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The Lost Generation: Children in the Holocaust, by Azriel Eisenberg, The Pilgrim Press, 380 pp, $17.95, ISBN 0-8298-0498-6.
Azriel Eisenberg strikes again! In The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1983, I reviewed Eisenberg's Witness to the Holocaust. Now Eisenberg, Holocaustomaniac par excellence, has produced a companion volume to that egregious opus. So here I am, writing a companion review to my earlier one.
Like Witness to the Holocaust, The Lost Generation: Children in the Holocaust purports to be a collection of eyewitness accounts of "the Holocaust." But this time these accounts are either by or about those who were 14 years of age or younger during "the Nazi carnage." According to Eisenberg, 1,200,000 of the Nazis' six million Jewish victims were children. And this killing of children is supposed to be the most shocking and terrible part of the Nazis' "bloody work." Thus, a volume devoted entirely to children in "the Holocaust."
In Witness to the Holocaust, Eisenberg said (p. 5), "... the heart of this book is a compilation of authentic, first-hand, personal, and eyewitness accounts," Similarly, in the introduction to The Lost Generation, he says (p. xvii), "The accounts included in this book were chosen from books written by eyewitnesses... . Only authentic personal and eyewitness experiences were selected." Eisenberg emphasizes "authentic, first-hand, personal, and eyewitness accounts" because of the emotional impact they presumably will have on his more reverent readers. In Witness to the Holocaust, he explained (p. 5):
The Sho'ah [the Holocaust] cannot be intellectualized. To validate this contention, readers are invited to test their emotional reactions to the introductions of the chapters in this book as compared to the first-hand accounts that follow them. To establish any meaningful tie with Auschwitz, the Warsaw Ghetto, the partisans, the martyrs, and the survivors, we must share in their experiences. For this reason, the heart of this book is a compilation of authentic, first-hand, personal, and eyewitness accounts. They will affect your innermost being.
In the introduction to The Lost Generation, Eisenberg says of the "authentic personal and eyewitness experiences" that he's selected (p. xvii), "They will enable the reader to share the agony, the physical, emotional and spiritual torment of the martyred children."
Well, reading Eisenberg's "eyewitness" accounts may be a good way for devout Holocaustomaniacs to experience agony and torment. But, being the cold-hearted nitpicker that I am, I wonder if reading them is a good way to find out what really happened to Jewish children under Nazi rule.
For one thing, a number of scientific investigators of eyewitness testimony have concluded that most such testimony is to some degree unreliable. In his anthology, The Historian as Detective: Essays on Evidence, Robin W. Winks included (pp. 182-191) an excerpt, concerning the credibility of testimony, from Thomas Spencer Jerome's Aspects of the Study of Roman History. Jerome described experiments conducted by Alfred Binet, William Stern and others. For example, here is Jerome's account of an experiment by Stern:
He had three simple pictures in black and white, which he exhibited for forty-five seconds each to about thirty cultivated adults who immediately wrote down what they had seen in each picture, and thereafter at certain intervals of time again submitted written statements. Such parts of their depositions as they were willing to take oath upon were indicated by underlining. Without going into details, it may be said that the results were not of a nature calculated to give one great confidence in the value of testimony. Error was not the exception, but the rule. Out of two hundred and eighty-two depositions only seventeen were entirely correct; and of these seventeen, fifteen were among statements written down immediately. By the fifth day even, the proportion of misstatements reached about a quarter of all the details submitted. In the depositions containing indications of matters on which the observer was willing to take an oath, only thirteen out of sixty-three failed to contain false statements, to all of which however the witnesses were prepared to swear. Many of these were cases of the introduction of elements which were absolutely absent from the picture. So one student wrote three weeks after the event: "The picture shows an old man seated on a wooden bench. A small boy is standing at his left. He is looking at the old man who is feeding a pigeon. On the roof is perched another pigeon which is preparing to fly to the ground to get its share of food." The italicized statements were wholly incorrect: there were no pigeons in the picture. Perhaps the figure of a cat in the scene may have suggested the idea of a bird to the observer.
Jerome explained the significance of such experiments thusly:
It will appear from these and similar experiments that erroneous testimony was given in simple matters of direct, personal observation by witnesses who were not influenced by any conscious pre-existing emotion or prepossession, and who were actuated by a desire to give an exact and truthful narrative. Yet the results were not encouraging. It is evident, as scholars who have conducted or studied such experiments have shown, that good faith, the desire to tell the truth, and the certainty that the testimony is true, as well as the opportunity to secure correct information, and the absence of prepossessions, are far from affording adequate guarantees that the truth will be told. The most honest witness may misstate; the worst may tell the truth. Entirely faithful testimony is not the rule but rather a rare exception ...
As reported by French psychiatrist Marcel Eck (Lies and Truth, Macmillan, 1970, p. 1477, Michel Cenac, after studying similar experiments, drew the following similar conclusions about eyewitness testimony:
- Entirely accurate testimony is the exception,
- The witness offers false information with the same assurance that he gives true information,
- Witnesses are inclined to perceive the facts and reconstruct their memory of them in terms of what seems likely to them rather than what they really saw.
Knowing how fallible my own memory is, these conclusions strike me as being entirely plausible. But if eyewitness testimony is commonly unreliable, then it seems fair to assume that eyewitness testimony about "the Holocaust" is commonly unreliable, too. For that matter, eyewitness testimony about "the Holocaust' might even tend to be more unreliable than other eyewitness testimony. According to Gordon Allport and Leo Postman (The Psychology of Rumor, Henry Holt, 1947, p. 53), eyewitness testimony is highly unreliable, "... especially in conditions where excitement existed during the original perception or in the process of narration. Normal defects of perception, retention, and verbal report are serious enough, but emotional states greatly magnify them." This is certainly a factor influencing some testimony about "the Holocaust."
