Monday, May 07, 2018

Paul Craig Roberts Crosses the Line

If you've never heard of Paul Craig Roberts, don't feel bad. As a public figure, he seems to have hit his high water mark during the Reagan Adminstration as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, where he stridently defended supply-side economic policy. Since 2001, he has been a rather loud voice among the 9/11 truth movement, which dovetails nicely with his Buchanan-esque paleoconservative views of Israel. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his writings over the last decade or so have walked a very fine line between perhaps overly vehement but otherwise justifiable attacks on Israel's role in American foreign policy to overtly anti-Semitic rhetoric. I want to be clear before continuing that I don't know whether Roberts is an anti-Semite and am not saying that he is. But with his latest column, he has crossed over a divide -- whether he knows it or not -- into plain Holocaust denial. And for this, he needs to answer.

Roberts's column posted on May 3, entitled "Morality, Truth, Facts Have Exited From The Dying West," begins by addressing remarks made Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a speech to the Palestinian National Council on April 30 -- or more correctly addressing the response by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who called Abbas's remarks Holocaust denial. To be clear, I don’t know what Abbas actually said, but if the reporting is correct, then his remarks were at the very least insensitive and overly general regarding the causes of European anti-Semitism and its relationship with Zionism. That Abbas has a history of overt Holocaust denial (having written a doctoral dissertation several decades ago that minimized the death toll) didn't help Abbas's case here. For what it's worth, he has since apologized.

Roberts first expresses agreement with Abbas's remark that European anti-Semitism was not Christian in origin but rather an outgrowth of Jewish control over money lending (again, a bit of an overgeneralization), but in the fourth paragraph, he really hits his stride:
What was the Holocaust? According to zionists, the Holocaust was National Socialist Germany’s elimination of 6 million Jews by first gassing them and then cremating the bodies. It is unclear how Germany managed this feat when all of its limited and dwindling resources were employed, unsuccessfully as it turns out, on the Russian front.
The first problem, obviously, is that the definition he provides is not one limited to only "zionists" [sic]. More importantly, as noted in numerous blog posts here, no responsible historian claims that the Nazis gassed six million Jews. Fewer than three million deaths of Jews during the war can be attributed conclusively to gassing; at least an equal number were shot by Einsatzgruppen in the Soviet Union, were starved or died from disease in ghettos or non-death camps, or were murdered by Axis allies.

His third point is also a bit of a groaner, although if we could extend the benefit of the doubt to him regarding good faith, we might say it's a decent question. Enough ink has been spilled on the topic of the changing nature of Nazi Jewish policy during the Barbarossa campaign, so I won't reinvent that wheel here except to note that Roberts seems woefully under-read on this topic. Anyone with more than a miniseries-level knowledge of the Holocaust would consider the whole paragraph an exercise in either total ignorance of historical facts or evidence of bad faith.

Roberts continues:
Photos demonstrating the Holocaust include dead skeletal-like bodies. But these are not people gassed and cremated. These are deaths from typhus and starvation. The disintegrating German state had no food or medicines for Germans and often not for its own soldiers. Concentration camp inmates were on the bottom of the totem pole.
True enough, the bodies in German camps found by American and British liberators were of Jews who died of disease and starvation. To his credit, Roberts does not try to claim that these dead Jews are not the responsibility of the German state. But that's a less interesting point than feeling the need to point this fact out at all. Where have I seen this before? Oh yes! That Roberts deploys an opening gambit of virtually every Holocaust denier I've encountered over the last 20 years is probably not a vote in his favor here.

The next few paragraphs is really where the rubber meets the road, so I want to drill down on these a bit. He begins, "We know very little about the Holocaust, because no one is allowed to study it."

Actually, we know a tremendous amount about the Holocaust and what we know about it we know because people have routinely been able to study it. This might seem axiomatic, but apparently it isn't, since it's another commonly used opening gambit used by deniers. More on this below.

