Monday, September 2, 1996

An Orthodox Historian Finally Acknowledges: There is No Evidence for Nazi Gas Chambers


Jacques Baynac, born in 1939, is a French historian whose sympathies place him on the left of the political spectrum [1]. He harbours a definite hostility towards the revisionists (whom he calls “negationists”), and particularly towards revisionist writer and publisher Pierre Guillaume and myself. He has always asserted the existence of the Nazi gas chambers. Now, however, Baynac has acknowledged in two lengthy articles published in a Swiss daily that, everything taken into account, it must be admitted – even if it is “painful to say and to hear” – that testimonies are not sufficient, and that it is decidedly impossible to prove, scientifically, that those gas chambers actually existed. But, he adds curiously, given the lack of any direct proof, the thing to do henceforth is to seek indirect proof and, as it cannot be proved that the Nazi gas chambers existed, it will be necessary to try to prove that they cannot not have existed! 
Baynac expounds on his views in two lengthy articles published on successive days in the Swiss newspaper Le Nouveau Quotidien (Lausanne) [2].

The historians’ evasion of the matter
In the first article he begins by decrying the existence of an anti-revisionist law in France, the “Fabius-Gayssot” Act of July 13, 1990, which he says allows “the negationist sect” to use the courts as a podium. He points out that this law has been criticised by Claude Imbert of the magazine Le Point, Pierre Vidal-Naquet (a historian who has stated: “I am prepared to kill Faurisson, but not to sue him in court!”), Madeleine Rebérioux (former president of the Ligue des droits de l’homme, “Human Rights League”), the anti-revisionist barrister Charles Korman and several members of parliament from the Gaullist RPR party. Baynac affirms that the revisionists or negationists have had good reason for rejoicing, especially since the Abbé Pierre affair “changed the atmosphere” in their favour. He also notes that amongst the anti-revisionists, “disarray has replaced consternation,” that historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet “is saddened”, that Bernard-Henri Lévy “is beside himself”, that Pierre-André Taguieff “is frightened”, and that the weekly Événement du jeudi has chosen for its cover headline “The Victory of the Revisionists”. He denounces the irresponsibility shown by Jorge Semprun, an intellectual and former deportee, in “murdering” a book written by Florent Brayard against the French revisionist Paul Rassinier. Baynac believes that on the French left there has developed a “paranoia”, a “witch-hunt” (as Jean-François Kahn puts it), and a “disastrous commotion”. He states that Simone Veil and Dominique Jamet are also hostile to the Fabius-Gayssot Act, and that debate with the revisionists “is refused”. Recalling the stupefying declaration of “34 reputable historians” printed in Le Monde on February 21, 1979, a declaration by which I was denied any reply to my call for an explanation of how, technically, the magical Nazi gas chambers could actually have worked, he speaks of the “evasion” by historians in general. He writes in so many words: “the historians have stolen away.”

Neither documents, nor traces, nor evidence
In the second article, Baynac deplores the fact that anti-revisionist historians should have put their trust in Jean-Claude Pressac, a pharmacist and “amateur historian” who, as can be seen now, has come to the conclusion that the number of Jewish and non-Jewish dead at Auschwitz amounts “to a total of 600,000 victims” [3]. Baynac derides François Bayrou, France’s education minister and a historian himself who, conscious of the difficulties one runs into when trying to prove the genocide and the gas chambers, advocates recourse to a “less burdensome” historical method; Baynac sees in this a “concept of ‘light’ history”. He states that the Nazi gas chambers existed but that, to prove this, too much use has been made of the “ascientific” discourse, and not enough of the “scientific” one. The former is that in which “testimony takes precedence”, whilst the latter is that of documents. However, he says with regret, one cannot fail to note “the absence of documents, traces, or other material evidence”. He recalls the observation already drawn up in 1988 by the Jewish-American historian Arno Mayer: “Sources for the study of the gas chambers are at once rare and unreliable [4].” Baynac writes that “we do not have to hand the elements that are indispensable for a normal exercise of the historical method”, and that “we must keep quiet, for lack of documents”. He concludes: “It needs to be acknowledged that the lack of traces entails an inability to establish directly the reality of the existence of the homicidal gas chambers”. When he writes “the lack of traces”, he in fact means, as he as already specified, “the absence of documents, traces, or other material evidence”.
Evidence tomorrow?
Baynac’s study ends with the aforementioned suggestion: since it is decidedly impossible to prove that the gas chambers existed, let us try in future to prove that those gas chambers cannot not have existed!
This is at once the observation of a certain inadequacy for the present and an act of faith in the future. Baynac is naive. He believes that, if so many historians have, to such an extent, asserted the reality of these horrors, and so many survivors have stated that they saw them, it is because they certainly existed. He forgets that, with time, it becomes apparent that the writing of history (in the singular) is full of stories (in the plural) that are more or less imaginary. He continues to believe in the gas chambers, just as he persists, it seems, in believing in Communism. Tomorrow, evidence for the gas chambers will be found. Tomorrow, Communism will be true. Tomorrow, free lunch for all. Tomorrow, there will finally be proof that National Socialism is the embodiment of evil and that Communism is the embodiment of good. We may take this occasion to salute the eternal gullibility of the French intelligentsia. Baynac joins the cohort of the “34 reputable historians” who, as I have pointed out here, served up in Le Monde one of the most monumental bits of French academic nonsense ever seen: “It must not be asked how, technically, such a mass murder was possible. It was technically possible, since it happened.”
Baynac thus adds his name to those of the 34 orthodox scholars who found themselves having reluctantly to admit that the revisionist historians were right on such or such capital point. That being the case: how could judges go on convicting revisionists for disputing a crime that, as seen in Baynac’s study, has still not been proved?

