(All images are clickable.)
I became an associate of ARC/deathcamps.org in late 2005. Some time later I became a full member. Much later Dr. Nick Terry joined the team with my help, and, almost near the end of the whole thing, Roberto Muehlenkamp joined independently. Both Roberto and Nick can corroborate the crucial parts of this posting.
Membership in ARC was neat, but rather uneventful - in-group discussions concerned mostly secondary details on the existing pages. Sometimes new material was supplied and discussed. I can't say I had a "unique" perspective on certain historical interpretations, but there were rare moments during which I defended interpretations which differed from those accepted by "senior" members.
It all lasted until Chris Webb, a British "secretary" of ARC (and also its "treasurer" and proprietor of deathcamps.org domain) sent out the message below (Sep 19, 2006 7:43 PM; emphasis author's):
This immediately raised an alarm for me. Lambert talking about diesels for the gas chambers? Lambert constructed these chambers, so if he said so, the engines were diesels. Which, of course, while not destroying anything ("the Holohoax story", as deniers would say) would certainly create some complications. That was not a reason for me to dismiss this alleged statement, but that certainly was a reason to examine it more closely. My suspicions were confirmed by other team members. Mike, a German gentleman who was a deathcamps.org webmaster, wrote (Sep 19, 2006 9:00 PM):
i dont do this lightly, Andy has sent me Lambert's statement re the building of the Treblinka gas chambers - new.
Unfortunately, its so small its really difficult to read, but what a find.
Fuchs installed shower-heads in the ceiling
2 Diesel engines obtained by Hackenholt
Bricks obtained from former glass factory at Malkinia
2 horse style barracks for sorting
i am trying to get it bigger - please bear with me.
This is a very good statement, describes too building of 6 watchtowers and a guardhouse.
Like Schluch - totally new to me.
Chris,To which Chris replied (Sep 19, 2006 9:14 PM):
you know my opinion re "Andy". In every case you should ask him for the exact source (file number etc) of his contributions. Nothing against you but just something to avoid a possibly big blamage one day.
Mike,"trust me, i am no fool". And still no exact source. The next message from Mike was even more interesting (Sep 19, 2006 9:33 PM):
i understand, and you are right.
Its from Dusseldorf trial.
trust me, i am no fool.
He has sent me lots of trial papers, including a 40 page Stangl trial document.
but you are right to be cautious, and i appreciate always you looking after us.
Chris,A faked picture? What the heck was going on? A proven fake, and this "Andy" still wasn't given a boot? More inane apologetics from Chris followed (Sep 19, 2006 10:01 PM):
I never said you are a fool but because Andy has sent us at least one faked pic, I intend to be a bit more cautious than usual.
And he never replied on my emails btw.
I don't understand why he keeps somewhere in the background although he is obviously interested in our matters.
I haven't found that document when I visited the Duesseldorf archive but I couldn't see and copy all of their files.
Mike,Blah. So, I asked Mike for more info on this "Andy". I received it and remembered that some time earlier I was asked by Mike for my opinion on some pictures and documents of an Aktion Reinhard(t) man Feix, sent by this "Andy" ("Andy Schmidt"). To Mike and me they seemed fishy, though I didn't firmly dismiss them as forgeries back then.
I do understand and accept your caution.
You must try and trust my judgement on the material supplied.
He actually works very hard for us, but wants to remain in the shadows, for whatever reason.
We must accept that, and respect his wishes, he only wants to deal with me, and i am comfortable with that, but he has worked with [name omitted].
If i have any doubts, then i dont share it, its as easy as that. He mostly sends me trial stuff now, so you can see its genuine.
Gentlemen -Please dont bombard me emails over this subject, I have said all i am going to say.
Here they are:
According to the consensus of the people who have seen them (e.g. at Axis History Forum), at least the photos are fishy.