Regarding the effect of emotional states, Alexander Leighton, writing about the wartime "internment" of the Japanese (The Governing of Men, Princeton University Press, 1946), made some interesting and suggestive comments (p. 268):
Psychiatrists observing patients who are emotionally unwell have long known that when they go into a state of panic they misinterpret ordinary events as horrible threats. The whistle of a distant train becomes a death scream, or two people seen talking together are instantly assumed to be plotting. More than this, it has been seen that patients in panic can become hallucinated and see people coming to attack them who are not there at all, or may smell smoke and gas where none exists. It is more than probable that this happens to otherwise normal individuals when in a state of intense fear, and it may be that those persons in the [Colorado River War Relocation] Center [at Poston, Arizona] who saw non-existent machine guns and their crews during the strike were suffering from such distortions of their senses. In the Detroit riots the police were bothered by people calling up and giving specific details of murders and violence, sometimes said to be going on before their "very eyes," but which actually never occurred. There are similar instances in reports on the behavior of people under stress in war zones....
According to Leighton, when psychiatric patients "go into a state of panic, they misinterpret ordinary events as horrible threats. The whistle of a distant train becomes a death scream." But it just so happens that numerous survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau have given eyewitness (or should I say "earwitness"?) testimony about hearing the screams of people in "the gas chambers." For example, the testimony of Zvi Goldberg, one of Azriel Eisenberg's witnesses in The Lost Generation, includes the following (p. 207): "Suddenly the stillness of the night was shattered by the heartrending cries of the victims being forced into the death chambers." But considering how much train traffic there was in the vicinity of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the question arises: Did fearful camp inmates sometimes misinterpret the sound of train whistles as the death screams of people being gassed?
There are other possibilities. Camp inmates may have sometimes heard real screams and mistakenly assumed that they were the screams of people being killed. For example, consider Sarah Cender's eyewitness account of her arrival at Auschwitz, as quoted by Martin Gilbert (Auschwitz and the Allies, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981, p. 309):
Upon arrival we were separated from the males and brought in front of a building where heaps of clothing were lying on the ground. We were ordered to undress quickly and naked we were pushed into a pitch dark chamber (what we naively and hopefully thought to be a bath facility – although no soap or towel were given to us).
The doors closed behind us. Anxious seconds and minutes passed. Nothing seemed to happen – for a while. Only cries and laments and hysterical screams we heard from every corner of the chamber. Some of the women started to cough incoherently, believing being choked by gas. The situation became unbearable....
Eventually, after a bombing raid, the doors were opened and Cender and her companions were ordered out of "the chamber." But how many camp inmates heard their "hysterical screams" and assumed that they were being gassed?
In any case, even some devout Holocaustomaniacs have acknowledged the inaccuracy of some survivor testimony. In a footnote in The Holocaust and the Historians (Harvard University Press, 1981), Lucy Dawidowicz writes (pp. 176-177),
Many thousands of oral histories by survivors recounting their experiences exist in libraries and archives around the world. Their quality and usefulness vary significantly according to the informant's memory, grasp of events, insights, and of course accuracy... . The transcribed testimonies I have examined have been full of errors in dates, names of participants, and places, and there are evident misunderstandings of the events themselves.
In his foreword to Voices from the Holocaust, a collection of such transcribed oral testimonies edited by Sylvia Rothchild (New American Library, 1981), Elie Wiesel admits (p. 4):
... here and there you will come up against some errors of fact or perception. For example, the revolt of the Birkenau Sonderkommando seems to have been undertaken in cooperation with the Royal Air Force. That's what we read in this book. But, this doesn't agree with the findings of historians. . ,. The witness remembers a plan that involved the RAF because he undoubtedly heard rumors: every camp was an inexhaustible source of rumors.
Yes, indeed; "every camp was an inexhaustible source of rumors." And, as Allport and Postman pointed out (op. cit., p. 54), "Even firsthand reports are so faulty that they seldom can be trusted in detail. Rumor, being once, twice, or a thousand times removed from eyewitness testimony, is just so much more invalid." This is a point worth emphasizing because, despite Azriel Eisenberg's claims, The Lost Generation contains much that is not eyewitness testimony but is merely hearsay, rumor, inference, etc. For example, Eisenberg includes (pp. 108-110) a "document... written in Polish by a nameless thirteen-year-old boy in April 1944." Eisenberg's nameless "eyewitness," a resident of Warsaw, wrote, "On the very first day that the 'resettlement' program was instituted, my mother, father, sister, and little brother were deported and killed at Treblinka." But this nameless witness was not deported to Treblinka and did not see his family members killed there, so this is not eyewitness testimony. Eisenberg also includes (pp. 138-139) a brief excerpt from Philip Friedman's This Was Oswiecim. Among Friedman's revelations is this: "The children were not always liquidated by gas. Dr. Jacob Wollman of Lodz declares that the SS clubbed about five hundred children to death with their rifle butts." Ouch! Of course, this is not eyewitness testimony, since Friedman didn't claim to have seen this particular atrocity. (He didn't even tell us if Dr. Wollman himself claimed to have seen it.) Titling it "THE GAS CHAMBER," Eisenberg has also included (pp. 139-141) an excerpt "From a Memorandum by Mr. Lieberman, September 27, 1945." Mr. Lieberman described in some detail the operations of "the crematorium and the gas chamber" of Birkenau. But, as he himself explained, "We were separated in quarantine but housed together with another working party, which was serving the crematorium and the gas chamber. It is due to this fact that I know how things occurred." Or, as he also wrote, "I have never seen the trolleys for the transport of corpses personally, nor have I seen the ovens operating; but as I have already mentioned, several of the working party, which was serving the gas chambers and ovens, lived with us and have given me all the details." Thus, Mr. Lieberman's account of "the gas chambers and ovens" is hearsay at best. Mr. Lieberman said, "A certain Jacob Weinschein of Paris, who is a survivor of this commando [Sonderkommando], is personally known to me." Didn't Jacob Weinschein ever write an eyewitness account of "the gas chambers and ovens" of Birkenau? In any case, Azriel Eisenberg has not given us eyewitness testimony from Jacob Weinschein. Instead he has given us a heap of hearsay from Mr. Lieberman.
