Yehuda Bauer and the 'Polemical and Apologetic Bias' of Jewish Historiography
- A HISTORY OF THE HOLOCAUST by Yehuda Bauer. New York: Franklin Watts, 1982, 398pp, $15.95, ISBN 0-531-098621
Hannah Arendt once pointed out the “strong polemical and apologetic bias” of Jewish historiography. Yehuda Bauer is Professor of Holocaust Studies at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. And, according to Dr. Franklin H. Littell, Bauer is “one of the world’s top authorities on the Holocaust.” But A History of the Holocaust, Yehuda Bauer’s latest contribution to Jewish historiography, is no exception to Hannah Arendt’s observation.
The book begins with a fairly lengthy overview of Jewish history. (We do not even reach the beginning of the Third Reich until page 93.) Bauer’s bias is already apparent by page 4, where he tells us:
In the ancient world, as well as later, the concept of one God meant that all humans were His children-that all men are equal, a revolutionary idea indeed.
The laws that bear the imprint of the Mosaic tradition include the provision of liberating slaves after seven years (Ex. 21:2), of freeing all slaves who are maltreated (Ex. 21:26-27), of equality before the law (Ex. 21:20, 23-25), of the prohibition of murder and theft, and of 'the absolute sanctity of human life-all ideas or concepts logically connected to the idea of monotheism.
Thus does Bauer expound what Hannah Arendt called the “self-deceiving theory” of Jewish historians that “Judaism had always been superior to other religions in that it believed in human equality and tolerance.” But while the concept of one God might be taken to mean that all humans are His children and, therefore, are all brothers, it does not necessarily mean that all men are equal. Logically, the idea that two people, or all people, have the same father, or Father, simply does not imply that those people are therefore equal. And as a matter of fact, the idea of one God did not mean to the Israelites that all men were equal. Somewhat more accurately than Bauer, Joan Comay writes, “The concept of the covenant between God and his chosen people implied that all Israelites were equal in God’s eyes, and that the human dignity and welfare of each had to be safeguarded.” (The World’s Greatest Story, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, pp. 220-221.) That Israelites (God’s chosen people) and non-Israelites were not considered to be equal or entitled to equal treatment is easily demonstrated. For one thing, the liberation of slaves after seven years, which Bauer mentions, applied only to Israelite slaves. As Milton Meltzer admits:
The Hebrew code assigned the full condition of slavery to “the heathen that are round about you, of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.” And for them there was no prospect of liberation: “They shall be your bondmen forever.” (Slavery: From the Rise of Western Civilization to Today, Laurel-Leaf Library, pp33-34. Meltzer quoted Leviticus 25:44, 46.)
The Mosaic code similarly discriminates between Israelite and non-Israelite in prohibiting usury.
Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent upon usury.
Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury… (Deuteronomy 23:1920.)
And the provision for periodically releasing debtors from indebtedness likewise discriminates between Israelite and non-Israelite.
At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.
And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother, because it is called the LORD’s release.
Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release… (Deuteronomy 15: 1-3.)
Thus, Yehuda Bauer’s claim that monotheism implies egalitarianism is merely pious balderdash.
Bauer also claims (p 4) that, “The laws that bear the imprint of the Mosaic tradition include the provision … of the prohibition of murder and theft, and of the absolute sanctity of human life…” The absolute sanctity of human life? Because the Mosaic code prohibits murder? But, of course, the Mosaic law also prescribes the death penalty for murder. Is killing a murderer consistent with “the absolute sanctity of human fife?” In any case, consider some of the other capital crimes under the Mosaic law: smiting either of one’s parents (Exodus 21:15), cursing either of one’s parents (Exodus 21:17), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), sacrificing to any god other than “the Lord” (Exodus 22:20), adultery (Leviticus 20:10), incest (Leviticus 20:11-12), homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13), having a familiar spirit (Leviticus 20:27), blaspheming the name of “the Lord” (Leviticus 24:16), working on “the Sabbath — at this very moment I am working on “the Sabbath” — (Numbers 15:32-36), serving gods other than “the Lord” (Deuteronomy 13:12-18), saying “Let us go serve other gods” (Deuteronomy 13:6-10), and being a rebellious or stubborn son (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). If “the laws that bear the imprint of the Mosaic tradition include the provision of … the absolute sanctity of human life,” then Yehuda Bauer is a ham sandwich. (Incidentally, a few pages later, on page 10, Bauer asserts that “the Jews” had “… elevated the sanctity of human life to a near absolute…” Thus, between pages 4 and 10 Bauer reduces “the absolute sanctity of human life” to merely a near absolute. A very slight concession to reality by Yehuda Bauer.)
