My Thoughts about 'Holocaust Denial'
September 24, 2018
Raul Hilberg (June 2, 1926 – August 4, 2007) was the author of the three-volume work titled, The Destruction of the European Jews and was also a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. The blurb on his one-volume condensed version with the same title reads: "'The standard text in the field...[by] the pre-eminent scholar of the Holocaust'--David S. Wyman, The New York Times Book Review." In the preface to the first edition (Vol. 1) Hilberg writes, "It is a book about the people who destroyed the Jews." Hilberg is thus a writer whom virtually nobody has ever accused of being a "Holocaust denier."
And yet, when Hilberg provides an extremely detailed itemized (by many different categories) account of the total number of Jews killed by the Nazis, his figure is not the iconic "Six million" that headlines the Official Holocaust Story; it is 5.1 million (page 338 of the one-volume condensed version.) One could therefore assert that Hilberg "denies the official story of the Holocaust." The Official Holocaust Story is what the mass media asserts in countless articles such as this one by CBS News April 12, 2018 with its headline:
"4 in 10 millennials don't know 6 million Jews were killed in Holocaust, study shows"
What this shows is that there is nothing necessarily sinister or antisemitic in the mere fact of disputing this or that detail that happens to have become an iconic "fact" in the Official Holocaust Story. And this is why I put scare quotes around the phrase "Holocaust denier" and "Holocaust denial."
Another example that shows why it is not necessarily sinister or antisemitic to doubt the iconic "six million" figure is this. The New York Times in 1992, in reporting about the number of people killed in the Auschwitz and Birkenau Nazi concentration camps, provided this interesting fact:
"It was previously thought that four million died at the camps. More recent research has revealed the figure to be closer to 1.5 million."
But the iconic "six million" figure was not reduced after this "more recent research." Why not? Was the "more recent research" ever denounced as "Holocaust revisionism"? I am not aware that it ever was so denounced. Does this mean that the iconic "six millon" figure is immune to any actual data? This kind of thing is what drives some people to ask more questions about the Official Holocaust Story. Who can blame them for that? (I've read one explanation of this, which is that the "six million" figure was never based on the "four million died at the camps" figure in the first place because scholars knew all along that the latter figure was made-up Soviet propaganda. Perhaps this is correct; I don't know.)
Those who are curious to know more of the specific details about what the Nazis did to the Jews, and why, should be free to do their research and state their beliefs no less than people should be free to research what actually happened, and why, during the Civil War of the United States or during World War II. (I wrote a book about WWII challenging the official story and I'm waiting for somebody to call me a "World War II denier.")
WHAT I AM PRETTY CONFIDENT ACTUALLY HAPPENED
While I don't claim to know with certainty lots of details about what the Nazis did or didn't do, I do feel confident in believing that the Nazis very wrongly condemned Jews, just for being Jewish "by blood," as despicable creatures who were the enemy of the German nation.
The Nazis used virulently antisemitic propaganda to turn the German people against the Jews. An example of this is the book, Trust No Fox on His Green Heath and No Jew on His Oath, widely used in elementary schools, parts of which (with English translations) can be viewed online here. The book has rhymed poems (and overtly anti-Semitic drawings). One poem is titled, "The Father of the Jews is the Devil." Another one is titled, "Once a Jew, Always a Jew." The poem titled, "The Cattle Jew," begins, "Most revolting in a Jew Is his peculiar greed for gold." And so on and on and on.
The Nazis passed the Nuremburg Laws in 1935 to make Jews be legally totally inferior to non-Jewish Germans. One can read about these laws here, and here and see for oneself that they were designed to make Jews the object of scorn, contempt and hate. One of these sources summarized the laws as follows:
Nürnberg Laws, two race-based measures depriving Jews of rights, designed by Adolf Hitler and approved by the Nazi Party at a convention in Nürnberg on September 15, 1935. One, the Reichsbürgergesetz (German: “Law of the Reich Citizen”), deprived Jews of German citizenship, designating them “subjects of the state.” The other, the Gesetz zum Schutze des Deutschen Blutes und der Deutschen Ehre (“Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour”), usually called simply the Blutschutzgesetz (“Blood Protection Law”), forbade marriage or sexual relations between Jews and “citizens of German or kindred blood.” These measures were among the first of the racist Nazi laws that culminated in the Holocaust.
