The Holocaust Historiography Project

A Reply to Jürgen Graf:

On the 1944 Deportations of Hungarian Jews

Arthur R. Butz

I sometimes hear revisionists point out that there exists no record of a Hitler order to exterminate the Jews. The point must be made, but its significance is too easily misunderstood.

If such an order, written and of incontestable authenticity, were found then I would not renounce my thesis that the Jews were not exterminated. I would only renounce my claim that there was no plan or official program to exterminate the Jews. I would say yes, there was such a plan, but it was not carried through. The reasons have been given by revisionists over the years.

Such a Hitler order would, however, raise new problems for historians. Was Hitler serious? If so, did he change his mind? Or was he defied?

In the context of debates in which it is insufficiently recognized, in my opinion, that evidence must be commensurate with the allegation, it would be easy to ridicule such a position, but I would consider it a solid one. I am confident that we will never be in that position, but perhaps I am in a similar position on the major problem having to do with the Hungarian Jews. I quickly review the salient points of the received legend:

  1. Hungary came under German control on March 19,1944, at which time the Germans intended to recruit employable Jews for labor outside Hungary and deport the remainder, thus approximating what had already been done with German and Austrian Jews.
  2. From May 15 until July 9, 1944, virtually the entire intended program was carried out, except for the Jews of the Budapest area. The deportations started with Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine, annexed from Slovakia) and northern Transylvania (annexed from Romania). The total number deported, mainly to Auschwitz, was about 438,000, and the greater number of these was killed on arrival at Auschwitz. During this period the daily average of Jews deported was therefore about 7,500. There were also the deportations of much lesser extent to Strasshof.
  3. On July 7 the Regent of Hungary, Admiral Miklos Horthy, under international pressure, defied the Germans and ordered an end to the deportations.
  4. Due to military reversals, a crisis erupted in Hungary in October 1944. Horthy was deposed by the Germans and replaced by a government headed by the Hungarian Nazi Ferenc Szalasi. About 30,000 Jews, mainly from the Budapest area, were conscripted for labor and deported toward Germany via Austria, by forced march.[note 1]

As I understand it, Jürgen Graf and I accept points 1, 3, and 4 of the legend. We do not accept point 2, but we differ on the extent or sense of our dissent on this crucial point. Graf accepts the 438,000 figure, but denies the killing. I also deny the killing of those who were deported, but I also deny the 438,000 figure or, more precisely, the idea that the May-July deportations virtually emptied Hungary of Jews, except for the Budapest area. I accept however that many Jews were deported in May-July 1944, mainly for labor. I cannot give a figure, but I believe it would have been only a fraction of 438,000. Graf cannot tell us what happened to most of the 438,000 Jews. Indeed the question that is the title of his paper remains begged.

My main reasons for holding as I do were given many years ago in Chapter 5 of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, and the reader should review those arguments there. I can briefly summarize the principal ones:

  1. Such clearing out of the Hungarian Jews was wildly impractical, given the transport shortages at that militarily critical phase. This consideration continues to be a principal basis for my disputing the clearing out of the Hungarian Jews. As of April 19, 1944, the German authorities in Hungary were “encountering greatest difficulties” procuring rail transport for 10,000 employable Jews on their hands, and on April 27 they reported that, while transport had finally been arranged for 4,000 of them, rail shortages were still delaying the deportations for labor, which at that point contemplated 50,000 employable Jews.[note 2]
  2. The 1948 report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) cannot be reconciled with the legend as it relates to the point in contention.[note 3] It is unambiguous and emphatic in saying that the major events for the Hungarian Jews were in October, and the ICRC was very close to the Jews and therefore well informed. Though the report notes that there were deportations before July 9, it implies that the Jews had not been emptied out of the provinces outside Budapest, because it states that with the onset of the October crisis, the Jews “lost many killed, especially in the provinces,” and that “In November, one hundred thousand Jews poured into Budapest from the provinces,” points not mentioned by Graf.
  3. The documentary evidence is suspect. In consists mainly of texts of telegrams, allegedly as received at the German Foreign Ministry, from the German plenipotentiary in Hungary, Edmund Veesenmayer, reporting the progress of the deportations in detail. I shall refer to them as the “Veesenmayer telegrams.” The documents were put in evidence in the Nuremberg trials. However essentially the only authentications of these telegrams are signatures and initials of Horst Wagner and Eberhard von Thadden, the Jewish specialists at the German Foreign Ministry, who then acquired a strange immunity from prosecution. The man in charge, who held the power of life and death over Wagner and von Thadden, was Robert M.W. Kempner, a German Jew and naturalized US citizen. Kempner had been an anti-Nazi prosecutor in Prussia before Hitler came to power. In Hoax, I related a perjury trial in the US, almost simultaneous with the Nuremberg trials, in which the defense successfully attacked the testimony of a prosecution witness, Baron Herbert von Strempel, as coerced while he was incarcerated in Germany and under Kempner’s power.[note 4] In the Nuremberg trials themselves, it was shown that Kempner had threatened to turn potential witnesses over to the Soviets if they did not cooperate.[note 5]