Another manifestation of the “polemical and apologetic bias” of Yehuda Bauer’s Jewish historiography is his expurgated version of Messianism. According to Bauer (p 15), “… in Jewish belief, the Messiah would come to lead the Jews back to their ancestral home in Israel and thus end their troubles and wanderings.” But is this really all there was (is?) to the Messiah myth? Not according to Jewish anthropologist Raphael Patai and the Jewish writings he has brought together in his book The Messiah Texts (Avon). For example, Patai mentions (p xxxvii) “… the global upheaval and havoc [the Messiah] was expected to wreak among the Gentiles…” Patai also mentions (p198) “… the time of triumph, in which all the nations of the world recognize him as their spiritual leader and ruler, and he becomes a veritable pantocrator, world ruler — always, of course, in his capacity as the faithful servant of God.” On page 193 Patai quotes from pages 162 a-b of Pesiqta Rabbati:
“In that hour [in which King Messiah reveals himself] the Holy One, blessed be He, lets shine the light of the Messiah and of Israel, and all of the nations of the world will be in darkness and blackness, and all will walk in the light of the Messiah and of Israel … and they will come and lick the dust under the feet of King Messiah… And all will come and fall upon their faces before the Messiah and before Israel, and will say to him: “Let us be servants to you and to Israel! “ And each one of Israel will have 2,800 servants…
According to Isaiah 49:22-23, the Gentiles would also lick the dust under the feet of “Israel,” that is, the Jews. As Patai explains (p xxxvii):
Living as they did in a state of dispersion among the nations and of oppression by the Gentiles, the Jews nevertheless remained firmly convinced of the centrality of the Jewish people in the divine scheme with all this meant in imaginary privileges and onerous obligations. Thus the Redemption in the End of Days, too, could not but be centered on the Jewish people, whose role, however, was conceived as that of divine instrument in imposing God’s rule over the entire world.
Along the same lines, Patai also says (p xxvi), “For many centuries, in the midst of persecutions, massacres, expulsions, and humiliations, while living the life of hated and despised pariahs, the Jews in their fantasy saw themselves as kings of the World to Come, enjoying great pleasures of the palate, exquisite luxuries of housing and clothing, wading ankle-deep in floods of diamonds and pearls, studying the new Tora of the Messiah taught to them directly by God, and being entertained by dances performed by God himself to the music of angels and the heavenly spheres.”
Yehuda Bauer gives not the slightest hint of the Messiah as “world ruler,” of the Jewish people as “divine instrument in imposing God’s rule over the whole world,” of all the Gentile nations of the world coming to Jerusalem to lick the dust from the feet of the Messiah and “Israel” (the Jews), or of each Jew having 2,800 Gentile servants. Of course, if Bauer had mentioned these amazing ingredients of Messianism, then he wouldn’t have been able to blithely dismiss the idea of “a Jewish desire to control the world” as nothing but a “false myth” (p45). But Bauer is not willing to admit even the possibility that some Jews might desire to control the world. And so he disingenuously attributes the idea of a Jewish desire to control the world to the “Satanic image” of “the Jew … just as Satan is out to control the world, so the Jew, possessed by the Devil, must be.” (p44) But I do not see “the Jew” as possessed by “the Devil,” yet it seems entirely plausible to me that some Jews might well wish to control the world. As Mark Twain said, “The Jews are members of the human race-worse I can say of no man.” Jews are human beings. And some human beings desire power over others. And for some human beings the lust for power is so all-consuming that they actually desire to control the world. For example, Cecil Rhodes. (See The Anglo-American Establishment by Carroll Quigley, Books in Focus.) I see no reason for ignoring the evidence to the contrary and assuming that Jews are inherently incapable of such a lust for power.
