'The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry’: An Exchange

Published: 1984-12-01
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Editor’s Note: Earlier this year Mr. John Bennett, head of the Australian Civil Liberties Union, sent a copy of Walter N. Sanning’s 1983 book The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry to Dr. W. D. Rubinstein of the School of Social Sciences at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia. Professor Rubinstein has been a leading Australian critic of revisionist books on the “Holocaust.” He gave Mr. Bennett his reactions to the Sanning book in a letter, which Mr. Bennett circulated in revisionist circles, soliciting comment. We herewith print the Rubinstein letter, followed by letters in reaction to it by Walter N. Sanning and Arthur R. Butz.

Professor W.D. Rubinstein to John Bennett, ca. 15 February 1984:

Dear Mr. Bennett,

Thank you for letting me see Sanning’s book, which I attach. I would like to purchase a copy in due course. I have not, because of the pressure of other work, gone over the whole text in great detail, but I think the following remarks would still stand after a more detailed reading:

1) Sanning’s thesis is that there were many fewer Jews in Europe in 1939, and many more in Europe (or ex-European Jews elsewhere) in 1945 than previous historians have maintained, and that any decrease in European Jewish numbers between 1939 and 1945 was due to a continuation of previous unfavorable demographic patterns, emigration, ‘normal’ wartime losses, and one new factor not found in previous works of this type, the mass murder of Jews by Stalin. Sanning claims that Stalin murdered at least 600,000 former Polish Jews (p. 106). Sanning denies that a Nazi Holocaust occurred, in common with other neo-Nazi writers.

2) Sanning appears to be a competent and expert historical demographer and, to give him credit, has studied all of the sources. However, his whole work is permeated by willful sleight-of-hand and distortion, and with the possible exception of one part of his discussion, is just as historically worthless as other works of this sort.

Two points are crucial to Sanning’s discussion. The first is that the number of Polish Jews was not 3.2–3.3 million in 1939 as is generally maintained, but about 2.6 million, due to an excess of deaths over births and large-scale emigration, especially by younger males. This is demographically quite incredible, apart from the fact that it is not based upon adequate sources. There is not the slightest evidence of any such widescale emigration, and one might ask: where did these Jews emigrate to? Anyone who knows the extreme difficulties faced by wealthy and educated German Jews in emigrating between 1933 and 1939 will realize the implausibility that large numbers of impoverished Polish Jews migrated elsewhere during this period.

The second key point is that very substantial numbers of Polish Jews were moved to the eastern parts of the Soviet Union in 1939. For this, there is not one shred of compelling evidence, and Sanning cannot really decide whether Stalin rescued these Polish Jews or murdered 600,000 of them! As I believe I wrote you before, this whole argument is irrelevant if there was no Nazi Holocaust, but such is life.

Notice too, that after all of Sanning’s sleight-of-hand over numbers, all of it misleading, he is still unable to account for 600,000 ‘missing’ Polish Jews except by claiming they were murdered (by Stalin). Doesn’t this strike you as giving the whole game away?

3) I do not have Butz’s work at hand, but Sanning’s work contradicts Butz’s on a number of interesting matters:

a) Butz, as I remember, claims that no Hungarian Jews were deported; Sanning states (pp. 141–2) that 100,000 (or more) were deported to Germany.

b) Butz claims that there may be 9 million Jews in the U.S. at present. Doubtless because such a figure is preposterous, Sanning puts the number at 6.6 million.

c) Butz claims that the Zionist-Communist international conspiracy were responsible for concocting the ‘Holocaust myth’. Sanning claims that Stalin murdered 600,000 Jews.

4) Sanning does not examine the historical evidence for the Nazi Holocaust, but evidently dismisses it as fiction. Yet he unhesitatingly accepts the fact that Stalin murdered 600,000 Polish Jews. I would regard the historical evidence that the Nazis murdered between 5–6 million European Jews as about 10,000 times stronger than Sanning’s claim about Stalin and the evidence he presents for it, yet, to fit his theories, he accepts the Stalin claim and rejects ‘normal’ history.

There are many many other similar points which readily occur to me, but which, frankly, it is a waste of my time to canvass. Like Butz’s work, Sanning’s book is a monument of misdirected energy and is without merit or interest except to students of contemporary anti-semitism.

Finally, the clipping you sent about Polish Jews in Australia, regardless of its source, is a wild exaggeration. It will send you the correct figures when I have a chance to look at the Census data.

Yours sincerely, (Dr.) W.D. Rubinstein

Walter N. Sanning to John Bennett, 8 March 1984:

Dear Mr. Bennett,

A few days ago I received a copy of Dr. Rubinstein’s letter to you criticizing The Dissolution as a book “permeated by willful sleight-of-hand and distortion” and “as historically worthless” at the same time charging me with “neo-Nazism” and “anti-Semitism.” Possibly, one must expect this kind of denunciation if one presents facts contrary to the views of the established power structure and its most influential special interest group.