Roberts continues, "Anyone in Europe who studies it and makes the slightest correction to the zionist narrative is arrested and imprisoned as a Holocaust denier."

Putting aside the point addressed above about a "zionist narrative," Roberts is simply wrong. Assuming by "zionist narrative," he means that European Jews were deliberately murdered in numbers of approximately six million by the Nazis, using methods including poison gas, then perhaps he isn't aware that this account is routinely modified on the basis of newly available evidence. Interestingly, one of the things that has happened is that the death toll estimated by historians has tended to go up, not down. Gerald Reitlinger (a European) estimated the number of deaths as falling in range of 4.3 million to 4.7 million in 1953; Raul Hilberg (another European, albeit eventually a naturalized American) estimated the number at 5.1 million in 1961. These numbers, by the way, were already at odds with numbers estimated by, e.g., the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry tasked with estimating this number. Reitlinger wasn't prosecuted for estimating a number fully 1.5 million smaller than the "official" estimate.

Roberts again: "There is no doubt that many Jews were killed, but there are different views about the various means employed and the extent to which the process was organized or haphazard. Before differences could be resolved and sorted out, the subject was put off limits."

Compare Mark Weber's writing from "The Holocaust: Let's Hear Both Sides": "They ["revisionists"] do not dispute the fact that large numbers of Jews were deported to concentration camps and ghettos, or that many Jews died or were killed during the Second World War."

Regarding the means employed, to be clear, there are not different views, at least among anyone who has taken the time to explore the issue. Regarding whether the process was organized or haphazard, thereby hangs a tale -- one told here and elsewhere repeatedly, despite Roberts's assurance that such a discussion is "off limits."

Two points bear mention here. The first is the intentionalist-functionalist debate, which I wrote about here. If it interests you, you can read about it further, but suffice it to say that it was perhaps the major point of dispute among historians for a couple of decades, and nobody went to prison.

The second point is the Historikerstreit, or "historians' fight" of the 1980s and 1990s, during which conservative German scholars openly questioned the extent to which the Holocaust might have been a natural reaction on the part of the Nazis to Bolshevist terror, which was believed by many people, not just Nazis, to be specifically Jewish in origin (owing to the Jewish backgrounds of many early Bolsheviks). None of these historians were punished either. Many of them wrote canonical works in the historiography of the Third Reich (e.g., Ernst Nolte) that remain important.

Not to put too fine a point on this issue, but I've spent the last two years researching fairly intensively the Holocaust in the Baltic States and eastern Poland. Trust me when I tell you that no small amount of the work in this area has examined the extent to which Jews living in these regions might have provoked the anger of the populations by embracing the Soviets when the Red Army occupied these regions between September 1939 and June 1941. This point is examined because it's an important one -- if one of the goals of history is to assure that, by understanding history, we can avoid it being repeated in its worst aspects, then understanding the motivations of the murderers of Europe's Jews is an important part of the process.

None of the historians who have examined this question -- difficult as it is to examine -- have been prosecuted, much less imprisoned. Where "historians" have been imprisoned is when they have publicly stated their conviction that the Holocaust was essentially a hoax -- that the number of victims have been irresponsibly inflated and especially that no gassings were committed. As wrongheaded and counterproductive as I might think these laws are, it's worth noting that these are the people who have been prosecuted -- not radical functionalists like Götz Aly, not conservative revisionists seeking to draw an equivalence between the Holocaust and Stalinist mass killing like Nolte, and not nationalist historians like Mark Paul, whose work seeks to contextualize the mass killing of Jews within the behavior of certain sectors of the Jewish population. Also worth noting is that the people who are prosecuted are often not prosecuted for denying the Holocaust per se but for inciting racial hatred -- which is a crime in more countries than it is not. Given that the Venn diagram for Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites is pretty much a perfect circle, this fact ought not surprise us.

