Break His Bones:
The Private Life of A Holocaust Revisionist
Yehuda Bauer tells a Holocaust memorial meeting for Yom Hashoah, the yearly Jewish celebration of German bestiality, that the Jewish soap story isn’t true after all. Bauer is director of Holocaust studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a renowned Holocaust scholar. He says that the “technical possibilities” for rendering soap from the cadavers of murdered Jews were not yet understood during World War II. Maybe it’s been worked out since.
If it has been, who accomplished this technological breakthrough? Where did he do it? In what laboratory? At whose order? How was the human fat collected? Who were the guys and gals who chose to donate their corpses to this worthy project? Humanitarians all, surely. We hope it wasn’t some careless Palestinians. What a naughty thought. Will we ever know? We are not told what evidence Bauer has to show that Germans didn’t know how to make soap from Jews during WW II. Were they working on it? They were working on an atomic bomb. Of course the Americans were working on an atomic bomb…
The Los Angeles Times publishes an op-ed article titled “Nazi Soap Rumor During World War II.” It’s written by Deborah Lipstadt, who used to teach modern Jewish history at UCLA then something else at Yeshiva University and Occidental and now has landed at Emery as a full-blown Holocaust historian. The article reports that the “soap rumor” was put to rest long before:
The fact is that the Nazis never used the bodies of Jews, or for that matter anyone else, for the production of soap. The soap rumor was prevalent both during and after the war. It may have had its origin in the cadaver factory atrocity story that came out of World War I. The soap rumor was thoroughly investigated after the war and proved to be untrue.
I’m troubled by Lipstadt’s article because I haven’t heard about the “thorough investigation.” Revisionist authors who challenge the story don’t mention it. Why not? It would back up their case. So I write Professor Lipstadt, congratulate her on her scholarship, ask her where I can find the report of this thorough investigation and enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. I don’t hear back. No one else mentions her thorough investigation. I’m a little suspicious. Maybe some day I’ll get a big surprise.
When Deborah Lipstadt tries to defuse the Jewish-soap hoax she doesn’t mention Yehuda Bauer’s “technical possibilities” problem. While Yehuda Bauer is taking a run at the soap hoax, he maintains a sophisticated silence on Lipstadt’s thorough investigation. Does it make you wonder why? Maybe Bauer wrote Lipstadt to inquire after the thorough investigation and discovered Lipstadt isn’t talking to Bauer the same way she isn’t talking to me. Makes you wonder when you look ten years down the road what proofs the Holocaust scholars will use then to show that Germans did not cook Jews to make soap.
At the same time, it’s going to be difficult for ordinary Jews to take Bauer and Lipstadt seriously about Germans not making soap from their murdered kinsmen when the Encyclopaedia Judaica (New York, 1971) contains a photograph of the inside of a German soap factory. Titled “A German soap factory near Danzig,” the photo accompanies the Encyclopaedia’s article on Poland. It shows a room about the size of a two-car garage, a counter, a sink, and in the middle of the room a cart with half a dozen bony cadavers dangling out over the edges. The photograph is not sourced but who would want to doubt the intellectual integrity of the publishers of the Encyclopaedia Judaica?
And then there’s Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig, founder of the Holocaust Memorial Center in the Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield. He keeps a bar of Jewish soap wrapped in blue paper in his office cupboard. When reporters drop by he takes it out and shows them how it makes his hand tremble just to hold it. He says, “You see yourself what has been done to the human being…” Then he adds, a little enigmatically perhaps, “It is inconceivable.”
One afternoon after an interview with Rabbi Rosenzveig appeared in the Toledo Blade about his bar of Jewish soap and how the Gentiles should never forget, I do a telephone interview on an Ohio radio station, and here’s the good rabbi to talk things over with me. He must not have known that I’ve read the Blade story on his bar of soap, and when I nail him with it he agrees that he doesn’t know if the cake of soap is made from human fat or not. He gets a little testy. He wants to know why I think it makes a difference about the soap when the Germans murdered and tortured so many Jews in so many other ways?
