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Sunday, August 24, 2014
The Holocaust revisionism of David Cole (Stein)
The terlit hobo's been at it again: reviewing Republican Party Animal. Scroll down to #29 in lieu of pixyware. I didn't say much there on the "Holocaust revisionism" thing; so I'll do that here.
As you know - as I've mentioned last month - I am not a fan of most people working the revisionist beat on that particular topic. I find the average commenter on the "holohoax" to be an antiSemite. The above-average poster here is an obsessive antiSemite. Since [blahblahblah]: when someone like this shows up spewing his talking-points, I tune out.
We cannot dismiss Cole as in this "denialist" camp. If we are to trust his book, he was never in this camp. The man is a freakin' Zionist for G-d's sake. He was at most guilty of corresponding with and abetting said camp (to his own stated regret, in the case of some in it). This was enough to get the JDL to declare him a Kapo and to issue a bounty on him. It was also enough to get a bunch of historians and museum-curators to dial back on their claims.
So, this is what we get from RPA's appendix: the Holocaust probably shouldn't even be thought of as "the Holocaust". The mass murders were the end-result of several situational atrocities, more the result of an absence of policy on the ground than of a deliberate decision by Hitler and his boys. Hitler was AWOL on what to do with civilian minorities, says Cole; mostly he was prosecuting a war. The next tier down, people like Goebbels and Goering, wanted slave-labour from able-bodied Jews (and others); that is, wanted them alive.
What I was reminded of, was Snyder's Bloodlands. Bloodlands for its part says exactly that: the Nazi invasions were brilliantly planned as far as defeating enemies was concerned, terrible for dealing with the new subjects of the newly-expanded Reich. We read a long and depressing litany of whole communities gunned down out of hand, not because of orders and not even because the local authorities disliked them personally - but just because these pathetic schlubs weren't convenient. This affected the whole region hence, blood-LANDS.
Which brings us to those other missing postwar Jews - what does Cole say of them? First, it was just a rough time: many died of disease or "old age", making it hard to tell if they might have died in that span anyway. Second, many hoofed it or hid. Many of the Jews who were actually killed, were killed after the war - by Poles and so on, when they went back or otherwise emerged to reclaim their own homes. (One such sordid occasion is depicted in Spiegelman's Maus.) Others went underground as Hungarians or Poles or whatever, and failed to tell their children. Or they hoofed it and "went Marrano". In situ, the next generations failed to bear children as Jews in these tumultuous times. (Children like this guy.)
To offer up an analogy from another atrocity, think of Cromwell in Ireland.
Does all this make Cole a "denier" or even a minimiser of what happened? Hardly. He fucking hates Hitler. For my part I still find myself hating Uncle Addie just as much as I always did. Nazis suck; so do their apologists. None of Cole's claims change anything except maybe our degree of understanding.
Cole was, as others have noted, ahead of his time. It may even be thanks to Cole, that Snyder was able to write Bloodlands without all the clutter from the JDL-Jewish mythology around the subject (which, to be fair to Spiegelman, we didn't get from Maus either).
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