The Holocaust Agnostic

That the victors in a war write its history and that The Truth is the first casualty of war are time honored facts. Also well known is that propaganda and the management of information are tools of war.

Like others of Jewish descent, I experience the question of nazi genocide against Jews in the Europe of the Second World War as a very emotional matter, one which until not long ago I would never even discuss or imagine debating. I’m nearly sixty years old and for as long as I can remember I was told, and I took it as a matter of faith, that Hitler killed six million Jews. While I was not religious, and not raised in a religious home, I insisted on learning to read Hebrew (phonetically) memorizing my parsha and sitting through cheder after my regular secular school day to be Bar Mitzvahed in an Orthodox synagogue “to spite Hitler.”

A close relative of mine researched and created a family tree for a Master’s Thesis depicting the Polish Jewish relatives we were never to know because of Hitler and The Nazis.

When I read in the Village Voice years ago of Noam Chomsky writing a forward to Faurisson’s book I was ready to go to Cambridge and whip him. (Let me apologize, Mr. Chomsky, and Mr. Faurisson, for everything I said and thought about you back then).

Since those times I have been exposed to different ideas and facts. Reading Israel Shahak, Norman Finkelstein, Israel Shamir and others has changed my outlook on the world, one which I used to think of as most progressive and even anti – Zionist. The course of my life has taken me out of the world of “The Jewish Community” for the most part. I’m married “out”, I live in a New York ghetto, my workmates are mainly not Jewish. I eat ham and Swiss sandwiches and my Jewish contacts are my children from my first marriage, my aging parents, and another worker (I think we’re the only two there) at my job to whom I say “hi, how are you doing?” when we cross paths.

Still, I’ve always thought of myself as being a Jew and never thought of the Nazi murder of Europe’s Jews as something up for discussion or debate.

When I was a boy of eleven or twelve I met a Polish Jew who had survived Auschwitz. He told of being captured because he did not leave the Soviet occupied zone of Poland even though the Red Army sent out trucks withloudspeakers urging the Jews to flee to the East. He told of being a part of agroup of physically tough young men who woke themselves up in their Auschwitz barracks to exercise, even nude in the snow in order to stay tough and to survive the physical labor and hunger they lived with every day. But he did not speak of any gas chamber. He did not speak of skies blackened and air made putrid from the smell of burning corpses. He spoke of having been an inmate in more than one concentration camp. I wondered about this man’s experience: I had always thought that Jews were rushed off the trains at Auschwitz and hustled to a “selection” managed by Dr. Mengele. Most, I thought, were then immediately sent to the gas chambers. The strongest were selected for forced hard labor and were soon worked and starved to death. He spoke of hard work and hunger, and the will to survive.

Norman Finkelstein, a friend of Palestine and a harsh critic of organized Jewry, but a man who does not deny the nazi genocide of the Jews, said about the people who comprise what he calls “The Holocaust Industry”:

“I worry that these individuals are lending credibility to that ugly stereotype, and I think those of us who are concerned about the spread of anti-Semitism have a responsibility to expose these individuals, to repudiate these individuals and to work so that these individuals are no longer part of public life, or are allowed to represent themselves as they do as representing American or world Jewry.

“Abba Eban [the legendary Israeli foreign minister] makes the joke ‘there’s no business like Shoa business’. That is shameful and it ought to be rebuked, repudiated, exposed.”

But would he worry if the stand he’s taken gave comfort to Holocaust deniers?

“Holocaust deniers and the holocaust industry have a symbiotic relationship. The Holocaust industry needs the deniers so that it can continue to claim the world is awash with Holocaust deniers so we need more museums, more conferences, more books, to justify their quote-unquote ‘Holocaust education’. The holocaust deniers, they love the Holocaust industry, because the Holocaust industry supplies them with all the ammunition for their arguments. It’s the Holocaust industry which continues to wildly inflate the number of survivors. As my late mother used to say, ‘if everybody who claims to be a Holocaust survivor actually is one, who did Hitler kill,’ and that’s exactly what the Holocaust industry is doing. It’s become the main exponent of Holocaust denial in the world today.”

I have seen and heard assertions that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis in World War Two Europe. The laws of several nations make it risky to”minimize” this figure or it’s significance as being “unique” and even “unsurpassed.” Still, the man called “the dean” of Holocaust historians,Professor Raul Hilberg, author of the standard reference work, The Destruction of the European Jews, sets the total numbers of Jews dead inEurope from 1939 – 1945 “from all causes” as five million, one hundred thousand.

One article of faith I grew up with was that the Nazis made soap from the bodies of Jews they murdered. This turns out to be at the least quite controversial. Regarding the long held belief Nizkor says:

“Nizkor takes no position as to the reliability of this evidence, as it is not clear to us whether there is consensus among historians on the issue. Thereader may make up his or her own mind. The important thing is that the evidencedoes exist, and that the revisionist tracts we shall examine ignore thatevidence in an attempt to confuse the lay reader.”

Yehuda Bauer, an Israeli Historian, called the notion that extermination of Jews was decided on and planned at the Wansee Conference [Canadian Jewish News, January 30, 1992]: “the silly story that at Wannsee the extermination of the Jews was arrived at.”

When Professor Hilberg republished his “The Destruction of the European Jews” in 1988 he dropped references to two orders by Hitler that he cited in the 1961 original edition of his book that purportedly mandated the extermination of the Jews.

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