By Thomas Dalton, PhD
The Holocaust is the greatest murder-mystery of the 20th century. Six million Jews, we are told, perished at the hands of the Nazis—in gas chambers, ghettos, and concentration camps. They were starved, suffocated, and shot. Their bodies were buried in mass graves, or burned in the ovens of Auschwitz, or on open flames. And all simply because they were Jews. It was the embodiment of evil, the greatest crime ever perpetrated.
Traditional historians claim to know about this crime in great detail. They have documents, photographs, and hard evidence. They have incriminating testimony from key Nazis. Some of the gas chambers have survived. And they have innumerable Jewish eyewitnesses. According to some, it is the “most well-documented event in history.”
And yet, when we ask detailed and pointed questions, our historians fall short. They don’t really know when, where, or how the Jews died. They have no technical explanation of how it was possible, for example, to gas thousands of people per day in a single room, and then to dispose of their bodies—such that not a trace remains. They cannot find the mass graves that allegedly held thousands of bodies. They cannot explain wartime aerial photographs that show a disturbingly calm Auschwitz camp. And they refuse to even consider a raft of contradictory evidence. In fact, many aspects of the traditional story simply don’t add up. The deeper we look, the more puzzling the picture becomes—and hence, the great mystery.
As with any murder, we, as investigators, would like to examine several aspects of the crime; these would include the motive, the means by which it was conducted, and the bodies of the victims. We would furthermore like to consider all ancillary and related evidence that might support, or refute, the traditional story. As we will see, all these areas are problematic, from the conventional standpoint.
In the past few decades, a group of intrepid investigators has emerged, one that challenges the conventional view of history. Researchers who do this are generally known as revisionists; they seek to revise the orthodox account of some past event. Holocaust revisionists, however, are a special breed. They challenge not simply historians, but an entire infrastructure dedicated to maintaining and promoting the standard view. The conventional Holocaust story is sustained by hundreds, if not thousands of individuals: authors, scholars, filmmakers, publishers, academics, and the criminal-justice systems of several large countries. These orthodox historians are well paid; some have large staffs and budgets at their disposal, and many enjoy the patronage of media, government, and the corporate world.
Holocaust revisionists, by contrast, are few in number—not more than two or three dozen worldwide. They have tiny budgets and few sponsors, most of them undercover. They receive no compensation for their work. On the contrary—they are continually threatened, defamed, sued, and otherwise harassed. Their books are confiscated, and they are even occasionally thrown in jail. And yet, under the most difficult of circumstances, revisionists persevere in the task of exposing the shortcomings of the traditional view, and in turning a harsh light on some uncomfortable aspects of the Holocaust story. They do this not out of spite, nor meanness, and certainly not for financial gain—but simply in pursuit of the truth. They seek the truth of the greatest crime of the past century.
The dispute between Holocaust orthodoxy and revisionism is no mere trifle of history. It is a matter of great importance. The conventional Holocaust story is so widely accepted as self-evidently true, and as the epitome of evil, that most people cannot conceive of it being wrong to any substantial degree. If, therefore, it is shown to be wrong, or at least deeply flawed, then a central pillar of our understanding of history is threatened. Our simplistic notions of good and evil would have to be reexamined. Those who sustain and promote the traditional story today—including many prominent and wealthy Jews, their paid assistants, and the dwindling number of Jewish survivors—would suffer a serious erosion of credibility. And we might begin to question other received truths promoted by the powers that be. These facts have huge implications in many areas of contemporary life.
One striking fact is this: Most people have no idea that there is a Holocaust mystery at all. This in itself testifies to the power and influence of orthodoxy. They work hard to ensure that most of the public never hears from the other side—nor that there even is another side. When the topic does slip out, as it does from time to time, it is always cast in the most denigrating and insulting of terms. Revisionists are invariably called “Holocaust deniers,” “neo-Nazis,” or “anti-Semites.” They are slandered and impugned from the start. But their arguments are never discussed, never challenged, and never refuted. This, of course, is the classic ad hominem fallacy: to attack your opponent’s character or motives, rather than addressing the substance of his arguments. This is a standard tactic of those who have weak counterarguments, or who wish to avoid discussing the topic at all.
Consider the term ‘Holocaust denier.’ This is, in fact, a nearly meaningless phrase. What, after all, can it mean to ‘deny’ the Holocaust? In order to deny something, we first need to know what it is. By general consensus, this event has three central elements: (1) roughly 6 million Jewish deaths, (2) homicidal gas chambers, and (3) systematic intentionality on the part of the Nazis. Therefore, we require all three conditions to exist, if we are to have a “Holocaust.” In theory, if someone were to refute any one of these three points, he would be a “Holocaust denier.”
But what does it mean to deny, for example, 6 million Jewish deaths? Is a claim of 5 million “denial”? Hardly, since that figure has been long supported by prominent Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg. What about 4 million? Doubtful; Gerald Reitlinger (1987) argued for 4.2 million Jewish deaths, and no one has called him a denier. 3 million? 1 million? We can see the difficulty here.
What about the homicidal gas chambers? Note: Any windowless room, in any building anywhere, could in theory serve as a homicidal gas chamber. All one needs to do is force people into that room, throw in some pellets of Zyklon-B (a granular package for cyanide gas, used by the Germans and many other countries to disinfest clothing and personal items), and then wait 20 or 30 minutes. Of course, this could be hugely impractical, for many obvious reasons: (a) it’s very hard to force people into an enclosed space against their will, and keep them there; (b) it’s tricky to get the pellets into the room without poisoning yourself and (c) it’s very dangerous to extract the dead bodies without again poisoning yourself—they are infused with cyanide gas, after all, and the pellets themselves would continue to slowly release the gas for hours afterwards. You would somehow have to carefully aerate the whole room, over a period of several hours, and then cautiously remove the bodies and the pellets. And then, if you were to be “systematic” about the process, you would have to thoroughly clean out the entire room, top to bottom, to prepare it for the next batch of victims.
This is no mere hypothetical description. It is, in fact, how most of the Auschwitz chambers allegedly operated. If one then takes the obvious stance—that such a procedure is utterly impractical and ridiculous in the extreme—are you then a denier? Perhaps so; but certainly a rational one! To deny the ridiculous or the absurd is simply common sense. One wishes there were more such deniers in the world today, not less.
What about intentionality? On the traditional view, Hitler and the top Nazis desperately wanted to kill every Jew they could lay their hands on. Aronsfeld (1985: 49), for example, states that “the German Nazi plan to murder every single Jew they could is beyond doubt.” In fact, it is often claimed that the Germans put this objective above all others, even to the detriment of the defense of their country against invasion. As evidence, Holocaust fundamentalists cite various anti-Jewish statements by Hitler, Goebbels, and other Germans. But most such statements, including nearly all those by the leading Nazis, are highly ambiguous—as we will see. What is certain is that Hitler and others wanted to remove the Jews from Germany and the greater Reich. But it is far less clear that they wanted them killed.
Thus, if one claims that many thousands of Jews died—not in gas chambers, but in other incidental and ancillary ways—is this ‘denial’? Every revisionist agrees that the Nazis wanted the Jews out, and that this was a deliberate and intentional, and even central policy of National Socialism. Many Jews undoubtedly died in the process of ethnically cleansing the Reich. And it is true that Hitler and the others were largely unbothered by this fact. But is this to deny the intentionality of the Holocaust?
We can see, then, how difficult and how meaningless it is to declare someone a “Holocaust denier.” Doing so would require a much fuller elaboration of the terms. Fundamentalists, however, never provide these facts. They prefer to slander their opponents, and leave it at that.
Let us, then, investigate this great crime ourselves. Let us examine the central elements of the Holocaust story, ask tough questions, and see where the evidence leads.
The Big Picture
With the Holocaust, as with any such issue, it is wise to always keep the big picture in mind. So, let us ask some ‘big picture’ questions—questions that might get to the inherent plausibility of the conventional story.
First: Why do we know so little about the oft-cited “6 million” figure? It appears everywhere that we hear about the Holocaust. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum website writes, “The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews.” The official Israeli institute Yad Vashem says, “The Holocaust was the murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators.” Traditional historians are confident of this number; as Robinson (1976: 281) writes, “There can be no doubt as to the accuracy of the estimated figure of some six million victims.” The Holocaust Encyclopedia concurs: “The round figure of 6 million admits of no serious doubt.”
But does it? Consider this fact. The Second World War in Europe ran from September 1939 to May 1945—a period of 5 years and 8 months, or slightly more than 2,000 days. If the Germans killed 6 million Jews in the course of those 2,000 days, they must have averaged 3,000 Jews per day, every single day, for the full extent of the war. This is a truly astounding statistic: 3,000 Jews murdered every day, by some combination of gassing, shooting, and deprivation—for nearly six straight years. Is this plausible?
But the larger issue is that of body disposal. Killing is relatively easy; making bodies vanish is much, much harder. On the standard view, the Germans burned, buried, or otherwise totally disposed of 3,000 corpses (on average) every single day—for nearly six years. This would have been a monumental job in peacetime; it was a Herculean task in the midst of a major war. This alone should make us question the conventional death toll.
“So what?” some may say. “Something like 50 million people died in the course of the war, which is an even more amazing 25,000 per day. Why not 3,000 Jews?” Yes, but the larger figure includes all victims in all conflicts, everywhere on the globe. There were 58 national militaries at war, involving millions of soldiers, many of whom were shooting everything in sight. We can thus easily understand how 50 million people, globally, may have died, and the globe is indeed littered with their graves, quite conspicuously. But the Jews were targeted by a single nation, one that was busy fighting battles on many fronts. Furthermore, and critically, none of the 50 million dead bodies was made to vanish—unlike the 6 million unfortunate ones.
Second: Sometimes we need to state the obvious. People die all the time. They die from old age, disease, injury, and accident. They die from homicide, and they die from suicide. In any sufficiently large population group, about 1% die of such causes every year. Among the areas that would come under German control, there lived about 9 million Jews, according to standard sources. Therefore, this Jewish population would have experienced something like 90,000 deaths per year—even if Hitler had never been born. Over the course of the war, roughly 520,000 Jews would have died, even if the Germans completely ignored them. And if we count the time since the Nazis came to power in 1933, some 1.3 million would have died.
Since the experts give us so few details, we have to assume that any Jew, in or from a German-occupied country, that died during the Nazi era, for any reason, counts as a “Holocaust victim.” We therefore have over 1 million victims before we even count a single Nazi murder. Any fair accounting of Jewish mortality would subtract the 1 million or so natural deaths from the putative total. But this rarely happens.
This also helps to explain those who say, “My so-and-so relative(s) died in the Holocaust.” What they mean, most likely, is that they died or went missing during the Nazi era, of causes neither specified nor even actually known. The blame adheres to Hitler by default, and the sympathy to the “bereaved.” Is this reasonable? Clearly not. But until we get details regarding who died, when, and how, we cannot determine the reality of the situation.
Lest the reader doubt that such loose accountings are actually credited, consider the extremely liberal definition of a ‘Holocaust victim’ given by “the leading authority in Jewish global demography,” Sergio DellaPergola. In a 2003 report, he stated that a victim is anyone “who at least for a brief period of time was submitted in their locations to a regime of duress and/or limitation of their full civil rights.” This is an absurdly broad definition, one obviously designed to maximize the number of victims and survivors. Clearly then, anyone who died, for any reason, suffered even potential duress—thus may count as a ‘Holocaust victim.’ Their family members also certainly suffered duress, and if they were alive after the end of the war could be counted as ‘Holocaust survivors.’ In fact, virtually anyone, any European Jew, who lived through the end of the war could be declared a ‘Holocaust survivor’—and thus entitled to receive lifetime compensation from Germany, endless speaking engagements, and perhaps a book or movie dramatization of their lives.
Third: If the 6-million figure is so well documented, why then do we never see even a basic breakdown of it? That is, why do we never find even the most elementary set of numbers, based on cause of death, that add up to 6 million? This is not a trivial matter. Allegedly the experts know, more or less, how and where the Jews were killed. They know about the six extermination camps (more on these shortly). They know about the Einsatzgruppen, the so-called German killing squads that operated behind the Eastern front. They know about the many Jewish ghettos—where they were located, when they operated, and when they were evacuated. The Holocaust is, after all, the “most well-documented event in history.” Why do we not have even a rough picture of how, by numbers, the Jews died, such that the totals add up to 6 million? The reader is invited to look for any reputable source, printed or online, that purports to show such a list; it will be a long search.
Lacking data from the experts, let’s propose our own numbers. Here is one possible breakdown:
|6 death camps:||3.0 million|
|Other camps:||0.4 million|
Is this correct? Hard to say. It gives the desired total, and it identifies the main categories of deaths. From what we are told by the experts, these numbers seem plausibly close. But we should be able to do better than that. In theory, we should be able to research each of these areas in detail—each has its own set of specialists—and then justify the individual numbers. And if we find that one category has fallen short, then another must be increased, if we are to maintain the overall total of 6 million. This is elementary logic. So why does this basic analysis escape the hundreds of experts and thousands of published works on this event? This is not an unreasonable request: Give us the numbers that add up to 6 million. If they cannot, we have yet another reason to be suspicious.[9 ]
Of course, even if we were given such a list, we could not accept it at face value. We have to ask further questions, probing a bit deeper. What are the numbers at each of the six death camps, such that we can justify a total of 3 million? Which of the leading ‘other camps’ had the highest death rates, and what were those numbers—such that we can plausibly account for another 400,000? Which were the leading ghettos, and how many died in each of those—such that we can account for 1 million? (Beware: In order to count as ‘ghetto deaths,’ these must have occurred in the ghettos; someone who was removed from a ghetto and shipped to Auschwitz obviously cannot count as both a ‘ghetto death’ and an Auschwitz death.) There were four main Einsatzgruppen units. We know when and where they operated. How many did each kill, such that we can account for a large majority of the 1.6 million?
These are elementary questions. We ask not for precision, not for exactitude; rough estimates will do. We are within our rights to demand answers. Why are such answers not forthcoming?
For the sake of the present inquiry, let’s assume that the above numbers represent the conventional view. They will guide our quest for the truth.
Origins of the “6 Million”
One of the biggest of the big-picture questions is this: Where did the infamous figure of 6 million come from in the first place? One would naturally presume it to be impossible to calculate the death toll in the midst of a raging world war. Even in the immediate aftermath, we would know little for certain. Surely we would not take, for example, the Nazis’ word for it; they would be inclined to either minimize the death toll or, if coerced, exaggerate it. The many camp survivors—and there were many, even discounting “free riders” who were never near any camp—would clearly not be of much help; as prisoners, they would have been in no position to know such things as overall death tolls. Therefore, one would expect a dependable answer to come only from a detailed investigation of all the death sites, including forensic data, mass grave exhumations, autopsies, and so on. This would then be compared with surviving Nazi documentation, photographs, and other evidence. A proper investigation would clearly take months, if not years. Only then could we be confident of an estimate of 6 million.
Oddly, this is not what has been done. Far from it. In fact, nearly the opposite of the above has occurred. The victorious Americans relied heavily on biased Jewish and Soviet sources, and on captured and abused Nazis. They conducted no forensic investigations, no autopsies, and no unearthing of mass graves. The Americans thus relied strictly on hearsay evidence to establish the all-important Jewish death toll. And they never took a single action to confirm the number. Their position seemed to be: If the Jews say 6 million, 6 million it is.
All this would be bad enough, but the story gets much stranger still. It turns out that the world was told of 6 million Jewish victims not only in the immediate aftermath of the war, but during the war, at the start of the war, and even before the war—in fact, decades before the war. The seemingly-impossible history of the ‘6 million’ constitutes a fascinating subtext to the larger Holocaust narrative.
Perhaps the earliest published connection between Jews and ‘6 million’ dates all the way back to 1850. The newspaper Christian Spectator (Jan 16; p. 496) printed a short article on “Spiritual statistics of the world.” They list the global population as 1 billion, of which “6,000,000 are Jews.” Two decades later, the New York Times reported similarly: “there are now living about 6,000,000 Israelites, nearly one half of whom live in Europe” (12 Sep 1869; p. 8). One may speculate that it was around this time that the number ‘6 million’ came to represent ‘all the Jews.’ Henceforth, whenever ‘all the Jews’ were under threat, the standard figure came up—as we shall see.
