The Holocaust Agnostic
By Bernard Marx
That the victors in a war write its history and that The Truth is the first casualty of war are time honored facts. Also well known is that propaganda and the management of information are tools of war.
Like others of Jewish descent, I experience the question of Nazi genocide against Jews in the Europe of the Second World War as a very emotional matter, one which until not long ago I would never even discuss or imagine debating. I'm nearly sixty years old and for as long as I can remember I was told, and I took it as a matter of faith, that Hitler killed six million Jews. While I was not religious, and not raised in a religious home, I insisted on learning to read Hebrew (phonetically) memorizing my parsha and sitting through cheder after my regular secular school day to be Bar Mitzvahed in an Orthodox synagogue "to spite Hitler."
A close relative of mine researched and created a family tree for a Master's Thesis depicting the Polish Jewish relatives we were never to know because of Hitler and The Nazis.
When I read in the Village Voice years ago of Noam Chomsky writing a forward to Faurisson's book I was ready to go to Cambridge and whip him. (Let me apologize, Mr. Chomsky, and Mr. Faurisson, for everything I said and thought about you back then).
Since those times I have been exposed to different ideas and facts. Reading Israel Shahak, Norman Finkelstein, Israel Shamir and others has changed my outlook on the world, one which I used to think of as most progressive and even anti-Zionist. The course of my life has taken me out of the world of "The Jewish Community" for the most part. I'm married "out," I live in a New York ghetto, my workmates are mainly not Jewish. I eat ham and Swiss sandwiches and my Jewish contacts are my children from my first marriage, my aging parents, and another worker (I think we're the only two there) at my job to whom I say "hi, how are you doing?" when we cross paths.
Still, I've always thought of myself as being a Jew and never thought of the Nazi murder of Europe's Jews as something up for discussion or debate.
When I was a boy of eleven or twelve I met a Polish Jew who had survived Auschwitz. He told of being captured because he did not leave the Soviet occupied zone of Poland even though the Red Army sent out trucks with loudspeakers urging the Jews to flee to the East. He told of being a part of a group of physically tough young men who woke themselves up in their Auschwitz barracks to exercise, even nude in the snow in order to stay tough and to survive the physical labor and hunger they lived with every day. But he did not speak of any gas chamber. He did not speak of skies blackened and air made putrid from the smell of burning corpses. He spoke of having been an inmate in more than one concentration camp. I wondered about this man's experience: I had always thought that Jews were rushed off the trains at Auschwitz and hustled to a "selection" managed by Dr. Mengele. Most, I thought, were then immediately sent to the gas chambers. The strongest were selected for forced hard labor and were soon worked and starved to death. He spoke of hard work and hunger, and the will to survive.
Norman Finkelstein, a friend of Palestine and a harsh critic of organized Jewry, but a man who does not deny the Nazi genocide of the Jews, said about the people who comprise what he calls "The Holocaust Industry:" http://www.freedomsite.org/pipermail/fs_discussion/2001-February/001470.html "I worry that these individuals are lending credibility to that ugly stereotype, and I think those of us who are concerned about the spread of anti-Semitism have a responsibility to expose these individuals, to repudiate these individuals and to work so that these individuals are no longer part of public life, or are allowed to represent themselves as they do as representing American or world Jewry.
"Abba Eban [the legendary Israeli foreign minister] makes the joke 'there's no business like Shoa business.' That is shameful and it ought to be rebuked, repudiated, exposed."
But would he worry if the stand he's taken gave comfort to Holocaust deniers?
"Holocaust deniers and the holocaust industry have a symbiotic relationship. The Holocaust industry needs the deniers so that it can continue to claim the world is awash with Holocaust deniers so we need more museums, more conferences, and more books to justify their quote-unquote 'Holocaust education.' The holocaust deniers, they love the Holocaust industry, because the Holocaust industry supplies them with all the ammunition for their arguments. It's the Holocaust industry which continues to wildly inflate the number of survivors. As my late mother used to say, 'if everybody who claims to be a Holocaust survivor actually is one, who did Hitler kill,' and that's exactly what the Holocaust industry is doing. It's become the main exponent of Holocaust denial in the world today."
