The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Compuserve Conference with John Sack
May 2, 1997

Books about John Sack:

The John Sack / An Eye for an Eye conference took place onCompuServe'sBook Preview Forum. Those wishing to exchange messages with JohnSack can use the command GO PREVIEW on CompuServe to visit theforum and take part in the discussion on the message board. Thistranscript is Copyright © 1997 by Readers & Writers Inkon CompuServe. All rights reserved. Reprinted onNizkorby permission.

Alex/Sysop: Welcome to the JOHN SACK/AN EYE FOR ANEYE conference. Our special guest is already here, and rar'ing to go.For the moment, I'll leave the floor open, so all can pitch questionswhenever he finishes an answer..

Alex/Sysop: but please, don't interrupt him in themiddle or I'll have to invoke the moderating software! And now --JohnSack! Go ahead, John.

John Sack: Hello everyone. Should I say a littleabout what An Eye for an Eye is about?

Alex/Sysop: Yes, please do. And by the way, folks,the question queue is now open if you want to place questions there toawait a chance to put them up.

John Sack: In the preface to An Eye for an Eye, Iwrite this: "God knows the Jews were provoked, but in 1945 theykilled a great number of Germans: not Nazis, not Hitler's trigger men,but German civilians, German men, women, children, babies, whose crimewas just to be Germans. Through the wrath of Jews, howeverunderstandable, the Germans lost more civilians than at Dresden, morethan, or just as many as, the Japanese at Hiroshima, the Americans atPearl Harbor, the British in the Battle of Britain, or the Jewsthemselves in Poland's occasional pogroms."

Michael S. Curtis: I would ask Mr. Sack is how hefeels now, knowing that his book has been embraced by Holocaustrevisionists. Although that was not his purpose, and although his bookis not a work of Holocaust denial, the IHR/Noontide Press distributeshis book and obviously takes delight in the story that he tells. Doeshe have any regrets?

John Sack: Thank you for the question,Michael. I want as many revisionists as possible to read this. Ifyou'll hang in for a minute I'll put on line some of a letter I sentto Aaron Breitbart at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

"Thank you for the flier from the Institute for HystericalReview. Yes yes, I know the Institute's selling An Eye for anEye, and it's either a sign of an author's overoptimism or of hisoverego (but which? please tell me) that I actually welcome it. TheInstitute says that the Holocaust didn't happen. Well, I write on thesecond page of An Eye for an Eye, "The people who say itare fools, maybe worse," so I welcome the fact that theInstitute's selling these words. On the same page I write, "Yes,the Holocaust happened," and I then write 33 pages specificallyabout the Holocaust. In these first 33 pages of An Eye For anEye, the Germans invade Poland, the Germans burn down a Jewishtemple, "the cries of the worshipers were like an enormousscream," the Germans kill 800 Jews, the Germans send Jews to theGleiwitz concentration camp, the Germans send Jews to the Bedzinghetto, the Gestapo tortures a Jew, the SS attacks the Bedzin ghetto,"the SS took some babies away to rip in two pieces or pitch atthe walls or toss in the air and catch like quoits on theirbayonets," the SS sends Jews to Auschwitz, the SS putsfifty-seven into an Auschwitz cyanide chamber, the SS killstwenty-nine, the SS beats Jews with clubs, "almost all Jews atAuschwitz went, as they said, up the chimney," thirteenspecifically die this way, the SS seizes a Jew and "beat her,whipped her, and tortured her, crushing her hands and feet like walnutshells," the SS hangs four Jews, the SS shoots some Jews, the SSsends 60,000 people on foot (at 10 below) out of Auschwitz, the SSshoots hundreds of Jews, and the SS, I write, creates a scene out ofDante's Inferno."

Alex/Sysop asks: Once again, folks, for now we'reusing an open floor, but you can also use the ASK button or /questioncommand to put a question into the question queue at any time. It'lllook like this when you do!

John Sack: "In the snow were the Jews....Therewere maybe one thousand, living, dying, dead--the living screaming,the dying crying, the dead ones kneeling, their hands on their heads,their bodies as white as snow statues, frozen solid....The colors werethose in a steel engraving, black and white: a drawing of the lastring of hell."