Roberts writes the following next:
For example, suppose a scholar in Germany discovers a previously unknown document that proves that National Socialist Germany exterminated 3 million Jews. This discovery of proof of the Holocaust would be rewarded with the arrest and imprisonment of the scholar for reporting the document, because it conflicts with the official zionist declaration of 6 million. The document would be branded a falsification and discarded. The scholar’s career would be ruined.
I hope the examples of Reitlinger and Hilberg above have disproved this point. But I do believe that, were a document found smeared with Hitler's DNA and reading, "Kill the Jews, use gas chambers, and stop when you hit six million," some people would find issue with its veracity. It's fair to question the motives of people willing to seize on the smallest bit of exculpatory evidence and ignore the mountain of evidence proving the Holocaust.

The last paragraph from Roberts worth addressing is this:
The Holocaust is not a subject that can be studied or investigated. It is an occurrence handed down by zionists that cannot be examined or modified and certainly not questioned. We must take it on faith alone. If a scholar does not, he is a Holocaust denier and, if European or captured in Europe, he is imprisoned.
Well, by now, he's basically repeating himself, but a final point does emerge here in referring to "scholars" as the people being imprisoned for denying the Holocaust. With the exception of David Irving, whose early work on World War II could be considered genuinely valuable, if biased, none of the people prosecuted for doing so have been scholars -- not even close. The number of Holocaust deniers with advanced history degrees numbers zero -- the ones who did have them are either dead (Harry Elmer Barnes) or no longer deniers (Mark Weber), and they were always the minority. There's a reason for that fact.

The rest of Roberts's essay is par for his particular course, and I won't address it here. In the interest of fairness, I intend to draw Roberts's attention to this piece; should he respond, I'll note it here.


  1. "Gerald Reitlinger (a European) estimated the number of deaths as falling in range of 4.3 million to 4.7 million in 1953."

    He didn't.

    1953 org.: min.4,194,200 - max.4,581,200
    1966 rev.: min.4,204,400 - max.4,575,400

    >>>> "These numbers, by the way, were already at odds with numbers estimated by, e.g., the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry tasked with estimating this number."

    Reitlinger wrote that some of the commission's stats were "sound, even over-cautious, others are demonstrably ill-founded."

    "... estimates which are based solely on alleged pre-war and post-war populations returns, the latter being reached by deducting from the former the figure it is desired to prove.

    Already before the war, there were widely differing estimates of the Jewish populations of Russia, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, and the Balkans, although in most of these countries there was a separate civil registry for Jews. Even in Western Europe, where the use of statistics was less open to reproach, the estimates of Jewish populations were neither more consistent nor more reliable."

    btw, I don't blog anymore. Sorry for not having answered where and when you asked.

  2. A side note about Reitlinger:

    One of the most brilllant article/study I've ever read about the Holocaust is David Luck's Use and Abuse of Holocaust Documents: Reitlinger and "How Many?", Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Spring, 1979).

    It's still an absolute must read for his methodical, cold, brutal and absolutely rigorous ripping apart of Reitlinger's shortcomings as to his estimating (minimizing) death tolls.

    David Luck was referring to something about to be published about Hilberg, but unfortunately has not published anything and I can't find any trace of Luck's work on the Holocaust after 1979. I'm very eager to learn about his whereabouts.

    If any of you guys at HC (or lurkers) know anything about David Luck's fate, please, drop a note here...

  3. One of the most brilllant article/study I've ever read about the Holocaust is David Luck's Use and Abuse of Holocaust Documents: Reitlinger and "How Many?", Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Spring, 1979).

    It's still an absolute must read for his methodical, cold, brutal and absolutely rigorous ripping apart of Reitlinger's shortcomings as to his estimating (minimizing) death tolls.

    Thanks for bringing his article
    to my attention.

    Luck exposes himself as an unscrupulous liar in his attempts to discredit Reitlinger's coverage of Erntefest. It's impossible that his numerous factually inaccurate assertions were unintentional errors when they're enveloped with ad homs., false accusations or insinuations that Reitlinger misused or fabricated information in the same sources.

