Monday, December 24, 2012

Our Demolition of MGK: One Year On

By HC Guest Blogger

In December 2011, this blog published a lengthy critique of three books authored by the sole remaining semi-serious researchers on the Holocaust denial scene, Carlo Mattogno, Jürgen Graf and Thomas Kues. The project evolved from a failed attempt in July 2009 to organise a formal debate on the Aktion Reinhard camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka at the old RODOH forum.[1] As we noted at the time, and observed in the critique, the denier scene had become more and more obsessed with Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka this side of the millennium, and so the Reinhard camps seemed to be a suitable subject for a proper debate along the lines of the RODOH 'Scholars’ Debate' on Auschwitz in 2004.[2]. The failure of ‘revisionists’ to muster a debate team wasn’t entirely unexpected, given the reluctance that deniers have to ever allow themselves to be pinned down and actually defend an argument properly. So we decided instead to scrutinise the arguments of what we thought were the organ-grinders, instead of cleaning up the poo flung by monkeys on the internet. 

Our motives for doing so were not because we felt that MGK’s work in their ‘trilogy’ on Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka represented a serious threat or challenge to the conventional understanding of the Holocaust. Indeed, over the course of the project, we felt that Holocaust denial had slipped down another notch towards complete irrelevance, as despite the ready availability of negationist material on the internet, the denier scene did not seem to be growing in a meaningful or significant fashion, while a new generation of ‘revisionist’ researchers failed to emerge.[3]In the time we spent working on the project, it became clear that deniers were failing utterly to convince others of the validity of their ideas when proselytising on the internet, as seen time and again at the James Randi Education Foundation forum (among many other venues on the web).  One of the original reasons for the establishment of the Holocaust Controversies blog was to provide rebuttals and counters to arguments advanced on the internet by deniers, and while we undoubtedly have helped provide ammunition to others for that purpose, the antics and tactics of intenet deniers had become entirely self-refuting and self-discrediting.[4] It also became less and less necessary to refute MGK’s work, because it was simply not being widely read or cited by internet deniers, who have largely preferred to spam video links and repeat hoary old cliches from the 1980s and 1990s instead. Although denier literature has long functioned more as a talisman than a repository of actual ideas, this kind of superficial engagement with their own literature has become near-universal among internet deniers, as a scan of CODOH forum reveals. In this regard, Holocaust denial is little different to any other fringe belief, conspiracy theory or form of pseudoscience that has been presented on the internet in the age of Web 2.0. The 9/11 Truth Movement, for example, has produced a series of books authored by its ‘gurus’, along with a slew of websites and YouTube videos, yet discussion of David Ray Griffin’s work is thin to nonexistent on the internet. If even aficionados cannot summarise and debate the arguments of crank gurus coherently, then it’s little surprise that the rest of the world ignores those gurus.

We therefore undertook our critique of MGK’s work in the same spirit as Ryan Mackey approached his critique of David Ray Griffin’s Debunking 9/11 Debunking[5], namely to dissect the fallacious reasoning and methods used by fringe pseudoscholars as an exercise in its own right, and to simultaneously provide a handy resource for interested readers to learn something more about the history of the Holocaust and the Aktion Reinhard camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. Like Mackey, we have often referred to our critique as a white paper – for that is what it is, a work put out relatively informally for discussion in electronic format as a PDF. Judged against the goals we set ourselves, the critique has succeeded better than we originally expected. Downloads, accesses, views and hits across the various websites where it is hosted have been strong, and continue to tick upwards, since the white paper evidently googles fairly well. 

Feedback from readers and colleagues has been very positive. We also know the critique has found use on university courses, and will be cited in forthcoming German publications. Based on this feedback, our critique is evidently valued for its summary of information regarding the Reinhard camps and the Holocaust, and that is something we intend to bear in mind as we contemplate revising the white paper for a second edition. 