Just a few years later, there were already signs of trouble. The NYT reported in 1872 on the “persecution of Jews in Roumania” (Mar 23; p. 4). Gentile mobs were attacking them, and it appeared that “the blood-thirsty assailants would stop short of nothing but Jewish extermination”—an early precursor of claims of German extermination that would come some 70 years hence.
Or perhaps just eight years hence. In 1880 we read a striking report on “pleas for German Jews” (Dec 20; p. 2). The article examines a speech by German philosopher Eugen Dühring, and his “effrontery to demand the extermination of the entire [Jewish] race, in the name of humanity.” The writer then speaks of petitions before the German parliament, whose purpose is “extermination—the annihilation of the Jewish race.”
But back to the subject at hand. The first mention of 6 million suffering Jews comes already in 1889. In a short article, the NYT asks “How many Jews are there?” The low estimate of “the ubiquitous race” is 6,000,000. “With the exception of half a million,” it adds, “they are all in a state of political bondage.” Two years later, in 1891, we read about the sorry state of “Russia’s population of 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 Jews,” and of “the fact that about six millions persecuted and miserable wretches” still cling to their religion, against all odds. Thus began a multi-year string of stories about the “6 million suffering Jews of Russia.”
Such stories would prove useful to the nascent Zionist movement, which had only recently come into being. Its mission was (and is) to encourage world Jewry to settle in Palestine. The early Zionists were thus eager to play up Jewish suffering, in order to promote mass emigration from Europe. Referring to the Jews of Russia, noted activist Stephen Wise said this in 1900: “There are 6,000,000 living, bleeding, suffering arguments in favor of Zionism” (Jun 11; p. 7). In 1901, the Chicago Daily Tribune reported on the “hopeless condition” of the “six million Jews in Russia” (Dec 22; p. 13). In 1905, Zionists began to fret that “Russia, with its 6,000,000 Jews,” wasn’t promoting emigration (Jan 29; p. 2).
Periodic and often minor anti-Jewish actions were always portrayed in the most dramatic terms; the NYT despaired over “our 6,000,000 cringing brothers in Russia” (Mar 23; p. 7). Later in 1905 came a polemic against a Russian leader who “caused 6,000,000 Jewish families to be expelled” (Nov 1; p. 2)—which is impossible, incidentally, since that would have involved some 25 million Jews. In 1906 we read of “startling reports of the condition and future of Russia’s 6,000,000 Jews”; it is a “horrifying picture” of “renewed massacres” and “systematic and murderous extermination” (Mar 25; p. SM6). (One is tempted to ask, What it is about the Jews, such that they are subject to repeated threats of “extermination”?) In 1910, we find “Russian Jews in sad plight,” and we are saddened over “the systematic, relentless, quiet grinding down of a people of more than 6,000,000 souls” (Apr 11; p. 18). In 1911 the NYT reported that “the 6,000,000 Jews of Russia are singled out for systematic oppression and for persecution by due process of law” (Oct 31; p. 5). “6 million”; “systematic”; “extermination”—a clear trend is forming.
Soon thereafter, World War I began. We then begin to read of the plight of “more than 6,000,000 Jews who live within the war zone” (2 Dec 1914). The next month carried more reports of the eternally damned, “of whom more than 6,000,000 are in the very heart of the war zone”; they are consequently “subjected to every manner of suffering and sorrow,” and all Americans are called upon to help (Jan 14; p. 3). In 1916, we read that “the world is silent” despite the fact that “nearly six million Jews are ruined, in the greatest moral and material misery” (Feb 28; p. 8). A year later, Rabbi Samuel Schulman exclaims that “six millions of Jews are living in lands where they are oppressed, exploited, crushed, and robbed of every inalienable human right” (Jan 22; p. 6). In May of 1917, we hear that “six million Jews—half the Jews of the world—are calling to you for help” (May 21; p. 1). By September, the situation was being described in the strongest possible terms; women and infant Jews must be saved, we are told, “if the Jewish race is to survive the terrible holocaust of the world war” (Sep 24; p. 20). Few seem to realize that a Jewish “holocaust” is said to have occurred in both world wars.
By late 1918, the war was nearing its end. Did we have 6 million Jewish fatalities? No. Somehow they all managed to survive. Instead of attending their funerals, we were then called upon to aid their recovery: “Six million souls will need help to resume normal life when war is ended,” writes the NYT (Oct 18; p. 12).
One might have thought that this would have been the end of the stories of the 6 million. Sadly, no. The famed number simply shifted to a new region. In September of 1919, we find that it is now the Ukrainian and Polish Jews who are subject to misery; “6,000,000 are in peril” (Sep 8; p. 6). We are further horrified to read that “the population of 6,000,000 souls in Ukrania and in Poland…are going to be completely exterminated.” Naturally, this is “the paramount issue of the present day.” Once again, 6 million Jews under threat of extermination.
The trend continued for years, too numerous to elaborate. References include the following:
- “unbelievable poverty, starvation and disease [for] about 6,000,000 souls, or half the Jewish population of the earth” (12 Nov 1919).
- “typhus menaced 6,000,000 Jews of Europe” (12 Apr 1920).
- “hunger, cold rags, desolation, disease, death—six million human beings without food, shelter, clothing” (2 May 1920).
- “Russia’s 6,000,000 Jews are facing extermination by massacre”—again! (20 Jul 1921).
- “over 6,000,000” Russian Jews “neglected” (16 Sep 1924).
This brings us to the Nazi era, where the ‘6 million’ appears once again—and long before World War II. The first reference comes just two months after Hitler assumed power in January 1933. The NYT reports on a “Hitler protest” vote by some local New York government officials. Rabbi Stephen Wise issued an appeal: “We in America have taken the lead in a battle for the preservation of German Jewry,” adding that his group “is now active in relief and reconstruction work in Eastern Europe where 6,000,000 Jews are involved” (Mar 29; p. 9).
Three years later, we read in the London Times of “6,000,000 unwanted unfortunate” Jews, and of “these 6,000,000 people without a future” (26 Nov 1936; p. 15). On that same day, the NYT reported on a speech by British Zionist Chaim Weizmann, who “dwelt first on the tragedy of at least 6,000,000 ‘superfluous’ Jews in Poland, Germany, Austria.” In February 1937, we hear that “five to six million Jews in Europe are facing expulsion or direst poverty” (Feb 26; p. 12).
In 1938, the NYT ran an article headlined “Persecuted Jews Seen on Increase” (Jan 9; p. 12). “6,000,000 victims noted,” they said—referring to a combined total in Germany, Poland, and Romania. The very next month we hear about “a depressing picture of 6,000,000 Jews in Central Europe, deprived of protection or economic opportunities, slowly dying of starvation, all hope gone…” (Feb 23; p. 23). By May, it was the “rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe today which has deprived more than 6,000,000 Jews and non-Aryans of a birthright” (May 2; p. 18). Later that year, the London Times printed an account of the “treatment of German Jews”; “the problem now involved some 6,000,000 Jews,” they wrote (Nov 22; p. 11). Bear in mind: the start of World War II was still nearly a year away.
Into early 1939, the London Times continued to report on Weizmann’s view that “the fate of 6,000,000 people was in the balance” (Feb 14; p. 9). War began in September of that year, and anti-Nazi propaganda accelerated. In mid-1940, the NYT quoted Nahum Goldmann: “Six million Jews are doomed to destruction if the victory of the Nazis should be final” (Jun 25; p. 4). This was still at least one full year before Hitler allegedly decided to begin his program of Jewish mass murder—according to our experts. How could Goldmann have known what was to come?
In January of 1942, we read that Heinrich Himmler “has uprooted approximately 6,000,000 human beings” and shipped them into occupied Poland, “where they necessarily starve and freeze to death and die of disease” (Jan 18; p. SM10). By mid-1942, it was “a vast slaughterhouse for Jews” in Europe; one million were reported dead, and the remainder of the “6,000,000 to 7,000,000” at risk (Jun 30; p. 7). By December the Jewish death toll was reported as 2 million, representing one third of the 6,000,000 “in Hitler’s domain.” It was, said the NYT, “a holocaust without parallel” (Dec 13; p. 21).
The sad tale continued throughout the war years:
- Hitler intends “the extermination of some 6,000,000 [Jewish] persons in the territories over which [his] rule has been extended” (London Times, 25 Jan 1943).
- “Save doomed Jews,” says Rabbi Hertz; the world “has done very little to secure even the freedom to live for 6,000,000 of their Jewish fellow men” (Mar 2; p. 1).
- Two million are dead, “and the four million left to kill are being killed, according to plan” (Mar 10; p. 12).
- “Five and a half million Jews in Europe are reported to have been put to death” (10 May 1944; p. 5)—still one full year before the end of the European conflict.
- And again later: “Dr. A. Leon Kubowitzki…reported that 5,500,000 Jews had been killed in Nazi controlled countries” (Nov 27; p. 14).
Then the first definitive claim—in January of 1945, four months before the end of the war: “6,000,000 Jews Dead,” blares the headline (Jan 8; p. 17). Jacob Lestchinsky claimed that the prewar population of 9.5 million had been reduced to 3.5 million. No mention of how he came to this figure, amidst the chaos of an ongoing war. In April, the NYT headlined a story: “5,000,000 Reported Slain at Oswiecim [Auschwitz]”—an incredible miscalculation, even assuming the correctness of the present-day figure of 1 million. In May we read something of an official declaration from Lord Wright of the UN War Crimes commission: “It has, however, been calculated that in all about six million Jews were deliberately slaughtered in [gas chambers] and other ways” (May 13; p. SM4). Calculated by whom? On what basis? And using what hard evidence? He does not say.
Thus is the story of the ‘6 million.’ It has an impressive legacy. Traditional historians often emphasize that the figure came from the Germans at the Nuremberg trial that began in November 1945—which is true. A minor functionary, Wilhelm Höttl, testified to this number early in the proceedings. Historians like to portray this as a kind of dramatic revelation, and as “official confirmation” of the number—which is a ridiculous claim. As we have seen, the number had been known, discussed, and anticipated for decades. And even then, in late 1945, no one had taken the smallest of steps to actually confirm such an estimate. It was pure hearsay, based on decades of propaganda.
Incredibly, even to the present day, we are no better off. We still have no hard data to confirm the ‘6 million’—and good evidentiary reason to doubt it, as we will see.
The Mystery Deepens
Back to our main plot. If we wish to examine the actual alleged murder of the 6 million, we must ask some further questions: (1) What was the intention of Hitler and the other leading Nazis? (2) Did they have the means and ability to carry out such a crime? (3) Did they in fact do it?
On the conventional view, the answers are clear: Hitler intended all along, and secretly, to kill the Jews of Europe. The Nazis constructed the means to do so, primarily in their system of ghettos, killing squads (the Einsatzgruppen), and in the six death camps, each of which was equipped with the infamous gas chambers. And yes, we are assured; 6 million were actually killed. “The round figure of 6 million admits of no serious doubt.”
Let’s examine each of these in turn, from an objective standpoint. What about the intentions of Hitler and the other top Nazis? Consider Hitler’s “first letter on the Jews,” dated 16 September 1919. Written when he was only 30 years old, this short letter is a reasoned study of the Jewish question in Germany:
If the threat with which Jewry faces our people has given rise to undeniable hostility on the part of a large section of our people, the cause of this hostility must be sought in the clear recognition that Jewry as such is deliberately or unwittingly having a pernicious effect on our nation… All this results in that mental attitude and that quest for money, and the power to protect it, which allow the Jew to become so unscrupulous in his choice of means… His power is the power of money, which multiplies in his hands effortlessly and endlessly through interest, and with which he imposes a yoke upon the nation that is the more pernicious in that its glitter disguises its ultimately tragic consequences… The result of his works is racial tuberculosis of the nation.
By ruthlessly pursuing their own self-interest, Jews inflict a virtually fatal illness upon nations. The remedy for this serious problem, said Hitler, was a “rational anti-Semitism,” one based not on hatred or emotion but rather on a straightforward desire to maintain the health of the nation. The “final objective” of this vision, he adds, is “the total removal of all Jews from our midst.” Note: not their deaths, not their murder, but rather their removal from German society.
From the early 1920s, the English-language press began covering the National Socialists. In later speeches, Hitler used somewhat different terminology—but with the same end in mind. The press’s version of events, however, was decidedly one-sided. For example, in the 8 February 1923 issue of the NYT, they reported that “a part of the program of Herr Hitler…is the extermination of the Jews in Germany.” It sounds ominous. However, we now know about the decades-long history of supposed “extermination” attempts, none of which materialized.
More to the point, we need to consider exactly what Hitler said. Much of the time, the word that the English press translates as ‘extermination’ is Ausrottung; or in verb form, ausrotten. But it is not so simple. Ausrotten derives from aus+rotten, meaning literally to ‘root out’ or ‘uproot.’ And indeed, the Oxford English-German dictionary translates the phrase ‘root out’ to ausrotten.
Conversely, it translates ausrotten as both ‘exterminate’ and ‘eradicate.’ Both of these English words are revealing. ‘Exterminate’ derives from the Latin ex+terminare, meaning ‘out of (ex) boundary (terminus).’ In other words, to exterminate something is to drive it out, beyond the border, and thus to rid oneself of it. It does not demand the killing of the thing in question. Webster’s confirms this, defining extermination as “to get rid of completely,” or “to effect the destruction or abolition of.”
What about ‘eradicate’? This word derives from the Latin e(x)+radix, meaning ‘to pull up by the roots’—hence ‘to root out’ or ‘to totally remove.’ Clearly one could ‘root out’ the Jews, for example, without killing any of them. And this seems to be what Hitler actually intended: that he wanted the Jews uprooted (eradicated) and driven out (exterminated). These meanings are combined in the term ausrotten.
If this were to happen in Germany, the Jewish presence there would be destroyed—not the Jews themselves, but their presence and their economic role in German life. This points to the other word that Hitler and others frequently used regarding the Jews: Vernichtung. The root of this word is nichts, ‘nothing.’ The verb vernichten thus means ‘to bring to nothing.’ The common English translation is ‘to destroy.’ To ‘destroy,’ in turn, literally means to deconstruct or ‘unbuild’ something. This, again, is exactly what the Nazis wanted: to deconstruct and unbuild Jewish financial power in Germany. As before, nothing in this demands the killing of the persons in question.
Hermann Göring clearly held this view. In mid-1936, he was quoted by a top American diplomat as saying that “the Jews must be eliminated from German economic life.” There was no sense of animosity or hatred, but simply one of economic expediency; Jews had long dominated the German economy, and the Nazis believed that it was time for it to be returned to the Germans themselves.
We get further evidence of this relatively benign meaning of the German terms from the NYT itself. In March 1933 they reported on a speech by Rabbi Schulman, in which he decried Hitler’s “economic persecution [that] aims at the extermination of the Jewish people” (Mar 13; p. 15). The following month, we again read of the Nazis’ “deliberately calculated [plan] to accomplish the economic extermination of the Jews” (Apr 6; p. 10). Such reports were correct; they drew on Hitler’s harsh but nonlethal use of the words ausrotten and vernichten. But already by June of 1933, the NYT began to drop the economic piece of the picture. Hence we read, simply, that “Hitler’s program is one of extermination” (Jun 29; p. 4). And in August, the ominous final message is clear: “600,000 [German Jews] are facing certain extermination” (Aug 16; p. 11). Thus we can see the rapid evolution from a plan of economic dismantling and removal (reality) to a distorted vision implying outright murder (fiction).
Yet more evidence comes from the extensive diary of Joseph Goebbels. Between May 1937 and the end of the war, he made 123 entries on Jews and the Jewish question. In describing Nazi policy toward them, the most commonly used words are evakuieren (to evacuate), abgeschoben/abschieben (to expel or deport), aus-heraus (to move out), liquidieren (to liquidate, to get rid of), ausrotten, and vernichten. Notably absent are graphic and explicit words such as töten (to kill), ermorden (to murder), erschiessen (to shoot), and vergasen (to gas). And it is not only the individual words; the entire context of his passages on the Jews involves nothing but extended discussion of their removal, deportation, evacuation, and the like. Would Goebbels lie to himself, or use code words or euphemisms in his own private diary? Obviously not. When he said “evacuation” or “deportation,” that’s clearly what he meant. Nor did he mean deportation to any homicidal gas chambers; no such thing is mentioned in his lengthy writings. Nazi intention was clear: the Jews would be packed up and shipped out, to the East, to the newly captured areas of western Russia, and there they would be dumped—to survive as best they could.
