"Hitler's Hidden Holocaust"

The Documentary fails to deliver. A Review
Published: 2009-01-09

Touted as a documentary which would change the Holocaust narrative as we know it by revealing new information on the Einsatzgruppen and what has come to called “the Holocaust by bullets,” National Geographic's special “Hitler's Hidden Holocaust” which aired on August 2, 2009 failed to deliver on its hype.

Anticipating a clear new thesis which would further evolve the Holocaust narrative from the tales of mass murder in homicidal gas chambers in six Polish concentration camps to one which emphasized the murder of Jews by shooting by the Einsatzgruppen and perhaps even the general army, National Geographic's hour long program fell miserably short.

The show primarily emphasized that the producer was revealing something new to the narrative – that is that German soldiers and citizens recruited into a makeshift police organization killed as many as 1.5 million Jews in the former USSR by shooting them and leaving their bodies in pits.

In the opening sequence, the mass shootings were described as a precursor to the gas chambers – killings which were described as being carried out “by remote control.”With that absurd opening statement, the show set off with many photographs of German soldiers going through piles of clothes which were left on the ground. Apparently the story goes that the Nazis made their victims strip naked right before shooting them so that their bodies would fall into mass burial pits and their clothing and belongings could be put to some good use.

Various “experts” were brought out to offer their insights into these previously little known operations. From Peter Black of the USHMM to Michael Berenbaum, the descriptions of the activities of the Einsatzgruppen were touted as shocking new information.

Of course, except to those who only know their Holocaust history through Hollywood, the Einsatzgruppen story has been a critical element of the overall story since day one.

Many of the photographs shown throughout the show were of healthy individuals who previously lived in Eastern Europe. There is no way to determine from the photos how these people met their final fate. In one lengthy sequence, group photographs resembling school photos were shown and then the various people were made to disappear from the photo to give the impression that their lives were snuffed out by the Nazis.

“Hidden Holocaust” did have a short film sequence of executions going on at a mass grave that was previously unknown to me. In addition there were some photographs that show the shooting of civilians. Some of these are old and very familiar while others were new to me.

“Hidden Holocaust” repeated various absurd stories such as the claim that up to five Einsatzgruppen members would shoot one person so that none of the shooters would know whose bullet actually killed the person, easing the psychological guilt of the situation. While such a process is used when executions are carried out by firing squad, such a process on the Eastern Front would not only have been impractical, it must be chalked up to pure fantasy. We are told that a group of only a couple thousand men killed as many as 1.5 million people – an average of 750 victims per man, the idea that multiple shooters would somehow limit the sense of personal responsibility is highly unlikely.

The show also spent some time trying to convince the viewer that following these mass shootings and the burial of the victims that the ground would move for days afterward. This remarkable event was explained by the USHMM experts as the result of people who were still alive trying to claw their way to the surface, or that the ground was swelling and burping from the gas that was escaping from the victims' bodies!

The TV show emphasized that the Einsatzgruppen in fact was the reason for the “invention of the death camps.”This was because of the profound psychological impact on the executors as well as the cost of bullets. The “experts” describe the moment that Heinrich Himmler apparently decided to establish “death camps” with homicidal gas chambers. Himmler is said to have witnessed a mass shooting in Minsk in December 1941, after which he was so upset that he “ran around hysterically” and made the decision to shift the murder operations to the camps. No evidence for this claim is given.

The film also asserts that its “new evidence” was the result of the fall of USSR and could not have taken place prior to 1990 for political reasons. Father Patrick Desbois, author of Holocaust by Bullets, is shown interviewing people in the former USSR to gather information about the mass killings. While his efforts to perform archeological digs to provide forensic evidence of mass graves have been touted in the press, the emphasis here was primarily on his interviewing of witnesses.

“Hidden Holocaust” also spends time discussing SS Standartenfuehrer Paul Blobel who was sentenced to hang following the Nuremberg Einsatzgruppen trial. Here it was said, much as the official narrative has claimed for the past 60 years, that Blobel was a “sissy” who could not stand watching of mass shootings. As a punishment for his weakness, Blobel was given the incredible task of taking Kommando unit 1005 all over Eastern Europe to exhume the bodies of the Einsatzgruppen victims and burn them – thereby hiding the evidence of their crimes. This is a nifty explanation of the failure to find millions of corpses buried throughout the area in which the various Einsatzgruppen units operated.

Paul Blobel figures prominently in several Holocaust texts including Reitlinger's 1953 Final Solution. Blobel's Kommando 1005 supposedly dug up all the victims of Babi Yar where the Holocaust by bullets is reported to have reached its apex and 33,771 Jews are said to have been killed. Blobel's unit was accused of having dug up the bodies, burned them, at times used explosives to get rid of the remains and even used fantastic “bone-crushing machines” to wipe out any trace of the Einsatzgruppen victims.

“Hitler's Hidden Holocaust” revealed little in the way of new information. It fell miserably short of its hype. The show primarily repeated decades old claims while asserting that the information was new and startling. If the documentary revealed anything, it is that Paul Blobel and his infamous Kommando 1005 would be a good topic for revisionist researchers.  

It also demonstrated that the Holocaust can only be accepted by faith. Those who fail to believe should consider giving up the labels “revisionists” or “deniers” and adopt a more accurate label – “Holocaust heretics.”The Holocaust narrative is one that reveals itself miraculously to those who believe, while for those bound by the rules of logic and the hard sciences the Holocaust remains forever hidden.


This article is a slightly corrected version from the one run in Smith's Report No. 165, September 2009.


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Author(s): Richard A. Widmann
Title: "Hitler's Hidden Holocaust", The Documentary fails to deliver. A Review
Sources: Smith's Report No. 165, September 2009
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Published: 2009-01-09
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 29, 2009, 7 p.m.
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Comments: National Geographic television documentary
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