Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Considerable – and Official – Revision of the Number of Dead at Majdanek

Six million dead or one million dead: what’s the difference?” My answer to this question is: “Five million people, for whom it’s the biggest possible difference, the one between life and death.” It is, in part, upon the indifference to facts and figures that historical lies are built.

In 1945–1946, the Nuremberg tribunal received document USSR-8 as genuine evidence (taking, in accordance with Article 21 of its charter, “judicial notice thereof”); it was a “report” setting the number of Auschwitz’s victims at “more than four million human beings”. That figure was subsequently brought to nine million in the 1955 documentary Nuit et brouillard (“Night and Fog”, historical advisers: Henri Michel and Olga Wormser-Migot), an extraordinarily mendacious film that is shown still today in all French schools. Over the years since then, under the pressure brought to bear by revisionist discoveries, that figure has dropped, in successive stages, to 510,000 (Fritjof Meyer, “Die Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz. Neue Erkenntnisse durch neue Archivfunde”, Osteuropa, May 2002, p. 631–641). All the same it may be noted today that tourists on site continue to be taken in with the story of one and a half million dead there, with a score of stones in as many languages having repeated that figure since 1995 (until April 1990, the figure on the plaques – on nineteen stones – was four million).

Similarly, at the Nuremberg trial, document USSR-29, it too “genuine evidence”, the number of victims of the camp at Majdanek (a locale outside Lublin) at “nearly a million and a half human beings”, of whom “an enormous number of Jews” (Constantin Simonov, Maïdanek, Un camp d’extermination, Paris, Éditions sociales, 1945, p. 36, 39; English edition: Konstantin Simonov, The Death Factory near Lublin, London, Daily Worker League, 1944). Still in 2003, the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia gave that same figure in its article “Majdanek”. However, over time, the estimates had lowered considerably. In 2005, Tomasz Kranz, director of the State Museum at Majdanek’s research section, arrived, for his part, at a total of 78,000 dead. That is what the authorities at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum have now disclosed in a release which refers to an article of December 23, 2005 in the important Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza (Lublin). The embarrassment is sure to grow in future, as it becomes necessary to carry out new – and substantial – lowerings of the number of dead at both Auschwitz (510,000) and Majdanek (78,000).

Decidedly, the year 2005 ended quite differently from how it had begun. In January and February, the Shoah tsunami was wreaking its havoc. Since November 10th (the date of Ahmed Rami’s victory in the Swedish parliament), both in France and abroad (Sweden, Iran, Venezuela, the United States, Australia), historical revisionism has been regaining strength. Hence one may expect to see, in general, tougher and tougher repression against revisionist authors.