Holocaust deniers do not understand what the Holocaust was

An alternative title to this blog could be “Why some Holocaust revisionists need to read a book” because I have noticed that many of those who deny the Holocaust happened do not seem to know much about the Holocaust. I wonder if some of them have ever read any conventional history books on the subject.

I discussed an example of this in my last blog Holocaust revisionists and the “fake gas chamber’ in Auschwitz I when I quoted the British revisionist David Irving in his 1993 video “The Search for Truth in History” in which he defined the Holocaust as, “Adolf Hitler ordered the killing of 6 million jews in Auschwitz”.  Irving then claims that the gas chamber is a fake, implying that 6 million jews could not have been gassed in it. Nobody with a basic knowledge of the Holocaust believes 6 million Jews were killed in Auschwitz. About 1.1 million Jews were killed in Auschwitz. Around 2 million were killed in the other extermination camps of Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. Between 1 to 2 million were shot by the Einsatzgruppen on the Eastern Front and others died from disease and starvation in concentration camps and ghettos.

Likewise, the gas chamber in Crematorium I in Auschwitz I is not a fake, but a reconstruction. it operated from 1941 to 1942 and around 10,000 people were gassed in it (Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz:Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York, 1989, p 132).

During 1942, around 100,000 Jews were gassed in the provisional gas chambers Bunkers I and II at Birkenau or Auschwitz II. The majority of the Jews who were gassed in Auschwitz were killed in the four gas chambers in Crematoria II, III, IV and V in Birkenau which operated between 1943 and 1944.

Only people, who do not know these basic facts about Auschwitz, have been persuaded by Irving’s video.

Map of Auschwitz showing the locations of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau
Map of Birkenau showing the locations of the four crematoria

Some Holocaust revisionists do not know how many gas chambers there were and they base their arguments against the Holocaust on their ignorance. One of the first Holocaust deniers was Paul Rassinier (1906-1967) who has been called the father of Holocaust revisionism. In his book The Real Eichmann Trial he wrote about the plans for the crematoria, “The first two are construction plans for four crematory ovens at Auschwitz-Birkenau, numbered II-III-Iv and V, which leads one to suppose that I has not been found, at least to my knowledge” (Paul Rassinier, The Real Eichmann Trial or The Incorrigible Victors, Historical Review Press, Warks, 1979, p 96).

The s0-called father of Holocaust revisionism did not know Crematorium I was in Auschwitz I.

In his book Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence another revisionist Wilhelm Staeglich (1916-2006) writes, “There actually may have been one crematorium in Birkenau, not four” (Wilhelm Staeglich, Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence, Institute for Historical Review, California, 1990,  p 172), He also describes how a person looked around Birkenau but he could not find the remains of Crematoria IV and V (p 49).

A lot of other Holocaust revisionists understand there were four crematoria in Birkenau, they just deny there were gas chambers inside them. Staeglich knew so little about Auschwitz, he was not sure how many crematoria there were, but he thought he could write a book saying there were no gas chambers.

The person, who couldn’t find Crematoria IV and V could have just gone to the Auschwitz museum shop and bought a guide book with a map.

Remains of Crematorium IV in Birkenau. It’s not find to hard.

In his 1995 book Stoker former Australian POW Donald Watt claimed to have worked in Crematorium II in Birkenau. In a speech “False Memories” at the Adelaide Institute’s 1998 International Revisionist Symposium Peter Richards said,

“It is interesting to note that the only detail Watt provides about the alleged gas chambers is to state that they were located underground …  Of course  the alleged gas chamber that is shown to the gullible tourists visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau is located very much above ground.” (Adelaide Institute Newsletter, No. 90, p 3)

Stoker has been exposed as a hoax, however Peter Richards still did not know what he was talking about. Watt falsely claimed to have been in Crematorium II in Auschwitz-Birkenau which is underground. Richards is referring to the above-ground gas chamber in Crematorium I in Auschwitz I, not Auschwitz-Birkenau. This is pretty basic stuff, which someone who thinks they are qualified to speak at an “international symposium” should know.

