Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Holocaust deniers and the Yad Vashem database

[Update 14.05.2020: a quick rejoinder to Denier Muppet's non-response has been added. Also added to the Buchhalter section.]

So, some silly neo-Nazi (to whom we will refer as Denier Muppet) thinks he has a gotcha - allegedly he found some prominent Holocaust survivors listed in the Yad Vashem database and the neo-Nazi muppets have been all agog about this. Let's take a quick look, but before that, what is the Yad Vashem database?

It's a database that intends to list the names of the Holocaust victims. According to the FAQ, currently it contains 6.5 million records and it is estimated that those refer to about 4.8 million individuals (i. e. YV tries to account for duplicate records).

What are the sources of the database? The FAQ explains: a huge chunk comes from the pages of testimony (basically, forms filled out by survivors or relatives about the presumed victims), archival documentation and local commemoration projects.

Now comes the important part, so I will directly quote from the FAQ:
Does every name in the Names Database relate to a victim murdered beyond any doubt? 
No. The Database is based on thousands of different sources. Yad Vashem experts have analyzed each source and have distinguished between sources that attest to murder, sources that point to a very high probability of murder (presumably murdered) and sources that lack a direct reference to murder.
It is probable that part of the individuals whose names appear only in sources of the third category, that is, lacking a direct reference to murder, were murdered at a later stage, but this cannot be determined on the basis of the documentation available as of now.    
Why is it that on the personal records based on lists of Jews in some of the ghettos (Lodz for example), it is stated "presumably murdered"? I know that the person was murdered! 
Yad Vashem experts have analyzed each source in the Database and have distinguished between sources that attest to murder, sources that point to a very high probability of murder and sources that lack a direct reference to murder.
For example: The list prepared by the Organization of Former Residents of Lodz in Israel contains some 240,000 personal records. It is known that the vast majority of the Jews imprisoned in the Lodz ghetto were ultimately murdered, but the editors of the list did not make a distinction between those who were murdered and those who survived. Due to the limitations of the list itself, there is no way of knowing with any measure of exactitude which of the individuals on the list was not murdered, and therefore we stated next to each name on the list "presumably murdered." The names of those for whom we have documentation attesting that they did indeed survive do not appear at this stage on the Database.
If you find the name of a ghetto prisoner and you know that she or he survived, please fill out a Shoah Survivor Registration form. In this way you can help us distinguish between the names of the murdered and the survivors on the list. In the future, we intend to give online access to the names of the survivors as well.
[...]

Are there survivors in the Names Database? 
There may be some, but inadvertently. Part of the information in the Database comes from archival documentation such as deportation lists, lists of camp inmates, and so on. These documents attest to Jews persecuted by the Nazis during the Shoah. Most of them were murdered. A tiny minority managed to survive. They were victims of the Nazis, in that they suffered horribly and were persecuted nearly till death, but fortunately they survived. Names of known survivors are not listed in the Database at this stage. If you identify someone who survived, please fill out a Shoah Survivor Registration Form and send us a postwar document for verification, and we will remove his or her record from the Names Database. 
So we see that YV explicitly says that the database is not perfect. And we cannot expect it to be.

Now, let us list the possible sources of errors in the database.

Cause of error #1: when it is a page of testimony, the wrong assumption of death might be entered in the database. In fact, the database site even has stories of relatives who thought some other realtives to be dead and even submitted pages of testimony and then got reunited.

Cause of error #2: as the FAQ points out, the database includes some sources, like certain deportation reports or ghetto lists, for which it is known that most of the people on the list are dead but it's hard to sort out the few survivors and this has to happen with time.

With this in mind let's go through Denier Muppet's list.

1. Dario Gabbai. He was a member of the Auschwitz Sonderkommando (and obviously wasn't exposed by anyone as fraud - rather it's the low-IQ "Denier Bud" who got so exposed). Denier Muppet writes that Gabbai "is listed in the Yad Vashem archives as having been “murdered” at Auschwitz three times" - a lie, since even his own screenshot shows one record's status as "not stated" and not "murdered".

That said, there are indeed two mistaken entries (not counted as two deaths, see above), with one source unclear and another being a general list with names on which most people are dead (Gabbai's exact date of birth is listed). So here we have the cause of error #2.

2. Benjamin Lesser, the founder of the Zachor Holocaust Memorial Foundation. Denier Muppet claims that "he too is listed as “murdered in the Shoah.” The source used by the database is the testimony of another well-known “survivor” named Rachel Verderber, who herself appears in the archive!".

