Tag Archives: Arno Mayer

Bishop Williamson and Auschwitz 1.0

Arbeit Macht Frei
I am curious as to why a Roman Catholic bishop would risk a second excommunication over the historic particulars of the Holocaust. Bishop Richard Williamson is being labeled a “Holocaust Denier” because he questions the extent, and mechanism, of the official version of the Holocaust. Because Williamson is also criticized for his skepticism about the official 9/11 narrative, and for his praise for the Unabomber’s manifesto, I want to take a closer look, and wonder what is he reading?

Bishop Richard WilliamsonHere’s what the outspoken Williamson told Swedish SVT in a November 2008 interview, as transcribed by the BBC:

“I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against, is hugely against, six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler… I believe there were no gas chambers [during World War II]”

First, I’m compelled to pose a naive question: If we can all agree that Jews died in huge numbers by incomparable horrors at the hands of the Nazis, would it matter what the exact death toll was, or which killing method predominated? Why? What is the need for laws to restrict historians who are trying to reconstruct the record from emerging facts? Must preemptive “anti-defamation” laws mandate that historians stick to the official “untold” number and “indescribable” evil?

Even if we postulate, albeit cynically, that Holocaust reverence is critical to upholding American public support for Israel‘s “right to exist” in the Middle East, how could a revision of the casualties, in any case a horrific magnitude, make an difference?

Millions of Jews fell victim to the Third Reich. No one is denying it, and historical revision is not trying to bring the Holocaust victims back to life. Holocaust Remembrance of the Jewish victims has remained a political priority around the world, advocating commemoration in education, literature, civic life, and pop culture. Why then, an aversion to scrutiny?

Last week a fellow Society of St. Pius X member, Rev. Floriano Abrahamowicz was ejected from SSPX for coming to Williamson’s and the Pope’s defense.

While the usual politicians and Jewish community leaders are voicing their indignation, can we ask, are the Bishop’s beliefs really at odds with accepted orthodoxy? The media will reiterate that the Six Million figure has always been beyond dispute. All the while, official scholarship has been recording otherwise. In Germany, revisionist historians are jailed for Holocaust Denial. Yet bit by bit, mainstream historians have been able to publish divergent theses which withstand legal refutation.

For the sake of argument, let’s dismiss all the “deniers” as kooks, and look only at the traditionally vetted voices.

On the subject of Auschwitz, where four million of the total six million Jews were believed to have perished, Der Spiegel managing editor Fritjof Meyer a continued critic of revisionism, summarized in Osteuropa 52, 5/2002, p. 631:

“In 1945, the Soviet Investigatory Commission numbered four million victims in the National Socialist work and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a product of war propaganda. Under coercion, camp Commandant Höß named three million and recanted. Up until now, how many people actually fell victim to this singular mass murder could only be estimated. The first Holocaust historian, Gerald Reitlinger, assumed one million, while the latest state of research estimated it to be several hundred thousand fewer.”

Naturally even Meyer touched off a firestorm by integrating the sum of official scholarship into the big picture. The difficulties which historians face in reaching variant findings are explained by another mainstream scholar, noted Hitler historian Dr. Werner Maser, Professor for History and International Law, Munich University, Falsification, Legend, and Truth about Hitler and Stalin, Olzog, Munich 2004, on p.332

“To be sure, […] the extermination of the Jews is considered to be one of the best researched aspects of contemporary history […], but that is not the case. […] Indeed, whole regions remain as much terra incognita as ever, […] German historians exhibit timidity about taking on the horrible issue and possibly bringing to light details that do not agree with the accounts which have multiplied for a very long time.”

And about the deterrence of the Holocaust Denial laws:

“The sword of Damocles hovers over historians (not only in Germany) who portray the controversial phases of history as they ‘actually were’ – and identify the frequently even officially codified ideological specifications as falsifications of history.”

The question of the gas chambers is raised by the absence of evidence. According to major Holocaust authority Dr. Arno J. Mayer, Professor of Modern Jewish History at Princeton University, in Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? The “Final Solution” in History, Pantheon, New York 1990, p. 362:

“Sources for the study of the gas chambers are at once rare and unreliable. Even though Hitler and the Nazis made no secret of their war on the Jews, the SS operatives dutifully eliminated all traces of their murderous activities and instruments. No written orders for gassing have turned up thus far. The SS not only destroyed most camp records, which were in any case incomplete, but also razed nearly all killing and crematory installations well before the arrival of Soviet troops. Likewise, care was taken to dispose of the bones and ashes of the victims.”

