THIS WAS MAILED TO ME THE OTHER DAY SO I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE WORTH PUTTING UP CONSIDERING YESTERDAY'S PIECE ON MR. WIESENTHAL. MR. WIESAL WAS ANOTHER MAN WHO TIRELESSLY PROMOTED THE HOLOCAUST TO THE WORLD AND, IN SO DOING, SEEMED TO BECOME LARGER THAN LIFE THROUGH MISREPRESENTATIONS OF HIS EXPERIENCES.
By Bradley R. Smith
She explained that she had taken classes in Holocaust studies at Harvard and felt she had a good background on the subject. I wasn’t talking to someone who was in the dark about what the Holocaust had been. I wanted to know what texts were followed in her classes but somehow she was unable to name them. She did recall the name of Raul Hilberg, and I was able to give her the title of his book, The Destruction of the European Jews.
"But the writer who influenced me most is Elie Wiesel."
"Is that right?" I said. "We have something in common then. I don’t know who has influenced me more in the way I regard Holocaust literature than Elie Wiesel."
"Is that right?" she said enthusiastically, turning in her seat toward me.
"He’s not a historian though, is he?"
She considered the question thoughtfully, "Not in a strict sense."
I told her some of my favourite Elie Wiesel stories. I started with the one where he writes that there is evidence that when some Russians were executed at Babi Yar in Ukraine that the cadavers of those who were Jews, in a unique protest against their ill treatment, spurted geysers of blood from their graves for months after they were buried.
"He wrote that in Jews of Silence," I said, "In a straight book of journalism about Soviet Jews and the refusal of the State to allow them to emigrate. Its not a book of poetry, straight journalism. What do you think about a man who would repeat such a claim? "
Wiesel writes in long hand in French. His wife translates his stuff into English. Presumably Wiesel goes over the translation. The translation is typeset and presumably Wiesel goes over the galleys.
When he claims that the Jewish cadavers spurt geysers of blood from their graves for months after they were buried it isn’t a slip of the pen. Wiesel believes that it’s a credible story.
He wants you and me to believe it’s credible.
He wants the kids he teaches at Boston University to believe it’s credible.
It isn’t only that Wiesel is not a historian. There may be other things as well that he is not. He may not be wrapped too tight, for example."
The girl didn’t say anything.
I told her some more of Elie Wiesel stories. I took them largely from his recommended reading list of survivor eyewitness testimonies. I told them as amusingly as I could, and as gently as I could.
As I went along I introduced a few observations about the gas chamber stories from a Revisionist perspective. Occasionally she would smile or ask a question, but as I talked on she grew increasingly silent.
After three or four hundred miles I had the feeling I had said enough, but I couldn’t stop myself. The longer I talked the more investment I had in wanting her to see what good sense I was making.
I told her about how Wiesel especially recommends the eyewitness testimony of Yankiel Wiernik as evidence for the gas chambers at Treblinka and the extermination there of about a million Jews.
I told her how Wiernik claims that he saw with his own eyes how the cadavers of pregnant Jewish women that had been exterminated would burst open while they were being cremated…their bellies would burst open…and that inside their wombs you could see their fetuses burning like torches.
I said, "Here is the question I think Elie Wiesel’s students should pose to him: As the Americans and the British each specialized in burning alive German and Japanese women by the ten thousands in mass terror bombings, and as there are no reports that pregnant German or Japanese women were able to mount such displays with their own wombs and fetuses while their own bodies were in flames, as Yankiel Wiernik ~ is Elie Wiesel ~ suggesting that only Jewish ladies have the talent for it?
What is it that Wiesel is attempting to suggest when he recommends Wiernik’s eyewitness testimony to his students at Boston University?
What does he reveal about his standards for historical objectivity? What does he reveal about his inner life?"
At that moment the girl took her head in both hands, put her face on her knees and moaned: "I just feel like I’m being proselytized," she said.
She shook her head slowly from side to side, still holding it in both hands, doubled over in her seat.