Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective An Evangelical Review

Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Schneider, William H.C. Propp (editors), Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective, Text, Archaeology, Culture and Geoscience, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, 2015, 584 pages

Between May 31 and June 3, 2013, a conference “Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus Between Text, Memory and Imagination” was held at the University of California, San Diego. 44 papers were presented by contributors from the United States, Canada, Israel and Europe. They were published in 2015 as Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective: Text, Archaeology, Culture and Geoscience, edited by Thomas Levy, Thomas Schneider and William Propp.

I approached this collection of papers wanting to see what mainstream scholarship believed about the historicity of the Exodus and the subsequent Conquest of Canaan.

I was disappointed there was no contribution by Kenneth Kitchen, Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, an expert Egyptologist and an evangelical Christian. The only evangelical contributor appears to have been James K. Hoffmeier, Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity International University. In his paper “Egyptologists and the Israelite Exodus from Egypt”, Hoffmeier explains that, although they did not necessarily believe the supernatural elements, Egyptologists used to believe that the Bible’s account of the Exodus and Conquest was basically accurate. It was not until the rise of the minimalist school of archaeology in the 1970s and 80s that archaeologists came to believe that there was no evidence for the Exodus and Conquest (pp. 197-198).

Hoffmeier also describes how he conducted an informal survey of 25 Egyptologists and their views on the Exodus. While most of them had no interest or expertise in the subject, 19 of the 25 still believed there had been some sort of Exodus, even if it did happen as the Old Testament describes. Only one thought it was unlikely. The rest were unsure (p. 205). Hoffmeier concluded,

“Thus, I see a kind of disconnect. Egyptologists, on the one hand, seem to accept the historicity of the biblical sojourn and exodus narrative, but on the other hand either have no interest in investigating it using their discipline, or feel that it is a subject to be investigated by people with a religious agenda.” (p. 206)

“Egyptian Texts relating to the Exodus: Discussion of Exodus Parallels in Egyptology Literature” by Brad C. Sparks was arguably the most interesting paper. Sparks wrote that over 90 parallels in Egyptian literature with the Exodus have been found. The Admonitions of Ipuwer, which is dated to either the First or Second Intermediate Period (p. 246), appears to describe the Exodus plagues (p. 262). The Tale of two Brothers, which first appeared around 1200 BC, describes an incident similar to Potiphar’s wife’s attempted seduction of Joseph (p. 262). The Destruction of Mankind, which is found on the wall of Seti I’s tomb (KV 17) in the Valley of the Kings, describes a “primeval revolt” of non-Egyptians in the Eastern Nile Delta. Sparks writes,

“The “primeval revolt” proceeds thorough a series of Exodus-like events that parallel the sequence of events in the Book of Exodus, in the same general order presented in the Biblical text, thus making it difficult to dismiss as am accidental assemblage of unrelated, merely illusory Exodus-like motifs. The general course of these texts in composite is as follows: the Blood Plague, a skin plague that nearly kills pharaoh, an abnormal darkness that traps the army with the pharaoh in the royal palace, armed pursuit of escaping foreign population in the Heliopolis area (Eastern Delta) headed east to return to the enemy god Apophis in the mountains east of sunrise (Sinai), army failure to slaughter the escapees, and the implied death of the firstborn and the army (in the celestial sea) and the pharaoh (by water serpent owing to negligence of Nun, the god of the ocean).”  (p. 267)

It sounds like memories of the Exodus have been passed down by the Egyptians, however, mainstream scholarship does not believe the Exodus, as it is described in the Bible, happened. As Lawrence T. Geraty explains in his paper “Exodus Dates and Theories”, the Bible says the Exodus took place around 1450 BC, 480 years before Solomon began to build the Temple in Jerusalem around 970 BC (I Kings 6:1). According to Egyptian chronology, this would place the Exodus in the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt’s New Kingdom, during the reign of either Thutmose III or Amenhotep II (p. 56). However, mainstream archaeologists say there is no evidence for the Exodus at this time or the Conquest of Canaan 40 years later. Instead, the consensus among mainstream scholars is that, if they believe the Exodus happened at all, it took place during the thirteenth century BC during the Nineteenth Dynasty. They argue that the 480 years should not be taken literally. It means 12 generations of 40 years. They argue that a generation is only 25 years so the Exodus took place 300 (12 x 25) years before 970 BC, around 1270 BC. Thus, they look for evidence of the Exodus during the reign of Ramses II (1270-1224 BC) (pp.56-58).

However, Geraty also acknowledges that Judges 11:26 says that Israel had occupied the land for 300 years, which is not divisible by 40, so it would suggest a literal 300 years and supports the traditional 1450 BC date (p. 56).

