Saturday, December 08, 2018

Germar Rudolf’s foreword to Mattogno’s Einzatzgruppen book

Author: Roberto Muehlenkamp
The English translation of Mattogno’s Einsatzgruppen opus, which bears the title The Einsatzgruppen in the Occupied Eastern Territories. Genesis, Missions and Actions and has already been addressed in several HC articles, has finally been published.

Towards the end of October, as mentioned in this article, Germar Rudolf wrote that "We have submitted a long list of open issues -- including remarks made by the HC Blog -- to the author for his review, and are awaiting his feedback". However, there seems to have been no such feedback, or then it was limited to excuses for not addressing that long list of open issues, or then Rudolf changed his mind.

Either possibility is in line with the final part of Rudolf’s foreword to Mattogno’s book, which will be addressed in this article. Said foreword is on pp. 11-22 of the book, and the part referring to the "remarks made by the HC Blog" is on pp. 21 and 22.

The original Italian edition of this book was published in 2017. That edition has attracted the attention of a group of hostile commentators who, in August 2018, started to analyze and critique it in a series of blog entries online.

So we are "hostile commentators". Given the obvious hostility of their attacks on history and the memory of murdered people, it never ceases to amaze me how sensitive "Revisionists" are when subject to criticism themselves.

At that point in time, the editing efforts of the present English translation of Mattogno’s book were well under way. Right after I was informed about these critical blog entries, I informed Carlo Mattogno about them.

So Mattogno had to be informed by Rudolf about HC articles addressing his Einsatzgruppen book in its original Italian version? That’s quite surprising considering, inter alia, Mattogno’s detailed response, as far back as 2009, to my first series of articles addressing some of Mattogno’s writing about Bełżec extermination camp, and especially the voluminous response (long PDF) by Mattogno, Graf and Kues, addressed in several subsequent HC articles, to our white paper, which is only available online.

Since it was obvious that these blog entries had just started and were to be continued, probably for many months to come, reacting to them would have meant suspending the entire project, waiting for the bloggers to finish their critique, then do more research and finally rewrite the book where necessary, first in Italian, then in English. This would have delayed the English edition for a year, if not more.

It might have been more, given the ample dissection opportunities that Mattogno’s book provides. These opportunities are also a reason why having the book in English is helpful to its critics.

Add to this the volatile nature of blog entries, which can be changed and deleted at a moment’s notice.

Not exactly a pertinent argument considering that any blog entry can be easily printed or made into a PDF file and thus given a more "fixed" nature. That besides the fact, as concerns HC blog entries, that their authors are not exactly inclined to change or delete them "at a moment’s notice", and the references to said entries in several scholarly sources, whose authors seem to be more conscious of the fact that we are living in a digital era. Nowadays, among other things, written contracts are increasingly executed by electronic signatures on PDF files, bids to public contracts can be submitted in PDF on electronic platforms, and one finds constantly updated texts of legislation on internet websites kept by judicial authorities (like the excellent database of the Lisbon District Public Attorney’s Office), which render printed legal texts increasingly obsolete in juridical practice. Internet sites and blog entries may thus be considered equivalent to printed matter as a means of conveying facts, ideas and arguments. Considering that "Revisionism" owes most of its public dissemination to the internet, it is all the more surprising to see one of its leading figures trying to play down electronic means of publication.

In other words, Carlo Mattogno was not willing to go on a wild-goose chase just to refute some bloggers. If their critique were to be published in a conventional print format where the contents are fixed, then he would consider it.

Given the abundant space that the critique of "some bloggers" has occupied in some of Mattogno’s previous writings (see above), this argument can only evoke amusement.

As to the supposed primacy of printed matter: paper is as patient as the internet. Both give the same guarantee against their contents being rubbish – i.e. none at all, except that information available on the internet is sometimes likelier to be up-to-date, besides being more exposed to immediate criticism accessible to a large public, which can work as a sort of quality control.

Otherwise, he will not give some hostile critics the power to postpone the publication of his own book ad indefinitum.

