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From oneb!!!!agate!!!uunet!!!not-for-mail Thu Aug 12 23:17:44 PDT 1993

>From _The Journal of Historical Review_, Vol. 13, Number 3 (May/June 1993):

                           EXPOSED AS FRAUD
      Historical Truth Survives "Politically Correct" Exploitation

                       Mark Weber and Greg Raven

Exposing historical and media fraud sometimes takes years or even decades.
In the case of a recent heavily promoted and widely praised multi-media
project - designed to promote the Holocaust story, condemn official racism
against blacks in America during the Second World War, and encourage racial
tolerance - debunking has come much more quickly.

     _Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II_ - a lavishly
financed project that claims to tell the story of how black troops
liberated Buchenwald and Dachau - was exposed as an error-packed fraud
within weeks of its debut.

     Producers Nina Rosenblum and William Miles collaborated with author
Lou Potter on the slickly promoted project that includes a much-touted
"documentary" film, a book, a high school workbook, a screenplay and a
theatrical version.  Even before its public debut, "Liberators" had
garnered impressive national and international support.

     Typical of the hype was the praise by _Publishers Weekly_ (Oct. 19, p.
32), a leading publishing trade periodical:

     It's been a long time in coming, but _Liberators: Fighting on Two
     Fronts in World War II_, as a book, a TV documentary, a workbook for
     high schools to accompany the documentary, and a theatrical feature,
     is going to make its presence felt.  This is the story, not found in
     standard historical accounts, of the role played by the 761st Tank
     Battalion in freeing the prisoners of Dachau and Buchenwald.

     Jesse Jackson presented a copy of the sumptuous book version of
_Liberators_ (published by the prestigious firm of Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich) to President-elect Clinton.  The black leader also announced
that, with financial backing from financier Felix Rohatyn, he would
distribute copies to every school library in the United States.

Gala Premiere

     New York Mayor David Dinkins introduced the "Liberators" film at its
premiere showing on November 9 at a star-studded gathering of more than 700
leaders of the city's Jewish and black communities.  The gala event at New
York's Lincoln Center was cosponsored by the US Holocaust Memorial Council
(a taxpayer-funded federal government agency) and WNET television (New York
City's prestigious PBS station).

     Referring obliquely to the high level of tension between the city's
Jews and blacks, Dinkins said: ". . . When we see those brave
African-American soldiers freeing Jewish prisoners of concentration camps,
let us remember all that binds us together." Reporting on the premiere
showing, the US Holocaust Council's (Winter 1992-93) _Newsletter_ similarly
boasted that the film "offered a rare opportunity for reconciliation and
communication between two of New York's most prominent ethnic groups."

     Two days later (Veteran's Day), WNET broadcast "Liberators" nationally
on the PBS television network as part of its prestigious "American
Experience" series.  In mid-December, Jesse Jackson introduced the film at
its showing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, a high-profile event sponsored
by media giant Time Warner and a host of rich and influential New Yorkers.
(_New Republic_, Feb. 8, p. 13; _New York Guardian_, March 1993)

Truth Emerges

     Because its errors are so blatant and readily discernible, it wasn't
long before critics began pointing them out.  The first periodical to take
aim was a relatively obscure monthly, the _New York Guardian_.  In its
December 1992 issue, the paper reported:

     After an intensive examination of Army records and interviews with
     military historians, Holocaust experts, [and] World War II veterans
     including black soldiers whose lives were depicted in "Liberators,"
     the Guardian has learned that the most celebrated facts of
     "Liberators" are not true.  Neither soldiers of the 761st All Black
     Tank Battalion nor the soldiers of the 183rd Black Combat Engineers
     ever liberated Buchenwald or Dachau.

     Veterans' groups and individual veterans of the 761st soon joined in,
confirming that black units did not liberate Buchenwald or Dachau.  Robert
Abzug, professor of history at the University of Texas, and author of
_Inside the Vicious Heart: Americans and the Liberation of Nazi
Concentration Camps_, said that the _Liberators_ book and film "violates
any sense of historical accuracy." (_New Republic_, March 8, p. 42)

Staged "Reunion"

     The "highlight" of "Liberators," reports the Winter 1992-93
_Newsletter_ of the US Holocaust Memorial Council, is a "deeply moving
reunion" at Buchenwald of former inmate Benjamin Bender "with two of his
liberators," E. G. McConnell and Leonard Smith.  "In autumn 1991," readers
of _Liberators_ (p. vii) are told:

     Jewish survivors of Dachau and Buchenwald were reunited, under the
     auspices of the production team, with members of the 761st.  The
     dramatic and poignant event received widespread media coverage, which
     led to Harcourt Brace Jovanovich's decision to employ the publishing
     medium in making this exciting and previously untold story available
     to the widest possible audience in this country and abroad.