Manfred Bietak’s paper “On the Historicity of the Exodus: What Egyptology Today Can Contribute to Assessing the Biblical Account of the Sojourn in Egypt” does find evidence of Smites on the Egyptian Delta during this period, but that does not mean they were the Israelites (pp. 17-37). As James Hoffmeier points out, there “were large numbers of Semites in Egypt at various times during the second millennium BC and it would be impossible to distinguish one group from another” (p. 206)

While many Egyptologists believe that the Exodus in some form was possible, the problem is more on the other end, when the Israelites arrived in Canaan. Mainstream scholars accept that “Israel” was in Canaan by the reign of Pharaoh Merneptah who described defeating Israel in the Merneptah Stele (c. 1220 BC) (pp. 59, 478-480, 517). However, they do not believe they have found any evidence for the Conquest of Canaan and the destruction of its cities as described in the Bible either in the fifteenth century BC (the traditional date) or the thirteenth century BC (the mainstream consensus date) (pp. 58, 518-519). William Dever writes, “To make a long story short, today not a single scholar or archaeologist any longer upholds “biblical archaeology’s” conquest model. (…) To put it succinctly, if there was no invasion of Canaan by an “Exodus group”, then there was no Exodus”. (p. 404)

Having rejected the “Conquest model”, which the Bible describes, several alternative models or theories for the origin of Israel have been proposed. There is the peaceful infiltration theory which proposes that migrants from the Transjordan settled peacefully in Canaan over a long period. There are also several overlapping theories that the Israelites were originally Canaanites. The social revolt model proposes that poor Canaanites overthrew the Canaanite elite and became the Israelites. A similar theory is that the Israelites had originally been Canaanite pastoralists who settled in villages in the highlands. The dissolution theory proposes that after the New Kingdom Egyptian empire in Canaan broke up, their memory of being liberated evolved into the Exodus story. Some of these theories also believe that there was a small group of escapees from Egypt who merged with the Canaanites and became Israel (pp. 469-470, 519-522).

In his paper “The Emergence of Israel: On Origins and Habitus”, Avraham Faust writes that the social revolt theory has been disproved. He also says that the material differences between the Late Bronze Age culture of the Canaanites and the Iron Age culture of the Israelites suggest they were not the same people group. Furthermore, there has been no explanation as to how the Canaanite supposedly morphed into the Israelites (pp. 470-473). While mainstream scholars do not believe the archaeological evidence supports the Bible’s Conquest account, the good news is that the archaeological evidence does not conclusively support any of the alternative models. Nevertheless, Faust writes that “the consensus today is that all previous suggestions have some truth regarding the origins of the ancient Israelites.” (p. 470)

Three papers discuss the eruption of Thera in the Aegean Sea which was originally dated to around 1450 BC, the traditional date of the Exodus (p. 61). They suggest there was a connection between the effects of the eruption and the plagues of Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea which they argue was really the Sea of Reeds on the Mediterranean coast. If the events were connected, it would raise the issue of whether the events of Exodus were supernatural divine intervention or whether God worked through a natural phenomenon to afflict the Egyptians. Problems with the dating of the Theran eruption are apparent in these papers. Early radiocarbon dating placed it around 1450 BC. More recent radiocarbon and tree-ring dating places it around 1650-1600 BC which does not match with traditional archaeological methods which still give a date around 1500 BC (pp. 61, 92).

Some scholars, such as David Rohl, author of A Test of Time, Peter James, author of Centuries of Darkness, Timothy Mahoney, author of Patterns of Evidence, and Immanuel Velikovsky, author of Ages in Chaos, have argued that the apparent lack of evidence for the Exodus and Conquest is because the reconstruction of ancient Egyptian chronology, on which the chronology of the Ancient Near East is based, is flawed. (The discrepancy over the dating of the Theran eruption would suggest something is wrong.) They argue that the Exodus took place at the end of the Middle Kingdom period which conventional Egyptian chronology incorrectly dates to around 1700 BC. If this is correct, it means archaeologists have been looking for evidence of the Israelites in Egypt, the Exodus and Conquest of Canaan in the wrong period. They should be looking 250-300 years earlier. It would also mean that any evidence or lack of evidence from the thirteenth century BC is irrelevant.

I do not believe the reluctance of mainstream scholars to accept the Bible’s account of the Exodus and Conquest can be blamed on their non-Christian, anti-supernatural worldviews. After all, non-Christian mainstream historians still accept that Jesus of Nazareth existed and that the historical background of the New Testament is reliable. They do not believe it because they do not believe the evidence is there according to the established chronological framework. There seems to be little hope of finding archaeological evidence for the Exodus and Conquest in the fifteenth century BC as the Bible literally describes, using conventional chronology. The only option for demonstrating the historicity of the Exodus appears to be to embrace alternative chronological theories.

However, Geraty’s paper on the date of the Exodus lists 11 theories about the date among mainstream scholars ranging from 2100 BC to 650 BC (p. 60). Even though David Rohl is a qualified Egyptologist, he is not mentioned, nor are any others who have challenged conventional Egyptian chronology. This suggests that the impact of alternative chronology theories on mainstream Egyptology has been negligible. Clearly, more work needs to be done.





Did the Nazis kill 20,000 Jews with an atomic bomb at Auschwitz?

Albert Speer during the Nuremberg Trial

Well, of course they didn’t, but some Holocaust revisionists say the Nazis were accused of using an atomic bomb on 20,000 Jews at the Nuremberg Trial.

