Saturday, May 14, 2011

On 12.05.2011, Demjanjuk was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

On the very same day, "Revisionist" champion Thomas Kues, as was to be expected, wrote an indignant blog commenting this sentence.

Said blog wouldn't be so silly if Kues had restricted himself, as a reasonable commentator would have, to arguing against the disputable legal construction whereby Demjanjuk was sentenced as an accessory to murder just for having done service in an extermination camp – the argument that "at the Sobibór trial in Hagen in 1966, five out of the eleven accused former German camp personnel were acquitted, despite their admitted presence in the camp" is certainly a pertinent one, notwithstanding the inevitable rhetorical rubbish that surrounds it. Doubts about the authenticity of the SS identification card that placed Demjanjuk at Sobibór are probably unfounded considering that the document has again been examined by experts and found to be authentic, but at least they are reasonable enough to be sustained by Demjanjuk's defense attorney.

These arguments against Demjanjuk's conviction, however, are "dwarfed" in Kues opinion by what he calls "harsh facts", and as he lists these "harsh facts" Kues dishes up another serving of Kuesian nonsense, which will be commented hereafter.

1) There exists no documentary or material evidence whatsoever supporting the official claim that Sobibór served as a “pure extermination camp” where hundreds of thousands of Jews were gassed, buried and later burned on open-air pyres. The only documentary evidence mustered by prosecutors and holocaust historians consists of reports and transport lists confirming that large numbers of Jews were sent to the camp.

Which is damning enough, for if people were sent to Sobibór as opposed to via Sobibór to some other final destination, this means that Sobibór was their final destination, and sending about 170,000 people (the number of deportees to Sobibór estimated by Dutch historian Jules Schelvis) to a final destination that had no facilities to accommodate even a fraction of them strongly suggests that what was to happen to the deportees was what becomes apparent from all known eyewitness testimonies about what happened at Sobibór, from physical evidence and from the fact that, except for a few dozen escapees, none of those deported to Sobibór (whose names and basic biographical data have largely been established, especially as concerns deportees from the Netherlands) is known to have returned alive.

If Sobibór had been just a stopover for transports going to Minsk, Riga, Vilnius or somewhere else in the Nazi-occupied Soviet territories, it would have been mentioned in the reports and transport documents as such, if at all.

Instead we have documents like Ganzenmüller's letter to Wolff of 28.07.1942 (German original, English translation), which mentions "that transports from Warsaw via Lublin to Sobibór (near Lublin) should be interrupted as long as building on this route makes transports impossible (about October 1942)" (emphases added). This shows that Sobibór, a place so remote and unknown that it's location "near Lublin" had to be pointed out, was meant to be the final destination for transports going there via the major city of Lublin (the mentioned period of repair works on the line that foiled this undertaking and required all Warsaw transports to be directed to Treblinka coincides with other evidence whereby there was a pause in transports to Sobibór from late July/early August to October 1942). What, other than murder, could one reasonably expect to have happened to the deportees at so remote a final destination, even without considering the other evidence to what did happen to them?

Documentary evidence also includes the mention, in SS-Sturmbannführer Höfle’s intercepted message of 11 January 1943 to Obersturmbannführer Heim (hereinafter the "Höfle Report"), of 101,370 deportees delivered until the end of 1942 at a place pertaining to "Einsatz Reinhart" and called "S", which obviously stands for Sobibór. These 101,370 were included in a total figure of 1,274,166 Jews from the "eastern provinces" ostensibly transported to the "Russian East" and "sifted through the camps in the Generalgouvernement" according to the Korherr Report, yet there is no indication in the Höfle Report, or in any other document or any eyewitness testimony, that anyone was ever actually moved from "S" to the "Russian East".

Kues and other "Revisionists" expect people to believe not only that a place clearly mentioned as a final destination in all related documents was actually just a stopover, but also that until the end of 1942 over 100,000 people were moved through that place (and about 1.3 million in total through all the "camps in the Generalgouvernement"), then resettled at places in the "Russian East", without this gigantic undertaking having left a single documentary trace where one should expect an enormous paper trail (which the Nazis would moreover have had no reasons to destroy, as it would have been their best safeguard against accusations of mass murder), or a single witness where one should expect thousands upon thousands.