    It would be no surprise if this was the last article the PoS ever had published.

  4. Ah glad to see tBRoI has recovered from my little demonstration of his gullibility about the deniers lies about Night and Fog and the deniers lies about the « ever shrinking Auschwitz death toll ». I’d be glad to read his examples about Luck’s dishonesty because I can be as mistaken as anybody and I wouldn’t like to be promoting « an unscrupulous liar ».

  5. As I demonstrated at the time, even a the winner of a Jewish organisation award for his Holocaust book believed the film claimed 9m Auschwitz victims [now down to approx 860,000 Jewish victims]. The film is immensely ambiguous on this and other issues.

    Reitlinger refers to an extract from a 12.10.45 Kaltenbrunner interrogation which was prepared as a exhibit for the IMT but never registered [given a code] nor submitted, but did make it into "The Red Series" document volumes.

    Kaltenbrunner was read an extract from an earlier interrogation in which Morgen recalls/reads what Mussfeld told him of Erntefest.

    Read the doc here: pp.1309-1311. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the whole 3 pages.

    Then read what Luck wrote [p.107] of GR's treatment of this document, and prepared yourself for Luck's brazen lies about it.

    Luck claims Morgen was testifying about a massacre he personally witnessed at Poniatowa, not relaying Mussfeld's statements on Erntefest despite the document saying exactly that.

    There's more, but anyone worth their salt will see it for themselves.

  6. Thank you, BRoI, for providing a specific example that I will be able to check.

    As for Night and Fog, well, I'll let any curious (or masochistic) lurker check the comment section of the blog:

  7. Sorry for not having responded to you on that thread, that was rude. Although I just re-read your posts and still disagree with everything you wrote [joke].

    I had learnt of something from Google Books which I was intending to check at the library and then give you photos of the book and article. But I never got around to it. I'll just tell as far as I got and you can take it from there if you want.

    OWM wrote the following in 1979 and she's quoting herself having stated a total of approx 9,000,000 were killed in a newspaper article she wrote the same year the documentary was released, 1956.

    Here's the article behind a pay-wall:

    You can pick the book up cheaply:

    I still hope to look at the book myself. It's obviously meant as a respond to Faurisson, but she was considered something of a denier herself for dismissing the claims of gassings at Ravensbrueck, Mauthausen, and Dachau, and it would be interesting to know if she responded to Tillion too.

  8. Oh my, oh my!

    Thanks for acknowledging not acknowledging my long development about Night and Fog (see link to relevant HC blog in my previous comment) was not nice. I appreciate.

    So this will be in two parts...

    First, on Night and Fog, Auschwitz and Olga-Wormser Migot: let me help you save your money: the 1956 Le Monde article from Olga-Wormser Migot (wich I have, yes that's a physical oddity of mine) does not contain (beeing only a partial -- "partiellement publié" -- publication) the part mentionning "neuf millions de morts" that appears in Olga Wormser-Migot's self citation, in her 1979 work, of her (full version) 1956 text.

    Let me thank you, by the way for providing me with this reference (Olga Wormser Migot, Assez Mentir, Paris: Ramsay, 1979) that I checked a few hours ago (since I have it; you know, that physical oddity of mine). There is nothing more of interest (on our subject) in the other pages than what you posted. And that fully corroborates (since I provided other very solid proofs) MY point. My point beeing: in 1955/1956 movie Night and Fog (for which Olga Wormser-Migot was a historian adviser) the figure 9 million is given as a global death toll for ALL the camps (the fact that it's completely wrong is not in dispute here), and not for Auschwitz alone as Faurisson has lied about for decades, a lie to which, BRoI, you ridiculously give some credence.

