The Techniques of Holocaust Denial: Shmuel Krakowski & the Yad Vashem Archives 

Writers: Jamie McCarthy and Ken McVay

The following snippet, from Portland’s Dan Gannon, is a typical example of the Krakowski Misrepresentation:

If the”Holocaust” is really “the most documented crime in human history”, the fact that the “Holocaust deniers” ask for”proof that the gas chambers existed” should pose no problem whatsoever to Mr. Berenbaum. Why can’t he produce the requested proof? Where is all of this “documentation” he speaks of? If he refers to “eyewitness testimony”, he should know that even Shmuel Krakowski — director of archives at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Documentation Center — reports that over 10,000 “eyewitness testimonies” to Nazi atrocities have been found to be FALSE at Yad Vashem alone! [1]

Mr. Gannon’s blatent misrepresentation becomes clear when the following Letter to the Editor of the Jerusalem Post of August 21, 1986, is considered: [2]

To the Editor of the Jerusalem Post

Sir, – I was deeply astonished to read Barbara Amouyal’s front-page article of August 17, which is based in part on an interview with me.

Many hundreds of the 20,000 testimonies held in our archives were extensively used in Nazi war criminal trials, contrary to what Amouyal wrote.

I told Amouyal that survivors wrote their accounts for the record of history. I cannot understand why she made of it that survivors wanted “to be part of history.”

I said there are some – fortunately very few – testimonies, which proved to be inaccurate. Why did Amouyal make them out to be a large number?

Regarding the final remark, I did not receive any “orders” not to discuss the Demjanjuk case. I simply refused to discuss it with Amouyal.

Shumel Krakowski,
Yad Vashem Archives

From Mr. Krakowski’s letter, then, we can see that he was interviewed, subsequently misquoted, and determined to set the matter straight.

The Krakowski Misrepresentation, however, appears frequently in Holocaust denial literature, and on the World Wide Web. It has been reported that the quote appears on the front cover of David Irving’s London edition of the Leuchter Report. This report has not been confirmed, but, if true, that would certainly explain its pervasiveness.

The quote was seen in 1995 on Keven Schmid’s BeWISE web site. Nizkor pointed out, in a series of email messages, that the information was incorrect, and it appears to have been removed.

The material posted by Mr. Schmidt, on his BeWISE site, was attributed to Ernst Zündel‘s Samisdat Publishing company. We do not know if Mr. Zündel’s company still publishes this pamphlet. Nizkor’s Ken McVay has repeatedly asked Mr. Zündel, in public newsgroups, about this, but Mr. Zündel has not responded.

The quote was seen in May 1996 on the newly-set up web site of Arthur Butz. On a page about postwar Jewish testimony, he wrote:

A historiographically important item is found in the Jerusalem Post (17 August 1986 in the regular daily edition, pp. 1,4). The Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem hold thousands of such testimonies. Its director at the time, Shmuel Krakowski, admitted that “over half” of the testimonies ar “unreliable” because the “survivors” relied on their imaginations and where never in the places they claimed, or relied on stories they heard rather than on things they witnessed.

The quote, and a similar explaining-away of Krakowski’s retraction, was also seen in an advertisementin the Daily Northwestern student newspaper in April 1991. This advertisement was purchased by Bradley Smith for his organization, the Committee for Open Debate On the Holocaust (CODOH). Smith wrote:

As documentary “proofs” for the mass-murder of the European Jews fall by the wayside, Holocaust historians depend increasingly on “eyewitness” testimonies to support their theories. Many of these testimonies are ludicrously unreliable.

Shmuel Krakowski is archives director for Yad Veshem, which is the international center for Holocaust documentation in Jerusalem. Krakowski states that more than 10,000 “eyewitness” testimonies about German atrocities against Jews have been shown to be false at Yad Veshem alone!

Though Mr. Smith’s error was pointed out on Usenet in 1992, and pointed out to him in email in late 1994, he did not admit the error until over a year later: December 1995. He had no comment on the matter, until he unveiled a web page, “You Don’t Have To Be Jewish,” describing his experiences on Usenet, chiefly his experiences with Jamie McCarthy. (This page is described as a chapter in a forthcoming book.) Smith then wrote,

I hadn’t known Krakowski replied to Amouyal’s column until I read his letter on the Internet. Krakowski had replied in 1986 but I didn’t learn of it until 1994. I don’t know why. Maybe revisionists were more interested in circulating the Amouyal column than they were Krakowski’s response to it.

Given the demonstrable dishonesty of most “revisionists,” that explanation seems quite likely. However, Smith goes on to suggest a hypothetical alternative explanation:

The couple people I knew who used to monitor the Jerusalem Post monitored the International Edition. The Krakowski response was run in the regular daily edition of the Post, according to McCarthy’s reference. Maybe Krakowski’s letter wasn’t printed in the International Edition. On the other hand, maybe it was.

This hypothesis is noteworthy mostly because the research to back it up is absent.

Smith later suggests that Amouyal’s original article was accurate –that Krakowski had indeed confessed that 10,000 testimonies were untrustworthy — but that Krakowski had blatantly lied in his followup letter and that a global conspiracy had silenced dissent:

It’s also very likely that after Amouyal’s column was published that representatives from holocaust fundamentalist institutions all over the Western world got on her case and told her to get in line because it would be “bad for Jews” and particularly bad for her if she didn’t. … On the other hand, maybe none of this happened. …

Maybe the information I quoted was wrong, but even that has not been shown to be true. There is no proof I lied, no proof that Amouyal lied, and no proof that Krakowski told the truth in his reply to Amouyal.

Perhaps recognizing the fragility of that argument, he also admits:

I won’t use the Amouyal quote again. I agree that it is compromised by Krakowski’s response to it. … If I had known about Krakowski’s letter in response to Amouyal’s column, I would not have used Amouyal’s more-than-ten-thousand observation in the first place.

The question remains as to whether Zündel and other Holocaust-deniers will also admit their errors, and whether it will take them as long as it took Bradley Smith.