In Auschwitz: Myths and Facts Mark Weber wrote, “At the Nuremberg Tribunal chief US prosecutor Robert Jackson charged that the Germans had used a “newly invented” device to instantaneously “vaporize” 20,000 Jews near Auschwitz “in such a way that here was no trace left of them”. “

In his book Lectures on the Holocaust Germar Rudolf lists several claims about the Holocaust which “the Germans have been forced to unquestioningly accept as “common knowledge” since the end of the war.” (Germar Rudolf, Lectures on the Holocaust, Theses and Dissertations Press,Illinois, 2005, p 435). These include, “Instant obliteration of 20,000 Jews near Silesia using atomic bombs; alleged at IMT” (p 438)

In the  1992 video “David Cole interviews Dr Franciszek Piper”, which I have discussed here,  Cole says, “In an almost inconceivable charge it was claimed that the Nazis exterminated Jews with an atomic bomb.” (43 mins)

Jurgen Graf writes “Thus at the Nuremberg trial, US prosecutor Robert Jackson falsely denounced the Germans to former German armaments minister Albert Speer for having blown up 20,000 Jews with an atom bomb at Auschwitz.”  This was “confirmed by ‘eye-witness reports’ and ‘perpetrator confessions’. ” (Jurgen Graf, The Giant with Feet of Clay, Theses and Dissertations Press, Alabama, 2001, p 50).

In an article “The Value of testimony and Confessions Concerning the Holocaust”, Manfred Kohler implies that eyewitnesses had said the Nazis killed 20,000 Jews with an atomic bombs (Ernst Gauss (editor), Dissecting the Holocaust, Theses and Dissertations Press, Alabama, 2001, p 129).

These revisionist claims are based on the 21 June 1946 session of the Nuremberg trial, which can be read here, when the Chief US Prosecutor Justice Robert  Jackson asked the defendant Albert Speer, Reich Minister for Armaments and War Production about Nazi atomic energy research,

“MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And certain experiments were also conducted and certain researches were conducted in atomic research, were they not?

SPEER: We had not got as far as that, unfortunately because the finest minds we had in atomic research had emigrated to America, and this had thrown us back  a great deal in our research, so that we still needed another year or two in order to achieve any results in the splitting of the atom.

 MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The policy of driving people out who didn’t agree with Germany hadn’t produced very good dividends, had it?

 SPEER: Especially in this sphere it was a great disadvantage to us.

 MR JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, I have certain information, which was placed in my hands, of an experiment which was carried out near Auschwitz and I would like to ask you if you heard about it or knew about it. The purpose of the experiment was to find a quick and complete way of destroying people without the delay and trouble of shooting and gassing and burning, as it had been carried out, and this is the experiment, as I am advised. A village, a small village was provisionally erected, with temporary structures, and in it approximately 20,000 Jews were put. By means of this newly invented weapon of destruction, these 20,000 people were eradicated almost instantaneously, and in such a way that there was no trace left of them; that it developed, the explosive developed, temperatures of from 4000 to 5000 [?]  [degrees] centigrade and destroyed them without leaving any trace at all.

Do you know about that experiment?

 SPEER: No, and I consider it utterly improbable. If we had had such a weapon under preparation, I should have known about it. But we did not have such a weapon. It is clear that in chemical warfare attempts were made on both sides to carry out  research on all the weapons one could think of, because on did not know which party would start chemical warfare first.

 MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The reports, then, of a new and secret weapon ere exaggerated for the purpose of keeping the German people in the war?

 SPEER: That was the case mostly during the last phase of the war. From August, or rather June or July 1944 on I very often went to the front. I visited about 40 front-line divisions in their sectors and could not help seeing the troops, just like the German people, were given hopes about a new weapon coming, new weapons and wonder-weapons which, without requiring the use of soldiers, without military forces, would guarantee victory. In this belief lies the secret why so many people in Germany offered their lives, although common sense told them the war was over. They believed that in the near future this new weapon would arrive. “ (Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1947, Vol. 16, p 529-530)

Jackson asked Speer if this report was true. Speer said no. It was probably only Nazi propaganda to encourage the troops. That is all. The subject was dropped and they moved on. There were no eyewitnesses who claimed the Nazis killed 20,000 Jews with an atomic bomb in Auschwitz. The Allies did not torture any Nazis into confessing they had blown up Jews with an atomic bomb, as revisionists have to claim they did to German witnesses to the gas chambers.Speer was free to say it did not happen. In fact, the weapon was not even referred to as an “atomic bomb”, although it sounds like one.The Germans have not been forced to unquestioningly accept it as common knowledge as Germar Rudolf alleges.

On the other hand, Germar Rudolf claims that the Nazis really did test “nuclear bombs” in March 1945 and several hundred people were killed, including some inmates from the Ohrdruf concentration camp (Lectures on the Holocaust, p 438). If the Nazis did have atomic bombs, one would have thought they would used them on the Russians who were about to overrun Berlin. I assume Rudolf believes this because it would make the Nazis look intelligent.


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.