Date: Sun, 11 Jun 1995 21:37:00 GMT >From: email@example.com (Jamie R. McCarthy) Subject: Jamie McCarthy's 8-page reply to David Cole Message-ID: <1995Jun11.firstname.lastname@example.org> I received Mr. Cole's 16-page letter along with a cover letter a few days ago. I have not yet posted that cover letter because I am waiting for Mr. Cole to give me permission to do so. Meanwhile, I would like to post my reply to him. Since this reply addresses both the cover letter and the 16-page letter, it may be a bit confusing in places. But I addressed fairly broad issues, so I imagine it will still be worth reading. 10 June 1995 Mr. Cole, I received your letter of May 29th, day before yesterday. You'll have to excuse the length of this reply; to misquote Mark Twain, "I didn't have time to make it shorter." I'll just address the double-standards and disingenuousness of revisionists, the phone, my research priorities, and that finally I'll spend a few pages discussing your claim that Majdanek is especially important because I might find REAL HOMICIDAL GAS CHAMBERS there. I found the whole argument with Faurisson, and your letter to me about the reaction in the revisionist community, to be quite amusing. Forgive me for saying this, but I find it humorous that you think it's news to the rest of the world that Faurisson is disingenuous and Weber and Smith are hypocrites. It's not. It's only news to people who have swallowed the revisionist line. Your 16-page letter points out a great many problems with arguments that Faurisson has raised in the past: his confusing the time frame in suggestions that e.g. the glassless peephole is evidence against gassing in Krema I; his ignoring that delousing in Krema I and phosgene-testing at Struthof would be just as supposedly-dangerous or -impossible as homicidal gassing; his "fraudulently misrepresent"ing photos; his changing the word "ovens" into "gas chambers" in the retelling of a story; and so on. Obviously you don't think these were simple mistakes (the words "fraudulently misrepresent" are yours). In other words: we're talking deliberate deceit. The question now is, why did you and your fellow revisionists let Faurisson get away with this deliberate deceit for so long? Why didn't you speak up? The historians you and your colleagues have been insulting have been pointing out Faurisson's dishonesty for quite a while. Pierre Vidal-Naquet pointed out _fifteen years ago_ that "Faurisson has indeed spent an incalculable number of workdays in the French or German archives in search not, as he pretends, of the truth, but of falsehood." Why are you just joining the bandwagon now? Furthermore, most revisionists, Bradley Smith in particular, have been arguing for years that historians need to get out into the real world more, to make the plebes more aware of modern academic historical thought. Smith et al. pounce upon every instance of the media reporting the RIF soap story as if it were true. They claim the academic historical community is tightly-knit, that it doesn't show its supposed dirty laundry to the outside world often enough. In fact, you've made the same accusations: what was the main point of your Krema I video? Not to reveal a new truth about the room being a reconstruction -- historians and researchers were saying that long before you came along -- but rather to illustrate how the history given to _tourists_ was not the history that was known in academic circles. And now you reveal that you've known for years that Faurisson is guilty of multiple counts of deliberate, blatant dishonesty -- and yet you haven't said a word to the media, to us "tourists." You've only complained in private faxes to your friends. If the academic historical community is tightly-knit, the revisionist community is moreso. Doesn't this strike you as hypocrisy of the worst order? In your letter to me, you indict Smith's protective attitude toward Faurisson as a double-standard. Perhaps you don't realize that the same hypocritical double-standard is shared by every revisionist (or, more precisely, every one I've ever read or had contact with). Ross Vicksell, for example, recently encountered a humorous mock-"revisionism" of the Zuendel arson on Usenet -- someone alleging, tongue firmly in cheek, that there was no physical evidence of Zuendel's house, no reliable witnesses, and thus it never happened. Mr. Vicksell's response was to fire off a "FUCK YOU" to the author of the piece, and to explain later that he thought it was in "bad taste." "Bad taste"? This is the same Mr. Vicksell who, when asked what use the Nazis had for 52 cremation furnaces in Auschwitz, replied: "maybe the winters are cold in Poland." The same who, when asked why so many Auschwitz inmates committed suicide, replied "maybe they got bored." "Bad taste" indeed! This is just the most recent example of an egregious double-standard, so it's the first one that comes to mind, but believe me, there are plenty more. I just want you to understand that what you've stumbled across is only the tip of the iceberg. And, the double-standards are not just regarding personal matters like whether a modern-day researcher deserves criticism or not, or whether something is in bad taste or not. A related double-standard serves as the chief weapon of revisionists: a double-standard that makes everything said by eyewitnesses to be false by default, but anything that questions the traditional model to be valid by default. I would like to know what you have to say about Himmler's speeches at Posen on the 4th and 6th of October, 1943. I find it much easier to correspond in print, however. It's probably that I'm a visually-oriented person, but I tend to forget the details of phone conversations three minutes after hanging up the phone. And, unfortunately, my digital answering machine only records for nine minutes (I'm assuming you wouldn't mind my recording our conversation). If I can figure out how long my old-fashioned tape answering machine records, I might call you. But, as I say, I work much better in print, and would prefer to correspond that way. I'm quite familiar with the issues surrounding the Posen speeches, so you don't have to give me very much background information; that might save you some time. I would like to address your comment about my smugness, and your gently impuning my "seriousness" due to my merely mild interest in Majdanek. I think with a little background, you'll understand a bit better. My lack of interest in Majdanek is due primarily to my lack of knowledge about it. For a historian, I freely admit, that would be a cop-out: it'd be my business to know as much as I could about everything. But I'm not a real historian. Now, you write that it's "nonsense" for me to say "I'm not a real historian," and you say it sounds "fishy" that Majdanek doesn't interest me. Let me give you a little background on myself. I'm a 24-year-old computer programmer; I got my degree in Computer Science from a small liberal arts school. I recently made the plunge into self-employment. That's a big step for me, but, as they say, I'm getting to be an "old man" in the computer business, I've got to take the plunge sometime. Right now I'm making frightening little money and my savings are running out. I was hoping to avoid having to do consulting work in the area, because it can take a large bite out of my programming time, but it looks like I'm going to have to, to pay the rent. The utility program I'm writing won't get me any money until it starts selling well, which is certainly months away. What history classes did I take? In college, I had to take two to fulfill the departmental requirements, and I found the two that seemed the most non-traditional ("Ancient Satire" and "History of American Architecture"). Before that, a U.S. history class in high school. That's about it. I'm about as professionally unqualified to be a historian as...well, as you, come to think of it. I really would like to learn more about Majdanek. But, to do a proper job of it, I'd want to fly to Poland and visit it. As I said, I'm a visual person, I don't get to know an area without seeing it. Even after spending quite a bit of time studying maps of Auschwitz (the camp I'm probably most familiar with), I must confess to having only the most basic understanding of which buildings are where. That makes things hard enough normally, but with Majdanek it's twice as hard because, apparently, the rooms under discussion don't have standardized names. "Building #2" never seems to mean the same thing twice. If you want to confuse me, that's a great way to start. Not that I'm complaining. Hey, picking that stuff up should be simple, and I can only plead my own lack of the "historical knack" for not getting it. I don't know why my brain works one way but not another. I can rip through computer books and "get" instruction pipelining, segmented addresses, arrays of function pointers, no problem. But I read this: Upon entering the "Bath and Disinfection" building, one first passes through the hair cutting room, then the shower room. Then one comes to the largest supposed gas chamber, which I designate as "chamber l." After chamber 1 there is a block of three rooms; a small room, which I call "chamber 2," a medium sized room, "chamber 3," and another small room, "chamber 4." ....and my mind glazes over. At that point I know I'm either going to have to find a map to consult, or put on a fresh pot of coffee. I don't pick that stuff up well. I can struggle through