The Rense website (www.rense.com
), and his radio program, provide a platform for the likes of Mark Weber, of the self-proclaimed Institute for Historical Review ("IHR"), to spread their denial of the Holocaust, under the guise of legitimate historical research (which they call "revisionism").
Often Weber and others at the IHR refer to Rudolph Hoss, the commandant at Auschwitz, and one of the key witnesses to the reality of the Holocaust. They contend that he was not a reliable witness. They say that either (a) his story was beaten out of him, or that (b) he was trying to curry favour with his captors, in the hopes of avoiding the gallows.
It is true - and has never been in issue - that Hoss was beaten by his British captors immediately after his capture, and prior to making his original statement. This is a red herring, however. His subsequent testimony at Nuremberg was much more detailed, and was not the result of beatings. When he was transferred to Polish custody, pending his own trial (he was convicted and hanged in 1947), he was, by his own admission, treated "with humanity and understanding... [which] I never ever could have expected... I owe it to this humane understanding to contribute, as far as it is possible for me, and to shed light on events which needed clarification." The result was his even more detailed memoirs. [Hoss, "Some Final Thoughts" statement, Cracow, Poland, February 1947]
As for the allegation that he was trying to curry favour with his captors, in the hopes of avoiding a death sentence, this is simply ridiculous. Hoss had no illusions as to what his final fate would be, and stated so in his memoirs. This is also demonstrated in his final letter to his wife, when he wrote:
"My dear good Mutz... From the beginning I was completely clear about the fact that I would perish with the world to which I had pledged myself with all my body and soul when that world was shattered and destroyed... My activities in performing my task were out in the open. Since I was the Kommandant of the extermination camp Auschwitz I was totally responsible for everything that happened there... It is tragic that, although I was by nature gentle, good-natured, and very helpful, I became the greatest destroyer of human beings who carried out every order to exterminate people no matter what. "
Hoss' memoirs are MUST reading for anyone who wanders on to www.rense.com
and then finds themselves at the IHR website or the Ernst Zundel website. The most recent version, pictured below, is Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz
(New York: De Capo Press, 1996).
Holocaust survivor and author Primo Levi explained why the Hoss memoirs are so important in his foreward (take note, Jeff Rense et al):
"Several years ago, an insidious trend was launched when people began affirming that the number of victims of the Nazi era was far less than stated by 'official history,' and that no poison gas was used to kill human beings in the camps. In regard to both these points Rudolph Hoss's testimony is complete and explicit, nor would he have formulated it in such a precise and articulate manner, and with so many details confirmed by survivors and by material evidence, if he had been acting under coercion, as the 'revisionists' allege. Hoss often lies to justify himself but never about the facts; indeed, he seems proud of his organizational work. He and his supposed instigators would have had to be very shrewd to concoct such a coherent and plausible story out of thin air. The confessions extorted by the Inquisition, the Moscow Trials of the 1930's, or the witch hunts had an entirely different tone."
Levi makes a critical point here. It is one which the self-proclaimed "revisionists" who appear at www.rense.com
, like Weber, ignore - for obvious reasons.
As Michael Berenbaum, at the time Project Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, wrote:
is an important document for all those who seek to understand the killers. It is a horrible book - horrible in its detail and in its descriptions of the killings - but those who wish to understand Auschwitz must read this work."Time Magazine
concurred, calling it an "imagination-defying portrait of a monster, a man who approached killing and torture with the zeal of an efficiency expert and counted corpses with the cool dedication of a trained bookkeeper. Hoss is as methodically informative as a suburbanite fighting crab grass as he discussed the relative merits of poison gasses... An eyeopening account of the crime of the century and an equally revealing introduction to the seemingly average man who became the criminal of the century."
As a final tact, the self-proclaimed "revisionists" claim that the Hoss memoirs are fraudulent - that he never wrote them.
As Steven Paskuly points out in his introduction to Death Dealer
, these claims are "absolute rubbish."
"The documents written in Poland," notes Paskuly, "the personal interviews given to psychiatrist G. Martin Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials, and Rudolf Hoss's blunt testimony during the trial itself are consistent with each other to such a degree that we can safely believe that the memoirs written in Poland are an elaboration of the Nuremberg testimony containing much more detail." The memoirs, note Paskuly, are also consistent, in terms of the essential facts, with accounts given by other SS personnel stationed at Auschwitz, not to mention Holocaust survivors imprisoned there. They differ only when Hoss attemps to recall exact dates and numbers, when he discusses his personal
role in the Holocaust, and when he consciously lies to protect his wife, whom he claimed had no knowledge of what was happening at Auschwitz, but who, according to earlier testimony he gave, clearly was aware, at least to some degree, of what was going on there.
Finally, there are Hoss's own words, which, at points towards the end, demonstrate his conflicted conscience, but at other points reveal the true nature of the man. The most revealing - and chilling, in my opinion - statement is found in his "Final thoughts," when he wrote:
"Today I realize that the extermination of the Jews was wrong, absolutely wrong. It was exactly because of this mass extermination that Germany earned itself the hatred of the entire world. The cause of anti-Semitism was not served by this act at all, in fact, just the opposite. The Jews have come much closer to their final goal."
This is not the statement of an apologist, or someone trying to curry favour with his captors. It is not the statement of forgers. It is the statement of a man who, even when admitting the crimes that he had committed, refused to abandon his core anti-Semitism. The extermination of the Jews was wrong, not for moral reasons, but practical ones. The extermination of the Jews was a tactical mistake that undermined both Germany and the cause in which he still believed - anti-Semitism. "I am," he wrote, "now as I was then, as far as my philosophy of life is concerned. I am still a National Socialist."
Almost sixty years later, a quick trip to www.rense.com
, and the Holocaust denying commentators and Internet sites which it contains, and to which it leads, will show that these vile and dangerous sentiments remain very much alive today.