Buchenwald: Legend and Reality by Mark Weber
Mark Weber's article "Buchenwald: Legend and Reality" is a useful and timely corrective made more so by President Obama's visit on June 5, 2009 to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald.
Obama who was accompanied on his tour by German Chancellor Merkel and Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel used the moment to denounce revisionists using typical false and slanderous rhetoric: "To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened -- a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts; a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history."
Revisionists of course do not say "the Holocaust never happened." Such a loaded phrase suggests to an unknowing public that revisionists don't believe that the concentration camps existed. It suggests that revisionists don't believe Jews died in large numbers. It suggests that revisionists don't believe in the crematory ovens, the guard towers, the barbed wire. It suggests either a complete ignorance of history or as is often charged a nefarious ulterior motive with the desire to see brown-shirted legions again marching across Europe.
Revisionists do demand evidence and proof of the principle definitional pillars that are commonly used to explain what is meant by "Holocaust." Revisionists do not accept that six million Jews were murdered during this time. Revisionists do not accept that there was a Hitler order to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Finally revisionists do not accept the charge that the Nazis murdered Jews primarily in gas chambers designed for mass extermination.
Since revisionists began questioning these key elements of the Holocaust story, they have witnessed massive official reductions in the number of victims at Auschwitz and Majdanek. They have seen a massive retreat with regard to gassing claims within the German Reich. They have seen historian after historian admit that no Hitler order for the extermination of the Jews has ever been found. They have created their own expert reports to analyze cyanide content in the bricks and mortar of the rooms claimed to have been used for mass murder only to find such researchers incarcerated and persecuted for their efforts.
Buchenwald is no rebuke to the revisionists. While notorious in the west due to its liberation by American forces, Buchenwald is not identified as an "extermination camp" in the literature. Inmates died due to poor conditions and disease largely brought about by a complete collapse of German infrastructure during the final months of World War II. The camp was overcrowded due to the evacuation of inmates from camps in the East. The death toll climbed to its highest levels in the weeks leading up to the American liberation. The conditions witnessed by American troops, however horrific were not the result of an extermination plan.
As author Thomas Dalton so profoundly put it, "if we can never forget, then we should at least get the story straight."
R.A. Widmann, June 6, 2009