Holocaust Denial: An ongoing attempt to distort History

Contrary to deniers’ assertions, Allied intelligence knew about the mass murder as early as the summer of 1941. Op-ed. Por:
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Holocaust Denial: An ongoing attempt to distort History

In order to deny the Holocaust occurred, deniers use a myriad of strategies to convince the uninformed that the Germans did not murder six million Jews.

One argument they advance, is that if the Holocaust actually happened, the information would have been extensively known during WWII. It would have been as well-known as D-Day, the Allied invasion of the Normandy on Tuesday June 6, 1944.

The problem is that D-Day did not become commonly known until after the invasion was underway. For obvious reasons, D-Day remained a secret. The same was with the Holocaust. The camps were veiled in secrecy to hide the inhuman treatment to which prisoners were subjected, including physical beatings, starvation rations, lice infestations, constant hunger and cold, and wholesale murder. The camps were not casually discussed in normal conversation between fellow Nazis.

The Severe Penalty for Disclosing what Occurred at the Camps

As Albert Speer, a German architect and a close ally of Adolph Hitler, who served as the Minister of Armaments and War Production during most of World War II, wrote in his Spandau Diary: December 9, 1946. “It would be wrong to imagine that the top men of the regime would have boasted of their crimes on the rare occasions when they met. At trial we were compared to the heads of the Mafia. I recalled movies in which the bosses of legendary gangs sat around in evening dress chatting about murder and power, weaving intrigues, concocting coups. But this atmosphere of back-room conspiracy was not at all the style of our leadership. In our personal dealings, nothing would ever be said about any sinister activities we might be up to.”

As an example of this, SS guard Theodor Malzmueller described his introduction to the concept of mass murder upon arriving at the Kulmhof (Chelmno) extermination camp: “When we arrived we had to report to the camp commandant, SS-Hauptsturmführer [captain]Bothmann. The SS-Haupsturmführer addressed us in his living quarters, in the presence of SS-Untersturmführer[second lieutenant] Albert Plate. He explained that we had been dedicated to the Kulmhof [Chelmno] extermination camp as guards and added that in this camp the plague boils of humanity, the Jews, were exterminated. We were to keep quiet about everything we saw or heard, otherwise we would have to reckon with our families’ imprisonment and the death penalty….”

Rudolf Höss, the Commandant of Auschwitz, said, “Germans who during the war indulged in careless talk [about the concentration camps] used to be told: ‘You had better be careful or you’ll go up the chimney.’ To what could that refer but to the concentration camp crematoriums?” He pointed out that technicians and foreman who supervised concentration prisoners in factories went home every night. “Did they never discuss with their relatives and friends when they got home what they had seen and heard during the day,” he asked. “And what about the SS guards and executioners, who had signed sworn statements compelling them “never to reveal outside the concentration camp service anything which they had seen inside the camp. But is it reasonable to believe that none of them was human enough to break that understanding? The bully is the braggart.”

Historian David Bankier found that the “vast” amount of testimonies of Germans and Jews recorded during and after the war, and contemporaries’ diaries “lead to the conclusion that large sections of the German population, both Jews and non-Jews, either knew or suspected what was happening in Poland and Russia.”

Historian Walter Laqueur concurred: “While it is correct that only a handful of Germans knew all about the ‘final solution,’ very few knew nothing.” He added that millions of Jews could not have been murdered devoid of perpetrators and witnesses. “Ten men or women may keep a secret, but thousands cannot.”

Whatever the extent information was known about the camps or was suspected, the severity of the punishment for disclosing the rumors or even discussing them, ensured this would not become a widely examined topic.

Attempts to Eradicate All Traces of Mass Murder

Two, historian Shmuel Spector has shown how the Germans formulated Aktion 1005, to eliminate all signs and evidence of their murderous deeds. The process started in mid-1942 and lasted until the end of the war. The program developed in two major phases: the removal of the bodies in the extermination camps and the removal of the bodies in mass graves in the east where the Einsatgruppen (the action squads) operated. Ultimately, there too many graves, too many corpses, and not enough time to complete the task. In addition, many Jews survived and lived to reveal about what they had experienced.

Information about the Holocaust

Three, contrary to deniers’ assertions, Allied intelligence knew about the mass murder as early as the summer of 1941 according to historian Richard Breitman. The British intercepted and decoded radio messages that were sent from the German Order Police (Ordnungspolizei, Orpo) and their SS leaders within days of the start of Operation Barbarossa (June 22, 1941). British intelligence intercepted information about the mass slaughter of Jews since the Order Police Battalions, who massacred Jews and others in mass shootings, did not use the advanced coding machine known as Enigma, for radio transmissions. In its place, they used a “hand” encrypting system modified from one used by the British in World War I. This information provided “unimpeachable evidence of wholesale Nazi killings of Jews in the East.”

When Reinhard Heydrich, principal architect of the Holocaust and chief of the Reich Security Main Office, sent radio messages to the Einsatzgruppen, he used the sophisticated Enigma cipher machine, developed to protect military communications. The Order Police used the outdated hand ciphers. Thus, messages and reports Heydrich received remained secret. By mid-September 1941, Breitman said, it was already too late to hide the “massive police executions of Jews—or to hide the order cutting off radio reports of execution totals—from British ears.”

In one message of August 7, 1941, Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, Higher SS and Police Leader for Russia Centre, who was responsible for Einsatzgruppe B massacring Jews in Belorussia, makes it clear just how extensive the mass murders were: “The action of the SS cavalry brigade proceeds. By noon today a further 3,600 were executed, so that the total number by the Cavalry Regiment Eastern is 7,819. Thereby, the number of 30,000 in my area has been exceeded.” By the end of 1942, he served as “Chief of an Anti-Partisan Formations” for the entire Eastern Front.

Why didn’t the British publicize this information? The answer is clear: if they had released the information, the Germans would have known the German secret codes had been broken, thus jeopardizing the Allied war effort, and possibly extending the war. That might have extended the mass murdering of the Jews as well unless other measures were taken..

Parts of this essay are adapted from Denying History : Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? by Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman.

Dr. Alex Grobman is the senior resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society and a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and on the advisory board of the National Christian Leadership Conference of Israel (NCLCI). He has an MA and PhD in contemporary Jewish history from The Hebrew university of Jerusalem. He lives in Jerusalem.

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