I have a review of Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke over at Richard Widmann's new online journal, Inconvenient History. It's too impressionistic for the forum, but then I warned Richard that I wasn't much of an academic writer. I am a longtime fan of Baker's writing, though, and I think HS is an important book that has gotten a terrible rap.This editorial negligence might explain why Widmann published this piece of crap by Joseph Bishop, which is replete with unsourced and wildly inaccurate assertions concerning the shootings in the USSR.
I am grateful to Nick Terry and Wahrheitseeker, who have analyzed the article and passed on their comments for inclusion in this blog posting. I have incorporated their critiques, alongside some observations of my own, into the following points.
The first point of note is that Bishop uses no footnotes or endnotes, and his references are inadequate. Thus Widmann's requirement that "All content should be properly cited" has not been met.
Not only does Bishop show no knowledge of historical scholarship of the Einsatzgruppen, he also ignores previous Revisionist texts whose content contradicts his thesis. Bishop claims that "the typical estimate of victims of [the Einsatzgruppen]", of "between 1.3 and 2.2 million" Jews, was only arrived at after the Auschwitz death toll was reduced from four million to just over a million. This is clearly a distortion of the original historiography, as historians such as Reitlinger and Hilberg never accepted the four million, but it is also chronologically false in the context of previous Revisionist texts. In 1988, in his Zuendel trial testimony, as summarized by Kulaszka, Mark Weber claimed that:
In the major book on the Einsatzgruppen entitled Die Truppe des Weltanschaungskrieges, the two authors calculated that if all the figures in the German reports were added up, there would be a total of 2.2 million Jewish dead. The authors admitted frankly that this was impossible and conceded that the Einsatzgruppen report figures were exaggerated.Weber's claim was a false reading of Krausnick and Wilhelm's Die Truppe des Weltanschaungskrieges, which actually claimed (p.621) that 2.2 million was the total death toll for all Jews on Soviet territory "as a result of the Nazi terror and the persecutions of Hitler's allies". Krausnick and Wilhelm only attributed 500,000 of those deaths to Einsatzgruppen actions carried out in the 'first wave' (p.622; cited in Hillgruber, p.119), which is the main period that the Einsatzgruppen Reports covered, whilst Kershaw, p.277n.92) states that Krausnick and Wilhelm's analysis did not indicate how many of the 2.2 million were killed by the Einsatzgruppen, as such a figure could not be determined from the incomplete sources. Krausnick and Wilhelm's total must therefore include killings by other units, discussed below, which are ignored by almost all Revisionists. Despite Weber's distortion, however, his testimony is proof that Revisionists knew in the 1980's that German authors were writing about shooting actions in the USSR and death tolls of over two million. These writings were published, and acknowledged in distorted form by Weber, before the Auschwitz Museum lowered the gassing death toll.
If Bishop is not referring to historians, but is instead hinting at the legacy of Nuremberg, then he is equally ignorant, because a figure of two million non-gassing victims, primarily by shootings, was specified by Hoettl in his affadavit to the IMT (2738-PS):
Approximately 4 million Jews had been killed in the various concentration camps, while an additional 2 million met death in other ways, the major part of which were shot by operational squads of the Security Police during the campaign against Russia.Furthermore, Widmann himself had noted that:
Of course, except to those who only know their Holocaust history through Hollywood, the Einsatzgruppen story has been a critical element of the overall story since day one.Widmann thus damns Bishop with his own words.
But Bishop makes far more juvenile errors than just the one above. The following paragraph might lead us to conclude that Bishop had never even watched the History Channel:
Soon after 1945, the received version was that the Nazis had murdered around eleven million people - six million Jews, and about five million Poles. Others too were identified as victims, but those were the two most significant victim categories. It was said that these eleven million people were dispatched mainly by mass gassings. Such gassings occurred, as the story went in all the Nazi concentration camps.This is wrong on almost every count. The eleven million figure was concocted by Wiesenthal, decades after 1945. Wiesenthal was not a historian. Wiesenthal's estimated five million non-Jewish victims were not all Poles. Indeed this would not have been possible, as Poland's total death toll of Jews plus non-Jews was six million. Wiesenthal did not claim that "these eleven million people were dispatched mainly by mass gassings," and no historian has ever done so. Most seriously, Bishop has no idea about the different types of camps the Nazis used, and imagines that gassing was claimed in all camps.
Bishop's next set of ignorant assumptions concerns manpower. He assumes that the Einsatzgruppen had only 2,000 men. The initial figure was actually 3,000. Bishop ignores the units assigned directly to the HSSPF, which numbered between 10,000 and 11,000. Bishop also handwaves the native auxiliaries, who "leveled off at around 300,000 in early 1943" (Eric Haberer, p.17-18.).
Two other sets of perpetrators ignored by Bishop are Order Police and police assigned to the Wehrmacht. I am grateful to Nick Terry for pointing out that Bishop has obviously never heard of the Feldgendarmerie (multiple motorised battalions, several per army or panzer group), or the Secret Field Police of the Army, who had another 3600 policemen, again motorized. Bishop is unaware that Security forces accompanied the Wehrmacht under rear area commands and security divisions, and there were Order police (Orpo) battalions to the tune of 21 in the initial force. All told, about 6000 secret policemen and 50,000 'patrolmen', never mind about 18 infantry division equivalents of guard units, are ignored by Bishop.
Bishop is, of course, ignorant of regional studies, even though they are now often available in English. For example, in the case of Lithuania, Christoph Dieckmann (in page 261 of this collection) notes that Hans Gewecke, the Regional Kommissar of Siauliai, ordered that Jewish women and children were to be shot by "Lithuanian police, overseen by Germans."
Bishop's citation of Paget ignores Roberto's debunking of Paget in this blog. For example, the Jews who Paget declared had survived were actually the Karaim, but these were an exceptional case because, as Roberto notes:
Himmler himself – who claimed it his prerogative to decide who was and who was not a Jew – eventually decided that the Karaim would be spared, as they were not Jewish by "race"Bishop's claim that the British had broken the RSHA's radio codes [Bishop calls the RSHA 'the SSHA'!] is also factually untrue. Bletchley Park never broke the main Gestapo/RSHA Enigma code.
The above list of flaws in Bishop's knowledge and reasoning is not exhaustive, but it is damning of Widmann's status as an editor that he either did not read Bishop's article upon receiving it, or read it and decided to let these distortions fly.