I assume that Dr. Rubinstein knows the difference between “emigration” and “immigration.” He refers to “the extreme difficulties faced by wealthy and educated German Jews in emigrating between 1933 and 1939…” However, the difficulty was on the immigration side as a number of Western countries did not welcome Jewish immigration. Dr. Rubinstein knows this and I suppose that is what he meant, but he creates the wrong impression that Germany prevented them from leaving the country.

Not in a single instance does Dr. Rubinstein try to disprove or refute the conclusions, facts or evidence contained in The Dissolution. He calls the figure of only 2.6 million Polish Jews in 1939 “demographically quite incredible, apart from the fact that it is not based upon adequate sources.” He goes on: “There is not the slightest evidence of any such widescale emigration and one might ask: where did these Jews emigrate to?”

Is he joking? Either he overlooked or he chose to overlook the evidence I presented for such widescale emigration. Examples: (a) the testimony of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long before a congressional committee to the effect that the U.S.A. admitted about 580,000 refugees until 1943 – most of them Jews; (b) the large immigration in Palestine in the Thirties and early Forties (almost 300,000); (c) the huge Jewish population increases in Latin America (almost 200,000) and Western Europe until the war (over 100,000). It is precisely because I anticipated charges like those of Dr. Rubinstein that I based by analysis almost exclusively on Allied, Zionist and pro-Zionist West German sources. If he believes that the evidence given by the wartime U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, the Institute of Jewish Affairs, the American Jewish Year Book, official census publications or the pro-Zionist Institute for Contemporary History in Munich and other similar sources is inadequate, then he should explain what he considers adequate. In Germany at any rate, the Holocaust-enthralled courts have used the latter institute’s testimony as prima facie evidence.

Dr. Rubinstein’s question “where did these Jews emigrate to?” is brazen indeed. The Dissolution has been very specific on this (Chapter Seven) and I can only take this remark as another example of a thoroughly dishonest approach.

His assertion that “there is not one shred of compelling evidence [that] very substantial numbers of Polish Jews were moved to the eastern parts of the Soviet Union in 1939” is absolutely correct. Trouble is, I never claimed that: I referred to the year 1940. The evidence presented (Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Institute of Jewish Affairs, Gerald Reitlinger, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Encyclopaedia Judaica, David Bergelson, American Jewish Year Book, Herschel Weinrauch, Rabbi Aaron Pechenick, Shachne Epstein, Committee for Jewish Refugees from Concentration Camps, etc.) is overwhelming. Dr. Rubinstein neither refers to this evidence nor does he explain why it should not be accepted; he chooses simply to deny its existence. But then, I can’t blame him considering how easy it is to be charged with “anti-Semitism” these days.

I am afraid that I also have to dampen somewhat his obvious delight in having found what he believes are contradictions between Prof. Butz’s work and mine.

However, it is just not true that Prof. Butz “claims that no Hungarian Jews were deported,” nor is it true that I stated that 100,000 or more were deported. What Prof. Butz said was that some deportations were going on between March and October 1944 and, again, that in October 1944 between 35,000 and 45,000 were actually deported to Germany for labor. My own reference to this episode was that the IRC report mentioned only 60,000 scheduled to be deported and that nowhere do we find any trace whatever that this number was exceeded or attained. I went on to say that “in this analysis we will assume that… the total number of deported Jews from Hungary reached 100,000 which is probably much too high” (p. 140). It is difficult to believe that Dr. Rubinstein’s false charges are just the result of gross negligence.

Dr. Rubinstein’s further claim of a contradiction between Prof. Butz and my work regarding the number of Jews in the United States is just as baseless. Prof. Butz stated “I really have no idea how many Jews there are in the U.S… As far as I know, the correct figure could easily be 9,000,000.” In other words, Prof. Butz did not claim 9 million Jews for the U.S.A.; he merely stated a personal view while admitting that he does not know. Where is the contradiction?

There are more misrepresentations and false charges I could cite, but I think that the above is quite sufficient to show the total failure of this representative of “normal” history to fend off the blow which The Dissolution has delivered to some of the basic tenets of the Holocaust story.

If “incredible” and “inadequate” is all he can say to counter my arguments, his case must be weak indeed. If he feels that he can resort to crude falsehoods just to make up for non-existent differences between Prof. Butz and myself, can one believe that he would tell us the truth in as abstruse and lucrative an affair as the so-called Holocaust?

Dr. Rubinstein deplored the fact that I did not examine “the historical evidence for the Nazi Holocaust.” Well, I haven’t done so for good reason. First, there are plenty of excellent Revisionist works available examining “the historical evidence” (Butz, Faurisson, Rassinier, Stäglich) to name just a few, and, unfortunately for people like Dr. Rubinstein, they found this evidence wanting. Secondly, my objective was to examine the statistical demographic facts and the specific historical frame pertaining to just one aspect of recent Jewish History: The demographic development of eastern European Jewry.

