Sunday, May 10, 2020

On the 'Holocaust Handbooks': An Occasional Review Series

At the end of last month, the flagship denier ‘Holocaust Handbooks’ series welcomed a new author, the pseudonymous Ernst Böhm, into the fold. With this publication, the series reached 40 titles. The bigger news that will likely go unmentioned by his publisher Germar Rudolf is that Böhm is the first new contributor to the series since the equally pseudonymous Warren B. Rutledge, a whole five years ago. Still, reaching the milestone of 40 books is worthy of some celebration (by the deniers) and criticism (by anti-deniers), and thus we at Holocaust Controversies announce a new occasional series of reviews of the ‘Holocaust Handbooks’ series.

The reviews will be just that – short reviews, not point-by-point rebuttals of every undotted i or uncrossed t in these books, tackling the essential argument(s) in the respective volumes. Some will likely be grouped together, where there are several ‘Handbooks’ on the same essential topic, such as the Leuchter and Rudolf reports (vols 16 and 2 respectively), to avoid repeating ourselves too much. Others may be split over several posts, if the topic is bigger than the share of the series the deniers have accorded it. For example, conventional understanding would place the extermination of the Jews in the Soviet Union at around 40% of the Holocaust, but hitherto the deniers have only managed one volume on the theme - Carlo Mattogno’s vol.39 on ‘The Einsatzgruppen’ (and note how the title is already a misrepresentation of the subject). Although the reviewer of this volume will undoubtedly try hard to keep things short, since it was published originally as two volumes in Italian, it’s sure to get more wordage than some other screeds.

We will likely add separate reflections not tied directly to a specific volume in the series as well. Eventually, we’d like to compile the reviews together into a short introductory critique of what currently passes for ‘serious revisionism’. Blog contributors will continue to post on other topics while the series unfolds, or they might expand on points arising from the review series in separate posts.

Why start a review series of the ‘Holocaust Handbooks’ now? Simply put, the medium-term future of ‘serious revisionism’ is in grave doubt. The lack of new contributors to the series means that the ‘Handbooks’ are currently really just The Mattogno Show, and one cannot realistically speak of ‘serious revisionism’ as a collective entity if it is in essence a one man enterprise. Other contributors to the series are one-and-dones (Heddesheimer, Rutledge, Alvarez) or might as well be (Kollerstrom), have vanished or gone silent (Ball, Butz, Leuchter, Sanning, Kues, Weckert), or are quasi-retired from writing (Graf). The majority of contributors to vol.1 Dissecting the Holocaust have simply died of old age, as did Pierre Marais, the original author of the underlying text of vol. 26 (The Gas Vans), last autumn. This leaves series publisher and editor Germar Rudolf, who has taken more and more credit for the ‘revised editions’ published in the past five years as a formal co-author, and Thomas Dalton, neither of whom have undertaken anything like proper research in physical or digital archives. With Mattogno publishing first in Italian, a conspicuous bottleneck has emerged in the production line at the stage of translation and editing, and the lack of fellow 'revisionist' researchers writing first in English has only worsened since Hans Metzner criticised the series for this in 2016.

Yet ‘serious revisionism’ also faces another problem: as their numbers shrink, the pile of material they ought to be dealing with continues to grow. Many of the volumes in the ‘Holocaust Handbooks’ series are now formally obsolete – there have been more recent conventional publications than the ones addressed in the equivalent volume; or new sources have been identified; or old ones digitised and made accessible. All of these must eventually be dealt with by the deniers, lest they sound even more out of touch than they already do. Many of the books also repeat hoary claims from the 1980s and 1990s that are 25-40 years out of date. Simply continuing with the current practice of issuing a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even 5th edition of a book whose foundations are crumbling won’t keep ‘revisionism’ relevant into the 2020s and 2030s. Yes, that is a concern troll, but it’s a serious criticism no matter how one puts it.

So with these thoughts in mind, we begin HC’s occasional series of reviews of the ‘Holocaust Handbooks’.

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