it, but I won't have much original to say by the time I get through it. And I have yet to find a map that clearly spells out what's what and what's where at Majdanek (does one exist?). Maybe if my interest in the Holocaust doesn't wane, and if I make tons of money for myself over the next few years, I'll have both the time and the finances to visit Majdanek, Auschwitz, and maybe a few other camps. But the one vacation I did take to Europe, for three weeks, cost something like $4000, which, coincidentally, is the reported street price for the new Macintosh I hope to buy in about three weeks. It's Europe or it's the computer, and I'm not giving up my computer. The above has been a very circuitous, chatty way of explaining that I reserve the right to set my own priorities. You're free to cajole or insult me in an effort to change those priorities, but I consider my effort best spent on other things, at the moment: both other things in my life in general, and other things specifically within the avocation of doing amateur work on the Holocaust and its denial. You write "It's THERE [at Majdanek] that we supposedly have our REAL PROOF of HOMICIDAL GAS CHAMBERS!" This assumes that nowhere else does such "proof" exist. This is like asking me to prove that water exists and then criticizing me for not immediately flying out to do a personal investigation of Lake Titicaca. Why there particularly? The problem is that you've fallen into one of the revisionist traps. This particular one, I believe, was laid first and best by Faurisson, and I've seen a recent variant by Greg Raven. "Show me or draw me a homicidal gas chamber!" is Faurisson's cry. "Show me physical evidence!" is Raven's. When I first heard "show me or draw me," it was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard of: what on earth could be Faurisson's point? His point is not the challenge itself, it's that _nobody has ever met the challenge_. Boy, doesn't that sound impressive? All Faurisson wants is for someone to show him a gas chamber, and no one's ever been able to do it. Ergo the gas chambers don't exist. The problem is, of course, that Faurisson's standard for proof is impossibly high. If I walked up to him with a stack of photos of Kremas I-V and the chambers at Majdanek, and drawings of the chambers at the Reinhard camps etc., he would simply flip through the stack, saying "nope, nope, nope" -- none of those things qualify. For him. This is what Vidal-Naquet referred to, in that same essay fifteen years ago, as Faurisson's "nonontological proof." The gas chambers don't exist for Faurisson, because an essential quality of the homicidal gas chambers is that they don't exist. That's the real reason he doesn't want further investigation of Struthof or Krema I or any other place: because, in Faurisson's world-view, "there is no more problem" with _any_ gas chamber. There has never _been_ a problem. That's the reason Faurisson's "challenge" is effective: it cleverly sidesteps any problems of fact or reasoning. It sends the question "do homicidal gas chambers exist?" back one level: if they exist, surely you can show me one. And then, if and when a photo or drawing is produced, the same old invalid reasoning is applied: that's not a homicidal gas chamber, that's a morgue. Discussion may ensue, but when someone says something Faurisson doesn't like and can't refute -- as when, at dinner with him, Mike Stein made a good point about chemistry -- Faurisson ends the discussion. Later, he can still say "no one has ever shown me a gas chamber." Why can no one show Faurisson a gas chamber? Because they don't exist. And what's a denier's major argument against their existence? No one can show him one. At this point, you may be asking yourself why I think you've fallen into this particular trap. You seem bright, so I'm sure you recognized from the beginning that the whole "show me or draw me" game was just a game to score rhetorical points. Bear with me for a moment while I discuss Raven's variant: "physical evidence." On Usenet, Raven has been asking for someone to provide him with "physical evidence" of the Holocaust. After a bit of back-and-forth, it became clear that what he meant was the actual corporeality of an apparatus which had been constructed expressly for the purpose of killing lots of people at once. (Either that, or autopsies revealing that, say, a few million corpses had traces of cyanide poisoning in them. Actually, even that wouldn't have been enough, because autopsy reports are not "physical evidence," so only the corpses themselves would qualify -- read on.) With the Leuchter/Majdanek piece you wrote early this year, you happened to "walk in" on the middle of the discussion. As I think I mentioned before, the