The second picture sent to me by Mike was a real smoking gun. It was purported by "Andy" to be a photo of the Treblinka "Tube". Compare this picture:
with this screenshot from the movie Escape from Sobibor:
But there's more. I remembered that the judgement in Duesseldorf Treblinka trial said:
Darüber welche Masse wirklich zutreffen, hat die Beweisaufnahme ebensowenig eine eindeutige Klärung ergeben wie über die wirkliche Anzahl der neuen Kammern, die von den Angeklagten übereinstimmend und von Anfang an mit 6, von den jüdischen Zeugen jedoch durchweg mit 10 angegeben werden.
I.e., Jewish witnesses testified about 10 chambers, defendants - about 6. And yet, this Lambert statement allegedly said that there were 10 chambers. Moreover, there was another statement, provided by "Andy", which had already been put online (and used by me in an update to my diesel article):
The defendant Münzberger – his personal statement about the upper campAnd again 10 chambers are mentioned. How could it be, if the judgement said that Nazis testified about 6 gas chambers?
My main job in the upper camp was to stand at the entrance to the new gas chamber building with a long bull whip, driving the Jews inside as they came through the tube. The building was big, I guess about 16 x 40 metres. In the front section were the chambers and covering the entire width of the back section was the engine room. In the corridor the Jews were driven into the chambers by some Ukrainians. There were five chambers on either side. Each measured about 50 square metres and held about 300 Jews. The first chambers to be filled were chambers one and two behind the curtain. The doors to the first two chambers were shut and the next group of Jews were forced into chambers three and four. When all the chambers were filled with about 3,000 Jews, the heavy wooden doors were fastened with iron bolts. Now I went through the corridor, opened the door to the engine room, and gave a sign to Schmidt or Zänker to start both diesel engines. The Russian T34 tank engines were started by three Ukrainians and a Jew. They needed a lot of diesel. Schmidt brought the diesel from the garage in the lower camp in cans of 20 litres. The operation lasted twenty minutes, and from time to time I looked through the glass windows into the chambers. Then the Ukrainians opened the doors in the corridors and I went to the west side of the building. There I watched the emptying and cleaning of the chambers. At the same time the chambers were ventilated. All of that lasted about forty minutes. Then the big outer doors were closed and secured with wooden beams. Now Rum and his corpse team took over the transportation of bodies to the pits or burning grills, and I went back to the entrance. There Sepp brought the next group of Jews. In the peak time between August and November 1942, sometimes there were eight operations without a break. The following Germans served with me in the upper camp: Heinrich Matthes – chef, Karl Pötzinger – deputy chef, Franz Rum and Willy Großmann – corpse transport, Herbert Floss and Otto Horn – corpse burning, Karl Eiselt and Johannes Eisold – excavator drivers, Karl Ludwig and Alfred Forker – dentists, Erwin Keina and Kurt Arndt – pits, Fritz Schmidt and Hans Zänker – gas chambers, Alfred Löffler and Erwin Lambert – building team, Lothar Boelitz and Josef Hirtreiter – tube and guard, Erich Fuchs and Lorenz Hackenholt – occasional installation work.
There was one difficulty, though - one of the ARC members, a brilliant Aktion Reinhard(t) researcher with access to lots of ZStL materials provided the following quote from Muenzberger's pre-trial statement (April 1st, 1960; ZStL AR-Z 230/59, Bd. 5, p. 850ff):
At that time the gas chambers only had a small entrance. When I came to Treblinka there were only 3 chambers. The big chambers were being build. Later perhaps there were 8 chambers.Nevertheless, this statement still contradicted "Andy's" version and Muenzberger wasn't even sure about the exact number of chambers. I also remembered then that many months ago another statement was supplied by Webb, and by all indications it came from the same source. It was an alleged statement of Otto Rum, excerpts from which I also mentioned when writing about the diesel issue:
10 chambers again! The Treblinka trial verdict wasn't very accurate when it claimed that all Nazis claimed 6 gas chambers, so the judges goofed a little bit. But what is the probability that they would write what they did if the three defendants actually explicitly claimed that there were 10 gas chambers? Given that there was no reason for the judges to create a contradiction, and especially considering that the alleged statements have no provenance whatsoever (Webb and his "Andy" never specified the exact sources), the chances are nil and the statements are forgeries.
