Spoonfeeding the Mule

Roberto Muehlenkamp has again updated some posts in his futile attempt to refute my criticisms, and has again offered little but misinterpretation, incomprehension, and illiteracy. We all know what that means: it’s time for another round of spoonfeeding that dimwitted animal. As usual, I will simply ignore cases when Muehlenkamp has simply repeated himself without even acknowledging my previous refutation, and while pretending that I had not addressed an issue. (He may not be deliberately lying in these cases, as his reading comprehension is so poor that he doesn’t even notice concise rebuttals.)


Let us recall the issue at hand. I posted a document showing that an American official recognized the possibility that mistranslations of terms such as “Entjudung” and “Ausrottung” had caused the fabrication of reports of Auschwitz extermination. Muehlenkamp took issue with this (although he appears to have still not managed to understand what the document’s author is suggesting), and in a response I explained that as “Ausrottung” was held to be an appropriate term for events which had taken place in the 1930s, it cannot imply “radicalization” of Nazi policy (towards mass killing) because it was already used to describe Nazi policy before that radicalization allegedly took place. In support of this fact I mentioned the book Der gelbe Fleck, which speaks of the Ausrottung of 500,000 German Jews in 1936. In reply Muehlenkamp (who has not read the book in question) alluded to a passage from that book which had been cited by Jürgen Langowski. In this passage, after referring to the falling and sub-replacement Jewish birth rate, as well the fact that some Jews committed suicide – the book mentions that in Frankfurt am Main a total of 14 Jews did so – describes German policy as an “assassination” of the Jewish minority. Does this passage support the notion that the reference to the “Ausrottung” of 500,000 German Jews in the book’s title is a reference to killing? No. The passage occurs in a chapter titled “Deutschland im Schatten der Nürnberger Judengesetze” – which is in fact the book’s first chapter, and which outlines the progress of German Judenpolitik leading up to the Nuremberg laws. This chapter begins with the following quotation from Völkischer Beobachter:

Alle Vorschläge, die einen Dauerzustand, eine Dauerregelung für die Juden in Deutschland beabsichtigen, lösen die Judenfrage nicht, denn sie lösen die Juden nicht von Deutschland. Und darauf kommt es an…. Unseren Staat müssen wir ohne die Juden aufbauen. Sie können nur staatenlose Fremdlinge bleiben und keine gesetzliche rechtliche Dauerstellung beziehen. Nur so wird Ahasver gezwungen, zum letzten Mal den Wanderstab zu ergreifen.

This states rather explicitly that German policy was centered around removing the Jews from Germany, not killing them, and the choice of this quotation as a chapter epigraph showed that Der Gelbe Fleck was composed with full awareness of this fact.

Coming now to the specific passage (quoted by Muehlenkamp, taken from Langowski) that refers to an “assassination” of Jewish minority, one should first observe that such rhetorical excess is found throughout the chapter, for example in the reference to the “Golgothaweg” that the Jews are said to have walked. Evidently this did not mean that they had all been literally crucified – it’s just another example of Jews making opportunistic usage of a Christian language with themselves in the place of Jesus, for the purpose of the emotional manipulation of a Christian audience. That these passages do not, as Muehlenkamp thinks, refer to anticipated future killings is proven by the tense in they are written. Both the “assassination” passage which Muehlenkamp quotes and the “Golgothaweg” passage refer to past events, not future events. Langowski strategically omits this information – had he begun his quotation one sentence earlier, it would have been clear that the entire passage refers to past events. Therefore Muehlenkamp’s interpretation, in which the authors are supposed to be referring to what they think will happen to the Jews in the future, can be ruled out for simple grammatical reasons.

As I had pointed out that Der gelbe Fleck (which Muehlenkamp has not read) actually contains a chapter on “Die Austreibung”, Muehlenkamp suggests that this reflects a difference of opinion between different authors of the book:

a chapter on Austreibung (expulsion) suggests that, notwithstanding the book’s deliberately alarming title, not all of the authors whose writings Feuchtwanger reproduced were of the opinion that the Nazis’ anti-Jewish policy at the time was aimed at an Ausrottung (extermination) of Germany’s Jewish population, as opposed to expelling Germany’s Jews or inducing them to leave the country.

Again we see the problems inherent in interpreting a book you have not read. Contrary to Muehlenkamp’s supposition, the chapters are not credited to separate authors – the authorship is common throughout. As for Feuchtwanger, who Muehlenkamp supposes reproduced other authors’ writings, he merely contributed a brief foreword. Anyone who had looked at the book would know this.


As I have previously mentioned, even “extermination” – a considerably stronger word than “Ausrottung” – is often used in a non-homicidal way. Take the following two examples from 1938 [emphasis added]


Our Government cannot be called upon to take any action in relation to Austria. We know that it is pledged not to interfere in Austria’s affairs, but where Jews are wantonly rendered homeless there is an implicit pledge to protect on the part of the Power to which mandatory duties have been given to build up a Jewish citadel for refugees; and the sudden extermination of another 300,000 Jews in Austria makes the claim paramount. Hopeless, helpless, unhappy, these tragic wanderers should not look in vain to us for sanctuary, and I will prophesy that the Almighty will bless those who are good to the stranger at the gate.