Here is some of that hearsay:
The men and women entered the so-called bathroom and undressed separately to avoid panic. Once they were undressed they entered by separate doors in the central chamber. This chamber could take 3,000 people. The gas was released through sprays of the showers and from bombs which were thrown through apertures designed to allow for that procedure. Death occurred within five minutes. On certain days, when enormous transports arrived at the station of Birkenau, 42,000 people were gassed. Once the gassing process had been completed, the floor of the chamber opened automatically and the corpses fell into the subterranean chamber, where prisoners in charge of extracting the teeth or cutting hair of a certain length, took over... Once the gold teeth had been recovered, the corpses were loaded on to a moving belt and transported to cremation ovens, through subterranean gangways. There were four ovens, a big one and three small ones, which were capable of burning 400 corpses in five minutes. Later on, when the number of corpses exceeded the capacity of the ovens, trenches were dug and the corpses thrown in saturated with petrol.
And the cow in the nursery rhyme really did jump over the moon, which is made of green cheese.
Mr. Lieberman's hearsay account of gassings and cremation at Birkenau is a dilly. For one thing, he said that "Once the gassing process had been completed, the floor of the chamber opened automatically and, the corpses fell into the subterranean chamber... ." But Birkenau crematoria IV and V had no subterranean chambers. Crematoria II and III each had two subterranean "chambers," one of which allegedly was a gas chamber, the other allegedly an undressing room. But these two subterranean "chambers" were on the same level, at right angles to each other. There were no subterranean chambers underneath the alleged subterranean gas chambers. So this part of Mr. Lieberman's tale just doesn't fit the facts.
Neither does his statement that "There were four ovens, a big one and three small ones, which were capable of burning 400 corpses in five minutes." There were four crematoria at Birkenau, two larger ones and two smaller ones. The larger ones, II and III, each had 15 ovens, or, as some people put it, 5 ovens with 3 openings each. The two smaller crematoria, IV and V, each had 8 ovens, or 2 ovens with 4 openings each. No matter how you slice it, Mr. Lieberman's testimony about four ovens, a big one and three small ones, is baloney.
As for his claim that those four ovens could cremate 400 corpses in five minutes, that's beyond baloney. According to Los Angeles Times staff writer Carol McGraw, "In the cremation process, a body is placed in a furnace and subjected to temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees for two or three hours." (See "Cremation: Boom Brings Controversy," 13 April 1983, Part I, page 24.) At that rate, four ovens might be able to cremate 400 corpses in 50 hours, not in five minutes.
If four ovens at Birkenau could cremate 400 corpses in five minutes, then, by extrapolation, they could cremate 192,000 corpses in 24 hours! This is preposterous in its own right, and it renders absurd Mr. Lieberman's claim that "Later on, when the number of corpses exceeded the capacity of the ovens, trenches were dug and the corpses thrown in saturated with petrol." If the four ovens could cremate 400 corpses in five minutes and, therefore, 192,000 corpses in 24 hours, then the Nazis would have had to have gassed something like 200,000 or more people a day at Birkenau in order to have exceeded the capacity of the ovens! But even Mr. Lieberman didn't claim that they ever gassed that many people in one day, although his claim that on certain days 42,000 people were gassed far surpasses in magnitude any other such allegation that I recall having seen. All in all, his story just doesn't "add up."
If Azriel Eisenberg really believes Mr. Lieberman's hearsay hokum, then he probably also believes, along with Steve Martin, that robots from Mars are stealing his luggage, and, for his own safety and the safety of others, he probably should not have access to pointed objects, such as pens and pencils, but should only be allowed to write with crayons.
A recurring theme of The Lost Generation is the burning alive of children and others by the Nazi beasts at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Variations on this macabre theme can be found in the testimonies of such survivors as Olga Lengyel, Philip Friedman, Halina Birenbaum, Leon Shlofsky and especially Gisella Perl. (See pages 39, 41-42, 139, 161-164, 165 and 204.) In most cases, the tellers of these tales do not explain how they know them to be true, nor do they explicitly claim to have seen these horrendous events with their own eyes. For example, after claiming that there was a policy of killing pregnant women, Gisella Per1 wrote (pp. 163-164):
Then, one day, Dr. Mengele came to the hospital and gave a new order. From now on Jewish women could have their children. They were not going to be killed because of their pregnancy. The children, of course, had to be taken to the crematory by me, personally, but the women would be allowed to live. I was jubilant... .
I had 292 expectant mothers in my ward when Dr. Mengele changed his mind. He came roaring into the hospital, whip and revolver in hand, and had all 292 women loaded on a single truck and tossed, alive, into the flames of the crematory.
I'm sure that tossing 292 women, alive, "into the flames of the crematory" was a helluva lot easier said than done. And Gisella Perl did not say that she saw this improbable deed done.