Finally, and most revealingly, what about the words of Hitler himself? From 1941 through late 1944, he conducted long private sessions with friends and party intimates. These discussions—monologues, actually—have been published as “Hitler’s Table Talk” (see Hitler 2000). Among a wide range of topics, he makes some 16 references to Jews and the Jewish question, over a period of about three years. Every one of these passages refers, in the German original, to evacuation and removal; not one refers to killing, gassing, or mass murder. For example:
- “If any people has the right to proceed to evacuations, it is we… We consider it a maximum of brutality to have liberated our country from 600,000 Jews. And yet we have accepted…the evacuation of our own compatriots!” (8-11 Aug 1941—six months before the first so-called extermination camp was opened.)
- “The Jew, that destroyer [of culture], we shall drive out (setzen wir ganz hinaus)” (17 Oct 1941).
- “I prophesied to Jewry that, in the event of war’s proving inevitable, the Jew would disappear from Europe (aus Europa verschwinden)… Let nobody tell me that, all the same, we can’t send them to the [Russian] morass!” (25 Oct 1941).
- “This sniveling in which some of the [German] bourgeois are indulging nowadays, on the pretext that the Jews have [had] to clear out (auswandern müssten) of Germany, is typical of these holier-than-thou’s. Did they weep when, every year, hundreds of thousands of Germans had to emigrate…?” (19 Nov 1941).
- “One must act radically. When one pulls out a tooth, one does it with a single tug, and the pain quickly goes away. The Jew must clear out of Europe (Der Jude muss aus Europa heraus)… For my part, I restrict myself to telling them they must go away (Ich sage nur, er muss weg)… But if they refuse to go voluntarily, I see no other solution but extermination (die absolute Ausrottung).” (25 Jan 1942).
- “The Jews must pack up, disappear from Europe (Der Jude muss aus Europa hinaus)!” (27 Jan 1942).
- “[The Jew] bears in mind that if his victims suddenly became aware of [the damage he causes to society], all Jews would be exterminated (erschlagen werden). But this time, the Jews will disappear from Europe (aus Europa verschwinden).” (3 Feb 1942).
- “We shall regain our health only by eliminating (eliminieren) the Jew.” (22 Feb 1942).
- “Until Jewry…is exterminated (ausrottet), we shall not have accomplished our task.” (30 Aug 1942).
- “I have already cleared the Jews out of Vienna (Der Juden habe ich aus Wien schon heraus)…” (25 Jun 1943).
Hitler obviously had no reason to hold back his language when speaking amongst such close colleagues. If he had truly wanted to kill the Jews, he would have said so—more than once, and in no uncertain terms. Instead we find not one instance of such talk. Perhaps this is why so few of our traditional historians cite these monologues of Hitler; such passages are hard to explain, on the standard view.
The lesson here is clear. Simplistic translations are highly misleading, as are all the implicit references to mass murder. One must seek out the original German text, find the words that Hitler, Goebbels, and others actually used, and put them into proper context. Our traditional historians never bother to do this; it seems not to serve their larger purposes.
The Run-up to the War
To better understand the circumstances of the Great Crime, we need to further examine German actions toward the Jews both before and at the start of the war. Earlier we saw that, in 1923, the NYT declared that Hitler’s program included the “extermination” of the Jews—though they were careful not to elaborate. The year before, they were even more explicit; they wrote of his “excesses against law and order, and his speeches inciting his audiences to kill Jews and Socialists” (20 Dec 1922; p. 2)—again based on slanted translations. The London Times had it more correct. They reported that Hitler wanted “all Jews resident in Bavaria…to be rounded up in concentration camps. … In remote parts of the countryside, Jewish colonies are to be formed…which will be strictly isolated from all other sections of the population” (6 Nov 1923; p. 14).
When the National Socialists came to power in early 1933, they immediately began the process of removing Jews from positions of influence, and encouraging them to emigrate. There was minimal abuse, no pogroms, and certainly no large-scale killing. Even the dreaded Kristallnacht (‘Crystal Night’) of 9-10 November 1938 resulted in only some 90 Jewish deaths—regrettable, but clearly no massacre when viewed across the entire area of Germany. The point is this: that even through the end of the 1930s, the National Socialists did nothing more than push the Jews out of positions of power, intimidate and harass them, and do everything possible to get them to leave.
Even our traditional scholars agree—there was no mass murder prior to the war, which commenced in September 1939. Back in the 1970s, Erich Fromm wrote that “[the] systematic slaughter began only with the outbreak of the second World War. There is no convincing evidence that Hitler contemplated the annihilation of Jewry until shortly before then” (1973: 398). More recently, Peter Longerich (2010: 132) confirms this view: “The beginning of the Second World War saw the inauguration of the National Socialist regime’s systematic politics of racial annihilation.” Whether in fact there was any “systematic annihilation” or “slaughter” at all remains to be seen, however.
The war began with Germany’s invasion of Poland—after much provocation by the Poles. England and France immediately declared war on Germany, which then reciprocated. The Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east two weeks later, and by the end of the month the nation was partitioned in two; Germany consolidated the western half, and the Soviets the eastern.
With victory in Poland, Germany suddenly gained control over some 1.7 million more Jews. Did the Nazis begin mass-murdering them? No. Instead, they devised a plan to deport and confine them to a ‘Jewish reservation’ in the far eastern portion of German-controlled territory; this was designated as the Nisko Plan. Within a few months this was replaced by a more general objective: to transport all Jews into the “General Government,” a large district of eastern Poland that included Warsaw, Krakow, and Lublin.
By mid-1940, with the German army pushing west into the Low Countries and France, it was becoming clear that even the General Government could not be a long-term solution. Thus came about the Madagascar Plan: all Jews would be shipped to the French colonial island. This, Himmler said, was much preferred to killing them, something that was both “un-Germanic and impossible.” Though the plan never materialized, it was discussed as a possibility at least through March 1942. At that time Goebbels wrote, “There are still 11 million Jews in Europe. They will have to be concentrated later, to begin with, in the East; possibly an island, such as Madagascar, can be assigned to them after the war.” Clearly no plans for mass murder—as late as March 1942!
This brings us to the actual murder itself—the scene of the crime, as it were. Allegedly, the National Socialists had three primary methods of killing Jews: ghettos, killing squads (Einsatzgruppen), and the six death camps. Let’s take a look at each of these, in order to assess the overall crime.
The Mechanism of Mass Murder (1) – Ghettos
The first major death category is the ghetto system. Ghettos were generally small sections of cities that were designated as Jewish-only areas. They began to be formed in early 1940; Lodz (Poland) was one of the first. Most were established by the end of 1941—more than 1,000 in total, so we are told. From early 1943, they began to be dismantled; the average life of a ghetto was roughly two years.
Contrary to popular belief, ghettos were not prisons. Many were completely open, and Jews could come and go as they pleased—they were only confined to living and operating businesses there. Often times, the ghetto was marked only by a sign. Clearly they were never intended as a means of mass killing. Longerich evidently agrees: “The establishment of the ghettos was carried out so haphazardly and slowly that it would be wrong to see it as a systematic policy ultimately aimed at the physical annihilation of the Jews” (2010: 166).
Ghettos were, however, the logical first step in a program of exclusion, removal, and expulsion (‘extermination’). If the National Socialists indeed wished to ethnically cleanse the Reich, they would have begun by rounding up Jews, confining them to specified areas, and then methodically transporting them out. And this is precisely what happened. The two largest ghettos—Lodz (200,000 Jews) and Warsaw (400,000-590,000)—were established in February and November 1940, respectively. Jews were confined (in the manner just described) there until new areas opened in the East, upon which time the deportations commenced.
Once again, it is instructive to keep the big picture in mind. From the perspective of the Holocaust, there is one big question here: How many Jews died in the ghettos? Given the years of study, there should something approaching common agreement on what that number is, and how it is derived. It should be the lodestar, the central point around which all discussion of the ghettos revolves. It should be everywhere that the ghettos are examined. And yet we find it—nowhere.
It does not appear in either older sources or newer, in print or online. Friedman’s (1954) detailed study, for example, lists no death figures at all, either for individual ghettos or as a whole. More recent sources are little better. Corni’s (2003) chapter on “Life and Death” in the ghettos gives a scattering of mortality statistics, but nothing comprehensive. He provides detailed—down to the individual—monthly deaths for the two largest ghettos (Warsaw and Lodz), but only for 10 and 18 months, respectively (pp. 205-206). But he draws no overall conclusions from these. He closes the chapter by citing the National Socialist statistician R. Korherr, who allegedly claimed that 760,000 Polish Jews died in ghettos through December 1942 (p. 218)—though this total is clearly marked by Korherr as the sum of “emigration, excess mortality, and evacuation.”
In his “definitive” study, Longerich (2010: 167) allots just one vague sentence to these deaths. Citing Hilberg (2003), he writes that “the total of Polish Jews killed prior to and during the period of ghettoization before the violent ghetto clearances began was approximately 500,000.” Only Polish Jews? Many countries had ghettos. And what does “prior” mean? And why exclude the “violent clearances”? And what was the basis for Hilberg’s figure—the man who could find only 5.1 million deaths overall?
Or consider Dean (2010); he provides exactly the kind of concise summary that should include an overall death figure, and yet we find only two mortality numbers, both for the Warsaw ghetto (more on this below). Perhaps appropriately, one of the newest dedicated studies, Michman (2011), has no death statistics at all.
Online sources are equally deficient. Wikipedia (“Jewish Ghettos in German-occupied Poland”) provides a nice list of 272 ghettos, including “number of Jews confined” (maximum? average? final?), but no death statistics, nor even references to any. It does list the presumed destination of the ghetto residents; virtually all went to one of the six extermination camps, directly or indirectly. These will be examined shortly. The USHMM website (“Ghettos”) gives no numbers, and states only that “the Germans and their auxiliaries either shot ghetto residents in mass graves located nearby, or deported them, usually by train, to killing centers where they were murdered.” How many mass graves? Where are they? Have they been examined? No answers. Yad Vashem says simply, “Many Jews died in the ghettos.”
We must keep in mind how simple our request is. The essential equation is this: Jews went into the ghettos; some died there; the remainder were shipped out. More explicitly:
(# Jews in ghettos) = (# Jews died in ghettos) + (# Jews deported out)
This again is elementary logic, and yet it seems to exceed the grasp of our traditional historians. Why can’t we get even rough estimates of this basic equation?
Since it is evidently too taxing a demand to request overall death statistics, let’s make it easier. Let’s look at the single largest and most-examined ghetto, Warsaw. Here we theoretically know everything, and in great detail. Even back in 1954, Friedman could write, “The bibliography of publications on the Warsaw ghetto is so extensive that it is impossible to enumerate even the more important studies” (p. 79, n 76). How much more detailed is our knowledge today—60 years later?
Once again, we ask the basic question: How many Jews died in the Warsaw ghetto? Once again, we come away empty-handed. No sources provide even a plausible estimate of this essential number.
In fact, our experts cannot even clearly answer the simpler question: How many Jews were in the Warsaw ghetto? Friedman (1954: 79) says 420,000 to 500,000. Corni (2003: 195) says 400,000. Dean (2010: 342) says “some 450,000.” Longerich (2010: 167) says 410,000 to 590,000! If we don’t know how many people we have to start with, we certainly can’t answer the follow-on questions regarding deaths and deportations. And if we can’t answer those questions, well, our entire picture of the Holocaust is up in the air.
Unlike the hundreds of other ghettos, we do have some partial death statistics for Warsaw. Corni (2003: 206), for example, gives us a table with monthly death figures, running from January 1941 to June 1942; these average 3,853 per month. But why stop there? The ghetto existed for another full year. Can we extrapolate this monthly figure for the entire duration? This would imply some 120,000 total deaths. If not, why not?
If so, how do we reconcile this number with the following facts presented by the USHMM?:
- “83,000 [ghetto] Jews died of starvation and disease” between 1940 and mid-1942;
- Between July and September 1942, “the Germans deported about 265,000 Jews from Warsaw to Treblinka”;
- Upon closing the ghetto in mid-May 1943, 42,000 were deported to three camps, 7,000 died fighting, and another 7,000 were shipped to Treblinka;
- 11,500 Warsaw Jews survived in the city until it was captured by the Soviets in 1945.
For all that, no overall death number—for the most well-known and thoroughly studied ghetto of them all.
For that matter, what was Corni’s source for his numbers? As good sleuths, we must always ask such questions. In this case, it is particularly revealing. He cites an obscure, undated (presumed 1960) German text, Faschismus—Getto—Massenmord. This in turn is a translation from an even more obscure, also undated (presumed 1957) Polish source. Page 138 of this text has one table with the numbers used by Corni. But even here there are problems. There is no accompanying explanation at all—no elaboration, no context, nothing. Also, the entry for December 1941 is 43,239—a ridiculously high figure, and obviously incorrect, and thus Corni uses the number (4,366) from the accompanying chart. But if there are such gross and blatant errors, how can we trust any of the numbers?
One reason for the reluctance to establish an overall death toll may be the obvious lack of evidence—that is, absence of victims’ bodies. Based on Corni’s data, the Warsaw ghetto yielded nearly 130 corpses per day, on average, for two or more years. What did they do with the bodies? They could not bury them, as they were in the middle of a large city. They had no crematoria, nor wood to build pyres. So—what happened to the bodies? And are there any remains that we might examine today, in order to confirm things?
Unsurprisingly, none of our ghetto experts addresses this thorny issue. At best we find mere passing comments in other sources. For example, in a 1942 article in the NYT, we read that the Warsaw Jews “have no means for funerals, so the dead are put into the street, where they are collected by the police” (Jan 7; p. 8). (The same article, incidentally, claims that 300 per day were dying, mostly due to typhus—the very disease that the Germans were trying so hard to forestall.) If the police collected the bodies—4,000 or 5,000 per month—what did they do with them? Bury them? If so, where? Did they even count them? More unanswered questions.
Without such answers, we cannot really trust any information here. For all we know, the actual numbers could have been much lower. If there were 400,000 Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, this would imply 4,000 natural deaths per year, or about 11 per day. With this lower number, we can well understand how the bodies may have ‘disappeared’ without a record. But Corni and others tell us that some 130 Jews died every day—ten times the natural rate. The NYT said 300 per day, or 30 times the natural rate. These are much harder to explain.
Or maybe it was even worse than we presume. In one striking 1943 report in the NYT, we read that “approximately 10,000 people are killed daily in Warsaw alone by different means; the cruelest and most inhuman instruments, which only the black satanic spirit of Hitlerism can invent, are employed” (7 Feb; p. SM16). Think of it—10,000 per day! In a ghetto area of barely over one square mile! Perhaps the reporter, the “noted novelist” Sholem Asch, was guilty of a bit of poetic license. When we are dealing in fiction, anything goes.
It must be kept in mind how simple an analysis we are seeking. The main points could be addressed in a single paragraph. Here’s how it might go:
“The Warsaw ghetto held 350,000 Jews at its opening, a number that peaked at 450,000 in mid-1942 and declined to 80,000 when it was closed in May 1943. Overall, 500,000 Jews passed through the ghetto. Of these, 40,000 died in the ghetto of natural causes, and 10,000 were shot there by the Nazis. The 50,000 bodies were dumped into three mass graves in a nearby forest, which were exhumed and studied in 19xx. The remaining 450,000 people were eventually transported out of the ghetto—300,000 to Treblinka, 100,000 to Majdanek, and 50,000 to other concentration camps.”
That’s it—very simple, very concise, and everything adds up. Of course these numbers are purely fictitious. We look to the experts to supply actual statistics. But answers are not forthcoming. And if the well-known Warsaw ghetto holds such mysteries, we can only imagine the murky state of the overall ghetto picture.
In the end, we are left with an empty sack. We must account, somehow, for roughly 1 million deaths in the ghettos. Yet we have no useful data on even the largest and best-studied ghettos. Furthermore, we must always keep in mind the natural death rate. If, for example, 3 million Jews (a rough guess, but certainly an upper limit) were confined to our “1,000 ghettos,” we then would expect some 30,000 deaths per year—or nearly 100 per day—due strictly to natural causes. One hundred deaths per day, spread over several countries and some 1,000 different locations, could easily vanish amidst a major war. But more to the point, this would yield only some 100,000 deaths in total—a mere 10% of the claimed figure.
