Friday, December 11, 2020

No, Germans were not accused of, sentenced or executed for the Katyn massacre in the Leningrad trial.

 On David Irving's site we find the following message:

Innocent executed

Doing my reading on the history of German war crimes, German war criminals and their adjudication by the victors after World War II, I came across a most interesting passage. In November 1945, seven officers of the German Wehrmacht (and I think it is reasonable to mention their names -- K.H. Strueffling, H. Remlinger, E. Böhom, E. Sommerfeld, H. Jannike, E. Skotki and E. Geherer) were tried by a court of the victorious allies, the Americans, the English, the French and the Russians. They were condemned to death for war crimes and subsequently hanged.

Three more were tried on the same charges (E.P. Vogel, F. Wiese, A. Diere), received sentences of 20 years of hard labor, were turned over to the Russians and never heard of again.

Most interesting about this particular war trial is the charge. The officers were charged and hanged for having shot thousands of Polish officers in the forest of Katyn after the defeat of Poland in 1939.

Now, with glasnost and all, it has been officially established and admitted by the Russians themselves that the murder of thousands of the gallant Polish officer corps in the forest near Katyn was committed by the bolsheviks of Stalin, not by the murderous Nazis, years before the German army invaded. The poor above-mentioned soldiers never got near the scene of the crime.

What evidence was used to hang these innocent soldiers? Who fabricated the "facts" that convinced the court that these men were guilty? Murderers? What do the judges, if they are still alive, have to say for themselves? What of the prosecutors? What were these people hanged for?

H. Famira

Professor of German

Concordia University


This claim is moderately popular among the Holocaust deniers. One finds it in places "high" and "low". There are messages at the CODOH forum making the claim. 

It is repeated by the denier Georges M. Theil in his Heresy in Twenty-First Century France, 2006, pp. 65-66:

Although the Allied intelligence services (notably the British) had known from the start that it was the Soviets who had put thousands of captive Polish officers to death in Katyn forest in 1940, they subsequently let the rumour spread that the Germans were the authors of that massacre. Afterwards, the Soviets were to hang seven German officers and men for the crime: Ernst Böhm, Ernst Geherer, Herbard Janicke, Heinrich Remmlinger, Erwin Skotki, Eduard Sonnenfeld and Karl Strüffling. They sentenced another three innocent Germans to twenty years’ hard labour: Arno Diere, Erich Paul Vogel and Franz Weiss.

By Joachim Nolywaika in Die Sieger im Schatten ihrer Schuld, 1994, p. 246:

Im Winter 1945/46 wurde in Leningrad mehreren deutschen Offizieren als angeblich für die Katyn-Morde Verantwortlichen der Prozeß gemacht, worüber die sowjetische Agentur „Tass" am 30. Dezember 1945 berichtete. Zum Tode durch den Strang wurden verurteilt Karl Hermann Strüffling, Heinrich Remmlinger, Ernst Böhm, Eduard Sonnenfeld, Herberd Janike. Erwin Skotki und Ernst Geherer. Zwanzig beziehungsweise fünfzehn Jahre Zwangsarbeit erhielten Erich Paul Vogel, Franz Wiese und Arno Diere.

The claim also appears in the neo-Nazi "encyclopedia" Der Grosse Wendig and in the neo-Nazi wiki Metapedia and the Holocaust denying fraudster Germar Rudolf simply swallows and then regurgitates the latter's claim in his Garrison and Headquarters Orders of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, 2020, p. 2:

Ernst Böhm (born 1911 in Oschersleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, died on 5 January 1946) was one of the seven German officers of the Wehrmacht who were convicted and executed/murdered in the Soviet Union after a show trial. They had been wrongly accused of having participated in the Katyn massacre. For me, the choice of this name as a pseudonym is a declaration of solidarity for those innocently persecuted. Metapedia writes in the entry about Ernst Böhm (accessed on March 27, 2020): ...

One of the dishonest denier gurus, Walter Lüftl, also repeated the claim.

Predictably, most of the claim is false. But first let's address the core of truth (I. S. Yazhborovskaja, A. Yu. Yablokov, V. S. Parsadanova, Katynskij sindrom v sovetsko-pol'skikh i rossijsko-pol'skikh otnoshenijakh, Moscow, 2001, pp. 336, 337):

Two people were prepared as "German witnesses who were participants in the Katyn provocation" - Professor Butz's assistant Ludwig Schneider and soldier Arno Düre. Military prosecutors [investigating the Katyn crime] found the archive criminal case of general of the German army H. Remlinger, who carried out punitive actions on the territory of Leningrad region. As it turned out, from December 28, 1945 to January 4, 1946, the criminal case against Remlinger, Düre and five other German soldiers was considered by the military tribunal of the Leningrad military district in the presence of a large number of Soviet and foreign correspondents. A. Düre, who had shot people with a machine gun in several villages, escaped the death penalty because, answering the prosecutor's leading questions, he confirmed that he had allegedly participated in the burial of 15-20 thousand Polish prisoners of war in Katyn. For this, the security organs let the "witness" live (he received 15 years of hard labor), but still did not dare to use him as a witness at Nuremberg: he was not able to play the role assigned to him properly. Düre gave absurd answers to many questions of the prosecutor and the court, which unambiguously exposed the false plot. For example, allowing his fantasy to run wild, he claimed that the Katyn Forest was in Poland, that the depth of the ditch in which the Poles had been buried was 15-20 m, that they had strengthened the walls of the ditch with tree branches, etc. Later, in a statement of November 29, 1954, Düre recanted his testimony about his participation in the burial of the Poles in Katyn, and declared that he had been forced to say so during the investigation.

Now let's turn to the indictment of the trial from 25.12.1945 (TsA FSB, f. K-72, op. 1, por. 28, l. 247–258). We see that nobody was accused of anything to do with Katyn and specifically Düre was accused as follows (p. 18 of the indictment):

The accused DÜRE, while a soldier of the 2nd company of the 2nd battalion for "special purposes" on 20.07.1944, while retreating with the battalion, took part in the burning of a village near the town of Ostrov and at that time shot 25 peaceful Soviet citizens.

That's all.

Now let's look at the verdict (ibid., l. 221-246). Katyn is not mentioned at all. Nobody was convicted for participating in the Katyn massacre. About Düre the verdict has only the following to say (p. 6 of the verdict):

Wiese, while the commander of the 1st company of the 2nd battalion for special purposes, and Düre and Vogel being soldiers of this same battalion in July of 1944 in the vicinity of the town of Ostrov took part in the burning of villages, incl. the village of Yudino, and in shooting and robbery of peaceful citizens.

Düre's sentencing (p. 6v of the verdict):

... exile for hard labor for the duration of 15 years.

Vogel and Wiese were sentenced to 20 years of hard labor, the rest were sentenced to death. There's no evidence whatsoever any of them were innocent.

So let's sum up. While Düre was a false witness about Katyn and probably provided his testimony during the trial in exchange for a more lenient sentence, contrary to the deniers the trial wasn't about Katyn, nobody was accused of participating in the Katyn massacre or sentenced for it. (And, I should add, Düre recanting his false testimony was pretty typical and makes a mockery of the deniers' claims that the Nazis who confessed in a much more free environment of West Germany would have upheld their allegedly false testimonies until their deaths).

So much for the "revisionist" "research".

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.