Said documents have nothing to say about the fate of the Jewish deportees subsequent to their arrival in Sobibór.

A rather lame (not to say completely irrelevant) argument in this context, for the reasons explained above.

On the other hand a directive issued by Himmler on 5 July 1943, as well as a reply from Oswald Pohl on 15 July 1943 (Nuremberg document NO 482) speaks of “the Sobibor transit camp located in the Lublin district”.

Contrary to what Kues would like to believe and insists in maintaining, said directive and the related correspondence are everything other than evidence that Sobibór was the "transit camp" that Himmler claimed it to be, as I explained in the blog «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories» (1). Following the suggestions of Globocnik and Pohl, Himmler eventually became convinced that the "transit camp" didn’t have to be converted into a concentration camp to install there a station for processing booty ammunition, obviously because it already had a large labor force being managed and controlled in a manner akin to what was practiced in concentration camps. As a mere transit camp would not have required such a large labor force, Himmler’s correspondence with his subordinates shows that Sobibór was not what it was claimed to be, i.e. not a transit camp.

The camp was in fact located very near the former German-Soviet demarcation line, a most logical location for camp serving the transfer of Jews to the Occupied eastern territories.

Especially considering how difficult it was to get there from Lublin or from Warsaw via Lublin between the end of July and October 1942, while on the other hand there were more or less direct railway connections from Warsaw or Lublin to Riga, Vilna, Minsk or Kiev (see the USHMM map showing main European railway lines in 1939, Image 5 in my blog More «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories» (1); the location of Majdanek on the map corresponds to that of Lublin). Why the detour to the boondocks, Mr. Kues?

2) In 2001 and 2008 two teams of archeologists, the first headed by the Polish professor Andrzej Kola, the second by the Israelis Isaac Gilead and Yoram Haimi and the Pole Wojciech Mazurek, went over the whole of Lager III, the “death camp proper of Sobibór – corresponding to an area of less than 4 hectares – using probe drillings as well as numerous excavations without finding any trace whatsoever of the camp’s alleged homicidal gas chambers. As it is radically impossible, given the limited area and time available, that these well-equipped teams of specialists would fail to locate any remain or trace, however slight, of the large concrete or brick building described by the self-styled eyewitnesses, only one conclusion is possible: the alleged homicidal gas chambers, never existed.

Why exactly is it "radically impossible" that Prof. Kola or Gilead and Haimi should have so far (Gilead and Haimi are still on the job, for all I know) have found any trace of the gas chamber building? First of all, the SS had enough time to demolish the building at their leisure and remove its remains from the camp area. Second, assuming that the SS did not remove the building's remains or a part thereof but buried them or such part on site, it's not like the camp area had remained unchanged since the camp’s dismantling. The building of the "ash mountain" and the paved area with the chimney and statue monuments can hardly be expected to favor the search for the remains of a building buried in the soil of Sobibór. This quite apart from the fact that, as Gilead, Haimi and Mazurek mentioned in their article Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres, excavation in the mass graves area (where remains of the gas chamber building may be located) will be out of the question "in the foreseeable future" due to protests of Orthodox Jews against the perceived desecration of the dead it would involve. Third, I happen to know (and so maybe does Kues) that due to funding and permission issues Yoram Haimi's team wasn't able in the past years to spend nearly as much time on site as Haimi would have liked to. Fourth and most important, what does self-appointed archaeological expert Kues know about archaeological work to judge how long it should take archaeologists to complete their investigations? Archaeological research in the area of Chełmno investigation camp started in 1986-87; between 1997 and 2002 research was carried out on the grounds of the former "palace", and the cemetery in the Rzuchów Forest was investigated in 2003-2004 (see the site of the Museum of the former Extermination Camp in Chełmno-on-Ner). The long research period is due not to the area of Chełmno extermination camp being much larger than that of Sobibór extermination camp, but to characteristics and constraints of archaeological work that Kues obviously knows nothing about.

