Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Neema Parvini and the Pitfalls of Literary Scholars Doing History

There's a British Shakespeare scholar named Neema Parvini who has made a second career out of far right commentary on a YouTube channel called Academic Agent. He Tweets under the handle OGRolandRat.

As I've written here before, I share something in common with Robert Faurisson and Grover Furr -- and it turns out with Parvini as well. That is, all four of us took our advanced degrees in literary studies. (In the case of Furr, we both wrote our dissertations on certain aspects of medieval literature.) I mention this fact because a recent interaction I had with Parvini on Twitter called to mind why history is perhaps something best left to people with actual historical training.

The issue at hand was the issue of the shrunken heads presented as evidence at Nuremberg. Our own Sergey Romanov put in his typical yeoman's work discussing this incident, so I'd refer the interested reader there. When I was tagged into the Twitter discussion by a follower, Parvini was vehemently insisting that the shrunken heads were fake. His objection seemed to come down to the following issues: 1) the shrunken heads were presented as evidence alongside purported lampshades made from human skin, the latter of which were later demonstrated by DNA testing to be fake; 2) both the heads and lampshades were presented at Nuremberg, which Parvini considers to be an entirely tainted proceeding; and 3) according to Parvini, the Nazis would not have made shrunken heads in any circumstance.

The problems with these three issues are the following, in order.

1) Just because one piece of evidence turns out to be bogus is no reason to dismiss all of the other evidence, although there is certainly good reason to be suspicious. In the case of the shrunken heads, since 1946, additional evidence has come to light suggesting that the shrunken heads were indeed real. Thus, whereas the human skin lampshades have been conclusively proven to be false, the shrunken heads cannot be similarly discarded. Rather, what the shrunken heads have that the lampshades lack is corroboration. In particular, there is corroboration in the form of documentary evidence. When I made this point to Parvini ("Yeah, that's kinda how history works. We use documents."), he dismissed the document I provided as "just a court record," despite the document not coming to light until decades later.

2) The issue of Nuremberg as a bogus proceeding is more complicated and would require too much time and effort to go into here. The underlying assumption is one of dishonesty, and certainly we can point to instances like the Soviets' inclusion of the Katyn Forest Massacre as a crime committed by Germany (when it was they who were the actual culprits) as reason to believe that all was not above board at Nuremberg -- certainly it was not. However, there is simply no reason to believe that the American prosecutors who presented the shrunken heads and lampshades were deliberately presenting false evidence. In fact, given the verified provenance of the shrunken heads, there is every reason to believe that the lampshades were believed to be just as real as the shrunken heads turned out to be. Presented together, they tell a particular story about man's inhumanity to man as practiced under Nazi occupation. That story is no less true if one of the pieces of evidence is ultimately disqualified. There's enough evidence remaining to make the case.

3) The point of whether the Nazis would make shrunken heads is the one over which Parvini lost his temper. As I stated in a thread, why wouldn't the Nazis have made shrunken heads from dead Poles? Does Parvini hold the Nazis to some elevated standard? Is this more of the old "Germans wouldn't have done it this way" garbage that deniers routinely spout, not understanding even for a moment how ad hoc much of what the Nazis did was or how often individuals on the ground acted without the prior approval of those above them? It really is a simple question. If the Nazis would engage in human experimentation of all grotesque sorts, what would stop them from shrinking a couple of heads? After all, it's not like other parties in the war didn't engage in trophy hunting in combat, notably Americans with the Japanese. American GIs routinely sent Japanese ears and skulls back to friends and family stateside. But we are to assume that a handful of Nazis experimenting with making shrunken heads is simply beyond the pale?

Much of what I argue here has been said at this blog multiple times before (often by me over more than a decade). In this particular case, I do think Parvini is blinded by his lack of historical training and his inability to understand how pieces of historical evidence are weighed and assessed. His arguments were loaded with logical fallacies -- primarily a flat-out appeal to incredulity -- that showed no real familiarity with the larger context of what he was trying to argue. One had to wonder why he was even bothering.

The other part of the story here is that, in Parvini, we have yet another case of a semi-prominent person on the far right dipping his foot into denial but not taking the big plunge. We've seen this pattern already with Paul Craig Roberts and Ron Unz (the latter of whom eventually did take the plunge). Parvini is a bit more clever, but he does have a bit of a record that precedes him.

For his own part, Parvini denies being a Holocaust denier and has threatened yours truly with a lawsuit should I even dare blog about him. I'm not prepared to say he's a Holocaust denier, to be clear. I am prepared to say that he's out of his depth debating this material and, further, that he's likely a deeply unpleasant person given the below tweets. 

