Sunday, September 17, 2006

More Fun With Ugly Voice Productions (Part 2)

Roberto having demonstrated the irrelevance of the UV’s claims about Nuremberg, we will now have a closer look at their components and the fallacies thereof.

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(1) First the UV deals with discussion of Belzec, where mention is made of supposed electrocutions at Belzec. I have myself already dealt with this issue in my article "General Semantics and Holocaust Denial" on pp. 55-56.

The key point is that not everything about the Holocaust is known even today, so to conclude that everything about it would be decisively known a year after it had concluded is a poor assumption to make.

You also may want to ask yourself why no eyewitnesses were called for Belzec: There were too few to find. Look at this list of Belzec inmates:

A grand total of ten are believed to have survived the camp, and for a large portion of those, we don't even know their full names. This is sixty years after the fact. Isn't it logical to assume that the Nuremberg prosecutors would have known even less a mere one year after the end of the war?

The UV is technically correct in stating that there are only two references to Belzec, one incorrectly referring to it as "Belsen," in the IMT transcript. However, Belzec is also mentioned in the opening statement made at the Oswald Pohl case, a subsequent trial at Nuremberg that the UV conveniently glosses over later in this segment. I quote from the transcript: "The extermination of the Jews was not limited to the Einsatzgruppen. Indeed, the slaughter in the charnel houses of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belsec, and Sobibor was on a vaster scale" (emphasis mine).

Notice that when the UV searches for "Sobibor," he gets the very page I have just cited. So he is aware of the Pohl case, or at least aware that it is indexed along with the IMT trial at the Avalon Project. Given that the Ugly Voice gets the one alternate spelling he tries for Belzec out of Carlo Mattogno's denial book on the camp, it's odd that he doesn't search for the spelling "Belsetz," given that this spelling is also used in Mattogno's book. And, given that the letter "c" makes the /tz/ sound in Polish, it seems foolish that either the Ugly Voice, Mattogno, or both of them never bothered to search for this spelling. Given how quickly the UV glosses over the Pohl trial, might it be because if he searched for a fairly obvious variation on the camp name's spelling, he might have to explain another third of the Holocaust for which there is far more evidence?

(2) On to Sobibor: again, compared to other camps, there were quite a few survivors, most of them scattered. The UV would like us to believe that the number of survivors for the AR camps would be as high as those from Auschwitz, but he fails to acknowledge that the AR camps' goal was simply to kill -- not to extract slave labor. Also, given Rajzman's and Wiernik's testimonies, prosecutors may have felt no need to dig further into AR camps.

(3) Now the UV turns to Treblinka. He relies to an enormous extent on doing two things: (a) He first relies on identifying Jacob Vernik as Yankel Wiernik. The problem with this line of argumentation is that the UV has already failed at impeaching Yiernik's book earlier in the film. (b) He then relies on trying to shoot down the testimony of Samuel Rajzman before the IMT. The record of this testimony, by the way, can be read here .

The UV makes much hay of the fact of Rajzman's offer to enter a map into evidence being refused (well, not exactly) by the judges. The question you must ask yourself is this: Would a map do anything to further prove or disprove the guilt of the defendants? In fact, none of the men tried before the IMT in the trial of the major war criminals had ever been to Treblinka. The closest defendants with regard to the camp were Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was Adolf Eichmann's direct superior in carrying out the Final Solution, and Hans Frank, the Governor General of occupied Poland.

Next the UV attacks the date of deportation that Rajzman states at trial versus what he had written a year earlier. In a document presented to Congress in 1945, Rajzman said he was deported to Treblinka from the Warsaw Ghetto on September 17, 1942, whereas a year later at Treblinka, he said he had been deported in August 1942. The UV points out with grave significance that Arad’s book does not include September 17 as a deportation date, and thus Razman must have changed his deportation date to make it more in line with what the historical record showed about deportations.