I have seen and heard assertions that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis in World War Two Europe. The laws of several nations make it risky to"minimize" this figure or its significance as being "unique" and even "unsurpassed." Still, the man called "the dean" of Holocaust historians, Professor Raul Hilberg, author of the standard reference work, The Destruction of the European Jews, sets the total numbers of Jews dead in Europe from 1939 - 1945 "from all causes" as five million, one hundred thousand.
One article of faith I grew up with was that the Nazis made soap from the bodies of Jews they murdered. This turns out to be at the least quite controversial. Regarding the long held belief Nizkor says: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/soap01.html "Nizkor takes no position as to the reliability of this evidence, as it is not clear to us whether there is consensus among historians on the issue. The reader may make up his or her own mind. The important thing is that the evidence does exist, and that the revisionist tracts we shall examine ignore that evidence in an attempt to confuse the lay reader."
Yehuda Bauer, an Israeli Historian, called the notion that extermination of Jews was decided on and planned at the Wansee Conference [Canadian Jewish News, January 30, 1992]: "the silly story that at Wannsee the extermination of the Jews was arrived at."
When Professor Hilberg republished his "The Destruction of the European Jews" in 1988 he dropped references to two orders by Hitler that he cited in the 1961 original edition of his book that purportedly mandated the extermination of the Jews.
PBS Airdate: October 31, 2000 "The Holocaust on Trial:" David Irving, a widely known Historical Revisionist sued Deborah Lipstadt for libel in a London court. Here are some of the transcripts of that PBS program about the trial. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2711holocaust.html NARRATOR: In his 30-year journey from controversial historian to alleged Holocaust denier, Irving has cast himself at the center of a bitter drama, marked by fines, arrests, and deportations.
From the 1960s, David Irving established his reputation as a formidable researcher into the documentation of the Third Reich in a series of books about World War II and the Nazi leadership.
Armed with an outstanding command of the German language, he repeatedly unearthed important new evidence which he regularly shared with other scholars.
NOAKES: He has been praised by reputable historians for - at that time - not accepting as some historians did that everything was known already, and, you know, simply regurgitating what had been said already.
NARRATOR: In 1977, Irving published Hitler's War which established his reputation with a wide popular audience. In the book, he accepted the historic reality of the Holocaust; but he argued that there was no documentary proof that Adolf Hitler had ordered the Final Solution.
Irving's reputation was further enhanced when he successfully challenged the authenticity of the so-called Hitler Diaries in 1983. But by the time of publication of the second edition of Hitler's War in 1991, all trace of the Holocaust had disappeared. Auschwitz was no longer a monstrous killing machine but merely a slave labor camp.
REPORTER: Why are you being criticized then?
IRVING: Because pressure groups want to deny me freedom of speech.
NARRATOR: Irving was deported from Canada, refused entry to Australia and threatened with arrest in Germany. But as a skilled publicist for his views, he has become the most notorious historian of the Third Reich, and the most effective spokesman for the revision of the Nazi record.
IRVING: According to the evidence that I have seen, there were no gas chambers anywhere.
CESARANI: David Irving was a kind of Holocaust denier who could get into people's living rooms through books, through articles, through television appearances. I think he was probably the only one who could have made a real dent on public opinion.
NARRATOR: Today, a determined campaign in Europe and America echoes Irving's belief that the historical record of the Final Solution is a lie, orchestrated by the international Jewish lobby.
The communications between Holocaust deniers have become more sophisticated; but their methods are well established. Exploiting public ignorance and fading memories of the details surrounding the extermination of Europe's Jews, the deniers distort documents and misquote records, challenging legitimate historians to validate the established record of the Final Solution.