Whether he's aware of it or not, Parvini is using techniques of soft denial that most of us here can smell a mile off. He may not be a Holocaust denier, but absent his protestations, he sure as hell sounds like one.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Brief Update: Ryan Faulk's Second Guesses

 Having written just a few days ago about Ryan Faulk's problematic foray into Jewish population analysis 1939-1945, I checked his Bitchute video again to see whether anyone had posted the link from here to the comments section.

Turns out someone did.

I also happened to visit the Cesspit, knowing that Faulk had registered there a few months ago. And what do you know? Turns out Faulk began a new thread since I made last week's blog post, consulting the brain trust over at CODOH to assure him that he's right and I'm wrong. Someone also apparently pointed out the Korherr Report to Faulk, and so he's second guessing himself in that regard as well.

"Basically, does anyone know how the Nazis were counting Jews? Did they have guys running around with clipboards?" asks our young hero.

Call me crazy, but maybe you should look into more sources than just the American Jewish Yearbook before you present yourself as an expert on the topic?

Friday, June 10, 2022

Ryan Faulk Is Not a Slave to Your Funhouses

Ryan Faulk is a guy who likes to depict himself, according to his Youtube channel "The Alternative Hypothesis, as "Anti-racist, anti-Nazi, anti-totalitarian." That said, his race-IQ obsession would seem to undermine the first claim. And now, his foray into Holocaust denial would seem to belie the second.

In a video posted to Bitchute on June 7 entitled "Then Where Did the Jews Go?", Faulk dips his toe into these troubled waters. You can find the video if you want; he also posted the text transcript, which you can find here.

You'll notice, on page 7 of the transccript, that Ryan's analysis begins with the American Jewish Yearbook figures. He also relies fairly heavenly on Walter Sanning's Dissolution of European Jewry. We've addressed both texts quite extensively at this website: here's a representative sample. In short, Faulk's video is just old sardines in a new tin. So why bother with it?

I decided to respond to some of Faulk's arguments in a comment on his Bitchute channel. Rather than going point by point, I decided to address the figures on page 25 of his transcript (roughly 40 minutes into the video). Faulk's assertion here was simple -- six million Jews could have not been murdered because there were slightly fewer than three million Jews within reach of the Nazis or their allies in August 1940.

The question I posed in response was simple: Why should we trust his figures when the Nazis' own population figures, presented at Wannsee in January 1942, indicate quite different numbers? Faulk claims there were only 720,402 Jews in Poland (here, he is referring is referring only to those areas of Poland under German control in August 1940); however, the Wannsee Protocol puts that number (Generalgouvernement + Ostgebiete) at 2.684 million. The number for Hungary that Faulk presents (431,731) is more than 300,000 less than the Wannsee figure (742,800). A quick Ctrl-F search will tell you Faulk doesn't mention the Wannsee data at all in his presentation.

Then, I went after his claims about the movements of Jewish populations within Poland between September 1939 and June 1941. Faulk makes the following claim, being charitable (he claims) in presenting the lowest possible estimates: "This means we assume 750,000 Polish Jews fled from Nazi Poland to Soviet Poland, and 100% of them survived that trip, and 100% of them wanted to return to Nazi Poland, and were thus sent off to Siberia."

It so happens that I wrote a term paper on this topic not that long ago, so I was pretty sure he was way off here. As I noted in my Bitchute comment, the USHMM put the number of Jews fleeing into the Soviet zone of occupation following the Nazi invasion at 300,000. Moreover, of these Jewish refugees, not only did 100% of them not desire return to Nazi-occupied Poland (for what should be obvious reasons), but also not all of the Jewish refugees in the Soviet zone undergo deportation. Grzegorz Hryciuk's study of the topic found two major deportations of Jewish refugees: the first, which was forced impressment to Ukraine to work in mines, deported 60,000 people, but Ukrainians and Poles were both deported along with Jews. Even if we assume that all of the deportees between October 1939 and August 1940 were Jews, that's still far smaller than Faulk's number of 750,000. Further, Hryciuk's study identifies only one further deportation of Jewish refugees from the Soviet zone -- this one in June 1940 -- subjected more than 75,000 Jews to either deportation or arrest. Even if we add these two figures together, it only yields a total of 135,000 Jews, compared to Faulk's 750,000.

Why, I asked, should we consider Faulk's figures at all reliable?

