By Thomas Dalton, PhD – Wake Up From Your Slumber Oct 27, 2012
On the traditional view, the Holocaust was the deliberate murder of some 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II. Hitler’s intention all along was to kill the Jews, and many died in specially-constructed gas chambers. The corpses were burned in crematoriums, and the ashes scattered. Some of the most infamous extermination camps—Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec—were completely dismantled and have all but vanished, as have the remains of the victims.
Revisionists believe, on the other hand, that there was never an intention to kill the Jews; rather, the Nazis simply wanted them out of Germany. They believe that there were no homicidal gas chambers, and that the number of Jews who died during the war, from all causes, comes to less than 1 million—and perhaps only 500,000 or so.
Traditionalists call revisionists “Holocaust deniers,” because, they say, the revisionists deny that the Holocaust happened. But this is obviously a misleading claim. Revisionists accept that Hitler wanted a Germany free of Jews, and that he forcibly removed many of them, seized their property, and sent many others to labor camps. They also accept that Hitler knew that many Jews would die in the process. Depending on your definition, this could certainly count as a “holocaust.” Revisionists do deny, however, that 6 million died, and they do deny that the Nazis constructed homicidal gas chambers. They do not deny that a tragedy happened to the Jews, nor do they deny that many thousands of them died.
SOME TROUBLING FACTS
So, how can the average person begin to check these claims, to see where the truth lies? Start with the “6 million” figure. How plausible, in general, is this number? The war in Europe ran for roughly 2,000 days (or 5½ years: Sept 1939 to April 1945). If the Germans killed 6 million Jews, then they must have averaged 3,000 per day—every day, 365 days a year, for five and a half straight years. And of course they also must have burned, buried, or otherwise disposed of those same 3,000 bodies per day. This fact, in itself, seems highly implausible, especially given all the other urgencies of war.
But isn’t the “6 million” figure documented in hundreds of history books? The number itself is, but not the details. Given all we supposedly know about this event, one would expect that there would be a clear and concise breakdown of the number, showing roughly where, and how, 6 million died. Experts like Raul Hilberg claim that there are three main categories of deaths: camps (primarily the 6 main “death camps”), shootings, and ghettos. So, the experts should be able to show us how many died in camps, how many by shooting, and how many in the ghettos—such that the numbers add up to 6 million. But they cannot do this. The reader is invited to look at any mainstream published source for this information; it does not exist. One can find numbers individually for each camp, or each ghetto, but virtually never any total to 6 million. This strongly implies that there are serious problems with the overall picture.
Furthermore, the “6 million” number has a history that long precedes WW2. One can find various accounts of “6 million suffering Jews” as far back as the 1860s. In major newspapers like the New York Times and the Times of London we find about 2 dozen occurrences of that number in the six decades before Hitler even came to power (in 1933). And it shows up another 2 dozen times before the end of the war—a miracle if it were true. This all suggests that the number was more symbolic than factual.
The situation in Germany prior to 1933, back to at least the 1850s, was of a dominant Jewish minority, vastly disproportional to their size of 1-2% of the population. This is very well documented, for press, entertainment, academia, and several sectors of business. Given the tragedy of WWI and the crushing war reparations, among other things, it is understandable that Hitler and others wanted to completelyremove the Jews from German society. And in fact this is, apparently, all they ever wanted—ethnic cleansing. Hitler’s first letter on the topic, from 1920, speaks directly to this need to remove them. Same with all his speeches through the 1930s, even into the war years.
Hitler, Goebbels, and others used words like vernichtung and ausrottung, which are flamboyant terms for removal or elimination. But they do not entail murder. The press always translates these terms in English as ‘extermination’ or ‘annihilation,’ in a literal or physical sense. But the press was doing that for decades before Hitler. NY Times articles dating back to the 1870s decry the “extermination,” “annihilation,”, and even “holocaust” against the Jews in various countries—it really is striking how common this theme is. Again, one senses that any action against Jews is portrayed in the harshest possible terms.
THE GAS CHAMBERS
The gassing story is rife with problems. Allegedly, the Nazis crammed up to two thousand people into enclosed rooms—some underground—and dumped cyanide pellets on them. But this is senseless, because (a) the rooms generally had neither windows or ventilation, to vent the poisonous gas, (b) the pellets would keep emitting poison for hours, killing anyone who went inside, and (c) there is no plausible way to remove the bodies in a timely manner. The Dachau camp has, today, a single gas chamber with two metal chutes for the gas pellets. However, just 20 meters away are five delousing rooms (for clothing and bed linens), each with a well-engineered cyanide gas circulation machine. It makes no sense to use a ridiculous method to kill people, when a proper one existed in the very same building.
And for all that, cyanide gas killed only about 1 million Jews, we are told—all at Auschwitz. By contrast, more than 2 million were gassed with “exhaust gas from diesel engines.” Not only is this even less workable than gas pellets, but it is nearly impossible to kill someone in any reasonable time with diesel exhaust—not enough carbon monoxide in it. Some traditionalists now argue that they were gasolineengines, with higher monoxide content. But this does not solve the many practical problems and inefficiencies of pumping engine exhaust gas, of any kind, into a sealed room.
Killing thousands per day is one problem; disposing of the bodies is another. How do you completely eliminate a corpse? The usual line is: burned in a crematorium. But the crematoria all were designed with individual person ovens, and each took about an hour to burn one body. All of Auschwitz had a total of about 50 ovens, and thus could dispose of perhaps 50 x 20 hours = 1,000 bodies per day. And that’s at the largest of all death camps. Smaller camps like Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec had precisely zeroovens. Hence all the bodies, we are told, were burned in the open air, over big log fires. But this seems to be technically impossible, at the rate claimed—up to 6,500 per day.
Furthermore, crematoria and open-air fires create a lot of smoke—smoke that would be visible from both ground and air. As it happens, we have 10 reconnaissance air photos of Auschwitz from 1944. Of all these, only one photo shows even a single smoking crematorium chimney. Four photos show small fires burning, but only from one very small corner of the camp. Evidence of mass burning is strikingly absent.
But what about all the Holocaust witnesses? Well—what, after all, did the victims witness? Enforced evacuation and encampment (true), people dying en route (true), people catching typhus and dying in the camps (true), dead bodies stacked in and around the crematoria (true), people separated from family members and disappearing (true). And all this amidst a major war. Such true facts get mixed with rumor and wild speculation, and suddenly we get stories of 2,000 Jews getting gassed in a basement of a crematorium, “5 million dead at Auschwitz” (NY Times), “6 million exterminated,” etc. These are the kinds of issues that true Holocaust researchers should be investigating.
Dalton, Thomas. 2009. Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides. (debatingtheholocaust.com).