Some of you may know the ukar.org website. It was run by Lubomyr Prytulak, a retired Ukrainian-Canadian psychology professor. It contained lots of Holocaust denial materials, written mainly by Prytulak himself. Unfortunately, LP decided to close his site for the reasons stated in the letter posted at the Cesspit.
I say "unfortunately", because for a long time UKAR has been a rich source of comic relief for anti-deniers. Prytulak's pompous style, coupled with silly conclusions he derived from evidence were a perfect example of "revisionism". Fortunately, the copies of UKAR have been saved by the Wayback Machine, so we can still savor those unintentionally funny pieces. One of them is entitled "Barry the Terrible of Wherever", and it gives us a chance to analyze "revisionist" methodology (i.e., tricks) once more.
Prytulak's thesis is simple. Both Sobibor and Treblinka survivors describe in similar terms the dog "Barry", St. Bernard, which was trained to bite prisoners at its master's command. Therefore:
the most plausible explanation is that a story of Barry the Terrible was floating around among prosecution witnesses, and the two Sobibor witnesses Dov Freiberg and Moshe Bahir became confused as to which camp the dog was supposed to have been at, and appropriated him to bolster their stories of Sobibor.So survivors' testimony is unreliable, case closed. Or is it?
First, here are the undisputed facts:
1) There indeed was Barry at Treblinka, though it was not a pure St. Bernard, but rather a hybrid. It is pictured in Kurt Franz's album Schoene Zeiten ("Good times").
A significant part of the verdict of the Duesseldorf Treblinka trial is devoted to Barry. It states that Barry was brought to Treblinka at the end of 1942 or in the beginning of 1943. After Treblinka was dismantled, Barry was given to some "Dr. Stru." (the names in German verdicts are usually abbreviated because of privacy laws). Later, Dr. Stru.'s brother took care of Barry, and the dog was killed in 1947 because of old age.
Kurt Franz himself did not deny that he had Barry, but, of course, he disputed witnesses' testimonies. The defense argued that the stories couldn't be true, because later, under Dr. Stru.'s supervision Barry was a good-natured dog. Prosecution summoned the famous Austrian zoologist, animal psychologist and future Nobel laureate Konrad Lorenz, whose specialty was animal aggression. He explained that Barry and Franz had a special bond, and, basically, Barry's behavior was mirroring Franz's own behavior. When Barry was given to another man, its behavior also changed.
Perhaps one of the earliest mentions of Barry is contained in Oskar Strawczynski's (presumably) still unpublished memoir Ten Months in Treblinka, which he wrote in early 1944 after escape from the camp (the copy is in YIVO). He was writing it in the forest, where he resided with the partisans of Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa, so his account should be relatively free of any cross-pollination:
Untersturmfuehrer - Lalka is the representative of the Camp Commander. He is tall, strong, athletic and good looking, with a round doll-like face and a pair of gleaming eyes. He walks rolling from side to side, haughty and self-satisfied. Barry, his big hairy dog trots behind him lazily. But woe to the person that Lalka points to, saying: "Barry, get him". Many a Jewish behind has been tasted by Barry’s teeth...Note the missing "man, get the dog" and "bitten genitals" motifs. This signifies that it is indeed an independent account, although the motifs themselves are not necessarily false or embellished.
2) There are indeed testimonies about St. Bernard Barry belonging to a Sobibor SS-Unterscharfueher Paul Groth. In addition to the testimonies cited by Prytulak, Sobibor survivor Thomas (Toivi) Blatt also mentions Barry, which belonged to Groth, although only from hearsay. (T. Blatt, Sobibor. The Forgotten Revolt, 2004, 5th edn., p. 52).
Given the undoubtable presence of Barry in Treblinka, what are we to make of Sobibor testimonies and Prytulak's conclusions?
First of all, let's note the usual "revisionist" innuendo:
After having sent off the letter to Eli Rosenbaum below, it came to my attention that Barry might be a favorite name given in children's stories of brave St. Bernards, as evidenced for example in Amazon offering the following two books for sale:Oh gee. So what is that supposed to mean? We know for a fact that Barry was in Treblinka. How are children's books relevant here? Note that Prytulak never explicitly says that survivors just applied the common St. Bernard name to the Treblinka dog, but merely implies that they did.
B. Hurlimann, Barry the Story of a Brave St. Bernard, and
Lynn Hall, Barry: The Bravest St. Bernard, whose cover is shown on the left.
Now, does Prytulak offer alternative explanations to his hypothesis about lying survivors? Yes, in passing:
Although it is possible to imagine that two almost-identical dogs existed, one at Sobibor and one at Treblinka, or that a single dog Barry spent some of his time at Sobibor and some at Treblinka, perhaps the most plausible explanation is that a story of Barry the Terrible was floating around among prosecution witnesses...The first explanation is implausible. But what about the second one - that Barry was both at Sobibor and Treblinka at different times? Did Prytulak cite any evidence to refute this alternative? No. He just brushed it off as implausible. But what is so implausible about Barry first living in Sobibor, and then being transferred to Treblinka?
Indeed, Thomas Blatt states in his book, in a footnote:
Barry was later taken to Treblinka by Stangl.We know that there was a rotation of Aktion Reinhard(t) men between the camps. Thus, Stangl served in Sobibor and Treblinka, Kurt Franz served in Belzec and Treblinka, Groth served in Belzec and Sobibor.
That Barry belonged to Stangl before it belonged to Franz was confirmed by SS-Unterscharführer Franz Suchomel (G. Sereny, Into That Darkness, p. 202):
"Stangl did improve things", Suchomel said later. "He alleviated it a bit for people, but he could have done more, especially from Christmas 1942; he could have stopped the whipping post, the 'races', 'sport', and what Franz did with that dog, Bari - he was Stangl's dog originally. He could have stopped all that without any trouble for himself.So the most plausible explanation is that Barry originally belonged to Paul Groth in Sobibor. Later Stangl, then at Sobibor, adopted Barry (probably after Groth had been transferred elsewhere for drunkenness) and brought it with him to Treblinka. Later it became Kurt Franz's dog.
When I pointed out this simple explanation to Prytulak, he replied (February 9, 2005, 3:46 am):
As we know that witnesses testifying about their experiences at such death camps are lying, then it becomes much more likely that they are passing along a fantasy that they have heard, and have become confused about which camp to attribute the fantasy to, than that the dog was moved from one camp to another.I replied as follows:
you seem to be arguing in circle. Why are witnesses' testimonies discredited? Because they placed Barry in a wrong camp. Why assume they placed Barry in a wrong camp? Because their testimonies are discredited.Prytulak's suprising (... well, OK, not suprising) reply (February 9, 2005. 12:33 pm):
The simple truth is that whether AR camps were extermination centres or not,witnesses' testimonies are not contradictory on this particular point. At first Barry was with Paul Groth at Sobibor (and possibly Belzec), then it was with Kurt Franz at Treblinka.
To repeat - one can assume, of course, that it is the instance of one motif repeated in different stories, but _only_ if one assumes that testimonies are already discredited. One cannot then prove that Bahir's or Freiberg's testimonies are discredited _because_ they repeat this motif.
You have a point if you disregard the vast amount of evidence on ukar.org that these and similar witnesses were lying.So, the witnesses were lying in this case because allegedly they had been lying in other cases, no matter that the contradiction between the testimonies about Barry existed only in Prytulak's imagination. How can one argue with such "logic"?
Prytulak's treatment of Barry story has been hailed by a Cesspit member as "the best anywhere". I can't add much to that.