    The more ridiculous that what Olga Worsmer-Migot wrote in 1956/1979 (as you discovered) is:

    « neuf millions de morts dans LES campS nazis »

    in english:

    « nine million deaths in THE nazi campS »


    Not "in Auschwtz". In THE nazi campS, meaning very obvisouly and EXPLICITELY exactly what I say (and all historians, and everybody else except Holocaust deniers and BRoI): that the 9 million death toll is for ALL the nazi camps.

    You meticulously shot yourself in the foot.

    Thank you, BRoI.

    Let me add a correction to what you wrote about Olga Wormser-Migot: "she was considered something of a denier herself for dismissing the claims of gassings at Ravensbrueck, Mauthausen, and Dachau". Not quite so. In her 1968 thesis about the nazi concentration camps system (Le système concentrationnaire nazi (1933-1945), Presses Universitaires de France, 1968), OWM who explicitely does not deal with the Holocaust, makes a serious mistake about Ravensbrück, Mauthausen and Oranienburg (not Dachau, BRoI...) stating (without giving any concrete element, and in a very short passage) that there were no gas chambers there. She did not deny nazi crimes commited in the concentration camps, she did not deny the Holocaust or suggest gas chambers had not existed elsewhere. This is sad because her work was otherwise a major achievement, but, maybe understandably, she was ripped apart by survivors who had first hand knowledge, often quite painful, of gas chambers in Ravensbrück, Mauthausen and Oranienburg and felt betrayed. She was nonetheless never considered a "denier" though, since she admitted her mistake and was never a "propagandist"; nonetheless her career suffered from this (serious) mistake and of course, deniers did (mis)use it (you don't say!). OWM was never complacent with deniers. Whe was an early (very critical) reviewer of the BS Rassinier published. Oh, and in her 1968 thesis, OWM gave as the death toll for the nazi concentration camps: six hundred thousands victims (not counting jews killed in "final solution" context). See my post scriptum for link with reflexions on that subject.

    [second part to follow]

  9. [second part]

    Now, second (last but not least): Luck, Reitlinger, Konrad Morgen and Erntefest. Your shot at Luck beeing a liar is that he considered what Morgen wrote about the murder of Jews in Poniatowa as a first hand account by Morgen though it is a second hand account, Morgen giving the account he received from a direct witness of the killings in Poniatowa during "Erntefest", and not beeing the direct witness.

    Well, two points: First, you are very probably right about Morgen not having been a direct witness of the Poniatowa killings, but one must admit that the account he gives in direct style (not something like "the witness told me that he saw such and such, and then such and such and added... etc.) conveys some ambiguity about it. The account itself is introduced (page 1310 of the red series volume you reffered to) as "I will read you the description that Morgan [sic] gave as to what took place". You know what? I know at least three 21st century historians who have made the same mistake that Luck made. A mistake? Very Probably so. A lie? Certainly not!

    Second: though Luck is wrong to reproach Reitlinger not considering Mrogen's account about Poniatowa a first hand acount, this does NOT change the core of Luck's argument against Reitlinger! What Luck really reproaches Reitlinger (and rightly so) is so lower excessively the death toll of Operation Erntefest by (among other things) making as if instead of three mass killings in Majdanek, Trawniki and Poniatowa, there was only one in Majdanek. The important element about Morgen's report about Poniatowa is not that it is a first hand account by Morgen, but that's it's an account ABOUT Poniatowa that is DIFFERENT from the account given about Majdanek by Erich Muhsfeldt (incorrectly spelled Muszfeld in the red series volume). Luck is right about the account about Poniatowa beeing different and not given by Mussfeld (Luck's spelling) though he may be wrong about Morgen beeing the direct source of the Poniatowa murders. The important thing is that it's pretty obvious that at least Morgen got his story about Poniatowa from a first hand witness, not Muhsfeldt, and that Reitlinger was extremely sloppy in this matter, ignoring documents, blurring others in order to lower the death toll. Moreover the element about Morgen's account about Poniatowa is but one element among many others about the incredible sloppiness of Reitlinger about Erntefest, all going in the same direction. If you have not understood what was at stakes here about Erntefest between Reitlinger and Luck, I'm sorry for you.