HILBERG: They kind of say you've got to prove everything. Prove that you are alive. Prove you were born. Prove that you breathe. Prove, prove, prove.
NARRATOR: The defense insist that Irving's work as a scholar has been warped by his politics. Central to their case is their attempt to portray him as a racist.
In preparation for the trial, the defense has had access to all of Irving's private diaries, compiled over a forty-year period. They are able to make use of some of this material in their cross-examination.
RAMPTON: "A quiet evening at home," etc, "Jessica," who is Jessica?
IRVING: My little infant child.
IRVING: She was nine months old at this time.
RAMPTON: Nine months old in September 1994. "Jessica is turning into a fine little lady. She sits very upright on an ordinary chair. Her strong back muscles, a product of our regular walks in my arms to the bank, etc. etc. On those walks we sing the binkety-bankety-bong song." And, more scurrilously, "when half breed children are wheeled past" and then you go into italics, "I am a baby Aryan, not Jewish or sectarian. I have no plans to marry an ape or a Rastafarian"?
RAMPTON: Racist, Mr. Irving? Anti-Semitic Mr. Irving, yes?
IRVING: I do not think so.
Editor's note: Some would definitely disagree with Mr. Irving on this issue. But they need to take into consideration that those who want to eradicate the Aryan race, want to force Aryans to only marry those whose ethnicity differs from that of the Aryan ethnicity, which, in the short term, eradicate the Aryan ethnicity, or in the long term too depending upon how one looks at this issue.
RAMPTON: Teaching your little child this kind of poison?
IRVING: Do you think that a nine-month-old can understand words spoken in English or any other language?
NARRATOR: To emphasize Irving's right-wing connections, the defense show a video of a speech he gave to the National Alliance, an American right-wing political group. He is recounting his response to a Jewish questioner at one of his meetings.
IRVING: You are disliked - you people, you have been disliked for 3,000 years, you have been disliked so much that you have been hounded from country to country, from pogrom to purge, from purge back to pogrom. And yet you never ask yourselves why you are disliked, that's the difference between you and me. It never occurs to you to look in the mirror and say why am I disliked, what it is it that the rest of humanity doesn't like about the Jewish people to such an extent that they repeatedly put us through the grinder, and he went berserk he said are you trying to say that we are responsible for Auschwitz, ourselves? I said well the short answer is yes, the short answer I have to say is yes.
NARRATOR: Irving has never sought to deny that anti-Semitism was at the heart of Hitler's ideology. "In standing guard against the Jew," Hitler wrote, "I am defending the handiwork of the Lord." Irving has also never hidden his admiration for Hitler.
Editor's note: David Irving must not realize that Hitler was just as much part of the problem as Stalin was. The Hegelian dialectic is at work here.
NOAKES: He seems to want to exculpate Hitler, that seems to be a key element of his agenda. He has himself said, I believe, that Hitler had said to his doctor, I think it was, that at some point a historian would come along and it would be an English historian who would write a true account of these events and he seems to think that he is that historian.
NARRATOR: One of Irving's central challenges to the generally accepted view of the Holocaust is that there is no documentary evidence that Hitler planned or ordered it. For years, Irving has been offering a thousand dollars to anyone who can produce a document.
Irving claims that the absence of an early order from Hitler demolishes the vision of the Holocaust being planned and organized at the highest levels of the Reich. But most historians insist that in fact Hitler's plans for the Final Solution evolved over time and were not the result of a single decision.
HILBERG: I would suggest now, after 50 years of research, that Hitler's decision was made in stages, that his thinking evolved, and that his pronouncements became ever more drastic and ever more specific with this evolution.
NARRATOR: The trial will follow in detail the developing stages of the Final Solution. Seven months before the outbreak of World War II, Hitler spelled out the nightmare awaiting the Jews.
HITLER: If Jewish finance, inside and outside Europe succeeds in plunging the world into war, then the result will not be victory for Bolshevism and Jewry, but the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe.