But in Yehuda Bauer’s biased world-view, it is only Gentiles who are capable of lusting for world power. While Bauer dismisses the idea of a Jewish desire to control the world as a “false myth,” he approvingly quotes (p84) Robert Payne’s characterization of Mein Kampf as “… a blueprint for the total destruction of bourgeois society and the conquest of the world As a matter of fact, there were a few passages in Mein Kampf that envisioned, in the distant future, a world ruled by an “Aryan” master race. See pages 383-384 of the Sentry edition, for example. But, contrary to the “false myth” perpetuated by Robert Payne and Yehuda Bauer, there was no blueprint, no detailed plan for world conquest.
Bauer finally gets down to the real nitty-gritty in his ninth chapter, “The 'Final Solution.' “ He begins by discussing (p193) the various conditions which supposedly led to a decision to kin all European Jews. But then he says the crucial factor “was the desire to murder the Jews inherent in Nazi antisemitism.” Amazingly, however, “Up until early 1941, the Nazis-with the possible exception of Hitler himself-were not conscious of the murderous ingredient of their own ideology because the practical possibilities of implementing it were not apparent.” So the Nazis really wanted to kill the Jews all along; they just didn’t realize that they wanted to kill them until early 1941 when it became possible to do so. Does Yehuda Bauer really expect anyone to take this quasiFreudian humbuggery seriously?
In any case, like his fellow “authorities on the Holocaust,” Bauer does not prove, but merely assumes, that Hitler, at some indefinite date, gave an order to Himmler “to destroy European Jewry.” Bauer says (p194), “Himmler himself hinted at such an order in various communications.” Among such communications which Bauer cites in a footnote on page 362 is Himmler’s circular memorandum of 9 October 1942. Here is Bauer’s version of that memorandum:
After executing the less useful Jews, the remaining Jews, who were to become laborers, were to be sent to concentration camps “in the eastern part of the General Gouvernement [German-occupied central Poland], if possible. Even from there, however, the Jews are someday to disappear, in accordance with the Führer’s wishes.”
But here is the full text of the memorandum, as translated into English by Elizabeth Wiskemann on pages 110-111 of Anatomy of the SS State by Helmut Krausnick et a]. (Walker and Company):
1. I have issued instructions that all so-called armament workers employed merely in boot and shoe factories, timber yards and clothing workshops in Warsaw and Lublin will be removed under the direction of SS-Obergruppenführer Krueger and SS-Obergruppenführer Pohl to concentration camps. The Wehrmacht should transfer any orders outstanding to us and we will guarantee delivery of the clothing required. I have also ordered that steps be ruthlessly taken against all those who think they can use the interests of the war industry to cloak their real intention to protect the Jews and their own business affairs.
2. Jews who are directly employed in the war industry-that is to say, in armament or vehicle workshops and so forth-are to be released gradually. As a first step they are to be assembled on one floor of the factory. Subsequently all the hands on this floor are to be transferred-on an exchange basis if possible-to a “secure” undertaking, so that all we shall have in the Government General will be a number of “secure” concentration camp undertakings.
3. Our next endeavor will be to replace this Jewish labor force with Poles and to amalgamate the great majority of the Jewish concentration camp enterprises with one or two large, not wholly Jewish, concentration camp undertakings — if possible in the eastern part of the Government General. In due course these will also be cleared of Jews in accordance with the wishes of the Führer.
As you can see, Himmler’s memorandum said nothing about “executing the less useful Jews.” Nor did it say “the remaining Jews … were to become laborers.” The memorandum dealt exclusively with Jews who already were laborers. As for the final statement of the memorandum, that eventually the concentration camps would be “cleared of Jews in accordance with the wishes of the Führer,” this could have been a hint at a Hitler order for the destruction of European Jewry only if there was such an order. But, as I've said, Bauer never proves, he merely assumes there was such an order.