    The history and death toll of Erntefest is pretty well known today and it gives full victory to Luck over Reitlinger about that one. Why should you be so unfairly bluntly unfair about Luck, BRoI? Because I said I admired him? That would be so petty...

    One last thing: arch hypocrite and denier Mattogno was stupid enough to, in a way, plagiarize Reitlinger's line with his Reitlinger-like claim that “all descriptions of the alleged massacre are based on the account of SS-Oberscharführer Erich Mußfeldt". The HC team humiliated him on this one, there (good read, corroborating what Luck writes about Reitlinger and what I write about Luck):

    Nice try, BRoI. It did not work though (bad "Luck"?).


    P.S: I have compiled what the scholarship has to say about the death toll of the nazi concentration camp system (excluding any jews killed in Chelmo, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka or upon arrival without beeing registered in Auschwitz) here (in french, but two of the sources are german/english):
    I welcome critics.

  10. >>> "You meticulously shot yourself in the foot."

    For goodness' sake man! Of course I realised her article supports the contention the film's creators weren't claiming 9m deaths in Auschwitz, but 9m deaths in all camps, or 9m deaths across Europe; it's still ambiguous what is meant.

    As you now know, OWM claimed her text was "partiellement publié" [published in part] in Le Monde in 1956. I previously posted a link to the article/letter I suspected she was referring to.

    I spent €2 to access to the article, here's a copy:

    Subject matter aside, it bares very little resemblance to the text she quotes in 1979, but perhaps that and a few other similarities are enough to conclude it is the text in Le Monde she refers to, if we assume her original letter was published in paraphrased form—re-written by an editor at Le Monde.

    I'll respond to your other OWM points and the apologia for Luck's lies in further posts.

  11. You're welcome, AEM.

    @ Gilles

    No salt for you, then

    I got the crayons out to help you:

    When I've more time I might write up Luck's lies on Erntefest. The above barely scratches the surface.

    Lying Luck uses a couple of rare Nuremberg, perhaps one was Polish, trial docs that were obviously unavailable to GR in the early 1950s. One of them, NO-1903, Mattogno didn't know the contents of until Kranz published it in 2005! Another Luck quoted from a 1965 Vrba book.

    Mostly, Luck uses sources that weren't even written until 60s-70s. Luck focuses on the smallest differences in these sources, e.g. Jews not Soviet dug graves; Jews came from a locations GR didn't explicitly mention; some Jews were already Majdanek prisoners, and then insists these slight differences mean they're describing didn't shootings to the Majdanek massacre GR describes.

    Luck claims two of his sources *prove* entirely contradictory things:
    A. Some victims are described as being Majdanek prisoners, whilst reminding us GR said *all* 17,000 were brought to Majdanek from different camps.
    B. Insists that descriptions such as "outside the barb-wire" means the witness was referring to a massacre outside of Majdanek

    If you want to criticise GR for his lack of coverage on other Erntefest massacres, then go at him with sources available prior to 1953.

  12. > believed the film claimed 9m Auschwitz victims

    It is obvious that the film doesn't claim anything like that.

  13. Hi BRoI, Thanks for your answers. I will adress them when Real Life will let me have some spare time. Just want to be polite by dropping this aknowledgment of your efforts.

  14. You may find Roberts's latest foray into this venue relevant.

    Roberts approvingly cites this essay by one Ron Unz on David Irving. Said article presents Irving as a free-speech martyr and a groundbreaking historian. Oh, and Richard Evans? "Evans is simply a liar and his books are not worthy of notice." (Referring to his history of Nazi Germany, admittedly.)

    I suppose this is his response to Dr. Mathis.

  15. I am starting to abandon my firm revisionist stance I had a couple of months ago. I am starting to see that the revisionists really have a weak cade against the Holocaust story, let alone 9/11. I am very glad that I am starting to realize this.


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