Unlike Ryan Mackey, who never received a peep in reply from David Ray Griffin to his criticisms of Griffin’s fallacious reasoning, the authors of the critique have known since this January that the targets of the critique intended to respond. Jürgen Graf emailed us on January 4, 2012 to confirm this, and then started issuing ever more pompously phrased ‘communiques’ to announce successive delays to their response. In March of this year, MGK declared that they would respond with the “steam roller method”, addressing “all major arguments”.[6] After announcing a delay in August to “late autumn” due to issues with translating Mattogno’s contributions and reviewing news of further archaeological investigations at Sobibor[7], MGK have now declared that their response is “complete”, barring a single chapter left to be translated, and this  will supposedly appear in January, at a length of 800 pages.[8]

This news caused us to fall off our chairs laughing when we realised that our targets had gone to such lengths. Our critique ran to 571 A4 pages in order to tackle three books that together total 942 pages in book form, amounting to 350,000 words versus our 250,000 words. While we wrote a lot and covered a lot of ground, we consciously aimed to undershoot their combined wordcount, and succeeded in this. For MGK to write 800 pages in response is a defeat in itself, not least because it confirms our claim that no conventional publisher would ever touch their material unless it was properly edited down. As we demonstrated repeatedly in the critique, Mattogno’s contributions to the ‘trilogy’ on Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka frequently recycled articles and chapters drafted for his earlier works, sometimes dating back as far as the mid-1980s. This cut-and-paste writing style is a hallmark of his entire oeuvre; Mattogno has a strong tendency to repeat himself. If the 800 pages in response to us turn out to consist of a string of cut-and-pasted excerpts from other articles and books, then that will be a virtually automatic fail for them. Similarly, if we find that the 800 pages are little more than a fisking of quoted excerpts from our critique, we will be equally unimpressed. If it turns out that we have provoked them into finally engaging with material they should have included in the original books, then MGK will also have failed, because our basic argument regarding their work was that it failed to meet accepted scholarly standards and inadequately addressed both the primary sources as well as secondary literature relevant to the subject of the Reinhard camps. Shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted will simply confirm our view that their work hitherto has been irrelevant drivel.

Just as amusing to us has been the fist-shaking that has accompanied MGK’s communiques. In March, they informed us that “after the publication of our reply we will not have the slightest obligation to pay any further attention to anything MM. Harrison, Mühlenkamp, Myers, Romanov and Terry might publish in the future.”[9] In August, they claimed that the delay meant we would “have to wait until late autumn before experiencing the pleasure of being utterly humiliated and unmasked for what they are.”[10]
 
These statements are extremely curious, because they betray a fundamental lack of understanding of what is at stake here. For starters, the revisionist predilection for unwarranted victory-dances makes it somewhat unlikely that we would indeed feel “humiliated”, as time and again denier claims have shown only the most tenuous grasp on reality. This would, by the way, include MGK endorsing the psychotic drivel of Carmelo Lisciotto that now besmirches the once respected amateur history website deathcamps.org. Unfortunately, Carlo Mattogno has already done just that in his latest screed Schiffbruch[11], which makes us wonder whether he really comprehends what is actually going on. It’s rather simple: you guys put out your work, other people have the right to criticise it, who they are is actually irrelevant. The same goes for access: you guys have the right to put out your crap through whatever website you like, and people can find it via google just the same as other people can find our stuff.  

The authors of the critique could care less whether MGK respond to whatever might be written in the future individually, collaboratively or collectively by the five contributors, since they have manifestly ignored so much of what was written by us before, and because they have time and again demonstrated a woeful grasp of the conventional historiography of the Holocaust. This is not, and never has been, a proper dialogue. If it were, then MGK would have submitted themselves to proper peer review and tried to publish their work in conventional outlets, whereupon a scholarly audience might have felt obliged to engage with their ideas to a greater extent. But they have avoided this obvious route, and thus their work is put out via the extreme-right, antisemitic and conspiracist Barnes Review, a small press with a corresponding lack of intellectual credibility. It may have escaped MGK’s notice, but the white paper, and the preceding HC blog posts criticising them, are essentially the only response their work on the Reinhard camps has had from anyone in the mainstream, indeed we have given them what is unequivocally the major response to any of their work. From every other quarter, the reaction to the ‘trilogy’ has been a deafening silence. 

