Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Michael Tracey's Pearl Harbor Gambit

Michael Tracey, gadfly of the commentariat, friend of Glenn Greenwald, and survivor of "unwarranted physical contact" from U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, recently published a lengthy essay on World War II on his Substack. It's not anything new or revelatory and so I'm not going to address most of it. Any readers of this blog familiar with Tracey's work generally won't be surprised. I do, however, want to discuss his allegation that "US entry into World War II did not prevent the Holocaust, and there is substantial reason to believe it was a factor in accelerating the most lethal phase of the Holocaust."

This is a combination of one quite obvious statement and one quite wrong one. Of course U.S. entry into the war did not prevent the Holocaust because both things happened and the former event (U.S. entry) demonstrably did not prevent the latter event (the Holocaust -- for the most part [see below]). Perhaps Tracey meant to say "U.S. entry into the war was not intended to prevent the Holocaust," in which case it's also not a very debatable point. Few historians believe this was the American intention.

The latter point though is a real howler, so it's worth refuting it here because, for whatever reason, Tracey has a large number of readers.

We'd have to start with "the most lethal phase of the Holocaust." Luckily, the data we have on Jewish fatalities during the war are granular enough that we can identify 1942 as the year during which the most Jews died. According to Hilberg, more than half of all the Jews who were killed during the war were killed in 1942; during that year, therefore, there went from being more Jews alive than dead in Europe in January to there being fewer alive than dead in December. Moreover, a scientific article published in 2019 not only correctly identified Aktion Reinhard -- the campaign to murder Poland's Jews -- as the largest "campaign" of the Holocaust but also showed that a single 100-day period (covering August to October) accounted for approximately 1.5 million of the 1.7 million deaths from Aktion Reinhard.

So that's the most lethal phase, clearly. Tracey in fact acknowledges this point -- even links to the Science Advances article linked to in the previous paragraph.

So what role did the United States' entry into the war have on Aktion Reinhard? This is, in fact, not a question that Tracey seeks to answer. Rather, he begins with a discussion of Christian Gerlach's landmark 1998 essay on the Wannsee Conference. To be fair to Tracey, he cites several sources in his article and he doesn't rely on pikers; Gerlach is a rather big gun. But Tracey does not portray Gerlach's position accurately. Central to Gerlach's essay is the matter of when it was decided to exterminate very specific groups of Jews: German Jews; and Jews from outside the Soviet Union and Poland. Tracey does not acknowledge or perhaps understand this distinction. Therefore, when he quotes Gerlach's line about "systematic planning for the destruction of the Jews throughout Europe," he does not realize Gerlach's intent underlying the phrase "Jews throughout Europe" as not including Soviet or Polish Jews, whose fate had already been decided.

Again, to be fair to Tracey, he acknowledges that mass murder of Jews had already been taking place before Pearl Harbor. But he doesn't say where (the Soviet Union) or by what means (mass shootings performed by the Einsatzgruppen and police units) -- indeed the term Einsatzgruppen doesn't appear in the article at all.

Nor does the phrase "Aktion Reinhard," which is highly significant because this after all is the "most lethal phase" to which Tracey refers, whether he is aware of it or not. And most importantly, the planning of Aktion Reinhard was already under way when Pearl Harbor happened: construction on Belzec had begun more than a month earlier. Is there any evidence to suggest that construction of Belzec was accelerated by Pearl Harbor or even that the establishment of camps at Sobibor and Treblinka was thus affected? There is not, nor does any source used by Tracey make that claim. Gerlach claims only that German Jews being deported from the Reich would eventually be sent to death camps because of a decision contingent on Pearl Harbor. But the vast majority of the Jews killed in the Reinhard camps were Polish Jews, not German.

Tracey continues to compound this very basic error. He quotes from Brendan Simms's Hitler's American Gamble that "a primary motivation and context for Hitler's war of annihilation against western and central European Jewry was his relationship with the United States" (emphasis mine), again failing to see the significance of the geographical limitation of this decision and that it did not include Soviet or Polish Jews, whose fates had already been sealed by Pearl Harbor. Tracey continues the same error with his excerpt from Klaus Schmider's Hitler's Fatal Miscalculation. His first quote from Friedlaender's Years of Extermination fails to acknowledge that the specific context, again, of the killing of German Jews (Friedlaender discusses Aktion Reinhard some fifty pages earlier); his quotes from Rafecas are about the very pages from Friedlaender dealing with German Jews being deported.

