Friday, January 15, 2010

The dumbest Holocaust denial icon: the Auschwitz swimming pool

I mean, Jon Harrison dealt with it, Pressac dealt with it, van Pelt dealt with it:
Given the dichotomy between the very complex nature and history of Auschwitz and the habit of many to consider the camp only as a "top-secret mass extermination center," many people, including bona-fide historians, survivors, and not so bona-fide holocaust deniers, often commit the fallacy of composition: they reason from the properties of the part of Auschwitz that was engaged with mass extermination to the properties of Auschwitz as a whole. A favourite example of the negationists is the so-called swimming pool in Auschwitz I. They argue that the presence of a swimming pool, with three diving boards, shows that the camp was really a rather benign place, and therefore could not have been a center of extermination. They ignore that the swimming pool was built as a water reservoir for the purpose of firefighting (there were no hydrants in the camp), that the diving boards were added later, and that the pool was only accessible to SS men and certain privileged Aryan prisoners employed as inmate-funcionaries in the camp. The presence of the swimming pool does not say anything about the conditions for Jewish inmates in Auschwitz, and does not challenge the existence of an extermination program with its proper facilities in Auschwitz II.
Yet it keeps returning, and returning, and returning, and returning, like a zombie.

The "argument" is so mind-bogglingly illogical that one is surprised that even denial cultists would want to repeat it, yet they keep doing it till it's not longer funny.

No historian or court ever claimed that every single inmate of Auschwitz had to perish - or had to perish immediately. The presence of relatively privileged groups of prisoners (like Kapos, "Aryan" or Jewish) is acknowledged by everyone. The presence of amenities (like brothel) for certain privileged prisoners is hardly a secret.

So why the persistent mentions of the structure, the existence of which contradicts nothing even if one denies its primary use as a water reservoir (and which is not even situated in the extermination section, i.e. Birkenau, though even if it were otherwise, it would still not be an issue)?

How utterly braindead, ignorant or devious one must be to even think about using the Auschwitz swimming pool as a PR trick in the name of "revisionism"?

16 comments:

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

So Auschwitz had a swimming pool then.

That's nice. The Jews could have a dip after there'd finished playing football on the pitch next to Krema III and before they caught a show in the Auschwitz theatre.

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

What proof is there that:

"the swimming pool was built as a water reservoir for the purpose of firefighting ... that the diving boards were added later"

Sergey Romanov said...

"So Auschwitz had a swimming pool then.

That's nice. The Jews could have a dip after there'd finished playing football on the pitch next to Krema III and before they caught a show in the Auschwitz theatre."

A nice example of neo-Nazi humor mixed with ignorant demagoguery, as well as irony, since this comment is directly refuted by the very article it is posted under. Oh, and by the way, the pool is in Auschwitz main camp, Krema III is in Birkenau, nitwit.

"What proof is there that:"

1. I gave the links to scholars of Auschwitz, who apparently got this information from documents and/or witnesses. Do you suggest they're lying? What's your proof of that?

2. Suppose I don't provide a document explicitly saying that this was a water reservoir converted into a swimming pool. How does that secondary point detract from the fact that the existence of a swimming pool in Auschwitz I (which was not the extermination camp proper; that was Auschwitz II-Birkenau) proves nothing either way and therefore any idiot who brings it up to "refute" the extermination should have their heads checked?

acid_claus said...

As children we were led to beleive that Auschwitz was hell on Earth. That yes it has a hospital, but they performed horiffic experiments on people. That if people didn't slave away they were shot on site.

None of us would have ever expected a swimming pool. The fact that people are going out of their way to call it a resevoir when the eyewitness accounts of it's construction (for swimming purposes) and it's use on holidays and weekends is not a secret.

There are people who are lying about it being a swimming pool. It even had a diving board. Does this prove anything of itself? Not at all. But why are people lying that it wasn't a swimming pool?

We've been told the theatre was for pretending to visitors that nothing suspicious was going on. Okay. But there are many surviving programs. There was a brothel. They were allowed to play sports. Of course, some lie and say that the Jews were not allowed to. But the surviving accounts that come from participants are Jewish!

If this is insignificant and meaningless than STOP LYING ABOUT IT!!! Because lies breed suspicious. If this was disclosed from the start, if the lamp shade and soap thing was debunked long before it was in the 80s, if the death toll on the plaque didn't drop from 4 million to 1.5 million (it's officially at 1 million inmates now and not all were exterminated) then we wouldn't have this problem.