In one sense, all we have done is inform MGK of the inevitable reaction their work would receive if it was reviewed by academics, especially historians, and not just historians of the Holocaust. To our knowledge, all three of MGK have masters’ degrees in languages and literature, perhaps with minors in other subjects. None of them seem even vaguely familiar with the academic world as it actually exists, yet the three revisionist gurus have spent up to 27 years supposedly addressing academic historians, and lately also archaeologists, in an attempt to be be taken seriously by them, without reaping any serious response. Insanity, as they say, is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. 

Three of the critique contributors currently work in academia, the others are interested amateurs; we have been trained in history, sociology and the law among other subjects. Three out of five contributors are Anglo-Americans, and thus intimately familiar with the intellectual and academic culture of what is surely the biggest market for MGK’s work. Our verdict that MGK’s work is shoddy pseudoscholarship rests not only on our familiarity with academic research into the Third Reich and Holocaust but also on our disciplinary training and knowledge of comparable fields in modern history and other subjects. Not one historian, no matter what their specialism, in a research university whether in Britain, America or anywhere else in the world would regard MGK’s work as satisfactory scholarship or be convinced by their arguments. 

This has nothing to do with political correctness or censorship, but everything to do with some bottom-line issues that MGK might try to remember when putting the finishing touches to their response. The first is presentational: we really hate to say it, but your books and articles simply look like the works of amateur cranks. In the critique, we chided you for the excessive use of verbatim quotations, something which is quite seriously frowned on in academia, not least because fair use limits the length of citations from secondary works, and because the full or excerpted reproduction of sources is traditionally done in appendices or document collections. This is because there are word limits out there in the real world imposed by journals and publishers. Stringing together verbatim quotes of excessive length is the kind of thing shocked out of first year undergraduates by any self-respecting university teacher through awarding a below-par mark. If you have cured yourself of this irritating quirk, then all the better, but it doesn’t, unfortunately, stop there. Perhaps one of MGK should take down a history book written by an Anglo-American author off their shelves – we are sure you must own at least one – and report back to the others whether British or American historians, indeed British or American academic writers in any of the humanities or social sciences, sub-section their books and articles to death as you do. Guess what? They don’t. Even those used to German academic prose find your 7.3.3.1 micro-sectioning to be an abomination, and to seriously break up the coherence of an argument. We understand that you believe this makes your work look scientific, but all it does is stamp ‘pseudoscience’ over your prose in the eyes of Brits and Americans.  

The second issue is much more substantive, and concerns the balance between ‘negationist’ and ‘affirmationist’ revisionism. The simple fact is that Holocaust denial will never be taken seriously until it ponies up hard evidence and substantiates its claims, either proving an alternative explanation (like ‘resettlement’) or proving the claims of fabrication advanced by revisionists. As long as neither ‘resettlement’ nor the ‘hoax’ are proven, then all the nitpicking and fussing over the evidence for Nazi extermination will remain fundamentally irrelevant, since pure negationism will never, ever convince a wider audience than the boutique readership you currently have. Attacking an opposing view while failing to substantiate your own claims sticks out like a sore thumb to the overwhelming majority of intelligent readers, not least because of the blatant evidentiary double standards on display, as well as its fallaciousness.

Only two things might genuinely revise the historical record, namely proof of survival or proof of fabrication/manipulation of the evidence for mass murder. Neither redefining standards of evidence or claiming technical impossibility actually provide even a glimmer of an answer to a series of obvious questions. If the Jews were not killed, what happened to them? However vague and nonsensical, attempts to prove survival or prove the ‘resettlement thesis’ at least purport to answer this question. Declarations of physical impossibility, by contrast, do not, any more than the goalpost-moving routine of unilaterally rewriting the conventional rules of evidence to suit negationists would provide an answer. The question “what happened to the Jews of Europe during the Second World War?” cannot be answered with the reply “there were no gas chambers”. Such a mantra is both semantically and logically insufficient as a response. The lack of a coherent, thoroughly proven answer to the question “what happened then?” is the main reason why revisionism remains utterly marginalised in both academia and the public sphere. The pure-negationist strategies, moreover, also fail to explain how the evidence for mass murder and extermination came into being. If there were no gas chambers, who came up with the idea, at what time and why? And where is the proof for all of this?