Bauer’s chapter on “the Final Solution,” like the other chapters of his book, is replete with assertions for which he cites no supporting source(s). For example, after discussing Einsatzgruppen massacres in Russia, Bauer asserts (p200), “Mass killings also occurred in Odessa in the Crimea, at Rumanian hands, where 144,000 civilians were murdered, largely by drowning.” Since this struck me as a bit far-fetched, especially the part about drowning, I looked for Bauer’s source for this assertion. But Bauer cites no source for it. I then checked, but found no confirmation of this assertion in any of the “standard” works on the Holocaust, not in Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews, not in Reitlinger’s The Final Solution, not in Dawidowicz’s The War Against the Jews, not in Levin’s The Holocaust, not in Poliakov’s Harvest of Hate, not in Manvell and Frankel’s The Incomparable Crime. What I did find is that a few of these books claim a massacre of either 19,000 Jews (both Hilberg and Levin — who cites Hilberg) or 26,000 Jews (Reitlinger) in Odessa in October of 1941 as a “reprisal” for the deaths of several dozen Romanian soldiers resulting from the explosion of a delayed-action landmine left behind in what had been NKVD headquarters. These “authorities on the Holocaust” agree that these Jews were shot. Hilberg, and Levin, citing Hilberg, also claim that another 40,000 Jews were subsequently taken out of Odessa and shot in anti-tank ditches, bringing the total of Odessa Jews allegedly killed by the Romanians to about 60,000. So where, pray tell, did Yehuda Bauer come up with 144,000 civilians murdered at Odessa, “largely by drowning?”
On page 209 Bauer makes the offhand remark that no gassings took place at Mauthausen However, he gives no inkling of how he arrived at this revisionist conclusion regarding Mauthausen. But if Bauer is right, the implications are interesting. Consider: In his 1966 book, The Trial of the Germans, Eugene Davidson discussed, and dismissed, Ernst Kaltenbrunner’s defense at Nuremberg (p323):
Kaltenbrunner admitted to none of these charges despite all the witnesses and the overwhelming evidence against him. On the stand, under the searching questioning of British prosecutor Colonel Amen, he could only deny the authenticity of his own signature and declare that the witnesses were lying who said they had seen him in Mauthausen when killings were staged in his honor by gas, hanging, and shooting.
Davidson found it inconceivable that witnesses might have lied about Kaltenbrunner attending a gassing at Mauthausen. But Yehuda Bauer implies such witnesses were lying when he asserts that “no gassings took place at Mauthausen.” In fact, Bauer’s statement implies that all the testimonies about gassings at Mauthausen are false, including those of ex-inmate Johann Kanduth, ex-SS-guard Alois Hoellriegel and camp commandant Franz Ziereis. For the deposition of Hoellriegel, which implicated Kaltenbrunner, see The Case Against Adolf Eichmann, edited by Henry A. Zeiger, Signet, pages 141-143. This book also contains excerpts from the interrogation of Kanduth, also implicating Kaltenbrunner, on pages 143-145. Regarding “the deathbed confession” of Ziereis, see Appendix 2 of Germaine Tillion’s Ravensbrueck (Anchor Books). And see page 8 of Simon Wiesenthal’s memoirs, The Murderers Among Us (Bantam), for a passing reference to “the horrors of the gas chambers” of Mauthausen. Yehuda Bauer did not mention these testimonies, let alone explain why he rejects them as incredible. Perhaps he feared that had he done so some of his readers might have wondered why he accepts as credible the similar testimonies about gassings at Polish “extermination camps.”
In any case, it certainly is possible to raise questions about the credibility of Bauer’s star witnesses about gassing, Kurt Gerstein, Rudolf Höss and Filip Mueller. On pages 210-211, Bauer quotes excerpts from the Gerstein “report” on a mass gassing of Jews at Belzec. Bauer, however, has omitted most of the blatant absurdities of the Gerstein “report,” such as the claim that the Nazis gassed a total of 25 million people. And Bauer gives a calculatedly misleading account of the adventures of Jan Karski, another self-proclaimed Belzec eyewitness whose testimony raises questions about Gerstein’s story of mass gassings of Jews at Belzec. According to Bauer (p300):
To see for himself what was happening, Jan Karski (a pseudonym), a Polish patriot and a Catholic humanitarian, visited the Warsaw ghetto after the summer 1942 deportation. Disguised as a guard, he then managed to enter Belzec death camp for one day where he witnessed mass murder.
So Jan Karski (a pseudonym) witnessed “mass murder” at Belzec. Bauer does not elaborate on Karski’s witnessing of “mass murder,” allowing naive readers to incorrectly assume that Karski witnessed the operation of the infamous “gas chambers” of Belzec described by Gerstein. But, assuming Karski accurately recounted real experiences at Belzec, the only mass murder he saw was the killing of perhaps “a few score” Jews in the process of brutally herding more than 5,000 Jews into the cars of a train which then left the Belzec camp. (See Karski’s 1944 book, The Story of a Secret State, Houghton Mifflin, Chapter 30.) Karski, who supposedly was at Belzee not quite two months after Kurt Gerstein supposedly witnessed a gassing at Belzec, did not even see any gas chambers, let alone witness a gassing.
