Friday, November 06, 2020

The doors to wisdom are shut - Rudolf on the crematorium in Auschwitz main camp

The Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf published an article on "The Thin Internal Walls of Krematorium I at Auschwitz" with supposedly "far-reaching consequences" - summed up as yet another nonsensical slogan: "No doors, no destruction.".

Rudolf argues that the internal walls of the crematorium were "unable to support the installation of massive steel doors". Even if - for the sake of argument - the internal walls of the crematorium were too weak for a "massive steel door", there is no reason the Nazis had to have used a "massive steel door" in the first place. The screwing shut mechanism mentioned by witnesses does not point to "massive steel fixtures", as Rudolf presumes, but to the makeshift gas-tight strong wooden doors pictured in Pressac's Technique and Operation of the Auschwitz Gas-Chambers (see also Rebutting the "Twitter denial"). Nothing suggests, let aside proves, that these doors and their anchoring could not withstand the pressure from inside the homicidal gas chambers (Viewer's Guide to "Auschwitz - The Surprising Hidden Truth").

The homicidal gassings in the crematorium in Auschwitz main camp are demonstrated by numerous pieces of evidence (e.g. Rebuttal of Mattogno on Auschwitz, Part 2: Gas Introduction at the Crematoria). It does not 'hinge' on the gas-chamber's door. There is no indication that the gas-tight wooden doors produced in the camp's workshop could not do the job for the provisional crematorium 1 gas chamber (or any other, for that matter).

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Citations of Holocaust Controversies in the Literature

It's been a while since we compiled a list of the times that the HC blog has been cited in the scholarly/academic and professional literature. Here's an updated list to bring us to the present. Please note that this list does not include publications written by people directly associated with the blog, nor does it include citations of people associated with the blog to publications in other media, offline or online.

I'll update this list as new publications come across the transom.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

RSHA report of October 1944: "...the Polish people...fear that, like the Jewish people, their ethnic substance will be destroyed"

The following reproduces a memo of 18 October 1944 by Herbert Strickner, RSHA department III B, on the "reorganization of Poland policy". The written draft makes the revealing side note that "the Polish people feel expelled from the European community of nations and fear that, like the Jewish people, their ethnic substance will be destroyed" (see also The Hagen Letter: " deal with 1/3 of the Poles - old people and children under the age of 10 - as with the Jews, that is to kill them.").

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Mbembe Affair: Mbembe and Uniqueness

In this final installment of the series on the Achille Mbembe affair, we'll look at how Mbembe has been incorporated into the debate over the uniqueness of the Holocaust.

By early summer, the controversy over Mbembe's invitation to the Ruhrtriennale had blown over, at least in part because the event was canceled due to COVID. However, two essays on the affair have appeared since then. The first, a short piece by Jonathan Lanz, a doctoral student in history and Jewish Studies at Indiana University, was published by Open Democracy at the end of May. In that essay, Lanz addresses some of the topics noted in this series. The second, "The Attacks on the Uniqueness of the Holocaust" by Manfred Gerstenfeld, appeared in July on the website of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies of Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Had Lanz wished to see the issues addressed in his piece reified in written form, he could have asked for no better example than the Gerstenfeld essay.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Mbembe Affair: BDS and the Holocaust

In this installment on the Achille Mbembe affair, we'll examine how the battle over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has engaged the issue of the Holocaust. It's necessary, however, to state some important things right off the bat.

First and foremost, although it should be obvious, antisemitism is a very real and very deadly phenomenon. Many Jews, particularly those living in places that are unsafe -- Israel among them -- are right to fear it and to be proactive about opposing it. The mistake is not one of magnitude but one of kind; i.e., Jews (and their purported allies) who identify antisemitism in BDS are to a large extent driven by this fear, and it would be wrong to dismiss it out of hand. Overcoming the current problem requires understanding where the other side comes from and comprehending its narrative. That means acknowledging the very real concerns of Jews everywhere about antisemitism.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Mbembe Affair: What Has Mbembe Written?

Our first order of business must be determining whether Achille Mbembe's writings reflect antisemitism and Holocaust relativization. As noted in the article from Deutsche Welle, the claims are based on two pieces of writing: his book Necropolitics (originally published in French as Politiques de l'inimitié -- Politics of Enmity); and the introduction he wrote to a volume of essays entitled Apartheid Israel: The Politics of an Analogy.

There are several mentions of the Holocaust in Necropolitics. The first includes a reference to Jews who "managed to escape the gas chambers" (p. 39) among other populations deemed undesireable in a world increasingly characterized less by equality and more by separation. Less than ten pages later, Mbembe continues this examination of separation: "The apartheid system in South Africa and the destruction of Jews in Europe—the latter in an extreme fashion and within a distinct context— constitute two emblematic manifestations of this fantasy of separation" (p. 46). Note that this juxtaposition of apartheid with the Holocaust clearly notes which of the two was worse.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Mbembe Affair: Introduction

Nick Terry named this blog "Holocaust Controversies" nearly 15 years ago, but we don't do much here on actual controversies regarding the Holocaust in our public discourse as much as we do attacking the perceived or imagined controversies about the history of the Holocaust cited by Holocaust deniers in their writing.

This series seeks to remedy this shortcoming. I want here to discuss the recent (last few months) controversy that emerged over the Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe, who is currently professor at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mbembe's academic work focuses on postcolonial studies regarding Africa and has contributed to the concept of necropolitics, i.e., the power over life and death.

