting-edge of modernism by enlightened western Europeans, were viewed by large sections of the European masses – and particularly by immigrants, usually poor, conservative and deeply superstitious, and even more particularly by the eastern Jewish masses with their additional religious concerns about mass undressing and cremation etc – with the deepest suspicion.
It’s not so crazy if you put yourself in the shoes of a poor Jewish immigrant fleeing the conditions of Tsarist Russia. You arrive exhausted and terrified together with a mass of similarly exhausted and terrified folk at a German border station where you are confronted with uniformed guards and officials shouting at you in a language you barely understand. They want to separate you from your men and women folk, to undress you and to put you into large cold and forbidding chambers. You’ve heard the stories as you stand naked and shivering under the showerheads and wait for what you have been told will be water, but for what a part of you fears will be gas. An account from a surprising quarter illustrates the point – Ingrid Rimland writing about when as a small child in 1945, she and what was left of her family trekked westward with the retreating Wermacht back to Germany.
“I remember fairly clearly one such “experience” sometime in 1944. This was during the Wehrmacht retreat from the Eastern front, when huge refugee treks of ethnic Germans traveled westward with horse-drawn wagons under German Army protection, experiencing horrendous hardships from hunger and cold, the advancing Red Army ever in our backs.
My family belonged to German-descent Mennonites, a fundamentalist Christian community who had come to the Ukraine in 1789, but we still considered ourselves to be Germans and still spoke the German language. Ever since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution – which happened when my grandmother was still a young woman and my mother was only four years old – my people had been savagely persecuted by the Communists. Many of my cousins, aunts, uncles, more distant relatives perished in waves of ethnic cleansings. This persecution started before I was born and became deadly in 1938, affecting practically every male age 14 and over. My own father was exiled to Siberia when I was only five years old in 1941, and our entire family escaped exiling only at the last moment, literally hours before the German Army overran the Ukraine in September of that year – only weeks after my father was taken from us forever.
When the (for us) voluntary retreat to Germany began two years later, in the fall of 1943, there were four of us left – my grandmother, my mother, my baby sister and I. The rest of our family had either been exiled to Siberia, been killed, or simply disappeared in the havoc of those horror years since 1917. Now we were running for our lives from the Red Army – almost all of us women and children. We entered Nazi-occupied Poland sometime in 1944 and were invited to be officially naturalized as Germans. I remember the city as Litzmannstadt (Lodz) but I cannot be sure.
But first we had to be deloused. Naturally! As far as I know, this was routine for everybody entering German-occupied territory and certainly Germany proper, an obligatory health measure to control epidemics such as typhus, a disease that was carried by lice. Everybody who was coming from the East was infested with lice in those days – Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews – soldiers and civilians. There was no way not to have lice, unless you underwent delousing. We were made to enter a long train. Whether that train took us to a building, or if it ended in a building, I don’t remember any more. Somehow the rumor sprang up that we were going to be gassed. I have no idea who started it. As a seven-year old, I do remember how terrified I was.
We were all stripped naked, had our hair shorn, and then, while we were all sitting, old and young, in long rows of benches, water and soap, probably mixed with insecticide, rained down on us from shower heads above.
I don’t remember the relief, only the fear. Similarly, the rumor sprang up on that train that the Germans were looking for “yellow blood”, presumably Jewish, by clipping our ear lobe. I was just as terrified of that one. “
So these Soviet reports with their now-detailed descriptions of the shower-gas-cremation procedure of extermination, coming after three years of other terrifying reports of exterminations of Jews and others by the Germans, and also in the context of fears in Europe about the use of gas as a weapon used against civilians and of cremation as a new and unfamiliar method of the disposing of bodies, could possibly have been instrumental in laying the foundations of the Holocaust gas-chamber narrative as we know it. Certainly from the time of those reports, the mere presence of showers, disinfestation gas chambers and crematoria had become in itself evidence of mass homicidal gassing.
So when the western armies came across the German concentration camps at Belsen, Dachau and Buchenwald sites at which it is now known that there were no mass extermination facilities, and saw the now familiar images of skeletal, diseased inmates and piles of discoloured corpses and discovered sealed rooms, showers and crematoria which we now know had been used only for disinfection and disinfestation, and encountered inmates who were prepared to tell them tales of mass exterminations, they were both able and willing to interpret it all in terms of what they had heard, rather than what, in this instance at least, was the truth.
Whatever conditions might have been in the German camps throughout the war, by 1945 and the final defeat of Germany the system, and particularly the camp system, had collapsed and conditions were catastrophic and it was the results of this collapse which the western armies came across. The Americans and the British saw these things, and, most critically, filmed and photographed them, as clear evidence of a planned genocide, rather than what they were: the result, particularly in the form of typhus epidemics, of a breakdown of Germany generally and the camp system in particular, under the onslaught of the allied saturation bombing.