The number of Jews the legend asserts were deported in eight weeks is about two-thirds of the sum deported from Germany, Austria and Western Europe in the three year period of late 1941 to late 1944. I should have stressed more strongly that I have no record of protests, by German officials charged with conventional military logistic duties, against the dedication of massive rail transport, in the context of the military crisis (around the time of D-Day), to a militarily irrelevant (at best) operation of moving non-employable Jews. I did refer to the case of Albert Speer, deeply involved in deportations of employable Hungarian Jews, who claimed he knew nothing of exterminations at the time.[note 6] In any case he made no protest over such a diversion of transport means.

Consider the practical implications of deporting all Hungarian Jews in such a short time interval. In Hungary the Jewish situation was similar to what it had been in Germany and Austria before Hitler: the Jews were a strongly entwined group, especially in the economy. The Nazis had about ten years to effect the emigration and/or expulsion of the 600,000 Jews of Germany and Austria, and even there the expulsion was not complete. The expulsion of all Hungarian Jews, or even of only those in the provinces outside Budapest, in an interval of two months, would have been like a virtual atom bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy.

As for the Red Cross report, it is unacceptable to simply dismiss the author as “incompetent.” The ICRC delegate in Budapest from October 1943 was Jean de Bavier. However the President of the ICRC, Max Huber, was unsatisfied with de Bavier, who did not speak German. Thus de Bavier was replaced by Friedrich Born, who took over in an acting capacity in mid-May 1944. Both de Bavier and Born had conferred with the Jewish leader Saly Mayer in Geneva before going to Budapest.[note 7]

Friedrich Born died in 1963, and in 1987 he was designated “Righteous” by the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.[note 8] Since the 1948 ICRC report on Hungary describes his work as “courageously undertaken,” he may not have been its actual author, but we should assume that it was Born who provided the information for the report, and that he most probably reviewed it prior to publication.

I digress with one point for the benefit of those reading this who believe the extermination legend. Deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary, to make the difficult journey across the mountains of Slovakia to Auschwitz, only to be killed there, makes no sense on practical grounds. If such were the objective, why not improvise means to kill them in Hungary, and perhaps even blame it on the Hungarians? Whoever might object by saying that Auschwitz had specially designed means for extermination has not been studying the subject matter. The legend claims that the means of extermination at Auschwitz were improvised anyway! The gas was the pesticide Zyklon, the gas chambers were rooms that had been built as morgues in the crematory buildings (Kremas), and the crematories turned out to be inadequate in capacity to dispose of the bodies, so the corpses were burned outdoors in huge pyres. All of that could have been done in Hungary! Whoever might object by contending that Auschwitz was in an isolated region, where large-scale things could be done in secrecy, knows nothing of the circumstances under which the site for the industrial activities around Auschwitz was chosen. It was near the major city of Cracow, and was served by major rail lines. Civilian workers in the Auschwitz industries communicated more or less freely with outsiders.[note 9] The camp was visited in September 1944 by ICRC delegates, who were able to interview British POWs there.[note 10] This industry was strategically important and received the scrutiny of the Allies, who made many aerial photos of the camp and bombed it. The Hungarian Jews whose bodies allegedly were burned in huge pyres at Auschwitz are not to be found in the aerial photos the Allies took of the camp during this very same period, and which were only made public in 1979.[note 11]

To return to my argument, I should cite additional data from the Vatican that became available to me in 1980. It relates mainly to Romania but bears on Hungary as well. Northern Transylvania is a province that has been sometimes in Hungary, sometimes in Romania, and must not be confused with Transnistria, further east in an area of Ukraine, beyond the Dniester River, to which many Romanian Jews were deported in 1941. When by late 1943 Russian advances made it impractical to try to keep them there, they started returning, but their movements were suspended when the Russians overran Transnistria in the spring. Our concern is with Hungary and northern Transylvania, which was transferred from Romania to Hungary in 1940. However Jewish leaders in Romania remained in touch with events effecting Jews not only in northern Transylvania, but also in Hungary generally.[note 12]

On June 30, 1944, Alexander Safran, Grand Rabbi of Romania (later Grand Rabbi of Geneva), wrote to Andrea Cassulo, the Papal Nuncio in Bucharest, to acknowledge his “noble action” in favor of Romanian Jews, particularly those evacuated from Transnistria. He added that such support encourages him to ask for papal support for Jews in Hungary “exposed to great deprivations and suffering.” The only reference to deportations is of the Jews of Transnistria.[note 13] There is no reference in Safran’s letter to exterminations of Hungarian Jews, or to their mass deportation.