Tracey's use of Richard Evans's Third Reich at War is odd in that the excerpt he uses doesn't discuss a change in extermination policy at all relative to Aktion Reinhard -- only an escalation in propaganda accompanying Barbarossa and its effect on radicalization in the Einsatzgruppen's activities. Nor does his citation from the work of Adam Tooze. In the end, it is really only Tobias Jersak, among the authors cited by Tracey, who supports his viewpoint -- to an extent. But Tracey's citation here is not wholly representative of Jersak's view. Jersak writes a few pages before the quotation Tracey provides, "It is clear from developments in the autumn of 1941 that the ‘final solution’ as we understand it in retrospect, i.e. the systematic murder of the European Jews, did not originate in a single decision or a single order" (p. 324).

(Note: I have not addressed Tracey's use of the work of Laurence Rees and John Toland. Rees's work is not academic history. Toland's work is far too old to be considered here given its publication before the opening of Soviet archives, which have given us a much clearer picture of the evolution of Nazi policy vis-a-vis Jews.)

So what does that leave us with? Tracey reiterates his chief point regarding the Holocaust: "There is a robust body of evidence that suggests escalation of US involvement in the war, followed by official US entry, may well have been factors in the acceleration of the most lethal phase of the Holocaust." But is there a "robust body of evidence"? None of the authors Tracey writes draws a straight line between Pearl Harbor (or Lend Lease or the Atlantic Charter) and Aktion Reinhard. They all, in fact, acknowledge its separate existence before the events of the summer or fall of 1941. Therefore, Tracey has in fact failed to prove his chief point made in his essay about the Final Solution.

Does Tracey want to argue that U.S. entry into the war sealed the fate of German Jews or of Jews from central and western Europe? Even though there would still be historians who disagreed, he'd be on much more solid grant if he made that argument. But he doesn't. In his desire to paint the worst possible picture of the effects of U.S. involvement in World War II, he pushes too far and fails.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Grover Furr’s lie about my claim about the Polish policemen’s tags found at Volodymyr-Volynskyi

Grover Furr is a neo-Stalinist falsifier of history well-known for his stunning incompetence, ideological myopia and fanaticism ("I have yet to find one crime that Stalin committed"). 

On 15.08.2022 he published an article accusing me of a "lie" on the issue of the police identification tags (he calls them badges, which is OK, but since we're not talking about the badges worn on the uniform, I will call them tags) found at Volodymyr-Volynskyi (a detailed explanation of the issue is here) in my 15.12.2021 article (about a Katyn denial propaganda film on the Russian NTV channel) in the Nobel-prize-winning Novaya gazeta (here in Russian; I will refer to it as "the NG article").

Ironically, Furr focuses only on this one claim, even though the bulk of the argumentation in his pseudoscholarly Katyn denial book The Mystery of the Katyn Massacre: The Evidence, the Solution has been debunked by me here, here and here (as well as all over the Katyn Files website; though mostly as arguments of other people; there's precious little original content in Furr's propaganda pamphlet).

Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Infiltration of Kulmhof / Chelmno Extermination Camp

During the post-war polish investigations into Chelmno extermination camp, a recurring theme was that in summer 1942 a fake Gestapo commission, supposedly British intelligence, entered the grounds of the camp (see Montague, Chełmno and the Holocaust, p. 89)

On its Facebook account, the Chelmno Museum recently published an interesting German document confirming the infiltration of the extermination camp (thanks to Patrick Montague for calling this to my attention):

 

Translation:

Gendarmerie outpost Adelnau, 12 July 1942

Message: To all units and outposts according to the alarm plan

At the Sonderkommando set up by the detail of the Schupo in Kulmhof Eichstätt 3 - 4 unknown perpetrators / Poles / broke in last night and escaped unknown. Oberscharführer Barthmann [sic!], head of the Sonderkommando, cannot provide any further details....The matter is to be treated secretly.

 

This message on the hunt suggests that the men broke into at night. On the other side, according to the post-war testimonies, fake Gestapo men entered at least the kitchen of the Sonderkommando, made contact with the commandant's deputy Albert Plate and even refuelled their car. It is unclear how deep they penetrated into the camp facilities. 

In any case, the day of the action was well choosen. It happened during the Summer break of the extermination camp; on a Saturday, with likely many members of the Sonderkommando off and away. Security of the camp was low. The camp commandant Hans Bothmann was apparently not on-site either. 

So far there is also no indication that any information obtained by the infiltrators was used by the Polish resistance or foreign intelligence. 


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:

https://tinyurl.com/mah2vid1989

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.