Model of Crematorium II in Birkenau showing the underground gas chamber

Also in The Search for Truth in History David Irving argues that the fact that so many Jews survived Auschwitz suggests that it could not have been an extermination camp, “Tens of thousands of Jews survived Auschwitz, which we are told was an extermination camp,where the Nazis were killing every Jew they could lay their hands on, isn’t there something a bit paradoxical here?”

Another Holocaust revisionist Hans Schmidt made a similar argument, “If Hitler had given the order to murder all the Jews within Nazi reach, then there would not have been millions of so-called “Holocaust survivors”.” (Hans Schmidt, End Times/End Games, Hans Schmidt, Florida, 1999, p 229)

Only those, who do not know what the Holocaust was, would find this argument convincing. The Holocaust was not a pogrom in which the Nazis killed every Jew they could find. No Holocaust historian has ever said that it was. In general, some Jews, who were fit enough, were kept alive and used for slave labour, while unfit Jews were killed outright. Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels explained their intentions in a well-known passage in  his diary dated March 27, 1942,

“Beginning with Lublin, the Jews are now being deported eastward from the Government-General. The procedure is pretty barbaric, and one that beggars description, and there’s not much left of the Jews. Broadly speaking one can probably say that sixty percent of them will have to be liquidated, while only forty percent can be put to work.” (David Irving, Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich, Focal Point, London, 1996, p 388)

When the Jews arrived in Auschwitz, they underwent a selection process.  Fit Jews were admitted into the camp, registered and used as slave labour where  many of them died of disease and exhaustion. The unfit Jews were gassed and never registered. 1.3 million people were transported to Auschwitz, but only 400,000 were registered as inmates. The other 900,000 were gassed on arrival. Revisionists claim they were not gassed, but they cannot tell us what happened to them instead. Around 200,000 of the 400,000 registered inmates survived. Revisionists point to these 200,000 survivors and claim they prove Auschwitz was not an extermination camp, but they are silent about the fate of the other 1.1 million people. (Franciszek Piper, “The Number of Victims”, in Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum (editors), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1998, p 61-72)

Photo of the selection process of Hungarian Jews arriving in Birkenau in 1944

The Nazi concentration camps actually held more non-Jews than Jews. Peter Black writes,

“The majority of the prisoners in the Reich camps in 1942-44 were Slavs, primarily Poles and Russians; after these came the resistance fighters and forced labourers from western Europe; Italian labourers, who arrived in the camps after the Italian surrender on September 8, 1943; and finally German political and criminal prisoners.” (Peter Black, “Forced Labor in the Concentration Camps 1942-1944” in Michael Berenbaum (editor), A Mosaic of Victims, L.B. Tauris, London, 1990, p 56)

Some Holocaust revisionists seem to think that the camps only contained Jews. An article “Himmler to the SS: Don’t let the Jews Die” in The Barnes Review (January-February 2001, p 49) gives the impression that Himmler did not want the Jews killed, which does not sound like an extermination policy. However, this article is refering to a directive given by Hmmler on Deecemebr 28, 1942, which can be read at the bottom of this link PS-2171. Himmler never said, “Don’t let the Jews die.” He wanted the overall death rate in the camps reduced so there would be more inmates for slave labour, most of whom were not Jews.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, there was a water storage tank for the fire brigade in Auschwitz I which was used as a swimming pool by some privileged inmates. There was also a brothel in Auschwitz and some other camps. Some revisionists want us to think that the Jewish inmates could use the pool and brothel, Auschwitz sounds like place for Jews to have spent the war. They do not understand that there was a hierarchy of inmates in the camps. Aryan criminal and political prisoners had more rights and privileges and were treated better, and some could use the brothel and pool, while the Jews were at the bottom and treated a lot worse, and of course could not use the brothel or pool. (Lawrence Rees, Auschwitz, The Nazis and the Final Solution, BBC Books, London, 2005, p 249-254, Wolfgang Sofsky, The Order of Terror, The Concentration Camp, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1997, p 117-129)

Pool in Auschwitz I

While Auschwitz was both a concentration and extermination camp, where some Jews were kept alive to work and others were gassed, there were also the “pure” extermination camps of Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka, where the Nazis  were “killing every Jew they could lay their hands on”, and only a handful were kept alive. Around 2 million Jews were sent to these camps and  about 110 survived (Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1985, p 287, 502). To use David Irving’s argument, the fact that there were not thousands of survivors from these camps shows they were extermination camps.