point was to get Raven to talk about what his requirement for "physical evidence" really meant, not to discuss Majdanek. Unfortunately, you seem to have been a pawn to let Raven avoid entering the discussion -- he just waved me off onto you, saying, essentially, "yeah, what Cole said." Not that I blame you or anything; how could you have known? I'm sure they didn't give you the whole story. But I digress. What I was trying to get at -- and if it seems off-track, that's only because you missed the earlier, more-direct approaches I tried on Usenet -- was that "physical evidence" means nothing without "non-physical evidence." This is the point that Raven has deliberately turned away from repeatedly, and it's the point that Faurisson tries to cloud with his "show me or draw me" argument. The short version: without testimony telling us how it was used, the Vergasungskeller of Krema II is nothing but a big, dynamited, rubble-filled hole in the ground. The longer version: I had CNN on the other day while I was programming, and I heard the phrase "physical evidence," so I started watching. I immediately heard that it was Day 42 of the O.J. Simpson trial, and that the first physical evidence of the trial was about to be introduced. Wait a minute, I thought, Day 42 and this is the _first_ physical evidence we'll see? Out of that sprang an open letter to Raven which I won't repeat here, but the gist was that in a courtroom, as in any endeavor in which we seek historical knowledge, we must first hear stories from people, witnesses, which lay out possibilities for us. Only after that's done can we start looking for "physical evidence" which supports one possibility and belies others. Until those possibilities are laid out, any rooting around for "physical evidence" is simply impossible. How would Leuchter have known to test for cyanide compounds, if not for Hoess' testimony that Zyklon-B was used? He wouldn't. Physical evidence follows testimony, not the other way around. (Raven, typically, had no answer.) So (finally! this is turning out to be longer than I thought): you've fallen into the trap because you tell me, in your letter, that at Majdanek I may find "not a euphemistically worded document, not a report that can be dismissed by revisionists as a forgery, not an ambiguous speech -- but REAL HOMICIDAL GAS CHAMBERS, in the 'flesh.'" Your error, Mr. Cole, is in assuming that knowledge can only be found by snooping around the physical remains of the rooms used to kill people, looking for clues. On the contrary, the Nazi Holocaust has left reverberations that span the globe. The witnesses of horrible events have them indelibly etched into their minds, and they share them with us through books and interviews. Testimony, confessions, admissions, explanations from the perpetrators has been printed and distributed to thousands of libraries. Memos regarding the Auschwitz/Birkenau gas chambers have been captured, and rest in archives not even on the same continent as the chambers themselves. The blueprints for the construction of the enormous ovens, begun in 1942 when the "natural" death rate was quite low, rested in Soviet archives for almost five decades, until van Pelt began doing thorough research on them. And (the piece of evidence I'd like to discuss with you) there is a recording of a speech by Himmler which has made its way through the ages, until finally a copy of a copy came to rest here on my desk, in which the Reichsfuehrer-SS says "the Jewish people is being exterminated...it's in our program." To assume that these reverberations will be strongest at the site of the actual gassings is invalid and, in my opinion, a bit mystical. To be sure, some knowledge can be gained by visiting the actual sites. Dynamite, acid rain, and Communist occupation have obscured many details which once may have been there. If one takes this inclarity into account, one can surely learn from the remains. But to assume that those remains will reveal more than the rest of the evidence, scattered around the globe? Why on earth?! That line of thinking, which you espouse, seems to have its root in Faurisson's "show me or draw me" claim. Totally bogus. You dismiss all other evidence -- without a trace of a smile, I assume -- as being "euphemistically worded documents," "ambiguous speeches," and "reports that can be dismissed by revisionists as forgeries." Examples of each of those come immediately to mind. And I hope you don't mind my asking you what you think about them. Is the memo from Bischoff to Kammler, which mentions the "Vergasungskeller" in Krema II, "euphemistically worded"? I believe the revisionist position was originally espoused by Butz, that the word meant "carburetion cellar" (and I assume you're familiar