Actually, given what we know about which Jews were spared deportation during the major liquidation of the ghetto between July 22 and September 12, 1942, it makes perfect sense, given the very page of the Congressional record the UV shows us, that Rajzman would still have been in Warsaw after September 12, 1942. In Marek Edelman's essay on the ghetto uprisings (of which he, Edelman, was a part), he writes:

"By now the ghetto comprised: (1) The area of Tobbens', Schultz's, Rohrich's shops--Leszno Street, Karmelicka Street, Nowolipki Street, Smocza, Nowolipie and Zelazna Streets up to Leszno; (2) The "brush-makers' area"-- Swietojerska Street, Walowa, Franciszkanska, and Bonifraterska Streets up to Swietojerska; (3) The "central ghetto"--Gesia Street, Franciszkanska, Bonifraterska, Muranowska, Pokorna, Stawki, Parysowski Square, and Smocza Street up to Gesia" (emphasis mine).

Note that in the film, Rajzman clearly stated that we worked for W.C. Tobbens at the beginning of the very same paragraph in which he says he was deported on September 17. Why he stated at Nuremberg that he was deported in August may simply be a mistake on his own part.

Just to bolster this point, trains from Warsaw left for Treblinka as late in 1942 as October 3, according to Dr. Krausnick’s expert opinion submitted at the first Düsseldorf Treblinka trial and mentioned in the judgment. (This opinion, incidentally, was based on documentary evidence including the Stroop Report, which had already been introduced to the Nuremberg Trial of the Major War Criminals as Document No. 1061-PS. But does the UV mention this document anywhere? Of course not).

Arad’s book also does not list October 3 as a deportation date. This is because Arad's list does not claim to be comprehensive. He includes only very large transports (the smallest is 2,200), and on p. 381 Arad states clearly that his deportation numbers are estimates because "[t]he deportation method, as carried out by the German authorities in the General Government, was en masse, without lists of names or even exact numbers," and that "some Jews were temporarily left behind," which seems to be the situation in Rajzman's case. So the worst-case scenario here is that Rajzman was off by three weeks or so with regard to the date of his deportation when he testified at Nuremberg. Notably, our UV omits the information quoted from Arad's book directly above, though it appears at the beginning of the same Appendix (Appendix A in Arad) we are shown in the film.

The relevant page is transcribed here.

(4) Now the UV deals with the number of Jews in the cattle car that carried Rajzman (80 to 90) and the number who died, according to Rajzman (seven). Our UV finds the deaths in the boxcar unlikely because there are slats between the wood walls of cattle cars. Notably the UV doesn't show any actual cattle cars used by the Nazis.

Survivor Bart Stern tells us the cattle cars used by the Nazis were "about a third of the size of an American railroad car." Given that Rajzman says at least 80 people were in the car with him, given that he was deported in late summer, when the temperature is hot, given that there were no seats and the ride to Treblinka took over a day, and given that no water was given to the people put in this condition, is it really so unbelievable that seven Jews -- Jews who had been living in a ghetto for two years already and suffering the privations thereof -- would have died?

Notice the convergence in the stories of these people, also shipped in cattle cars, even though they likely have had no contact with one another since 1945, if they even had contact before then.

(5) The UV next attacks Rajzman's account in 1945 that air was pumped out of execution chambers rather than that gas was pumped into the chambers. The UV underlines the following words in Rajzman's 1945 account:
and the air pumped out with machine
However, he doesn't focus of the words in brackets which follow immediately:
(poison gas was used later)
Rajzman was not in a position to know about the exact method of murder, he was just an inmate, and then, not even in the extermination part of the camp. But Rajzman's words about the poison gas used later certainly don't exclude the engine exhaust, although he may have also meant other poison gases.

