Friday, July 17, 2009

A Real Open Debate on the Aktion Reinhard Camps

It can hardly have escaped the attention of most readers of this blog that the Aktion Reinhard camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka have attracted more and more attention from revisionism this decade.

In 2003 and 2004, Carlo Mattogno published two studies of Belzec and Treblinka, the latter co-authored with Jürgen Graf, and this blog has had plenty to say about both of these books. Indeed, Roberto Mühlenkamp's critique of Mattogno's Belzec book, written in 2006, has finally attracted a response, which Roberto is rebutting, and Mattogno is now apparently counter-rebutting as well. Also in 2006, Holocaust Controversies began criticising the 'One Third of the Holocaust' video put together by 'denierbud'. Since then, we've seen discussion of the Sobibor Archaeological Project and many other Aktion Reinhard camp-related posts here, as well as new revisionist authors writing essays on themes relating to these camps elsewhere.

Back in 2004, the RODOH forum hosted a formal debate on Auschwitz, between a Negationist Team headed by the late Robert Countess, and a Veritas Team composed of many veteran anti-deniers, including our own Roberto Mühlenkamp and Sergey Romanov. In 2006, the Phora hosted an abortive debate on Treblinka, which never quite got past the opening statements. Since these debates, there have been repeated suggestions to stage a new formal debate, with the Aktion Reinhard camps as the obvious next candidate.

But to no avail. Why that might be so, we'll leave for our readers to speculate in the comments. Note that these suggestions were for a formal debate, not the usual day-in, day-out forum threads that make up most of what passes for 'debate' on the internet these days. As revealing as such discussions can be, they rarely lend themselves to the set-piece clash of ideas that many people profess to want to see happen. Contrary to the fond delusions of many internet trolls, an issue cannot be settled in the nether reaches of blog comments or by quickfire discussion on a forum thread capped off with hollow declarations of victory. It requires time and thought to present the relevant arguments, it requires effort and research to back up those arguments with the appropriate evidence, and most of all it requires some structure and coherence.

A few weeks ago, I threw down the gauntlet to the revisionists at RODOH and challenged them to a formal debate. Rather than persist with 600-post threads on the skin discolouration of CO gassing victims, it seemed a better idea to argue some of the issues in a more structured format. And frankly, perhaps a little bit more interesting.

After much discussion in public and private, we can now announce that RODOH will host a formal debate on the Aktion Reinhard camps this autumn. Our opponents have declared themselves quorate, and solicited the agreement of a number of revisionists, some from RODOH and some from elsewhere, to take on a new Veritas team of non-revisionists.

At this stage, we are in the process of discussing debate rules, the precise proposition to be debated, and thrashing out our arguments in private. The debate itself will likely begin some time in October, to allow proper time for preparation. We would like to encourage readers of this blog to visit RODOH and take part in the public part of the groundrules discussion. If anyone wishes to assist either side, then they are more than welcome to contact the team organisers by registering at RODOH and sending a private message. For the Veritas Team, contact Kent Ford, although be aware we have quite a lot of help already drafted. For the revisionist side, contact Wahrheitseeker.

None of this will interfere with regular HC blog service from Roberto or Jon, who intend to complete their ongoing critiques and blog series. The purpose of the formal debate, in our eyes, is to sum up the arguments. It is surely no secret that we think that revisionist arguments on the Aktion Reinhard camps, as with other aspects of the Holocaust, are incoherent and illogical, if not often ignorant and ill-researched. They of course think otherwise, and that their arguments are right. Fine: so we have challenged them to prove this, and they have accepted the challenge. Stay tuned through the autumn to see how that turned out for them.


  1. According to Jean Francois Steiner, who wrote a book called "Treblinka," the privileged prisoners in the camp had "a great life." They were allowed to marry in the camp, and Kurt Franz conducted the wedding ceremonies. After one of the wedding celebrations, the prisoners got the idea of "a kind of cabaret," where there was music, dancing and drinking on the Summer nights.

    The following quote is from Steiner's book:

    When Lalka heard about what was going on, far from forbidding it, he provided the drinks himself and encouraged the SS men to go there. The first contact lacked warmth, but the S.S. men knew how to make people forget who they were, and soon their presence was ignored. In addition to the dancing, there were night-club acts. The ice was broken between the Jews and the S.S. This did not prevent the S.S. from killing the Jews during the day, but the prospect of having to part company soon mellowed them a little.


    The high point of these festivities was unquestionably Arthur Gold's birthday. An immense buffet was laid out in the tailor shop, which the S.S. officers decorated themselves. Hand written invitations were sent to every member of the camp aristocracy. It was to be the great social event of the season and everyone was eager to wear his finest clothes. [...] The women had done each other's hair and had put on the finest dresses in the store, simple for the girls and decollete for the women. [...] Arthur Gold outdid himself in the toasts that preceded the festivities. He insisted on thanking the Germans for the way they treated the Jews.


    One evening a Ukrainian brought an accordion and the others began to dance. The scene attracted some Jews, who with the onset of Summer, were more and more uncomfortable in their "cabaret." The nights were soft and starry, and if it were not for the perpetual fire which suffused the sky with its long flames, you would have thought that you were on the square of some Ukrainian village on Midsummer Eve. Everything was there: the campfire, the dancing, the multicolored skirts and the freshness of the night. Friendships sprang up. Just because men were going to kill each tomorrow was no reason to sulk.

    On August 2, 1943, the Jewish prisoners who worked at Treblinka staged an uprising after they had managed to steal weapons stored at the camp. The prisoners sprayed kerosene on the camp buildings and set them on fire. Jankiel Wiernik survived the uprising, although he was shot by one of the guards. According to Jean Francois Steiner, the Treblinka guard known as Ivan the Terrible was killed during the uprising.

  2. as they said in gulag: - die, you today, me, - tomorrow, may be.

    any idea what will constitute victory in argument ? (for me deniers r scum)

  3. I believe any and all claims from "revisionists" should be answered, as well as any issues they find investigated. However, most of them are not interested in truth, only ideology or conspiracy theory.

    In my opinion it is a waste of time having a live debate with deniers. A dialogue via peer reviewed sources, whether they be books, journal articles, online articles or blogs is better. Some way so that both sides cannot edit or delete something in order to hide their statements or alter their words.

    This "debate" I feel will not come with an objective "winner" in my opinion. It is a waste of time and resources.

  4. "This "debate" I feel will not come with an objective "winner" in my opinion. It is a waste of time and resources."

    We do not believe so, since a formal debate will offer the chance to sum up arguments pro, and also deal more systematically with the arguments contra.

    The non-revisionist team have discussed these camps for many years with deniers, and remain deeply unimpressed with and unconvinced by their arguments. The challenge to a debate is in our view a last chance to the run-of-the-mill internet denier to come up with something other than waffle and cliches.

    RODOH has its Auschwitz debate archived, although I notice just now it needs to have its formatting corrected. This was one of the first things I read in this "discussion". I also know of other people, even racists who might be predisposed to swallow 'revisionist' bullshit, who have read the debate and concluded that deniers have nothing to say.

    While other formats can do the same job, a debate I think can do it from another angle.

    N.B. the debate will not be 'live', but formal. 'Live' debate happens all the time at RODOH. A formal debate means a month or so turnaround between responses, which will be many 1000s of words long.

    Each side will have teams, which means multi-author responses. So the workload that falls on any one person will be not that great.

    In the meantime, Roberto has another instalment of his counter-rebuttal to Mattogno ready, so there won't be any distraction from normal service.


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