Justifiably, scholars are skeptical that the complete absence of evidence should be taken as proof of its existence and total suppression. Some camps were overrun before the Germans could destroy any part of them. Mayer continues, p. 163:

“In the meantime, there is no denying the many contradictions, ambiguities, and errors in the existing sources. […] Much the same is true of for the conflicting estimates and extrapolations of the number of victims, since there are no reliable statistics to work with. […] Both radical skepticism and rigid dogmatism about the exact processes of extermination and the exact number of victims are the bane of sound historical interpretation”

In light of the before-sited Wannsee Conference documents now being considered post-war forgeries, Mayer explains, p 163:

“To date there is no certainty about who gave the order, and when, to install the gas chambers used for the murder of Jews at Auschwitz. As no written command has been located, there is a strong presumption that the order was issued and received orally”

With no written record of a “Final Solution,” and the implausibility of a completely vaporized paper trail, mainstream scholars have had to improvise an explanation for how an extermination directive was disseminated. University of Vermont Professor Raul Hilberg, member of US Holocaust Memorial Council, author of The Destruction of the European Jews, (Holmes & Meyer, New York 1985), was quoted in Newsday, Feb. 23, 1983:

“But what began in 1941 was a process of destruction [of the Jews] not planned in advance, not organized centrally by any agency. There was no blueprint and there was no budget for destructive measures. They [these measures] were taken step by step, one step at a time. Thus came about not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus mind reading by a far-flung [German] bureaucracy.”

Hilberg himself ran into trouble with the authorized version, because he refused to corroborate tales of Jewish rebellion against their Nazi jailers. His group-think theory extended to the Jews themselves, putting emphasis on their acceptance of being exploited as war industry slave labor.

“I had to examine the Jewish tradition of trusting God, princes, laws and contracts […] Ultimately I had to ponder the Jewish calculation that the persecutor would not destroy what he could economically exploit. It was precisely this Jewish strategy that dictated accommodation and precluded resistance.”

That’s where the extermination camp thesis becomes less probable than the work camp. Perhaps the Jews didn’t resist because they were being worked, not gassed. Worked to death, of course, but dying as more a consequence of wartime Germany’s depleting resources, than from a deliberate eradication effort. Evidence is plentiful of the work camps and dead bodies.

And isn’t that the answer to my innocent question? To doubt whether the murder weapon was a pistol or a knife, means calling into question the crime entirely. That’s why revisionists are decried for being “deniers.” While we presume the distinction makes little difference, because clearly a murder was committed regardless, the prosecutor constructing the accusations wants to prove his motive and not another.

There are many details about which historians have begun to disagree. Many of the witness accounts have been proven to be unreliable. Even Elie Wiesel was compelled to reclassified his memoir as a novel. The Holocaust as later generations have come to know it was not as the WWII generation saw it. Even those soldiers who encountered the atrocities themselves.

Professor Hilberg recounts studying at Brooklyn College under Hans Rosenberg, a fellow Jew. Even in the wake of the haunting newsreels of the concentration camps, Hilberg records that Rosenberg remarked in a 1948 lecture:

“The most wicked atrocities perpetrated on a civilian population in modern times occurred during the Napoleonic occupation of Spain.”

I don’t really subscribe to the idea that the Holocaust is diminished by learning that the WWII concentration camp victims died from systemic and despotic abuse, starvation and exhaustion. But those holding the secrets believe that the concept of the Holocaust being the greatest evil perpetrated upon mankind falls apart if cracks are allowed to form in the accepted narrative.

Perhaps the German population, and for that matter, the Catholic Church, did not intercede more vigorously because there was no premeditated extermination program. We can say now that German reinforcements being sent to the Russian Front knew they were being sent to their deaths, but this is only with hindsight.

Is this Bishop Williamson’s interest in revisiting the Holocaust, to rehabilitate the church’s role? I doubt it. The Catholic church cannot escape culpability for its instrumental role in support of the Nazis, guilty of ware crimes and crimes against humanity, initiating a war of aggression being the chief charge at the Nuremberg Trials for example, before even taking into account the concentration camps.

Perhaps the American industrialists and bankers who knew about the camps did not interfere because they understood the camps were for the supply of slave labor. Isn’t this a key enigma of the Holocaust, as we grapple with it? How could we have not known? How could this have been allowed to happen?

Perhaps the signs above the camp gates which read ARBEIT MACHT FREI, work earns freedom, meant what they said. They might have been inescapable ironies, but not the cruel mockery of which we accuse the Germans.

Why would factories like IG Farben and Krupp want to liquidate their valuable cheap workforce? Why would camps meant to exterminate have infirmaries? Why would the wardens treat inmates for illness while simultaneously sending incoming transports to directly to ovens?

Today the popular conscience has been saturated with the ghostly images of the concentration camp victims. How to explain the emaciated inmates discovered by the liberating troops, many of whom could not be saved from dying, even under the administration of the liberators? Dr. Arno J. Mayer concedes this explanation, p. 365

“[…] the whole of Auschwitz was intermittently in the grip of a devastating typhus epidemic. The result was an unspeakable death rate. […] There is a distinction between dying from ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ causes and being killed by shooting, hanging, phenol injection, or gassing. […] from 1942 to 1945, certainly at Auschwitz, but probably overall, more Jews were killed by so-called ‘natural’ causes than by ‘unnatural’ ones.”

This is not to diminish the crime of the Holocaust one iota. The German people, the industrialists, the church, the anti-Semites, are far more guilty because the crime against the Jews was banal and common. It was not devised by agents of unspeakable evil.

Other aspiring genocidal nations and peoples cannot excuse their acts because their methods fall demonstrably below the mythic proportions of the Holocaust.

ig-farben-auschwitz