John Sack: Therest of An Eye For an Eye is often about the Holocaust. TheGermans hang Lola's brother, the Germans kill Barek's mother, fatherand two sisters, "the bodies, logs, bodies, logs rose for ahalf-dozen tiers that the SS had burned like a funeral pyre till a mancouldn't tell if some of the char was animal or vegetable," theGermans kill Shlomo's father, mother, three sisters, and all hisuncles, aunts and cousins, the Gestapo tortures Pinek's sister, the SScastrates a Jewish man, the Germans kill Shlomo's (another Shlomo's)father, mother, brothers, uncles, aunts, and "all but one ailingcousin and six million more." I conclude in An Eye For anEye, "What the Germans...did to the Jews wasmonstrous." I welcome all Nazis, neo-Nazis, antisemites, andHolocaust deniers who for God knows what motives choose to read this,let alone pay for it.

Alex/Sysop asks: Why is there such a strong reactionto the book? Would people rather believe the Goldhagen theory thatGermans are somehow--different?

John Sack: Well, Goldhagen has the theory that whatthe Holocaust teaches us is, all Jews are good and all Germans arebad. I think that the Holocaust teaches us something more universalthan that.

Michael S. Curtis asks: What the deniers are doing isusing your book to relativize and trivialize what the Germans did bysaying, "Hey the Jews did this too! What makes the Germans sospecial?"

John Sack: Well, the Jews didn't, repeat, didn't dowhat the Germans did. They didn't kill even two percent as manypeople. They certainly didn't put Germans on trains and send them tocyanide chambers and crematoriums. I say that in An Eye for anEye, almost word-for-word. Anyone who says the Jews did the samethings the Germans did is saying his or her own words, not mine.

Alex/Sysop asks: You describe your book as being morethan a book about Jewish revenge, but also a book of Jewishredemption. Could you elborate on that a little?

Michael S. Curtis: One last question from a friend:Mr. Sack presents one Czeslaw Geborski as one of the most brutalcommandants of camps for ethnic Germans. He mentions that Geborskiclaimed to be a Catholic, not a Jew, but Mr. Sack seems to presentthis claim with some skepticism. Given the avowed subject matter ofhis book, why didn't he ascertain the truth in this matter? Wasn't itimportant to positively identify Gentiles as such in a bookemphasizing Jewish guilt in the mistreatment of ethnic Germans? DoesMr. Sack at this time know whether Geborski was Jewish or Catholic?

John Sack: The heroine of the book is Lola Potok, areal person who now lives in Australia. For months she sought to dowhat the Germans did to the Jews, to her own family, in fact. She beatthe Germans and let her guards torture them, let the Germans die. Thenshe remembered what her religion taught her. She changed. Now I'll goon to Michael's question. Michael, I really don't know if Geborski isCatholic or Jewish. He was at Auschwitz. All his friends were Jews. Healways dined at the Jewish Cultural Club in Katowice. He made all hisprisoners wear yellow stars of David. And the prisoners believed thathe was a Jew, this according to testimony at a trial in Germany. But Ican't prove it, for Geborski refused to speak to me. So I never sayit.

Alex/Sysop: More questions, folks?

Alex/Sysop asks: You've been in journalism fordecades. I first encountered your work in Esquire in the '60s, infact. What made you take on this subject?

Arthur S. Liebeskind: Is anything happening?

Alex/Sysop: Arthur, we're having a live conferencewith John Sack, author of AN EYE FOR AN EYE.

Bob Weien: Just joined the conference. Saw somethingearlier about being about to buy and then download the book. How to goabout that?

John Sack: Alex, I met Lola in Los Angeles. She toldme a sweet little story about slapping some Germans who were SS andGestapo. That's the story I wrote in California magazine, and that'sthe story that was reprinted in Best Magazine Articles, 1988. I knewnothing then about torture, about Germans dying. I knew nothing aboutthe 226 other prisons and 1,255 concentration camps run by Jews. WhenI wrote my book proposal, when I signed my book contract, I thoughtI'd be telling this sweet little story.

Alex/Sysop: I'll answer Bob's question when you'rethrough answering mine (grin)

John Sack: Alex, I answered you, you answer Bob.