After the interview I call the editor of the Detroit Free Press and tell her that the rabbi running the Holocaust Memorial Center in her town, who is telling people he keeps a bar of Jewish soap in his office cupboard, has admitted during a radio broadcast that the story isn’t true. I ask her if she’d like to have something from me on this story and on a few other Holocaust stories that don’t hold water. She says she doesn’t think so. “I believe those stories,” she says. “I believe in the Holocaust.” It appears to me she doesn’t understand the piquancy of Rabbi Rosenzveig admitting that he has been faking an atrocity story that puts Germans in a bad light and creates false sympathy for Jews. In any event she doesn’t have time to chat about it. She has a big-city newspaper to edit. She’s a professional.
The Holocaust Foundation in Skokie, run by actual “survivors,” displays photographs of cut-up bodies on their way to a German soap-making machine during its grand opening. The Foundation also displays its own chunk of Jewish soap (made in Germany?). Jewish soap has been piously buried in the Haifa cemetery. (Jewish piety sanctifying German inhumanity?) The Jewish Press in Brooklyn publishes a symbolic drawing of a swastika edged with bars of Jewish soap (Jewish newspapermen standing tall against the haters?).
What is this? A worldwide Jewish-soap conspiracy? Where did it all begin? I read in Butz’s The Hoax of the Twentieth Century that in 1943 representatives of the Moscow-based Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee toured the United States to raise aid for the Soviet Union. Big meetings were held in many cities. At each meeting Salomon Mikhoels would show the public a bar of soap made from Jewish flesh and taken from a German concentration camp. That’s the earliest reference I know of to Germans using Jews to make soap. Who was peddling the story then? Commie Jews, I suppose, in the words of the bad guys. Where is Mikhoel’s soap now? In whose care was this Jewish cult relic left? Who knows?
What is there about sado-masochism that gives it such appeal among so many Jews? The underlying psychology of all the primary Holocaust stories is sado-masochistic. Fits in nicely with Israeli nuclear bombs and the talk about Israeli-Jewish “Samson” and “Masada” complexes. Do Arab-Israelis suffer from those complexes? When I start thinking along these lines I feel a little anxiety for the people who live in and around the only democracy in the Middle East. I don’t feel very encouraged about American culture either, such as it is.
When Lipstadt writes that the Jewish-soap story is only a rumor she goes out of her way to puff the stories that the infernal Germans skinned Jews to make lampshades and other inventive decorations from them. It looks like Lipstadt needs to promote the demonization of Germans one way or another. If Germans didn’t commit one uniquely disgusting and inhumane crime against Jews, well, they committed another. It’s all the same to those historians and intellectuals feverishly committed to holocaustomania, which appears to be most of them:
… [In Buchenwald] the young wife of the commandant used the skin of Jews to make lampshades and other bric-a-brac for her home.
Lipstadt’s angle here is to pretend that proofs for her creepy human-skin lampshade charge are better than the proofs for the Jewish soap charge, so it doesn’t really matter that the anti-German hate story about human soap was an invention (lie) because the hated Germans did something else that was just as bad. That’s still her angle. I look forward one day to becoming acquainted with Deborah’s proofs for the human-skin lamp shade story.
The guy I’m really disappointed with though is Nat Hentoff, our authority on the First Amendment. Along with Yehuda and Deborah, Nat is one of my Jewish friends. He writes on free press issues primarily for papers devoted to the Jewish cultural perspective on the Holocaust, The Village Voice, New York Times, the Washington Post and so on. I’ve spent years defending Nat to revisionists, telling them to trust him, that Nat’s one of the good guys. What good does that do me with Nat? When I write him he doesn’t respond. When I ring him up he doesn’t return my call. I’ve gone out of my way to be humble with him. Nat maintains a sophisticated silence.
