Ever since the December 2011 release of their “white paper”, the bloggers of Holocaust Controversies have been dogged by the accusation of plagiarism. A number of cases which substantiate this accusation are discussed in a recently released book, but even this lengthy book could not address all instances of the bloggers’ plagiarism and misrepresentation. This post will discuss a case which said book does not mention, and which also has a significance beyond illustrating the misconduct of the controversial bloggers.
On page 50 of the “white paper”, Nick Terry refers to a report which he introduces as follows:
A second report came from two Belgian POWs, who had observed hundreds of wagons passing through the Rawa Ruska rail junction and returning empty. Those who died on the way or were shot trying to escape were dumped unceremoniously onto the side of the tracks.
He then quotes the report:
What made the most impression on them was the extermination of the Jews. They had both witnessed atrocities. One of the Belgians saw truck loads of Jews carried off into a wood and the trucks returning a few hours later – empty. Bodies of Jewish children and women were left lying in ditches and along the railways. The Germans themselves, they added, boasted that they had constructed gas chambers where Jews were systematically killed and buried.
and offers the following citation
PRB Stockholm to PID London, 18.5.43, PRO FO 371/34430; cf. Bankier, p.110
Nick has explained his citation system: this form of reference means that he has seen the original document
Where we have seen the documents ourselves, but it is already known in the literature, we have written Kommandant in Weissruthenien Ia, Befehl Nr. 24, 24.11.41, gez. v. Bechtolsheim, NARB 378-1-698, p. 32; cf. Browning, Origins, p. 289.
and added that
where we have cited archival documents, they were seen in their original context.
so we know that he is claiming to have seen the document himself – and in its proper file context to boot.
Now, let’s take a look at the relevant passage of the document from PRO FO 371/34430
Notice a couple of differences: first, in the document the gas chambers are located in Lemberg, whereas in Nick Terry’s version their location isn’t given. Perhaps I’d better point out that Belzec and Lemberg are in opposite directions from Rawa Ruska. There’s no way anyone in Rawa Ruska would have confused Lemberg with Belzec.
Second, the bit about seeing “hundreds of wagons passing through the Rawa Ruska rail junction” is not supported by the document in any way.
On the other hand, here is the relevant page from the book by Bankier:
Bankier’s rendition is identical to Nick Terry’s version.
1. Nick Terry took his quotation from and description of this document from David Bankier rather than from the original document. For the sake of generosity, I will take him at his word and accept that he has seen the document, but will add that it appears unlikely that he read the document, and quite certain that he did not use the document.
2. David Bankier published a severely altered quotation which actually went so far as to reverse the order of sentences – and than claimed that he was using “the words of the British agent who spoke to [the Belgians]”. His altered quotation omitted the key fact that the reported gas chambers were located in Lemberg, not Belzec. This is very poor behavior on the part of the onetime head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem.
3. The document is not evidence about the “discovery process” of extermination in gas chambers at Belzec, but rather a nice illustration of the prevalence of false wartime rumors about gas chambers.
In their white paper, the bloggers emphasize the importance of openly acknowledging mistakes:
We also expect MGK to take note of many of the serious errors which we have spotlighted in this critique. We have demonstrated that they are unequivocally wrong on innumerable occasions. Simply adapting or omitting their mistakes from future versions of their work will not be good enough; instead, we would hope that MGK admit their mistakes in an honest fashion, open to their readers and the public.
Similarly, I would hope that Nick Terry and his fellow bloggers address this shameful case of misrepresentation in an open and forthright fashion. Sadly, it is to be expected that in this as in other cases, they will attempt to quietly fix the error without any admission of wrongdoing.