While it was hardly our intention to delay the publication of Mattogno’s book in English, it’s interesting to learn that postponing publication on account of those "hostile critics" was considered – and then dismissed in favor of publishing something that has been largely refuted on the date of its publication already.

The reader, on the other hand, is invited to take notice of the arguments of both sides in this debate. When reading about the bloggers’ contentions regarding Mattogno’s comments on the “Jäger Report,” for instance, we notice first of all that the alpha and omega of historiography – source criticism – is something the bloggers evidently don’t like at all.

Let me see if I understood this correctly: is Rudolf saying that HC bloggers shun source criticism because they are not prepared to take Mattogno’s brand of such criticism at face value but dare call it into question?

All Mattogno does in this regard in the present book is to raise some questions about this document. He does the same with the Einsatzgruppen’s infamous Incident Reports. Source-critical questions are not illegitimate, as the bloggers suggest, but pivotal.

I’ll take that as a positive answer to my previous question, plus a somewhat-less-than-honest mischaracterization of our approach. We don’t consider raising questions "illegitimate" at all, but we reserve the right (free speech works both ways) to question the substance and pertinence of raised questions. Such questioning Mattogno and Rudolf seem unable or unwilling to deal with, judging by remarks like the next one.

This alone shows the utterly unprofessional, biased approach of these bloggers.

Being called "biased" by a "Revisionist" is sort of like being called lazy by the proverbial sloth, and the "unprofessional" suggests that a) Rudolf and Mattogno do what they do for a living (hardly the most commendable job), and b) they would consider it "professional" to accept questions like theirs as solid arguments without testing them for substance.

The next thing to notice with regard to the “Jäger Report” is that the bloggers accuse Mattogno of claims or mistakes he did, in fact, not make. Just read carefully what Mattogno wrote and what the bloggers claim (provided they haven’t changed it by now), and you will realize their skewed perspective. Whether this is due to their incompetence or mendacity may be left for the reader to decide.

This self-projecting accusation reads much like Mattogno, so maybe Rudolf is just passing on something that Mattogno told him. If that should not be so, Rudolf is invited to tell what supposedly undue accusations exactly he has in mind. Maybe it is my comment about a remark that the translator rendered as follows (The Einsatzgruppen, p. 195):
There is a preliminary draft of the “Jäger Report” titled “Complete List of Executions Carried Out to Date in the Region of E.K. 3,” dated 10 September 1941, which lists executions for a total of 76,355 victims. The actual “Jäger Report” lists 62,986 victims by this same date.

Like I think any other reader would have, I interpreted the above as suggesting a major discrepancy in figures between the 1st Jäger Report dated 10.9.1941 and the 2nd Report dated 1.12.1941 (which would make the accuracy of both seem questionable). I also saw it as (again) showing that professional source critic Mattogno (to give him the benefit of doubt instead of assuming intention to mislead) is a very poor reader of the sources he criticizes. For details see my article Mattogno takes on the Jäger Report (well, he tries) – Part 2.

As to the "provided they haven’t changed it by now" – remark: I’m not in the habit of changing anything in my articles without identifying the change and the date when it was made, and I don’t know that any of my fellow bloggers is.[Update: 10.12.2018: Someone disagrees with the assertion regarding my fellow bloggers. See BRoI's first comment to this article.][2nd. update, same day: See also the subsequent discussion.] If Rudolf thinks he has a case that I misread anything Mattogno wrote, he is invited to present it. If his argument should be pertinent, I’ll be glad to make the corresponding change and credit Rudolf with having brought the matter to my attention.

In another blog entry, they accuse Mattogno of not having used all the secondary source material available on some aspects of the present study, and to have taken into consideration only a limited number of witness testimonies. Such accusations are inevitable and unreasonable. They are inevitable, because it is physically impossible to cover all existing sources in a book of a reasonable size written by only one author within a finite time span. In addition, quoting all the secondary sources in existence – of which there are thousands – would be a book inflating exercise which would only annoy the reader without adding much information.
At the end of the day, a study such as the present one must be based primarily on primary sources, not on other scholars’ opinions.