My friend O’Keefe thinks I’m being a sentimentalist about Nat. He says Nat’s one of those Jews who, before he writes anything at all, asks himself, Is this good for Jews? Or, if it’s unclear that it benefits Jews now, is there any chance whatever that sometime in the future, if the drift of human life in its totality shifts a millimeter in this or that direction, will it be good for Jews then? And only if the answer is yes will Nat forge ahead at the typewriter. I don’t want to believe this about Nat but I’m feeling some anxiety about him. He’s making me a little tense.
A couple years ago Nat toured Israel and when he came back he wrote a piece for the Voice describing how when he was in Jerusalem he visited the Chamber of the Holocaust and was shown three bars of human soap “made from the tissues of Jews.” Nat writes that he was so taken with the display of his paisanos lying there in that condition that he returned to the display twice more to reflect on it. Reading his article you get the impression that Nat experienced a small spiritual rush that day.
So I write Nat telling him about Deborah writing that the Jewish-soap story is only a rumor and about the thorough investigation after the war that proves the story false. I suggest that while Deborah won’t give me the time of day, if he writes to her she will no doubt aim him in the right direction
so he can get to bottom of the rumor because between Deborah and Nat it’s all in the family. I don’t write this time about it being all in the family but the way things are turning out I might just as well have.
The other suggestion I make to Nat is that he write the director of the Chamber of the Holocaust in Jerusalem and ask for what proofs the Chamber has in its archives that demonstrate that the three bars of soap on display there made from the tissues of Jews is soap that is actually rendered from humans. If it can be shown that the soap was rendered from human fat, Nat can ask how the Chamber can demonstrate that it’s Jewish. He would also want to ask of course where it was made, who made it and how it got to Jerusalem. Things like that. Maybe there’s documentation demonstrating that the soap was manufactured by the dreaded Nazis, but what if it turns out it was manufactured by one of our user-friendly commies under the direction of that anti-Fascist hero Joseph Stalin? Wouldn’t that be an interesting turn of events, I ask Nat?
I suggest to Nat that if the Jewish-soap story isn’t true he would not want Jews to go on believing that Germans thought Jews so worthless that they cooked the extras. What do such stories do to the Jewish psyche? If the soap story isn’t true is it really good for Jews to go on telling little Jewish boys and girls that when they grow up they run the risk of being cooked by Christians? Isn’t there a little something wrong in teaching Jewish kiddies fake horror stories about the people they live among? Doesn’t it risk encouraging bigotry and hatred in a society that has already got enough of it? Those are the kinds of interesting questions I ask Nat, but like I say, he doesn’t get back to me.
Is Nat trying to get to the bottom of the Jewish-soap story on his own? Your guess is as good as mine. If he is and he’s found out that the story was true I think he’d write something about it. If he’s found the story to be an example of media manipulation by the Holocaust Lobby he’s not going public with that either. Now that Nat’s landsman Yehuda Bauer has come up with the “technical possibilities” scam maybe I’ll write Nat again. I think it’s bad for Nat’s spiritual life that he has peak experiences at peep shows, and I think it’s bad for Jews as a community to have sordid historic lies employed in their name to maintain an inflated level of Jewish cultural influence, in spite of their experience to the contrary this last half century.
One of the problems the Lipstadts and Bauers have when they try to write off the Jewish soap hoax is that at Nuremberg the human-soap indictment against the Germans was upheld. You can read the judgment for yourself in Nuremberg documents (IMT-I – p252). On the same page the Tribunal upholds the charges that Jews were gassed and that their hair was used to stuff mattresses. If Bauer and Lipstadt are right, who supplied this false evidence about human soap to the court? Why? Was the court bamboozled about other anti-German atrocity stories? Which ones? The gas chambers maybe? What convinced Bauer that the evidence used by the court to uphold the Jewish soap hoax was false? Where is the paper demonstrating Bauer’s detective work on this important revelation? What do history buffs Bauer and Lipstadt have to say about such questions? They maintain a noble silence.