Two more documents were obtained from the Vatican in 1980. On July 11 Cassulo had sent the Safran letter of June 30 to the Vatican, and on July 28 he transmitted another letter to the Vatican that, he said, “confirms the sad fact” of Safran’s letter. The new communication was an undated letter to Cassulo signed by six “Jewish personalities.” It said[note 14]

… the Hungarian government has ordered the deportation of the Jews. Impacted by this order were mainly the Jews living in northern Transylvania, who were compelled without exception to leave their homes. For a long time we have known nothing of our relatives, since all our attempts to learn their fate have been fruitless.

I assume this letter was written some time in July, and it implicitly denies that the Jews had been cleared out, since “mainly” the Jews of northern Transylvania were effected, and the authors were not even sure what the situation was with them. Cassulo interpreted the letter as a plea for the Catholic Church “to alleviate in some manner the lot of so many unfortunates forced to leave their homes and live in concentration camps,” and authoritative enough to be forwarded to the Vatican.

I note in passing a remark about northern Transylvania in the 1948 ICRC report, in the section on Romania. In its December 1944 report to Geneva the ICRC delegation in Bucharest said that

…thanks to consignments from the Joint Committee of New York and to collections made on the spot, it had been able to come to the help of (6,000 Hungarian Jews) who had succeeded in escaping deportation and were found in Northern Transylvania.

This says that there were deportations from northern Transylvania and that 6,000 Jews of northern Transylvania later came into contact with the delegation in Bucharest (about 200 miles from the major north Transylvanian city of Cluj). It does not say that only 6,000 Jews were left in northern Transylvania after the deportations.

The third document obtained from the Vatican is a letter to Cassulo, dated December 11, 1944, from the General Jewish Curatorship of Northern Transylvania (then resident in Bucharest). It says that in May and June 150,000 Jews, of all ages and conditions, were deported from northern Transylvania to Auschwitz. Direct information on their fate is not available, but escapees say some have been exterminated. The letter asks that the Vatican intervene with the German government to arrange distribution of parcels to them.[note 15] The late date and the reference to “escapees” as a source of information suggests lesser probative value for this document, because the reference is probably to what I called the “War Refugee Board Report” (WRB Report, also called the “Auschwitz Protocols"), published in Washington on November 25, 1944, which I have discussed at length.[note 16] The structure of the mass extermination claim had been largely settled on by then, so that reports can be suspected of being based on what was by then widely said to have happened, rather than actual observations and experiences of the reporters.

The document which later became the WRB Report was in limited circulation in Europe in June and was reported in the New York Times in July.[note 17] Its receipt was probably the reason the ICRC felt obliged to make the September visit to Auschwitz.

One should also carefully consider the document of August 15, 1944, quoted by Graf, which speaks of 612,000 prisoners in the process of being added to the camps. Of this number 90,000 were Hungarian Jews from the “Jewish Action” there, and 400,000 were Poles from Warsaw. Graf does not make clear that these people were not yet physically in the camps, because he does not take into account the final sentence of the relevant section of the document: “A large number of the prisoners is already on its way and will arrive during the next days for delivery to the concentration camps.” One infers that most were being held elsewhere on that date. For the Hungarian Jews, the only place they could have been at the time, if they were not in the German camps outside Hungary, would have been in some sort of detention in Hungary. The document is at best irrelevant to Graf’s thesis; all it implies is that in mid-August there were at least 90,000 Jews in Hungary that were viewed as well enough organized for quick transport. They could have been either Budapest Jews or Jews in the provinces. These 90,000 new Hungarian Jewish camp inmates did not in fact materialize in the sense of the document (as even Graf implies in his paper), probably because of transport shortages that finally had to be overcome in the fall by making Jewish labor conscripts walk.

In 1984 Mark Weber called to my attention a document that had been cited during the proceedings of the Nuremberg trial of 1945-1946, but which I had missed when writing my book. An excerpt, which was a British prosecution exhibit, was also published in the official Nuremberg Tribunal record.[note 18] I wrote Graf about this document on November 5, 1993.

The document is the August 23, 1944, edition of Die Lage ("The Situation"), an information bulletin published by the Goebbels ministry of propaganda. Theoretically it was intended for a restricted readership, as it is specified “Strictly Confidential!” (Streng vertraulich!), but that has to be taken with a grain of salt considering, for example, that the first section of this issue reports that the Allied landings in France had been successful because of the Allies' complete control of sea and air — hardly a secret.