It’s not like Mattogno ever had a problem with the length and long-windedness of his writings (apparently pointed out by none other than "Revisionist" icon Faurisson, as mentioned in this article), and I wouldn’t be surprised if many a devout "Revisionist" had his books on the shelf but never read them because they are simply too boring (sort of like I figure was the case with many a devout Nazi as concerns Mein Kampf).

As to secondary sources, I’d say that the least one can demand from who set outs to challenge the established narrative of certain events is that they be familiar with and address at least the most important scholarly works containing that narrative. Thus who writes about the Holocaust in Lithuania should at least address the publications of Arūnas Bubnys (especially his article Holocaust in Lithuanian Province in 1941) and Christoph Dieckmann’s Deutsche Besatzungspolitik in Litauen 1941-1944, the standard work about Lithuania under German occupation. Not on account of these authors’ opinions as Rudolf would have it, but on account of evidence they present. In the context of the Jäger Report this includes, without limitation, evidence regarding the wholesale cooperation of local authorities and "partisans" at killing sites in Lithuania that the Rollkommando Hamann could count on, an important aspect that Mattogno overlooked (for details see my article Mattogno takes on the Jäger Report (well, he tries) – Part 3). In this context it should be pointed out that there’s a slight but important difference between Mattogno’s assertions in the original Italian text (Gli Einsatzgruppen nei Territori Orientali Occupati, Part I, pp. 184-185) and the translation thereof. The Italian text reads as follows (emphasis added):
Se si suppone che il Rollkommando Hamann fosse suddiviso in unità più piccole, il che però non è attestato, si spiegherebbe senza dubbio la sua presenza lo stesso giorno a centinaia di distanza, ma non l’organizzazione caotica delle esecuzioni, effettuate a caso un po’ qua un po’ là, e non diminuirebbero certamente le distanze complessive percorse.

The translator rendered the above as follows (The Einsatzgruppen, p. 204):
If we suppose that Hamann’s raiding squad was sub-divided into smaller units, this might no doubt explain its presence in different localities hundreds of kilometers apart on the same day, but it would not explain the chaotic organization of the executions, carried out at random, here, there and everywhere, and it would certainly not reduce the total mileage by one jot.

The crucial period "il che però non è attestato" ("which however is not attested", meaning or suggesting that there’s no evidence to Hamman having divided his forces) is missing in the translation. Maybe Mattogno and/or Rudolf should have a word with the translator.

As to witnesses, I don’t remember written in my Lithuania articles that all witness testimonies regarding a given event should have been addressed by Mattogno. Rudolf is welcome to help my memory if he thinks I forgot something. Regarding the mass killings addressed in my Lithuania articles there weren’t all that many witnesses to start with.

Furthermore, when it comes to witness testimonies, these accusations are unreasonable as well, because the present book proves with ample examples that many if not most witness testimonies are filled with absurd claims that give rise to the conclusion that we simply cannot rely on them. Adding thousands more of these sometimes absurd and even grotesque statements won’t change that conclusion. Such expansion of the data pool can only confirm it. At the end of the day, it does not matter how many witnesses have claimed that witches ride on broomsticks and have sex with the devil (not necessarily both at once nor in that order).

Apparently Rudolf thinks he knows the contents of all relevant testimonies, of which he suggests there are "thousands", without having looked at them. I guess that’s part of his source criticism.

We’re not talking about witchcraft here, as Rudolf well knows. We’re talking about bullets and the blood of innocent people. Plain and earthly mass murder, which becomes apparent from a number of essentially matching sources independent of each other, including witnesses and documents (such as the administrative correspondence about public health issues generated by the mass graves that Jäger’s killers left behind, which is addressed and shown in my articles Mattogno takes on the Jäger Report (well, he tries) - Part 5 (1) and Mattogno takes on the Jäger Report (well, he tries) - Part 5 (2)). And while it’s a matter of course that eyewitness testimonies (regarding any given event) should be examined critically, especially checked against each other and other evidence where possible, it’s not like certain key witnesses ignored by Mattogno had provided preposterous accounts (such as certain claims made by survivors of the Dresden bombings on 13-15 February 1945, but I digress …).