Hugh Orgel and Elena Neuman, the staff writers for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency who reported Bauer’s rejection of the Jewish soap hoax, have confirmation of the hoax from Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg. Hilberg is quoted as saying that “no evidence has turned up” to suggest that Nazis used human fat to make soap. Not even a suggestion of evidence, eh?
How about human-soap-maker Sigmund Mazur’s confession to the Soviets (USSR-197)? How about the affidavits of two British prisoners of war John Henry Witton (USSR-264) and William Anderson Neely (USSR-272)? Three pages each, single-spaced, naming names and describing procedures? Mazur even provided us with a recipe explaining how to use people to produce soap and all this was accepted at Nuremberg. I suppose Hilberg doesn’t want to chat this up because it might suggest to ordinary people, and maybe even to some intellectuals, that false documents proving other German atrocities as well were simply cooked up at the Great Nuremberg Trial and that maybe even that was the primary reason for the proceedings.
Hilberg takes a run at squashing a few other anti-German hate stories but without giving away anything serious. He says the rumor that Germans electrocuted Jews in water at Belzec is “based on nothing at all.” The original charge that the Nazis electrocuted Jews in water at Belzec was made in The Black Book of Polish Jewry, published in 1943 and sponsored by the Polish Government in exile. The Black Book has been used for half a century to condemn Nazi crimes against Jews and Poles. What’s the difference in the quality of the evidence used to document the electrocuting-Jews-in-water hoax, which was based on nothing at all, and the other anti-German hate stories published in The Black Book of Polish Jewry? Not a whole lot maybe?
The willingness of Holocaust historians like Bauer, Hilberg and Lipstadt to expose this and that anti-German hate hoax looks to me like their attempt to brush aside other, more far-reaching historic lies. Because to investigate the backgrounds to these other hoaxes means they will have to report to us that these so-called falsehoods are not falsehoods innocently repeated at Nuremberg but deliberate lies and that the Nuremberg court was flooded with false documents, that the court knew it and that it operated on the principle that the end justifies the means. It might demonstrate that the court was willing to commit any impropriety, admit any evidence, come to any conclusion so long as it condemned the hated Germans and exonerated the beloved Allies.
At this moment I recall the letter Dwight Eisenhower wrote to Mamie in 1944 where he told her, “God, how I hate the Germans.” Not the Nazis. The Germans. Was it this spirit of hatred that blew so darkly beneath the robes of the justices and prosecutors at Nuremberg?
Why did Yehuda Bauer choose to deny the Jewish-soap hoax this year rather than last year or the year before? Or ten or even twenty years ago? Did he only now discover that the Germans did not have the “technical possibilities” to render soap from human cadavers? Did I have anything to do with it? I’ll never know. I have given hundreds of interviews to print journalists and radio and television news broadcasters and talk show hosts and I hardly ever miss a chance to talk about how the Jewish-soap story is a vulgar hoax. Year after year, interview after interview. Millions of people, literally, have heard me say it or read where I said it. It’s been fun blowing the whistle on this dirty human-soap business. How much fun has it been for the Yehuda Bauers, the Hilbergs and Lipstadts when people ring them up or stop them on the street and ask, What is it with this Smith guy? On the other hand, maybe they’ve never heard of me.
Talk radio has become an institution in America. It’s on the cutting edge of the free press. Ideas and stories that are routinely suppressed in the prestige press are thrown around every day on radio. (Access to technology overcoming the biases of State culture and State propaganda.) There isn’t one university historian anywhere in the land who will give revisionist theory the time of day-in public. Men and women who work in radio and television are eager to talk about it. Establishment orthodoxy has used the media for fifty years to close the minds and hearts of the people toward the history of the age. Now revisionists are using it to open up those organs. Access is everything. Technology has no favorites among ideas and no preferences about information transmission. It’s the people themselves who make those decisions.
