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Holocaust dialectic: "Never Again" means "Again and Again".

By Jerry Russell 

Release version 1.1, 3/11/04

The history of the planet is littered with the corpses of many dead and dying sacred cows which once trampled violently over the unfortunate  human beings in their paths.  Such examples could be offered ad infinitum without really offending anyone, but the exercise would be at risk of profound ennui.  Instead, we will brave slings and arrows with our analysis of a contemporary conflict.   We offer, as an example of our framework, the living controversy over the Hebrew Shoah and its dialectic nemesis, Holocaust Denial.

Across all of Western civilization, children today learn in school about the Holocaust, the gas chambers of Hitler and the horrible atrocities of the Einsatzgruppen and other divisions of the Nazi octopus.  For Jewish children, the lesson is also indoctrinated at church school, and reinforced in memorial services of remembrance.

Yet there is a certain other-worldliness about the holocaust story; and along with that other-worldliness, there have always been doubters.  In "The Drowned and the Saved" (1988),  Primo Levi  notes (p.11) that early news of the Holocaust "delineated a massacre of such vast proportions, of such extreme cruelty and such intricate motivation that the public was inclined to reject them because of their very enormity.

Levi also notes that the Nazis made every effort to prevent the discovery of their evil (ibid, p. 13):

 "Much material evidence of the mass extermination was suppressed, or a more or less dextrous effort was made to suppress it: in the autumn of 1944 the Nazis blew up the gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz, but the ruins are still there... All the archives in the Lagers were burned during the final days of the war, truly an irremediable loss, so that even today there is discussion as to whether the victims were four, six or eight million -- although one still talks of millions.  Before the Nazis had recourse to the gigantic multiple crematoria, the innumerable corpses of the victims, deliberately killed or worn down by hardship and illness, could have constituted evidence and somehow had to be made to disappear."

Because of this lack of physical evidence, Levi turns to eyewitness testimony (p. 16): "It is natural and obvious that the most substantial material for the reconstruction of truth about the camps is the memory of the survivors.  Beyond the pity and indignation these recollections provoke, they should also be read with a critical eye. For knowledge of the Lagers, the Lagers themselves were not always a good observation post.... Surrounded by death, the deportee was often in no position to evaluate the extent of the slaughter unfolding before his eyes."  Furthermore (p. 23) "The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even grow, by incorporating extraneous features.

As Levi no doubt is fully aware, this lack of forensic proof, combined with the uncertainty of witness testimony, was reason enough for some to question the extent of the Nazi crimes.  The first to raise questions was the French resistance fighter and Nazi concentration camp survivor Paul Rassinier; and perhaps one of the best recent summaries of the issues is this online book "Dissecting the Holocaust" by Ernst Gauss. 

The efforts of the "Revisionists", however well (or ill) intentioned, must ultimately be futile.  Just as Saddam Hussein could never prove that he did not possess weapons of mass destruction, it is also impossible for "revisionists" to ultimately prove a negative.  Certainly Hitler was a horrific, insane psychopath;  certainly he hated the Jews; certainly millions of Jews died.  The eyewitness testimony to the gas chambers as well as many other diverse Nazi horrors, is an imposing edifice.  It is dreadful, grisly work to analyze this testimony; it is shocking, even deeply offensive, to challenge it.  The census figures for Jews before and after the war are characterized by maddening uncertainty, but it is beyond question that a great many went missing.  How could anyone ever prove that the Nazi gas chambers DID NOT exist?

Before we leave this issue of evidence, however, let us consider another source of eyewitness testimony: the Germans, and more specifically, how they are treated by the likes of Primo Levi.  He writes (op.cit., p.27):

 "The further events fade into the past, the more the construction of convenient truth grows and is perfected.  I believe that only by this mental mechanism is it possible to interpret, for instance, the statements made in 1978 to L'Express by Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, former commissioner of Jewish affairs in the Vichy government around 1942, and as such personally responsible for the deportation of 70,000 Jews.  Darquier denies everything: the photographs of piles of corpses are montages; the statistics of millions of dead were fabricated by the Jews, always greedy for publicity, commiseration, and indemnities; there would perhaps have been deportations (he would have found it difficult to dispute them: his signature appears at the foot of too many letters giving orders for these very deportations, even of children), but he did not know where to or with what results; there were, it is true, gas chambers in Auschwitz, but only to kill lice, and anyway (note the coherence!) they were built for propaganda purposes after the end of the war.  It is not my intention to justify this cowardly and foolish man, and it offends me to know that he lived for a long time undisturbed in Spain, but I think I can recognize in him the typical case of someone who, accustomed to lying in public, ends by lying in  private, too, to himself as well, and building for himself a comforting truth which allows him to live in peace."

But Levi knows full well that regardless of the truth or falsity of Darquier's statements, there certainly is no lack of "coherence".  The crematoria (which by some accounts did double duty as gas chambers) at Auschwitz were destroyed in 1944 by the Nazis, as known  to Levi himself (see the quote from p. 13, above); they were rebuilt after the war as exhibits for tourists, as Darquier noted.  Any dispassionate observer must therefore consider the possibility that Darquier is telling the truth as he sees it; that he arranged for deportations of Jews without knowing what their fate would be; for the rest, Darquier obviously had been reading the works of Revisionist authors.  By the principles of natural law, Darquier is innocent until proven guilty; a concept which Primo Levi seems to have little use for.