It is true that Karski claimed that Jews were herded into railroad cars at Belzec as part of a process of mass extermination. According to Karski,
The floors of the car had been covered with a thick, white powder. It was quicklime. Quicklime is simply unslaked lime or calcium oxide that has been dehydrated. Anyone who has seen cement being mixed knows what occurs when water is poured on lime. The mixture bubbles and steams as the powder combines with the water, generating a large amount of heat.
… The moist flesh coming in contact with the lime is rapidly dehydrated and burned. The occupants of the cars would be literally burned to death before long, the flesh eaten from their bones. (pp349-350)
Karski, however, did not claim to have seen the occupants of the cars being “literally burned to death… the flesh eaten from their bones.” And Karski’s assumptions about this are implicity challenged by Bergen Evans in his book, The Natural History of Nonsense (Vintage). According to Evans,
That quicklime will “eat” a dead body is an old delusion that has brought several murderers to the noose, for, actually, it is a preservative that instead of removing the evidence keeps it fresh for the coroner’s eye… Oscar Wilde, who poetically asserted that quicklime ate the flesh by day and the bones by night, served to refute his own assertion, for he was himself buried in quicklime, and on his exhumation two years later was found to be well preserved. (pp132-133)
If, as Evans said, quicklime does not “eat” the flesh of a dead body, then would it have “eaten” the flesh from the bones of the living Jews shipped out of Belzec as Karski said it would?
In any case, it so happens that Karski was not alone in “proving” Nazi atrocities by exploiting the supposed power of quicklime to “eat” flesh. According to Bergen Evans,
… when the resourceful Mr. W.A.S. Douglas, of the Paris Bureau of the Chicago Sun, was confronted with an empty internment camp, Fort de Romainville, deserted by the retreating Germans, he was quick to perceive that it was actually a “death factory” for “the martyred heroines of France.” No heroines or fragments of heroines were found, but that only added to the horror of it all: they had obviously been “buried in quicklime.” (p133)
Whatever the truth may be about the alleged mass extermination of Jews with quicklime, Yehuda Bauer was clearly delinquent in asserting-without explaining and justifying the assertion that Jan Karski witnessed “mass murder” at Belzec. And he was also delinquent in not even attempting to reconcile Karski’s testimony with that of Kurt Gerstein.
Another of Bauer’s star witnesses to mass extermination of Jews by gassing is Rudolf Höss. Höss gave a number of confessions to his various postwar captors and interrogators. Bauer cites only one of these confessions, the autobiography written in prison in Communist Poland and published in an English translation as Commandant of Auschwitz. Robert Faurisson, however, has identified some significant anomalies in that confession. (See “The Gas Chambers of Auschwitz Appear to be Physically Inconceivable” and “The Gas Chambers: Truth or Lie?,” The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1981.) And Arthur Butz has pointed out numerous anomalies in another Höss confession, an affadavit of 5 April 1946. (See The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, Chapter IV.) Rather than repeat the criticisms of Faurisson and Butz, I will simply point out a few additional anomalies to be found in Höss’s various confessions.
In a portion of the autobiography quoted by Yehuda Bauer (p214), Höss described an experimental gassing.
Protected by a gas-mask I watched the killing myself. In the crowded calls death came instantaneously the moment the cyclon B was thrown in. A short, almost smothered cry, and it was all over…
But is Zyklon B capable of killing “instantaneously?” To do so, Zyklon B crystals, when exposed to open air, would have to release lethal quantities of hydrogen cyanide gas instantaneously. Is that possible? I don’t know for certain, but it seems unlikely. In any case, it seems pretty certain that hydrogen cyanide gas, once released, does not kill instantaneously. According to page 53 of Treatment of War Injuries, a booklet published in 1942 by Merck & Co., manufacturing chemists, “The poison inhibits oxidation in the body and may cause extremely rapid death by paralysis of the respiratory center.” The booklet then describes the symptoms of hydrogen cyanide poisoning. “There may be rapid development of vertigo, headache, palpitation and dyspnea [i.e., labored breathing], followed by coma, convulsions and death.” Thus, although inhalation of air containing sufficient hydrogen cyanide gas may cause “extremely rapid death,” it apparently does not cause instantaneous death. (If it caused death instantaneously, how would there be time for the development of the various symptoms described above?)