However, in two cases, Gisella Per1 apparently claimed to be an eyewitness to the burning alive of people. For example, she wrote (p. 161):
When we first arrived at Auschwitz, children under sixteen, whether boys or girls, were permitted to accompany their mothers to the women's camps. Then, as usual, there came a counter-order, and all children of fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen had to come forward because they were going to be put into a separate children's camp and receive double bread rations... .
The boys left first. They were kept in a camp near ours and we were able to watch them exercise from morning till night, tired, weak, and thin – without the double bread rations they were promised. Then one night the most horrible screams woke our camp from its deathlike sleep. We ran to the entrance of the camp and witnessed a sight I shall never forget as long as I live.
Several black trucks were standing before the entrance of the boys' camp, and a detachment of SS men were throwing the naked, crying, screaming little boys [of fourteen, fifteen and sixteen years of age?] on the trucks. Those who tried to escape were dragged back by the hair [which wasn't shaved off as with other prisoners?], beaten with truncheons, and whipped mercilessly. There was no help, no escape. Neither their mothers nor God could reach out a helping hand to save their lives. They were burned alive in those crematories which killed and smoked incessantly, day and night.
But, even if the rest of this "eyewitness" testimony is true, the last sentence, the crucial one, begs some questions. Did Gisella Perl see the trucks take the boys to the crematories? If so, why did she omit to mention that detail? In any case, even assuming the boys were taken to the crematories, did Gisella Per1 see them burned alive in the crematories? If so, how did she manage this? Did she follow them into the crematories to see what happened? Or did the crematories have transparent walls, allowing any interested persons to see what happened inside?
In any case, at least one part of Gisella Perl's testimony is demonstrably untrue, to wit, her claim that the crematories "killed and smoked incessantly, day and night." In 1979, the CIA published The Holocaust Revisited: A Retrospective Analysis of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Complex. In this publication, two CIA photo interpreters, Dino A. Brugioni and Robert G. Poirier, analyzed aerial photographs taken of Auschwitz-Birkenau between April, 1944 and January, 1945. Brugioni and Poirier wrote (p. ll), "Although survivors recalled that smoke and flame emanated continually from the crematoria chimneys and was visible for miles, the photography we examined gave no positive proof of this." Brugioni and Poirier were being diplomatic. But the fact that none of the aerial photographs of Auschwitz-Birkenau show smoke or flame coming from the crematoria chimneys constitutes positive disproof of the familiar claim that "smoke and flame emanated continually from the crematoria chimneys." And it consitutes positive disproof of Gisella Perl's particular version of that claim.
But what is the explanation of Gisella Perl's demonstrably false testimony that the crematoria of Birkenau "killed and smoked incessantly, day and night?" Is this merely an instance of the sort of unintentional distortion that often occurs in eyewitness testimony? Or is it an instance of outright, conscious deception?
What? Outright, conscious deception by a "Holocaust" survivor? Is that even possible? Aren't all survivors Semitic saints inherently incapable of lying?
That deception by a "Holocaust" survivor is within the realm of the possible has been admitted even by Holocaustomaniac Gitta Sereny. In The New Statesman, 2 November 1979, Sereny wrote:
Personal accounts, such as the recently-published Dora ... are not rubbish in themselves... , The problem with books like this is that they are "ghosted" by professional wordsmiths – the French are especially adept – who have neither interest in nor capacity for conveying truth with restraint. It is less the exaggerations than the false emphases and cheap humor which disqualify them.
Worse again are the partial or complete fakes, such as Jean Francois Steiner's Treblinka or Martin Gray's For Those I Loved....
Gray's For Those I Loved was the work of Max Gallo the ghostwriter, who also produced Papillon. During the research for a Sunday Times inquiry into Gray's work, M. Gallo informed me coolly that he "needed" a long chapter on Treblinka because the book required something strong for pulling in readers. When I myself told Gray, the "author," that he had manifestly never been to, nor escaped from Treblinka, he finally asked, despairingly, "But does it matter?" Wasn't the only thing that Treblinka did happen, that it should be written about, and that some Jews should be shown to have been heroic?
But, if Martin Gray's "eyewitness" account of the mass extermination of Jews at Treblinka is a fake, then how many other "eyewitness" accounts of "the Holocaust" are fake as well? And, more specifically, how many of the "authentic personal and eyewitness" accounts in The Lost Generation are fakes? I would bet that Shaye Gertner's "authentic personal and eyewitness" account of his ten weeks as a member of the Birkenau Sonderkommando is a fake. Here is part of that account (pp. 210-211):
After being interrogated by the SS, I was taken to Birkenau and assigned to the Sonderkommando Field D, barracks 32. There were four hundred men, mostly Jews, some Poles, and a few Germans. Some wore red emblems [political prisoners]: others the usual green [criminals].
During the first few days I didn't go to the ovens, but did house-keeping chores, But then the squad leader Muller appeared and said, "Such a sturdy lad ought to be assigned to a shift." And I started to work on the ovens. The first days were very hard, and I began to wonder how to extricate myself. Our Kommando had just plunged into the task. Everyone knew that within three months all of us would be dispensed with and replaced with others.