There was, we believe, a vast amount of eyewitness testimony of this genre --  the Germans who maintain their innocence, or at least a lack of active cooperation or full knowledge of  the worst of Nazi atrocities  --  which must be evaluated alongside all the Jewish and other testimony, in any attempt to get at the truth.

It is also worth noting,  in passing, that the pseudonymous revisionist "Walter Sanning" argued that upwards of a million of the Jews supposedly killed by Hitler, actually perished under Stalin's regime, in the Satanic mills of the Urals and Siberia.  (Sanning, "The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry", 1983).  If this is a fact, then clearly the Soviets were most eager to avoid its becoming  more generally known.  In a more cynical vein, whether or not the Nazi gas chambers existed in reality, in the realm of postwar propaganda there were multiple 'benefits' such as providing moral equivalency cover for the Dresden and Tokyo fire bombing, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese American internment, and Stalin's earlier genocide of upwards of tens of millions of peasant farmers, the supposed beneficiaries of Communism. For more information on Holocaust demographics from Sanning's perspective, and with several additional lines of analysis, see Juergen Graf's article "Jewish population losses in the German sphere of influence during the World War II" at  http://www.ety.com/tell/books/jgjewstats/jgstattoc.htm.  This is an intriguing case that Jewish population losses under Hitler may have been as low as 1 million, although it must be taken with a "grain of salt" in view of Graf's sympathies towards the Hitler regime (at least in preference to Stalin's gulag).   Although Sanning has done the most thorough and scholarly analysis of any that I've seen -- I believe that with the many uncertainties in the statistical analysis, the total of Jewish fatalities could easily have been far higher than 1 million.

Regardless of any of this, for Levi the true  fate of the Jews under Hitler is completely unambiguous, and moreover it is of the greatest possible significance (ibid, p.21): 

"...up to the moment of this writing, and notwithstanding the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the shame of the Gulags, the useless and bloody Vietnam War, the Cambodian self-genocide, the desaparecidos of Argentina, and the many atrocious and stupid wars we have seen since, the Nazi concentration camp system still remains a unicum, both in extent and its quality.   At no other place or time has one seen a phenomenon so unexpected and so complex: never have so many human lives been extinguished in so short a time, and with so lucid a combination of technological ingenuity, fanaticism, and cruelty."

The combination of a lack of concrete evidence, with a conviction of the deepest significance of the issue, has led some commentators to a quasi-religious or theological stance regarding the Holocaust.  For example (as quoted by Steven Carr)  Elie Wiesel states that Auschwitz “is always something else,” a “universe outside the universe” that “lies on the other side of life and on the other side of death.”

The dialectical mirror image of the quasi-religious, Holocaust-centric perspective of Wiesel and Levi is the vicious anti-Semitism which is known as "Holocaust Denial".  Some go so far as to argue that the Jewish Holocaust never happened; that all the atrocity stories were completely contrived; that the Nazis were doing their best to save the Jews and send them to Madagascar, or perhaps to Palestine.  This argument is combined with recitations from the fraudulent Protocols of Zion, slanderous homilies on the Kol Nidre prayer (taken completely out of context), allegations of fantastic ritual murders by Jews, and so forth, all to build a case that the Jews richly deserved the fate that was (allegedly not) dealt to them by the Third Reich.  This nauseating literature is all to easy to find on the Internet, although we will not be providing any links from here.

Considering the well-known plight of the Muslims of Palestine under the Israelis, it is clear that few in the Islamic world will be attracted to the Holocaust-centrism of the Jewish elite.  Beyond that, opinion no doubt ranges from casual acceptance of the Six Million, to sophisticated interest in Revisionism, all the way to the most rabid anti-Semitic Holocaust Denial.  As noted by Canadian reporter Paul Lungen,  

"Revisionism" is a term employed by Nazi propagandists to describe Holocaust denial and its corollary argument, that through the control of the world's media and power centres, Jews fabricated the Holocaust to justify the dispossession of Palestinians. It has proved a potent argument in the Arab world, where mainstream newspapers, radio stations and even political leaders parrot the anti-Semitic line, while comparing Zionism to Nazism and Israeli leaders to Nazis.

The extremist right has recognized the potential for expansion in the Middle East."The awareness of the importance of the Holocaust story as a key propaganda tool of Israeli-Zionist interests is growing throughout the world, especially in Muslim countries," states the IHR Web site.

Aside from the failure to distinguish between Revisionism and Denial, this report clearly indicates a growing awareness that such views are much more popular in Muslim countries, than they are in the West.  The tragedy is that, as the knives are being sharpened for the enveloping war, the Holocaust controversy is a crucial part of  the dialectic propaganda campaign to set up the Muslims as the villains.   Soon (if not already) ALL Islamic people will believe that the Holocaust Revisionists are correct -- and almost all Americans, Europeans and Russians will see the Islamics as hopeless, irredeemable Neo Nazis and Fascists, at least partly because of their innocent or not-so-innocent attraction to "Holocaust Denial". 

Thus we will see the justification built for this genocidal war.

Revision history: 1.1 (3/8/04, 3/11/04): added link to Juergen Graf article. Further material added 3/11 after a critical review by Nicholas Levis, whose comments are greatly appreciated.