Sunday, January 22, 2017

Observer article on Holocaust Denial

Today's recommended reading: the British newspaper The Observer has published an article on Holocaust Denial featuring an interview with Nick Terry: New online generation takes up Holocaust denial


  1. He added: “Lipstadt said that arguing with a denier was like trying to nail jelly to a wall. I would say it’s now like trying to nail smoke to a wall. There’s almost no substance.”

    Lipstadt wrote:

    "Debating them would be like trying to nail a glob of jelly to the wall." [DtH, p.221]

    Well done, Dr. Terry, for mistranslating Lipstadt in a national newspaper!

    "Glob of jelly" in American English effectively means "glob of jam" in British English. Lipstadt clearly meant the fruit preserve that's typically spread on bread.

    What Brits call jelly, Americans call jello; the desert usually eaten in trifles or with ice cream.

    "Leading the Labour Party may not be the easiest job in the world (Neil Kinnock privately likened the task to 'nailing jam to the ceiling'), but Labour MPs have provided their leaders with a security of tenure denied their Conservative counterparts."
    - B. Brivati, R. Heffernan, The Labour Party: A Centenary History, 2000, p.249.

  2. Funnily enough Lipstadt did not dwell on the omission of 'glob' from my paraphrase when she retweeted the article.

  3. Dr. Terry does not put the Lipstadt sentence in quotes and the difference between British and US usage does not alter the meaning that smoke has less substance than jelly, jello, jam or whatever.

  4. It's good to see that coming to his sense re the Holocaust hasn't robbed the Bunny of his special charms.

  5. On deniers, I think they'll continue to exist but more and more like the Rabbit above, as an eccentric group. The Far-Right (mainly European one) will treat the denialism as something on the sidelines because that's the first time since Second World War they've got real chances of rise and not mere fears. The focus of their speech will be more on Nationalism and immigrants (and refugees) in many countries (Europe) where this speech is more sensitive.

  6. Jeff, please don't use abusive language to anyone in comments on this blog.

  7. Hello Hans,

    My name is Mishael Porembski, I came upon your website while looking for information about my grandfather, Henryk Porębski. He was taken prisoner by the Nazi's during the Warsaw uprising and my father and his family have not heard from him since. My father, Jan Porembski, his mother and his sister are survivors of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

    To my complete shock, while looking on the internet this morning I found a Henryk Porębski as a former concentration camp prisoner who reported the conditions at Auschwitz in a source used on your website as, Digitale Bibliothek 101: Der Auschwitz-Prozess. Henryk Porebski is listed at tab number 259.

    If this is my grandfather, then his son/my father, Jan Porembski (my father changed the spelling of our family name upon coming to the US to Porembski) is still alive and lives with me and my family in Georgia in the US. We have never heard any word about what happened to my grandfather after he was separated from his family by Nazi soldiers during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. I would really appreciate more information.

    I already ordered the publication Henryk Porebski is listed in that's available from Amazon. (Digitale Bibliothek 101: Der Auschwitz-Prozess). He is located in appendix P.

    This has always been a huge mystery in my family: what ever happened to my grandfather? Can you help shed more light in any way? Thanks, Mishael (Pronounced Michelle) Porembski

    I look forward to hearing from you,

    Mishael Porembski

  8. My father told me that his father, my grandfather, Henryk Porebski was taken from his family in September 1944 during the Warsaw Uprising.

  9. Hi Mishael,

    I can say unequivocally that the Henryk Porebski who testified at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial arrived at Auschwitz many years before September 1944, so is a different Henryk Porebski to your grandfather. I have read his statements from the 1940s as well as from the Frankfurt trial and the 1972 trial of Walter Dejaco (architect of the crematoria) in Vienna. To copy and paste some notes on a 1947 statement:

    Henryk Porebski, 30.6.47, Zschopau, arr 8.10.40 to 18.1.45, nr 5805, in Stammlager to March/April 1942, then Birkenau, as Electrician.

    Thus, not from Warsaw, arrived in 1940, extremely low registration number confirming a 1940 arrival.

    While you will find the Auschwitz trial interesting if you read German, you will not find further information about your grandfather.

    I would suggest contacting the Red Cross International Tracing Service in Arolsen; they have all the relevant name records from different camps that are available. A response may take a short while, but this is the most efficient way of finding out anything more; contacting each concentration camp museum/archive in turn would be very time-consuming and likely very disappointing.

    Not all civilians rounded up in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 were taken to concentration camps; many were sent as forced labourers to Germany direct from the holding camps outside Warsaw. However, the ITS has other, non-concentration camp records as well, so there is a chance, albeit a small one, that they may know more if your grandfather did not end up in a concentration camp like your father, grandmother and aunt.

  10. Hi Mishael,

    one more suggestion: as it sounds as if your grandfather became separated from the rest of his family, it might also be worth contacting the Institute of National Memory in Poland (IPN). Polish investigations into the Warsaw Uprising were extensive, and they were able to identify some victims of killings by name, and other killings by location. If your family knows the locations where your grandfather was last seen, or even just the street address of their home in 1944, this would help.

    All other biographical data, especially dates of birth, that you know about will help the archivists answer your queries to the extent that this is possible - which may not be possible, of course.

  11. Thank you so much for your comment. Very helpful. I will tell my father and it will actually be a relief. We could not believe that my grandfather would not seek his family out if he was still alive. Still we wonder what happened to him. How do I contact the agencies you suggested? Anyone you know that I should reach out to? And it should also be noted that we now own a few more thick books that reference Henryk Porebski (that just arrived from trying to determine the very information you gave us. Thanks for cutting to the point that these were two different Henryk Porebski's due to the dates they were taken. I appreciate your kindness.

  12. Hi Mishael,

    ITS Arolsen have a request form online. Queries can take some time.

    IPN in Poland don't indicate that they field such queries, but the contact details are here. I would suggest seeing if ITS Arolsen has anything before asking IPN.,Contact.html

    It's probably not much of a consolation for spending money on thick books, but your grandfather's namesake, the Henryk Porebski of Auschwitz, was one of the most important witnesses to Auschwitz because of his position as an electrician, he saw virtually everything.


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