Thomas Dalton responds to Roberto Muehlenkamp and Andrew Mathis

Thomas Dalton, Saturday's first hour guest, responds to the second hour guests, Roberto Muehlenkamp and Andrew Mathis:

Hi Kevin -- Just wanted to say thanks again for the show.  I thought it was well-executed and balanced.  Here are my comments in reply to Ricardo and Andrew:


(1)   First, I was happy to hear them say that they oppose anti-Holocaust denial laws, and that they support open and public debate.  This position is rare amongst traditionalists.  Nearly all prefer to stifle debate, harass revisionism, and use the law as a weapon.  This, of course, only furthers the suspicion that the orthodox view is weak and unsustainable.

(2)   Roberto admits that he is not a “main guy” when it comes to the standard Holocaust view.  This raises 2 questions:  since he has not published any work (other than blogs) on the topic, nor proven his ability to conduct serious research, why should accept his responses?  And furthermore, where are the real “main guys,” and why are they hiding from debate?

(3)   On the Korherr report, it is true that I do not address it in my book Debating the Holocaust.  This is because it is, in my estimation, an insignificant and inconclusive matter in the overall debate.  The report was not secret, and nothing in it points to mass killing of Jews.  It does, however, talk about mass evacuations, which were indeed occurring at that time (early 1943).  And there are internal contradictions, in that the conclusions do not follow from the statistics, which suggests either significant error or ulterior motives of some kind.  Finally, Korherr himself stated in 1977 that the “special treatment” cited in the report referred to “Jews who were to be resettled,” not killed.

(4)   Andrew said that the two dozen or so references to “6 million” suffering Jews, in the years prior to WWII, was a result of “cherry-picking”.  Of course, there are other references to fewer than 6 million, since different portions of that number were suffering in different places and times.  But the peak figure is almost always 6 million (occasionally, 5 million).  So he has a case only if there are many references to more than 6 million, i.e. 7 million, 8 million, 9 million, etc.  I doubt that they exist, but perhaps they do.  I suggest he undertake that research, in the New York Times, for the years 1900-1945, and let us know the results.  If they prove to be more numerous, then the ‘6 million’ would carry no special significance, and I would be happy to modify my text accordingly.

(5)   Of course, this would not affect the other main problem with the ‘6 million,’ namely, that we find no breakdown of this figure in any conventional source.  This strongly suggests that no one really understands this number, which is so vital to the entire story.  Hilberg is the only one to provide details for the 3 main categories—ghettos, shootings, and camps—but he finds only 5.1 million deaths, and even these are unsubstantiated.  Here is my proposal for the traditionalists:  ghettos 1.0 million, shootings 1.7 million, camps 3.3 million.  Do Roberto and Andrew wish to defend these numbers?  Or do they have others?  Once they decide, then we can begin a serious analysis.

(6)   Roberto says that Hilberg is too low on his Einsatzgruppen shootings number (1.4 million).  Andrew cites the recent Desbois book, Holocaust by Bullets, which claims 1.5 million.  What neither of them mentioned is that we have not nearly enough forensic evidence to support such numbers.  Desbois found (allegedly) 800 “mass graves” in the East, but have absolutely no useful data on these graves:  size, area, location, corpse count, ash quantity—nothing.  The Nazi reports that Roberto relies on add up to only about 450,000 (so where are the other 1 million?), but we can be sure there is significant error and exaggeration even in these, if only because have, again, no evidence of any such mass killings. 

(7)   On the lack of a Hitler order, it is rather amazing to believe that Hitler’s policy was, as Roberto says, that underlings should simply “feel free” to kill Jews at will.  Can anyone really believe that 6 million persons could be killed, and their remains made to vanish, by such an informal policy?  Isn’t it far more likely that no such policy was ever intended, or implemented?  And that perhaps the total number killed was far less than 6 million?

(8)   On the Goebbels diary, both guests make much of the March 27, 1942 entry in which 60% of the General Government Jews were to be “liquidated.”  Let me say, first off, that it does their case no good to bring up Goebbels!  I have analyzed the diaries in detail—all 29 volumes, available only in German—and found virtually no evidence of mass murder.  I would refer the reader to my article “Goebbels and the Jews” ( – Part 1 posted now, Part 2 to follow in May).  Of 123 relevant entries on the Jews, I found only repeated reference to evacuation and deportation—no mass killing, no gas chambers, no genocide.  The usual reply by traditionalists is that Goebbels used euphemisms and a ‘code language’, but this makes absolutely no sense in a personal and private diary!  -- and for more than a decade, during which time Nazi policy was allegedly “evolving”  toward mass murder.

Specifically regarding “liquidation”, Goebbels used that word 8 times with respect to Jews, and at least 2 of these, without question, do not mean ‘killing’ (“liquidating the Jewish danger”, and “liquidating Jewish marriages”).  The literal meaning of liquidation is, of course, ‘to make fluid.’  And this was exactly Nazi policy:  to “make fluid” the entrenched Jewish population, and to cause them to flow out of the Reich.  This is not nit-picking!  I cite a newspaper of that time, which describes liquidation as either killing (based on then-current rumors) or “transportation eastward in cattle trucks to an unknown destination.”  And Auschwitz survivor Thomas Buergenthal describes his ghetto as being “liquidated”—meaning dissolved and evacuated.

Perhaps most striking is that Goebbels uses, only once, an explicit term for killing Jews—and not German Jews, but Allied Jews!  This was in a late entry (March 14, 1945), and only after 5 major Allied fire-bombings killed more than 125,000 German civilians.  He had no compunction about calling for Jewish deaths, when it was warranted.  I can only suggest that the reader check out my article, read the entries in full, in context, and then decide for himself.

(9)   Finally, an important point that did not come up is the alleged gassing and body disposal at the 3 Reinhardt camps (Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka).  This is a huge problem for traditionalism, and Roberto, in particular, has gone to outrageous lengths to construct explanations.  For example, he says that the carbon monoxide source was gasoline engines, not diesels (to get around the troubling fact that all experts today mention diesels, despite the fact that they produce far too little carbon monoxide gas!).  But this fails because (a) the leading witness for gasoline, Reder, explicitly stated that the exhaust gas was “evacuated…directly into the open air, not the gas chamber”!, (b) the Nazis would certainly have tried to use ‘producer gas’ systems, which are not engines at all, but rather small furnace units that produce high amounts of CO—but not a single witness mentions this, and (c) numerous witnesses describe the victims as ‘blue’, but CO poisoning results in a distinctive red or pink coloration, not blue;  it could not have been missed.

Roberto also holds to impossible figures like: average gas chamber densities of 28 persons per square meter (roughly, 3 feet by 3 feet!), and 15 corpses per cubic meter of grave space.  Most ridiculously, in discussing the burning of corpses on a metal grid, with wood, that as little as a 1-to-1 ratio (wood to corpse mass) would suffice to burn the bodies down to pure ash.  Imagine this:  that a 100-pound corpse, partially decomposed and perhaps frozen, could be burned to pure ash—with 100 pounds of wood!  In reality it would take perhaps 500-1000 pounds of wood, under ideal conditions, to approach this.  And yet we are to believe that 1.7 million bodies were disposed of this way, in a matter of a few months.  I think he loses all credibility with such claims.

Lastly, I find it extremely odd that many of the bloggers ‘solutions’ to revisionist challenges do not appear in published, authoritative sources on the Holocaust.  It is as if their fellow traditionalists are completely unconvinced.  There will soon be published the newest ‘authoritative’ book, The Holocaust, by Peter Longerich.  I am anxious to see how many, if any, of these issues he addresses.