Our unit consisted of four hundred men, working in two shifts. One oven belonged to us. We were accompanied by orchestral music on our way to work. The SS leader, Dr. Mengele, was our supervisor. He delivered the inmates to the gas chambers. He was followed in rank by Muller, then the Jewish kapos, Poles, and Germans. We were generally guarded by five SS men. When new transports of human cargo arrived, people were unaware of just what was in store for them. Before entering the building carrying the sign "Baths," the people had to disrobe completely and received a number of their belongings, presumably to be reclaimed later. They got soap and towels for their shower. Then the kapos would dash in to beat the unfortunates, to create confusion. During the ensuing commotion, when people trampled over one another, the door of the gas chamber would be thrown open, the prisoners pushed in, and then the door would bang shut after a cylinder of poison gas was flung into the mass, I worked ten weeks in the Sonderkommando. I never entered the gas chamber itself; only kapos were admitted there. After the gassing a door in the other side of the chamber would open; there the kapos would enter to throw out the corpses. All of us wore rubber gloves and wads of cotton in our mouths. The corpses exuded a pungent odor that could asphyxiate one. Small cars, loaded with forty corpses apiece, would ride along rails that extended from the gas chamber to the oven. The cars disgorged their cargo into the oven, where the bodies were reduced to ashes by electric current in ten minutes. A weak current left the bones intact; a strong current left small heaps. There was an apparatus, known as an exhaust, that blew the ashes into an adjoining pit, where they were piled into barrels by workers, then hoisted by an elevator and ultimately dumped into the Sola River.
The corpses I loaded onto the carts were yellow from the gas. Some of the cadavers had open, glazed eyes, hands holding their mouths, or clutching stomachs. None of us in this work could stand it. We often spoke of escape. (Eisenberg cites Anthology of Holocaust Literature, Jewish Publication Society, 1969, pp. 141-147, as his source for Gertner's account.)
According to Gertner, "All of us wore rubber gloves and wads of cotton in our mouths." What excellent safety precautions. A wad of cotton in the mouth beats a gas mask any day. Of course, Gertner and his fellow Sonderkommando members simply never inhaled through their noses.
Arthur Butz has written, "The ovens at Birkenau seem to have been coke or coal-fired...." (The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, Institute for Historical Review, 1976, p. 121.) And a surviving German document, a letter of 29 January 1943, concerning the construction of Crematorium II, said, "The fires were started in the ovens in the presence of Senior Engineer Pruefer, representative of the contractors of the firm of Topf and Soehne, Erfurt, and they are working most satisfactorily." (Butz, p. 116.) But now we know that Butz was wrong and the document forged, because "eyewitness" Shaye Gertner reported that "the bodies were reduced to ashes by electric current."
Gertner's "eyewitness" testimony that the bodies were reduced to ashes "in ten minutes" also discredits the previously-mentioned reportage of Carol McGraw, who said that the cremation of a body takes 2 or 3 hours, not ten minutes.
Another of Gertner's unique revelations: "There was an apparatus, known as an exhaust, that blew the ashes into an adjoining pit, where they were piled into barrels by workers, then hoisted by an elevator and ultimately dumped into the Sola River." Those German barbarians were mighty ingenious, weren't they? But I wonder why they didn't fully automate the disposal of the ashes. Surely they could have designed and constructed devices for conveying the ashes directly from the crematoria to the river.
In any case, Gertner said, "We often spoke of escape." And he went on to describe (pp. 211-212) how they planned and then carried out an escape from Birkenau in January 1944, "perhaps the eighteenth day." The leader was a Polish officer whose name Gertner couldn't remember.
.. At a signal from the Polish officer, we killed one SS man and threw the German squad leader into the lime pit. Then we began to throw grenades into the oven. Those on the other side of the gas chamber with the other three SS men, who guarded the new arrivals, shouted that it was an air attack alarm. Hearing the explosions, the SS men believed it and ran for cover. The inmates, standing in front of the gas chamber, were at a loss what to do. Meanwhile we fled individually....
An hour and a half went by before the Germans really got their bearings. Then they opened fire in all directions and began to reconnoiter the surrounding area. I learned later from witnesses that about two hundred men were killed in the wake of that event. The rest escaped; it is hard to determine the number killed among the latter.
I was trudging together with a group of twenty-seven men in the direction of Germany. We were led by a Jew from Berlin familiar with the land. We had plenty of money, so we bought shovels and marched along, singing German songs in the manner of German workers. We had already penetrated deep into Germany when we were taken by the German authorities in some town. We declared that we had escaped from a transport in Dachau; they believed us and sent us to Dachau.
I was back in Dachau in March 1944. I said my name was Casiemierz Dudzinski (though they knew I was Jewish).
Thanks to the incredible stupidity and gullibility of their SS guards, Gertner and some other Sonderkommando members escaped from Birkenau. So where did they go? Naturally, they headed right into the heart of Germany. What better place to escape the Nazi terror? I'm only surprised that Gertner didn't persuade his inevitable captors that he was Adolf Hitler himself, out for a stroll with his staff. After all, the Germans were apparently willing to believe anything that Gertner and his pals told them.
Although nobody else on Planet Earth seems to know about this revolt and escape of the Birkenau Sonderkommando in January 1944, Gertner's story is reminiscent of the tales that have been told of a revolt and attempted escape by the Birkenau Sonderkommando on 7 October 1944. However, in that case, none of the prisoners is supposed to have succeeded in escaping. (See, for example, Jozef Garlinski, Fighting Auschwitz, Fawcett, 1975, pp. 325-327.)
Speaking of the 7 October 1944 revolt of the Sonderkommando, Garlinski (p. 327). names some of those who supposedly were killed in attempting to escape: "Jozef Deresinski, Zalman Gradowski, Ajzyk Kalniak, Lajb Langfus, Lajb Panusz and Josef Warszawski, the leader." Coincidentally, two of these names are mentioned by Azriel Eisenberg on page 141. He writes, "In 1962, in the area of the Birkenau crematorium no. 3, were found the writings of three martyrs, Leib Langfuss, Zalman Leventhal, and Zalman Gradovski." Perhaps these were some of the manuscripts Robert Faurisson had in mind when he referred to "miraculously rediscovered manuscripts" in Le Monde on 16 January 1979. In any case, Eisenberg does not tell us how or by whom the writings of the three "martyrs" were found in 1962. But he does tell us, "Langfuss's manuscript was found in a glass jar. In it he explained why the revolt of the Sonderkommando had failed." Eisenberg then includes (pp. 141-142) an excerpt from "Langfuss's manuscript" recounting an incident at "the end of October 1944" in which the SS drove a group of children into "the gas chamber" with great brutality and indescribable glee. But, if Jozef Garlinski was correct in writing that Langfuss was among those killed while attempting to escape on 7 October 1944, then how, pray tell, could "Langfuss's manuscript" have "explained why the revolt of the Sonderkommando had failed?" And how could it have described events alleged to have taken place at "the end of October 1944?" (This date is quoted from "Langfuss's manuscript" itself.) We seem to be confronted with a miracle similar to the one that enabled Moses to record his own death in verse 5 of Chapter 34 of Deuteronomy.