By concentrating the Jews, the Nazis certainly contributed to infectious diseases, malnourishment, and other maladies, and thus must be held responsible for those ‘excess’ deaths, along with any isolated shootings or other direct actions they committed. But we have no idea how many such deaths occurred.
Let’s summarize our problem here. The ghetto system ran essentially for three years: 1941-1943. Over this time period, we are told, 1 million ghetto-deaths occurred; hence almost 28,000 per month, on average, or about 925 per day. Every day, somewhere in the system, 925 bodies were either buried or burned. Somewhere, in total, there are the remains of 1 million people. Or so we are told.
And yet have no record of any such bodies whatsoever—no mass graves, no crematoria, no open-air pyres, no ‘dumping in the river’ stories—nothing. Not even the natural deaths are accounted for, which causes us to suspect that the total number of interned Jews was perhaps much smaller than claimed. And if we can’t find the victims, how can we hope to solve the crime?
The Mechanism of Mass Murder (2) – Einsatzgruppen
On the orthodox view, the ghettoization of the Jews was only the first phase in their “extermination.” For obvious reasons, however, this system could never serve as a means of mass murder. Therefore, we are told, the National Socialists sought more expedient methods. One of these was mass shootings.
Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, rapidly capturing large amounts of land. As the main army advanced eastward, there was a constant danger of attacks by insurgents from the rear. The Wehrmacht therefore established the Einsatzgruppen—“task forces”—to protect the soldiers. They were organized into four main units (A, B, C, D), consisting of around 3,000 men, supplemented by a fifth “special purpose” group. These were supported in their mission by police battalions, SS brigades (referred to as HSSPL), and perhaps one or two other groups. In addition to their main role, these groups were also allegedly given “authority to murder members of the intelligentsia, the clergy, and the nobility, as well as Jews and the mentally ill”—a formidable task.
The killing method was straightforward: shooting at close range, with bodies dumped in pits. There are some vague reports about the use of “six gas vans,” but details are so murky that we can conclude nothing about them. The Einsatzgruppen and affiliates are responsible for a large majority of the 1.6 million Jewish shootings, on the standard view—perhaps 1.3 million or so, depending on the source. They evidently wasted no time; the bulk of the killing was over by the end of 1942.
As always, we must focus on the big picture here. If we allow that most of the shootings occurred over some 18 months (mid-1941 to December 1942), this means that the four Einsatzgruppen and their auxiliary groups collectively managed to kill, on average, almost 65,000 Jews per month—or around 2,200 per day. More impressively, they managed to bury the bodies at the same rate; more on this shortly.
To get a grasp of this scale of killing, we need more detail. Longerich and most others fail to do this; for them, it is sufficient to cite a string of alleged individual events—450 shot here, 2,400 shot there, etc—and leave it at that. Such statistics, of course, tell us little about what actually happened, and more importantly, fall far short of 1 million or more.
Of recent researchers, only Headland (1992) attempts to provide real details. Citing Wehrmacht reports, he calculates totals for each of the main Einsatzgruppen and the SS brigades (nothing for police battalions or others), through December 1942. His figures are as follows (p. 105):
But there are immediate problems, as he recognizes. First, these are, allegedly, all of the victims—Jews and non-Jews alike. Fundamentalists assume that Jews were the large majority, perhaps 90%, though this could be drastically erroneous. Also, the HSSPL number is “certainly only part of their operations” (p. 106); such indeterminateness is a common ploy, and it leaves open the possibility of arbitrarily high ultimate figures.
But there are more fundamental problems. “It is not easy,” admits Headland (p. 92), “to obtain a clear picture of any distinct features” of the Einsatzgruppen reports; “the irregularity of the reporting frustrates us at every turn.” He continues:
There is also evidence to suggest that some Einsatzkommando and Einsatzgruppen leaders deliberately exaggerated the numbers of persons shot for their own self-aggrandizement…. If these exaggerations existed, there is no way to determine by how much and where the numbers were embellished. (pp. 97-102)
It gets worse: “The impossibility of determining an exact total becomes even more obvious when one examines closely the numbers given in the tables… Anything approaching a final total for the entire period of the war cannot be realized.” But wait—this is part of the “most well-documented event in history.” Why is this huge portion of the Holocaust such a mystery?
Headland states that “it is unlikely that historians will ever get beyond educated estimates as to the number of persons killed in the eastern territories…” (p. 106). “We may conclude,” he says on faith, “that the estimate of Raul Hilberg that over 1,300,000 Jews were killed in the east by the Einsatzgruppen and other SS agencies and collaborators is probably as close to a true figure as we are likely to find.” What he means is this: Hilberg is famous, and thus we should just accept his number—despite its lack of substantiation—because we have no basis for anything better, and something of that size is needed to even begin to approach the ‘6 million.’ It hardly inspires confidence.
But there is an elephant in this room as well, one that Headland, Hilberg, Longerich, and all the others studiously avoid: the absence of bodies.
For the sake of calculation, let’s assume that the Headland numbers (above) are 100% Jews. Furthermore, let’s assume that the total rises slowly throughout 1943, from his figure of 1.15 million to a final mark of 1.3 million at year’s end. (Einsatzgruppe actions were almost certainly complete by this time.) Under these assumptions, the daily killing rate was very high: 500 – 2,500 per day, for most of the 2.5 year period. However, during three spectacular months—September to November 1942—it shot up to nearly 4,000 per day, thanks to some ferocious killing by the SS brigades.
We will set aside the myriad difficulties of hunting down, rounding up, and shooting an average of 4,000 people per day—for 120 straight days. Let’s assume this was done. Each day, the five groups have a total of some 4,000 dead bodies on their hands. Now what? The obvious answer is to bury them—in crude, deep, mass graves. In such a grave, one can pack, at most, six to eight bodies per cubic meter. Consequently, the daily toll of 4,000 killings required a space of around 600 cubic meters—a hole that is, for example, 10 m x 12 m x 5 m deep. In other words, a very large hole…a new one, every day…for 120 straight days. Even an ‘off’ day, of only 1,000 shootings, would require a hole of size 5 m x 6 m (15 x 18 ft), and 5 m deep, to accommodate the bodies.
What about a ‘bad’ day? The single worst alleged massacre was at Babi Yar, Ukraine. On 29 September 1941, Einsatzgruppe C supposedly slaughtered 33,771 Jews in one day. To accommodate these bodies, they would have had to dig a colossal trench 10 m wide by 100 m long, and 5 m deep. This alone would have been a major construction effort—all for a single day’s killing.
So, some obvious questions: Who was doing all that digging? Every day, year round, for two and a half years? In ice and snow? Did each team have a diesel excavator with them? And further: Where are all those holes? If 1.3 million Jews were shot and buried, it would have required, for example, 1,000 such holes, each containing an average of 1,300 bodies. Or maybe it was 2,000 holes with an average of 650—and so on. This gives an idea of the magnitude of the problem.
And then the decisive questions: How many of these holes have we found? And how many bodies were in them?
Fundamentalists have their answers at the ready. By the end of 1942, the Nazis allegedly realized that they had made a huge mistake. So many mass graves, with so many bodies, left a vast amount of incriminating evidence. (Why they would have worried about this, we are never told.) Therefore they initiated “Action 1005”—a program to destroy the evidence of their mass shootings. Longerich (2010: 410) explains: “In June 1943 the commandos began to open the mass graves in the occupied Soviet territories, first in the Ukraine, then in White Russia, and finally in the Baltic states.” These teams were “extraordinarily thorough,” he says:
The mass graves were opened up, the corpses were burned on piles of wood or steel grilles, then the ashes were examined for valuable objects, gold teeth above all, before the bones were ground and the ashes scattered or buried. Then all other traces that could have indicated the places of execution were removed, and the murder scene dug over and planted.
Well, that settles that.
One wonders: How foolish does Longerich think his readers are? Are we supposed to accept this outlandish and impossible story at face value? Over 1 million corpses, buried in over 1,000 mass graves, spread over hundreds of thousands of square miles, were located, exhumed, and burned to ash on large campfires. The subsequent tons of ash—human plus wood—were sifted for teeth, bones, and other “valuables”; the bones were ground up (how?), and the whole mess was then “scattered” or buried, such that not a trace remains. The killers evidently also had their own private landscapers, who came by at the end, smoothed out the soil over those 1,000 mass graves, and planted a few trees or shrubs to hide the evil deed. And perhaps a few flowers as well, in memory of the deceased.
This is a ludicrous story, but it is conveniently ludicrous. It attempts to explain away the glaring hole—the fact that we have found no evidence even approximating the 1.3 million supposed victims. Indeed, by a sort of perverse logic, the absence of bodies confirms the traditional view: “Of course there are no bodies; that was part of the plan.” Of course.
Even if the Nazis had attempted such a thing, there are substantial problems here:
(1) Were the Nazis so stupid as to not think of this problem at the outset? And yet so brilliant as to effect the total elimination of evidence?
(2) Merely finding all the mass graves again, after one or two years, would have been a major task in itself. The Nazis obviously had no GPS systems or satellites. They would have required an extensive and extremely detailed set of hand-drawn maps and written descriptions. Why do we have no evidence of such things?
(3) Digging up hundreds of thousands of rotting corpses would have been a messy, awkward, and revolting job under the best of conditions—and impossible during frozen winter months.
(4) The amount of wood required to burn decayed, rotting corpses would have been astronomical. Note: the Nazis weren’t merely ‘cooking’ the bodies, they were burning them to ash. To do this on an open-air fire requires an immense amount of fuel, something like 160 kg (350 pounds) of wood per body, at minimum. A modest, 1,000-person grave would thus demand at least 160,000 kg (175 tons) of firewood. And the fire would have failed in the case of cold, rain, wind, or other adverse conditions.
(5) On what basis can our experts claim that the Einsatzgruppen used “steel grilles”? Do they have any record of these? Any remaining examples, any photographs—anything?
(6) The ash would have been overwhelming. Each body, plus the wood to burn it, would produce about 9 kg (20 pounds) of ash; 1,000 bodies yields 20,000 pounds, or 10 tons of ash. Can we imagine the Germans “sifting” through mountains of ash, in the cold and rain, pulling out teeth and bones—each tooth individually inspected for gold, each bone tossed into the “grinder” pile?
(7) Grinding hard material such as bone requires large, power-driven machinery. Do we have any evidence that such machines existed, and were deployed all over Eastern Europe?
(8) Buried ash remains as ash for years, decades, even centuries. If they buried the ash, it is still there. Why have we not found it?
(9) Disturbed earth, as in the huge burial pits, cannot simply be erased. Merely filling them in with dirt does not do the job. Modern technology can easily detect such disturbances, even from the air. Why have we not found these huge pits?
The problems compound—to an embarrassing degree. As detectives in this great crime story, we must know when to dismiss obvious fiction. One feels sorry for Longerich and the others who must promote such rubbish. They know, or should know, that it is nonsense. And yet they promote it all the same.
A more rational explanation is this: that the Einsatzgruppen and affiliated groups shot far fewer people, and far fewer Jews, than is claimed. No one doubts that they did kill many people, perhaps thousands, of all varieties. There was a war going on, after all. No one doubts that the bodies were frequently and unceremoniously dumped in pits. But to have killed well over 1 million Jews, buried them all, dug them all up a year or two later, burned them all to ash on wood fires, sifted through all the ash, and then hidden the ashes—this is impossible. The fact that we have no evidence of even a fraction of this story is telling. It is a clear sign that our traditional historians are seriously misleading us. It would not be too much to call them outright liars. The question then is: Why?
The Mechanism of Mass Murder (3) – Gas Chambers
We have now examined ghettos and mass shootings in the East as ineffective means of killing and disposing of 6 million Jews. At most, we can imagine these two situations being associated with the death of perhaps two or three hundred thousand Jews over the course of the five-year war—many of them dying from natural causes.
Despite the many unsolvable problems and issues cited above, let’s make a temporary concession. Let’s say that Hitler and the other leading Nazis did indeed want to kill every Jew in Europe. Even then, could they have done it? The ghettos and half-dozen killing squads obviously weren’t getting the job done. Something else would have been required.
If they had actually sought to kill masses of Jews, the Germans clearly had many options at their disposal. Shooting would have been perhaps the last method chosen; it is a tedious, slow, and uncertain process to take large numbers of people, line them up individually or in groups, and execute them. There were clearly better alternatives. For example, the Ruhr Valley had many abandoned coal mines, most with ready access to rail lines. The Nazis simply had to ship trainloads of Jews there, toss them down the empty shafts, and collapse the mines. Or they could have drowned them; it would have been a simple matter to pack people into crude shipping containers and dump them into the sea. That would have accomplished the evil deed and eliminated the evidence all at once.
If, for some strange reason, they felt compelled to ‘gas’ the Jews, they had options there too. As Fritz Berg points out, there were large, train-sized “gas chambers” in existence; these were used to fumigate train-carloads of bedding, clothing, and personal effects with deadly cyanide gas. Typhus, as we know, was a huge problem during wartime, and the Germans took many precautions. Rather than fumigate clothing, however, the Nazis simply could have processed carloads of Jews. They could have killed hundreds in minutes, with no risk to themselves. And the dead bodies would have been conveniently packed up, ready to head off for disposal.
If, for some other strange reason, the Germans preferred to use ‘chambers,’ they had options there as well. Consider this obvious fact: Once you have gone to the trouble of rounding up Jews and packing them tightly into small, air-tight rooms, you don’t need to gas them. If the room is even close to “air-tight,” you just wait 30 minutes or an hour, and everyone is dead. No toxic chemicals, no lengthy aeration, no messy cleanup—just open up the doors and haul out the asphyxiated bodies.
And there were simpler alternatives still. Round up the Jews, confine them in crude, prison-like structures in the countryside, and let them starve. Or faster yet: force them into large open-air corrals in the winter, with no shelter of any kind—just big fenced-in pastures. One cold night, and all are dead from exposure. The variations are endless.
But the Nazis, we are told, adopted none of these obvious alternatives. Instead, they opted for a complex, technical, and dangerous process of mass murder in gas chambers.
In order to better understand this most critical aspect of the Holocaust story, we need some background information. Prior to and during the war, the National Socialists created a large network of ad hoc prisons—concentration camps—throughout the Reich. By 1943 there were some 20 major camps of 25,000 or more inmates, and at least 65 ancillary camps with around 1,500 people each. Many assume that all these were “death camps,” that is, places of mass murder. But this is not so. On the orthodox view, only six camps were dedicated to the murder of the Jews: Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek, and Chelmno.
These six so-called death camps, or extermination camps, were never labeled as such by the Germans. They all served different purposes, ran for different periods of time, and experienced different mortality rates. In fact the only points of commonality, according to traditionalism, are (a) they all held large numbers of Jews, and (b) they all contained homicidal gas chambers.
Once again, even the simple task of determining death tolls is problematic. Every expert, and every source, seems to have a different figure for each camp. And the variation is not insignificant; the highest estimates can be five or even ten times as high as the lowest. Even if we look at the two most ‘authoritative’ sources—USHMM and Yad Vashem—we find wide differences. For present purposes, we will use a rough average of these two organizations’ numbers.
The table below lists the six camps, sorted by start date, and the approximate average estimates of Jewish fatalities:
|Chelmno||Dec 1941||Sep 1942||250,000|
|Auschwitz||Jan 1942||Nov 1944||1,000,000|
|Belzec||Mar 1942||Dec 1942||550,000|
|Sobibor||Apr 1942||Sep 1943||225,000|
|Treblinka||Jul 1942||May 1943||900,000|
|Majdanek||Sep 1942||Nov 1943||75,000|
These six camps thus account for a nominal total of 3 million Jewish deaths, as we have assumed at the start. They are fully half of the Holocaust.
Let’s look, then, at the basic picture of each camp, so that we can better determine if, and how, Jews were killed there. We will run through the list roughly from least to most fatal.
This is a camp that was once unsurpassed in its horror, but now has fallen mightily in the rankings. The NYT first reported on Majdanek in July 1943. They wrote that “the German murder toll in Poland is reaching a new high…including 1.8 million Jews [in all camps]”—according to the Polish Minister of Home Affairs. He tells of men, women, and children “deported to the Majdanek death camp in the Lublin district, where they were slaughtered in masses in death chambers.” On two days in July, “more than 3,000 persons were murdered in gas chambers. Such executions are taking place every day.”