Alex/Sysop: Okay. Bob, "An Eye for an Eye"will be available for download from the Readers & Writers Ink menuquite soon--probably by tomorrow. I've got a technical matter to waiton, and then it'll be downloadable at the click of a button. The menuis at GO READER, and the download price will be $2.95.

Michael S. Curtis: Thanks, we'll probably speak morein forum after *I* have had a chance to study the book. Yet it makesme sad that day after day as I deal with deniers I have to battle yourbook. Though I've seen this book quite often in local stores, Ihaven't bought it. I have spent enough wasted time with Butz and MarkWeber. Their use of your book didn't make it ride the top of my listand I have depended upon others who have read it to help with therefutations. Most of us who deal with refuting the deniers have todeal with how your book is used and abused. Trust me, I will downloadit wen it becomes available. I will show you how the deniers areactually using your book. It'll take me some time to put it together.

Alex/Sysop: Knowledge of how deniers are using it isone reason I'm glad to be able to offer it here, in fact. Having readit, I'm all the more incensed.

John Sack: Michael, I say right in the preface, righton the second page, that the people who deny the Holocaust are fools,maybe worse.

Alex/Sysop asks: Along these lines, can you tell thepeople here a bit about the book's suppression in different countries?

John Sack: Sure. The worst was Germany. The publisherprinted 6,000 copies. The day before he was to send them tobookstores, he changed his mind and destroyed all 6,000. Then anotherpublisher bought it, and it became a best-seller there.

Alex/Sysop asks: Some have complained that the bookreads like a story--almost novelistic in its approach. What do youthink of their belief that a purely scholarly approach is more proper?

John Sack: The most recent suppression was onFebruary 13th this year. I'd been invited to speak at the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was announced on the Internet and inthousands of Museum brochures. Then, without explanation, the Museumcanceled it. Well, of course what happened was, the press was up inarms and I spoke instead on NPR and at the National Press Club.

Michael S. Curtis: What excuse did the earlierpublisher give? What was USHMM excuse?

John Sack: But to answer your question, Alex. I wish,I wish, that some scholar would write a scholarly book about this,with all the footnotes and that good stuff. It's just not the way thatI myself write.

Bob Weien: Alex, thanks for the info, and I'llcertainly download and read it as soon as it's available. Soundsfascinating!

John Sack: Michael, the German publisher said thatthe discussions about the book might go off in the wrong direction.The Holocaust Museum said the topic was inappropriate. Neither of themsaid anything more.

Michael S. Curtis: We do have the de Zayas books dowe not? What about David Irving's troubles?

John Sack: I'm surprised that you're comparing deZayas and David Irving. De Zayas has never denied the Holocaust.What's your specific question about David Irving?

Michael S. Curtis: I'm not saying de Zayas is adenier! David Irving has had suppression troubles has he not?

John Sack: Michael, he certainly has. And I thinkthat all suppression is bad. Whether it's David Irving or Mark Twain.

Alex/Sysop: We've a number of people here--please,folks, feel free to ask our guest a question! You can put it righthere in the conference. And you can also use the ASK button or/question command to put a question into the question queue at anytime.

Andrea Van Every asks: Hi John, this is Andrea Howdid you get the idea for this book?

John Sack: Hi, Andrea. I was at Paramount Pictures in1984. A secretary told me her mother was at Auscwhitz and then ran aprison for SS men. I said, "What! Do you know there's a moviethere?" The secretary's mother was Lola Potok.

Alex/Sysop asks: You mentioned one man who wouldn'ttalk to you. Was it hard to get folks to open up about this story? Didmany want to keep it "under the rug" as it were?

John Sack: Alex, I'm writing a book now about theChinese Mafia. I promise it's much, much easier to get a Chinesegangster to talk to you, even to tell you about the people he murderedthat the police don't know of, than to get the Jews who ran theconcentration camps for Germans in 1945 to talk about that.

John Sack: One man said he'd sue me. One man saidhe'd destroy me. One man said he'd kill me. I think he meant it.

Alex/Sysop asks: I note that Michael Barenbauminvited you to speak at the Holocaust museum, but his successorwithdrew that invitation. Has the issue caused much division in theJewish community? Or was Barenbaum the exception to the rule?