Another of Eisenberg's selections may also partake of the miraculous, to wit, his excerpt from "the diary of Anne Frank" (pp. 76-78). According to Al Fredericks (The New York Post, 9 October 1980),
A report by the German Federal Criminal Investigation Bureau (BKA) indicates that portions of The Diary of Anne Frank had been altered or added after 1951, casting doubt over the authenticity of the entire work, the West German news weekly Der Spiegel has disclosed...
The results of tests performed at the BKA laboratories show that portions of the work, specifically of the fourth volume, were written with a ball point pen. Since ballpoint pens were not available before 1951, the BKA concluded, those sections must have been added subsequently.
Azriel Eisenberg doesn't mention the BKA's report on "the diary of Anne Frank," let alone try to explain how Anne Frank might have written portions of its posthumously. Instead he devotes pages 355-364 to rebutting revisionism with an excerpt from The Murderers Among Us: The Wiesenthal Memoirs, edited by Joseph Wechsberg. According to Eisenberg, this excerpt " ... illustrates the efforts now being made to rewrite the history of the tragedy, by such individuals as A.R. Butz of Evanston, Illinois, who published an outrageous book, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, as well as others in the East, who are issuing a series of tracts entitled Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last." Eisenberg is obviously well-informed about "Holocaust" revisionism (I'm being sarcastic), but his attempted refutation of revisionism from "the Wiesenthal Memoirs" is an excercise in irrelevancy. Confronted by an Austrian boy who disputed the existence of Anne Frank and the authenticity of the "diary," Wiesenthal proceeded to track down the officer who arrested the Frank family. This may prove that Anne Frank really existed. But it doesn't prove that she wrote "the diary of Anne Frank." Nor does it explain how it would have been possible for her to write portions of it more than six years after her death from typhus at Belsen in 1945.
Eisenberg immediately follows the irrelevant Wiesenthal excerpt with another response to "Holocaust" revisionism, this one emanating from the West German Federal Supreme Court. In a civil suit in which an injunction was sought against the display of an "offending" poster, the court on 18 September 1979 passed judgment "... against a German citizen who exhibited posters stating that the murder of millions of Jews in the Third Reich was a 'Zionist swindle' and the gassing of six million Jews a lie." (I am quoting Patterns of Prejudice, January 1980, pp. 32-33.) Eisenberg paraphrases the Court's decision as follows (p. 364):
On October 29, 1979, the Jewish Telegraphic Association released the news of a landmark decision by the West German Supreme Court which stated that the unique fate of Jews give them a claim to regard and respect from all German citizens, that the Holocaust is part of the consciousness of Jews and it is a matter of their personal dignity to be perceived as the group who suffered persecution and to whom other citizens bear a moral responsibility.
The court said that respect for these feelings had to be regarded as a guarantee for the non-repetition of the past and an essential condition making it possible for Jews to live in Germany. Whoever denies the truth of past events denies to every Jew the respect to which he is entitled, the court declared.
It added that any attempt to justify, to gloss over, or to dispute the facts of the Holocaust shows contempt against every person identified with persecution. Finally, the court affirmed that the evidence of the facts of the Holocaust is overwhelming.
There are a couple of discrepancies between the court's decision, as quoted by Patterns of Prejudice, and Eisenberg's paraphrase of it. Eisenberg says, "... the court affirmed that the evidence of the facts of the Holocaust is overwhelming." But Patterns of Prejudice quoted the court as saying, "The documentary evidence on the extermination of millions of Jews is damning." Similar, but different. Also, Eisenberg says the court spoke of other citizens owing Jews "a moral responsibility." But Patterns of Prejudice quoted the court as speaking of "a normal responsibility." Otherwise, though, Eisenberg's paraphrase of the court's ruling is reasonably accurate.
But Eisenberg's invoking of the authority of the West German Federal Supreme Court does not refute "Holocaust" revisionism. As W. Ward Fearnside and William B. Holther have written, "An authority must be qualified as an expert in the field in which he is cited." (Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument, Prentice-Hall, 1959, p. 85.) This means that, "The authority is expressing an opinion within the field of his special competence. Einstein may have held very worthy opinions on world peace, but he was not to be regarded as an expert on international relations just because of his reputation in physics." (Op. cit., p. 86.) By the same token, the West German Federal Supreme Court is not to be regarded as an expert on historical matters just because of its presumed expertise in matters judicial.
Eisenberg's appeal to the authority of the court is an instance of the fallacy sometimes known as "argument from authority." This was one of the fallacies referred to by Fearnside and Holther when they wrote the following (op. cit., p. 84):
The appeals described in the following fallacies often serve to take advantage of the ignorance of the audience rather than overcome it. They play on prejudices and misconceptions instead of meeting them squarely. And one must very often suspect that, unlike some fallacies which are the result of ignorance or carelessness, these appeals are dishonest in intent.