In view of the apparent extermination of the Jews in Austria, could the right hon. Gentleman not get some modification made in the immigration schedule which has recently been put up, as the policy of this Government on Palestine?

The Jews of Austria were exterminated in 1938 – but evidently “exterminated” does not mean “killed” in this context. The complete normalcy of such linguistic usage refutes the argument that “exterminatory language” (like Vernichtung and Ausrottung) proves or offers decisive evidence for actual extermination (in the sense of across-the-board killing).


Finally, Muehlenkamp again complains that I did not quote chapter and verse for my allusion to the fact that the Luther bible used “ausrotten” non-homicidally, despite the fact that the text is online and searchable, so that he could find the passage with a little use of CTRL+F. He states that “this suggests that the Luther bible doesn’t support Jansson’s claim”. No fear, oh illiterate one: the passage does indeed support my position, and you’ll get a reference soon enough – when it’s convenient for me.

Muehlenkamp still misreading Ettling

As Muehlenkamp is a fan of arson investogator Ettling’s mention of Steiner’s Treblinka, he feels the need to cover up the fact that Ettling’s experimental results not only offer no support for his beliefs about mass cremation, but directly contradict them. Ignoring the details of the experimental conditions and results, he focuses on the section of Ettling’s paper labelled “Discussion”, and in particular claims that

Ettling’s further conclusion that “the bodies found in the car in Idaho could have been consumed by their own fire without someone else adding fuel” is also not to Jansson’s liking.

Muehlenkamp appears to think that this statement is made with reference to Ettling’s experiments, that “consumed” means “cremated”, and that “without someone else adding fuel” means “with no external fuel at all”. He is wrong. Evidently the explanation already given was not clear enough for him. Let’s elaborate (though this may still not be basic enough for Muehlenkamp the illiterate, but Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens).

As the first two paragraphs of the paper make clear, Ettling was investigating the question “If a body in a car fire is burned so thoroughly as to be difficult to identify, does this prove that extra fuel (beyond that contained in the car itself) was added to the fire?”. He answered this question in the negative: it is possible, under favorable conditions, for an ordinary car fire to burn a body beyond recognition. Ettling was NOT investigating the burning of bodies without any external fuel at all, and he was not investigating complete cremation, but merely burning to the point that identifying the corpse is difficult or impossible. Now, Ettling did read Steiner’s “Treblinka”, which he appears to have assumed to be a factual account, and therefore did refer to true self-cremation – but only in the form of reporting what Steiner claimed happened at Treblinka. This kind of statement cannot be used to support Muehlenkamp’s beliefs on Treblinka, as it is not something supported by Ettling’s experiments, and would amount to saying “I believe that true self-cremation (or something similar) was possible at Treblinka because Steiner said so.” As for the argument that Ettling believed that Steiner’s account was factual – so what? Who cares? The issue is what experimental results say, not the personal beliefs of some arson investigator. Insofar as we are dealing not with Steiner’s claims but with Ettling’s actual experimental results, “consumed” refers to the kind of burning beyond recognition seen in Kamiah case, and “without someone else adding fuel” means “without fuel beyond that which is normally contained in a car fire”. As I have already shown, however, an ordinary car fire already contains large amounts of fuel, far beyond what Muehlenkamp thinks necessary for cremation.

Burial density: Roberto “Look ma, no research” Muehlenkamp speculates about a source he hasn’t read

In response to my amplification that my information about burial density, Muehlenkamp – without checking the source which I gave – speculates that the graves were not completely filled, so that the capping layer was thicker than reported (contrary to its measurement given in the chart which I reproduced). How do I know that they’re talking about the actual space taken up by the carcasses? Because I actually read the report, not just the table which I reproduced, and consequently I can understand what information the authors are giving. I really can’t be bothered to respond any further to Muehlenkamp’s inane speculation about how to interpret something which he has not read.

On Muehlenkamp’s BMI lies

On the entirely marginal issue of Muehlenkamp’s deceptions in support of his silly theory that I was unable to find one of his sources, couldn’t figure out his reasoning, but somehow by sheer luck and bizarre rounding practices happened to obtain information from his source nevertheless – already discussed here and here – Muehlenkamp is reduced to asking why I didn’t mention where I got the range 15-18.8. That’s simple: first, because I was concisely summarising an opponents’ argument before proceeding to my own, and consequently placed a premium on brevity and efficiency (things which Muehlenkamp is incapable of attaining), and second, because it was obvious – anyone who was interested enough to look into the matter could figure it out quite easily. Muehlenkamp now says that he was ignorant of this matter himself; I will take him at his word, but in light of the close connection between the pages on the website in question this is like citing an appendix to a book but claiming that you are unaware of the chapter which that very appendix supplemented.

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One Response to Spoonfeeding the Mule

  1. Pingback: Mopping up | Holocaust History Channel

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