Although it cannot entirely be ruled out that some of these authorities knew that they were propagating a myth, it seems most likely that the Jewish authorities who first spread reports of exterminations, were reacting only from a real concern for their fellow-Jews, known to be under ferocious assault by the Germans who, at the time of those first reports, were ratcheting up their assault on the Jews by beginning brutal deportations to the East. But what of the other authorities involved – the Americans, the British and the Soviets? These authorities surely would have been happy to accuse the Germans of absolutely anything and possibly not averse to a little falsification of the evidence if needed. After all, these same authorities had been perfectly prepared to continue to accuse the Germans of the massacre of over 4000 Poles at Katyn – a deed they knew full well had been perpetrated by the Soviet NKVD. In fact, the only cases where there is any evidence of contrived fabrication occur at the liberation of the camp at Majdanek by the Red army, at which time the Soviet authorities closed the site for a month and then presented to the world some highly questionable evidence of mass extermination of Jews. A similar conscious fabrication may also have taken place at Auschwitz. In any event, intentional or not, all was now ready for the story to take off.
Any story, true or false, is easily spread if there are fabricators, peddlers and believers, and this is all the more so if all three are combined. The Holocaust had plenty of all three. Moving down the chain of command we find plenty of examples at the Nuremberg trials where the alleged crimes of the vanquished were formalised by the victors. The Nuremberg investigators, as they worked their way through the mountains of alleged eyewitness testimonies, believed that there were gas chambers as they strove to establish the truth. The army interrogators, as they punched and pummeled their way through the hapless defendants, believed that there were gas chambers and that they were merely trying to get at the truth.
The lawyers, as they presented highly questionable documents as hard evidence, believed that there were gas chambers and nor do we need much to persuade us that the Jewish leadership might have been ready and willing to propagate and believe such a tale. Jews suffered terribly under National Socialism – nobody denies that, neither revisionist or non-revisionist. They had been persecuted, expelled and assaulted. They had been forcibly deported and incarcerated in brutal labor camps where thousands upon thousands had died from exhaustion, malnutrition and maltreatment. In the East many Jews had been shot. Jews had little reason to love the Germans.
Nor would it be the first time that Jews have accepted and propagated stories, true, false or a mixture of both, of their suffering. The Holocaust is only the latest, albeit the worst of a series of tragic calamities to have befallen the Jewish people, and Hitler sits well with Pharaoh, Amalek, Haman, Tomas de Torquemada and Bogdan Chmielnitski – all enduring hate-figures in the Jewish martyrology. Nor would this be the first time that Jewish chroniclers (or any other chroniclers for that matter) have used some poetic license in describing their suffering. The Talmud tells that at the time of the destruction of the second temple – held in Jewish history to be the one historical precedent for the Holocaust – the Romans slew ‘four billions,” the blood of the Jewish victims was so great that it became a ‘tidal wave carrying boulders out to sea’, and staining the water for four miles out. The bodies of the Jews were used as ‘fence posts’ and Jewish children were “wrapped up in their Torah scrolls – and burned alive all 65 million of them.” In a context like this, the utterances of Elie Wiesel, become a little more understandable.
“Not far from us blazed flames from a pit, gigantic flames. They were burning something. A lorry drove up to the pit and dumped its load into the pit. They were small children. Babies! Yes, I had seen it, with my own eyes”
But for a story of this magnitude to be spread, many more believers were needed, than a few over-mighty politicians and soldiers and thousands of traumatized and broken survivors, and, save for a few insightful cynics at the very top of the British, American, Soviet and Jewish leaderships, believe it they did. True, there was little hard evidence, but what there was could so easily be made to fit. After all, everyone knew that the Germans had engaged in purposeful mass extermination of Jews therefore “special treatment” and “deportation to the East” must be euphemisms for extermination, and any sealed chamber attached to a crematorium, especially if used for disinfestations by gas, must have been a homicidal gas chamber.
Once momentum is achieved, all that is needed is an extended game of Chinese whispers to result in a Holocaust narrative, conceived in the real and terrible wartime suffering of Jews, portrayed as imagined in newsreels and photo-reportage, framed and formalized at Nuremberg and subsequent trials and then, most critically of all, later turned into religious dogma. Set all this in the context of a western world obsessed by Jews and its own ambivalence about Jews and Jewish suffering, a Jewish population traumatized by its very real and recent suffering, an immensely influential Jewish culture which places suffering at the core of its self-identity, and a Zionist leadership desperate to win world sympathy for a Jewish state in Palestine, and the idea of such a story, even if false, gaining near universal acceptance, really isn’t that hard to believe. After all, people once believed the earth was flat and sat on the back of four elephants riding on a turtle. They believed the earth was the centre of the universe and persecuted skeptics with the same fervor and with about as much justification as they do today’s Holocaust revisionists.
People today believe that JFK was assassinated by a lone gunman with a magic bullet. They believe in astrology and fortune telling, in bodily auras and out-of-body experiences. They believe that the Children of Israel were guided in the desert by a pillar of smoke by day and of fire by night, that Jesus was born of a virgin, died and was resurrected, and that the Prophet Mohamed ascended to heaven after seeing Mecca and Jerusalem. Why, they even believe that Palestine was a land without a people for a people without a land! So what is so hard to believe about the planned and premeditated slaughter of six million Jews by modern industrial methods, loaded in their millions onto trains and taken to industrialized killing centers where they are done to death thousands at a time in huge slaughter halls, their bodies burned to ashes and their bones ground into dust? People believe in heaven and they believe in hell – so why not the hell of the Holocaust?