A case in point is the bystander witness Kazimierz Sakowicz, mentioned in my article How many people were killed at Ponary? but nowhere in Mattogno’s book unless I missed something. His well-known diary entries about the Ponary killing site near Vilnius match information in the Jäger Report and other evidence that Sakowicz was not aware of, and they also allow for correcting certain estimates about the number of Jews killed at Ponary, which this witness’s observations show to be much too high.

Another case in point, particularly revealing of Mattogno’s methodology, is Otto Schroff, a Wehrmacht serviceman who along with two other members of his unit witnessed the killing of around 400 Jews at Ponary and took several photographs that show the victims being taken to the place where they were killed. Mattogno, well aware of Schroff’s photographs and the three testimonies, addresses only one of these (that of Pflüger), argues against its plausibility (rather feebly, as demonstrated in this article), and speculates that Pflüger must have been shown the aforementioned photographs and, not knowing what else to say, improvised an improbable story. Not a word about the photographs having been taken by Pflüger’s comrade Schroff, let alone about Schroff’s having expressly stated this in his testimony, which essentially and independently corroborates Pflüger’s and is wholly omitted by Mattogno.

So Mattogno suppressed Schroff’s testimony in order to present Schroff’s photographs as of unknown provenance, and to discredit Pflüger. This example of source criticism deluxe, à la Mattogno, can now be read in English on pp. 646-647 of the translation.

If it can be shown that many of these statements are untrustworthy, we need to seek better, more reliable types of evidence.

That’s a big if, notwithstanding Mattogno’s "source criticism" exercises and Rudolf exultation thereof. Especially where the testimonies are in line with documentary evidence that the witnesses could not have known.

In our case, as already stated, the type of evidence needed consists of thorough and independent forensic examinations of the mass graves that can be located. Nothing else will do.

First of all, it is worth noting that shunning all but one source of evidence ("Nothing else will do") seems to be part of Rudolf’s source criticism practices.

Second, while any additional evidence would of course be desirable, establishing the essential facts does not depend, for the reasons I mentioned at the end of this article, on how many mass graves of people murdered by Jäger’s men and their willing Lithuanian auxiliaries have been or will be dug up.

Last but not least, it should be noted that who calls for such digging previously wrote about "widespread massacres by the Soviets against the former nobility, the Christian clergy, the “bourgeoisie,” the “kulaks” (small independent farmers) and, in fact, anyone standing in their way", and "the slaughter of millions, most of them Christians by faith" by the Soviets (The Einsatzgruppen …, p. 14).

What is more, in quantitatively comparing Nazi mobile killing operations in the Soviet Union (the range of estimates mentioned by Rudolf is between 1 and 3 million victims, the difference being obviously related, among other aspects, to whether one considers the Soviet Union in its 1939 or in its 1941 borders) with Soviet mass killings, Rudolf writes the following (p. 20):
But if we compare these figures with the death toll of Soviet atrocities committed since 1917 until the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, we are dealing with “peanuts.” Estimates of that Soviet death toll up to 1941 range in the tens of millions, hence a factor ten higher than that of Jews (and non-Jews) presumably killed by Germans in the Soviet Union.

"Tens of millions" is much exaggerated, but that’s another issue. The question here is why Rudolf doesn’t call for finding and digging up the mass graves of all those "tens of millions" of Soviet atrocity victims, proclaiming that "nothing else will do". Could it be that his brand of source criticism involves double standards of evidence?

If such evidence is never developed or presented, the world will have to live for all eternity with critical, skeptical and even denying voices regarding the claimed Einsatzgruppen massacres.

Rudolf should have left out the "critical, skeptical" part (plus the "claimed") to avoid (further) self-parody.