As to the "self-styled" eyewitnesses that Kues bluntly dismisses as liars, they include without limitation those mentioned in the thread Proof that "alleged Sobibór grave # 3/41" contains the rem. of the Skeptic forum's Holocaust Denial section. Unless I missed something, Kues and his companions Mattogno and Graf not only didn't demonstrate that any of the eyewitnesses they discussed made statements against better knowledge (as opposed to having been mistaken about one or the other detail the witness recalled to have observed or been told about, as eyewitnesses often are), but also failed to address the testimonies of many eyewitnesses at all. Kues’ baseless dismissal of eyewitnesses inconvenient to his "Inconvenient History" becomes all the more deplorable when he tries to cook up "Evidence for the Presence of 'Gassed' Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories" from what one or the other witness thinks to have seen or heard about, as will be discussed below following Kues other "archaeological" argument.

On the other hand, Andrzej Kola discovered in Lager III a huge wooden barrack filled with remains of clothing and toilet articles, as well as a smaller building with a coke storage and remains of an oven – possibly one used for delousing with hot air or steam. According to the official version neither of these structures should have existed.[4] Together with the non-existence of the Sobibór gas chamber building their discovery greatly strengthens the revisionist case, namely that Sobibór (as well as Belzec and Treblinka) served as a transit camp where arriving Jewish deportees were showered and deloused before being sent on further east.

Wishful thinking is also thinking, and usually the kind of thinking that "Revisionists" excel in. The mentioned buildings, which Mattogno, Graf & Kues (MGK) devoted much space to in their Sobibór book, are obviously objects "A" and "E" described in Prof. Kola’s report 1st Archaeological Research of the Former Jew Extermination Camp at Sobibor in 2001. The fuss made by Kues about these buildings being incompatible with what he calls the "official version" (eyewitness descriptions that have helped criminal investigators and historians to more or less reconstruct the camp's features) is much ado about nothing. If the existence of these buildings is indeed incompatible with eyewitness descriptions of the camp's features, and if this incompatibility cannot be attributed to understandable errors or omissions on the part of the eyewitnesses, then the best explanation (i.e. the one that takes all known evidence into account and requires the fewest additional assumptions) is that these buildings postdated the operation of Sobibór extermination camp and were set up after the camp's dismantlement. Vestiges like the victims' personal objects and gun bullets, found by Prof. Kola where these buildings had stood, may have been there when the buildings were erected after the camp's dismantlement, it also being possible that they were moved there by later earthworks in the camp area.

From a letter that Globocnik sent to Himmler from Trieste on 5 January 1944, it is known that, "for reasons of surveillance", on the area of each of the abandoned Aktion Reinhard(t) camps the SS created "a small farm" which was "occupied by an expert". Wooden buildings seem to have still existed on the area of Sobibór extermination camp years after the war. According to the webpage Sobibor Camp History (useful despite the "Note to our viewers" placed on top of it, obviously by the lunatic Carmelo Lisciotto), Ukrainians waiting for their trains during resettlements to Ukraine or western Poland between 1945 and 1947 "demolished the rest of the barracks" to obtain firewood. A lady who moved into the former commandant’s house in 1955 narrates her recollections in the Spiegel Online video Angeklagt: Nazihelfer Demjanjuk soll vor deutsches Gericht dated 23.03.2009 (the video can be accessed by running a search for "Demjanjuk" in the "Videosuche" field of the Spiegel Online video page). As rendered by her German translator, the lady mentions having seen how "later, when everything was dug over around here" ("später, als hier alles umgegraben wurde"), a bulldozer (Planierraupe) "pushed together the soil into a heap" ("hat die Erde zu einem Haufen zusammengeschoben"), that "one could see bones and hair" ("man konnte Knochen sehen und Haare") and that there was a terrible smell ("es hat ganz furchtbar gerochen").