But it got worse. One year later, the NYT had precise details. “Victims put at 1,500,000 in huge death factory of gas chambers and crematories,” screamed the headline. The camp had recently been “liberated” by the Russians, and they invited Western reporters in to see the horror firsthand. Reporter Bill Lawrence wrote,
I have just seen the most terrible place on the face of the earth—the German concentration camp at Maidanek, [at which] as many as 1,500,000 persons from nearly every country in Europe were killed in the last three years. I have been all through the camp, inspecting its hermetically sealed gas chambers, in which the victims were asphyxiated, and five furnaces in which the bodies were cremated.
He went to a nearby forest, where he saw 10 open mass graves—though only 368 bodies. “In this forest,” he says, “the authorities estimate there are more than 300,000 bodies.” The victims were of assorted nationalities: “Jews, Poles, Russians” and others.
Needless to say, the “1.5 million victims of Majdanek” meme failed to withstand scrutiny. Because the camp was so well-preserved, it was amenable to thorough investigation. As it turns out, “the authorities” never found more than a tiny fraction of the purported bodies. As the years passed, the gas-chamber stories dwindled away and “official estimates” began to fall: first to 1.38 million in 1986, and then to 360,000 in 1990. Then further: 235,000 people, of whom just 110,000 were Jews (1992); 60,000 Jews (2000); “over 50,000” Jews (2003).[42 ] From the revisionist standpoint, Graf and Mattogno (2012) have calculated that the Jewish death toll was slightly less than 28,000.
“So what?” some may say. “This reduction in death toll is a good thing. It shows that traditional historians are willing to alter their views over time, as new research emerges.” It would be a good thing, if (a) they acknowledged the important contribution from revisionist writers, and more importantly (b) it led to a corresponding decrease in the ‘6 million.’ But neither of these ever happens.
Consider the estimate of 59,000 Jewish victims—a number that comes from the director of the Majdanek Museum, Tomasz Kranz (2007). In order to accept his number, we need to know how and when these people died. But even he gives us a rapidly shifting story. In 2003, Kranz wrote that “60 percent of the victims in Majdanek died as a result of starvation, forced labor, maltreatment, and illness” (2003: 230). If this holds for the Jews, it means some 35,000 died of these ‘natural’ causes, while the remaining 24,000 died by gassing or shooting. But we also have the story of the “Harvest Festival” (Erntefest) massacre, in which 18,000 Jews were allegedly shot at Majdanek on a single day, 3 November 1943. If this is true, it leaves, at most, only (24,000 – 18,000) = 6,000 Jews who were gassed or shot prior to that date.
But Kranz could evidently see that this caused a problem for the conventional view, which demands large numbers of Jews gassed at each of the six death camps. If only 6,000 were ‘shot or gassed,’ and if, say, one or two thousand of these were shot, this leaves only perhaps 4,000 that were gassed—unacceptably low for our traditional historians. This is likely why, in 2007, Kranz backpedalled. He now makes no claims about gassings versus shootings or other causes. He makes no mention of the victim count at the “Harvest Festival.” He simply says, “We do not, after all, have at our disposal any data documenting deaths by dividing them into various forms of killing” (2007: 104). In a footnote he adds that “estimates concerning the numbers of mass prisoner shootings and gassing…are very general estimates and are not supported by source research.” Therefore such figures “should be considered of little use.” In other words, we know almost nothing about how the Jews died; it is all speculation. But if this is true, how can he be so confident of his 59,000 figure?
The heart of the Majdanek story, like all six death camps, lay with the gas chambers. The standard account, dating to 1944, holds that the camp had seven such chambers. They were unique in that they supposedly used both Zyklon-B (cyanide pellets) and carbon monoxide from pressurized cylinders.
But these claims have withered under critical examination. One chamber in the ‘new crematorium’ was simply an enclosed, windowless room—but lacking a ventilation system, it could not have been used to gas people. Two other chambers were claimed to exist in a ‘Barrack 28’—which no one can locate today, and was likely a figment of Soviet imagination.
This brings us to the building known as “Bath and Disinfection Unit I,” which allegedly held the other four chambers. Fortunately, it remains standing to this day, and thus can be easily examined.
The four B&D chambers are designated as follows:
- Room C: largest of the four rooms, allegedly used Zyklon only. But this room has a large, easily-broken glass window, and no ventilation system. Today even the traditional historians agree that the room was used only for delousing of bedding and clothing.
Attention now falls on the final three rooms:
- Room A: a medium-sized room, with two lockable doors and no windows.
- Room B1: a small chamber, with small window and lockable door.
- Room B2: a small chamber, no windows, one lockable door.
But Zyklon use seems to be ruled out for all three. Rooms B1 and B2 have no ventilation, and only crudely-constructed (and likely post-war) ceiling holes in which to dump the poisonous Zyklon. But there is no obvious way to get to the roof to access these holes, and there is the usual problem of how to remove the dead bodies once they are mixed with the deadly pellets. Room A had two doors, which could have served as a crude ventilation scheme—sufficient for bedding and clothing, but not for people. But it has not even ad hoc ceiling holes, and thus no evident scheme to introduce the Zyklon.
In conclusion, if the Germans gassed anyone with cyanide pellets at Majdanek, it was an extremely crude, dangerous, and bluntly speaking, idiotic procedure—scarcely worth serious consideration.
As to the claims of carbon monoxide poisoning, these are based on the fact that two of the rooms—A and B1—have perforated metal pipes running along the walls. The pipes lead to a small exterior shack that contains two large compressed-gas containers. It looks bad, until one reads the container labels: CO2, or carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide is deadly; but carbon dioxide is not. We breathe it in and out every moment of every day. Why would the Germans pipe carbon dioxide into enclosed rooms? There is one obvious answer: to slow down decay of dead bodies. If the rooms were used as temporary morgues, CO2 would allow for somewhat extended storage by displacing oxygen. In fact, fruit growers use this technique all the time when they want to store fresh fruit over the winter; they use large carbon-dioxide coolers.
This furthermore helps to explain witness accounts. The rooms had dead bodies (true), they were “gassed” (true, after they were already dead), and the bodies were eventually burned in crematoria (true). The individual facts are true, but they do not add up to “homicidal gas chambers.”
The bottom line is that Majdanek has sunk to irrelevance in the larger Holocaust story. Even if we accept that 60,000 Jews died there, they represent a mere 1% of the alleged total. Consequently we hear very little about the camp any more, from our traditional historians.
Even more so than the others, Chelmno is truly something of a mystery camp. It wasn’t even a fixed camp per se, but rather more of a processing station and, separately, a burial ground. Victims arrived by truck at the small village of Chelmno on the Ner River, 60 km northwest of Lodz, Poland. There they found a large country manor—variously called a “mansion,” “palace,” “Schloss,” or “castle,” depending on the source—where they disembarked. They were then told they would be shipped further on to the East, to labor camps. Instead, claim the historians, they were herded down a ramp into waiting vans—vehicles that were modified to gas them. Hence the Chelmno murder weapon: gas vans.
Once done, the van would head out to the “forest camp,” a plot of land some 5 km from the village. The bodies would be buried, and later, exhumed and burned. The reader should not be surprised if the plot line sounds familiar.
Chelmno was such a mystery that, for decades, virtually no detailed studies were published on it. The best one could hope for was a short encyclopedia entry, or references to obscure foreign-language documents. Only in the past few years have we seen dedicated works appear. To date we have three books: two orthodox accounts, by Krakowski (2009) and Montague (2012), and one revisionist analysis by Mattogno (2011).
Our best source of information on any camp is wartime documentation, but unfortunately “documentation about [Chelmno] is almost nonexistent,” according to Mattogno (2011: 7). Montague (2012: 2) concurs; he laments the “little physical evidence” remaining, the “absence of camp records and other relevant Nazi documents,” and the fact that “[camp] photographs remain tragically lost to history.” Current accounts of the camp are based almost entirely on unreliable witness testimony given in various postwar trials, and on a scattering of data derived from incomplete excavations. This partly explains the wide disparity in death estimates, from USHMM’s “over 156,000” to Yad Vashem’s “320,000.” For our purposes, we have assumed a median figure of 250,000.
As the first in existence, Chelmno was supposedly the ‘experimental’ death camp, the one that would establish the process for the others to come. Allegedly, it was in the summer of 1941, following early successes against the Soviets, that the Germans began to devise their “final solution” for the Jews—mass murder, on the standard view, or evacuation to the East, according to revisionists. Presumably acting on (unwritten) orders from Hitler, Himmler surveyed his technical experts for the best way to kill masses of people. Based on their experiences to date, they knew that shooting and ghetto-confinement would not work. One of Himmler’s men, Ernst Grawitz, allegedly proposed using “a fast acting, highly volatile gas.” As Mattogno demonstrates, they had many alternatives, including the highly toxic phosgene and diphosgene gasses. Even the dreaded Zyklon (hydrogen cyanide, or HCN) was considered only moderately toxic among those studied. The least toxic was carbon monoxide. And yet the Nazis inexplicably elected to use carbon monoxide in their prototype death camp.
The Germans had two ready sources of carbon monoxide. One was compressed gas, transported in large metal cylinders of the kind that were (wrongly) attributed to Majdanek. The other was from internal combustion engines. Compressed gas was expensive to produce and awkward to transport, allegedly, but engines were everywhere. Every car and every truck automatically produced carbon monoxide exhaust—for free. The choice was obvious.
According to witnesses, the gas vans were furniture-van-like vehicles, each holding between 25 and 50 people in the rear cabin. The vehicles were retrofitted with flexible exhaust pipes that could easily be redirected to a hole in the floor of the rear cabin. Exhaust gas, on this view, would pour into the cabin, quickly killing all inside. The dead bodies could then be conveniently trucked away to a disposal site at the forest camp.
But which engine type to use? The Germans had three alternatives at that time. One was a standard gasoline engine, which put out CO gas at concentrations between 1 and 6%. This is sufficient to do the job; CO is generally fatal within 30 minutes at levels above 1%. A second option, though, was much better: the so-called “producer gas” engines, which actually created CO gas to use as fuel. Producer-gas engines generated CO at levels of 18-35%, which would have rapidly killed all exposed.
But the National Socialists, we are told, passed over these two options, preferring instead their third alternative: a diesel engine. As it happens, and unbeknownst to nearly all witnesses and historians, diesels produce very little carbon monoxide—only about 0.1% for most of their operating range. Incredibly, then, after choosing the least toxic gas, the Germans inexplicably chose the least effective means of producing that gas. We may be excused if we are skeptical of this alleged scheme.
Yet even today this fact seems to cause no concern for our fundamentalists, who continue to insist on the diesel story. In the authoritative Oxford study, for example, Karen Orth (2010: 370) writes, “Chelmno and the Reinhard camps [i.e. Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec] killed with carbon monoxide gas generated by diesel truck motors…”
The fact that the National Socialists bypassed more deadly gases, and then opted to use a diesel engine to kill with CO, is sufficient for a rational investigator to dismiss the entire gas van story. But there are other problems with it. For example, it is physically impossible to pump exhaust gas into a “hermetically sealed” cabin. Either the engine will stall, or the cabin will be blown apart. There would have to be some complex system of pressure valves to let out the oxygen as the CO came pouring in. But no one has ever described such a scheme. If we had an actual surviving gas van at our disposal, we could easily answer such questions; unfortunately, not one has remained. (More problems of ‘vanishing evidence.’)
Furthermore, we have a much more plausible explanation for the wartime accounts of gas vans. Trucks running on producer-gas systems were in fact called Gaswagen, or ‘gas vans.’ Additionally, the Germans had specially-outfitted vans for use with Zyklon to delouse clothing and personal items; these too were called ‘gas vans.’ But when word got around of the (true) existence of gas vans, combined with the (true) fact that people were dying and being buried or cremated, and at the same time friends and family members were being shipped out of ghettos, never to be seen again, we can imagine how stories of homicidal gassings in vans could emerge.
How do these two orthodox authors handle these issues? On the critical question of diesel versus gasoline engines, and the subsequent production of deadly CO gas, both Krakowski and Montague are completely silent. The word ‘diesel’ appears not once in Krakowski’s book. Montague never specifies the engine type, nor informs the reader of the critical difference. Late in the book he allots one paragraph to “the question of the type of gasoline these vehicles used” (p. 208), but then neglects to answer the question. It is clear that he uses the term ‘gasoline’ as a generic for engine fuel, failing to make the crucial distinction between ordinary gasoline (petrol) and diesel fuel.
Potentially decisive evidence could exist in the mass graves, which allegedly held something like 250,000 bodies before they were exhumed and burned. We know where the graves are; in fact, there is a ‘victim memorial’ there today. Montague discusses the graves in detail, and supplies a helpful map. Today we see evidence of three long (circa 200m), thin (8m) disturbances, one smaller disturbance of some 60m in length, and about a dozen isolated pits. In total, these could indeed have held some quarter-million bodies.
Case proven? Not quite. As Mattogno explains (pp. 95-105), there have been four excavations of the Chelmno mass gravesites: 1945, 1951, 1986, and 2003. The first three were so poorly conducted that nothing conclusive can be determined. The 1986 examination, for example, found “a huge amount of crushed human bones” at the presumed location of corpse-burning site, but we are given no measureable details. Four bags of sample earth were analyzed, of which only “a few percent” consisted of bone fragments or ash (p. 97). The latest investigation in 2003 produced, once again, no objective, quantifiable data. Whatever is in those pits today, it evidently does not support the orthodox view. Perhaps these are the reasons why both Krakowski and Montague completely ignore the excavations.
But as Mattogno explains, there are yet more problems. If, say, 250,000 bodies were cremated on site, this would have required vast amounts of firewood—something like 40 million kg, or around 43,000 tons. This would have necessarily deforested huge areas around the camp—and yet the woods are largely intact, dating to well before the war. If they trucked in all that wood, there would have been a parade of witnesses testifying to the continuous stream of incoming vehicles; but we have none.
Once burned, the ash pile would have been monumental: roughly 2.2 million kg (2,500 tons). As with the Einsatzgruppen, the Nazis would then have sifted through the whole mass looking for teeth and bones, and then employed one or more mechanical grinders to crush them. Given the murky details of the four excavations, however, we must assume that very little ash has in fact been found.
Conclusion: the ‘mystery camp’ remains largely mysterious. The vans, the bodies, the fuel, and the ash have all but vanished, as has all documentary and photographic evidence. The alleged gassing method is quite literally senseless. And we can easily understand how such stories of “homicidal gas vans” came to exist. Doubtless many Jews passed through the Chelmno station, on their way out of the Lodz ghetto. Doubtless many of them died in the ghetto and surrounding region. Perhaps the bodies were taken to Chelmno to be disposed of. Perhaps some were buried, and some burned on crude pyres. But the evidence suggests that this number was much smaller than 250,000—perhaps a few thousand at most.
3. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka
The next three camps—Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka—have many features in common, and thus are often addressed together. We will do the same. The camps are typically considered part of an “Operation Reinhardt” (or Reinhard) that involved confiscating Jewish property and then either killing them (orthodox view) or deporting them to the East (revisionist view).
These camps are unique in that they were at fixed locations in the east of Poland, and allegedly were dedicated strictly to the mass murder of Jews. We know their locations, but sadly, and as before, very little of the camps remain. Today they consist essentially of designated forest clearings and various reconstructed, and therefore hypothetical, elements of the former camps.
The commonalities are striking, and telling. On the traditional view, all three camps:
- Opened with three gas chambers, and then added more later on.
- Were located on rail lines, in remote locations of eastern Poland.
- Had two distinct zones—an entry zone and an “extermination” zone—linked by a walkway called ”the Tube.”
- Gassed Jews using the exhaust from a diesel engine.
- Initially buried their victims, and then later exhumed and burned them on site.
- Buried the ashes on site.
- Lacked even a single crematorium.
- Were demolished, planted over, and handed to a local Ukrainian to farm the land.
Both fundamentalists and revisionists view the camps as part of a common plan, and thus we would expect similarities. However, this ends up working against the standard view because the difficulties and absurdities of one camp are shared by all.