I kept The Dissolution as free of emotion as possible and I hoped to contribute thereby to a genuine discussion of the premises underlying the genocide charge. It seems, though, that this is not possible. One should think that academics would owe it to their self-esteem to argue objectively and impassionately rather than to resort to slander, name-calling, misrepresentations and outright lies. Hopefully, Dr. Rubinstein is just an exception. His total disregard for the truth is further proof, if any was needed, of the Holocaust story’s lack of substance.

My very best regards,

Walter N. Sanning

Professor Arthur R. Butz to J. Marcellus, 18 April 1984:

Dear Mr. Marcellus:

Thank you for sending me the copy of Dr. W.D. Rubinstein’s recent letter to John Bennett, criticizing Walter Sanning’s Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry. I have the following comments on the Rubinstein letter, which you can publish in the JHR or newsletter if you wish.

Dr. Rubinstein, of Deakin University in Australia, is best known now for his recent book The Left, the Right and the Jews, whose thesis is that Jews constitute a new social, economic and political elite in the West and as such have been moving to the right politically. The book contains a scorning notice of revisionism, with which his public scrapes started in 1979, when he attempted to convince Australian libraries not to allow my Hoax of the Twentieth Century to become available to readers (Australian Library Journal, 6 July 1979, p. 162).

I was almost incredulous at some of Rubinstein’s remarks, especially where he seemed to be saying that there were no significant emigrations of Jews from Germany or Poland during the Thirties, or that “there is not one shred of compelling evidence” that “substantial numbers” of Polish Jews were deported to the interior of the Soviet Union. Such wild remarks make one wonder if any of the writings of this supposed expert on Jewry can be read with credence. However, I shall not redundantly try to cover the ground that Sanning has in his excellent rebuttal of Rubinstein.

Rather I shall remark on a respect in which Rubinstein’s criticism is valid, although trifling and anticipated in the Foreword I contributed to the Sanning book. To oversimplify, Sanning argued at one point, on the basis of his documentation, that 750,000 Polish Jews were deported by the Soviets, that the conditions attending the relocation were severe, that about 150,000 returned, and that the most plausible explanation for the discrepancy is that 600,000 died from the severe conditions. While that is possible, I am not convinced. Sanning’s argument can be disputed at several points. This is one of those instances of a Sanning estimate that can be “challenged on some plausible grounds,” as I wrote in the Foreword. You should be prepared in the future for the raising of other valid points of disputation.

Sanning undertook one of the most difficult tasks I can imagine. For example the specific question of about how many Polish Jews perished in the Soviet Union will never be answered to the general satisfaction of all reasonable inquirers. If Sanning should be faulted, however, it is not for the “willful sleight-of-hand and distortion” of Rubinstein’s curses but for underestimating the difficulty of the task he set for himself. Nevertheless, in Sanning’s book “the treatment has been carried … about as far as it can be,” as I wrote in the Foreword. Even Rubinstein implicitly concedes real value for the book by remarking that Sanning “has studied all of the sources.” The implication is that one can learn the identity of these sources in Dissolution.

To address Rubinstein’s comments on my work, he considers “preposterous” my belief that the number of U.S. Jews “could as easily be 9,000,000”, and presumably also my associated claim that “there must be at least 4,000,000 in the New York City area alone” (p. 17 of Hoax). While at no point claiming to possess accurate figures, I gave background considerations which made such speculations reasonable. The “New York City area” is not, I admit, precisely defined, but I think it could fairly be taken to be the area from which people might feasibly commute to jobs in Manhattan; that would include e.g. Philadelphia and the densely populated parts of Connecticut. Such speculations, so inharmonious with the six million Jews supposed to be in the U.S.A., are not confined to revisionist historians. An article in the New York Times of 2 January 1981 on Gaucher’s disease (which like Tay-Sachs strikes mainly Jews), clearly based on demographic data of some sort, remarked that “about half of this country’s estimated eight million Jews live in the New York metropolitan area.”

The Rubinstein letter is a contribution to its subject only in its unintended implications. The only serious weakness he found in the Sanning book is one that any work of such objectives will have. The rest of Rubinstein’s remarks are empty railing.

Sincerely, Arthur R. Butz

Additional information about this document

Author(s) Arthur R. Butz, W. D. Rubinstein, Walter N. Sanning
Title 'The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry’: An Exchange
Sources The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 5, no. 2, 3, 4 (winter 1984), pp. 367-373
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Dates published: 1984-12-01, first posted on CODOH: Nov. 8, 2012, 6 p.m., last revision: n/a
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