As to the world, I'd say there is one part of it that doesn't mind "Revisionist" activities at all, but rather welcomes them: the organizations that Norman Finkelstein called the "Holocaust Industry", which are largely dependent on the "Revisionist" bogeyman to justify their continued existence.

We at HC also don’t mind "Revisionist" publications, insofar as they provide occasions for us to further explore and convey the facts of events that are of some interest to who cares about history.

Rudolf is welcome to come over here and discuss the above issues with me. According to our comments policy he may post here without moderator approval within the next 90 days. I’m also available to meet him on a web forum of his choice, no moderator interference provided. If he should accept my invitation, we can also talk about my Challenge to Supporters of the Revisionist Transit Camp Theory, where he is suggested as one of the potential arbiters.


Jonathan Harrison said...

Rudolf had a duty as an editor to demand that Mattogno "do more research and finally rewrite the book where necessary, first in Italian, then in English" given that he was aware of numerous errors and had sent those errors to Mattogno. Instead, for internal political reasons and to save face, he put out something that he knew to be substandard.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Not that the standard is or ever was particularly high ...

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

"I’m not in the habit of changing anything in my articles without identifying the change and the date when it was made, and I don’t know that any of my fellow bloggers is."

I trust you'll update and log the amendment now you're aware that unacknowledged revisionism is indeed happening on your blog:

19 Nov 2017 vs. today

Initial denial, later "inadvertent mistake", all peppered with the customary accusations, follow this post.

Discussed evolving-post needs updating again. Perhaps you can inform him how to use ellipsis in exchange for an explanation of using is vs. are.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

«I’m not in the habit of changing anything in my articles without identifying the change and the date when it was made, and I don’t know that any of my fellow bloggers is."

I trust you'll update and log the amendment now you're aware that unacknowledged revisionism is indeed happening on your blog:

19 Nov 2017 vs. today

Initial denial, later "inadvertent mistake", all peppered with the customary accusations, follow this post.

Discussed evolving-post needs updating again. Perhaps you can inform him how to use ellipsis in exchange for an explanation of using is vs. are.»

Oh, Mr. Wise Guy is back.

No, I don't alter other blogger's posts, and I'm also not your messenger.

Sergey Romanov said...

> unacknowledged revisionism is indeed happening on your blog

Actually the date of the last update is right at the top of the article, and the updated version even hat-tips the BRoI, so once again we're witnessing BRoI's pathological mendacity.

Sergey Romanov said...

For those who don't know, the weird personage above has already been caught engaging in baldfaced lies earlier:

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

He's useful in a sense, however. He confirms my point that articles on blogs and websites are more exposed to immediate criticism than printed publications.

Sergey Romanov said...

He could be a decent factchecker if he exhibited a little bit more honesty and chose not to be a disruptive flaming asshole. As long as he chooses to be such, he will be treated as such, until he learns his lesson.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Our comments policy includes the following:

Abusive, insulting, offensive, violent or threatening language, regardless of whether it is used by Holocaust deniers, critics of Holocaust denial or anyone else. The use of racist, misogynist, homophobic or otherwise disparaging slurs and insults, be it by Holocaust deniers or anyone else, or against Holocaust deniers or anyone else, will not be tolerated.

"Asshole" goes under insulting language. It should thus be avoided.

The same goes for my "Wise Guy", apologies for that one.

Difficult though it may be in the face of certain people's antics, we should try as best as we can to behave like gentlemen.

Sergey Romanov said...

Roberto, the policy is set by us for the commenters. We ourselves will deviate from it as we see fit, for example for the purpose of educating certain poisonous trolls.

It's not an equal relationship and has never been supposed to be. If an unruly child is given a stern talking to, it doesn't have a right of an equal reply.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Talking sternly to trolls is fine, but calling them names is counterproductive.

It also doesn't befit the quality of our research.

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

"The same goes for my "Wise Guy", apologies for that one."

Thank you. Even though I wasn't in the slightest bit offended. I saw it as persiflage—there's always a place for that in debate—and perfectly reasonable, considering the sarcasm in my final paragraph.