     This "moving" and "poignant" event is a deceitful fraud.  "It's a
lie," confirms McConnell.  "We were nowhere near these camps when they were
liberated.... I first went to Buchenwald in 1991 with PBS, not the 761st."
(_New Republic_, Feb. 6, p. 13)

[Photograph captioned, "A fraudulent scene from 'Liberators.' According to
the caption to this photo in the Winter 1992-93 Newsletter of the US
Holocaust Memorial Museum, former inmate Benjamin Bender 'recalls the day
the American troops freed him and his fellow inmates from Buchenwald with
two of his liberators, E.G. McConnell, left, and Leonard (Smitty) Smith.'
Their 'reunion' here at Buchenwald is a lie.  McConnell and Smith were
miles away from the camp when it was liberated."]

     Rosenblum and Miles blatantly disregarded the truth, McConnell says:
"I called their attention to it.  I tried to stop them, but in the final
stages they decided to deviate from the fact."  In an effort to secure his
cooperation with the project, "Liberators" co-producers Rosenblum and Miles
offered McConnel $11,000.  He turned them down.  (_New York Guardian_, Dec.

     "Liberators," McConnell charges, is a "distortion of black history.
They [the producers] had received a lot of money from the Jewish community
based on the story and they [the producers] didn't want to change it."
(_New York Guardian_, Dec. 1992)

More Lies

     One person who figures prominently in "Liberators" is Leon Bass, a
black veteran who has made a second career speaking to gatherings sponsored
by Jewish groups, and to classrooms of impressionable school children.  He
has been featured on the "MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour" and in other major
media as a liberator of Buchenwald.

     In the Rosenblum/Miles film, and in his frequent lectures, Bass calls
himself a "liberator."  (_New Republic_, Feb. 8, p. 14)  He has received
numerous awards and large speaking fees for retelling his "liberation"
story, and was named co-chairman of the Philadelphia Council on the
Holocaust. (_New York Guardian_, March 1993)

     In fact, though, he only visited Buchenwald - on orders - five days
AFTER its liberation.

     In both in the film and the book version of "Liberators," Bass also
emotionally recounts how he and his unit, the 183rd Combat Engineers, built
a bridge in a Belgian town during the December 1944 "Battle of the Bulge."
He and his men worked " spite of strafing by the airplanes that would
come down daily and machine-gun us.  In spite of the shelling of the
howitzers, we worked on that bridge."  As a result, Bass continued, "many
of my friends" were killed building the bridge.  (_Liberators_, p. 190)

     In fact, the only soldier to die while constructing the bridge was one
officer who was killed in an accident involving his jeep.  There was no
strafing by German planes.  During its entire time of service in Europe,
the 183rd lost three of its members, all due to accidents. (_New York
Guardian_, March 1993)

     According to _Liberators_ (p. 217), Buchenwald was liberated when

     The tankers from the 761st broke through the Buchenwald gates and,
     with their accompanying infantrymen, quickly ended resistance from the
     SS guards.... Johnnie Stevens recalls: "We ... shot up the place and
     chased the guards out of there.  It was a sight I never want to see
     again, I'll tell you that.

     This account is sheer invention.  American troops did not break
through the camps' gates (they entered on foot), nor did they shoot up the
place or chase guards.

     On liberation day, "recalls" former Buchenwald inmate Ben Bender, an
airplane flew overhead and gunfire was exchanged.  (_Liberators_, p. 217)
In fact, the German camp guards had already abandoned the camp hours
before, and there was no gunfire or planes flying overhead.

_The New York Times_ Record of Falsehood

     Over the years, few institutions have been more guilty of distorting
the truth about the wartime fate of Europe's Jews than _The New York
Times_, America's most influential daily paper, and an important booster of
"Liberators."  (Joseph Sobran, syndicated columnist and _National Review_
writer, once joked that the paper "really ought to change its name to
Holocaust Update.")