The intellectual classes, cowed by the State and the orthodoxies they’ve helped the State institutionalize, are trapped in their own creation. It was the intellectual classes that invented the orthodox contempt for Germans. Ordinary people resisted the intellectuals as long as they could. We didn’t like German bigotry against Jews but we had the grace to understand, living in country like this one, that prejudice and bigotry are as American as pumpkin pie. We sensed that we should clean up our own house and let the Germans clean up theirs. Why should the fate of far-away Jews on a far away continent press us down more than the fate of Blacks in America? We allowed Pearl Harbor to confuse us. We believed our government was innocent of all wrongdoing in that one. We didn’t have access to information the way we do now. In 1941, media was even more craven than it is today.
Popular culture may prove to be the saving grace of America. Vulgar, noisy, poorly informed, sexy, juvenile, rootless, all ears and no patience, mistaking desire for thought and drumming for music, it nevertheless usually exhibits more creativeness and more courage than what you find in the universities and the mobs of academic bureaucrats that run them. Radio and television and supermarket magazine racks are the carriers of popular culture. Government press releases and university tenure systems carry the rest of it, which is what some call high culture but should be called State culture. The immense value of pop culture is its drift-away from bureaucracy and scholarship and toward people and the enthusiasm of everyday life. You don’t have to be a scholar to ask to see proofs for the Jewish-soap story and you don’t have to be a bureaucrat to know where the interest of the State really lies with respect to it. How much education does it take to ask who benefits from all the culturally inspired hate propaganda against Germans and now against Arabs and Moslems? Who encourages it? Who is it who believes it benefits them? Do their enthusiasms ring a bell with you?
The Deborah Lipstadts travel from campus to campus warning the professoriat and its students to beware the insidious nature of Holocaust revisionism. Revisionists take “a little bit of truth” and plant seeds of doubt in the minds of the young. Revisionist teachings are “not based on historical fact” and “there is no place for revisionist teachings in the classroom” and real scholars “don’t debate people who are not committed to the truth.”
What better time to recall Deborah’s claim that at Buchenwald “the young wife of the commandant used the skins of exterminated Jews to make lampshades and other bric-a-brac for her home? Just the thought of it makes you detest the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and look kindly upon the anti-fascists. Doesn’t it?
Someone should tell Deborah – she won’t listen to me – about the video tape showing general Lucius D. Clay, Military Governor of the U.S. Occupation Zone of Germany during 1947-49, explaining to a conference sponsored by the George C. Marshall Research Foundation at Lexington, Virginia, that the infamous human-skin lamp shades of Buchenwald were in fact made of “goat” skin. Maybe General Clay is mistaken. Maybe one, just one of the tens of thousands of professors that swarm across our campuses should ask Deborah what proofs she has that the Nazis skinned Jews and used their hides to fashion lampshades and bric-a-brac for their homes.
If one professor were ever to do that, the Lipstadts, Hilbergs, Bauers and even our media intellectuals might discover that the Founding Fathers were not just shooting from the hip when they coughed up the First Amendment. Those men actually believed that the rights to free inquiry and to exchange ideas in public are more valuable to the people than suppression and censorship. It’s not complicated.
I think I’ve finished with my friend Nat for a while, but before I know it he’s exposed himself yet again in the pages of the New York Village Voice. It looks like Nat thinks there’s something pretty sexy about his Jewish-soap schtick. It’s the sort of story Sigmund liked so much to write about. All in the family.
Believe it or not, Nat has taken another run at the Jewish-soap story in the Village Voice. There he is in Jerusalem in those “eccentrically furnished” rooms that are the Chamber of the Holocaust. He stands there staring at “some bars of soap on a shelf.” He turns to an “ancient attendant” who nods gravely. “Jews,” the old geezer says. “They used to be Jews.”
I’m worried about Nat. Something in his brain is turning the Holocaust story into an Addams Family cartoon. The last time he ran this sado-masochistic survivor fantasy past his readers I took time out from my busy schedule to write him about it. I told him what Professor Lipstadt has concluded: “The Nazis never used the bodies of Jews, or for that matter anyone else, for the production of soap.” Doesn’t he remember? How the rumor had been thoroughly investigated after the war? It didn’t occur to me then Nat likes the Jewish-soap fantasy just the way it is. It occurs to me now.