The second section is about the Hungarian Jews, and is very consistent with the legend. It says that the German authorities

commenced with the cleaning up of the northeastern area — north Transylvania and the Carpathian province — where the Jewish element was the strongest numerically. Then the Jews were collected in the remaining Hungarian provinces and transported to Germany or German controlled territories. A hundred thousand Jews remained in the hands of the Hungarians to be employed in labor battalions … By July 9 approximately 430,000 Jews from the Hungarian provinces had been handed over to the German authorities. The handing over takes place on the Hungarian national frontier … As a final stage of the Jewish measures the Jews from Budapest were to be deported. It is a question of approximately 260,000. But in the meantime pressure from enemy and neutral countries … had become so strong that those circles in Hungary that are friendly to the Jews attempted to influence the Hungarian Government to prevent any further measures against the Jews …

This may seem to settle it in favor of Graf’s thesis but please bear with me. The many objections, especially those regarding the basic physical plausibility, and even possibility, of the alleged events still stand. I shall return to this Goebbels ministry matter.

We should consider writings by historians who accept the essentials of the received legend. Randolph L. Braham has written more on this subject than anyone else, and his magnum opus is his two-volume work The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary.[note 19] As for the mass deportations, Braham’s principal evidence is

  1. The Veesenmayer telegrams.
  2. Reports attributed to László Ferenczy, effectively the Hungarian police chief, in the form of transcripts on Police of Israel stationery, said to be transcribed from confirmed photocopies. In 1993 Graf sent me a copy of the one that he specifically cites. Braham presents a table comparing the Veesenmayer and Ferenczy figures.[note 20]
  3. A summary of transports that allegedly passed through Kassa (the present Kosice in Slovakia) on the way to Auschwitz (Braham’s Appendix 6). The typical train carried, according to this document, 2,000 to 3,000 people, sometimes more or less, a typical day saw 2 to 5 transports pass through, and there were literally daily transports May 16 through June 6. The first two transports are specified as passing through Kassa on May 14. These figures are said to have been collected by the Railway Command of Kassa and first published in 1984 in a Jewish magazine in Toronto by a lawyer who had been a resident of Kassa. Thus the document does not appear in the original edition of Braham’s work, published in 1981.

Braham also reproduces a June 30 letter from the Hungarian government to Angelo Rotta, the Papal Nuncio in Budapest, no doubt written to counter the by then widely publicized stories that a general deportation of Hungarian Jews was in progress:[note 21]

We take this opportunity to mention that Hungarian Jews are not slated for deportation. A large number of Jewish manual laborers is being placed at the disposal of the German government, and the fact that their families were sent together with them to Germany is the result of the decision to keep families undivided, since greater performance can be expected from Jews when they are relaxed by the presence of their families. In this connection, we saw to it that in the retention within the country of the manpower absolutely needed to maintain industrial and economic life, priority be given to the converted Jews and to their families.

This June 30 Hungarian government letter seems to me a fair representation of the situation at that time, both in Hungary for Jews in general, and among Catholic representatives, who were particularly concerned with the lot of Jewish converts to Catholicism.

Prominent among the projects contemplated for the Hungarian Jews conscripted for labor was fighter aircraft production, and armaments minister Albert Speer and colleagues were eager in this period to get the promised Jews from Hungary. Thus they complained at a May 26 meeting that[note 22]

Till now two transports have arrived at the SS camp Auschwitz. For fighter construction we were offered only children, women, and old men with whom very little can be done… Unless the next transports bring men of an age fit for work the whole action will not have much success.

This implies non-employables were not killed on arrival at Auschwitz. It also suggests another less noble motivation for deporting “families": fulfillment of quotas in the context of rivalry among nominal allies. Such a situation arose in 1943 when Oswald Pohl, the head of the concentration camp system, complained “that the prisons transferring (prisoners to the camps) have literally released inmates who are in the worst possible physical condition."[note 23] The first thought of a warden, if given the choice, is to get rid of the useless ones and retain the useful.

Returning to the May 26, 1944, document, we note that it was a transcript of the stenographic minutes of a regular meeting of the “Jägerstab,” the group formed of representatives of the air force and Speer’s ministry to oversee the production of fighter planes. Therefore the statement, that up to that date only two transports of Jews from Hungary had arrived at Auschwitz, cannot be taken as authoritative in itself. However I believe that the remark has independent confirmation. The first transport would have been the group of 4,000 Jews, said above to be ready for transport on April 27, that arrived in two transports on or about May 1, but were referred to in this conference as one transport. The second transport would have been a group that arrived later in May, and from which 4,000 Jews were registered, 2,000 on each of the two days of May 22 and 24. A transport that apparently arrived during the night of May 25 would have been too recent to be taken account of at the May 26 meeting.[note 24] Apart from whether or not the remark was strictly correct, I do not believe it would have been made in that form if Jews had for about a week been pouring into Auschwitz, at a rate of some 7,500 per day, in two to five transports per day, for whatever purpose. There would have been complaints that, with so many people pouring in, more useful labor ought to be offered. On the contrary the “next transport” was only speculated for some unknown future date, and the transports they were talking about fairly represented the “whole action.” The May 26 conference remark disagrees not merely in detail or degree, but in kind, from what would have been said if the massive regular transports claimed had been real.