We are already familiar with most of these problems. One is the use of diesel engines for homicidal gassing—it is simply absurd to think that, with the advanced science and technology of Nazi Germany, diesels are the best they could do. And yet, orthodoxy insists on the diesel story. Previously we saw the quotation by Orth, regarding Chelmno and the Reinhardt camps. Hilberg evidently agrees: “Belzec is reported to have been equipped with a diesel motor; Treblinka is said to have had one from the start” (2003: 936). According to the USHMM, “In 1942, systematic mass killing in stationary gas chambers (with carbon monoxide gas generated by diesel engines) began at Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka, all in Poland.” Yad Vashem says this: “The [Treblinka] extermination area included a brick building that housed three gas chambers. A diesel engine was housed in an adjoining shed—this engine produced the carbon monoxide, which fueled the chambers.” In another entry, they write,
Belzec, which commenced operation in March , had three gas chambers located in a wooden barrack; Sobibor, where the killings began in May, housed its gas chambers in a brick building and Treblinka, which was established in July, had three gas chambers that could be hermetically sealed. At each of the three camps, hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered by exhaust gas from diesel engines.
We can understand their dilemma. So much time and energy has been dedicated to the diesel gassing story that they cannot back down without a major loss of credibility. They therefore repeat the same story over and over again, without ever informing the reader of the severe technical improbabilities involved.
There is a related problem, however. People who die from carbon monoxide poisoning frequently have bright pink or red coloration on their skin. This is a chemical reaction of the blood to the gas, and it is a unique and distinctive marker. Therefore the witnesses who claimed to have seen the dead bodies at the Reinhardt camps should have remarked on an overwhelming number of pink or red corpses. It would have been a sure sign of CO gassing. As it happens, no one has done this. Some report having seen blue or yellow coloration, but never pink or red. And yet this would have been the dominant feature, readily apparent to all. The reader is invited to search for witnesses claiming to see red corpses; it will be a long search.
But let’s press ahead with our investigation. Traditional historians offer us a nominal account of the Reinhardt deaths over time. Let’s lay them all out in a single view, to get a better look. Based on a variety of sources, the following table shows estimated monthly deaths (thousands), for each of the three camps, during the two years of their operation.
As we can see, the total figures for each camp match those we assumed previously: Sobibor = 225,000, Belzec = 550,000, and Treblinka = 900,000. The monthly figures are conjectural, but obviously some such combination of deaths must have occurred, if the requisite totals are to be attained. If the experts disagree with these figures, they are welcome to propose better ones—and to justify them.
A few things jump out at us. Any single camp number above 30 (that is, above 30,000) means that more than 1,000 people per day were allegedly gassed that month. Given the many difficulties of this process, cited previously, that would have been quite a task. But the numbers go much higher than this. For seven of the months, the numbers equal or exceed 100,000 per month, or about 3,300 daily. The peak month—Treblinka in October 1942—was over 200,000, or more than 6,700 per day. Once again, we are confronted with an astonishing and frankly unbelievable claim: that the Germans managed, using only diesel engine exhaust, to kill nearly 7,000 Jews per day, every day, for a solid month.
As before, the ‘buried-exhumed-burned’ sequence would also have been a huge problem. All the Einsatzgruppen issues recur here, though at greater levels of absurdity. Based on our experts’ accounts, Chelmno was the first camp to exhume and burn, in the open air, on wood fires (in August-September 1942). If this was the “success” that we are told it was, the orders should have immediately gone out to the other camps: stop burying your dead, just burn them. (Note that all three Reinhardt camps were in operation by then.) But as it happened, only Sobibor began the exhuming and burning process right away. Belzec continued burying its dead for three more months. Treblinka, for seven more months. And the Einsatzgruppen were still digging mass graves a full nine months after the Chelmno “success.”
For that matter, why did the Reinhardt camps ever need to bury bodies? If they were in fact designed and built as “pure extermination camps,” surely the Germans would have constructed basic crematoria at each location—high-speed, highly efficient crematoria, to totally dispose of the evidence of the crime. Instead, they could do no better (allegedly) than to dump the bodies in a big hole in the ground, and then later, realizing their stupidity, dig up and burn the decaying corpses over log fires. And then, in another move of monumental stupidity, they decided to bury the ashes in the very holes from which the corpses came—ash that would then sit there for decades, waiting to be analyzed.
But even this understates the situation. In reality, they were burning so many corpses, at such a high rate, that their ‘log fires’ would have been towering infernos. The burning rate at Sobibor, for the last three months of 1942, would have been roughly 900 per day—900 rotting corpses burned to ash, every day, for three cold winter months. Tons of ash, sifted for teeth and bones, every day, for three months.
And that was the ‘easy’ camp. Belzec, allegedly, burned their 550,000 bodies over five winter/spring months—an average of nearly 3,700 per day. Treblinka, though, was truly mind-boggling. There, we are told, they burned 900,000 corpses during just four months—an astounding rate of 7,500 per day. That would require something like 1.2 million kg of wood, every day. It would generate about 67,000 kg of ash, every day. Is this reasonable? Surely not. This is in the realm of fantasy fiction. And yet it is exactly what our experts expect us to believe.
What, in fact, do the experts have to say about all this? Here’s what famed Holocaust researcher Martin Gilbert—Sir Martin Gilbert—said: “The deliberate attempt to destroy systematically all of Europe’s Jews [peaked in 1942], during which hundreds of thousands of Jews were being gassed every day at Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, and Treblinka” (1981: 26). Wait—can that be correct? Hundreds of thousands gassed—every day? Sir Martin is a smart man. Surely he doesn’t make loose, off-the-cuff declarations. Surely he knows that it is impossible—impossible—to gas and burn “hundreds of thousands” in four camps, every day. Why, then, would he publish such an obvious falsehood? Why would he lie? Sir Martin is a self-proclaimed Zionist Jew. Surely he knows the folly of lying about the Jewish Holocaust. So—why would he lie? In whose interest is it to exaggerate such claims (or in whose interest was it—he made these claims prior to his knighthood)?
The only hope to get to the bottom of these issues is to conduct on-site excavations. Such work would allow us to determine the number and size of the mass graves, to quantify any remaining bodies, bones, or ash, and to find any remnants of the gas chambers. To a greater or lesser degree, such work has been performed at all three Reinhardt camps. What, then, does the excavation record tell us about each of these? Here is a summary in brief.
Belzec: All 550,000 bodies buried before exhumations-cremations began in December 1942. Two excavations since the war.
(1) A Polish investigation in 1945 dug nine large holes, up to 10m wide and up to 8m deep. Findings: Sand mixed with intermittent human ash, along with scattered bones. No firm conclusions can be drawn, but from the wording—“some charred remains,” “part of a human body,” “a human skull,” “two shinbones and a rib,” “one partially burnt specimen,” etc.—it suggests something on the order of hundreds of bodies, but not hundreds of thousands.
(2) A 1997-1999 investigation, led by Andrzej Kola, dug 2,227 core samples in a grid-like pattern. Claimed to find “33 mass graves,” but based on their reported size they could have held less than one quarter of the alleged 550,000 bodies that were buried there. Also, their ash content was sporadic, inconsistent, and “absolutely incompatible” (Mattogno 2004: 87) with any mass incineration.
Kola’s findings were published in small book, Belzec: The Nazi Camp for Jews in Light of Archeological Sources (2000). Perhaps tellingly, this book is rarely cited, rarely discussed, and virtually unobtainable. It seems that it does not provide the definitive proof that was hoped for.
Sobibor: Only 81,000 bodies buried before cremations began in October 1942. Several excavations, separated into three phases. Findings summarized in Bem and Mazurek (2012).
(1) Kola (2000-2001). Digging 3,805 core samples over nine hectares, Kola “hoped to pinpoint the location of the gas chambers” (p. 98). He claims to have found seven mass graves and five building structure remains (“Objects A-E”). All of the mass graves contained skeletal remains—that is, unburned bodies—which argues against the bury-exhume-burn thesis. Total volume of the six main graves was around 14,700 cubic meters, sufficient to hold more than 100,000 bodies. But as Graf, Kues, and Mattogno (2010: 123) point out, simply because they were large enough “does not mean that [that many] corpses were buried in them.” Furthermore, due to random and uncontrolled diggings at the site after the war, there is a “high probability” that the graves were originally “considerably smaller” than at present. In any case, data from the core samples did not result in any determination of numbers of victims.
Regarding the building remains, one large structure (“Object E”) was hinted at by Kola to be the gas chamber; unfortunately, he says, “it is impossible to give a simple answer [to this question].” Graf et al (pp. 159-160) explain why: (a) witnesses said the gas chamber building was brick, and yet Kola’s structure was all wood; (b) at the presumed location of the diesel gassing engine, Kola found only spent ammunition; and (c) the huge size of the object—some 80-100 meters in length—was never mentioned by any witnesses. Notably, Kola’s report has never been translated into English or any western language.
(2) Bem (2004). In the second phase, Bem and colleagues hoped to find both the gas chambers and the ‘tube’ or path—also called the Schlauch or Himmelfahrtstrasse—that led to the chambers. Persisting in the thesis that Object E was the gas chamber building, they found a small rectangular space “that was tentatively interpreted as the room for the combustion engine [not “diesel”?] producing the exhaust fumes that were pumped into the gas chambers” (p. 105). Regarding the Tube, their investigation “had not produced the expected results,” meaning, they found nothing.
(3) Haimi (2007-present). At this point, an Israeli-led team took over excavation. Continuing previous efforts, they too sought the chambers and the tube. Regarding the all-important chambers, hopes invested in Object E turned out to be in vain: “we can, with a high degree of certainty, state that Object E is not the remains of the gas chambers” (p. 113). Its purpose and function thus remain unknown, and the search for the chambers goes on.
Regarding the Tube, Haimi and team found a long pattern of parallel post-holes. “This pattern of two rows… are interpreted as being the remains of the final section of the Himmelfahrtstrasse, which should have led to the gas chambers” (p. 126). Unfortunately for the team, this pattern leads to what is now a large (roughly 30m x 30m) paved asphalt memorial lot; excavating there would mean tearing up the sacred memorial site.
Compounding the difficulties, it was announced in March 2014 that the Poles would build a new visitor’s center and a nearly mile-long “memorial wall”; this would have the effect of ending, or at least severely inhibiting, further exploration in those areas. We note also that the focus seems to have moved completely away from the mass graves and their contents. Evidently this was not a productive area of research, as it was not yielding the “expected results.”
But Haimi and his team are optimistic. As reported in the above news story, they await permission to excavate under the asphalt lot. “Under this square—almost the size of a soccer field—they expect to find remnants of the gas chambers.” We await this development with bated breath.
Meanwhile, dispute about the number of Sobibor victims goes on. A footnote in the 2012 Bem and Mazurek report states that “the Germans committed 300,000 murders here”—a figure that significantly exceeds that of both the USHMM and Yad Vashem. On the other hand, skeptical revisionists such as Graf, Mattogno, and Kues say this: “It must be stressed that this is only a rough estimate, but we find it probable that the number of Sobibor victims is in the vicinity of 10,000 dead” (2010: 169). A figure of 10,000 dead, while still tragic, would reduce Sobibor to near insignificance in the Holocaust story, and to virtual irrelevance in the larger tragedy of World War II. Suffice it to say that the present evidence is decidedly in favor of the revisionists.
Treblinka: Virtually all of the 900,000 victims buried before cremations began in April 1943. Three excavations.
(1) Soviet-Polish investigation (1944). Conducted shortly after the Russians captured the camp in August 1944, this team found three mass graves, with a grand total of some 300 corpses. Based on this scant evidence, the team declared the camp “an enormous death combine,” a “death factory,” and announced that “about three million” died there. This study holds little credence, for obvious reasons.
(2) Polish investigation (1945). A year later another Polish team analyzed the site, over the course of five days. Human remains were found only during a single day’s dig, unearthing “a large quantity of ashes as well as [unburned] human remains.” Again, virtually useless as a quantitative investigation.
(3) C. Sturdy Colls (2007-present). Recently, a 20-something British archaeologist, Caroline Sturdy Colls, was somehow enlisted to conduct the first investigation of Treblinka since the war years. Her work, called the “first-ever excavation” of the camp, has been rolling along at a low boil for some seven years now, with precious little analysis to show for it. She has published no books on it, no papers quantifying the results, and virtually nothing of substance. Her chief purpose seems to be to produce media stories and “documentaries” of the camp that promote the traditional viewpoint.
Sturdy Colls has proven herself able to produce inconsequential and even embarrassing results. For example, rather than digging at the site of the mass graves—which is conveniently covered over in concrete—she conducted a small excavation nearby, at the site of a pre-war cemetery. She found… human remains. A greater embarrassment was her finding of a fragment of an orange tile “with a Star of David on it.” Such tiles, she says, “fit in with the idea that we are in the area of the gas chambers.” She adds that this reminds her of claims that Stars of David were placed on the outside of the gas chambers, to lull the Jewish victims into a sense of complacency. In reality, the tile was a product of a long-established Polish ceramics firm, Dziewulski i Lange. Their brand logo was a six-sided mullet star that resembles the Jewish star, though having no connection to it. It was stamped on the back of their tiles.
And yet the media continue to trumpet her findings as if of great significance. The Web-based media organization LiveScience, for example, headlined this story on 27 March 2014: “First-ever excavation of Nazi death camp Treblinka reveals horrors.” The opening paragraph reads, “The first-ever archaeological excavations at the Nazi death camp Treblinka have revealed new mass graves, as well as the first physical evidence that this camp held gas chambers, where thousands of Jews died”—all untrue, incidentally. The piece goes on to plug Sturdy Colls’s new documentary Treblinka: Hitler’s Killing Machine. As before, the article provides no concrete information at all. The final section, “Finding the Gas Chamber,” includes this statement:
The second two trenches [excavation sites], however, revealed a brick wall and foundation. The gas chambers were the only brick buildings in the camp, Colls said. The excavations also revealed orange tiles that matched eyewitness descriptions of the floor of the killing chambers. Chillingly, each tile was stamped with a Star of David, likely part of the Nazi subterfuge that the building was a Jewish-style bathhouse.
Of the stunning finding of the foundations of the gas chamber, we get nothing: no size, no location, no structure, no maps, no photos, no surrounding artifacts—nothing. Of the orange tiles, no mention of the Polish firm that created them long before the war. All in all, an appalling bit of pseudo-archaeology and a risible piece of reporting. But this is par for the Holocaust.
A Better Account…
For all that, something happened at those Reinhardt camps. But it seems not to have been mass murder. If we take Hitler’s words literally, he wanted to drive the Jews out of the German-controlled regions. If this in fact was his plan, he would first create ghettos to confine them, and then later implement a system by which they could be systematically deported to the farthest possible reaches of Eastern Europe. Such a mass deportation scheme would surely not consist of haphazard train shipments; it would require routing all Jews through a few designated gateway points, or transit camps, to (a) disinfest them of any lice that would spread the typhus virus, and then (b) funnel them on eastward.
The ideal location for such transit camps would be on the eastern edge of German territory, as of late 1941. In fact, all three Reinhardt camps were located on or near the eastern boundary of the General Government region of occupied Poland—the perfect location for transfer into newly-captured Russian territory. (They would have had to disembark there anyway, to switch to new trains that ran on the larger gauge Soviet rail system.) Funneling the Jews through these camps, disinfesting them, and then shipping them on eastward would have been a logical procedure for such a mass deportation.
Interestingly, then, all three camps should be expected to have had gas chambers—but chambers that gassed clothing and personal items, against the disease-carrying lice. Similarly, all three camps should be expected to have had shower rooms—real shower rooms, ones that washed the often filthy new arrivals. Thus we should not be surprised if the likes of Kola, Haimi, or Sturdy Colls find evidence of such things. In fact we should expect it.
The ‘Tube’ also makes more sense, on the revisionist view. Dirty, possibly lice-infested people arriving at the camp would need to be initially quarantined. They would then be taken in batches through an isolated pathway—a tube—to the disinfestation area, where they would be bathed and their belongings ‘gassed’ with cyanide. They would then be sent to a ‘clean’ area of the camp, isolated from the incoming quarantine zone, awaiting transfer on to the East.
Imagine how this would appear to the tired, frightened, sick incoming people: Friends and family members are separated from them, sent off to ‘where the gas chambers are,’ never to return. Separately they hear (true) stories of dead bodies being buried and/or burned; the smoke and the smell pervade the camp. What are they to conclude? It is entirely understandable—but entirely wrong.
We must keep in mind: Many Jews undoubtedly died in those camps. Some perished en route to them. Some came sick with typhus, dying soon after arrival. Some were likely euthanized by the Germans. Some, assuredly, were killed. Based on the lack of crematoria at all three camps, the Nazis were clearly expecting only a small and scattered number of dead; they probably assumed that ad hoc burials on site would suffice. We can easily imagine that, as the pace of deportation accelerated, so did the number of dead. Burials, therefore, would at some point have become insufficient—at different times, for each of the three camps. We can thus understand the move toward limited burnings on open fires (there being no other alternative).