(I should note here that in the interview with Claude Lanzmann, Franz Suchomel also tentatively claimed that there were 8 gas chambers, but as I have no information about his statements to this effect during the investigation and trial, this information is neither here nor there at this moment.)
Later, when the whole affair basically ended, I also analyzed the alleged statement by Karl Alfred Schluch, supplied by "Andy":
It didn't pass the test either. In Arad's Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka on pp. 70-71 we have the following description by Schluch:
Then Hackenholt switched on the engine which supplied the gas.Thus 1 engine, not 2. Also Arad says that Schluch served in Belzec since February or March. "Andy's" statement says June. While a numerical contradiction by itself might not be that important, "Andy's" Schluch actually bases his lack of knowledge of the old gas chambers on his month of arrival. Of course, Schluch would be aware of the old gas chambers if he arrived in February or March.
Finally, I have already quoted Carlo Mattogno's citation of Schluch's testimony in my diesel posting:
For the gassings an engine was started up. I cannot give a more detailed description of the engine, because I never saw it. I am not a specialist, but I would say that, judging from the sound, it was a medium-size diesel engine.Mattogno is a denier, but I haven't seen him quoting any forgeries, and he always gives archival references (in this case - ZStL). So, according to this statement, Schluch also talks about "the engine" and he claims ignorance about the type of the engine! Compare with "Andy's" statement. Mattogno also claims, based on Schluch interrogation (again, giving the exact reference), that Schluch served in Belzec since April 1942 - one more hit against "Andy's" statement. So, this is just another forgery.
After being confronted with some of the above evidence, how did the group react? Well, here's where the "fun" begins. It turned that Mel, one of the "senior" members, was uneasy about "Andy's" material (Sep 23, 2006 9:19 PM):
Mike,In a personal e-mail he was more explicit (Sep 24, 2006 7:30 PM). I'm not shy about quoting this personal message because of what transpired later (see below):
Today and tomorrow are Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year, so I shouldn't even be writing this, but for the record, you know my views on Andy and his information. Once bitten, twice shy, as we say.
Sergey,There were some stronger voices of support for me. But the cutest messages arrived from Webb, of course. Like this (Sep 30, 2006 12:47 AM):
The Treblinka tube was an obvious fake, but there has been other dubious material emanating from this source. I wrote to Mike in January 2005: "As I've already written, Chris believes Andy because he wants everything to be genuine. I am more sceptical - in fact, as I've said on numerous occasions, I don't accept anything as being legitimate without verification from another source. It ain't true just because Chris says it is. We have a reputation to maintain."
I know that Mike shares my opinion. Chris seems to want to keep the identity of this "Andy" to himself for reasons unknown.
Or this (Sep 30, 2006 1:10 AM):
I have already answered this.
There is no suspicious material on our site from Andy
or anyone else, to my knowledge.
If anyone can prove there is, we will remove it.
Anything from Andy is from museums, checked by me.
So its really nothing for you or anyone else to worry
End of debate, case closed, as far as i am concerned.
Over and out,
Sergey,Actually, Webb answered no points, except posting this (Sep 30, 2006 3:12 PM):
All points have been answered, and i get bored with
people dragging things up, for no good reason.
I am a founder member, fully paid up, and i have no
desire to put anything on the site that damages us.
Mike has the final say on what is uploaded, what more
is there to add.
Gentlemen,After another member posed some good questions about the above message, Webb replied (Oct 1, 2006 10:53 AM):
Thanks for all your emails, very interesting, good to
see people expressing their views.
ARC operates with a Board to set policy, and decide on
this kind of thing calmy and rationally.
The Board consists of Mike, Mel and myself.