To return to Braham, I must admit I have not read all of his massive work of 1,500 pages, partly because it is mainly about well known things I do not contest, and partly because it is clear that treatments of the problems that I would consider serious tests are either not there or support my original theory when they are there. Let me explain.

Historical events can only occur in association with other events. Every such event is accompanied by ancillary, correlative and consequent events. If a stone is thrown in the water, then the event must create ripples on the surface. If there is a forest fire, then there must be smoke. In a competent criminal investigation it is necessary to test such events. There is the classic question “Did the dog bark?” It is easy to formulate an internally consistent phony confession or perjured testimony which speaks in general terms of a crime, but it is not easy to anticipate the questions that a competent interrogator will ask about the details, related events, and consequent events. Those are the sorts of events lacking when I consider the claim that the Hungarian Jews were cleared out.

The obvious questions that occur to me in considering Graf’s thesis are the problems of transport and destination. I insist that the provision of transport for clearing out the Hungarian Jews in the time interval claimed would have generated controversy and even conflict among the Germans. To be more blunt, I think that such transport capabilities did not exist, but I am willing to consider their provision as a hypothesis.

Even if such transport could have been provided, there is the problem of destination. Where were the Jews sent, and why? The Germans were in retreat. Destination is not a problem for Braham, because he thinks they were killed at Auschwitz. It has not been a problem for me, since I don’t believe the Jews were cleared out. It is however a problem for Graf, and he does not solve it. For him it is not just an unresolved detail, but a consideration challenging the credibility of his entire thesis. His failure to explain this is a more serious defect in his theory, in my opinion, than his failure “to explain this mysterious ICRC report.”

Both Graf and Braham have the problem of the provision of adequate rail transport. Graf does not confront it. Braham has a section on the general subject of transport, but the conflict and controversy among the Germans are not there. This is not to say that further digging will not uncover any controversy over rail transport. For example it is likely that the German authorities in Hungary had to quarrel with somebody to procure the late April transport for the 4,000 employable Jews; that is suggested by the relevant documents.

Rather than relate to us a controversy among the Germans on the allocation of transport, Braham serves us another gem to ponder. By 1971 it was realized that the accomplishment of such deportations would have required the unusually enthusiastic support of the German railway (Reichsbahn). Accordingly its executive director, Theodor Ganzenmüller, was indicted that year in Germany. Repeating the episodes we have already seen in the cases of German Foreign Office Jewish specialists Eberhard von Thadden and Horst Wagner, trial was repeatedly postponed and then never held at all.[note 25] This datum has importance beyond the immediate problem of Hungary.

There is also the problem of resistance by the Jews, or at least their obstruction of the wholesale deportation operations. Far from giving such details, Braham’s section on this subject tells us there was no resistance or serious obstruction.[note 26] In fact there was no organized Jewish resistance during the time interval under discussion.

An analogy. I am told that a child has just thrown a boulder into the water. I object that the child is not strong enough. I learn that five witnesses of unblemished probity testify to the event. I observe that the event created no splash and no waves, and that the boulder can’t be found at the bottom. What would you conclude? I would say the reputations of the witnesses have been greatly damaged. The only unanswered question would be why they lied or how they were deceived.

I am not alone in complaining of the lack of substantial historical detail in the alleged May-July mass deportations. In 1994 there were several conferences on the 1944 events in Hungary, and the published records of them are interesting. Genocide and Rescue: the Holocaust in Hungary 1944 (edited by David Cesarani) includes most of the papers presented at a London conference. Papers presented at a 1994 Budapest conference are included in The Holocaust in Hungary: Fifty Years Later (edited by Randolph L. Braham and Attila Pók). A 1994 conference at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum is represented by The Nazis Last Victims: The Holocaust in Hungary (edited by Randolph L. Braham and Scott Miller).

Tim Cole, a social historian at the University of Bristol, complained in a review that both the Cesarani and Braham & Miller books have remarkably little on the events of late spring and early summer 1944: “Such silence is not simply puzzling, but troubling."[note 27] It ought to be.

As for the Braham & Pók book, about half of the papers are in Hungarian, which I can’t read, but there are English language summaries. The book was reviewed by István Deák of Columbia University, who did not confront the issues I have identified.[note 28] As with all these conference proceedings, the various papers do not appear to me to confront them, except in the sense of trying to explain why there was no Jewish resistance.

The point here is not that the 1994 conferees did not try to prove that the mass May-July deportations took place. If they regarded them as well established then of course they would not try to prove they happened, just as a postwar article about the military campaigns of 1940 does not have to prove that the Dunkirk rout took place, since it is well known. I am referring to a lack of exposition about events directly related to the alleged deportations. In general I would have to say that the alleged mass deportations of 1944, if they had happened, would have generated so many related events as to dominate any 1994 conference.

