Dr. Paul Shapiro, Director
Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
29 April 2008
Dear Dr. Shapiro:
On 12 March I wrote to the USHMM Virtual Reference Desk to ask for the name of “one person, with proof, who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.” You can read the brief inquiry here: http://bradleysmithsblog.blogspot.com/ (dated 08 March). It’s been six weeks now but I have not heard from the lady who runs the USHMM’s Virtual Reference Desk so I am turning to you, Director for the Center of Advanced Holocaust Studies at the Museum.
Dr. Shapiro: can you provide me with the name of one person, with proof, who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz? I have asked hundreds of academics at such institutions as the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at U. Minnesota, the Sigi Ziering Institute at the Jewish University of America, at Columbia, U. Georgia, Emory U., Saint Cloud State, U. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, U. Colorado-Boulder, U. Kentucky and so on, but those folk appear to be lost.
I don’t feel that being “lost” on this question is a possibility for the folk who work with you at the USHMM. In the Museum’s own Holocaust Encyclopedia I read that “up to 6,000 Jews were gassed each day at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Over a million Jews [ … ] were killed there by November 1944.” My plea, as it were, is that you provide me the name of one person, with proof -- one out of “a million” -- who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.
Michael Berenbaum, Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute at the Jewish University of America, writes: “… the Holocaust invites questions not answers.” I find it to be the other way around. I am invited everywhere to read answers about German gas chambers, yet no academic is willing to respond to my simple question about German gas chambers.
You are a major figure at an institution that’s funded with tens of millions of dollars yearly, which has 21,000 “separate historical collections” of documentary materials, and houses some (did I read this right?) 42,000,000 pages of documents! It does not appear to me that I am being unreasonable when I ask the USHMM Virtual Reference Desk, and now the Director of the Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, to provide me with the name of one person, with proof, who was murdered in a gas chamber at Auschwitz. One out of a million? If you believe I am being unreasonable, I am entirely willing to have you tell me why.
If you would just do it, I could put an end to the matter now. You answer the question, or have someone at the Museum answer it, and I quit asking it. One name, with proof. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I will copy this letter to other parties I believe might find it interesting.
Thank you for your time.
Bradley R. Smith
Desk: 209 682 5327
Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust www.codoh.com