If we go to Verderber's page of testimony, we see that Lesser's mother is listed as "Chaya Sarah Verderber" and his father as "Chaim".


If we go to the other pages of testimony submitted by Rachel Verderber we will also find the page of Chaim Lesser, the husband of Chaya.

So this Benjamin Lesser was a son of Chaim Lesser and Chaya Lesser nee Verderber.

It doesn't take long to find out the fact that Benjamin Lesser who is the founder of the Zachor Holocaust Memorial Foundation was a son of Lazar Leser and Shaindel (Shari) Leser. I. e. an entirely different individual.

So here we see an important source of confusion: even if the name, the year and the town/city/village match, it's not a guarantee that we are talking about the same person.

Sometimes the coincidence will be by pure chance, oftentimes it will be a member of the often large extended family (e. g. a cousin) bearing the same or similar surname and also, by chance (or sometimes not, when e. g. named after a common grandparent), the first name.

Notably, Denier Muppet has stated that Rachel Verderber herself appears in the archive. While this may be the same person, she is not listed as murdered (her fate is explicitly listed as "not stated"). As Yad Vashem explains:
We have expanded the Database to include an additional 1.5 million personal records containing information regarding the ordeals of Jews during the Shoah: as prisoners in ghettos or camps, in hiding and under occupation, etc. We have included these new personal records even though the final fate of the Jews that they document cannot be determined on the basis of the specific source.
Obviously, these are not included in the current count of about 4,8 m individual victim names.

Another denier fail.

3. Josef Salomonovic/Salomonowicz, an Auschwitz survivor. Denier Muppet about him:
"In his biography, he says he was born 1938 and resided in the Lodz ghetto in Poland. He too is listed as having been “presumably murdered” — twice. There are multiple additional entries for a Josef Salomonowicz in the Lodz ghetto born around the same time, which may also be him." The source cited? A census of Jews who lived in Lodz provided to the Yad Vashem by a group called “Organization of former residents of Lodz in Israel.”
OK, first of all, the source listed is specifically mentioned in the above-cited FAQ as one of the sources containing mostly victims but also some people who were murdered and could not be sorted out, so even assuming it's the same person, it would be an expected cause of error #2.

However, as we have seen from the example of Benjamin Lesser, we cannot even assume it's the same person.

4. Margit Feldman nee Buchhalter, an Auschwitz survivor. Denier Muppet found an entry for a Margit Buchhalter without any year of birth listed, who used to live in Eger, Hungary.

However, Margit Feldman lived in Tolcsva. Moreover, Margit Buchhalter from Eger was married to Malvin Buchhalter, so "Buchhalter" was (extremely probably) not her maiden name in the first place, whereas for Margit Feldman it was. Not to mention that Margit Feldman was 14-15 at the time and doesn't mention having been married at such an early age, but rather tells a story (here starting at 12:49) of having been promised to a young man, and the young man insisting on the marriage in the ghetto, but the father being against and so the marriage never took place - and this happened in the ghetto of Sátoraljaújhely, not in Eger. So it's an entirely different person.

5. Yitzhak Arad, the famous historian and once the director of Yad Vashem, original name: Yitzhak Rudnitski.

Denier Muppet found 1 entry for an Izak Rudnicki b. 1926 listed in the Vilno Ghetto (and merely "presumed murdered").

Could it be Arad? Yes. Could it be someone else? For a ghetto with 40,000 inhabitants: also yes. Note how many Yitzhak Rudnitskis there are in the database, it wasn't such a rare name/surname combination (we even see one Itzek Rudnitzki born in "Sventsian"/"Swenziany" (Święciany), where Arad was also born - but we know it's not Arad since he was born in 1929 and appears in some lists from the Klooga camp in Estonia). So one cannot prove beyond the reasonable doubt that Izak Rudnicki from the database is the same individual as Arad, but even if he were, this explicitly presumed entry is based on a ghetto list, which would merely make it the cause of error #2.

Wait, that's all?

OK, so in the end, what did Denier Muppet prove? Nothing that the Yad Vashem site hadn't already stated in its FAQ.

PS: the "faulty database" phenomenon is hardly unique. In the case of Katyn we have, for example, a live Pole (Remigiusz Bierzanek) appearing in the German exhumation list, as well as 48 other names of Poles not transferred from the Kozielsk camp and not killed at Katyn as far as we know; Stanisław Kuczyński-Iskander Bej and Włodzimierz Haninczak who appear in numerous modern lists as shot in Kharkov, even though we now know they weren't.

