For the record... Some major mainstream revisions of WWII historiography
Officially Acknowledged Propaganda Lies
Published: 2000-01-01

Since the end of the Second World War many facts and many legends have been built up surrounding the events or even "non-events" of that international conflict. Many stories which originated through the official and unofficial propaganda channels have become a part of the popular history of the war. From the time of the war itself, many of the propaganda claims which circulated widely were questioned by official sources. At the Nuremberg trials some of the defendants were able to point to errors, legends, and even lies in the charges being made against them. As a result of some of these false claims, Germans were executed, oftentimes for crimes either committed by others or equal to crimes of the Allied powers. Since the late 1940's, revisionist historians have attempted to bring our official history into accord with the facts. Through the years many mainstream figures and establishment historians have conceded claims which typically only argued for by the revisionists. Strangely, as the years have passed, truth has not spread more widely due to the expected diminution of the emotions stirred by the war itself. Today the emotions of war are as wild and frenzied as if Roosevelt could still be heard on our radios speaking of "infamy."

For the record... is a collection of claims which have been rebuffed at one time or another. Although officially debunked, these stories are still repeated in our news, in our movies, and on our television screens. As the old German saying goes, "Lies have long legs."

Richard Widmann


Katyn Forest Massacre

The Claim:

Nuremberg Document 054-USSR. Report by a Special Soviet Commission, 24 January 1944, concerning the shooting of Polish officer prisoners of war in the forest of Katyn. The executions had been carried out in autumn 1941 by the German "Staff of the Construction Battalion 537". In spring 1943 the Germans, by blackmailing witnesses into giving false evidence and by other means, had tried to make it appear that the Soviet NKVD was responsible for the shooting of the 11,000 victims.

The Revisions:

"This committee unanimously finds... that the Soviet NKVD committed the mass murders of the Polish officers and intellectual leaders in the Katyn Forest […] there has not been […] even any remote circumstantial evidence presented that could indict any other nation in this international crime. It is an established fact that approximately 15,000 Polish prisoners were interned in three Soviet camps: Kozielsk, Starobielsk, and Ostashkov in the winter of 1939-40. With the exception of 400 prisoners, these men have not been heard from […] since the spring of 1940. […]"—U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the Facts, The Katyn Forest Massacre: Final Report. Issued 22 December 1952.

"Polish President Wojciech Jaruzelski went to the Katyn Forest yesterday and paid tribute to the thousands of Polish army officers killed and buried there by the Soviet Union's secret police during World War II. His visit came one day after the Soviet government reversed nearly 50 years of official denial and admitted committing the massacre. The Soviet Union had long blamed Nazi Germany. […] The Soviet Union on Friday admitted that the NKVD, Stalin's feared secret police, was responsible for the murders."—"Soviets admit WWII massacre of Poles," Associated Press, April 1990


Dachau Gas Chamber

The Claim:

Page 25 of "Chavez Report", 00089 of microfilm pages:

"The new building had a gas chamber for executions […] the gas chamber was labeled 'shower room' over the entrance and was a large room with airtight doors and double glassed lights, sealed and gas proof. The ceiling was studded with dummy shower heads. A small observation peephole, double glassed and hermetically sealed was used to observe the conditions of the victims. There were grates in the floor. Hydrogen cyanide was mixed in the room below, and rose into the gas chamber and out the top vents. (Exhibit 34)"—Report of the Atrocities Committed at Dachau Concentration Camp. Vol. 1. War Crimes Investigation Team No. 6823. Signed by David Chavez Jr., Colonel, JAGD, 7 May 1945

The Revisions:

"Neither in Dachau nor in Bergen-Belsen nor in Buchenwald were Jews or other prisoners gassed. The gas chamber in Dachau was never entirely finished or put 'into operation'."—Dr. Martin Broszat "Keine Vergasung in Dachau" (No Gassing in Dachau) Die Zeit. It appeared in the German edition of August 19, 1960, and in the US edition of August 26, 1960 (p. 14). Dr. Broszat writes in the name of the prestigious Institut für Zeitgeschichte.

"It is true that there were no extermination camps on German soil and thus no mass gassings such as those that took place at Auschwitz, Treblinka and other camps. A gas chamber was in the process of being built at Dachau, but it was never completed."—Simon Wiesenthal, "Gassings in Germany," The Stars and Stripes, European Edition, Sunday, January 24, 1993 pg. 14.


Human Skin Lampshades

The Claim:

"MR. DODD: […] The corpses were then turned over to the pathological department where the desired pieces of tattooed skin were detached from the bodies and treated. The finished products were turned over to SS Standartenführer Koch's wife, who had them fashioned into lamp shades and other ornamental household articles."—International Military Tribunal (IMT), Vol. III, page 515.

The Revisions:

"There was absolutely no evidence in the trial transcript, other than she [Ilse Koch] was a rather loathsome creature, that would support the death sentence. I suppose I received more abuse for that than for anything else I did in Germany. Some reporter had called her the 'Bitch of Buchenwald,' [and] had written that she had lampshades made out of human skin in her house. And that was introduced in court, where it was absolutely proven that the lampshades were made out of goatskin."—General Lucius Clay, quoted in: Smith, Jean Edward, Lucius D. Clay, An American Life, p. 301. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1990.


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Author(s): Richard A. Widmann
Title: For the record... Some major mainstream revisions of WWII historiography, Officially Acknowledged Propaganda Lies
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Published: 2000-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 2000, 7 p.m.
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