How many died (or arrived dead), on the revisionist thesis? We have already seen an estimate for Sobibor: 10,000. Regarding Belzec, Mattogno (2004: 91) says, “it is possible to infer…an order of magnitude of several thousands, perhaps even some tens of thousands.” Somewhat arbitrarily, let’s assume a number of 50,000, as a working estimate. This is consistent with the general revisionist line that actual deaths are around 10% of conventional estimates. As to Treblinka, revisionists make no explicit claims. Therefore, let’s again assume 10% of our traditional number, or 90,000. In each of the three camps, we can state with confidence that the actual data from excavations and archaeological studies, as it stands today, are much closer to revisionist than to standard figures. If the expert historians were honest about their work, they would reduce their estimates to better align with the actual data. We await this development.
It has been a long road, this quest for the truth. We are becoming weary; our attention is flagging. But we must press on—the (retrospective) fates of 6 million hang in the balance. Only one more step to take, the last and the largest: Auschwitz.
Finally we come to Auschwitz—the single greatest killing site of the Holocaust, and the linchpin of the entire murder-mystery. Around 1 million Jews died there, according to orthodoxy, the vast majority in the gas chambers. Unlike the other camps, strangely enough, this one did not ‘vanish’; there are plenty of relevant material remains. (Odd—if there was one camp the Nazis would have wanted to make disappear, it surely would have been this one.) Also unlike the other camps, we have witnesses, survivors, documents, photos—nearly everything needed to solve the crime.
But first, let’s establish the basic facts of the camp. The Auschwitz complex consisted of three distinct areas: (1) Auschwitz-I, also called the Stammlager or main camp; (2) Auschwitz-II, better known as Birkenau; (3) Auschwitz-III, also called Monowitz, which was a labor camp and chemical processing facility. Birkenau was only one mile from the main camp; Monowitz, about three miles. Of the 1 million presumed Auschwitz deaths, roughly 98% occurred at Birkenau, with the remaining 2% at the main camp.
The main camp held one crematorium; the larger Birkenau had four. Now, we need to be clear: There is nothing ominous about a prisoner camp having crematoria. Any such facility designed to hold thousands of people will experience many deaths—from natural causes, if nothing else. The Germans knew this, and built the camps accordingly. A crematorium building needs furnaces in which to burn the corpses, and it needs rooms to serve as temporary morgues; these would hold the bodies prior to actual cremation. When possible, the morgue rooms would be underground (cooler), but then connected to the furnace facility via some means of transporting bodies. Lacking underground morgues, open chambers adjoining the furnace room would suffice.
The expert historians, however, see it differently. For them, National Socialist crematoria were Satanic assembly lines of death, designed strictly for the mass annihilation of Jews. Jews walked into the buildings alive, and left as ash. The morgues were, for them, “undressing rooms” and “gas chambers.”
Let’s look at the numbers a bit more closely. On the orthodox view, the camp began gassing Jews in February 1942. At the time, there were two gassing sites: the main camp crematorium (“Krema 1”) and a small converted farmhouse, or “bunker,” in Birkenau. After a few months, a second, larger Birkenau bunker was added. These three sites sufficed for all of 1942.
Near the end of that year, we are told, the Germans decided to ramp up the gassing routine. They elected to build four new crematoria in Birkenau—Kremas 2-5. These were all in action by June 1943, and they carried the gassing load through the end of the camp’s existence.
Overall the gassings ran for some 34 months (Feb 1942 to Nov 1944). Based on various standard sources, we can estimate how many Jews were gassed each month. The chart below gives one scenario that roughly matches the claims of our experts—though they never quite put it so clearly. (Clear presentation, it seems, invites difficult questions.) As always, if they have better numbers, we welcome their input.
Again, some issues stand out right away. As mentioned, the main-camp gassings are all but insignificant—amounting to 18,000 of the 1 million deaths, or around 2%. Conversely, the bunkers assume unexpected importance, accounting for 262,000 (26%) of the deaths.
The four Birkenau crematoria, however, are the notorious centerpiece of the Auschwitz story. During their first year of operation (1943), they allegedly killed 125,000 Jews. This is an average of 12,500 per month, or 416 per day—spread over four crematoria. Each crematorium, therefore, gassed, on average, about 100 people per day. This sounds bad, but it is nothing compared with orthodox claims of gas chambers that killed “2,000 people at a time.” But to reach that figure, the Germans would have had to build up a 20-day backlog of Jews, and then gas them all at once. In that case, there would only have been a single gassing per month, at each crematorium. Hardly the high-speed assembly line of death that has been portrayed.
Even more striking is a comparison between the ‘actuals’ and the capacities. With all seven gassing structures together (5 Kremas and 2 bunkers), and assuming a reasonable five gassing cycles per day, the Germans had the capacity to kill at least 65,000 per day. “Monstrous,” we say. Actually, let’s think about this for a moment. A capacity of 65,000 per day works out to nearly 2 million per month. Even in their wildest dreams, the Germans could not have expected to kill 2 million Jews in a month at a single camp. It is inconceivable that they planned and carried out such a process. This fact alone argues strongly against the conventional view of Auschwitz as a dedicated, purpose-built death camp.
Despite this monstrous gassing capability, for all of 1943 they ‘actually’ gassed an average of just 416 per day: a mere 0.64% of capacity. Why would the Germans have constructed a gassing death camp with roughly 156 times the capacity that they needed?
The situation was little changed for the first four months of 1944; rates increased to roughly 720 per day, a pathetic 1.1% of capacity. And the same held for the last four months of operation, which fell back to around 560 per day (0.86%)—requiring only two gassings per month, at each Krema.
In fact the only time things deviated from this surprisingly low-level gassing scheme was during two fateful months in mid-1944: the “Hungarian Operation.” From mid-May to mid-July 1944, we are told that the Germans shipped some 400,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz to be immediately gassed. If we add this to the on-going quantity of non-Hungarian Jews, we see that, during this eight-week period, the Germans allegedly killed about 450,000 Jews. During just these eight weeks, 45% of the entire Auschwitz death toll occurred. The remaining 55% of the killings were spread out over the other 128 weeks—a striking notion, to be sure.
Take the single worst month: June 1944. Here we have some 250,000 gassings occurring in 30 days, or an average of 8,300 per day. With four Kremas and a bunker at their disposal, the Germans would have had no problems at all. It was, after all, only about 12% of their total capacity. In fact, tiny Bunker #2, with its single 90 sq. meter chamber, could have handled (900 x 5 =) 4,500 daily, or the bulk of the load. A single additional chamber, in any one other Krema, would have sufficed even for the mind-boggling Hungarian operation.
Actually, the Germans did have a problem, a huge one: body disposal. For the two years prior to the Hungarian action, Auschwitz averaged about 16,000 deaths per month. At first they had only the small Krema 1 to burn the bodies. This could not keep up, and so the excess bodies were buried, and later exhumed and burned on open fires—a familiar story by now, with all its attendant difficulties. When the four new Kremas came on-line, they managed to do the job.
Strangely, though, the Krema cremation capacity was a huge mismatch with the gassing capacity. The five Kremas contained a total of 52 “muffles,” or body-insertion openings. Each muffle could burn, on average, one adult body per hour. Allowing for 20% children, we may assume a practical average of 1.2 bodies per hour. The entire camp, therefore, could cremate about (52 x 1.2 x 20 =) 1,248 bodies per day. Now, compare this with the gassing capacity of 65,000 per day. If the camp was truly designed as a high-volume death camp, surely the two figures would roughly match. Instead we find far too many ‘gas chambers’ and far too few crematoria muffles. Another strike against the conventional view.
Things changed for the eight weeks of the Hungarian Operation. The Kremas were already at full capacity, processing about 1,000 bodies per day, collectively. But 8,300 corpses were being produced each day. This left a stunning 7,300 a day to be burned on open pit fires. Needless to say, the logistics of such an operation would have been insurmountable:
- Can only stack and burn a few hundred bodies at once. Would have required 15 or 20 simultaneous pits, working round the clock.
- Huge wood requirements—more than 1 million kg (1,200 tons) per day.
- Huge amounts of ash produced—more than 60,000 kg (67 tons) per day, about 160 cubic meters, to be sifted for teeth and bones.
- Ash disposal—all that ash was disposed of in the immediate vicinity of the camp, according to our experts. And yet today we have no evidence at all of any remaining ash.
- Huge amounts of smoke produced. This would have been highly problematic, signaling not only what was going on at the camp, but also been clearly visible to Allied planes flying overhead.
This last point deserves elaboration. With all crematoria chugging along at full capacity, and some 15 or 20 open pit fires burning round the clock, the camp would have been awash in smoke—smoke easily visible from the air. Here we are in luck: the Allies snapped two air photos of Auschwitz during the Hungarian operation, and the Germans took another of their own. Thus we have three high-quality photos to analyze. What do they show?
Photo #1 (May 31): This Allied photo shows the four Birkenau crematoria, without a hint of smoke from any of them. We do see one, thin smoke plume emanating from behind Krema 5; it evidently came from a single, small pit fire.
Photo #2 (July 8): This German photo again shows a single wisp of smoke coming from the same location. No smoke from the crematoria, and no other smoke anywhere else in the camp.
Photo #3 (June 26): The most damning: This Allied photo, taken at the very height of the Hungarian Operation, shows no Krema smoke, no pit smoke—in fact, no smoke whatsoever. It shows no arriving hordes of Jews, no parading of victims to the gas chambers, no sign at all of any mass killing…nothing but a calm and quiet prison camp on a clear summer’s day.
It seems that the more information we obtain, and the more clues that mount, the more tenuous becomes the traditionalist story.
There are many other deficiencies to the Auschwitz story, which we can only mention here in passing:
- Krema 1 at the main camp—the one shown to all the tourists—has been significantly “reconstructed.” One exasperated French fundamentalist exclaimed, “Everything there is false.” It presents a highly misleading picture to visitors.
- The underground ‘gas chambers’ in Kremas 2 and 3 required that corpses be raised to the ground floor level, where the muffles were located. To this end, the Germans designed in a small freight elevator, one that was capable of carrying 10 to 15 bodies at a time. Upwards of 200 elevator trips would thus have been needed to empty the chamber. This is entirely impractical, if intended as a rapid mass-murder process.
- The Nuremberg trials contained not a single German document on gas chambers at Auschwitz.
- No autopsy was ever performed on an Auschwitz corpse that confirmed death by cyanide gas.
- Jewish Auschwitz survivors have made numerous outrageous, impossible, and conflicting claims about the camp; these could fill a book in themselves.
- The alleged gassing methods are amateurish and ridiculous: pellets sprinkled over the victims heads (Krema 1), through an opening in a side wall (Kremas 4 and 5, and both bunkers), or lowered down in a little metal cage through the roof (Kremas 2 and 3). Much more professional means existed, such as the device that the Germans installed in their Zyklon delousing chambers at Dachau.
- Kremas 4 and 5, and both bunkers, lacked ventilation systems. Without these, there would have been no way to remove the deadly gas from the chambers prior to extracting the dead bodies.
- In the ruins of Kremas 2 and 3, there is no evidence of either the ceiling holes, or the metal Zyklon cage fixtures.
- Two experienced revisionist researchers, Fred Leuchter and chemist Germar Rudolf, separately examined samples from the walls of the Krema 2 chamber, looking for cyanide residue. Both found extremely low levels, far below that expected for a homicidal gas chamber.
- Records showing amounts of coke (fuel) delivered to the camp crematoria suffice for only some 10% of the claimed victim count.
Finally we are left again with this question: How many Jews died in Auschwitz, on the revisionist view? Robert Faurisson has suggested a figure of 150,000. Mattogno and Graf argue for a lesser number, 136,000. Let us take 140,000 as a median revisionist estimate. Once again, this is much more in line with the actual evidence uncovered to date.
Perhaps we are now ready to draw some conclusions about this great murder mystery called the Holocaust. Let’s construct a rational and plausible account of what happened to the Jews during World War II. All the evidence suggests that Hitler was true to his word: that his Jewish policy was one of ‘ex-termination’ (Ausrottung), that is, of forcibly removing the millions of Jews from the territories that Germany wished to inhabit. If many died in the process, it was tough luck for them. As a people, they were guilty of inciting both world wars and especially the treasonous German Revolution of November 1918. Via their dominance in the Weimar government, their incessant promotion of crude, decadent, and materialistic values, their over-representation in media, law and finance, and perhaps most of all their malevolent control of Bolshevist Russia, the Jews were a mortal threat to German well-being. Whatever misfortunes befell them as they suffered their deportation were well-deserved, on Hitler’s view. But he never desired, and never ordered, their mass murder.
Phase One of this process, mass ghettoization, sufficed for nearly two years. Over this time, perhaps 100,000 Jews died, most of natural causes. Concentration ultimately led to an increase in typhus and other communicable diseases, and thus the Germans implemented a rigorous system of disinfestation: shaving and showering inmates, and gassing their belongings with cyanide. This was not always successful; many thousands more died in transit or at the various concentration camps where they were temporarily interned.
Phase Two was the actual removal process, on trains heading east. Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka were strictly transit camps, designed to serve as transfer points in the systematic removal of the Jews from the Reich and deployment of them for the war effort. Over time, these camps accumulated several thousand dead bodies; together the four camps dealt with perhaps 150,000 dead Jews, who perished from a variety of causes—but none from gassing, on the revisionist view. Majdanek and Auschwitz were both transit and labor camps. The former suffered nearly 30,000 deaths and the latter perhaps 140,000—in each case, most due to typhus and other diseases.
We did not explore the “other camps” that, on the orthodox view, accounted for some 400,000 Jewish deaths. These would presumably include such infamous places as Dachau and Buchenwald, along with lesser known camps like Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen, and Stutthof. These five camps, which had among the highest number of total deaths apart from the six ‘extermination’/transit camps, recorded a total of 194,000 deaths. The percentage of Jews at these camps, however, was relatively low. Therefore they contributed little to the overall Jewish death toll.
The eastward-advancing German army had to deal with a ruthless insurgency in the areas they conquered, much of it by Jewish fighters. At the same time, numerous local populations in Eastern Europe took the opportunity of German invasion to initiate anti-Jewish pogroms of their own doing—frequently involving innocent civilians, unfortunately. In total, perhaps 150,000 more Jews died during this roughly two-and-a-half-year process. But the physical evidence of such killing is so scarce that even this may be an over-estimate.
In total, then, it seems likely that roughly 570,000 Jews died throughout the duration of World War Two. We may call this a ‘holocaust’ if we wish, though such a designation implies special standing for the Jewish victims and a consequent demeaning of the more than 50 million non-Jewish victims. The ‘6 million’ figure was always a symbolic number, and never grounded in factual reality. Perhaps this many Jews were displaced during the war, and forced out of their home countries, never to return. Six million refugees, maybe; six million killed, never.
The traditional figure of 6 million deaths, then, seems to have been a dramatic and unsupported overestimate. The more likely number—around 570,000—is less than 10% of this. It is a shocking conclusion. Is it really possible that our expert historians could be so wrong? Unquestionably, yes. We have already seen one such example in Majdanek. This camp came to world attention with ‘authoritative’ claims of 1.5 million killed. Even as late as 1986, experts estimated 1.38 million Jewish deaths there. Today the curator of the camp museum claims just 59,000 fatalities—a reduction of 96%.
A second example comes from Auschwitz itself. Prior to 1990, all authoritative sources held that the camp witnessed 4 million total deaths (Jews and non-Jews). On July 17 of that year, the Washington Times announced: “Poland reduces Auschwitz death toll estimate to 1 million.” Virtually overnight, and with little fanfare, the most infamous of death camps saw a 75% reduction. As it happens, though, the reduction came almost exclusively in the non-Jewish numbers—which plummeted by over 90%. It was another dramatic instance of the experts being significantly wrong, for decades.