In “The Gas Chambers: Truth or Lie?,” Robert Faurisson has summarized the procedure of gassing condemned prisoners by hydrogen cyanide gas in American prisons. According to Faurisson, “Within approximately 40 seconds [after the release of the gas], the prisoner dozes off, and in a few minutes he dies.” Although Bauer, on page 214, uncritically quotes Höss’s story about instantaneous death caused by Zyklon B, on the very next page he describes the standard gassing procedure at Auschwitz and says, “After a few minutes of intense suffering, the victims died.” Thus Bauer agrees with Faurisson that gassing by hydrogen cyanide causes death after a few minutes. So why does Bauer approvingly quote Höss’s tale about a gassing in which the victims died instantaneously?
In any case, if Faurisson is right that the victim of a hydrogen cyanide gassing “dozes off” after about 40 seconds, then Bauer is presumably wrong about the victim dying after a few minutes “of intense suffering.” Although it doesn’t say when, the Merck & Co. booklet does say that the victim of hydrogen cyanide goes into a coma before dying. This is at least a partial confirmation of Faurisson’s assertion. At any rate, the information that the victim of hydrogen cyanide gas goes into a coma before dying renders quite dubious another statement from Höss’s 5 April 1946 affadavit, to wit, “We knew when the people were dead because their screaming stopped.” Can someone in a coma scream?
In addition to Höss’s autobiography, Commandant of Auschwitz includes a statement on “the Final Solution” made by Höss in Cracow, Poland in November of 1946. Yehuda Bauer does not quote these passages from that statement:
When I went to Budapest in the summer of 1943 and called on Eichmann, he told me about the further actions which had been planned in connection with the Jews.
At that period there were more than 200,000 Jews from the Carpatho-Ukraine, who were detained there and housed in some brickworks, while awaiting transport to Auschwitz.
Eichmann expected to receive from Hungary, according to the estimate of the Hungarian police, who had carried out the arrests, about 3,000,000 Jews.
The arrests and transportation should have been completed by 1943, but because of the Hungarian government’s political difficulties, the date was always being postponed.
In particular the Hungarian army, or rather the senior officers, were opposed to the extradition of these people and gave most of the male Jews a refuge in the labor companies of the front-line divisions, thus keeping them out of the clutches of the police. When in the autumn of 1944, an action was started in Budapest itself, the only male Jews left were the old and the sick.
Altogether there were probably not more than half a million Jews transported out of Hungary.
The next country on the list was Romania. According to the reports from his representative in Bucharest, Eichmann expected to get about 4,000,000 Jews from there.
… In the meantime Bulgaria was to follow with an estimated two and a half million Jews. The authorities there were agreeable to the transport, but wanted to await the result of the negotiations with Romania.
… The course taken by the war destroyed these plans and saved the lives of millions of Jews. (Commandant of Auschwitz, Popular Library, pp189-190.)
Indeed, if the estimates supposedly given to Höss by Eichmann were accurate, then “the course taken by the war” saved the fives of about 9 million Jews in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria! Since, according to Bauer (p334), there were only 9 million Jews in all of Europe before the war, it’s no wonder he doesn’t mention this inconvenient testimony from one of his star witnesses. You don’t become “one of the world’s top authorities on the Holocaust” by dwelling on the absurdities of Rudolf Höss’s confessions.
On page 215, Yehuda Bauer quotes from Höss’s testimony regarding cremations at Birkenau: “The two large crematoria I and II … had five three-retort ovens and could cremate about 2,000 bodies in less than 24 hours.” Höss never explained how such numbers of cremations were possible, nor does Bauer explain this. However, another of Bauer’s star witnesses is Filip Mueller, supposedly a member of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Sonderkommando, who has said of crematorium I at Birkenau, “Its fifteen huge ovens, working non-stop, could cremate more than 3,000 corpses daily.” (Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers, Stein and Day, p5g.) How was it possible to cremate such numbers? According to Mueller, 3 bodies were cremated simultaneously in each oven and each cremation took only 20 minutes.