That Eisenberg's appeal to authority probably is dishonest in intent is indicated by his brazen falsehoods in Witness to the Holocaust, some of which I pointed out in my review of that book, as well as in The Lost Generation.
One rather brazen falsehood in this latter book is on page 127, where he says, "When the Red Army freed Auschwitz, fewer than 450 Jews were among the survivors; not a child was left alive." This really involves two falsehoods. First there is Eisenberg's statement that "fewer than 450 Jews were among the survivors" when the Red Army captured Auschwitz. While it may be true that there were only 450 Jewish survivors of Auschwitz still in Auschwitz when the Red Army arrived (and I don't know if that figure is accurate). Eisenberg's statement conveniently ignores the fact that there were thousands of Jewish Auschwitz survivors who were no longer at Auschwitz by the time the Red Army reached there, in late January, 1945. Tens of thousands of Auschwitz inmates, at least, including many Jews, were transferred to other camps during 1943 and 1944. For example, Dr. Ada Bimko, a.k.a. Hadassah Bimko-Rosensaft, was transferred from Auschwitz to. Belsen in November, 1944. (Henry A. Zeiger, ed., The Case Against Adolf Eichmann, Signet, 1960, p. 180.) Furthermore, tens of thousands more Auschwitz prisoners were marched westward out of Auschwitz shortly before the arrival of the Red Army. Martin Gilbert says, "At the end of the first week of January , as the Red Army drew nearer to Auschwitz, the Gestapo began to organize the evacuation of more than 65,000 Jewish prisoners." (Auschwitz and the Allies, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981, p. 334.) Gilbert probably exaggerated the number of Jewish prisoners evacuated by assuming that all Auschwitz inmates were Jewish. Jozef Garlinski wrote, "At the final evening roll-call, on January 17th , the whole complex, comprising the central camp, Birkenau and Monowice with a number of sub-camps, contained 48,340 men and 18,672 women." (Fighting Auschwitz, pp. 341-342.) That adds up to 67,012 prisoners, about the same number Gilbert gave just for Jewish prisoners. But elsewhere in his book (p. 236), Garlinski said that Poles comprised the largest nationality within the camp population, Jews the second largest. In any case, there were thousands of Jews, perhaps ten thousand or more, among those evacuated from Auschwitz shortly before the Red Army arrived. So Eisenberg's reference to a mere 450 Jewish survivors is grossly misleading.
And his other statement, that "not a child was left alive" when the Red Army reached Auschwitz, is just plain false. On page 249 of Gerhard Schoenberner's The Yellow Star (Bantam, 1973), there is a photo of some children, prisoners of Auschwitz, who "lived to be liberated by the Red Army." What makes this falsehood particularly brazen is that one of Eisenberg's own witnesses in The Lost Generation gives contradictory testimony. On page 205, describing events between the evacuation of Auschwitz by the Germans and the arrival of the Red Army, Leon Shlofsky says, "We decided to proceed to Birkenau to save the women and children who were still living." As I said in my review of Witness to the Holocaust, Azriel Eisenberg is not a leading Jewish scholar, as it says on the dust jacket of that book. Rather, he is a misleading Jewish scholar.
Getting back to the West German Federal Supreme Court's decision, the court said, "Whoever tries to deny the truth of past events, denies to every Jew the respect to which he is entitled." But is it only Jews who are entitled to respect or to whom such respect is denied by attempts to deny the truth of past events? For example, if someone accuses Germans of committing atrocities which never took place, are they not attempting to deny the truth of past events and thereby denying Germans the respect to which they are entitled? Consider this whopper from "Nazi-hunter" Tuvia Friedman: "We drove a while in silence, until we approached Dachau. Silently, Yoske and I looked at the extermination camp where millions of innocent people had been executed." (The Hunter, Macfadden, 1961, p. 113.) Millions of people were executed at Dachau? No, not even according to former Dachau inmate Nerin E. Gun, whose estimate of the number of deaths at Dachau was not a conservative one. Gun has written, "... it is with some skepticism that 1 report here certain statistics compiled after the liberation. First, there are those of Domgala, who figured that 206,204 persons went through Dachau. I would put the figure closer to 450,000." (The Day of the Americans, Fleet, 1966, p. 128.) Gun also wrote (pp. 128-129),
It is impossible to ascertain the number of deaths in the camp from 1933 to 1940. It was certainly more than 15,000. From 1940 to liberation, a former camp inmate, Domgala, a responsible witness, accounts for 27,830 deaths, but that figure must be a minimum. In fact, more than 100,000 died at Dachau, or approximately one out of four inmates.
When Tuvia Friedman said that millions of people were executed at Dachau, was he not attempting to deny the truth of past events? And was he not thereby denying to Germans the respect to which they are entitled? Or are Germans less entitled to respect than Jews, less entitled to have the truth told about them?
The court said, "Whoever tries to deny the truth of past events, denies to every Jew the respect to which he is entitled." But what exactly is the truth of past events? Where may one find the truth of past events inscribed in clear, consistent, unquestionable and undeniable form?