But why? So that he can exploit it yet again in yet another whiny article on anti-Semitism headed “God Must Have Loved Anti-Semites, He Made So Many of Them.” He never gets tired of it. It’s never too much trouble for Nat and his bunch to feed the trough of anti-German bigotry. It never occurs to the Nat Hentoffs that if God does love the anti-Semites, it might have something to do with the way He feels about how some Jews are behaving.
Maybe Nat doesn’t trust individuals like Lipstadt, Bauer and Hilberg to give him the real skinny on the Holocaust story. If that’s true, I have to say I don’t blame him. I haven’t trusted them myself the last ten years. But he has another alternative. He can make a little effort to put his finger on one proof that the Jewish-soap story is true. When he’s found that one proof he can pass it on to key people at the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the World Jewish Congress and the other like organizations that have been promoting the story for half a century now. They’ll be grateful to him. Very grateful. Nat can forget the historians. The historians are working at cross-purposes to those of mainline Jewish organizations.
In his article “God Must Have Loved Anti-Semites, He Made So Many Of Them” Nat appears to be adrift somehow about why there is so much anti-Jewish feeling around the world when in real numbers there are so few Jews and they own such a tiny fraction of the real estate. There’ are the Holocaust deniers. Anger and contempt for Jews in the Black community. Even “blood libel” against Jews. While I can’t explain everything to fellows like Nat, I do have something for him on the “blood libel” business.
He relates the story about Mustafa Tlas, the Syrian minister of defense, who in 1986 published a book titled The Matzoh of Zion. The book claims to demonstrate that Jews murder Gentile children and use their blood as an ingredient for matzoh at certain rituals. This sort of allegation is what Nat and other extremist Jews refer to as a “blood libel.”
When the Mustafa Tlas story broke I followed it for a couple months. I was pretty impressed, believe me, when about ten days after the story first appeared, then Secretary of State George P. Shultz and then Vice President of the United States George Bush both protested against the book to the United Nations and the Syrian Government itself. That’s clout. That’s influence. That’s an example of what Organized Jewry can do about bigots and bigoted books. It was the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the WJC and probably others who got the ball to Shultz and Bush. No one makes a case against Jews for fighting bigotry. It’s the double standards about bigotry so prevalent among some Jews that is so frustrating.
Here’s what I have for the Nat Hentoffs on the blood libel business. I encourage them to try and get a handle on this simple, wholesome concept. There have never been any proofs that Jews murder Gentile children to use their blood for matzoh. There have never been any proofs that Germans murdered Jews and used their fat to manufacture hand soap. It’s the same shitty story, guys. Try to understand. It’s the same story!
The Gentile-blood-for-matzoh version of the story is bad for Jews, so Jews like Nat do what they can to discredit it. The Jewish-fat-for-soap version of the story, however, is perceived by the Nat Hentoffs as being useful to Jews, so they promote that version. They put what they see as the good-for-Jews version of this blood libel into the museums. They put it into magazines, newspapers, books, television scripts and movies where it corrupts public discourse and contributes to the bigotry and hatred they like to say they’re struggling against.
This is only one example of the double standards that many of us understand to be a way for some in Nat’s circle to win unearned sympathy for Jews at the expense of others. Do they really believe that Blacks and others do not see what goes down and don’t understand why? Maybe Jews should step back and ask themselves, Is it really possible that anti-Semitism is everywhere while everywhere Jews are innocent of all wrongdoing?
With regard to this particular issue, I have a simple suggestion for Jews such as Nat. Stop exploiting the Jewish-soap fantasy until you have turned up a couple proofs for it. If your investigation leads you to doubt the story, G-d forbid, start working up your apology to the German people for having repeated this blood libel against them in your writings. Contrary to what many in your circle might tell you, my sense of things is that in the long run your repentance will be judged to be an act of faith in the good sense and good will of the great majority of Jews everywhere.
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