Holocaust revisionists claim these extermination camps were really transit camps and the Jews, who were sent there, went somewhere else, but they cannot show us where. They have no evidence.

Some revisionists do not seem to understand that Jews were killed in both Auschwitz and other extermination camps of Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. They think these are different versions of the Holocaust.  This can be seen in Brandon Lewis’ review of Less Than Slaves: Jewish Forced Labor and the Quest for Compensation by Benjamin Ferencz published in the Journal for Historical Review. Lewis writes,

“According to the author, Jews not fit for work in the Krupp and other plants at Auschwitz would be packed off to Birkenau(Brzezinka) for gassing. The camps of Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and Chelmno (Kulmhof-an-der-Neer) were the only camps purely for extermination … The “revised” exterminationist view of Ferencz tallies rather closely with that of Gitta Sereny’s version of Holocaust mythology in the New Statesman of 2 November 1979. They place the exterminations at the four camps Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka and Sobibor, although Ferencz adds Birkenau and the mysterious Latvian camp, Jungfernhop. Could it be that there is some collusion here, whereby the Exterminationist high priests have got together to get their stories straight. Perhaps they realize that the game is up as far as Auschwitz and the old Reich camps are concerned,and now they are trying to salvage whatever they can find from the rapidly crumbling Holocaust house of cards? They haves ought refuge in the only possible canon, which is to maintain that the exterminations took place at camps which have been obliterated without trace, and that the function of Auschwitz and the western camps was to work people to death.”

Brandon Lewis was a pseudonym for David McCalden, founder of the institute for Historical Review, the biggest Holocaust revisionist organisation in the United States. He thought that revisionists had disproved Auschwitz, yet he did not know that Birkenau was part of Auschwitz.

Similarly, in 2003 in Australia Andrew Zielinski published a book Conversations with Regina about his mother’s expereinces in Sobibor. The Adelaide Institute Newsletter, June 2003, No. 197, suggested  Sobibor was a “new gas chamber location”. It looks like the Adelaide Institute,the main revisionist organisation in Australia, was unaware before 2003 that there was an extermination camp called Sobibor.

The extermination camps of Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka are not new versions of the Holocaust. The Allies knew about them and Auschwitz as early as 1942-43 (Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies, Michael Joseph/Rainbird, London, 1981,William Laqueur, The Terrible Secret, Owl Books, New York, 1998). Their role is discussed in the first major history books on the Holocaust The Final Solution by Gerald Reitlinger, published in 1953, and The Destruction of the European Jews by Raul Hilberg, published in 1961. There is nothing new here.

Likewise, the New Statesman article of Gitta Sereny which Lewis mentioned, was called “Men Who Whitewash HItler” about Holocaust deniers and is reprinted in her book The German Trauma, Penguin , London, 2000, p 135-146. She mentioned both Auschwitz and the other camps Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka, but she did not propose any new version of the Holocaust. She only repeated what historians already knew. I have no idea what Lewis was thinking. Holocaust revisionists are saying there are new versions of the Holocaust, historians have to change their minds because revisionists have disproved the Holocaust, when they simply do not know what they are talking about.

In 1996 Daniel Jonah Goldhagen published a controversial book Hitler’s Willing Executioners which focused on the mass shootings of Jews behind the Eastern Front. In Holocaust or Hoax? Jurgen Graf claimed this book was a new version of the Holocaust, “This “new, improved” version is apparently intended to replace the version which has so far placed the central emphasis on the gas chambers as the instrument of the mass extermination of the Jews.”

Goldhagen did not propose a new version of the Holocaust. Like every other Holocaust historian he knew that Jews were both killed in gas chambers in Auschwitz and other extermination camps and others were also killed in mass shootings on the Eastern Front. He just focused on the shootings (Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Little, Brown and Co., London, 1996, p 157, 523).

Some Holocaust revisionists cannot get their heads around the idea that some Jews were gassed (and not all in the same place) and others were shot, and think it has to be either/or when every Holocaust knows it was both. Like Auschwitz and the other extermination camps, these are not different versions of the Holocaust. Revisionists just need to read more books.