If i understand group members right they want all of
Andy's stuff removed from the website?
Only email me, if that is incorrect. Thank you.
We can discuss that quite easily, without jumping on
some kind of lynching wagon.
i think we should set our sights a bit higher than
Mike, Mel we need to agree a date.
ps. Mike can you give the Board an updateon who has
paid to be a member please.
[...]Okaaay, so "the Board" was to consider the forgeries issue. Fine. Now, imagine my, Nick's and Roberto's surprise when we found the following in our mailboxes (Oct 4, 2006 12:20 AM):
Thanks for your kind wishes.
Its at Board level now, so we are spared any further
Hopefully, the Board meeting will take in the next few
ARC - IMPORTANT BOARD ANNOUNCEMENTThis is too demented to seriously comment upon. But for starters, what does AHF (a respectable forum, by the way) have to do with anything? Nothing. And where is anything about the forgeries?
To All Members of ARC,
I wish to inform you of some important decisions.
The Board have agreed a number of proposals tonight.
With immediate effect I will assume the policy making decisions of ARC within the Board Structure, of Mel, Mike and myself, taking over from Mike who felt he was unable to continue in this role.
i personally want to thank Mike for doing this, when he wasnt really confortable with it.
He really tried his best, and no-one can ask more.
Secondly, and this may surprise some of you the Board has decided to sever all contacts with members known and unknown of the Axis History Forum with immediate effect.
John will you please draw up a new list excluding
If other current ARC members belong to this organisation, please feel free to resign immediately, if you belong to AHF, membership to ARC is barred, for life..
Obviously those that have contributed something, we thank you, and wish you well .
This decision will not be reversed, and if anyone has forwarded money to Mike [surname omitted], this may be returned if we know your address.
What followed was not expected by Webb - Mike, the webmaster, has taken down the site and published some messages from the "Board discussion". It seems that Webb simply tried to take over the power, a putsch, if you wish - at least according to Mike's description. Interestingly, even after Mike has declared Webb a former member, Webb tried to use his name (Oct 4, 2006 11:07 AM):
Gentlemen,(To which Mike could only reply that "I never got an email in which my name was used as signature for something which I never would have said! That's simply incredible.")
[name omitted] - sorry to inform you this is not the case this time.
ARC is run by a Board, the Board agreed by a majority vote to take these actions.
No decisions are taken lightly, but i can assure you it was democratic.
There can be no discussion about it., the long term interests of ARC are at stake, and the Board have taken its decision based on those criteria.
If members do not think they can live and work within this enviornment then of course they are free to leave. .
That choice is theirs , without any hard feelings whatsover.
Chris Webb Mel [surname omitted] Mike [surname omitted] - ARC Board Members
Shreds of "the Board" discussions lead to some interesting insights. Mel wrote (I quote from a quote from another message):
> Mike, Chris,Aside from a shameful back-stabbing from Mel (who has actually supported me in some disputes with Chris and never voiced his misgivings to me), note how he raised several bogus issues. Of course, reporting the facts and "proving" the facts do not stand in any contradiction with each other. They're fully complementary. Facts reported correctly (and I mean, just correctly) are a help to us, anti-deniers. Facts reported incorrectly feed deniers. It's that simple. There is no difference in "agenda".
> It will take me a little while to fully digest
> Chris' proposals, but in the interim I would say
> 1) I am not happy with the direction ARC has been
> taking. I agree with Chris that recruiting Sergey,
> Nick, and Roberto was a mistake, and I accept my
> share of the blame for doing so. I do not accuse any
> of them of being deniers - they simply have a
> different agenda from that of ARC (or what I believe
> ARC's should be.) They are intent on "proving"
> facts, particularly to deniers - we are (or should
> be) dedicated to reporting them. Why create a blog
> entitled "Holocaust Controversies"? What is there
> that is controversial, except the absurdities raised
> by deniers?