These subsequent transformations of the area render moot the conjectures that MGK indulge in about where personal belongings and other objects like bullets or shell cases were found by Prof. Kola as opposed to where they "should" have been located according to eyewitness testimonies. The farm on the Sobibór camp’s area referred to in Globocnik’s aforementioned letter to Himmler is mentioned on page 20 of MGK’s Sobibór book, at the end of their lengthy quote from the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, and again on page 36 in a quote from the English translation of Kogon, Langbein, Rückerl et al, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas. However, I didn’t find a reference to its mention in Globocnik’s letter to Himmler dated 5 January 1944, and neither do MGK seem to have considered the possibility that some of the buildings mentioned by Prof. Kola belonged to this farm. I’ll give them the benefit of having been so enamored with their sermon about supposed inconsistencies in the "official version" that they didn’t think about a banal and accordingly plausible explanation for those supposed inconsistencies, besides having (again) done sloppy research.

Readers may have noticed that Kues doesn't say a word about the most important (and accordingly publicized) of Prof. Kola’s finds in 2001, the Sobibór mass graves. Maybe he has realized the puerility of MGK's attempt to explain away these mass graves (especially the enormous mass grave # 4) as pertaining to anything other than large-scale mass murder.

3) According to orthodox historiography not a single Dutch Jew was ever deported further east than Poland.

Kues knows better than that, for he is familiar with Christian Gerlach's Kalkulierte Morde, where Gerlach writes the following about the reported presence of Dutch Jews in Belarus (my translation and emphasis):

That beside Jews from the Greater German Reich and the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia Jews also Jews from other countries were sent to Belorussia has so far hardly been noticed. Only some of the respective transports can be reconstructed in detail, and often we know of them only from isolated eyewitness testimonials, so that they cannot be confirmed with final certainty. Thus after the war witnesses with a certain competence, for instance the former regional commissar in Borissov, Bauer, the member of Section IVb of the Commander of Security Police and Security Service Minsk especially in charge of gas vans, Karl Buchner, a surviving German Jew and a member of the Minsk labour bureau, declared that French Jews had come to Minsk. From this resulted the corresponding references in the literature. The same applies to possible deportations of Dutch Jews, who are said to have worked i.a. in the arms workshop in Minsk.

The likeliest explanation for the presence of Dutch Jews in Minsk, assuming the related reports are accurate, is that they were deportees to Auschwitz-Birkenau selected there as able to work, taken into the camp as inmates and then transferred from there to another place where their labor was required.

However, on 16 April 1943 – at the very time when Demjanjuk supposedly aided in the extermination of Jews at Sobibór – the Vilna Jew Herman Kruk noted in his diary that “a rumor is circulating that there are about 19,000 Dutch Jews in Vievis”. Vievis is a small town between Vilna and Kovno, which during the years of German occupation was the location of a Jewish labor camp. On the same day Kruk wrote under the heading “More about the Dutch Jews” that he had “succeeded in getting a Jewish sign [evidently a cloth Star of David] and a copy of the order of the Reichskommissar for the Occupied Netherlands about Jewish property.” Two weeks later, on 30 April 1943, Kruk wrote in his diary that “carloads filled with goods from the Dutch Jews are in the Vilna railroad station”. Furniture taken from these trains had been brought to workshops in the Vilna ghetto, where documents written in Dutch were found by the workers.[5] Since there is no reason on earth to believe that Kruk, a prominent member of the Vilna ghetto community, made up this story, it must be taken as an important piece of evidence in support of the revisionist transit camp hypothesis.

Kues key witness Herman Kruk was discussed in detail in the blog «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories» (3, 2), the respective parts of which are quoted hereafter.

As concerns the rumor about Dutch Jews in Vievis:
A rumor about a large number of Jews having arrived in Vievis camp doesn’t necessarily mean there were any such Jews in Vievis camp at the time, first of all. If there were any, their number was not necessarily the one circulated through the rumor mill. And they were certainly not from the Netherlands, unless one is to assume that the detailed postwar investigations by the Dutch Red Cross, which allowed for establishing the places of destination and almost all names of the deportees from the Netherlands, had failed to record any major transports to Vievis in Lithuania.