John Sack: Alex, I'm flying to Los Angeles andmeeting with Michael Berenbaum in the middle of May. He's the veryfirst critic of An Eye for an Eye who's willing to meet withme. The others just denounce me, then run for cover and hide. But toanswer your question....

John Sack: I'd say no. There's no division in anyJewish community that I am a part of. My agent, my lawyer, mypublisher, my editor, my publicity person at Basic Books, and even mybeloved Sysop at CompuServe are all Jews, and they're behind AnEye for an Eye. They realize that (as the Jewish magazine PS putit) we have nothing to fear and much togain from An Eye for anEye.

Michael S. Curtis asks: I can understand the revengefactor. Can you offer a trail of how many Jewish folks ended upcontrolling concentration camps after the war and where they were? Oris the concern more with revenge carried out by small groups whocaptured ex-concentration camp SS in their snares?

John Sack: Michael, there's no way of knowing howmany Jews there were. That's because almost all of them changed theirnames to Polish Catholic ones, even on their application forms for thePolish secret police. Daniel Goldhagen of Harvard, who's certainly nofriend of An Eye for an Eye, says that in November, 1945, there were400-and-something Jews in the Polish secret police, and I say that byNovember practically all the Jews had left. If we're both right, thenearly in 1945 there would have been thousands of Jews.

Michael S. Curtis: I think Goldhagen had problemswith your substantiations. In fact, I have problems with some of his.:-)

John Sack: More in answer to Michael's question. TheJews ran and worked for the Office of State Security, the Polishpolitical police. They wore uniforms and called themselveslieutenants, captains, even generals. They certainly weren't workingin small groups. Now to your next question....

John Sack: Goldhagen said that only 1.7 percent ofthe Office of State Security were Jews. That statement is a disserviceto the motto ("Veritas") of Goldhagen's university. Onlylast month, a distinguished professor at Columbia, speaking at aconference at UCLA, referred to "the misdeeds of the almostentirely Jewish-led Polish secret police." He said thesemisdeeds--torture and murder among them--were notorious.

Michael S. Curtis: It would seem that the sacking ofPoland would have upset a lot of non-Jewish Poles?

John Sack: It did. But that's another matter. A lothas been written about what the secret police did to the Poles. I'mwriting about what the secret police ("almost entirelyJewish-led," the Columbia professor said) did to Germans,innocent Germans, even German babies.

Alex/Sysop: We've still time for a few morequestions, folks. Anyone?

Andrea Van Every: John, as I understand you had somepretty negative reaction within the Jewish community. What's theproblem?

Michael S. Curtis: What proof do you have that theChristian names were in fact Jews?

John Sack: Let me answer Michael's question. I knowthat a man is a Jew when I meet him and he tells me he's a Jew. Forexample David Feuerstein. He was a very brutal interrogator (underanother name) in Neisse in 1945. He and his friends tell me he's aJew, and since he's vice president of the International Society forYad Vashem, I believe him.

Michael S. Curtis: Thanks, John.

John Sack: Now for Andrea's question. Well, someonein my local "Jewish community" asked me, "How couldyou, as a Jew, write a book like this about Jews." I answered,"How could I as a Jew (italics) not (end italics) write it?"

John Sack: Joe Pistone, the FBI agent who posed asDonnie Brasco, says that some Italians asked him, "How could youdo this to other Italians?"

Alex/Sysop: Do you think we Jews, as a whole, havegotten too far into --well, I don't know what to call it other thanour "victimhood." Do we have a need to think of ourselvesonly as victims because of the holocaust?

John Sack: Well, not the Jews that I know. If someother Jews think that what the Jewish religion's about is neverforgetting the Holocaust, they should re-read the words of Micah:"What does the Lord require of thee? Only to do justly and tolove mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

Alex/Sysop: We've passed the hour--anyone have anylast questions for

our guest?

Andrea Van Every: I think you are very brave to toucha subject like this -( and as a German living in the States) Icongratulate you for it.

Michael S. Curtis: Thanks for the hour, John.

Alex/Sysop: Thanks to all of you for coming!Remember, John Sack will be here on the message board when he has timeto check the AN EYE FOR AN EYE section, and the book will be availablefor download from the GO READER menu very soon.

John Sack: Thank you, Andrea. I didn't think that Iwas being brave at the time I wrote it. I just thought, This story'snever been told, it's my job as a reporter to write it.