     The _New York Guardian_ detailed "a clear pattern of inaccurate
reporting, and the employment of faulty journalistic practices" by _The New
York Times_ since 1985 in its coverage of the liberation of the German
camps, and particularly the supposed role of black US Army units.  The
monthly paper cited eleven specific examples of such distortion of fact by
the _Times_.  (_New York Guardian_, March 1993)

Defending Deceit

     Revealing and instructive has been the response of the project's
producers and supporters to honest efforts by those who tried to point out
its errors.  Co-producer Rosenblum angrily castigated her film's critics as
Holocaust Revisionists and racists.  "These people are [of] the same
mentality that says that the Holocaust didn't happen," she said. (_New
Republic_, Feb. 6, pp. 13-14)

[Photograph captioned, "The 'Liberators' film premiered at a gala gathering
in New York City, November 9, cosponsored by the US Holocaust Memorial
Museum and public television station WNET.  Among the attendees were, from
left: Entertainer Lena Horne, an unidentified person, Harvey Meyerhoff
(chairman of the US Holocaust Memorial Council), Nina Rosenblum
('Liberators' co-producer), actor Louis Gossett, Jr., William F. Baker,
Elizabeth Rohatyn (WNET vice chairperson), and William Miles ('Liberators'

     When military affairs specialist and New York City radio talk show
host Jim Dingman confronted Rosenblum about her film's inaccuracies, she
called him a "racist."  And when he tried to explain the truth to the
Anti-Defamation League (which had eagerly endorsed the project), an ADL
spokesperson dismissed him as a "revisionist." (_New York Guardian_, Dec.

     McConnell tells a similar story.  When he tried to explain the film's
fraud to the Anti-Defamation League, he was sharply rebuffed.  The ADL
"treated me like I was a kook or something," he says.

     While admitting that the film's description of the "reunion" scene
"may be misleading," Rosenblum told one skeptic: "You can't speak to him
[McConnell] because he's snapped.  He was hit in the head with shrapnel and
was severely brain-damaged." Informed of this, McConnell responded: "If I
was so disturbed, why did they use me in the film?"  (_New Republic_, Feb.
8, p. 13)  As it happens, McConnell is referred to on more than 20 pages of
_Liberators_, often in direct quotes.

     As criticism mounted, Rosenblum "continually encouraged the veterans
to blame any challenge of the film's veracity on bigotry" and "deflected
criticism of the film by charging prejudice."  To one critic she responded
by asking why he was "willing to believe a white commander and not [the
black] soldiers."  (_New York Guardian_, March 1993)

     Finally, Rosenblum tried to explain away criticism of her film by

     There's tremendous racism in the Jewish community.  How people who
     have been through the Holocaust can be racist is completely
     incomprehensible.  To think that black people are less, which is what
     most Jewish people think, I can't understand it.  (_New Republic_,
     Feb. 6, pp. 13-14)

Damage Control

     After the essentially fraudulent character of "Liberators" had been
widely reported, the project's most prominent backers engaged in some
"damage control" and sought to distance themselves from the now-discredited

     WNET announced on February 11 that "Liberators" was being "withdrawn"
from circulation.  Explaining the decision, WNET vice president Harry
Chancey, Jr., referred to "the sacred nature of the Holocaust.... Rather
than let this film go up like an incendiary bomb, we decided that we would
withdraw the film. . ."


     Even so, "Liberators" still had staunch defenders.  One was Peggy
Tishman, a former president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of
New York.  "Liberators," she said, is "good for the Holocaust. ...Why would
anybody want to exploit the idea that this is a fraud?. . ."  What is
important here is not historical accuracy but black-Jewish "dialogue," she
explained, and added: "There are a lot of truths that are very necessary.
This is not a truth that's necessary."  (_New Republic_, Feb. 8, p. 14)

[Photograph captioned, "American soldiers who liberated Dachau summarily
killed 520 of the 560 German camp personnel who had surrendered.  Here,
soldiers of the 157th Regiment, 45th Division, have just machine-gunned a
group of about a hundred German prisoners.  Four who were missed are still
standing, they were killed moments after this photo was taken.  No one has
ever been punished for this atrocity.  (US Army photo SC 208765.)"]