Thirdly, the sad reality – for MGK –  is that we have become thoroughly bored with denialist tactics in this day and age. However much they might reject the comparisons, negationist tactics have been so thoroughly abused by creationists, 9/11 Truthers, Birthers, Moon Hoaxers, JFK assassination conspiracy theorists and all manner of other assorted lunatics in the age of Web 2.0 that revisionists damn themselves by association and analogy whenever they resort to them. Many find negationist nitpicking and fussing over mass graves and the like to be tedious and ghoulish. Most can see through the obfuscation and deliberate dragging out of the argument, since it is now well established that it is child’s play for a crank to refuse to be convinced, shift burden of proof, argue from ignorance or dwell on irrelevant minutiae. The negationist strategy of picking apart individual pieces of evidence in splendid isolation from each other also fails to demonstrate that the convoluted interpretations hang together. It is also exceedingly weak and cumbersome, since there is nothing to stop everyone else combining sources into an explanation or narrative, as is quite obviously the norm in how history is practiced and written. 

Should MGK wish to persist with negationism, then they will have to do a lot more to justify this approach. Indeed, a common reaction to denier arguments is that if generalised across the whole of history, then much of the historical record would disappear in a puff of smoke. While negationism has an unspoken epistemology and methodology, it is a major flaw in the revisionist belief system that its gurus like MGK seem unable to relate this epistemology and methodology to accepted philosophical, theoretical or practical models, and have never coherently elaborated the ‘revisionist method’. Worse still, MGK like other deniers consistently refuse to test their epistemology and methodology on other historical events properly and systematically, and thus fail to establish that there is anything unusual, incorrect or invalid in how historians of the Holocaust have approached the evidence for Nazi genocide. This refusal to compare almost single-handedly destroys the validity of revisionist arguments. 

When we began the critique project, we were of course fully aware of past ‘exchanges’ between deniers and their critics, such as occurred between Richard Green of the Holocaust History Project and Germar Rudolf.  It was never our intention to engage in tit-for-tat dialogue as a collective, although individual contributors may well respond to future MGK writings as they see fit. It is, however, our intention to release a revised 2nd edition in 2013, correcting various typos and glitches, and possibly adding an afterword. Thereafter, the critique team will disband once more. While we have all enjoyed our contributions to HC blog, several of us have quite simply, moved on, with others not involved in the drafting of the critique taking our place on the roster of HC blog contributors. We do not hold to the ‘last man standing’ theory of pseudo-debate seen on the internet in so many places. We are, in fact, quite sure that MGK will be churning out their screeds for years to come, and just as sure that such screeds will continue to have zero impact on serious scholarship. Some of us have done academic work on the history of Holocaust denial, and may continue to publish academically on that subject, while some will be publishing on the history of the Holocaust, and will be dealing with MGK only to the extent that they might be considered names in the history of the post-1945 phenomenon of negationism. We concur with MGK that after the publication of the revised edition of the critique, we will not have the slightest obligation as historians of the Holocaust to pay any further attention to anything Signore Mattogno, Herr Graf and Herr Kues might publish in the future.