> I know nothing about Sergey, except that he is
> certainly not Russian, although he is clearly a
> fluent Russian speaker. I know even less of Nick and
> Roberto. I think P L-W is different, but hardly
> indispensable. As for Torben, as far as I recall he
> has contributed nothing. Whether the latter two are
> members of AHF I simply do not know. But I do agree
> that we must sever all connection with AHF, known
> and unknown. We agreed long ago when invited to link
> with them that didn't want to create any
> association, directly or indirectly, and I don't
> believe that should change.
> 2) In any organisation, somebody must be in charge.
> Even AHF has its "moderators." Mike, you have made
> it clear that you do not want to presently take on
> that role. I therefore think that Chris' suggestion
> that there be a revolving "chairman", with each of
> the three board members taking on the position
> annually, to be a sound one. We cannot continue with
> the situation as it is at present, where people who
> have become members within the last few months are
> laying down conditions for their continued
> membership. We are all sensible people; the board
> makes the rules in the manner Chris has suggested.
> If others do not like the decision, they resign.
> There can be no other way - rule my committee is
> 3) I sincerely hope that you will accept Chris'
> proposals in the spirit intended. This is not a
> question of a takeover, simply an attempt to avoid
> anarchy. I understand that none of this is going to
> thrill you, but the objective for which we all
> strive is more important than any perceived personal
Leaving aside the silliness about me not being Russian, and condescending nonsense about us not being deniers (thaaaaaanks for that, buddy!), Mel actually supported Chris' (presumable) nonsense about AHF. There were, of course, no "ties" with AHF to be severed - anybody can register and post at that forum. It's if like someone was living in New York, being a member of XYZ society, and then the XYZ bosses suddenly decided to "sever all ties with New York" and exclude all New Yorkers just for the fun of it. Just demented.
Webb immediately seized the "opportunity":
mike / mel,Then the announcement followed, and Mike's reaction:
thanks for the support - much appreciated.
i will now write to all members informing them that
all connections with AHF are to severed, and all
members of that organisation are no longer members.
the right result and i look forward to working closely
with you both.
Chris, who you are, sending this out without our agreement?And then:
mike,And then everything went to hell, as told.
Mel and i agree.
you are outvoted.
You are a member of AHF.- [nickname omitted].
You now have to make a choice, i hope you stay, but that is up to you.
The decisions have been made, the email has been sent.
I sense you backed the wrong horse with Sergey, what can i say other than its really a shame.
When later I asked Mike whether the forgeries issue has been discussed at all, he answered in the negative. And that is perhaps the saddest thing of all.
It's not necessary to describe the subsequent decay of the group, exacerbated by the fact that Webb was the owner of the deathcamps.org domain. If he wouldn't be, then it would be easy just to kick him out and proceed further. Alas, that wasn't the case.
Currently when you go to deathcamps.org you can see the following announcement:
Notice of Website ClosureI know for certain that Chris Webb is at the heart of this new "team". Except for one another person, I don't know who has joined Webb. But ask yourself a simple question: if Chris Webb didn't admit that his "source" is unreliable; if he didn't even try to address my arguments, poking holes in his materials; if instead he tried to get me and other people (mostly uninvolved in the forgeries fiasco) out of the group; what will be the credibility of this new venture, when it opens up in November? Do you really expect not to see any materials from that "Andy", passed off as the authentic new materials, and bringing endless joy to deniers?
It is with regret that we announce the closure of the Official ARC "Aktion Reinhard Camps" website.
The ARC Team has formally disbanded and all access to this site has been terminated.
We would like to take this time to announce the formation of our new research team
Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Finally, while all this brouhaha will give a lots of pleasure to "revisionists", don't ever forget - the most probable hypothesis about the origin of these forgeries is that they were created by a denier under a guise of a Holocaust researcher. (S)he has found some naive souls, indeed. But the bottom line is that these forgeries weren't created to "prove" the Holocaust. Quite the opposite.
Later developments: H.E.A.R.T. defenders and their methods.