Editor's note: The operative word here is "Europe," not destruction. Hitler wanted the Jews out of Europe, not dead. If this seems somewhat simplistic, consider that Herzl, said that a certain number of Jews needed to be sacrificed so as to achieve the goal of living in Palestine.
NARRATOR: With the German invasion of Poland and the beginning of the Second World War the ominous threat delivered by Hitler against the Jews was to become real.
Up until the end of 1939, 7,000 Jews had been killed in 6 years of Nazi rule. With the rapid Nazi advances, and with millions of Jews in Eastern Europe now falling under Nazi control, the leadership debated how to resolve what they called The Jewish Question.
NOAKES: Suddenly they found themselves with several million more Jews, and what's more Jews who were felt to be dangerous in the sense that they were associated with Bolshevism. And that they were Orthodox Jews, many of them, and that created a kind of other-ness which to some extent fuelled and made it easier, fuelled the kind of hostility and the feeling that, you know, the Jews were somehow not like us, they are sub-human if you like.
NARRATOR: The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 signaled the launch of a new and more savage stage of the Final Solution. The German army high command had been instructed to prepare for a brutal conflict of ideology and racial opposition. Hitler insisted that the struggle would have to be conducted "with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting harshness."
Four motorized task forces known as the Einsatzgruppen were set up to follow the German Blitzkrieg. Their highest priority was the massacre of Soviet Commissars and Jews. The Holocaust had begun.
BREITMAN: There was a prescribed method for carrying out mass shootings of Jews. Often, pits were dug ahead of time, sometimes days in advance. Jews were marched to these usually isolated locations where they were either placed in the pits and shot there or shot into the pits. The whole process was so similar in different places at different times that it suggests a considerable degree of forethought and planning.
CESARANI: It is inconceivable that the Einsatzgruppen could have set out on their missions without preparation, briefing, organization, and agreement at the highest level. The Einsatzgruppen and the army were tasked with Führer orders, orders issued in the name of the Führer. They sent back reports to Himmler, routine weekly reports on the scale of the killing of Jews, Commissars and other groups that they targeted.
NARRATOR: Irving claims the Einsatzgruppen massacres of up to 1.5 million victims were arbitrary actions by criminal individuals. To challenge Irving's claim the defense presents in evidence a report from the chief of Einsatzkommando 3, SS Colonel Karl Jaeger. Dispatched to Berlin in December 1941, it listed the numbers of executions carried out by his squad since July of that year.
Editor's note: No Holocaust denier, who is otherwise known as a Revisionist, claims that Jews were not shot, only that they were not gassed to death.
RAMPTON: Of 137,000 people executed, about 98.5 percent are identified as having been Jews; men, women, and children?
IRVING: That is correct, yes.
RAMPTON: And this report goes back to Berlin?
RAMPTON: What happens to Herr Jaeger, the head of this Einsatzgruppen squad? Was he sacked?
IRVING: That I do not know.
IRVING: That I do not know.
RAMPTON: This is completely at random, really, because one can take any number of examples; the massacre of 33,000 Jews from Kiev in one go, in two days 29th and 30th September 1941, at Babi Yar?
IRVING: I do not know in detail about it.
RAMPTON: Do not these things jump out at you Mr. Irving? These vast number of recorded deaths is being shipped back laboriously and carefully typewritten reports by the murderers to the head of the security service?
IRVING: I accept that, but this is of great interest to a Holocaust historian, not to a Hitler historian. I am a Hitler historian, if you appreciate the difference.
RAMPTON: I do not think there is a difference.
JUSTICE GRAY: We are not so much concerned with Hitler at the moment, but with Berlin. Berlin must have known that the shootings were continuing on - as you would accept - a massive scale.
IRVING: I accept this my Lord, yes.
RAMPTON: Do I now have a clear concession that what the SS did in the East to the Russian Jews, and the Baltic Jews, to a total of perhaps 1.5 million, was done on the authority of and with the knowledge of Berlin?