[1]http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.pt/2009/07/real-open-debate-on-aktion-reinhard.html
[2]http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/real-open-debate-on-aktion-reinhard.html. The 'Scholars' Debate' is currently under reconstruction (http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.pt/2012/10/reconstructing-scholars-debate-about.html).
[3] See the interview with one of the co-authors of the critique appearing as ‘Holocaust denial in decline, says historian’, The Jewish Chronicle, 7 October 2010, http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/39171/holocaust-denial-decline-says-historian
[4]For an eloquent example of the frustration felt by non-deniers when listening to negationist claims, see the post by‘Horatius’ in the thread ‘Holocaust denial videos’, 19th August 2009, http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=5021659&postcount=148
[5] Ryan Mackey,  ‘On Debunking 9/11 Debunking’ at https://sites.google.com/site/911guide/ryanmackey
[6]http://revblog.codoh.com/2012/03/communique-on-our-response-to-holocaust-denial-and-operation-reinhard/#more-1776
[7]http://revblog.codoh.com/2012/08/second-communique/
[8] http://revblog.codoh.com/2012/12/third-communique/
[9] http://revblog.codoh.com/2012/03/communique-on-our-response-to-holocaust-denial-and-operation-reinhard/#more-1776
[10]http://revblog.codoh.com/2012/08/second-communique/
[11] Carlo Mattogno, Schiffbruch. Vom Untergang der Holocaust-Orthodoxie. Uckfield: Castle Hill Publishers, 2011, p.271.

23 comments:

Nathan said...

Congratulations!

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

This "Guest Blogger" (Mathis) says:

"Indeed, over the course of the project, we felt that Holocaust denial had slipped down another notch towards complete irrelevance, as despite the ready availability of negationist material on the internet, the denier scene did not seem to be growing in a meaningful or significant fashion [...]"

This guy must be blind. You loose believers on a daily basis all over the world!
However, keep trying to attract new ones - you're certainly going to be needing new 'recruits' because this belief of yours is going down, for better or worse!

FRANZ

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

«This guy must be blind. You loose believers on a daily basis all over the world!
However, keep trying to attract new ones - you're certainly going to be needing new 'recruits' because this belief of yours is going down, for better or worse!»

A showpiece of self-projection from Mr. Andersson, who seems to think that established historiography is a movement like "Revisionism", which strives to attract "recruits" and depends on believers.

Since I started opposing "Revisionism" I have come across several persons, including one of my co-bloggers, who have turned their backs on "Revisionist" BS. But I don't remember having witnessed anyone becoming a "Revisionist".

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

Yeah, and I know who you're talking about too, and that guy never even was a holocaust revisionist in the first place. Good try, though, my beloved RoboCop.
You speak of the Hurenco$t as being established historiography. And to a large degree that statement may be somewhat true, although, you must confess, the stories that makes this gigantic Hurenco$t are at most flimsy and the directions it takes are more fluid rather than fixed.
Holocaust revisionism is not a movement. You clearly need to get your definitions right, RoboCop.
WELL, I've seen plenty of persons leaving the HurenHoax faith (i.e your beloved "holocaust") and never looked back. Remember, my faithful RoboCop, I too used to believe in your horseshit.

By the way: please don't attach names to this author that does not belong to him. You can complain about "RoboCopy" and I'll remove it.

PS.
The next time you engage in debate where your voice must be used - please try to not sound so slimy. You sound like a paedophile or some dirty old sex addict. Or just plain sick.
Weren't it you and your friends who constantly raked down on Denierbuddy's voice? Ha! Now we've heard yours and it sure isn't sweet.

FRANZ

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Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Yeah, I know who I'm talking about. Jonathan Andersson aka "k0nsl" aka "Franz Holtzhäuser", a "Revisionist" hollow-head from Sweden who feebly tries to make up for his utter lack of arguments with obviously self-projecting inane verbosity (or verbose inanity, if you prefer), as exemplified in his latest "Franz Holtzhäuser" post.

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

Wow, you can almost use proper English, dear. You've only had a life-time of practice! Not bad at all.
Now try to learn to talk proper English in your next debate, makes for better understanding, see?
Well, as I said; I know who you're talking 'bout too, and that guy never was a revisionist to begin with, however, saying so makes your propaganda a tad bit easier for someone uninitiated to swallow. I suppose.
However saying such a thing, knowing fully well that to be a lie, is dishonest to say the least!

FRANZ

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

The individual mentioned in my previous posts persists in his obviously self-projecting inane verbosity (or verbose inanity, if you prefer).

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

I note that the HC-Blowhard cut 'n pasted his own comment.
The Cut 'n Paste crew has done it again. Mans sweet init!

FRANZ

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

That's it, "Franz".