Cumbersome Gas Chambers
It is obvious that the “Nazi gas chambers” are ever more embarrassing for the historians or other writers who make the case for the reality of an extermination of the Jews. As early as 1984 Pierre Vidal-Naquet warned those of his friends who already felt tempted to abandon the “gas chambers” that to do so would be “to surrender in open country” (“Le Secret partagé”, Le Nouvel Observateur, September 21, 1984, p. 80). In 1987 a periodical hostile to revisionism published on its letters page a piece by two French-Jewish teachers, Ida Zajdel and Marc Ascione, suggesting that the Nazis had faked their confessions and only mentioned gas chambers in order to plant “a ‘time bomb’ against the Jews, an instrument of diversion and – why not? – of blackmail [5]”.
There would be many other examples to mention; that would take too long. I shall be content here with citing just three recent ones: that of Elie Wiesel (in 1994), that of the Dutch professor of Jewish-Polish origin Michel Korzec (in 1995), and finally, that of the Jewish-American historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (in 1996):

      In 1994, Wiesel wrote in his memoirs All Rivers Run to the Sea: “Let the gas chambers remain closed to prying eyes, and to imagination”, which, in plain English, means: “Let’s not try to see, or even imagine, a Nazi gas chamber”; and subsequent developments showed the same Wiesel’s complete scepticism with regard to alleged testimonies on the subject [6];

      In 1995 Korzec declared that too much emphasis had been laid on the gas chambers and the number of gassing victims. With dialectic contortions worthy of a cabalist, he went on to argue that it was the Germans, and not the Jews, who were responsible for that error; according to him, far more Germans than the few who were assigned with just the gassings participated in the “murder” of Jews nearly everywhere in Europe [7];

      In his 1996 study Hitler’s Willing Executioners, an exceedingly anti-German book, Daniel J. Goldhagen wrote: “Gassing was really epiphenomenal to the Germans’ slaughter of Jews [8]”; in an interview with a Vienna weekly he stated: “For me the industrialized annihilation of the Jews is not the central question in explaining the Holocaust... The gas chambers are a symbol. But it is absurd to believe that the Holocaust would not have taken place without the gas chambers [9].”