with that argument). But after Pressac pointed out that this was not merely a linguistic but a physical impossibility, Butz modified his theory to be that the carburetion was done in a room outside the Krema II building. As I'm sure you know, no such room has even been mentioned by anyone, anywhere, at any time; it's an invention of Butz's to try to preserve what remains of his credibility. So what was the "Vergasungskeller"? Do you even buy the "Vergasung means carburetion" argument, and if so, what do you make of Hirt's letter about "das Material zur Vergasung," which you translate as "the gassing equipment"? Or Broszat's "Keine Vergasung in Dachau" letter? "Ambiguous speeches"? Like Hitler's repeated public speeches that the Jews, who he claims started the war, were going to be exterminated? Like Goebbels telling sixty newspaper editors that all the Jews in Berlin were going to be delivered to "a murderous fate"? Like Hans Frank saying that he could not exterminate all the lice and the Jews in only one year? And (why not repeat myself) Himmler referring to "die Ausrottung des juedischen Volkes"? How ambiguous is "the extermination of the Jewish race"? "Reports that can be dismissed by revisionists as forgeries"? Well, that would be all of them. You didn't mention in your letter one of the most important tactics deniers have in disregarding hard evidence, namely: simply disregarding it. Your commentary on Faurisson's distortions of the Goebbels "60/40" diary entry and the "Jewish transport from Berlin" telegram are just two examples, the tip of the iceberg. Faurisson looks at them, states that _they don't mean what they say_, then moves on to something else. You're exactly right that he has "grown too used to having his word taken as gospel," except that there wasn't any growing involved -- he, and many other revisionists, have always taken that attitude. Have you seen his explanation of Himmler's "exterminating the Jewish race" speech? I quote: "Himmler was engaging in a bit of braggadocio." "A bit of braggadocio"! David Irving has confirmed a similar position to me in private correspondence: the Himmler speech means exactly what it says, Ausrottung means extermination, "the Jewish race is being exterminated," but, in his professional opinion, Himmler must not have meant it seriously. And that's that. The question is, why does anyone take Faurisson and Irving's arguments seriously? More specifically, why do you take them seriously? How can you say that something as simple as the Goebbels diary entry "has yet to adequately explained by any revisionist" (you're quite right) and still call yourself a revisionist? Have you really not recognized that your associates (who appear to be disassociating themselves from you when you don't roll over for them) have been swimming in a sea of double-standards since the beginning? All in all, I think such wartime evidence -- not to mention the reliable postwar evidence such as the sworn testimony of the Nazi conspirators themselves and their memoirs and diaries -- is ultimately more valuable than examining the buildings as they stand in 1995 and asking many possibly-unanswerable questions. Your approach isn't valueless (unless you let preconceived notions blind you to possible answers to those questions, which, having seen your Piper video, I think you might). But neither is it the only approach. So, to address your question: will Majdanek "prove my theory INCONTROVERTIBLY TRUE?" That's a bad question. My "theory," the accepted "theory" of historians worldwide, has already been proved by fifty years of research and discussion in courtrooms, books, and peer-reviewed historical journals. The only controversy is raised by people who have double-standards for their standards of proof, and there will always be such worthless "controversy." Your question assumes that the "theory" is along the ridiculously simplistic lines of "mass gassings occurred _somewhere_ in the Reich," and it ignores that the facts which it fits are complex. Do you really think historians (or I) are simply trying to prove that the Nazis gassed Jews, they don't care where, and that they might at some point give up and say, "well, I can't prove gassing at Auschwitz, but hey look! there really _are_ gas chambers at Majdanek!" Surely not. Again, I apologize for the length of this letter. I look forward to your reply. Also, I will type in and post your 16-page essay to Usenet, since it seems to be an "open letter," and if you give your consent I'll do the same with your cover letter to me. Thank you, Jamie McCarthy -- Jamie McCarthy email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.kzoo.edu/~k044477/ I speak only for myself.
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