Tuesday, 8 May 2007

David Irving's Trip to Poland II

After Treblinka, Irving continued on to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

At Auschwitz, Irivng notices a series of watchtowers, which he suspects as having been erected post war. he points out that photographs taken of the camp during its operation, reproduced at the entrance to the camp, don't show the towers. He seems to think this is a big deal, in line with his disposition to latch on to any thing that can be read as suggesting the Holocaust is a fraud. but some thoughts occur immediately - if the towers were in fact erected after the war, they might be replacing towers that had existed but had at some point been dismantled - building materials being valuable in Germany in 1945, after all. The photographs could have been taken before the towers were constructed, or after they were dismantled. Also, why didn't he think to ask someone at the camp when the towers were built? Perhaps he did, and didn't like the answer he got, so neglected to include it. Finally, if the towers were constructed as part of some nefarious plot, why wouldn't the dishonesty of those involved not stretch to faking the photographs so they included the towers? The fact that the photographs were on display suggests there is no hoax being perpetrated. Like the Treblinka museum, the lack of guile suggests honesty. But Irving, of course, chooses to see it differently ...

Irving mentions various alleged inconsistencies that seem to suggest the Holocaust is not a historical fact. He clambers onto the ruins of a gas chamber to see if he can find the holes - the absence of which has been a recurring tool used by Holocaust deniers to imply that the site was never a gas chamber. This is remarkably arrogant on Irving's part - does he actually think he'll spot something no-one has ever seen before, on some of the most studied concrete rubble in the world? or is he just posing for another self-important photograph?

The caption beneath the photograph reads: "David Irving searches for the controversial Zyklon-B inlet holes on the roof of the morgue (Leichenkeller I) of Crematorium II at Birkenau. Van Pelt also searched, and found there were no holes." This is typical Irving. Van Pelt did indeed examine the rubble for holes, and found there were none, but observed:

"Today,these four small holes that connected the wire-mesh columns and the
chimneys cannot be observed in the ruined remains of the concrete slab.Yet
does this mean they were never there?We know that after the cessation of
the gassings in the Fall of 1944 all the gassing equipment was
removed,which implies both the wire-mesh columns and the chimneys.What
would have remained would have been the four narrow holes in the
slab.While there is not certainty in this particular matter,it would have
been logical to attach at the location where the columns had been some
formwork at the bottom of the gas chamber ceiling,and pour some concrete
in the holes,and thus restore the slab."


So again, Irving makes a statement that is superficially true, but disingenuous.

Irivng then asks to visit other sites, first the Red House. He attempts to discredit the guide assigned to them, implying that she is misleading them:

"The lot has been levelled and grassed over, with three or four black granite
slabs inscribed with historical texts. I ask the guide how they know this was
the location, and she says "witness accounts". I keep to myself the fact that
for decades after the war the authorities played down the Bunkers and said that
nobody knew where they were."
What Irving is trying to get at here is unclear. Poland was ruled by COmmunists after the war. Communists aren't renowned for transparency and giving out information willy-nilly. Why the big deal over the fact they chose to suppress one other tid-bit? Frankly, we can't trust Irving on this at all. Perhaps, for years after the war, the aurthorities didn't know exactly where the Red House was sited, especially if they only had 'witness accounts' to go on. This is the sort of semantic loop hole Irving likes to exploit, as if this or that minor detail is vital to proving the authenticity of the Holocaust. He always chooses to ignore vast quantities of evidence, and attaces great significance to trifles.

Irving seems unable to avoid trying to creat offense. Witness the following lines:

"We drive on to see the other Bunker, the White House, the only other
building which really interests me (and I am after all calling the shots). The
guide takes us instead to the former sauna building, and insists on steering us
round the expensively glass-floored propaganda walk, which is pure Disneyland:
walls of portrait photos, loudspeakers, automatic endless films, texts, and a
disinfection room with the sinister, big, steel autoclaves with their doors open
at each end.

"I quietly reflect that this building erected in 1943 was a state of the
art installation for disinfecting and cleansing incoming prisoners, and their
clothing, and it seems odd the Nazis should have gone to such lengths if they
intended to kill them all -- i.e., genocide.

"I ask repeatedly and irritably why the guide is showing us this building,
we did not ask for it; but of course we have asked for it by coming, and it is
her duty to piston all her victims through this propaganda Schleuse, like
running the gauntlet at school."

Note the description of the displays as "Hollywood" - a term suggestive of phoniness and anipulation. The evidence of sufferring and murder are compared to rough school-boy traditions. Visitors are "victims" - perhaps because Irving believes they are the only ones who have ever suffered in this place? Elsewhere he describes a Holocaust survivor in similar terms, comparing him to a special effect from a Hollywood werewolf film, with the same implication of falseness. He refers to the survivor throughout as a 'werewolf' - presumably, we are to understand that Irving possesses the silver bullet that will slay the creature, and the monstrous beast of the Holocaust 'industry.'

He describes how he hectors the guide, as if this is a noble undertaking. He doesn't allow her to speak, however -we only get his version of events, which is likely not to be reliable. Instead he puts words in her mouth, which might or might not be remotely like anything she said:
"Our Polish Guide remains mum. It is all very undesirable, embarrassing,
awkward, and fraught with dangers for her. She is a schoolteacher, and part-time
guide, and stands to lose both jobs if she departs from any official lines."
Viewing the ruins of the White House, he comments:

"There is a minor CSI-type problem. The bricks are clean, though broken or
crumbling, and show no visible stain of blue (see our later visit to Treblinka
in this respect, and the photos taken there). I ask again how they know this was
the White House, adding this time that for decades the Polish museum authorities
had denied knowing where it was."
The bricks are clean, most likely, because they have been exposed to the weather for decades - the site is a ruin, and no attempt has been made to preserve it. Again, Irving chooses to ignore this obvious explanation in favour of the implication that no-one was gassed there at all. Commenting on the buildings at Auschwitz 1, he remarks that "these shoddily erected buildings will not last many more years -- unpointed with cement, the mortar has washed out between each layer of bricks to the depth of an inch or more." Curiously, he doesn't make the link between the deterioration of one set of buildings which are maintained, and an exposed ruin which is neglected, totally.

He makes a habit of misrepresenting the words of others. Even handedly, he does the same to himself. In the current report, he claims "I famously said once in Canada that more women died on the back seat of Senator Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than were ever gassed in that building." The building in question is the Cremotorium of Block 11. What he actually said was "more people died on the back seat of Senator Edward Kennedy’s motor car at Chappaquiddick than died in the gas chamber at Auschwitz". (http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/ftp.py?people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//judgment-08.01)

The wording is ambivalent, I suspect Irving has been very careful to structure it to be imprecise. 'The gas chamber' could refer to a specific gas chamber, or to the gas chambers of Auschwitz in general. Irving has repeated the line several times, usually to the delight of his audience. If he is quibbling about the use of one specific room as a gas chamber, why does he make so many references to it? And why the imprecise wording - an odd trait in a man so obssessed with teasing out every possible inconsistency in material that counters his opinion, to the point of misreading, mistranlating or misrepresenting evidence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

irving is an anti-Polish liar vide http://www.dziennik.pl/wydarzenia/article33152/Ksiazki_klamcy_w_stolicy.html