Not only did Faulk not respond to my topic, but he deleted it and subsequently blocked me from posting further on his channel. When I asked him on Gab (his Twitter account has been suspended) why he had not responded to my comment and blocked me, he responded cryptically, "I'm not a slave to your funhouses."

So much for the confidence of the young new generation of deniers in their assertions.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Crimes and Mercies, by James Bacque

This article is not about Holocaust denial. Or maybe a different sort of denial, which consists in blowing up (or simply inventing) crimes committed by Nazi Germany’s opponents in order to play down those of Nazi Germany.

Friday, July 09, 2021

Review of Holocaust Handbooks Volume 26 – Santiago Alvarez, The Gas Vans

From December 1941, the Nazis deployed homicidal gas vans using gasoline engine exhaust for the extermination of the European Jews, the liquidation of mental asylums and clearing of prisons in the occupied Soviet Union. The mass killing technique was supposed to provide mental relief for the shooting squads and enable more discreet mass killing. The vans came with two types of chassis: 3 tons trucks of various makes as first series, and 5 tons trucks of the make Saurer as the second series. The Security Police distributed around 20 vehicles for use in occupied Eastern territories (Serbia, Poland and Soviet Union). Another gas van on a Ford chassis was operated by the Secret Field Police. About a quarter of Million people fell victim of these mobile gas chambers (according to Alfred Kokh and Pavel Polian (ed.), Denial of the Denial, or the Battle of Auschwitz, p. 142).

Their historical reality is established by numerous contemporary Nazi documents, contemporary accounts and reports of other origins, and several 100s of post-war testimonies, thereof mostly by former members of the Nazi paramilitary and military forces towards German criminal investigators (many examples cited in the blog series Rebuttal of Alvarez on Gas Vans).

Monday, June 28, 2021

Michael Hoffman's Twisted Road

Since we began this blog 15 years ago, we've been fully aware that Holocaust deniers have individual motives. Certainly among these motives is antisemitism -- it's perhaps the one trait that the overwhelming majority of deniers share -- but there are also motives like ego and grift.

With the rapid graying and dying of the American denier community, Michael A. Hoffman II, at 64 years old, is now among the elder statesmen of American deniers. One thing I've also found in my interactions with individual deniers is that he's also among the most unpopular figures in that small circle. One confided in me that Hoffman was an acid casualty from the 1970s who emerged in the radical right-wing "movement" in the 1980s with an obvious mental illness (a point I've never been able to independently verify, let it be said). More recently, David Cole told me that Hoffman was known among deniers in particular for his openly genocidal rhetoric against Jews and non-whites generally. This was a problem for the denier movement then since the prevailing strategy was to present denial as a quasi-academic alternative to the "orthodox" history of the Holocaust.

What has marked Hoffman's "career" most prominently, however, is his chameleon-like nature. The man has undergone a frequent process of reinvention over the course of the last 30 years or so. When I first encountered him in Usenet in the mid-1990s, he presented as a wannabe public intellectual, flaunting his "expertise" on Jewish legal texts. This, we now know, was his second act, since the first act relates to the materials we are presenting below. Hoffman's third (and final?) act has been that of dissident Catholic, taking issue with post-Vatican II Catholicism and particularly its embrace of usury (he claims). He oddly calls Jews "Judaics," but he now claims to be a critic of the Third Reich. Among his more recent books is Adolf Hitler: Enemy of the German People. A couple of months ago, in a blog post of his own, he responded to an ADL press release that called him a Holocaust denier using his Hitler book as a sort of defense. 

It is possible that Hoffman has undergone a genuine transformation. Perhaps his Hitler book is a sort of mea culpa. One thing is clear, however: Hoffman has never publicly renounced his earlier fascist stance. Lest it be thought that the word "fascist" is being thrown around here willy-nilly, we present two important pieces of evidence.

The first is Hoffman's novel A Candidate for the Order, which he self-published in 1988. If you were looking for a Turner Diaries with a slightly elevated vocabulary, this is probably right up your alley. 

You can view a copy at the Internet Archive here: https://tinyurl.com/mah2novel1
I've also archived that link here: https://archive.is/Ldsot
Finally, you can download a PDF version directly here: https://tinyurl.com/mah2novelpdf

The following year, Hoffman participated with neo-Nazi Harold Covington and several major KKK figures, most notably Louis Beam -- head of the Texas KKK and author of "Leaderless Resistance" -- in a rally against the Martin Luther King holiday in Pulaski, Tennessee, where the Klan was originally founded. You can view Hoffman's 13-minute speech here:


The "Hail Victory" that Hoffman yells out at the end is a nice touch.