To judge from a recent Los Angeles Times article by Carol McGraw ("Cremation: Boom Brings Controversy,” 13 April 1983), Mueller’s claim about cremating 3 corpses simultaneously in each oven is within the realm of possibility. McGraw quotes the head of a cremation company:
You can tell in 30 seconds if a crematory is legitimate, he said. They [i.e., consumers] should look at the product — ashes should be pure white. If several bodies are cremated together, they won’t burn uniformly and the ashes come out very dark.
But to judge from the same article, Mueller’s claim about cremating 3 corpses together in 20 minutes is not within the realm of possibility. As McGraw reported, “In the cremation process, a body is placed in a furnace and subjected to temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees for two or three hours.” If it takes 2 or 3 hours to cremate a body in a present-day crematory, is it possible that the crematoria of Birkenau could have done so in 20 minutes? As Mueller himself says (p6l), “These were, of course, not modern or technically advanced crematoria.” If one assumes that cremations at Birkenau took 2 hours, then, even if 3 bodies were cremated simultaneously in each oven, crematorium I’s 15 ovens, working non-stop, could have cremated no more than 540 bodies in 24 hours. That’s a far cry from Höss’s “2,000 bodies in less than 24 hours” or Mueller’s “3,000 corpses daily.” And, of course, if cremations at Birkenau took longer than 2 hours, as seems quite possible if 3 bodies were being cremated simultaneously in each oven, then crematorium I at Birkenau could not have cremated even as many as 540 bodies in 24 hours. Thus, it appears that Rudolf Höss and Filip Mueller have grossly exaggerated the capacity of the Birkenau crematoria. However, Yehuda Bauer, “one of the world’s top authorities on the Holocaust,” swallows their gross exaggerations as eagerly as if they were lox and cream cheese.
According to Bauer (p215), “Between 1.5 and 3.5 million Jews died at Auschwitz.” Bauer cites no source for these figures, nor does he provide any explanation of how they were arrived at or of how they could possibly be true. And, strangely, although he can’t be any more precise than this about Auschwitz, nevertheless, on page 334 he states that, “During the Holocaust, 5.8 million Jewish people died …” Thus, according to Bauer, 5.8 million Jews died in the Holocaust regardless of how many Jews died at Auschwitz. For Bauer, whether 1.5 million Jews died at Auschwitz or 3.5 million Jews died at Auschwitz, in either case 5.8 million Jews died during the Holocaust. Could it be that Yehuda Bauer wants to believe, no matter what, that 5.8 million Jews, i.e., about 6 million Jews, died during the Holocaust?
In a chapter on “The Last Years of the Holocaust, 1943-1945", Yehuda Bauer reports (p326), “When Majdanek was liberated in July 1944, the Russian reports on what they found there were viewed with disbelief in the West.” Indeed Richard E. Lauterbach, one of the journalists who parroted those “Russian reports” in the Western press, complained about such disbelief in his 1945 book, These Are the Russians (Book Find Club, p326): “The story of Majdanek was printed in American newspapers and magazines. But millions of Americans have never heard of it, and many who have do not believe it.” But what did the “Russian [i.e., Soviet] reports” on Majdanek say? Yehuda Bauer does not spell out for his readers the actual contents of those “reports,” perhaps because he does not want his readers to realize that he himself does not completely believe them. The Soviet “reports” on Majdanek included the allegation that “… one and a half million people were in one way or another put to death in this camp, about half of them Jews.” (See Newsweek, 11 September 1944, page 64.) But according to Bauer (p209), “[Majdanek] accommodated 50,000 inmates, and in the course of its history, 200,000 died there.” Thus Yehuda Bauer implies that the Soviet “reports” exaggerated the number of deaths at Majdanek by 1,300,000! Thereby Bauer himself vindicates those who, as Lauterbach complained in 1945, were already saying “these reports are untrue or exaggerated.”
Interestingly enough, Lauterbach also complained about disbelief of other Soviet atrocity “reports,” including the “report” that, “At Tremblyanka [sic] in Poland, an estimated 2,764,000 Jews were annihilated.” By comparison, Bauer claims (p209) that 840,000 Jews were killed at Treblinka. Of course, even Bauer’s (unsupported) claim may be a gross exaggeration.