Under these laws, Jews could not fly the German flag and were forbidden “to employ in domestic service female subjects of German or kindred blood who are under the age of 45 years.” The first supplementary decree of November 14, 1935—one of 13 ordinances elaborating these laws—defined Jews as persons with at least one Jewish grandparent and declared explicitly that “a Jew cannot be a citizen of the Reich. He cannot exercise the right to vote; he cannot occupy public office.” The other enactments completed the process of Jewish segregation. Before long Jewish passports were stamped with a red “J” (for Jude; “Jew”), and Jews were compelled to adopt “Jewish” names. Jewish communities were deprived of their legal status by the decree of March 28, 1938, and steps were taken to exclude Jews completely from the practice of medicine.
The Nazis clearly viewed Jews as the enemy of the German state, and when World War II broke out the Nazis, with the full power of the German military and police forces, attacked Jews as the wartime enemy and this clearly resulted in the deaths of a very large number of innocent Jews.
I am not aware of any "Holocaust denier" denying that the Nazis did the things recounted above--the things that I myself am confident really happened. While there may be some holocaust deniers I am not aware of who do deny these things, this article is about the ones who don't deny these things, and I think they are the most well-known ones.
WHAT EXACTLY DO 'HOLOCAUST DENIERS' ACTUALLY DENY?
Holocaust deniers challenge the "six million" figure (maybe even the 5.1 million figure) and they challenge the claim that the Nazis explicitly aimed to exterminate the Jews and killed Jews specifically with gas chambers in Aushwitz. But I am not aware that 'Holocaust deniers' deny that the Nazis carried out policies that were unjust and that resulted in the deaths of a very large number of innocent Jews.
Some 'Holocaust deniers' argue that the crimes of the Nazis were not substantially worse than the crimes of the Allies during WWII, and people who are not aware of the horribleness and magnitude of Allied crimes against innocent people during WWII interpret this as a denial that the Nazis also committed such horrible crimes. But this would be a mistaken interpretation.
To see why, consider the following: When President Truman ordered the use of the atomic bombs against civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki he knew that the Japanese government had already offered to surrender with the sole condition that the emperor be allowed to remain on the throne, and he and the American general Douglas MacArthur--the soon-to-be ruler of Japan--WANTED the emperor to remain on the throne (and he did remain on the throne.) The use of those atomic bombs was not required to "save the lives of millions of U.S. soldiers" as was claimed. (I discuss this in my previously cited book on WWII.) Other Allied war crimes were also atrocious: see accounts of some of them here.
I personally believe the evidence is very strong that, whether the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews in Aushwitz or not, they very wrongly killed a very VERY large number of perfectly innocent Jews with other means. One method was the Reserve Police Battalion 101 in Poland, described in great detail by Christopher R. Browning in his book, Ordinary Men. Perhaps some 'Holocaust deniers' dispute the veracity of certain specific claims about such non-Auschwitz gas chamber methods.
As to whether or not the Nazis aimed explicitly to exterminate the Jews, I offer the following evidence that persuades many people, including myself, to believe this to be the case.
Raul Hilbert, in Volume I, pg. 18-19, writes,
"[Nazi SS leader Heinrich] Himmler once cautioned his SS general not to tolerate the stealing of property that had belonged to dead Jews. 'Just because we exterminated a bacterium,' he said, 'we do not want, in the end, to be infected by that bacterium and die of it.'"
The source that Hilbert gives for this is "Speech by Himmler, October 4, 1943, PS-1919." On pages 1327-8 of Volume 3, Hilbert explains that PS refers to "documents gathered in Paris by Colonel Storey" as part of the Nuremburg (Trial) documents.
Himmler's own personal handwritten notes to a speech he gave were discovered and are now on display, providing authenticity to the speech. An AP article about this display reports:
Himmler’s speech on Oct. 4, 1943, in Posen, Poland, to more than 100 German secret police generals makes it clear an American display case is the last place the Nazi leader would have expected to see his words reproduced.
″I also want to talk to you, quite frankly, on a very grave matter,″ Himmler said during a two-hour speech. ″Among ourselves it should be mentioned quite frankly, and yet we will never speak of it publicly.″
″I mean the clearing out of the Jew, the extermination of the Jewish race,″ he said. ″This is a page of glory in our history which has never been written and is never to be written.″
Himmler, who oversaw Adolf Hitler’s ″final solution of the Jewish question,″ committed suicide after his arrest by British troops in 1945."
Additionally, there are official statements made by top Nazi officials "doing their job" that provide great evidence that it was official policy to exterminate Jews. These statements are included in the following online pages: here and here and here and here and here. (h/t to K.S.) Click here to read evidence that Hitler did in fact personally order the Holocaust.