As concerns the Star of David:
A Dutch Star of David that somehow made its way to the Vilnius ghetto was "good reason" to believe a rumor about 19,000 Durch Jews in Vievis? If so, Kruk must have been as desperate to believe in the presence of Dutch Jews as TK, albeit for other reasons.

As concerns the furniture:
Whoever argues that Jews were not stripped of all their belongings at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps obviously hasn’t read – or is conveniently omitting – what becomes apparent from Nuremberg Document 4024-PS, the report that Globocnik sent to Himmler from Trieste on 5 January 1944. According to Appendix 2 to this report, the loot included, besides money, coins and jewelry, 29,391 spectacles (why deprive living persons of their spectacles?) as well as "1,901 Wagons of clothing, underclothing, bed feathers and rags" (apparently we are asked to believe that Jews passing through the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps were sent to the occupied Soviet territories stark naked). Furniture is also mentioned in the "Report On the Administrative Development of the Action Reinhardt" (emphasis added):

Valuable furniture and household utensils were reconditioned and mainly put at the disposal of settlers of German race. But furniture was also loaned to German and Wehrmacht authorities against an accommodation bill. Inferior goods were either destroyed or given to the population as a reward for good work at the harvest, etc.

This passage points to the very realistic possibility that the furniture mentioned by Kruk was meant for "settlers of German race" in the Baltic countries or elsewhere in the occupied Soviet territories of for loan to German and Wehrmacht authorities, and that the Vilnius joiners' workshop was one of the places where this furniture was "reconditioned".

Large transports of “foreign” Jews to the Vilna area in the spring of 1943 is also mentioned in the diary of the Jewish partisan fighter Aba Gefen (entry for 16 May 1943),[6] as well as by a news notice published in the Polish underground newspaper Biuletyn Informacyjny on 6 May 1943.[7] There are also several testimonies confirming the presence of Dutch Jews in Minsk in 1942-43.[8]

When Kues published the second part of his conjectures about «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories», I decided that another discussion of each and every eyewitness who thought he saw or heard about Dutch or French Jews at places where "orthodox historiography" supposedly allows for none might be boring for our readers. Thus my main argument in the blogs More «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories» (1) and More «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories» (2) consisted in outlining the history of the Jewish population in those occupied Soviet territories where Kues tried to place his foreign Jews (territories where the Nazis had encountered and mostly exterminated a large number of indigenous Jews), and demonstrating that these territories' Jewish population in 1943, according to the occupiers' own documents, was incompatible with speculations about large numbers of foreign Jews having been deported to these territories. I also pointed out the dishonesty of Kues' argumentation, as follows:

The most deplorable part of TK’s "study" is the dishonesty he reveals as he applies flagrant double standards of evidence. It doesn’t help the credibility of who proclaimed a (falsely claimed) lack of "documentary as well as material proof" to be the reason why "Revisionists" don’t accept the historical record of mass extermination[13], if that person then tries to build the case for his "transit camp theory" mainly on accounts of witnesses (moreover such that are mostly based on hearsay and rumors as concerns the claims they are meant to support) and on contemporary press reports (one might as well try to make a case about the existence of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction based on newspaper articles prior to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq). Especially if in doing so he ignores not only a huge body of eyewitness testimony but also documentary and material evidence contradicting his conjectures, and furthermore lamely dismisses as mere allegations the parts of "his" evidence that don’t fit his theories while enthusiastically embracing those that do. Baseless insinuations that "mainstream" historians are dishonest or don’t know what they are doing make TK’s performance even more miserable.

Kues' response to this and other criticism was silence. If readers are beginning to gain the impression that Kues knows he has no arguments to match those of his critics and therefore prefers to simply ignore them and repeat his refuted claims, they are probably right.

None of the above facts have been considered, or even mentioned in passing, during the trial in Munich.

In the unlikely case that the participants in the trial read MGK's book and Kues' blogs, their failure to consider such "Revisionist" wisdom must be due to their being realistic enough to reasonably conclude, among other things, that if the about 28,000 Dutch Jews killed at Sobibór during Demjanjuk's time of service had instead been transported to the occupied Soviet territories, there would be a lot more documentary and eyewitness evidence about their fate than the isolated mentions in one or the other contemporary report or witness recollection that Kues gives preference over much more abundant and conclusive evidence to the contrary of his conjectures.

