"Answering The Questions That Don't Have Any Answers,
Or Did The Holocaust Really Happen?"
by Natan Pill-Kahan
Kid Rock, in his hit song, Bawitdaba,�wrote: And this is for the questions that don't have any answers. I want to talk about a question that, according to some people, has no, or at least no definite answer. Was there really a holocaust? Ever since I was in third or fourth grade, I have known about the holocaust. I knew that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews, I knew what they had done and I knew the stories. So I had an immense hatred for the Nazis, so much so that at the young age of 9 or 10, when we where studying western Europe, I was writing stuff in my notebook about the Nazis that I can�t repeat here, in polite company. But it wasn't until recently that I have come to read books and think about this question.
When my parents asked me, do you think the holocaust even existed? My answer was "Of course, duh!" But when I found out that people were actually denying the truth, I became extremely interested in the issue of holocaust denial.
Before I start talking about the denial of the holocaust, let me give a brief overview. There were many different steps or events that led up to the genocide of millions of people. First of all, the holocaust was, as Professor Raul Hilberg called it,"The Destruction of the European Jews." But I think it was much more than that. I think it was genocide, racism to the extreme. The holocaust was also part of the Nazi plan to take over the world.
The first step that would lead up to the holocaust was when Adolph Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Hitler headed the Nazi party, which then took control of Germany. The Nazis, however, did not get the majority of the votes. They just got a plurality�more votes than the Socialists or Communists, and the other small parties. If the Socialists and the Communists had joined together, Hitler could never have taken over. From the time when Hitler was elected to 1938, the treatment of Jews was harsh but still far from mass murder. Laws were passed forbidding Jews to own businesses, to work in professions, and many other things. At the same time, for example, the Nazi government continued to subsidize Jewish schools and to pay Jewish teachers� pensions until 1939. No wonder many German Jews were confused about what to do. Many thought that Nazism would blow over at the next elections. Between 1933 and 1937, over one-fourth of German Jews had left Germany.
But then, in 1938, the Nazi government rounded up twelve thousand Polish Jews living in Germany and dumped them on the Polish border. The Polish army put them in stables, without heat, food or water. One of the families wrote to their son, who was working in Paris. His name was Hershl Grynszpan (Green-shpan) and he was so upset that he went to the German Embassy in Paris and shot the consul, who later died.. The Nazis were waiting for an excuse to really attack the Jews, so they launched what became known as Kristallnacht, or the night of broken glass. On this night all the synagogues, and many Jewish businesses and homes had their windows broken, and some were set on fire. Many Jews were beaten, then put into concentration camps.
At this point, many more Jews tried to leave Germany, but the Nazis demanded huge sums of money to allow them to leave and, besides, none of the Western countries, including the United States, wanted to accept them. Many German Jews commited suicide. This made the Nazis pretty happy, because that made less Jews for them to deal with, or kill, or deport or whatever they actually planned to do. During this period of time, the Nazis were building a large army, navy and air force, despite the Treaty of Versailles. No one objected because the Nazis claimed they would use these forces to keep away the communistic Soviets. But, in August of 1939, they signed a non-agression pact with those very same Soviets.
One month later, in September, 1939, the Nazi armies invaded Poland and France, and, by 1940, they had conquered most of Europe with very little resistance. They divided Poland with the Soviets and didn�t attack the Soviet Union until June of 1941. All this time, they were using valuable time, money and labor to build concentration camps for all their enemies: communists, socialists, trade unionists, as well as physically and mentally handicapped people. The Nazis hoped that the prisoners in the camps would starve to death or commit suicide. However, the prisoners used acts of passive resistance to keeps their spirits up.
The same thing happened in the ghettos in Poland, Ukraine and Russia. The first Nazi plan was to cram millions of Jews into these ghettos and to work them to death in factories, with the help of disease, starvation and despair. In Russia, the Nazis took troops from the front lines and turned them into killing squads, shooting Jews by the hundreds and thousands. Still, these steps could not carry out the master plan�to totally wipe out the Jews, the Gypsies, and, eventually, all the Slavs, starting with the Poles.
That�s when Nazi racism went completely mad. By 1942, their invasion of the Soviet Union had almost come to a halt, and the Russians had begun to drive them back. An invasion by England and America was threatening Western Europe with the chance that Germany would be fighting on two fronts. In the face of all those dangers, the Nazis started �the final solution��building huge death camps where thousands of people could be gassed every day, and huge crematoriums to burn their bodies. Trains and trucks that were needed on the Russian front were diverted, instead, to carrying out this mad, racist drive for genocide.
This brings me to the idea of Holocaust Denial. The deniers claim that many camps cannot be found, and many of the millions of people that supposedly died in the holocaust died in other ways. I personally think that this is absurd. It is absurd because all the 11+ million people could not have died from natural causes, that�s for sure. Mass suicide may have amounted to some 200 thousand, not 11 million people. And what about the thousands who survived the death camps when the Nazi armies collapsed? How come all those thousands told pretty much the same stories about what had happened to them and their relatives? Where else could those millions have gone? Did they die in the Nazis mines? If so, where are the bodies? Or did they leave for Palestine? If so, why were there so few Jews in Palestine at the end of the war?
The denial of the holocaust has been going on since the end of World War 2 There were many different evolutions of holocaust denial. The first stage lasted until the mid to late 60s. The second stage, or the revisionist movement, continues into the present.
At first, former Nazis would claim that there weren�t any death camps or that �other� people killed the victims. Ya, right. Others claimed that the Nazis did the right thing and that they committed no crimes, as they were �purifying� the world of the �inferior� peoples.