The gas chambers are, in 1996, no longer anything but a symbol! 
A Swiss newspaper sets the example
On several occasions in recent years, either in samizdat writings or in interviews recorded in Canada with Ernst Zündel, I have described this evolution on the exterminationists’ part with respect to the Nazi gas chambers. In a piece dated September 22, 1993 I went so far as to predict where the changes then underway might ultimately lead [10]. At its end, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington has already decided not to give any material representation of the gas chambers (apart from an “artistic” – and absurd – scale model). 
The two articles by Jacques Baynac mark just one step in this metamorphosis of the official historiography. They are apt to surprise only the judges, be they professional or of some other calling, who, without knowing anything, decide on everything in the sphere of history. They confirm that, for quite some time now, the conventional historians have broken a make-believe unanimity. They have steadily rejected the too simplistic conclusions of the Nuremberg tribunal on the gas chambers and the genocide. In this matter one may no longer speak of historical truths of purportedly “common knowledge”. When French judges deem that to dispute the existence of the gas chambers is to dispute the “crime against humanity” which the genocide of the Jews is supposed to have been, they are correct; but as a consequence of there no longer being any “evidence” of a specific crime weapon, there is no longer proof of a specific crime. This conclusion, rather embarrassing for judges who presume to condemn revisionism, results from the position now taken by Baynac, a position that, once again, is not at all peculiar to him but represents a whole tendency in the orthodox historiography. Baynac is saying out loud what his colleagues have been thinking to themselves.
In France, these two articles from Switzerland can only disconcert people like the good readers of Le Monde, accustomed as they are to the sweet somnolence maintained by censorship of the “Holocaust” question.
In publishing these pieces by Baynac, Le Nouveau Quotidien of Lausanne, normally so prejudiced against revisionism, has shown both respect for its readers and discernment. [11]
For now, the situation of the two French academics may be described as follows:

Jacques BAYNAC: 

“THERE IS NO EVIDENCE, YET I BELIEVE.” 

Robert FAURISSON: 

“THERE IS NO EVIDENCE, THEREFORE I REFUSE TO BELIEVE.” 

For the first: freedom of expression. 
For the second: a possible prison sentence of one month to one year and/or a fine of from 2,000 to 300,000 French francs [i.e. from about €2,000 to over €45,000] and other penalties as well.
Is it not a scholar’s duty to refuse to believe, whatever it may cost him? 
September 2-3, 1996
____________
Notes


[1]  Jacques Baynac has written, notably, La Terreur sous Lénine, Ravachol et ses compagnons, Mai [1968] retrouvé, Les Socialistes révolutionnaires russes, 1881-1917, La Révolution gorbatchévienne. In 1987, he wrote, along with historian Nadine Fresco, an anti-revisionist article for Le Monde entitled “Comment s’en débarrasser?” (How to get rid of them? [that is, the revisionists]), June 18, 1987, p. 2.
[2]  September 2, 1996, p. 16, and September 3, 1996, p. 14.
[3]  La Déportation: Le Système concentrationnaire nazi, a work published under the direction of François Bédarida and Laurent Gervereau, Nanterre, BDIC, 1995, p. 196 (from 600,000 to 800,000 deaths, says J.-C. Pressac, which puts us at quite a distance from the 9 million of the film Night and Fog, the 4 million of the Nuremberg trial and the Auschwitz monument inscriptions in their former version, or from the figure of 1.5 million according to the new version in place there since 1995).
[4]  A. Mayer, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? The “Final Solution” in History (New York, Pantheon, 1989), p. 362.
[5]  Article 31, January-February 1987, p. 22.
[6]  E. Wiesel, All Rivers Run to the Sea, Memoirs (New York, Random House/Knopf, 1995), p. 74.
[7]  M. Korzec, “De mythe van de efficiënte massamoord” (The Myth of efficient mass murder), Intermediair, December 15, 1995. See also: R. Faurisson, “A New Version of the Holocaust Story”, Journal of Historical Review, March-April 1996, pp. 22-23.
[8] D. J. Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York, Knopf, 1996), p. 521, n. 81.
[9] Profil, September 9, 1996, p. 75: Die industrielle Vernichtung der Juden ist für mich nicht die Kernfrage zur Erklärung des Holocaust... Die Gaskammern sind ein Symbol. Es ist aber ein Unsinn zu glauben, daß der Holocaust ohne Gaskammern nicht stattgefunden hätte.” In his book (p. 523, n. 4) Goldhagen also writes: “The imbalance of attention devoted to the gas chambers needs to be corrected.”
[10] See R. Faurisson: Les juifs pourraient renoncer au mythe de la chambre à gaz nazie, Ecrits révisionnistes (1974-1998), p. 1542-1544.
[11] In the September 2 issue of Le Nouveau Quotidien there are three minor errors: in the second column, one should read: Florent Brayard (instead of Florent Rassinier); in the third column: Jean-François Kahn (instead of Khan); and in the fourth column: “Il ne faut pas se demander comment” (instead of: se demander si). These errors have been corrected in the electronic edition.