IRVING: Yes, quite clearly.
NARRATOR: In October 1941, the first deportations of German Jews to the East took place. Although the Nazis were murdering thousands of Soviet Jews, it was not yet a matter of policy to kill Jews from their own country. With America, which was seen by Hitler as a Jewish-controlled nation, still not in the War, the Nazis had a powerful reason to preserve the German Jews.
CESARANI: Hitler had a specific interest in the Jews from Germany because he wanted to keep them as hostages to keep America out of the War and because there was a certain amount of unease amongst the killers in the SS and their aides in the East when it came to killing Jews from their own cultural circle.
Killing East European Jews was one thing, Bolshevik Jews as they understood them to be, or religiously orthodox Jews who they despised.
That they did without any qualms.
But the Jews who spoke German, who came from Berlin, caused a certain amount of unease, and Hitler didn't want to unsettle his men at the front line.
NARRATOR: A mansion near a lake south of Berlin is accepted by most historians to be the place where the organization of the Final Solution was planned.
HARRIS: It's a very moody, atmospheric sort of place. Something has seeped into the soil or into the brickwork there. It's quite easy to imagine this conference in the winter with the big, black Mercedes waiting outside, and the chauffeurs waiting, and the civil servants and the uniformed Gestapo and SS men coming out, having had lunch, I believe. And you could see then the way in which a modern, European, sophisticated state could descend into this kind of Al Capone style gangsterism. It's a very haunting place.
The significance of the Wannsee conference was really, that was the point at which everyone was painted with the same brush. They all dipped their hands into the blood.
NARRATOR: On January 20 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Nazi Security Service summoned a meeting of 15 Nazi functionaries, including Adolf Eichmann, to gather here. The entry of America into the War in December 1941 meant that the bureaucrats were gathering to discuss how best to fulfill Hitler's prophesy of the extermination of all 11 million Jews in Europe.
Editor's note: According to mathematical calculations which emanated from David Ben-Gurion's book entitled "A Personal History", fewer than 6 million Jews were in Europe by the start of WW II. Another source claims this also.
OVERY: I think Wannsee was a conference which came at a point where Himmler and the racist apparatus had already begun a program of what one might call the rationalism of racism.
I think that Himmler and others were shocked, in the end, by the brutality and violence of the wild killings across the summer and were keen to bring the whole thing under control.
It was very much Himmler's habit, of course, he liked order, he liked to have rational structures for carrying things out. He was very keen to do things the German way. So building up factories of death, extermination camps, liquidating Jews systematically, using bureaucrats as much as soldiers.
NARRATOR: Irving disputes what happened at Wannsee. The transcript of the meeting, he insists, contains no reference to 'liquidation' or to Hitler's approval. It was, he says, a low-level conference concerned with a shift in Nazi policy towards the Jews from deportation overseas to evacuation to the East.
Irving's take on Wannsee is not a fringe or an extremist position. Yehuda Bauer, an Israeli Historian, called the notion that extermination of Jews was decided on and planned at the Wannsee Conference [Canadian Jewish News, January 30, 1992]: "the silly story that at Wannsee the extermination of the Jews was arrived at." When Professor Hilberg republished his "The Destruction of the European Jews" in 1988 he dropped references to two orders by Hitler that were cited in the 1961 original edition of his book that mandated the extermination of the Jews.
In my opinion David Irving is a racist and an apologist for Hitler. This does not make the Holocaust narrative now taught in schools and held to be sacred and beyond debate true, nor does it mean David Irving has nothing valid to say about The Holocaust. David Irving may be a racist with an axe to grind, but so are the apologists of Israel racists with axes to grind. Who but a true believer with a determination to smash an icon might be among the first to dig in to the inconsistencies of a sacred and unquestioned dogma ?
My thanks to Michael Santomauro for providing this article to me.