Back in the spring, in "The Before Times," Mbembe found himself in the German news cycle, accused of antisemitism and relativization of the Holocaust. The backstory is that Mbembe had been invited to give a speech at the Ruhrtriennale -- a triennial music and arts festival held in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). The center-right Freie Demokratische Partei in NRW criticized the Ruhrtriennale's organizer, Stephanie Carp, for inviting Mbembe given the latter's signing of a petition supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to coerce Israel to disengage from the Palestinian territories. Carp was apparently already on notice for already having done the same two years earlier. A pile-on of sorts then began, with Felix Klein, Germany's Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism -- a position created two years ago -- demanding that Mbembe be disinvited because he had relativized the Holocaust.

The summary of the controversy at Deutsche Welle notes the attempts to mine Mbembe's writings for quotes to support the allegations of antisemitism and Holocaust relativization. The article provides some quotations without judging them one way or the other. It also notes that Mbembe has utterly rejected the charge, citing his longstanding commitment to universal human rights and his assertion that the Holocaust cannot be equated with the crime of apartheid in South Africa.

In this series, I intend to do the following: (1) examine Mbembe's writings for evidence of the charges of antisemitism and Holocaust relativization; (2) investigate the politicization of the Holocaust in the context of increasing pressure on Israel via BDS; and (3) have a look at some of the bad historical writing that has come out of the Mbembe affair.

Should be fun.

Intro: The Mbembe Affair
Part I: What Has Mbembe Written?
Part II: BDS and the Holocaust
Part III: Mbembe and Uniqueness

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Bełżec and Black Death Mass Graves

These days it is germs rather than guns that make the headlines, be it because of what has happened and is happening or because of what some fear might still happen. Interest in past pandemics like the Black Death and the Spanish flu has probably increased accordingly, related monographs like John Kelly’s The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time and Laura Spinney’s Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World are likely to be in higher demand, and as concerns works of fiction I’m probably not the only one who discovered Albert Camus’ The Plague on this occasion. At this moment man-made disasters of the past don’t have the connection with a current threat that past pandemics have.

That said, discoveries regarding the latter sometimes provide information that is of interest to research about the former.

Friday, May 29, 2020


For those who still give a ... something or other ... about this, Mike Eunuch, or however he is called nowadays, has been dissected here again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Graf's Russian Source, or How to Accumulate an Asylum of Loons

I recently wrote a blog post for our larger Holocaust Handbooks project on Ingrid Weckert's Jewish Emigration From the Third Reich. In the beginning, I pointed out that Weckert has the closest demonstrable ties to neo-Nazis among the living deniers, with Jürgen Graf a close second. Since writing that post, I had occasion to read Graf's The Giant With Feet of Clay -- his lengthy critique of the work of Raul Hilberg. I wanted to provide this brief post to make a few brief comments on the man generally and one of his sources.

First, Graf is easily the most overtly antisemitic of the Castle Hill/CODOH authors. Given how frequently he has collaborated with Carlo Mattogno -- who has comparatively much cleaner hands in this regard -- it doesn't really say much for Mattogno that he apparently regards Graf's work so highly. Should the accusation arise that this statement amounts to guilt by association -- well, yes, it does.

Second, Graf's writing of history is garbage. He doesn’t understand the basics of source analysis and seems to believe (or at least argues) that eyewitness statements are never reliable. He also shamelessly quote mines, often to suppress information that he must be aware would undermine his own theses. He just plainly doesn't know what he's doing most of the time. Mattogno's writing brings its own set of related -- but distinct -- problems. But compared to Graf's solo work, Mattogno should be shortlisted for the Pulitzer. Graf is really that bad.

We'll be elaborating on these points over the coming weeks. In the meantime, I wanted to describe my pursuit of a source that Graf cites in TGWFOC. Among the more striking claims made by Graf in this opus is buried in a footnote on page 36 of the most recent edition: "Of 531 leading personalities in the Soviet Union in 1920, 447 were Jews, cf. Juri K. Begunov, Tajnye Sily w istorii Rossij [sic], Isdatelstvo Imeni A.S. Syborina, St. Petersburg 1996." 

It took a bit of work, but I did manage to find a copy of the cited book by Yurij Begunov, about whom, it should be noted, enough has been written to firmly cast him into the group of conspiracy loons. Mina Sodman reported in Searchlight (March 2002) that Begunov was among the attendees of a Holocaust denial "conference" held in Moscow in January 2002; Graf was also in attendence.

Regarding the book and its claim about 447 of 531 "leading personalities" of the USSR being Jewish in 1920 (which, it bears mention, isn't 1941 and is, therefore, after the conscious Russification of the Soviet leadership undertaken under Stalin and after the Great Purges, in which many, perhaps most, of these leaders were shot), it seems Begunov cribbed his list at least in part from Robert Wilton. Our own Sergey Romanov has already discussed Wilton's lists in some detail, so I won't belabor his points.

I'll add only that, where Begunov has added individuals, he seems to have followed Wilton's basic rules of both creating people and positions where none previously existed and assuming that any person whose name doesn't end in -sky, -vich, or -ov must be a Jew, regardless of any other evidence. To be clear, both Russia proper and the Baltic States had large, influential German-speaking populations into the early 20th century who kept their German names. The White Army General P.N. Wrangel is just one prominent example. In addition, Begunov counts several people multiple times in multiple lists, so what the true numbers are of Jews and total people listed in his book are anyone's guess.

The bottom line is that Graf is a kook's kook and relied on a real garbage heap of a "study" to make this specific allegation.