Carolyn Poston: Yes, John, thank you--I had no ideaof this. John Sack: Thank you, Caolyn. I'm happy to stay and answerany of your questions if Alex allows me.

Alex/Sysop: Sure, if anyone has more questions, fireaway!

Carolyn Poston: Is there a difference between a"revisionist" and one who just flat out denies that theholocaust happened? Andrea Van Every: John, did you get any negativereactions from any Non-Jews, what ever nationality?

John Sack: Carolyn, I've met some"revisionists" and "deniers." They say thereweren't any gas chambers at Auschwitz. They're wrong, terribly wrong,and I've told them so, but they're not not not saying the Holocaustdidn't happen. I've never met anyone who says that the Holocaustdidn't happen.

John Sack: Andrea, yes. The review in the FrankfurterRundschau, the one that caused the German publisher to destroy 6,000books, was written (I'm told) by a Gentile.

Carolyn Poston: John, I am sad to say that I live inthe heart of the Aryan Nations/Order Country and there are mostdefinitely those who say the Holocaust di not happen.

Michael S. Curtis: Carolyn's right. No gas chambers =no holocaust to them.

Alex/Sysop: I've also met some online who insistthere was no holocaust, and that fewer than 80,000 Jews died duringthe entire war. You've been lucky so far (grin).

John Sack: Thank you, Carolyn. I'd like to see theirliterature, so I don't deny the existence of the deniers before awider audience. But Michael, I've seen a tape of a televsion talk showwhere some major deniers said yes, the Holocaust happened.

Michael S. Curtis: Oh, but then they will turn aroundand deny it. I'll present you some of this in the future.

John Sack: Thank you, Michael. I'd like to see it.I've got a magazine assignment to write about it.

Michael S. Curtis: This makes the post-War murderousJews even worse!

John Sack: Michael, I didn't quite understand. Do youmean it makes the Jews worse in the eyes of the Holocaust deniers?

Michael S. Curtis: If there was no holocaust thenthere was no reason for the Jews to do as you have described. This istheir thinking. Yes.

John Sack: These people have their heads screwed onall wrong, then.

Michael S. Curtis: Yes, sir. It is calledanti-Semitism.

Carolyn Poston: And also called White Supremitism

Alex/Sysop: Any more questions, anyone?

John Sack: I met Mark Weber. A Jew who knows him saysthat he's racist. Why? Because he thinks that whites are smarter thanblacks, and thinks that Jews are smarter than Gentiles. That may beracist, but I can't call it anti-Semitism.

Michael S. Curtis: Mark Weber has a degree inEuropean Studies. M.A. Mark Weber is very clever. You will have toread some of his stuff. He's a denier.

John Sack: I've got a stack of it, Mike, but Ihaven't had the time or the heart to start reading it. Not yet.

Alex/Sysop: Actually, I'm not sure that "they'resmarter" can't be anti- semitic, if it's given as a reason not to_trust_ Jews.

Alex/Sysop: I've seen exactly that aimed at Orientalsin recent years.

John Sack: Interesting point. But then the peoplehe'd trust the most are the blacks.

Michael S. Curtis: Well, Alex, the Jews run the"media." :-)

Alex/Sysop: Well, a Jew runs this particular bit ofit anyway (grin).

Alex/Sysop: We're down to four here in the CO room,but I note, by the way, that a heckuvalot of people have been lurkingin the outer reaches of the forum without joining the conference. Thenew software encourages that. Hey, folks, next time feel free to comeon down to the CO room! (There were 22 up there at one point, but mosthave left.)

John Sack: Yeah, don't be a wallflower.

Carolyn Poston: Alex, which new software? Whatversion?

Michael S. Curtis: I must be off. Thank you much Alexand John. See you in the Book Review Forum.

Alex/Sysop: Carolyn, in CompuServe 3.0 (or later) youcan "listen" to a conference room without leaving themessage board or the libraries.

John Sack: Thank you, Mike. Bye.

Alex/Sysop: Michael, thanks for coming!

Alex/Sysop: I'm going to upload the transcript to thelibrary in a moment, by the way...

Carolyn Poston: Weird. Thanks, John and Alex

Alex/Sysop: and we'll get that book up and let folksdownload it.

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