Is it true, for example, that Jews were gassed en masse with Zyklon B at Auschwitz-Birkenau? Apart from a few documents, whose meaning is at best debatable, the evidence for such mass gassings consists entirely of testimony, the most important of which being the "eyewitness" testimony. The "eyewitnesses," however, contradict each other on various points, and some of them contradict themselves. More importantly, the stories of these "eyewitnesses" involve what appear to be various physical impossibilities. To give just one example, "eyewitnesses" have claimed that Zyklon B was capable of killing instantaneously, or within a few minutes, or in five minutes, or within three or fifteen minutes. But, citing document NI-9912, Friedrich Berg has written, "... the time required for the Zyklon to take effect would range from 6 to 32 hours depending upon the type of vermin and temperature. Since it is well known that cyanide kills very quickly given a sufficient concentration of the gas, the 6 to 32 hour period must have been essentially the period needed to produce a sufficient concentration by evaporation out of the Zyklon B granules." (See the Publisher's Footnote on page 4 of Robert Faurisson's, The "Problem of the 'Gas Chambers'" or "The Rumor of Auschwitz," Revisionist Press, Rochelle Park, New Jersey, 1979. For more on the question of the physical possibility of the alleged Zyklon B gassings, see Robert Faurisson's two contributions to The Journal of Historical Review, Volume Two, Number Four.)
Would the court insist that the "eyewitness" testimonies about mass gassings with Zyklon B must be true whether or not they involve physical impossibilities? If so, why? After all, a general principle that "eyewitness" testimony must be true would suffice to establish the reality, not only of mass gassings with Zyklon B, but also of the ritual murder of Christian children by Jews seeking blood for Passover matzohs, witchcraft and everything that involved, werewolves and vampires, the golden tablets from which Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon, forced conversions in Catholic nunneries, the angel of Mons, the miracle of the sun at Fatima, and "Mad Gasser" of Mattoon, Illinois, the post-WWII survival of Adolf Hitler, flying saucers and extraterrestial visitations of Earth, Bigfoot, etc. If, for example, one denies that witches ever flew through the air to sabbats where the Devil appeared as a being, half man and half goat, and where the flesh of babies was eaten, etc., is one denying the truth of the past and thereby denying to victims of witchcraft the respect to which they are entitled?
In any case, if Robert Faurisson and the revisionists are right, then the Zyklon B gassings, as described by "eyewitnesses," were physically impossible. And if that is the case, then it seems we are again confronted with a miracle, indeed, with a whole series of miracles.
On second thought, perhaps we are confronted, not with a series of miracles, but rather with a series of lies by "eyewitnesses." As Thomas Paine said, echoing the argument of David Hume,
If ... we see an account given of such a miracle by the person who said he saw it, it raises a question in the mind very easily decided, which is, is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course; but we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time; it is, therefore, at least millions to one, that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie. (Quoted by George H. Smith in Atheism: The Case Against God, Nash, 1974, p. 218.)
By the same token, it is at least millions to one that the "eyewitness" reporter of physically impossible Zyklon B gassings has told a lie. (And the same goes for "eyewitness" reporters of any kind of physically impossible "Holocaust" happenings.) According to Robert Conquest, there is a Russian folk saying: "He lies like an eyewitness." Of course, not all eyewitnesses are liars, although even most honest eyewitnesses, for the reasons discussed earlier, give testimony that is to some extent false. But some eyewitnesses are liars. And some liars pretend to be eyewitnesses of places they've never been and things they've never seen (for example, Martin Gray).
Azriel Eisenberg's brandishing of the West German Federal Supreme Court's dictum ("Whoever tries to deny the truth of past events, denies to every Jew the respect to which he is entitled.") is both hypocritical and disingenuous. Hypocritical because Eisenberg's regard for the truth of past events is minimal, if not nonexistent. This is demonstrated both by his own falsehoods, in this book and his previous one, and by his selection of "eyewitness" accounts of "the Holocaust" containing palpable falsehoods, the "eyewitness" account of Shaye Gertner and the hearsay testimony of Mr. Lieberman being the most blatant examples.
Eisenberg's invoking of the court's dictum is disingenuous because it is not merely respect that Eisenberg wants for himself and his "eyewitnesses": it is reverence that he wants. As he said of his earlier collection of "eyewitness" accounts of "the Holocaust," "... it must be studied with awe and reverence." (Witness to the Holocaust, pp. 4-5.)
Ambrose Bierce wittily defined "reverence" as, "The spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man." But Eisenberg and his "eyewitnesses" are not gods, nor am I a dog, although I am a Gentile. They are merely human beings, as I am. So I see no reason to revere Eisenberg and his "eyewitnesses," no reason to put them on a pedestal, above skepticism, above criticism. As far as I am concerned, the fact that some or all of Eisenberg's witnesses suffered at the hands of the Nazis does not give them a license to lie.
As Rabbi Richard E. Singer, of the Lakeside Congregation of Highland Park, Illinois, has said (quoted by Alfred M. Lilienthal in The Zionist Connection, Dodd, Mead, 1978, p. 401),
Jews have suffered, and Christians have suffered. Mankind has suffered. There is no group with a monopoly on suffering, and no human beings which have experienced hate and hostility more than any other. I must say, however, that it is my impression that Jewish history has been taught with a whine and a whimper rather than with a straight-forward acknowledgement that man practices his inhumanity on his fellow human beings ... Out of this peculiar emphasis on suffering there has developed a new attitude of vicarious suffering – a feeling among numbers of Jews today that because other Jews have suffered and died they, the living, are somehow entitled to special consideration.
If only Azriel Eisenberg would take Rabbi Singer's well-chosen words to heart, then The Last Generation would be Eisenberg's last compilation of "stories of suffering and death." If only. If only.
|||There is a room (in the crematorium of Auschwitz I) that allegedly was used as a gas chamber before being converted into an air-raid shelter sometime in 1944, But this room constitutes evidence of the alleged Zyklon B gassings only in conjunction with the testimony that it was used for such gassings.|
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Lou A. Rollins|
|Title:||Azriel Eisenberg Presents The Greatest Sob Story Ever Told (with a Cast of Millions), A Review|
|Sources:||The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 6, no. 4 (winter 1985), pp. 479-498|
|First posted on CODOH:||Nov. 8, 2012, 6 p.m.|