One of the first holocaust deniers was a Frenchman named Maurice Bardeche, who was a well-known fascist leader. In his first book titled �Letter to Francois Mauriac,� Bardeche defended the politics of collaboration, and he denied the existence of death camps.
In his second book titled �Nuremberg or the Promised Land,� Bardeche contended that most if not all evidence about concentration camps was falsified, and that most of the deaths occurring in World War 2 Germany were war-related, such as starvation, privation, and illness. According to Bardeche the Nazi documents that spoke of the �Final Solution of the Jewish problem� did not mean mass extermination, but simply deportation to ghettos in Eastern Europe.
Bardeche�s main argument was that the Nazis were not responsible for the atrocities of World War 2, but the Jews themselves were to blame, as they supposedly supported the Treaty of Versailles after the first World War. He also argued that it was wrong in a moral sense to hold German soldiers and officers responsible, for simply following orders.
I think this creates sort of a contradiction, as he claimed that the Nazis weren�t responsible for what happened, yet he says that you couldn�t hold soldiers and officers accountable for following Nazi orders, to commit what I believe to be war crimes, mass murder of civilians, and genocide. He also believed that the trials at Nuremberg were wrong in both a moral and legal sense, as the Nazis had to do whatever it took to defeat the Communists and Stalin.
Bardeche was also the first to question pictorial or site-related evidence pertaining to death camps or other such things. He also claimed that much information about the camps was false, and argued that the gas chambers were used for disinfection, not killing.
Bardeche, however, didn�t have many credentials to back up his claims. He was a noted Fascist throughout his life, and a questionable person even in the holocaust denial groups. After all, in his book, �What is Fascism?� he started off with the sentence: �I am Fascist.
The next famous holocaust denier also came from France, Paul Rassinier. Rassinier was a former Communist and Socialist, who had been extremely interested in the concentration camps of Buchenwald and Dora. In 1948 he published the book �Le Passage De La Ligne�, or �Passing the Line.� This was the first in Rassinier�s series of books that would be written over the course of the next twenty years, intending to show that survivors� claims about the Nazis and the atrocities couldn�t be trusted. He said the accusations against Nazis were both inflated and unfair.
Rassinier�s books are, as Deborah Lipstadt put it, filled with �blatant falsehoods, half-truths, quotations out of context, and attacks on the �Zionist movement.
In 1977 Rassinier published his most controversial book, titled �Debunking the Genocide Myth,� putting together all of his arguments from previous books.
Rassinier, however, finally stopped denying that there was mass annihilation by Germany during World War 2. Instead, he says, �People may have been killed, but those who conducted such exterminations were acting on their own and not in the name of a state or in the name of a political doctrine.
Holocaust denial found a lot of welcome in the United States during the 50s and 60s, just as it did in Europe. However the only people who really believed it were the Fascists, neo-nazis, and the other extremists and racists.
During the 1970s, holocaust denial became more mainstream, when it became more public and was widely promoted.
The first form of holocaust denial in the United States was influenced by Rassinier�s claims that the holocaust was created by Jewish leaders, in order to create more support for themselves and for a Jewish state in Palestine, Israel.
The American deniers also used �reason� to try to prove that the holocaust couldn�t have happened, because it was �statistically impossible� for that many people to have died in such a short period of time, in the few camps that remained after the Nazis did all they could to destroy the evidence. Those arguments were, however, uninformed, undeveloped, and crude. In 1952, W.D. Herrstorm, who was an American antisemite, had declared in the newspaper �Bible News Flash� that there were five million illegal immigrants in the United States, most of whom were Jews who supposedly died in the holocaust. He even went so far as to write �No use looking in Hitler�s ovens for them. Walk down the street of any American city�there they are.�
George Lincoln Rockwell, the well-known American Nazi leader, called the holocaust �a monstrous and profitable fraud.� He also said, �six million Jews later died happily in New York.�
These attempts to confuse the public into thinking their way was typical of early holocaust deniers.
Of course, the most famous of the holocaust deniers is David Irving. He is, or was, a prominent historian, who was recently unmasked in a British court as an antisemite and Hitler-lover who falsified or distorted almost every one of the documents that he claimed could �prove� that six million Jews did not die (he insists the figure was lower) and that his hero, Adolph Hitler, had nothing to do with it in any case. The British judge�s ruling should have put an end to David Irving�s holocaust denial forever, but just two weeks ago, Irving started a three month tour of the United States at a secret meeting in Irvine, about 50 miles from here, where he was greeted by 140 other deniers and seen on the internet by 2,500 viewers. Among those in attendance were former Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey. Another Irving fan was professor Arthur Butz, whose book is titled �The Hoax of the 20th Century� and who has also tried to �prove� that African-Americans are an �inferior race��just as the Nazis claimed the Jews were.
I think the holocaust deniers are driven by the same mad racism that motivated the Nazis. The world�s knowledge of the truth of the holocaust has been a powerful thing. Although there have been many, many mass murders in the past 55 years, no one has succeeded in the crime of genocide�the murder of an entire people. I have learned that the way you can tell genocide from mass murder is that genocide aims to wipe out the children of the target people, as the Nazis almost accomplished with the European Jews and the Gypsies. Of the six million Jews who were murdered, one and half million were children.
The holocaust deniers are wrong. We need to remember the truth of the holocaust not so that Jews can have special privileges, but so that no people, ever, will face the crime of genocide.
My Jewish identity comes from many things. But I am also proud that knowing the truth of the holocaust makes me know that all human beings have the responsi bility to prevent genocide from ever happening again, to any people.