Regarding whether the Nazis used gas chambers in Auschwitz to kill Jews, I don't claim to know the answer with certainty. I have seen the argument by those who say this didn't happen and it does create doubt about it. But I have also read the book, The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, by Robert Jay Lifton, which makes me think the Nazis really did kill Jews in gas chambers at Auschwitz.
Lifton is the respected author of many books, which makes me believe that he would not want to risk his reputation by writing a hoax based on lies; furthermore, if his The Nazi Doctors were a hoax based on just lies then the 'Holocaust deniers' would have exposed that fact by now. So Lifton's book has some credibility in my eyes.
Lifton's book is filled with interviews he conducted with the surviving Nazi doctors who administered Auschwitz, and they fully admit that Jews were sent to the gas chamber there to be killed.
But besides this evidence, there is another piece of evidence that I find persuasive. On page 161, and also in a footnote, Lifton mentions this curious fact about the manufacturer of Zyklon-B (the lethal gas used in the chambers) and the irritant that was usually added to it when it was used for its normal purpose as a disinfectant so that it would be noticed in case of a leak or inadequate ventilation because otherwise it is odorless:
Another change took place as well. In the past, Zyklon-B had by law been combined with a small amount of an irritant gas designed to warn of the presence of the dangerous substance when premises had not been sufficiently ventilated after fumigation. Sometime in 1943, the gas began to be distributed to Auschwitz without the irritant, and bore the warning: "Attention! No irritant!" ... The manufacturer opposed the removal of the irritant because its patent had been on the irritant addition, rather than on the gas itself.*
Obviously if the gas were being used to kill people instead of disinfecting things then the irritant would alert the victims to what was happening and this would make the killing harder to carry out. It is the obscurity of this little detail about the complaint of the manufacturer that, to me, lends credence to it. It just doesn't seem like the kind of detail somebody would dream up with no basis in fact in order to make an argument that the Nazis used gas chambers in Auschwitz to kill Jews.
One of the main 'holocaust denier' organizations (they refer to themselves as "Holocaust revisionist" organizations) has a website devoted to describing in detail the scientific experiments that have been done to test if buildings in Auschwitz were used to kill Jews with Zyklon-B gas, which contains cyanide. The experiments took samples from the walls of Auschwitz buildings purportedly used as gas chambers and from "control" (in the scientific sense) Auschwitz buildings that were not believed to have been used that way. The goal was to see if there was statistically significant evidence for the hypothesis that there was no more cyanide in the former than in the latter (control) buildings' walls. Such evidence would imply that there were not gas chambers at Auschwitz. Quite interestingly, as reported on this overtly 'holocaust denier' website:
"None of these samplings are at a standard publishable in a science journal . For scientists to believe a chemical result, it does need to be published in a science journal, which means that it will have been peer-reviewed. A strong if not fairly conclusive argument might well exist from these cyanide-in-wall measurements, so it should be worth making the effort. Measurements made to one part per million are here inadequate, this being too near the ‘control’ values."
In other words, even this overtly 'holocaust denier' organization admits that the scientific laboratory evidence for its 'holocaust denier' belief is, at best, inconclusive.
Some "holocaust deniers" claim that the International Red Cross asserted that only 300,000 Jews were killed in Nazi concentration camps. There is evidence, however, that the International Red Cross never asserted that. Go here to see one example of this evidence. At the very least one would have to admit that this claim about what the International Red Cross asserted is, itself, a very controversial claim.
Here is the website created by a man who was for many years a staunch Holocaust denier but who came to see that the evidence was overwhelming that indeed the Nazis did use gas chambers and bullets to kill millions of Jews, contrary to the claims of the Holocaust deniers. This is a very detailed, interesting and fact-filled account of how the author was forced by the facts and logic applied to them to change his mind.
People who challenge the figure for the number of Jews killed (even the 5.1 million figure) or who deny that gas chambers were used to kill Jews in Auschwitz may be wrong (just as I may be wrong in the opposite direction.) But being wrong about what happened long ago and far away does not make one evil, just wrong.
'HOLOCAUST DENIAL' AND ISRAEL
A good deal of the hostility to 'Holocaust deniers' is due to the fact that the Israeli government uses the Official Holocaust Story to legitimize its violent ethnic cleansing of non-Jews from most of Palestine, which in my opinion is totally morally indefensible (as I have written about in my book, The Israeli Ruling Class Exposed: It Oppresses Ordinary Jews As Well As Palestinians and in articles by myself and others online here and here.)
Those who support Israel's ethnic cleansing project (a.k.a. "Israel's right to exist") view the expression of any doubt whatsoever about the total veracity of any iconic 'fact' that is part of the Official Holocaust Story as an implied attack on the legitimacy of Israel's ethnic cleansing project, and they declare this to be "antisemitism." But it is not.
