Mad at Jews?
AnswerMan! does not dig multiple questions, but will answer this one because it is not really multiple questions but one question restated about three dozen times. The Question is: Isn't it true that the Jewish people cannot afford a more rational analysis of the Holocaust because the resulting changes to the story will lead to violent reactions against them?
The short answer is: No. It is after all very clear that there are several elements to the Holocaust story that are exaggerated, and that are inaccurate. But that has no bearing on the moral or political authority that people have invested in the Holocaust.
Standard revisionist thinking agrees that the Jewish people were persecuted, killed, and died in large numbers. All revisionists agree that it was less than six million, but beyond that you have a range of deaths from one million (Rassinier, Butz) to four million (Irving). No one is going to get mad at Jewish people if the number goes down.
Standard revisionist thinking also holds that the stories of gassing are either completely false or greatly exaggerated. Revisionists generally believe that the gas chamber stories were the result of a combination of factors, including the fact that every German camp had disinfestation gas chambers for killing insects that were about 12' x 4' by 5'. These chambers are not only too small for gassing people, they never would have worked for that purpose, because the internal contraptions for dispersing the Zyklon B pesticide were inside the chambers.
But if the gas chambers disappeared from Holocaust history, no one would have a special animus for Jews. After all, in 1945, everybody believed in gas chambers. What will happen when people finally wake up and realize that there were no gas chambers is that people will be embarrassed and a little bit humbled. They will realize that the professional historians of academia have bugged out from their responsibility to be rational and to direct the layman towards reason. They will realize that the 20th Century has been a century of mass delusions, of which the gas chambers was only one, along with such chestnuts as the international communist conspiracy, the belief that extraterrestrials are invading your bodies with instruments while you sleep, or the belief that Saddam Hussein keeps anthrax bombs in the bathroom of his palace.
Finally, revisionists hold that there was no planned extermination of the Jewish people. That is, they grant that Jews were killed, and sometimes quite deliberately because they were Jewish, but that there never was a centrally organized plan to exterminate the Jewish people and such a policy was never implemented. In fact, revisionists have pretty much gained ground on that point over the last 20 or so years, otherwise we wouldn't have debates between "functionalists" and "intentionalists."
So the Jewish people have nothing to fear from having the Holocaust revised. It is perhaps true that some are afraid that in the revising someone might blame them for concocting the legendary aspects. But all the indications are that the legendary aspects of the Holocaust were cooked up by people of all nationalities and backgrounds and who only had two things in common: they wanted revenge against the Germans, and they were very susceptible to wartime propaganda legends, not just gassing stories, but soap stories, lampshade stories, and many others. Therefore, there's no reason why the Jewish people could, or should, be singled out.
Now if you add up all the revisionist ideas you end up with a story of persecution, loss of resources, breakup of families, concentration camps, overcrowded ghettoes, disorientation and fear, disease and deprivation, hunger and humiliation, mass shootings in the East, and mass death in the camps and ghettoes from starvation and epidemics especially in the last few months of the war. That adds up to a crime, and an injustice that deserves redress. Therefore no one has to apologize for compensating the Jewish people for these things, especially when Germany freely chose to pay it. Of course, we may ask where the status of compensation should be 53 years down the road, and we may ask whether the German expellees should have their day in court, too. But that's another question.
The important thing about the revisionist attitude is twofold. The revisionists have a handle on the truth, and the rest of the world has got to catch up. That means the future is ours, no matter what we do. Second, revisionists have vision. They see the reality of the Jewish ordeal but they put it in the context of the ordeals of the other peoples of Europe, including those East Europeans who collaborated with Nazi Germany against communism, and including the German people themselves. In short, revisionists have a view on 20th Century European history that is inclusive, charitable, and magnanimous.
As time goes on, more and more people will come around to our view, which is the same kind of view historians always adopt towards an event as it recedes in time. It would be sad if the Jewish people were not able to overcome their fears of reprisal or their belief in the uniqueness of their tragedy and see the hand extended out to them. And it will be tragic if our civilization allows itself to install the petty hatreds of 1945 as the truth of ages by outlawing revisionism.
And that's why we're here. There's nothing to be afraid of.
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|Title:||Mad at Jews?|
|First posted on CODOH:||June 29, 1998, 7 p.m.|