Cole’s complaint was right on the mark. Graf is not alone in providing no account of how such events unfolded. I know of no source that relates the events at the operational levels, except for the “Veesenmayer telegrams.”

I believe that historians are not writing such papers because the documentary evidence is faulty and does not correlate with ascertainable events. The documentary evidence of the clearing out of the Hungarian Jews is apparently a historiographic dead end. Historians write papers when they have something to write about. If one forged a report asserting that the World Trade Center was blown up and destroyed, then some people might believe it, but historians would find no record of correlative events, such as disruptions of the operations of many companies that do business there or funerals of thousands of their employees. If they believed the claim then there would be nothing for them to say, beyond saying it happened and citing the forged document, but that would already have been done. That appears to be what has happened with the 1994 conferences on Hungary, and indeed generally with writings on this subject. Scholars are supposed to say something new when they write papers; they can’t work at historiographic dead ends.

I made related remarks in my 1982 IHR conference paper, recently ably translated into German by Graf, when I said that historical claims must “be tested by the normal method of placing them as hypotheses in appropriate historical context and seeing if they cohere."[note 29] That is what I am attempting to do here. It is our basic defense against historical fraud.

We nevertheless have a problem on our hands. The Goebbels ministry report. How do we account for it? It is here that I feel somewhat as I would if confronting a Hitler order to exterminate the Jews.

This problem had continued to bother me until I read Graf’s report of August 10, 1997, on his and Carlo Mattogno’s research trip in Eastern Europe of that year. There appears the following paragraph:

It was completely new to us that evidently many Hungarian Jews were deported to Riga(!) even in summer 1944, which seemed illogical in view of the military situation at the time. From Riga they were later transferred to Stutthof.

In his present paper Graf refers to these movements, without repeating that the deportations to Riga were “illogical in view of the military situation at the time.” For me Graf’s 1997 passage supported a hypothesis that I had raised in my letter to him of November 5, 1993. I repeated it to Graf in Australia in 1998 and at the IHR conference in 2000.

In my book I wrote that at his trial Eichmann claimed that, after Stalingrad, the deportations were stepped up “for camouflage reasons” to conceal the desperate military situation.[note 30] That could be the key to understanding the Goebbels account of deportations of almost all Hungarian Jews, in the absence of convincing evidence that such actually happened, and in consideration of convincing reasons to believe they could not have happened.

>By May 1944, there is no doubt that the Germans wanted to clear the Jews out of Hungary; they made that clear. Goebbels was the propaganda minister, responsible for maintaining the morale of the German population. Why admit that the desired deportation could not be accomplished? The point of sending a small number Hungarian Jews to Riga could have been precisely that it was illogical. It implied a false military and logistic situation. That was also the case for the general claim of mass deportation of Jews out of Hungary. It was, in a sense, a semi-hoax of the sort that propagandists are hired to create. Graf declares, “The declarations of a Soviet propagandist should be regarded with skepticism.” So should the declarations of a Nazi propagandist.

There exist dozens of photos showing deported Hungarian Jews upon their arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. Taken by one or more anonymous German photographers, they were published in a 1981 book The Auschwitz Album.[note 31] (Several of these are also in Jean-Claude Pressac’s 1989 book, and in a more recent work published by the Auschwitz Museum, which identifies them as “taken by the SS, 1944.")[note 32]

Braham remarks that “It was during the deportations from Hungary that the SS authorized for the first time the taking of photographs in Auschwitz.” He means of course photos of people from arriving Jewish transports. I believe Braham is right, since I can’t recall seeing comparable photos taken at earlier dates. He adds “the Germans also produced a propaganda film” on the deportations.[note 33] I believe I have seen excerpts of this film.

Braham should have said “ordered” rather than “authorized", for these are clearly official photos. Why did the German authorities take these photos? My hypothesis would explain why, and why they would have taken other publicity measures such as make a film on the deportations.

In summary I think I must refine my earlier conclusions only slightly.[note 34] I implied that only employable Jews were deported. That is not true. Some families were deported for reasons given above, and perhaps also as part of a camouflage operation. As for the number deported, I had written “somewhat less than 100,000"; now I would be more reticent to give a number, but I can’t believe any number on the order of 438,000 for May-July, for reasons given, and my original statement is probably valid provided the October-November deportations on foot are not included. It is possible that a fairly precise number will be determined some day. In all accounts, northern Transylvania receives a great emphasis. Perhaps that region was more hard hit by deportations than others.

Jürgen G raf and Carlo Mattogno are commended for their hard work and their research visit to Hungary. This is a difficult problem, as is suggested by Graf’s wavering positions on it over the years. As for Graf’s present paper, it is on the whole a good one.