(6) The narrator's analysis of the "Lazarett" account basically amounts to the UV accusing Rajzman of lying about what Willy Mentz did in the Lazarett, saying that either Rajzman was lying or it was hearsay, which wouldn't be admissible in a court of law. Unfortunately for the narrator, Mentz isn't on trial so it's irrelevant that Rajzman's testimony might have been hearsay. (Mentz, as we have seen before, was one of the defendants at the first Treblinka trial, where he merely tried to reduce the number of people he had killed but neither denied nor embellished the nature of the “Lazarett” or his activity there. He was sentenced to life.) The speculation that Rajzman made up a story is belied by Rajzman’s later testimony at the first Treblinka trial in West Germany. Among the killings by Mentz that the Düsseldorf Court considered proven, there were two that bear a striking similarity to those described by Rajzman at Nuremberg. One was the killing of two sisters, one of them 10 years and the other 8 years old (the Nuremberg record states that the younger girl was two years old, but this may have been an error in the translation of Rajzman’s deposition, Rajzman meaning to say that the younger girl was two years younger than her 10-year-old sister). This killing Rajzman reported to have seen with his own eyes, and Mentz himself recalled once having killed two sisters aged 8 to 10 years and admitted that this might have been the occurrence Rajzman was referring to. The other killing was that of a grandmother, a mother and a newborn child. In this case Rajzman had not witnessed the killing itself, but only learned about it later from a capo named Kurland. However, he had witnessed the events preceding the killing and heard the question Mentz asked the grandmother, about whom she preferred to see killed first. Considering this and the fact that the “Lazarett” was the place where old and infirm persons were killed, as had been confirmed by several testimonies and by the defendant Mentz himself, the court saw no reason to doubt the accuracy of capo Kurland’s later account to the witness Rajzman. If Rajzman had made the story up, it would have been much easier for him to claim that he himself had witnessed the killing; his admission to having been a direct witness to only a part of the occurrence, on the other hand, is an indication of Rajzman’s credibility.

(7) The UV now moves into the general issue of SS men's cruelness toward children. To begin, the argument that because neither Hilberg nor the USHMM mention children being thrown into fires doesn't mean it didn't happen. Then the UV points out his incredulity of the reluctance of the defense counsel to cross-examine eyewitnesses. The UV says that he's "always found when [he's] read the transcript" that counsel refuses to cross-examine.

In fact, if you check the transcripts a bit more thoroughly, there are at least five instances where defense did cross-examine witnesses. Just one example is the witness Dr. Kivelisha.

(8) Finally with regard to Rajzman, the UV notes that Rajzman overestimated the number of deaths at Treblinka by roughly 3.5 times. Though he was a survivor, Rajzman was not an historian. That he overestimated the number should not lead to a conclusion that his whole story is a lie.

(9) Our UV now moves into territory that is supposed to be outside of his discussion, but this does give us the opportunity to clear a few things up. He mentions Rudolf Höss, the commandant at Auschwitz, and the testimony he gave at Nuremberg with regard to Treblinka.

One of the more amazing diversions from the chief subject at hand -- i.e., the AR camps -- is the UV's clarification of Rudolf Hess versus Rudolf Höss. Our UV tells us that, "in 1941, Hess did something very crazy. In a desperate attempt to keep Western Europe from being plunged into war, he piloted a plane by himself to England in an attempt to go around Winston Churchill and make contact with England's peace factions. When the plane was flying over England, he got out of the pilot's seat, put on a parachute for the first time in his life, and jumped out of the plane, spraining his ankle upon landing in a field. He was caught and promptly arrested." We then get a pathetic painting of Hess in Spandau, where he was addressed only by a number and was unable to have physical contact with his son. Why Hess should receive better treatment than an average criminal, I don't know.

Anyway, here are the narrator's mistakes:

(a) Hess was never second-in-command in Germany. He was third in command behind Göring.
(b) Hess had served in Germany's Imperial Air Corps in WWI. That his jumping from his plane of Scotland (not England) was his first time wearing a parachute is thus fairly ridiculous.

Then the UV gets into how Höss overestimated the death toll at Auschwitz when testifying at Nuremberg. But the UV doesn't tell us an important thing: He doesn't tell us that – as already pointed out in this article – Höss later downsized the figure to one much closer to the actual figure.

Next the UV makes a big deal over the fact that Höss didn't know when the AR camps were built, and then he claims that in naming "Wolzek" as one of the camps, Höss made an intentional mistake. Making intentional mistakes is going to be a big part of the narrator's argument later in the film. The problem is that Höss didn't make a mistake about the location of this "Wolzek." The directions he gives indicates he is speaking of Sobibor. In fact, there's even a town near Sobibor with a name that's very close to "Wolzek." See this essay on the name "Wolzek" and this discussion of Höss's memoirs.

This is followed by the UV "paraphrasing" Höss's Nuremberg testimony, which barely merits any attention at all. To say the UV is stretching is a mild statement at best.