A final note: I reached out directly to Hoffman before writing and publishing this post. I asked him whether he had ever renounced his previous positions. He did not respond.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Thanks but No Thanks

Today, I updated the list of Citations of Holocaust Controversies in the Literature, adding two sources: a book on the Kurdish and Armenian genocides published back in 2007 by Desmond Fernandes, who was a senior lecturer in geography at De Montfort University in the U.K.; and a book on anti-imperialism from 2018 by Rohini Hensman. There was a third citation of our work that I found, but I won't be adding it to our list. Here's why.

The book that I won't be including that cites our blog is Grover Furr's Khrushchev Lied: The Evidence That Every Revelation of Stalin's (and Beria's) Crimes in Nikita Khrushchev's Infamous Secret Speech to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of February 25, 1956, Is Provably False. (As Max Amann famously said before deleting the subtitle Viereinhalb Jahre (des Kampfes) gegen Lüge, Dummheit und Feigheit from Mein Kampf, "Everyone needs an editor.") If you're not aware who Grover Furr is, my blogmate and comrade Sergey Romanov has written fairly extensively about his work at this very blog. Several words come to mind to describe Furr, but "kook" is perhaps the one that comes most readily.

Look, I get it. I too have a Ph.D. in English and ended up doing most of my writing in the field of history. It happens. It happened to me. I just ended up on the "other side" of Furr. And lest it be said that we both see the Soviets as the "good guys" in World War II, the similarity pretty much ends there. (OK, I also wrote a doctoral dissertation that addressed the topic of medieval European literature, and we share an interest in Arthurian literature, but it really does end after that. Honest.)

The funny thing about Furr's citation of us is what he cites from us and why. Specifically, on page 520 (footnote 26) of Khrushchev Lied: He Really, REALLY Did!, Furr cites this blog post by Sergey, as a way of marshalling evidence against Tim Snyder, the historian of modern European history at Yale and author of Bloodlands, among other studies, for having "lied" about a source on the antisemitism of Joseph Stalin. Notably, Sergey, while providing the correct translation and source of the quotation, does not exculpate Stalin of antisemitism -- he merely notes that Stalin was likely more tactful. Indeed, Sergey writes, "This is not to say that he [Stalin] wasn't an antisemite." And indeed, the context for the dispute is the Doctors' Plot -- one of Stalin's final repressions, which specially targeted Soviet Jews.

Furr writes, "Snyder is either deliberately lying or never bothered to check the source of this quotation. Whatever is the case, it does him no credit as a historian." While it's not my intention to venture into this particular thicket of weeds, I do want to point out that this discovery is not exactly the "gotcha" Furr seems to think it is. Not only was Stalin demonstrably antisemitic, particularly in the last chapter of his life (although other examples exist), but also Stalin in the correct quotation is clearly not referring to Zionists when referring to "Jewish nationalists." When he said, "Jewish nationalists think that their nation was saved by the USA (there you can become rich, bourgeois, etc.)," the "nation" Stalin was referring to was not Israel -- it was the Jewish nation, i.e., the Jewish people.

Funnier is that Furr cites our blog as a way to attack Snyder without (apparently) checking to see whether we'd ever commented on his own work here. It's a bit ironic that Furr didn't fully check his source in this case (HC blog) while accusing Snyder of doing the same. As a famous Jew once said, "Physician, heal thyself!"

Saturday, May 01, 2021

What the Soviets knew about Auschwitz - and when. Part V: the destruction of the Hungarian Jews.

On 15.07.1944 the director of 1st Directorate of NKGB, the Soviet intelligence, Pavel Fitin wrote to Aleksandr Shcherbakov, a Central Committee secretary and the head of the Political Directorate of the Red Army and the Soviet Information Bureau:
товарищу Щербакову

Нами из Варшавы от нашего корреспондента получена информация следующего содержания:

"В лагере Освенцим немцы отравляют газами венгерских евреев по 10-15 тысяч в день и жгут их на кострах. Проверено точно, реагируйте."

Начальник I Управления НКГБ
Союза ССР
to comrade Shcherbakov

We received the following information from our correspondent in Warsaw:

"In the camp Auschwitz the Germans are poisoning 10-15 thousand Hungarian Jews a day with gas and burning them on pyres. Definitely verified, react."

Head of the 1st Directorate of NKGB
Source: RGASPI, f. 17, op. 125, d. 250, l. 89.