PPS: Denier Muppet has thrown a hissy fit that apparently counts as a "response" in that crowd.
His argument:
"It says "presumably murdered" not murdered!  And in the cases where it decisively says they were murdered at, it could be another person with the exact same name, dob and location. And IF it is the same person, its an honest mistake! HAHAHA YOU STUPID MUPPET"
The argument is that first of all, Yad Vashem is very open about the imperfections in their database and about the fact that survivors may indeed appear there, so there's no gotcha and no hoaxing; second, in at least two cases listed by Denier Muppet those are indeed different persons, which is an illustration that this could also apply to other cases.
The Yad Vashem database lists people who are alive or died this year of coronavirus as having been murdered in the Holocaust. Including the Yad Vashem's own 21-year director!
How are you supposed to use this archive Daniel?
Already explained in the article, as was rightly pointed out to Denier Muppet. And Denier Muppet couldn't point to any people dying from coronavirus in the database.
I can give you the Cliffnotes:
Hoaxer acts like I'm wrong while admitting that I'm probably right. If the Yad Vashem's archive is wrong, the media and Holohoaxers should stop pointing to it and asking "WHERE DID THESE PEOPLE GO THEN?!?!?" when confronted with their lies.
Not "Denier Muppet is right" (he was outright wrong about at least 2 people) but "what he is right about is already known from the very Yad Vashem database site". A marginal amount of mistakes doesn't discredit the database. Suppose the deniers compile a list of 300,000 such mistakes - they would still have 4,5 million names to account for. Denier Muppet has "analyzed" a sample of 5(!) and failed even here, with 2 persons on this list already proven to be different people (and ask yourself how many survivor names he actually had to try before he had his measly amount of alleged hits).

By the way, the "where did they go" argument doesn't need a database.

Denier Muppet is welcome to explain where the Jews deported to Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec and Kulmof in 1942 went: Seriously Now, Where Did The Jews "Evacuated to The East" Go?

We even have a standing challenge with 1000$ for name of a single one such deported Jew, no takers so far: Challenge to Supporters of the Revisionist Transit Camp Theory
"It's technically possible there were multiple 6 year olds named Josef Salomonowicz living at the Lodz Ghetto at the same time, IDIOT. But even if you are right, the Yad Vashem archive is filled with bullshit anyway. OWNED." Reminds me of Destiny/Sargon/Vaush tactical nihilism
The simple fact that the combination of the name, surname, place of residence and year of birth doesn't, by itself, necessarily establish identity is spectacularly demonstrated in the article itself on the example of Benjamin Lesser. Note: in a sample of merely five persons listed in the denier article we had just such a case. It's not a mere "technical possibility".

The Yad Vashem archive is of course not filled with BS even if it's the same person, as limitations are clearly listed on the site. Such marginal mistakes are explicitly expected. What Denier Muppet hasn't shown is that such mistakes - explicitly pointed out in the YV FAQ - constitute a significant percentage of the total.
Imagine if HC was this exacting with his Holocaust science fiction stories. He says Margit Buchhalter of Hungary is not the same person because the archive says because she was deported from a Czech border town 90 minutes away from where her bio says she was residing.
Here Denier Muppet outright falsifies the record. YV clearly says that Eger was her place of residence. Can Denier Muppet make an argument without lying?

The record is most probably taken from the Yizkor book Yehudei Erlau (The Jews of Eger), in which Margit Buchhalter is listed as Malvin Buchhalter's wife (she is listed as "married to Malvin" by YV), so it (extremely probably) was not this Margit's maiden name, wheras it was Margit Feldman's maiden name. Moreover, Margit Feldman nee Buchhalter was 14-15 at the time and doesn't mention anything about having been married early (I have updated the Buchhalter entry so go there for further details).

USHMM's survivors database shows two more different Hungarian-Jewish women bearing that name (one born in 1879, another in 1885 - surviving due to the more than 100,000 Budapest Jews not having been deported in time), showing that a mere fact of being a Hungarian-Jewish woman bearing this name doesn't establish identity.

Denier Muppet has once again demonstrated that he is organically unable to do proper research.

While we are at it: can Denier Muppet explain where the ~320,000 Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz but not registered there and also unable to work and thus not held in the camp as the so-called "transit Jews" (who were to be transferred to labor camps - there were around 100,000 of those) disappeared to in 1944?

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