People are not holocaust deniers for pointing out these facts. People who brush them off or lie about it are the problem. People who don't lower the death toll and say "we always knew these things" are the problem. Then why did you lie to us?

I am sick of the lies. I watched a holocaust survivor tell her story and I cried. I cried my eyes out. I felt responsible. For years I always treated Jewish people to a higher standard.

Now I feel disgusted because you people lied to me and you still tell lies and you call us deniers even when we don't deny it. Stop LYING and stop INSULTING us! We want to know the truth and you are treating us like idiots or worse. I was born in the 80s and had nothing to do with this, but I do notice you are lying up a liar's storm and I am disgusted.

You played us the fool, but when the house of cards falls, what will you do? Auschwitz sounds like a paradise compared to the battlefield.

Kevin Klippstein said...

"They argue that the presence of a swimming pool, with three diving boards, shows that the camp was really a rather benign place, and therefore could not have been a center of extermination."

It certainly starts to shift the burden of proof to those who insist this was a "death camp"

Matthew Steffen said...

One need only look at the photgraphs of piled up Jewish bodies to disregard even a Ferris Wheel if they found one.

-Matt
New Jersey Marketing

inhistorics said...

Can you make a video addressing the existence of a football pitch right next to a gas chamber?

This video points out some of the testimonies from Spielbergs online archive.

inhistorics said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtlPlZGvgY0

Forgot to include the link.

Ms eldee said...

Well it looked like a swimming pool and I thought that this teenager was a brave girl to jump in and swim across it. My god you cannot even in your worst nightmare imagine what it was like for them having to live through Auschwitz. They talk about post traumatic stress, we dont even know the meaning of the word.

David N. Brown said...

Something I haven't seen even the deniers' critics mention is that the design of the "pool" is terrible. In particular, the sloping sides are an entirely dangerous feature, as it would be difficult to get out without swimming to the far end.

Heraclitus said...

The swimming pool argument is a complete red herring. Auschwitz was a huge concentration camp: Auschwitz 1 (originally for political prisoners), and that's where the pool was...then there was Auschwitz-Birkenau, designed and operated as an extermination site, with enough crematories to incinerate the total Birkenau population monthly (so forget typhus as an argument)..then there was Auschwitz 3, a labor camp. Even if some privileged Jews were allowed to use the pool, what does that prove? SS testified to the gas chambers. The Auschwitz commander, Rudolf Hoss,convicted of war crimes, not only testified to the deaths under oath, but confessed and asked for some eventual forgiveness about a week before his execution. Nazis on trial always argued (1) they were following orders, or (2) they acted under duress; they did not deny the murders. Then there is the endless Sonderkommando testimonies as to degree of extermination...The swimming pool argument has essentially zero value.

Jacob said...

acid_claus: "If this is insignificant and meaningless than STOP LYING ABOUT IT!!!"
No historian or court ever claimed that every single inmate of Auschwitz had to perish - or had to perish immediately. The presence of relatively privileged groups of prisoners (like Kapos, "Aryan" or Jewish) is acknowledged by everyone. The presence of amenities (like brothel) for certain privileged prisoners is hardly a secret.

So why the persistent mentions of the structure, the existence of which contradicts nothing even if one denies its primary use as a water reservoir (and which is not even situated in the extermination section, i.e. Birkenau, though even if it were otherwise, it would still not be an issue)?
He says that yet you claim lies...how smart r u?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

I accidentally deleted this comment by "Nash Blog", so I'll post it after the e-mail I received with this comment:


"All that is required to resolve this is to watch many of the Jewish prisoner testimonials that were suppressed because they did not fit the narrative that the Germans were 'evil monsters'. If the Jewish survivors say life was good in Auschwitz with grand pianos, theaters, their own money, a market, and friendly soccer games with the guards, is there any reason I should not believe them especially when corroborated by the facts on the ground, including the sign at the entrance of Auschwitz that read 'work sets you free' indicating a WORK camp for the German war effort not a death camp. That does not mean lots of people including Poles, Gypsies, and Jews did not die there. The question is how and whether life was really miserable under the German hand or they were treated in a civilized manner. The Germans were certainly not treated well AFTER the war with more Germans being killed or starved AFTER the war than during it. So, in war, it is sad thing. People kill and are killed. But, I see no proof that the Germans were any worse than the Bolshevist murderers who eliminated up to 100 million ethnic Russians then turned on the Germans once THEY one the war with OUR help."

