Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Eichmann Testimonies (Part 2)

Having shown Hargis and Grubach's mendacity on sources, I examine their distortions of Browning's methodology.

Read more!

They hang their analysis purely on Browning's statement that:
Clearly, anyone who wants to dismiss Eichmann’s testimonies on the grounds of their demonstrated unreliability and shameless self-serving lies can easily do so, and many of my colleagues have done precisely this.
They fail, however, to discuss the context in which Browning makes this assertion. He is referring to Eichmann's reliability as to the chronology of the events he describes, not the plausibility of the events themselves. All his criticisms of Eichmann relate to his bending of timelines to lessen his personal involvement in the decision-making process, which is Browning's area of academic interest. Hargis and Grubach want us to believe that these are sufficient grounds for a 'falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus' dismissal of the claims made about the events themselves.

Their analysis can be dismissed because they totally ignore the core of Browning's argument, which is that the substance of Eichmann's account can be judged against four 'tests', which he defines as self-interest, vividness, possibility and probability. Browning's summary shows how systematically these can be applied to the episodes described by Eichmann:
First, Eichmann's participation in all of these episodes would have remained unknown if Eichmann had not confessed to them...Second, these admissions were contrary to self-interest. He had no motive to invent them, if infact they had not actually occurred. Third, his description of each of the events has a distinct sense of vividness and authenticity and is compatible with what we know from other sources, even if the context and dating that Eichmann provided were often false...In all cases, Eichmann systematically tried to minimize the significance of his role in line with his overall defence strategy, and these cases of false dating were a transparent part of this strategy.
Grubach ignores these historiographical tests because he is not interested in historiography. He brushes off the substance of Browning's argument by firstly dodging it and then by dismissing the 'convergence of evidence' method on grounds that again rest upon epistemological paranoia:
A thorough critique of this argument is beyond the scope of this short discussion. But let it suffice to say that even false testimony can be “corroborated” by other false testimony; a series of false and lying testimonies can “corroborate” and “vindicate” each other, for even historical lies can develop a certain consistency.
Grubach rejects Browning, therefore, not by evaluating the specific cases of convergence that Browning outlines, but on the basis that it is possible for two or more pieces of false evidence to create a faulty convergence.

Is this ludicrous and paranoid reasoning really the best that Grubach can do? It would appear so.

1 comment:

tribula said...

Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article.
We are with you, and wish you all the best in your endeavour to serve mankind.