This video, for example, is of a Jewish Auschwitz Holocaust survivor condemning what the Israeli government is doing to Palestinians. Albert Einstein, hardly an antisemite, initially opposed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.
'HOLOCAUST DENIAL' AND ANTI-SEMITISM
I condemn any real antisemitism, which is animosity towards Jews just because they are Jews. If anybody commits real antisemitism, I condemn it, whether they are a 'Holocaust denier' or not. Perhaps there are 'Holocaust deniers' who are truly antisemites; but I am not aware of them. The 'Holocaust deniers' I have read about have not to my knowledge said or done anything to indicate that they are truly antisemites. If one is an antisemite then I condemn their antisemitism. I don't have a complaint, however, with what, in the absence of hysteria by those who equate criticism of Israel's ethnic cleansing project with "antisemitism," would more reasonably be called "Quibbling about the Official Story of the Holocaust."
The truly virulent antisemites that I AM aware of in the United States are the neo-Nazis, such as the people who published the Daily Stormer online (until the web hosting companies properly--for purely self-serving reasons, however--banned them), and individuals who make their presence known with antisemitic graffiti. These neo-Nazis, far from denying the Holocaust, praise it!
The Daily Stormer declared that Jews are biologically the enemy of the white race, which is the basis for exterminating Jews like vermin--a theme of Hitler's original Nazis. Neo-Nazi graffiti typically refers to sending Jews to the ovens, not to deny that that ever happened but to imply it should continue! It is thus illogical to infer from a person's 'Holocaust denial' that he or she is a neo-Nazi.
Some 'Holocaust deniers' want to believe that the Nazis were only pro-German and not viciously antisemitic. To make their case, they engage in 'Holocaust denialism.' These individuals are wrong, but they do not advocate antisemtism; they do not advocate harming Jews just because they are Jews, which is what antisemitism is.
I discuss the white nationalist organizations in the U.S. such as the various KKK groups in my article, "What Do White Supremacists Believe." These groups have leaders who are no doubt dangerously racist against non-whites and Jews, but these leaders have lately made it a point to hide this fact and recruit purely on the basis of being "pro-white" and against attacks on whites or discrimination against whites. Therefore the fact that a person has joined or follows one of these groups does not necessarily mean that he or she wishes to harm Jews just because they are Jews, i.e., that he or she is a vicious antisemite.
'HOLOCAUST DENIAL' AND THE ROLE OF THE GERMAN PEOPLE DURING WWII
One implicit message of the Official Holocaust Story and its general narrative is that the entire German people were extremely antisemitic and eagerly joined in the mass murder of Jews when Hitler gave them the green light to do it. A book that purported to be a scholarly defense of this thesis is Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. This thesis has been soundly refuted by scholars, for example by Norman Finkelstein and Ruth Bettina Birn in their book, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth.
Even the evidence that Goldhagen does present in his book contradicts his thesis. For example, Goldhagen describes how Nazi SS guards marched starving Jewish women prisoners to death in zig-zag paths across the German countryside in 1945, and how the guards threatened to shoot anyone who offered the Jewish prisoners aid. But in Goldhagen's own description of this event, he mentions (without apparently realizing that it undercuts his thesis) that German civilians in the towns of Ahornberg, Sangerberg, Althutten, and Volary offered food and water to the Jews. He had to include mention of the kindhearted German civilians in order to make his point about how cruel the Nazi SS guards were. [Goldhagen, pg. 348-9] The fact that civilians, even at the risk of being shot, and despite twelve years of Nazi propaganda declaring Jews to be sub-human enemies of the German nation, came forward to offer aid to the Jewish prisoners renders Goldhagen's "The Germans all wanted to murder the Jews" thesis untenable.
Part of what motivates some 'Holocaust deniers' is a desire to deny the truly awful lie that the German people are monsters worse than the people of other nations. I have no complaint with their desire in this matter.
* Raul Hilberg, in his The Destruction of the European Jews, Volume III, writes in detail about the Zyklon-B production (by a company named DEGESCH) and distribution to Auschwitz. On page 957 he writes, in connection with this, "A DEGESCH official became worried that the production of Zyklon without odor ingredients would endanger the firm's monopoly. " Reference 125 is "Dr. Heinrich to Amend, June 21, 1944, NI-12110." Hilberg's Appendix C explains what these references mean, and in particular says that "NI" means Nuremberg (trial) documents related to industry, and the preceding name (in this case Dr. Heinrich) is the defendant whose testimony is referenced.