Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yes, Virginia, There WERE Gas Chambers

Awhile back I encountered at a local NYC blog a form of Holocaust Denial that was new to me: the claim that yeah the Holocaust happened and Jews were killed (among other targeted groups, I would add) but there were no gas chambers.

Funny how you'd expect the Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust would have disputed this particular form of Holocaust Denial. But they don't!!! Quite the contrary! In fact now it seems their admission goes right down to family photographs and the stories remembered by their descendants.

Now there are many sources of evidence for the gas chambers. And <a href="">I have discussed them before</a>.

There are two main sources of evidence in any crime scene, and the gas chambers were, quite simply, massive crime scenes. Those types of evidence are eyewitness testimony and forensics. Good criminal cases are built up using both.

Eyewitness testimony is in itself almost overwhelming. Eyewitness testimony doesn't come from the perpetrators or inmates so much as liberators who may have misinterpreted what was a crime scene where the perpetrators tried hard to cover their tracks. But there are camps like Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka where the evidence is very strong, where both the number and consistency of eyewitness testimony is overwhelming. <a href="">You can find eyewitness testimony here in some detail</a>.

Further testimony can be found here:

More confessions by perpetrators can be found here:

And of course an excellent eyewitness testimony by an inmate <a href="">can be found in Elie Wiesel's Night, where he describes the journey he and his family through the concentration camps</a>.

As the allies closed in on Germany in 1945, there was a concerted effort to destroy evidence. Even before that, in cases where things went wrong the Germans systematically destroyed evidence of their crimes. The prime example of this is the extermination camp at Sobibor which was the scene of one of the very few successful prisoner revolts which led to a mass breakout. To cover up, the Germans dismantled the camp with the stated intent of hiding what had gone on there. This makes it harder to prove by forensics what happened. Archaeological analysis can identify areas that look like they were gas chambers and crematoria and basically give evidence completely consistent with the eyewitness testimony. That alone helps, given the overwhelming and consistent eyewitness testimony from inmates, perpetrators and liberators.

Some of the forensic evidence (documents, film footage, etc) supporting the eyewitness testimony <a href="">can be found in this article on forensic science used in Holocaust investigation.</a>.

Forensics also shows traces of cyanide gas in the very remains that eyewitnesses claim were gas chambers and that archaeology suggests were gas chambers. These chemical data basically prove they were gas chambers. <a href="">The key study was done by Polish scientists at the Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow</a>. The authors are chemists. The first author became Director of the Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow.

More evidence can be found discussed in <a href="">this BBC article</a>,  and <a href="">this article</a> from the University of San Francisco, and <a href="">this article from Skeptic Magazine</a>.

But there is another bit of evidence that I didn't take into account the last time I wrote about this. The evidence that may not be direct eyewitness testimony but is direct testimony of those who lived in the shadow of and prospered from the extermination camps. BBC News has an article on descendants of Nazi war criminals that directly addresses this issue. From BBC News:

<blockquote>When he was a child Rainer Hoess was shown a family heirloom.

He remembers his mother lifting the heavy lid of the fireproof chest with a large swastika on the lid, revealing bundles of family photos.

They featured his father as a young child playing with his brothers and sisters, in the garden of their grand family home.

The photos show a pool with a slide and a sand pit - an idyllic family setting - but one that was separated from the gas chambers of Auschwitz by just a few yards....

His grandfather Rudolf Hoess (not to be confused with Nazi deputy leader Rudolf Hess), was the first commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp. His father grew up in a villa adjoining the camp, where he and his siblings played with toys built by prisoners.

It was where his grandmother told the children to wash the strawberries they picked because they smelled of ash from the concentration camp ovens.</blockquote>

So family members not only admit to the existence of the gas chambers, but washed their produce because of the ashes that came from the crematoria,,,I mean how much more evidence does anyone need??? Eyewitness testimony from BOTH sides, forensic evidence, AND documentary evidence running through the families descended from the war criminals.

It is rare that you get such clear evidence of a crime!

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

History in the Making: The Nation of Malawi Goes Progressive

A funny thing happened in Malawi. And it happened more by happenstance than by any plan.

You see a woman was elected Vice President of Malawi (putting them ahead of America where only men have been VP). I am sure people figured that woman would never get beyond VP because across the world, throughout history VP is kind of a useless position. In fact on my apartment building's co-op board I SOUGHT being VP because it was the least onerous office. I wound up with treasurer! Go figure.

So Joyce Banda, a woman, was elected VP of Malawi. Then came the death of 78-year-old President Bingu wa Mutharika...and suddenly Malawi, by accident, became the second nation in Africa to have a woman lead the country...the first being Liberia, but THAT is another that can be found here:

Again let me be clear that Liberia and Malawi are ahead of America here in terms of having a woman lead their nation. We have only had men.

Today Joyce Banda, the second woman to lead an African nation, took a HUGE step and I a afraid many people missed it. The second woman to lead an African nation has just come out in support of legalizing homosexuality, something that VERY few African leaders have been willing to do. Joyce Banda deserves our support...and NEEDS our support.

Most of Africa considers homosexuality a crime. Some nations even are trying to institute the death penalty for homosexuality. In Uganda, as covered by Current TV, the push for the death penalty for homosexuality probably originated in the United States: (sorry, it starts with an ad)

But death penalty aside, there are few nations in Africa where homosexuality is legal. In Egypt, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania and several others, all homosexual acts are illegal. In some other nations like Kenya and Zimbabwe male homosexual acts are illegal but female homosexual acts are legal. Even where homosexuality is technically legal, equality is far from a reality. South Africa is about the only African nation where homosexuals are given pretty much equal rights, beating America on many levels.

Malawi is one of the nations where male homosexual acts are illegal while female homosexual acts are legal. And there is no real equality.

Today Malawi President Joyce Banda has announced that she supports legalizing homosexuality in Malawi. This is, of course, just one step forward when it comes to a barbaric policy, but for the second women leader in Africa to take this step is a HUGE deal. I actually hope Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia (where homosexuality remains illegal) takes notice and follows suit.

From BBC News:

President Joyce Banda has said she wants Malawi to overturn its ban on homosexual acts - the first African country to do so since 1994.

Two Malawian men were sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2010 after saying they were getting married...

Mrs Banda took power last month after her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, died of a heart attack.

She has since reversed several of his policies, including devaluing the currency, in a bid to get donor funding restored...

In her first state of the nation address to parliament, Mrs Banda said: "Some laws which were duly passed by the august house... will be repealed as a matter of urgency... these include the provisions regarding indecent practices and unnatural acts."

The BBC's Raphael Tenthani in the main city, Blantyre, says the president has the support of a majority of MPs and so should be able to get parliament to overturn the law.

However, he says it will be an unpopular move with many church leaders, as well as the wider population in this conservative country...

This is a brave move by an African leader whose hold on power may be tenuous. She deserves our support.

In honor of Joyce Banda and her move to legalize LGBT people in Malawi, I have donated to the Boost Malawi Fund (UK based) and the Raising Malawi Fund (US based). I ask you to give a small amount to one or both of these funds to help support a brave woman who is standing up for the LGBT community in Africa.

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