As a third example, consider another group allegedly targeted by Hitler: homosexuals. In 1975 the NYT reported that “nearly a quarter of a million homosexuals were executed by the Nazis between 1937 and 1945” (Sep 10; p. 45). Six years later, Rector (1981: 116) wrote, “It seems reasonable to conclude that at least 500,000 gays died in the Holocaust because of anti-homosexual prejudice that consequently led to a Nazi policy of gay genocide…” “Actually,” he adds, “500,000 may be too conservative a figure.” Today, however, Grau (1998: 140) admits this: “An examination of the Third Reich’s trial statistics…reveals that these numbers are wildly exaggerated.” Putting hard figures to it, Novick (1999: 223) says, “The actual number of gays who died or were killed in the camps appears to be around five thousand, conceivably as high as ten thousand.” Another astonishing development. Here we see a drop from a “conservative” 500,000 to perhaps 5,000—the actual figures now coming in at a mere 1% of prior estimates. Thus we should not be too surprised if the overall Jewish death toll ultimately drops by 90% or more. Given the facts, it seems inevitable.
The Experts Respond
The case is all but closed. The facts are in, and most any rational and impartial observer would likely come to the following conclusions: (1) the ‘6 million’ is a vast overestimate, by a factor of 10 or more; (2) the alleged homicidal gas chambers were used far less often than is portrayed—and perhaps not at all; (3) the data are far more compatible with the deportation thesis than with the mass murder thesis; (4) there has been a concerted effort by professional historians and others to cover up inconvenient facts, to lie, and to avoid discussion of the many problematic aspects of the Holocaust story; and (5) the public has been repeatedly misled and manipulated by a false image of Jewish suffering.
This, at least, is how it appears from an objective viewpoint. Still, the fundamentalists are nothing if not stubborn. They tenaciously defend the conventional story. Perhaps we have been too confident of our results. Do they, perhaps, have a good response to the above issues?
Again, this is difficult to say with certainty because our expert historians generally avoid discussing such issues at all. Occasionally, though, they are moved to respond. Let’s look at two recent attempts.
First we have the book Lying about Hitler, by Richard Evans (2002). A Cambridge University historian, he has produced more than a dozen books on Germany and the Third Reich. The occasion for this particular book was the David Irving trial, at which Evans provided expert testimony on behalf of the defendant, Deborah Lipstadt—herself an aggressive proponent of orthodoxy.
In Chapter 4 of the book—“Irving and Holocaust Denial”—Evans attempts to summarize and rebut the revisionist point of view, with the ultimate goal of proving Irving to be a denier. In order to do so, he must define ‘Holocaust denial,’ show that it is wrong, and demonstrate that Irving supported it.
On the first count, Evans does a fair job. He proposes four pillars of denial: (1) less than 6 million Jews killed; (2) gas chambers were not used to any large degree; (3) the National Socialists’ intention was deportation and not mass murder; and (4) the Holocaust story is “a myth invented by Allied propaganda,” and “the supposed evidence…was fabricated after the war” (pp. 118-119). We can agree with the first three, but the last is not defended by any revisionist of the past 20 years or so.
Evans then reviews the revisionist movement, employing the usual array of deceptive tactics. First, he liberally sprinkles his text with ad hominem attacks and other slanders, beginning with the generous use of the term ‘denier.’ These deniers, he says, “inhabit an intellectual world that [is] far removed from the cautious rationality of academic historical scholarship. What moved them seemed to be a strange mixture of political prejudice and bitter personal experience” (p.114)—though one wonders how Evans knows such things. They offer “a perverse kind of entertainment,” something that belongs “to what some have called a paranoid style of historical writing” (p. 117). Deniers live in a kind of fantasyland; they claim “that virtually nothing of what [the survivors] had suffered had ever happened” (pp. 117-118). More hyperbole from Evans; no serious revisionist has claimed that “nothing ever happened” to the Jews, or that they did not suffer greatly. But he goes on. “A good deal of [revisionist writing] seemed to be linked to racial hatred and antisemitic animosity in the most direct possible way.” Another false statement, and tellingly, he offers neither citations nor any evidence to support this charge. In sum, says Evans, we must beware of the “weird and irrational world of Holocaust denial” (p. 119).
Next, Evans runs through a brief roll-call of prominent revisionists. But true to form, he gives an entirely misleading view of the field. He covers five individuals: Paul Rassinier, Austin App, Wilhelm Stäglich, Arthur Butz, and Robert Faurisson. Certainly these men were important in the early development of revisionist ideas, but today only Butz and Faurisson are active—Faurisson remarkably so for a man of 85. The others are historical figures, for the most part. Rassinier died in 1967, App in 1984, and Stäglich in 2006. Butz is alive and well—and still a professor at Northwestern University—but his activities in the revisionist movement are somewhat diminished from what they once were. His major contribution was The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, originally published in 1976.
All this would be fine if Evans then went on to examine the present-day figures, and to cite their works. But this he does not do. He prefers to focus attention on the oldest and least relevant sources, the weakest arguments, and the least relevant individuals. By contrast, our investigation has emphasized the newest sources, the strongest arguments, and the leading current researchers in the field. This is the only way to reach a fair conclusion about the greatest crime of the past century.
To be clear: Over the past three decades, serious academic revisionist work has been conducted by just a handful of individuals. At the top of the list, we would include such men as Carlo Mattogno, Germar Rudolf, Jügen Graf, Thomas Kues, Friedrich Berg, and Samuel Crowell. Of these, Mattogno is the most prolific, having written or co-written more than a dozen books in just the past 10 years. Their very latest work, along with that of several other researchers, is published with the online journal Inconvenient History.[79 ] The most important recent books are published in the series called Holocaust Handbooks, currently running to 28 volumes. The best overview works are Rudolf’s Lectures on the Holocaust (2010) and Dalton’s Debating the Holocaust (2009). For a somewhat more detailed but still comprehensive look at all the major issues, see Rudolf’s anthology Dissecting the Holocaust (2003).
We can easily check the honesty of a traditionalist critique by seeing how many of the above names and sources they cite. Unsurprisingly, Evans fails miserably. In what was surely not an accident, his chapter manages to completely bypass every name referenced above. In the only minor exception, two names—Mattogno and Berg—appear, without commentary, in three footnotes (p. 297), but only in reference to their oldest published material from the 1980s. For a Cambridge historian, this is completely unacceptable. Evans is either ridiculously ignorant of his subject matter, or is deliberately misinforming the reader by excluding nearly all of the most relevant information. Either way, his credibility is almost zero.
Apart from his ad hominem attack and distorted presentation of revisionism, Evans deploys a third common tactic: silence on the key issues at hand. For example, he tells us nothing of the long and discrediting history of the ‘6 million’; nothing of the true meaning of vital German words such as Ausrottung and Vernichtung; nothing of what Hitler actually said about the Jews; nothing of the deportation plans such as Nisko and Madagascar; nothing of the Auschwitz air photos; and nothing of the absence of bodies or remains at nearly every phase of the Holocaust.
Interestingly, he does touch briefly on the decisive issue of diesel gassing—though giving just a hint of the difficulties involved. Evans writes:
Irving also denied that diesel engines could be used for killing operations. “These engines,” he [Irving] said, “exhaust non-lethal carbon dioxide, and only minute quantities of toxic carbon monoxide.” (p. 131)
True, as we have seen. Evans’s reply? Nothing. He loftily declares Irving’s argument to be “specious and derivative” (p. 132), and leaves it at that. This is actually quite common among orthodox historians. When compelled to discuss an inconvenient issue, they will mention it very briefly, explicitly or implicitly deem it false, and then drop it.
Finally, a fourth tactic: straw-man argumentation. Evans’s final pillar of ‘denial’ is that the Holocaust is a “myth” and the evidence “fabricated.” He elaborates: “Reading through the work of Holocaust deniers like Arthur Butz, it was more than clear that they wanted their readers to believe that the evidence for the Holocaust was all fabricated” (p. 137). Later he refers to “the common position of Holocaust deniers that evidence for the Holocaust has been fabricated” (p. 148). These statements are utterly false. As mentioned above, the ‘fabrication’ claim is not a key aspect of any important revisionist work today. Thus it becomes a straw man: Evans lays out an argument that revisionists do not hold, knocks it down, and then declares victory. It is a classic logical fallacy. The fact that Irving—not a serious Holocaust revisionist—made two or three ill-considered remarks does not grant Evans license to smear the true revisionists with the same broad brush.
Just to clarify things, three points need to be made here. First, in all of our preceding inquiry, and the many issues relating to the ghettos, the shootings, and the camps, not once did we rely on the claim that evidence was fabricated. This fact alone is sufficient to dismiss Evans’s charge. Second, there are indeed cases of evidence tampering, and these cannot be denied. The main-camp gas chamber at Auschwitz (Krema 1) was substantially altered, as even traditionalists admit; “everything there is false.” The Dachau gas chamber was likewise significantly modified, and perhaps even constructed, after the war. National Socialist testimony at Nuremburg obtained through abuse and torture amount to witness tampering. Certain key letters on the gas vans appear to be forgeries. And ceiling holes in the ruins of Krema 2 at Auschwitz have mysteriously ‘appeared’ in recent years. But these are the exceptions. The vast majority of the revisionist case has nothing to do with fabrication of evidence. And third, we have seen evidence that orthodox historians—including Evans himself—actively deceive the reader. This is yet another common fundamentalist technique: falsely attribute to your opponents the same nefarious tactics that you deploy yourself.
The only minor point in Evans’s defense is that his book was published in 2002, prior to the many important revisionist works of the past 10 years. But the same cannot be said for Deborah Lipstadt. A professor of theology and a Zionist Jew, Lipstadt has long promoted herself as an expert on the Holocaust and Holocaust denial. In 2010 she published a chapter, “Denial,” in the authoritative Oxford University Press book Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies. The book is a 776-page tome dedicated to all aspects of the Holocaust. Here, if anywhere, we would expect to find a rational, logical, and disinterested treatment of the many troublesome issues.
Once again, we are disappointed. In her very first sentence, Lipstadt manages to utilize not one, not two, but three argumentative fallacies. The “deniers” (slander) are led by a small group of men, including “Faurisson, Butz, and Irving” (misleading names), who “spread the notion that the Holocaust…never happened” (straw man and flat-out lie). A poor start, to be sure.
She then offers a list of 12 points of alleged commonality amongst all deniers. Of these, only five are legitimate and relevant: (1) no genocide took place, (2) homicidal gas chambers did not exist, (3) Jewish fatalities were much less than 6 million, (4) there are non-sinister explanations for many issues, including Zyklon use against typhus and the fact that ausrotten means ‘uprooting,’ and (5) the Nuremberg trials were a “victors’ court” that involved torture to extract false confessions. Some of her other points are true but largely irrelevant to the revisionist case: Jews were involved in instigating the war, Russia was the true enemy of the West, Jews were part of the anti-German insurrection, and the victorious Allied/American investigation teams “contained a preponderance of Jews.” Her remaining points include many other misleading and deceptive charges.
The bulk of her piece focuses on “deniers’ tactics.” The list below summarizes these, and provides some obvious responses.
- Deniers often refer to “immoral equivalencies,” that is, downplaying Jewish persecution by the Germans because all parties in the war did terrible things. (Irrelevant to the Holocaust mystery and to revisionist arguments.)
- “Deniers cast themselves as academics engaged in a reasoned pursuit of historical truth” (p. 563). (True and accurate. Why this is a problem is unclear—except that it makes the job of traditionalists like Lipstadt much harder.)
- Survivor testimony “is ignored, discredited, or dismissed unless it can be interpreted as indicating that the Holocaust did not happen.” (Partly true. Outrageous, contradictory, or blatantly false testimony is disregarded. Some testimony is useful, but must always be subjected to scrutiny. In no case is testimony used to support the idea that the Holocaust “did not happen.”)
- “Deniers rely on verbal obfuscation,” as when they discuss the meaning of ‘final solution’ or ‘special treatment.’ (It is not “obfuscation” to refer to the actual words used by the Germans and to examine their true meanings in context. Notably, she does not mention here the issues with ausrotten and vernichten.)
- Minor errors in either National Socialist or survivor testimony are used to discredit the entire testimony. (False; each specific claim must be examined on its own merits. However, a statement containing even one flagrant falsehood must immediately be suspected of containing other falsehoods.)
- Deniers try to exonerate leading National Socialists by attributing the murder of Jews to rogue elements of the army or to German allies. (Jewish deaths resulted from a wide variety of causes—none of which derived from explicit orders at the top. Call this ‘exoneration’ if you like.)
- Related to the above, deniers emphasize that no one has found a Hitler order for mass murder, nor even reference to such an order. (True, and a significant fact. Lipstadt tries to brush away this inconvenient matter by stating that “reputable historians seldom base their conclusions on the existence, let alone the absence, of a single document” (p. 566). But no revisionist has ever based his claim on this single fact. It is only one of many that point to mass deportation, not mass murder.)
- Auschwitz Krema 2 ruins have no evidence of ceiling holes into which the Nazis poured the Zyklon pellets. Without such holes, there was no mass murder at Birkenau. And disproving mass murder at Auschwitz undermines the entire Holocaust story. Hence Faurisson’s famous quip: “No holes, no Holocaust!” (True, and another difficult fact for Lipstadt and her colleagues. She claims to know of “a wide variety of evidence that attests to their existence and location.” She points to one air photo allegedly showing something on the Krema 2 roof, and one ground photo showing “chimneys” under construction, but these fail to prove her case. In the end, the stubborn fact remains: if there were holes in the ceiling of Krema 2, there would almost certainly be some tangible evidence today. But there is none.)
Lipstadt’s piece closes with a pointless discussion of the “fraudulent” Anne Frank diary, and a short recap of the Irving trial.
Thus we can see the same deceptions at work here as in Evans’s book. Ad hominem attacks abound: revisionists are “deniers,” “anti-Semites,” and “racists.” Misleading presentation of revisionism and the leading revisionists: no mention at all of Mattogno, Rudolf, Graf, Kues, or Berg, nor anything at all on their many important publications through 2010. Silence on many of the same key issues: nothing on the ‘6 million,’ Hitler’s actual words, deportation plans, incriminating air photos, or the glaring absence of bodies or remains. And straw-man arguments: emphasis on ‘hoax,’ ‘myth,’ evidence fabrication, and the idea that ‘the Holocaust never happened.’
Unfortunately, those among the reading public who are not well versed in this great murder-mystery will not detect these fallacies. They, quite literally, do not know what they are missing. And because fundamentalists have a complete monopoly over mainstream media and academia, their deceptions largely go unpunished. Only the rare and intrepid investigator will press into the Holocaust mystery deeply enough to approach the truth—or escape the deceptions. But when it happens, he will be well-rewarded.
Control of ideas and restrictions on freedom of thought are crucial to the success of traditionalism. The reader should have no illusions about the extent of this control. The book trade, for example, is notorious. Mainstream publishers will not touch any book that has even a scent of revisionist ideas. And yet orthodox historians have a seemingly endless supply of publishing opportunities. As evidence of this fact, we note that an Amazon.com search of English books on the Holocaust, just since the year 2000, returns 10,130 titles—roughly two releases per day. And not only books. Holocaust-themed and anti-Nazi movies are churned out like clockwork. News stories are routinely peppered with references to it. School children and college students are regularly indoctrinated with false, misleading, and self-serving ideas. Governmental leaders bend over backward to appease the Holocaust lobby, and they rush to make obligatory visits to Israel and the Yad Vashem museum there.
The Internet has offered some respite from the oppressive traditionalism, but even there all is not well. Consider Wikipedia—“the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit,” so they claim. However, “particularly sensitive pages” are considered “protected.” Evidently all pages relating to the Holocaust are in this category. The reader is invited to make changes to either the “Holocaust” or “Holocaust Denial” pages, to include any of the relevant names, sources, or issues mentioned above. Changes will be visible for a few hours, at most. At some point, an automatic ‘restore’ function will activate, erasing all unauthorized edits. So much for Internet freedom.
In ancient Greece, Socrates became known as a wise man who continually asked troublesome and inconvenient questions. Ultimately it cost him his life. But his society, and all of subsequent history, reaped an immeasurable reward from his brave and relentless efforts. We can be like that. Socrates’s life can be a model for our own. We can ask tough questions, rooting out corruption and ignorance among those in power. We can challenge those who manipulate history for their own ends. We can expose those who lie for personal gain in wealth and power. Like Socrates, we may pay a price. But as with him, our efforts will ultimately be rewarded. In this way, broader society may yet solve the greatest murder mystery of the past century.
The “Holocaust” was truly a great crime. But justice has not been served. Only by relentlessly pursuing the truth can we achieve reconciliation, punish the liars, manipulators, and deceivers, clear the guilt of the past, and move ahead as civil nations. Our very future depends upon it.