Friday, January 29, 2010

How Carlo Mattogno distorted Henryk Tauber's testimony

On 27.01.2010 Carlo Mattogno made a guest appearance at the antisemitic CODOH blog "Inconvenient history".

He presented his new comic book about Auschwitz, Le camere a gas di Auschwitz. Studio storico-tecnico sugli “indizi criminali” di Jean-Claude Pressac e sulla “convergenza di prove” di Robert Jan van Pelt, whining that it
has now been in print for several months and, as expected, it has been met with almost complete silence
This complaint is absolutely ridiculous. If even CODOH chimps did not know about this book until now, how would any mainstream scholars learn about it? Not that they would care, of course.

Moreover, the book is in Italian. Don't get me wrong, but if someone wishes to get some more or less quick responses to one's work from the most important scholars, one should publish in English, maybe in German. But Italian? And Mattogno complains? What arrogance. Especially considering Mattogno has yet to reply to the many arguments against him at this very blog.

Besides, not a single denier has yet responded to Alfred Kokh's and Pavel Polian's book Otritsanije otritsanija, ili Bitva pod Aushvitsem: debaty o demografii i geopolitike Kholokosta (Denial of denial, or the Battle of Auschwitz: debates on the demography and geopolitics of the Holocaust), published in 2008. Yeah, it's in Russian. But according to Mattogno's logic this should not have stopped anyone from responding. Pavel Polian is one of the most prominent Russian historical demographers, who has written extensively on numerous Stalinist deportations, and he categorically refutes the "revisionist" silliness regarding the "resettlement" of Jews and also audits the Holocaust death toll. Until the deniers find the missing Jews (who were not resettled), screeds like Mattogno's book are utterly irrelevant, except as propaganda tools for neo-Nazis. And as long as Mattogno does not explain what happened to the Jews deported to Auschwitz and "sonderbehandelt" there, his book cannot claim the status of "affirmationist" - it is still the same stale denial.

Anyway, the book seems to be a simple rehash of all the arguments Mattogno made over the years in his other books and articles. A significant portion is devoted to analysis of Henryk Tauber's testimony. When the book comes out in English, I may write a comprehensive review of Mattogno's arguments regarding Tauber, like I did with his silliness about Shlomo Dragon. For now I will give just one very illustrative example of Mattogno's "scholarship" regarding Tauber.

It is a given that if one is intent on finding a fault with a testimony, one should at least get the translation right. We've already seen how Mattogno mistranslated a passage from Shlomo Dragon's testimony and on the basis of the mangled text accused Dragon of testifying about absurd things. Then in the Bunkers of Auschwitz [PDF] he quoted Tauber's Soviet testimony thus (p.86):
[in May 1944] the separate gas chamber with the pyres near it was built and went into service. [...]

At Birkenau, besides the crematoria, the Germans also built the separate gas chambers nos. 1 and 2 and the pyres near them where the people would be annihilated. I don’t know when these [gas chambers] started to work, but I know that the Germans stopped to kill people there in April 1943. Gas chamber no. 2 and the pyres nearby as well as the pyres near crematorium no. 5 were in operation between May and October 1944 inclusive.
If we take this at face value, then Tauber is telling us that Bunker 2 was built in May 1944, quite a mistake. Yet here is what he actually said (GARF f.7021, op.108, d.13, l.10):
Была восстановлена и пущена отдельная газовая камера №2 и камеры [=костры ~SR] при ней.

The separate gas chamber was restored and went into service as well as the pyres near it.

There's a huge difference between "built" and "restored".

Now, I'm willing to give Mattogno the benefit of doubt in this case - perhaps this mistake crept in during the translation from Italian and thus may be the fault of another person. This example shows how crucial it is to get the correct translation before bashing testimonies.

But what follows transcends mere mistranslation. In Auschwitz: Open Air Incinerations [PDF] Mattogno describes Tauber's claim thus (p.13):
According to the witness, 400 corpses were placed into one trench and burned within 48 hours.31

31 Ibid. [=Minutes of the interrogation of Henryk Tauber on February 27-28, 1945, GARF, 7021-108-8 ~SR], p. 38.
He reiterates this point on p.22:
Their capacity was either 150-180 corpses per trench in 24-48 hours, 400 corpses per trench in 48 hours...
And in the table on p.23:
400 per pyre in 2 days
Here's Tauber's claim in context (GARF f.7021, op.108, d.13, l.11; I'm quoting from another delo, but the text is identical):
Сначала в канаву складывали дрова, затем трупы до 400 человек в перемешку с ветками, обливали бензином и поджигали. Затем туда же бросали остальные трупы из газовых камер, обливая их время от времени жиром с трупов.

At first firewood was put into the trench, then corpses of up to 400 people mixed with branches, they were doused with gasoline and ignited. Then the rest of the corpses from gas chambers were thrown there and from time to time doused with fat from corpses.
So Mattogno's claim is utterly false. It wasn't just 400 corpses in 48 hours per trench. Tauber says so explicitly.

So what happened? Did Mattogno deliberately omit the last part? Or is he such an inattentive reader?

It gets more interesting. He reiterates this claim on p.173 of his Italian critique of van Pelt [PDF]:
400 in una fossa in 48 ore
But on p.197 he actually quotes the excerpt:
Dapprima nella fossa si metteva della legna, poi 400 cadaveri alternati a rami, venivano cosparsi di benzina e si appiccava il fuoco. Indi vi si gettavano i restanti cadaveri [provenienti] dalle camere a gas, di tanto in tanto vi si versava il grasso dei cadaveri
So now he knows that Tauber testified about more corpses than 400. Yet he still repeats his claim.

Make of it what you will. Mattogno is at the very least a sloppy researcher and author. Of what value, then, are his "complex" analyses?

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