Thus the Soviet intelligence learned about the mass destruction of the Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz either while it was still going on (depending on when exactly Fitin got this information) or shortly thereafter.

Up to 09.07.1944 about 434,000 Jews were deported from Hungary, most of them to Auschwitz, where about 320,000 of them were found unfit for work and gassed on arrival, and the rest were either registered in the camp or left in the area for the transit Jews (who resided in the camp but were not registered there, awaiting transfer to labor camps). Most of the latter Jews were transferred for work in other camps, but many eventually perished (incl. through gassings) in Auschwitz.

So far I have been unable to find anything in the central press, like Pravda or Izvestiya, about this destruction. Whether this was due to scarcity of information, low importance assigned to it or A. Shcherbakov's reputed antisemitism is hard to say.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Jewish Burial Law and Exhumation of Mass Graves

Over at the cesspit, our old friend Hannover tends to repeat himself a fair bit. One of his "greatest hits" is the claim that the idea that Jewish law generally forbids the exhumation of mass graves is a ruse designed to hide the "fact" that there are, in reality, no mass graves. Most recently, the Sage of CODOH wrote, "That [the idea that that Jewish law forbides exhumation] is a lie and has always been a way to dodge the fact that there are NO excavations which show the alleged millions upon millions of Jew human remains claimed to be located in know [sic] locations."

Putting aside for the moment that mass graves have been demonstrated time and again, it's worth considering what Jewish law actually has to say about these things. It's been nearly a decade since we've discussed the matter, and maybe it's time to get a little more specific.

There are two Talmudic texts of the topic. These quotations are taken from the William Davidson Talmud, which is provided online at sefaria.org.

Bava Batra 154a
Rabbi Yoḥanan raised an objection to Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish from a baraita: There was an incident in Bnei Brak involving one who sold some of his father’s property that he had inherited, and he died, and the members of his family came and contested the sale, saying: He was a minor at the time of his death, and therefore the sale was not valid. And they came and asked Rabbi Akiva: What is the halakha? Is it permitted to exhume the corpse in order to examine it and ascertain whether or not the heir was a minor at the time of his death? Rabbi Akiva said to them: It is not permitted for you to disgrace him for the sake of a monetary claim. And furthermore, signs indicating puberty are likely to change after death, and therefore nothing can be proved by exhuming the body.

Yevamot 63b
Apropos the Ḥabbarim, the Gemara cites the following statement of the Sages: The Ḥabbarim were able to issue decrees against the Jewish people with regard to three matters, due to three transgressions on the part of the Jewish people. They decreed against meat, i.e., they banned ritual slaughter, due to the failure of the Jewish people to give the priests the gifts of the foreleg, the jaw, and the maw. They decreed against Jews bathing in bathhouses, due to their neglect of ritual immersion. Third, they exhumed the dead from their graves because the Jews rejoice on the holidays of the gentiles, as it is stated: “Then shall the hand of the Lord be against you and against your fathers” (I Samuel 12:15). Rabba bar Shmuel said: This verse is referring to exhuming the dead, which upsets both the living and the dead, as the Master said: Due to the iniquity of the living, the dead are exhumed.

More authoritative is the Shulchan Aruch (also available at sefaria.org), the 17th century compendium of Jewish law considered authoritative for eastern European Jewry.

Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah, 363
One should not remove a corpse and bones[1] from a dignified grave to [another] dignified grave, nor from an undignified grave to [another] undignified grave, nor from an undignified one to a dignified one, and needless to say [that it is forbidden] from a dignified one to an undignified one. 

[1] Two reasons are advanced for this prohibition: a) The disturbance of removal is hard on the dead — TaZ, ShaK. Cf. I Sam. XXVIII, 15; Job III, 13; b) Removal is considered a disrespectful treatment of the dead — RIDBaZ to Yad, Ebel XIV, 15. One who was buried in a non-Jewish cemetery may be removed to a Jewish one — P.Tesh., G.Mah. 

Two possibilities emerge here. The first is that international Jewry, cognizant of the grand hoax to be perpetrated some 1,500 years in the future, conspired to draft pages of Talmud to which Rabbi Yosef Karo could refer some 1,100 years later when compiling an index of Jewish law for the masses of Ashkenazim.

The second possibility is that Jewish law actually does have something to say about the topic.

Let's be clear: We are under no illusions here that the folks over at CODOH will stop lying just because this blog post has appeared. However, with any luck, people curious to know whether their claims have any merit will find this post. That, after all, is sort of the point of what we're doing here.