This should of course not surprise, as the blatant disregard of technical evidence has been common to all “extermination camp” trials.

Readers may wonder as I do what Kues means by and which of his claims he considers to be "technical evidence". Is it his archaeological conjectures, Himmler’s "transit camp" letter or the «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories»?

To summarize:

To summarize, Kues' case against extermination camp Sobibór is so feeble as to make it hard to believe that he's serious about it, or at least that he seriously expects anyone outside the faithful "Revisionist" flock to take it seriously. But then, the bizarre meanderings of a "Revisionist" mind are sometimes hard for a common mortal to understand. Fortunately for Demjanjuk, his defense attorney is not so benighted – though of course Kues would like to believe that only German hate speech laws kept him from practicing "Revisionism" in the courtroom as was done by some of his predecessors at NS crimes trials, most notably Messrs. Mundorf and Bock at the 1975-81 Majdanek trial in Düsseldorf. I’ll close this blog with an excerpt from the book Blind Eye to Murder by Tom Bower (pp. 413-14), describing what Kues would probably consider exemplary defense tactics. Emphases are mine:

Exploiting the procedural rules which were drafted to prevent a repetition of the shotgun trials of the Third Reich, the defence lawyers embarked on a daily ritual, submitting endless challenges against the prosecution's introduction of evidence and introducing evidence designed not to clarify the issues or bolster their client's defence but to rewrite the history of the Nazi era.

Hans Mundorf, defending Braunsteiner, seized every possible opportunity during the first eighteen months to challenge the evidence that human corpses had been burnt in the crematoria. Every witness was asked whether he knew the difference between the smell of burning human and animal flesh. Veterinary doctors were called to testify that those outside the crematoria would not know the difference.

Ludwig Bock, the thirty-eight-year-old lawyer defending Lachert, went even further and called witnesses - all of them neo-Nazi historians - to disprove that there had ever been a planned Final Solution. With a conviction that goes beyond purely professional duty to a client, he insisted that no one, including animals, was gassed at Majdanek. `Even if there were gas chambers at Majdanek,' he told the author, `it doesn't mean that they were the reason for the death of a lot of people, because it is possible that the gas chambers were used to clean clothes.' Bock, who claimed that Lachert went to Majdanek as if it was just another job, `like being a cook in a kitchen,' insisted that she had no idea that anyone was being gassed or killed in the camp. That defence did not prevent him demanding, when a former inmate explained how she had been forced by a defendant to carry Zyklon B gas to the gas chambers, that the witness be charged as an accomplice to murder.

1 comment:

Joachim Neander said...

I also have a problem with the German Demjanjuk trial. It reminded me of the Ilse Koch case 1947-1951. In her Dachau trial, she was sentenced by an American military court to life imprisonment under the "Common design" charge and indicted for being a depraved person and ordering the flaying of prisoners, the latter hyped up by the media already since mid-April 1945 ("The lampshade lady," "The Bitch of Buchenwald").

An American review board proposed reduction of her sentence to 4 years, and Gen. Clay, then Military Governor, agreed, in his own words: "We didn't have to judge immoral behavior, but war crimes." Public opinion, however, demanded harsher punishment, preferably the death penalty. As American law made a new trial impossible, the Germans were (informally) asked whether they could find something to try Koch and sentence her for life (the death penalty, at that time, was already abolished).

So Koch got a trial in which the Germans showed the world that there is no room for pity with Nazis in their country, that even small fish will not evade justice. (Notwithstanding the fact that hundreds, if not 1000s, of "medium" and "big" fish were let off the hook, earlier and later, but the were not as prominent in the media as Ilse Koch.)

It is my gut feeling that the Demjanjuk trial served a similar purpose: We, the Germans, the Musterschueler, are showing the world that a Nazi complice who could not be tried in the U.S. and was acquitted even in Israel, has no chance in our country. We are always the best, first in executing the Holocaust, then in persecuting the executors.