Monday, 6 July 2009

Raul and Bernie

Three quotes that question Hitler’s role in the holocaust and challenge the popular idea that the holocaust was a centrally planned deliberate genocide.

Quote 1: “In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was, in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done… In the end he got lost, so he wasn’t a very good dictator because either he had all these things and knew what was going on and insisted, or he just went along with it . . . so either way he wasn’t a dictator.”

Quote 2: “There was no pre-established guiding plan. As for the question of the decision, it is in part unsolvable: no order signed by Hitler has ever been found, doubtless because no such document ever existed. I am persuaded that the bureaucracies moved through a sort of latent structure: each decision brings on another, then another, and so forth, even if it isn’t possible to foresee exactly the next step.”

Quote 3: “What began in 1941 was a process of destruction not planned in advance, not organized centrally by any agency. There was no blueprint and there was no budget for destructive measures. They were taken step by step, one step at a time. Thus came not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus-mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy.”

Quote one is from F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and predictably he drew a lot of flak for those comments. World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder has called on Ecclestone to resign saying he is no longer fit to serve in his role; Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard says Ecclestone is “either an idiot or morally repulsive”; Denis MacShane MP, Chairman of an all-party inquiry into anti-Semitism, says “if Mr. Ecclestone seriously thinks Hitler had to be persuaded to kill six million Jews … then he knows neither history and shows a complete lack of judgment”; Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says “the comments themselves are totally idiotic and reveal a staggering ignorance of the events of World War II and the Holocaust”; and Yad Vashem spokeswoman Iris Rosenberg emailed this response to a journalist: “It is an unfortunate and lamentable statement, unworthy of comment.”

You might expect that the person behind quotes two and three, they being much more coherent and emphatic than Ecclestone’s comments, would draw even more opprobrium. But no. Instead, Raul Hilberg, for it is he who said these things about the holocaust, is described in ‘Genocide in the Age of the Nation State: Volume I, The Meaning of Genocide,’ as ‘the outstanding expert on the apparatus of Holocaust.’ In ‘The Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust’ his ‘The Destruction of the European Jews’ is described as a ‘massive and meticulous treatise’ and ‘perhaps the most important single work ever written on the Holocaust.’ According to the same source his ‘explanation of the Nazi machinery of murder … in the destruction of the Jews is a masterpiece of historical research.’

Odd, ain’t it?

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