A final key point never mentioned by the narrator: Höss appeared at Nuremberg as a defense witness for Ernst Kaltenbrunner. The prosecutors never called him, though they did cross-examine him. Why would a defense witness lie about the number of people killed on the orders of the man he is seeking to defend? Wouldn't he deflate rather that inflate the figure? The reason for the inflated figure given by Höss in his deposition before the IMT was explained as follows by Höss, in the notes he made in the sequence of his pre-trial interrogations in Poland (translation by Roberto):
The number of Jews delivered for annihilation at Auschwitz I gave as 2.5 million in previous interrogations. The number comes from Eichmann, who shortly before the encirclement of Berlin, when he was ordered to report to the RFSS [Reichsführer SS = Himmler], gave it to my superior, Gruppenführer Glücks. Eichmann and his steady representative Günther were the only ones who had documents at all about the number of those exterminated.
Höss’ own estimate he gave to his Polish interrogators (thereby discrediting the Poles’ own figure of 4 million Auschwitz victims – so much for any silly “Revisionist” claims that the Poles influenced Höss’ statements) was much lower (again, Roberto’s translation):
I myself never knew the total number and I have nothing to help me make an estimate of it.
I can only remember the figures involved in the larger actions, which had repeatedly been mentioned to me by Eichmann or his deputies.
From Upper Silesia and the General Government … 250,000
Germany and Theresienstadt … 100,000
Holland … 95,000
Belgium … 20,000
France … 110,000
Greece … 65,000
Hungary … 400,000
Slovakia … 90,000
I can no longer remember the figures for the smaller actions, but they were insignificant in comparison with the numbers given above.
I regard the figure two and a half millions as far too high. Destruction capacities had their limits even in Auschwitz.
Figures given by former prisoners are figments of the imagination and lack any foundation.
(10) A major point to make here is that we have the UV trying to make a very big deal out of the Nuremberg testimony given about the Reinhard camps. This is a very clever distraction, however. Keeping in mind that there are extremely few survivors of the Reinhard camps because they were pure extermination camps and not labor camps, and that none of the Reinhard camps were reached intact by the Red Army, of course the number of witnesses is going to be extremely low and of course physical evidence is not going to be in abundance.

Furthermore, and perhaps even more importantly, the IMT was not a trial that primarily concerned the Holocaust. Rather, the defendants stood accused of any combination of four charges: conspiracy against peace; crimes against peace; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. The Holocaust falls into the fourth category but was not the only crime under that indictment.

Of the twenty-four men charged at Nuremberg, five of them were not even charged under the fourth indictment. Of the nineteen men charged under the fourth indictment, several had no discernable connection to the death camps at all. So by limiting his "analysis" to the IMT alone, the Ugly Voice has played sleight-of-hand to convince the novice that the trial that "educated Americans" automatically associate with the Holocaust fails to prove mass extermination in the Reinhard camps. Perhaps he should have covered the trials that deal more extensively with the AR camps, namely the trials before West German courts mentioned above. But then, of course, he wouldn’t be able to shoot the “If you consider 20 minutes of courtroom time a thorough documentation of 1.5 million deaths.” – bull. And he would have to deal not only with Rajzman, but also with other eyewitnesses describing essentially the same particulars independently of Rajzman, including the accused perpetrators themselves, and with the documentary evidence assessed at those trials. Better go for the Nuremberg straw-man than deal with a lot of mutually corroborative evidence from West German trials dedicated to the AR camps alone, right, Mr. UV?

Thanks to the other blog team members for their help with this piece.

Click here to read refutations of other Ugly Voice Productions videoclips.

1 comment:

Andrei said...

What do you mean when you say that Wolzec resembles the name of a town near Sobibior. Your refer to an article but it doesn't mention that:

And why did Höß think the camp was named "Wolzek"? That's a mystery whose answer may never be known. But considering that his job was to run the Auschwitz camp, three hundred kilometers away; that the extermination program was always kept under strictest secrecy; and that the surrounding territory had been conquered and thus bore names in both his native tongue and Polish: a misunderstanding is surely not out of the question. "

There is indeed a footnote mentioning Wlodowa north of Sobibor. Anyway a man in his possition should not have confused the names of major KZs. And he didn't mispronounced Sobibor, but a town close to Sobibor. Aside from this mistery the article demonstrates convincingly that Hoess was talking about Sobibor, so his confusion is a minor issue, really.