I believe that starting in March 1944 the Germans made a lot of noise about wanting to deport the Hungarian Jews, and the Jewish propagandists then decided to take them up on it, giving the story their own twist. If I am right then Goebbels was an unwitting co-author of the Hoax!


1. The figure comes from Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1967), p. 553, and in the 3-volume 1985 Holmes & Meier (New York) edition, p. 838. I am not confident of its accuracy. I gave a slightly higher figure in my book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (1976 and 1997), p. 144.

2. Arthur R. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (1976 and 1997), p. 170.

3. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 134-142, reproduces the relevant section from the ICRC’s Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its activities during the Second World War (September 1, 1939 — June 30, 1947), (Geneva: May 1948, 3 vols.), vol. 1, pp. 641-657.

4. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 162f.

5. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), p. 164.

6. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 179f.

7. Jean-Claude Favez, The Red Cross and the Holocaust (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999), pp. 234-237.

8. Jewish Chronicle (London weekly), June 12, 1987, p. 3.

9. On these points the reader can consult for example, Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret (Boston: Little, Brown, 1980/ New York: H. Holt, 1998). Paradoxically, Laqueur argues that the exterminations at Auschwitz, which he believes in, could not have been a “secret,” and yet they were! He still has not figured out the simple resolution of the paradox.

10. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 110f. ICRC, Documents sur l'activité du CICR en faveur des civils détenus dans les camps de concentration en Allemagne (1939-1945), (Geneva: 1947), pp. 91f. The propaganda claims of exterminations at Auschwitz had by then (September 29) received wide circulation, but the ICRC reported that the British POWs were unable to get confirmation of such rumors from other inmates. When they were interrogated by the Soviets in 1945 they still “knew nothing at all” of exterminations.

11. In his World War II Photo Intelligence (New York: Scribner's, 1981), Roy M. Stanley II discusses the wartime aerial reconnaissance photos of Auschwitz and remarks (p. 348) on the “film of 31 May 1944 showing (apparent) ongoing cremations” at Birkenau. The weasel word “apparent” is his, as are the parentheses. In fact what appears on the film are three columns of black smoke coming from small point sources. Given that diesel engines smoke that way when they are given full throttle or encounter an irregular load, and given that the smoke is coming from a part of Birkenau that was still under construction, my guess is that the smoke is diesel exhaust. The truth of my guess may not be obvious, but it is obvious that the smoke is not coming from a mountain of burning Jews. A person such as I, with no expertise in aerial photo interpretation, can only be disgusted and furious when such lies come from the technically qualified experts.

12. Randolph L. Braham, “Romanian Nationalists and the Holocaust,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Winter 1996 (vol. 10, no. 3), pp. 211-251.

13. This letter is quoted from in vol. 10 of Actes et Documents du Saint Siège Relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1980), p. 45, but specified as non-published on p. 347. I obtained a copy from the Vatican in 1980.

14. Actes et Documents du Saint Siège … (cited above), p. 365. The term “Jewish personalities” is from the Vatican’s cover letter to me.

15. Actes et Documents du Saint Siège … (cited above), pp. 46, 510f.

16. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 89-99, 150-152, especially on alleged Report author Rudolf Vrba. Also see my further remarks on Vrba in A. R. Butz, “Some Thoughts on Pressac’s Opus,” The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1993, pp. 23-37. At least one prominent author on the Auschwitz survivor circuit had to change his tune on Vrba as a result of my writings. Erich Kulka authored a chapter in the collection They Fought Back, Yuri Suhl, ed. (New York: Schocken, 1975 [originally published in 1967]). There he discussed the “dramatic” escape from Auschwitz of Rudolf Vrba (as Walter Rosenberg), and the “completely authentic” account he brought to the outside world. Later he had an article, entitled “Attempts by Jewish Escapees to Stop Mass Extermination,” in Jewish Social Studies, Fall 1985 (vol. 47), pp. 295-306. There he portrayed Vrba as a scoundrel whose book (I Cannot Forgive, New York: Grove, 1964) contains “contradictory and problematic statements” that were “misused” by me. A similar article by Kulka appeared in Zeitgeschichte, vol. 13, 1986, pp. 381+. Appearing as a prosecution witness at the first Zündel trial in Toronto in 1985, Vrba admitted that his book is not true; according to him it is “only 'an artistic picture'.” (Toronto Sun, January 24, 1985, p. 52).

17. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), p. 147.

18. Nuremberg document D-908 (GB-534), excerpted in the International Military Tribunal (IMT), 42-volume “blue series,” vol. 36, pp. 1-3. It was also cited and quoted during the proceedings on July 30, 1946. See IMT, vol. 20, pp. 48-50.

19. Randolph L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary, two vols. (Boulder, Colorado: East European Monographs, 1993 [revised edition]). Reviewed by Egon Mayer in Holocaust and Genocide Stories, Spring 1996, pp. 98ff.

