Sunday, February 24, 2008

Filip Mueller and the "One Name, with proof."

I have copied my question for Professor Lipstadt – “Can you provide the name, with proof, of one person who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz?” to several hundred professors of history and journalism at Emory University, The University of Georgia and Columbia University. I also sent it to the campus and off-campus press around those campuses. So far, no significant reply. I’m very disappointed, but I understand that my question threatens to undermine the “product” these folk have been marketing and/or buying this last half century and more, so I understand their reticence before the matter.

I did get one reply from a U Georgia professor. He suggested that I read the book by Filip Mueller, “Three years in the Gas Chambers,” where I would find such a name, with proof. When The Journal for Historical Review was just getting off the ground in 1980, Lewis Brandon (David McCalden) reviewed Filip Mueller’s Three Years in the Gas Chambers . Perusing the review again, 28 years later, I am reminded of a lot of such “survivor” foolishness that I have not thought about in a very long time. You can find the review here and make of it what you will.

And then there is the issue that this academic, and he was very decent about it, while he is rather certain that Mueller gave honest eyewitness testimony, the professor himself does not answer the question I have put to Professor Lipstadt – “One name, with proof.” Rather, he suggests I read a book and find the name for myself. No. I am asking academic historians who are learned in the matter to provide me with such a name, with proof. It should not be all that complicated for them – or for such a formidable personality as Deborah Lipstadt herself. Other wise, each of the hundred or so historians to whom I have addressed this question this month could simply reply with the title of a book for me to read so that I could discover such a name for myself. A hundred books? I don’t think so.

After all, it is the professorial class, as a class, that has marketed this “product” for so many decades, this product that has enriched so many people in so many ways, that it would be unkind of me to suggest that none of them have the “One name, with proof” that I am asking for. The "One name" that is the cornerstone of their good fortune.

So I won’t do it.

Yet.