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Some comments on this post:

"All that is required to resolve this is to watch many of the Jewish prisoner testimonials that were suppressed because they did not fit the narrative that the Germans were 'evil monsters'. If the Jewish survivors say life was good in Auschwitz with grand pianos, theaters, their own money, a market, and friendly soccer games with the guards, is there any reason I should not believe them especially when corroborated by the facts on the ground, including the sign at the entrance of Auschwitz that read 'work sets you free' indicating a WORK camp for the German war effort not a death camp."

Apparently NB doesn't know that Auschwitz started out as a plain concentration camp and all concentration camps had this cynical remark "work sets you free" at the entrance. Extermination activities at Auschwitz were only added in late 1941 (for certain categories of Soviet POWs) and early 1942 (for Jews), and mostly carried out in a segregated sector of the camp complex called Birkenau, though the concentration camp had been in place since 1940. Normal concentration camp functions continued while extermination activities were going on.

As to what life was like among those taken in and registered as prisoners of the concentration camp (the overwhelming majority of those earmarked for extermination, i.e. Jewish deportees considered unable to work, never became concentration camp prisoners in the first place), there were certain political or criminal prisoners, particularly Germans and Austrians, who didn't have too bad a time at Auschwitz. However, that didn't apply to the overwhelming majority of prisoners, who were treated like garbage. I don't know of any Jewish survivors who said that life was good in Auschwitz, which in NB's book must mean that the testimonies of such survivors were "suppressed". NB is invited to tell who is supposed to have "suppressed" such testimonies, and how he learned about such testimonies in the first place if they were "suppressed".

"That does not mean lots of people including Poles, Gypsies, and Jews did not die there. The question is how and whether life was really miserable under the German hand or they were treated in a civilized manner. The Germans were certainly not treated well AFTER the war with more Germans being killed or starved AFTER the war than during it."

I know that Germans were brutally expelled from Eastern Europe and sometimes put into concentration camps that were as bad as Auschwitz was for the average prisoner, but I'd like to see some evidence supporting NB's claim that more Germans were killed after the war and during it. From what I've seen in sources detailing German casualties during or as a consequence of WWII, like those presented on the page German casualties in World War II, the overwhelming majority of German deaths due to World War II occurred during the war, though civilian casualties during expulsions from Eastern Europe may have been higher than civilian casualties during the war.

"So, in war, it is sad thing. People kill and are killed. But, I see no proof that the Germans were any worse than the Bolshevist murderers who eliminated up to 100 million ethnic Russians then turned on the Germans once THEY one the war with OUR help."

Up to 100 million, and all of the "ethnic Russians"? I'd say that's a wildly fantastic claim with no evidence support whatsoever. Historiography has arrived at different results, namely established that Stalin's regime murdered fewer people than Hitler's. See the blog Hitler vs. Stalin: Who Was Worse?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

PS:
The poster's handle is "Nash Blogs", not "Nash Blog" as I had written before. The poster's profile and blogs can be accessed here.

hmp49 said...

I visited Auschwitz with my father, a survivor who was a "guest" of the Nazis at Auschwitz.

When we got there, my father looked around and said "this is not Auschwitz." The reason is that the parking lot and museum is on the grounds of Auschwitz I, which was originally a Polish cavalry barracks. The Nazis and some political prisoners were the only ones who were on the grounds of Auschwitz I. Jews were kept in Auschwitz II.

The building were made of brick, with glass windows. It is relatively tiny, you can walk from one end to the other in less than 5 minutes.

This is where the "swimming pool" (or whatever purpose it actually served) was located (you can see the brick buildings in the background of some pictures of the "pool")

Later that day, we found a nice young Polish guide, who drove us the mile or two to Auschwitz II, which is where the railroad tracks and sign that says "Arbeit MAcht Frei" is located. We walked up to the tower, and looked at plaques with photos of what the camp looked like during the war. The were over 10,000 wooden huts where the Jews were kept.

When we were there in 1989, only 6 remained, and only one was still open (the Poles had taken all the wood from the huts to reuse as lumber). Inside, there were still the wooden shelves where prisoners slept stacked over each other.

My father said, "THIS is Auschwitz"