     At Yale University, "Liberators" was "defiantly" shown to a gathering
of 200 students and citizens of New Haven.  "This is one more tool to help
us address the issue of racism," said Gertrude Sparks, director of the New
Haven YMCA which, along with local Jewish leaders, cosponsored the showing.
"This is not the time to concern ourselves with who gets credit for what
camps were taken.  This film will illuminate history."  (_Forward_, March

     "Liberators" was also shown on February 8 at Harvard University.  One
person defended the film there by absurdly asserting that "for eight days
the 761st held the German army.  If they hadn't held it, the German army
would have gone back to Paris.  ...Whether they went into the camps first
or last... is not relevant."  (_Forward_, Feb. 12)

     In San Francisco, television station KQED broadcast "Liberators" on
February 21, ten days after it had been "withdrawn" by the PBS network.

     Harcourt Brace Jovanovich decided not to withdraw the _Liberators_
book from circulation, and it remained a selection of the prestigious Book
of the Month Club.  (_New York Times Book Review_, Feb. 21, p. 36)

     Perhaps most astonishingly, on February 17 it was announced that the
"Liberators" film had been nominated for an Oscar award in the category of
Best Documentary.

What Critics Missed

     Regrettably - but understandably - none of the prominent critics of
"Liberators" have been able or willing to point out the project's
falsehoods as they touch on the Holocaust extermination story itself.

     For example, _Liberators_ (pp. 58, 239) revives the now
well-discredited story that inmates were killed in gas chambers at Dachau:

     As the 761st and the 100th were preparing for combat, inmates at
     Dachau - outside Munich - were being murdered by the thousands.  Most
     were gassed, shot, or hanged ...

     "Then I [GI Walter Lewis] went in the back to what they called the
     shower room.  I didn't go in, I just peeked through the window because
     I feared that maybe the gas was still on."

_Liberators_ (p. 135) also reports that

     In Buchenwald, that summer of '44, [inmate] Ben Bender could only
     gaze, in numbed horror, at the gray clouds billowing twenty-four hours
     a day from the crematorium's towering smokestacks.

     Actually, crematories are designed in such a way that they do not
"billow" smoke.

     Bender has also claimed to have "stood in the gas chamber" at
Buchenwald.  (_Los Angeles Times_, "TV Times" sec., Nov. 8, p. 7.)  As
every reputable historian of this era acknowledges, there was no "gas
chamber" at the camp.

     _Liberators_ (p. 158) also cites the "confession" of Auschwitz
Commandant Rudolf Hoss as proof that three million were killed in that
camp. (As Dr. Robert Faurisson and others have pointed out, this confession
is demonstrably inaccurate on key points, was obtained by torture, and is
worthless as proof.  See _The Journal of Historical Review_, Winter 1986,
pp. 389 ff.)

Unmentioned Atrocity

     "Liberators" makes no mention whatsoever of what was almost certainly
the worst single atrocity committed at Dachau: the murder by the camp's
American liberators of 520 of the 560 German camp personnel who had
surrendered.  About 100 were shot down wherever they were found scattered
around the camp.  GIs permitted inmates to kill another 40 prisoners with
shovels, clubs and guns.  But most of those who surrendered - 358 in all -
were lined up against walls and summarily machine-gunned by American
soldiers.  (Source: Howard Buechner, _Dachau: The Hour of the Avenger_,
Metairie, La., 1986.)


     Summing up the "Liberators" debacle, the _New York Post_ pointedly
commented: "What we have here, in short, is an effort to rewrite history to
suit contemporary political purposes."  (Quoted in _The Washington Times_,
Feb. 7)

     While few of those who have pointed out errors and fraud in
"Liberators" would regard themselves as "revisionist," Rosenblum's angry
denunciation of her critics as such is quite apt.  Every person who helps
set straight the historical record is indeed a revisionist - in the best
sense of the word.  And although the larger Holocaust questions have
remained untouched by mainstream commentators, the relatively successful
spotlighting of the fraudulent nature of the "Liberators" project, and the
debunking of many of its specific lies, is nevertheless a welcome blow for
historical truth.

[end of article]

[Reprinted by permission from _The Journal of Historical Review_, P.O. Box
1306, Torrance, CA 90505, USA.  Subscription rate: $40 per year, domestic.
$50 per year, foreign.]

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