Before concluding this review, I want to mention a few miscellaneous items of interest in A History of the Holocaust. On page 18 Bauer says, “Jewish tribes for a time controlled the Yemen…” It would be interesting to know more about this historical episode, but Bauer does not elaborate.
On page 61 Bauer makes the following assertion: “Against a background of economic crisis which hit everyone, not only the Jews, one-third of Polish Jewry in the thirties was on the verge of starvation or beyond it.” Bauer returns to this theme on pages 143-144, quoting Sholem Asch, who wrote in October of 1936 that the Polish Jews seemed to be “buried alive. Every second person was undernourished, skeletons of skin and bones, crippled, candidates for the grave.” But if, as Bauer says, one-third of Polish Jews, about a million Polish Jews, were already “on the verge of starvation or beyond it” before the war, then is it really surprising that many Jews (perhaps even hundreds of thousands) would have died of starvation and starvation-related diseases during nearly six years of war and military occupation? Is the explanation for such deaths Nazi diabolism or rather the deleterious effects of a prolonged war on the situation of about one million already-impoverished Polish Jews?
In this regard it is interesting to note the contents of chapter 4 of Reb Moshe Schonfeld’s book The Holocaust Victims Accuse (Neturei Karta of U.S.A.). According to Schonfeld, the Committee to Boycott Germany of the World Jewish Congress in 1941 demanded, in the name of Zionist bigwig Stephen Wise, that Zeirei Agudas Israel stop sending food parcels to Polish Jewry, because this was a breach of Britain’s boycott regulations against Germany. When the demand was rejected, another Zionist honcho, Joseph Tennenbaum, organized the picketing of Zeirei Agudas Israel’s office. According to Schonfeld, Zeirei Agudas Israel did not yield to this pressure, but “a majority of naive New York Jews became confused and the sending of packages sharply declined.” If Schonfeld’s account is accurate, then it would appear that the Zionists were actually prepared to starve Polish Jewry as a means of starving Nazi Germany.
In a section on “Jewish-Gentile Relations in Eastern Europe,' Bauer relates the following (pp284-285):
The accusation of Jewish-Soviet cooperation in Eastern Polish areas occupied by the Soviets in 1939 was leveled by the Poles throughout the war. There was some truth to this. Soviet occupation was better than Nazi rule, and the Soviets abolished the restrictions that had prevented Jews in Poland from entering universities, the administration, and some trades. However, the fact that Jewish attitudes changed as the Soviets restricted religious life, abolished all Jewish institutions, and confiscated property, was ignored by Polish public opinion. According to Polish figures, 264,000 Jews were deported into Soviet exile or Soviet camps, or between 17 and 20 percent of the Jews in Soviet-occupied Eastern Poland. During the war itself, in the absence of any substantial help extended by Poles or Ukrainians, the Soviet army and the return of the Soviet regime were seen by the Jews as the only hope for rescue. Jewish forest and ghetto fighters sought aid from the Soviets. The Poles, who feared Soviet rule no less than they hated the Nazi conquerors, could not identify with the Jewish attitude.
Another item of interest is an appendix in which Bauer gives the text of Himmler’s 28 May 1940 secret memorandum, “Reflections on the Treatment of Peoples of Alien Races in the East.” Some revisionists have cited this memorandum’s reference to “the Bolshevist method of physical extermination of a people” as “un-German and impossible.” But it is useful to have the full text of the memorandum.
In an interview given to Conspiracy Digest and reprinted in his book The Illuminati Papers (And/Or Press), Robert Anton Wilson opined (p 43), “Those who make a career out of spreading unproven accusations against other humans can only be forgiven if they really are so ignorant and stupid that they don’t know the difference between an assertion and an evidential demonstration.” Yehuda Bauer, Professor of Holocaust Studies and author of seven books, seems to be making just such a career out of spreading unproven accusations against other humans, specifically unproven accusations against Hitler and his henchmen. I doubt that Bauer is really so ignorant and stupid that he doesn’t know the difference between an assertion and an evidential demonstration. But, on second thought, maybe he is that ignorant and stupid. After all, he is “one of the world’s top authorities on the Holocaust.”