Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not With a Bang but a Whimper

Those of you reading this who don't "get" the title, read T.S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men" here.

The final installment of One Third of the Holocaust begins with a story from Reuters about negative population growth in Germany. Economic implications are the reason for the drop in population growth, the article says. Denierbud doesn't agree.

Read more!

"Nothing is bigger in the German psyche and identity than the Holocaust," denierbud tells us. Really? How does he know? Not only is he demonstrably not German (both because of his accent and his deplorable pronunciation of the German language), but he's engaging in the "no true Scotsman" fallacy -- again. Incidentally, one of this blog’s contributors is a German citizen. Ask Roberto is he feels "guilt, self-hatred and demoralization", which is what, according to denierbud, is instilled by the Holocaust in the poor German people. Roberto will probably tell you how proud he is of his German heritage, and of his uncle who fought and died as a Wehrmacht soldier in World War II. Apparently it is possible to distinguish the overwhelming majority of decent Germans past and present from denierbud’s mass-murdering Nazi heroes, no less so than it is possible to distinguish the overwhelming majority of decent Turks from the masterminds and executors of the Armenian genocide, the overwhelming majority of decent Japanese from the organizers and perpetrators of the Nanking massacre, the overwhelming majority of decent Cambodians from the likes of Pol Pot, or the overwhelming majority of decent Americans from the likes of George A. Custer, William Calley or Curtis LeMay, to name but a few out of many possible examples. And we expect most Germans to be intelligent and objective enough to have that capacity of distinction.

Plus, what does this have to do with negative population growth in Germany? Are Germans supposed to refrain from reproducing out of "guilt, self-hatred and demoralization"? If so, then Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Greece, and the Czech Republic must have similar psychic problems, because their birthrates, according to this BBC report, are not much higher than that of Germany. And in Germany, as the same report shows, the problem lies chiefly in the areas that formerly belonged to the so-called German Democratic Republic, where the transformation process following the reunification has been accompanied by immense insecurity and social crisis. Financial burden and conflict between job and family figure prominently as the reasons given by Germans for their reluctance to have children, according to a survey referred to on Andrew Hammel’s blog:

The Allensbach institute, on of the principal public-opinion research institutes in Germany, recently asked Germans of child-bearing age why they aren't having children. Here are some of the reasons (German):

1. A child would be too much of a financial burden (47%)

2. I'm still too young for that (47%)

3. My career plans would be hard to fulfill with a child (37%)

4. I haven't yet found the right partner (28%)

5. I want to have the maximum amount of freedom, not to have to limit myself (27%)

6. I have many interests that would be hard to reconcile with having a child (27%)

7. Children are hard to raise; I am not sure I have the strength and nerves for that (27%)

8. I want to be as independent as possible (26%)

9. I would then have less time for friends (19%)

10. I don't know if my relationship will stay together (17%)

11. I or my partner would be at a career disadvantage if we had a child (16%)

Yet there’s nothing suggesting "guilt, self-hatred and demoralization", as far as I can see. But then, who would expect denierbud, the self-appointed expert on the "German psyche" to know something about social and economic realities?

Then denierbud cuts to a Steven Spielberg cameo in the third Austin Powers movie. He compares the "fun and laughs of Hollywood" with Spielberg's "catch 'em while they're young" tactic of instilling guilt in non-Germans (demonstrated with a cut from Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah project with voice-over by Morgan Freeman).

We're next brought to the Web site of Prof. Harold Marcuse of the University of California-Santa Barbara. Denierbud remarks on syllabi from Prof. Marcuse, noting that "a people's ability to navigate their future" is important. Denierbud flashes back ominously to the news story about negative population growth in Germany. He has yet to make any statement that definitely link the Holocaust to negative population growth in Germany. We've already established that he has no idea what the "German psyche", if such a thing even exists, consists of, and he hasn't given us any more to go on.

Denierbud also shows us that Prof. Marcuse has shown in previous courses the films Schindler's List and Escape From Sobibor, the latter of which denierbud "treated" back in Part 14.

A final point about Prof. Marcuse: His grandfather was Herbert Marcuse, who was an OSS agent during the war. If anyone might have known about mass killing of Jews before it became general knowledge, it was Herbert Marcuse.

After repeating some of the soundtrack from the trailer from Escape From Sobibor, denierbud flashes quickly to a clip from Schindler's List, this one showing Schindler's car driving over a street near the labor camp Plaszow (where the first half of the movie takes place) that has been paved with Jewish gravestones. Denierbud says cryptically that Spielberg shares much with Ben Hecht, implying (I guess) that they both lie and add religious elements to the "story" to make it more tragic.

There are two problems with this line of argumentation. The first is that the "story" wasn't invented in 1993, when Schindler's List was released. It is included in Thomas Keneally's 1982 book Schindler's List, from which the movie was adapted. You can find references to the road on pp. 221-22 of the paperback edition and on p. 16 (in the Prologue). So if anyone added this detail to the "story," it was Keneally and not Spielberg. But the second point tell us even more: Keneally didn't invent the story -- there actually was a road to Plaszow paved with Jewish headstones, even if denierbud tells us -- again -- that Hilberg doesn't mention it (not that he doesn't lie also, denierbud reminds us; he just knows what's truly outrageous).

In case there's any doubt that Keneally was telling the truth when he included in his book a description of the road paved with stones, here is an article from an anti-Semitic Web site indicating that Polish headstones were also used. In fact, the road still exists today, and anyone can go to Krakow and see it.

After showing the clip from Schindler's List, denierbud segues to a discussion of Holocaust education of teens in the U.S., stating that the primary audience now consists of "young hip-hop kids." I'm not quite sure what this means, though we have thankfully already been shown a young African American listening to testimony from the Survivors of the Shoah project in Clip 14, so you can connect the dots, I suppose.

Then something rare for this four-and-a-half-film happens: Denierbud makes a decent point. He says that young American high school students should be learning about the genocide against the indigenous population of North America. I, for one, could not agree more (although I disagree that this education should take place to the exclusion of teaching about other genocides, including the Nazi Holocaust).

Now denierbud asks a rhetorical question he believes his viewers might have, i.e., "Well, even if one-third is a lie, the other two-thirds are still true." Don't make that mistake, denierbud says. "The whole thing is a lie"

(As a side note, let's consider that in this series of refutations of One Third of the Holocaust, we will have successfully countered all of denierbud's claims against nearly 1.5 million Jewish deaths at Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. If denierbud should attack the remaining 3.6 million Jewish deaths during World War II, assuming Hilberg's casualty figures that he refers to, we will probably have an easier job debunking his BS. For these 3.6 million include the death toll for Auschwitz [ca. 1 million, according to Hilberg] and mobile killing operations [i.e., open-air massacres by the Einsatzgruppen and other German formations, mainly in the occupied territories of the USSR, for which Hilberg’s estimate is about 1,300,000]. That would account for over 2.3 million, and, I'm sorry to break it to denierbud and his fans, but those figures are more easily proved than the Reinhard[t] figures because there was more evidence left after the war for both. The other 1.3 million [Kulmhof and Lublin, ghettoes, privation, labor camps, and camps in Romania and Croatia] are also supported by sufficient documentation, demographic data, and testimonies to leave no room for reasonable doubt. It should be borne in mind, in this context, that Hilberg’s estimates are rather conservative; more recent studies (e.g., those published in Benz et al, Dimensionen des Völkermords) point to a somewhat higher overall death toll.)

In the final assault, we go back to newspaper discussion from Clip 1 on the foundation of U.S. policy in the Middle East on the Holocaust. Denierbud finishes his diagram and then says this: "Bomba down here equals bombs up here," "up here" indicating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Abruptly, the film ends.

As I noted in my analysis of Episode 9, anti-Zionism is typical among Holocaust deniers:

Here the UV has tipped his hand, so to speak. Like most Holocaust deniers, he doesn't just have a problem with "the orthodox version" of events. Rather, he has a problem with Jews. Thus his obvious problem with Zionism: Were Israel populated by non-Jews, would the UV mention it at all in his film? And yet Israel is populated mostly by Jews, and we hear about Israel in the very first clip of this film.

Well, now he's included it in the last part of the film also.

Nice work, Bud.

Some final words about the film as a whole, as this article finishes our debunking of the same.

I think the thing that never ceases to amaze me is how Holocaust deniers get so easily impressed by such facile arguments. I actually found One Third of the Holocaust at YouTube by accident, and it wasn't obvious to me until denierbud said so that the film was intended to deny the Holocaust. This revelation took place when he advanced the argument that, because Hilberg and Arad both used the testimony of Yankel Wiernik in their individual works, then both Hilberg's and Arad's works had to be dismissed out of hand. (What's funny here, despite the obvious immense lapse in logic in such a proposition is that denierbud then continues through twenty-nine subsequent parts of the film to use Hilberg and Arad. I thought they were worthless?)

If there's one other thing that came shining though while working on a refutation of this film, it was the continued observation on my part that most Holocaust deniers have no idea of the details of the events that they are denying. Just for a few examples (from the pieces I principally wrote): The origins of the flag of Israel, the role of the SS during the Holocaust, the status of the war at different points in Holocaust historiography. With the possible exception of Mark Weber, who actually did graduate level work in German history (but who has a checkered past history of membership in neo-Nazi groups), the average Holocaust denier is totally ignorant of most of the historiography of the period.

Then there's the Zionist issue. I've stated many times that I am not a Zionist, but I do get awfully suspicious of anti-Zionists who focus entirely on Israel when there are far more oppressive régimes running countries around the world. When these people are also Holocaust deniers, then my anti-Semitism bells begin to go off. Denierbud set my bells off at least three separate times. Granted, that's a relatively low number for a four hour and fifteen minute film, but it's there nevertheless.

I also realized during this period just how brilliant the people I work with on this blog are. Nick Terry (who read, edited, and vetted every post), Roberto Muehlenkamp, and Sergey Romanov are some of the best researchers (and all around smart folks) I've come across, and I feel lucky even just to have been invited to share a blog with them.

Finally, I really have to thank denierbud himself. As I have stated several times over the last several years, refuting Holocaust denial has made my own knowledge of the period stronger. So thanks, Bud!


Andrei said...

I would like to suggest two books for UV: The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, who describes deportations from Lodz to Chelmno (including his mother) - a one-way trip for everybody (and Dawid knew that very well) and Ordinary Men by C. Browning about the (in)famous Reserve Police Battalion 101, or how a few hundred middle-aged men became mass-murderers. UV seemed to believe that Genocide was only about KZ.

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

In fact, the [Jewish tombstone] road still exists today, and anyone can go to Krakow and see it.

No they can't Andrew, but they can still see the one the prop-builders constructed for Schindler's List in the old quarry just north of Płaszów memorial.

Here, you can see the fake tombstone road here:

Is that the one you meant? Did you get a little confused?

Ryu238 said...

"No they can't Andrew, but they can still see the one the prop-builders constructed for Schindler's List in the old quarry just north of Płaszów memorial." So you point to a fake one and claim the original doesn't exist...tell me can you prove it doesn't Rabbit?