104: An Introduction to Historical Revisionism
In the following text you will find the questions which are most frequently asked about Holocaust Revisionism. You will find my answers by simply clicking on the question. I also have a leaflet for free download which summarizes Holocaust Revisionism in a nutshell. This is the good flyer for a brief introduction and as a handout to others. I wish you a lot of worthwhile discoveries while browsing through the following page.
- What is revisionism?
- Why is historical revisionism important?
- Why is Holocaust revisionism necessary?
- What is meant by “The Holocaust” or “Shoah?”
- What does Holocaust revisionism claim?
- Why should I take Holocaust revisionism any more seriously than the claim that the earth is flat?
- Since mainstream scholars don’t take Holocaust revisionism seriously, why should I?
- What about those pictures of mountains of dead bodies in the concentration camps?
- How about the testimonies by survivors and confessions by perpetrators?
- Does it really matter whether prisoners died from disease or poison gas?
- Does it matter how many Jews were killed during the Third Reich since even one thousand would have been too many?
- Whatever the circumstances, don’t Jewish victims deserve respect and compensation?
- Who are the Holocaust revisionists?
- What do Holocaust revisionists want?
- Is Holocaust revisionism illegal?
- Where can I learn more about Holocaust revisionism?
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
9. How about the testimonies by survivors and confessions by perpetrators?
Let’s talk about perpetrator confessons first, as they seem most compelling. After all, why would they lie? These testimony can be devided into roughly three groups:
- Confessions under duress
- Tactical court room confessions
- Free confessions
On 1: Right after the World War II, the Soviet, British and US forces maintained torture centers where they systematically tortured and abused hundreds, if not thousands of German defendants (see for instance Ian Cobain’s Cruel Britannia). Some of the most “important” confessions resulted from this, for instance that of Rudolf Höss, former commandant of the Auschwitz camp.
On 2: As the archives of the Holy Inquisition prove, tens of thousands of defendants confessed voluntarily during centuries of witch trials that they were witches and had intercourse with the devil. The vast majority of them were never put under duress. What has that to do with the Holocaust? Challenging the doctrines of the Catholic Church was as futile back then as challenging the doctrine of the Holocaust has been since the end of World War II. In both cases, any defendant put on trial could expect a mild sentence only, if he confirmed the general story, but tried to minimize his own involvement and responsibility. This is the exact pattern one finds with many modern defendants. Some, of course, didn’t get the message and stubbornly denied, and they were the ones who freqently were treated harshly.
On 3: Those are similar to depositions by survivors, treated below.
There are many reasons, why testimonies by survivors, bystanders or alleged perpetrators can be wrong. When it comes to survivors, the obvious one is that some of them might exaggerate or lie resulting from a desire for revenge. But that can explain only some of the testimony. Other possible reasons are:
- Rumors – especially during times of war and unrest, any kind of prisoner camp is a hotbed for the creation and spreading of rumors.
- Misunderstandings – partial information about events are frequently misinterpreted to fit into preconceived notions, feeding on rumors and anxieties.
- Hearsay – information not experienced directly but imparted orally has the tendency of getting distorted quickly.
- Manipulating the human memory – research has shown that many people tend to integrate information and disinformation they receive from others into their memory in such a way that they wrongly assume it stems from their own first-hand experience. That tendency increases with increased exposure to such information and with increased expectations by others to “remember”.
- Disease – typhus was a widespread epidemic raging in many German camps. One of its symptoms resembles meningitis in that the patient experiences nightmarish horror delusions expressing his deepest fears. Many inmates survived the disease, but were unable to process the memories from their hallucinatory episodes.
- Pressure – almost everybody in the world expects survivors to “remember”. That pressure is huge, in particular for Jewish survivors, who are considered traitors if they don’t remember the “right” things.
- Fear and threats – anyone failing to remember the “right” things, or even contesting certain things, must fear negative social and sometimes even legal repercussions. After all, there is nothing more vile in this world than to deny that “it” happened, whatever “it” means.
At the end, whether we think a witness tells the truth or not should not depend on how likable or trustworthy we think he is, but on whether his or her statement is plausible, physically possible, and supported by other, verifiable evidence. After all, the unreliability of testimonies by persons who are party to a crime (victims and perpetrators) is legendary. For more see Köhler and Chapter 4 of Rudolf.