Please continue showing whoever might be interested what a "Revisionist" asshole is all about.

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

I don't get you Roberta, not at all! At the end of the week, and sometimes longer, but also considerably shorter too, at times, you have the energy of a True HC-Blowhard Cut 'n Paster but then your energy shrinks back to its original state (sort of like that 'gas chamber' at Auschwitz I).
I always wondered why that is so? My guess is that you supply of Lyrica is either fully gone and thus you're waiting for new prescription, or you're just depressed. Sure the latter can happen to anyone whilst the former hopefully doesn't happen to most people.
Overdosing on pills is never good. Eat them as prescribed and keep your energy for the full 14 days - or whatever interval you get your prescriptions.
Hey, just a friendly advice Roeberta.

Hope you feel like shit, though.

FRANZ

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

That's my "Franz", obediently continuing to show our readers what deplorable creatures populate "Revisionist" cloud-cuckoo-land.

His hysterical verbosity furthermore suggests that he has some frustrations of his own he's trying to get rid of.:-)

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

Hmm, seems like I've rattled your dreidel, Roerberta.
Two more days and you'll be all fit for duty, my dearest RoboCop. Just two more days! Keep your head to the shoulder, asswipe.

FRANZ

NorfolkTurkey said...

I just read the "demolition of MGK" book downloaded from www.libgen.org and I thought it was really excellent. I'm researching Nazi religious and metaphysical ideology and its role in the genocide, so I know how much work you have put into that book. It's really heroic.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

«Hmm, seems like I've rattled your dreidel, Roerberta.
Two more days and you'll be all fit for duty, my dearest RoboCop. Just two more days! Keep your head to the shoulder, asswipe.

FRANZ»

The most amusing part of this moron's invective is the "Roerberta" crap.

Maybe it's just the moron's amply demonstrated grade school puerility.

Or maybe "Franz" is projecting his own effeminacy.

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

I have no problems with my manly traits.
One more day, Roerberta. Sweeet, huh.

So, let's see here. You've attributed a false name to me for, let's see here, almost a decade. A male name. So what does that suggest of your own effeminacy, Roberta?
To be fair; Roberta / Roerberta has been a nickname of yours for years. It was given to you by Claudia Rothenbach. Cherish it, nappy-face.

FRANZ

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

I must have hit "Franz" on one of his raw nerves, judging by a response that is as lame and self-defeating as it is hysterical. The first sentence is already further evidence that the moron has the problems he professes not to have, for why else would he feel the need to make this affirmation?

"Claudia Rothenbach" seems to have also been a male, by the way. "Franz" is in good company.

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

Oh but you're wrong as per usual, Roberta, I'm in fine, fine company. See.
Nothing hysterical here. You're probably a bit blurry by now, I figure. Good one, RoboCop. Sit it out and tomorrow you'll be spewing words like a parrot, but with more finesse.
Hope you're having a really foul day!

FRANZ

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

The more this deplorable fellow blusters, the deeper the hole he digs for himself, and the more our readers get to see what a true "Revisionist" asshole is all about.

So please keep up the bullshit, "Franz". Especially the self-projecting parts.

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

Well if that hole becomes any more deeper I'm probably going to die and then we have a Holtzcaust on our hands and you're the perpetrator and will be sitting in the dock in Copenhagen and sentenced to death by being stuffed full of skipperlabskovs until you expire.
So think before you do something. Do you REALLY want to have a Holtzcau$t on your conscience? Oh, sorry, forgot! You don't have a friggin' conscience.

Bugger off, you looser of a nobody.

FRANZ

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

The one good thing about "Franz" is that I can always count on him to expose the sorry state of a hateful "Revisionist" mind with his moronic baloney. :-)

Franz Holtzhäuser said...

Roerberta PLEASE tone down your obvious anti-Franzism, it's sooo disgusting and vile hearing it over & over!

FRANZ

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

The moronic ramblings of poor "Franz" (including but not limited to their self-projecting parts) are actually appreciated for what they reveal about "Revisionism" and its proponents.

So please keep on rambling, "Franz".