20. R. L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 1993), p. 674.

21. R. L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 1993), pp. 1219f.

22. Document NOKW-336, quoted in Trails of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals, the NMT “green series,” vol. 2, pp.555ff. Also quoted by Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (cited above, 1967), p. 599, and p. 935 in the 3-volume Holmes & Meier edition of 1985.

23. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), p. 126.

24. D. Czech, ed., Auschwitz Chronicle (New York: Henry Holt, 1990/London: I.B. Tauris, 1990), pp. 618, 630, 632. There are references in this source to additional transports in the interval of May 16-25, but the only specific information given for them is that very small groups of Jews were registered from them. These transports, to the extent that they are real, I interpret as involving the registration of people who arrived either in special groups too small to be called “transports,” or as “depot prisoners” from earlier transports. At many points in the Auschwitz Chronicle one reads that, when registration of prisoners in the camp is noted, “The remaining people are killed in the gas chambers.” That is not true, and there is no documentary evidence for the claim. As Graf remarks, the evidence for such gassings is the collection of testimonies that revisionists and even some anti-revisionists have discredited over the years. In many cases there may not even have been any “remaining people” that could have been sent to the “gas chambers,” if such chambers had existed. The Auschwitz Chronicle requires some expertise to read, and even then one is left with uncertainties, because purely factual data are mixed with fantasy with no indication of where the line between the two is. For example, it passes along without apology (pp. 633f) a claim attributed to the “camp resistance movement” that, from the middle of May to May 25, each day saw 13 trains arrive, each train consisting of 48 to 50 cars, 100 Hungarian Jews to a car. That’s 62,400 to 65,000 per day! Incidentally this formulation reminds me of the Talmud passage that claims that in the village of Bethar, besieged by the Romans in 135 A.D., there were 400 synagogues, each having 400 teachers, each teaching 400 students. 64 million Jewish kids in the village! The Holocaust legend is fairly oozing and dripping with Talmudic formulations. The Romans wrapped each kid in his scroll and burned them all! That yarn has also been transposed to Auschwitz. See A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 246f.

25. R. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 1993), pp. 669, 685 (note 18). R. Hilberg, The Destruction (cited above, 1985), vol. 3, p. 1095, says “Albert' (sic) Ganzenmüller worked for Höchst A.G. 1955-1968, was indicted in Düsseldorf in 1973, but was “not tried because of ill health.”

26. R. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 1993), pp. 1123-1148.

27. Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Spring 2000, pp 135ff, esp. p. 137 and note 2. Cole is also the author of Selling the Holocaust: From Auschwitz to Schindler: How History is Bought, Packaged and Sold (New York: Routledge, 1999). I have not yet seen this book. Cole will soon learn, if he has not already, that he is treading on dangerous ground, though he is a Holocaust believer. See his “Constructing the 'Jew,' Writing the Holocaust: Hungary 1920-1945,” in Patterns of Prejudice, July 1999 (vol. 3, no. 3), pp. 19-27. As co-author of “Ghettoization and the Holocaust: Budapest 1944,” Journal of Historical Geography, July 1995 (vol. 21, no. 3), he finds Holocaust revisionism “distasteful” (p. 313).

28. Holocaust and Genocide Stories, Spring 1998, pp. 161-169.

29. Arthur R. Butz, “Context and Perspective in the 'Holocaust' Controversy,” The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1982 (vol. 3, no. 4), pp. 371-405. Posted on the IHR web site at . This paper has been reproduced as a supplement in recent printings of my book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. Graf’s translation is published in Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, Dec. 1999 (vol. 3, no. 4), pp. 393-410 (Castle Hill Publishers; PO Box 118; Hastings TN34 3ZQ; England) and posted on Germar Rudolf’s web site at An Italian translation, “Contesto storico e prospettiva d'insieme nella controversia dell"Olocausto',” was published in 1999 by Graphos; Campetto 4; 16123 Genoa, Italy.

30. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), p . 113.

31. The Auschwitz Album (New York: Random House, 1981)

32. Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (New York: B. Klarsfeld, 1989), pp. 251, 343; Tere sa Swiebocka, ed., Auschwitz: A History in Photographs (Oswiecim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, and, Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1993). Three of these photos are also reproduced in the recent anti-revisionist book by M ichael Shermer and Alex Grobman, Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2000), pp. 134, 146, where they are unhelpfully attributed only t o “Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.”

33. R. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 19 93), p. 792.

34. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 170, 216f.

About the author

Arthur R. Butz was born and raised in New York City. In 1965 he received his doctorate in Control Sciences from the University of Minnesota. In 1966 he joined the faculty of Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois), where he is now Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition to numerous technical papers, Dr. Butz is the author of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, which was first published in 1976. His web site is: