Saturday, December 20, 2008

Weckert on Chelmno

It is instructive that Ingrid Weckert's Chelmno screed, which can be viewed here, is the only denier text concerning Chelmno, because it illustrates that deniers have no real interest in historical revision, or in critical peer review of other denial works. Weckert's article is full of errors and omissions, which are detailed below, yet no denier has seen fit to publish a 'corrected' revisionist account of the camp. This alone tells us that denial is dogma, not historiography.

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Four points should quickly become apparent to any informed reader who scans Weckert's analysis of the Chelmno historiography. Firstly, Weckert deliberately omits key documents and testimonies, such as the Greiser-Himmler correspondence, the Korherr Report, and many of the perpetrator testimonies collected by West German criminal authorities. Contrast her summary of the testimonies with my recent overview here. Secondly, Weckert focusses on alleged discrepancies between secondary texts without tracing them to the authors' primary sources. Her approach is to abuse the sources via the secondary author, without allowing the reader to see the sources she is 'attacking by proxy.' Thirdly, Weckert conflates different contexts. She pretends that documents discussing one event (or timeframe) are actually discussing another. She perpetuates the deliberate chronological and geographical confusions that are key components of denial's methodology. Finally, Weckert specializes in the false dilemma. She repeatedly insists that we must choose between two alternatives, each of which she distorts.

Weckert definitely knows about the Greiser-Himmler letter because it is printed on p.278 of Faschismus - Getto - Massenmord [the page ref. is cited in Kershaw, p.85, n.88], a work which she cites in her text. She omits the Greiser-Himmler letter because she has already declared another gas van letter, Just to Rauff, to be a forgery. She has also strongly implied that the letter by the SS-Sturmbannführer Rolf-Heinz Höppner to Adolf Eichmann dated July 16, 1941 was a forgery. She has therefore already used up her "forgery" gambit on those documents. Her grounds for dismissing Just's statement that "Since December 1941, ninety-seven thousand have been processed" are that the figure of 97,000:
contradicts the statistic by Rückerl as adopted in the conclusion of Massentötungen (p. 132) of the deportations from Lodz, which are generally equated with the murder victims of Kulmhof/Chelmno. Rückerl says (p. 276) that until the end of May 1942 some 55,000 Jews were deported from Lodz. This number should have been in the Aktenvermerk of June 5, 1942, if it is really about the murder victims of Kulmhof/Chelmno.
This is a distortion because at no point in the Just-Rauff or Greiser-Himmler letters is it stated that all the 97,000 (Just-Rauff) or 100,000 (Greiser-Himmler) victims were from Lodz. Moreover, Weckert's own source for the 55,000 figure, Rückerl, had already been quoted earlier in Weckert's article as stating that the Jews from areas surrounding Lodz, rather than from the ghetto itself, were transported to Chelmno "a few in the month of March and a large quantity in the month of April 1942" (p. 278, note 72). Weckert dismisses this quote on the grounds that Rückerl previously stated that
"After Jews were taken by truck from the closer vicinity to Chelmno from December 5, 1941, to the middle of January 1942, the transports from the ghetto began on January 16, 1942" (p. 276)
Weckert thus simply manufactures a contradiction in the evidence where there is none. The logical meaning of Rückerl's narrative, combined with the gas van documentation, is that, in addition to the 55,000 Jews deported from the ghetto by June 1942, a further 42,000-45,000 Jews were killed in gas vans after being deported from other parts of the Warthegau.

Weckert also tries to undermine Rückerl by quote-mining eyewitness accounts published in New York in November 1942, which described the murders of Jews from the Grodziec, Rzgów and Zagórów ghettos in local forests. Weckert infers, falsely, that because the source publishing these accounts stated that the killing actions were completed before the Lodz deportations began on January 16th, 1942, all deportations to Chelmno from that date could only have been from Lodz. All her subsequent 'discrepancies' flow from that (deliberate) misreading of the sources.

Weckert's misinterpretation betrays her technique of playing off secondary sources against each other. Had she been willing to honestly report how Rückerl used his sources, she would not have accused him falsely of contradiction.

Weckert plays a similar game of falsifying contradictions with regard to the naming of the Sonderkommando and the chronology of gas van deployment. On the SK, Weckert claims:
Massentötungen decided to call it "Sonderkommando (SK) Kulmhof/Chelmno" or also "SK Lange" or "SK Bothmann" after the Kommandoführer at the time (Massentötungen, p. 116).
Here Weckert has simply falsified the chronology by ignoring the fact that Lange and Bothmann were in charge of the unit during different periods, and the fact that the unit was renamed SK Kulmhoff when Bothmann replaced Lange. Weckert would have known this because, according to Kershaw, p.85, n.81, the chronology is given in Rückerl, p.251 and 258.

On the gas vans, Weckert claims that:
In the chapter about the origin of the gas trucks, Massentötungen explained that at this time, December 1941, the delivery of the Saurer-vehicle chassis was still being negotiated and were then, after delivery, to be equipped with a body by the firm Gaubschat. The completed trucks could therefore not have been delivered prior to spring 1942. How was it then possible that three of these vans were already in operation since December 1941?
Again, Weckert has used a secondary source to camouflage the primary ones, such as the testimonies of Walter Burmeister and Walter Piller, which make it plain that Lange's unit initially used the van containing bottled carbon monoxide that had been deployed in the Euthanasia action, and subsequently deployed "medium size Renault trucks with Otto engines". The source of these testimonies is Kogon/Langbein/Rückerl et al, Nationalsozialistische Massenttungen durch Giftgas, page 81ff., the very same source which Weckert claims proves that the vehicles were Saurers!

Finally, I am grateful to David Woolfe for exposing, in this RODOH post, Weckert's fraudulent use of Reitlinger, whom she distorts on three occasions. Firstly, Weckert claims that:
Some of the deportees were "transferred to work camps and to vacated ghettos of the district of Lublin", (Reitlinger, p. 279). Others were deployed "for the reclamation of the Pripjet swamps and to the Jewish agricultural colonies close to Kriwoi Rog in the Ukraine", (Reitlinger, p. 101).
As David has shown, Reitlinger actually says that "A small portion of the 'resettled' Jews of Lodz were transferred to work camps and to vacated ghettos of the district of Lublin." He says nothing about Lodz Jews being sent to the Ukraine. There is no evidence that even these small numbers of Lodz Jews sent to Warsaw and Lublin were part of the Lublin and Warsaw selections sent for forced labour to the Pripyet Marshes project. Weckert has simply connected two separate Reitlinger passages without explaining that they refer to different populations.

Secondly, Weckert uses Reitlinger to suggest that nobody in the Lodz ghetto knew of gassing at Chelmno yet she ignores Reitlinger's very next sentence:
Those who knew did not care to spread despondency. Thus Lieutenant Rosenblatt, the commander of the Jewish Ordnungsdienst, admitted that he selected the old and feeble, knowing perfectly well they would be gassed.
Finally, Weckert attempts to discredit Reitlinger's source, Salomon M. Schwarz, when he discusses the liquidation of the Ukrainian camps in May 1942, whilst ignoring the fact that Schwarz was also Reitlinger's original source for the transfer of Warsaw and Lublin Jews to these camps.

In conclusion, therefore, going back to my opening point in this blog, it is inconceivable that a denier such as Mattogno could trace the footnotes in Weckert's screed and not realise that she had lied blatantly throughout the article. Yet no denier has sought to replace her dishonest and disreputable garbage with a genuine revisionist study of the historiography of Chelmno. They seem happy to allow it to stand as the standard denier work on the camp and must therefore share her culpability for its falsehoods.

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