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Auschwitz: A New History;Has Novel Information. Debunks Jan T. Gross’ GOLDEN HARVEST on Poles Looting the Jewish Dead Out of Greed,

jan peczkis|Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The most noteworthy items in this book are not about Auschwitz, but about other aspects of the Holocaust. I focus on them. Other reviews already inform the reader about the overall content of this book, and I do not repeat them.


Surprise. Most westerners know almost nothing about the Nazi German extermination of Poles. Author Laurence Rees, speaking in reference to what he calls the “confusion in the popular consciousness about the true history of Auschwitz” (p. ix) writes, “This assumption is based partly on a BBC audience survey conducted in 2004 to test public knowledge and perception of Auschwitz. The research demonstrated that the base majority of people who had heard of the camp thought it had been built to exterminate the Jews.” (p. 301).

In addition, and in allusion to the relatively-publicized German LEBENSBORN program, Rees quips, “The Nazi policy of stealing children in Poland is significantly less well known than is the extermination of the Jews, but it fits into the same pattern.” (p. 17). [No kidding].

The author calls attention to the German plans to starve 30 million Slavs to death in the wake of Operation Barbarossa (pp. 36-37), a plan that largely foundered because the Soviet Union did not collapse militarily as had been expected. Unfortunately, however, Rees eventually lapses into a mystification of the Holocaust as he expresses hope that the Holocaust never becomes compared with any other genocide. (pp. 298-299). His tacit reasoning behind the presumed special-ness of the Holocaust is incorrect. (See comments).


Until recently, the death toll at the Nazi-German death camps in German-occupied Poland—namely Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek, and Treblinka—was only roughly approximated, as records had been destroyed. Author Laurence Rees (pp. 163-164) presents the contents of a decoded German cable, which gives the death toll as of December 31, 1942. The total stood at 1,274,166. The respective numbers for the Operation Reinhard German death camps were: Majdanek (24,733), Sobibor (101,370), Belzec (434,508), and Treblinka (713,555).


Rees takes a middle view of the Danes—recognizing them as a people that valued human rights as well as a people who were reticent to accept large numbers of Jewish refugees from Germany during the 1930s. (p. 217). The later German occupation of Denmark was mild. Rees realizes that there is no way of knowing how the Danes would have acted had they faced a brutal occupation that was comparable to that faced by the Poles. (p. 217).

A BBC program quoted Rudy Bier, a rescued Danish Jew. He said, “I always maintain that if the Germans had wanted to stop that operation they could have done it extremely easily, because the whole of the water between Denmark and Sweden is not all that wide, nor that long, and with four or five motor torpedo boats the whole operation would have gone flat.’” (p. 216).


Neo-Stalinist Jan T. Gross has gotten a lot of adulatory coverage, in the Holocaust establishment and in the media, for his GOLDEN HARVEST, wherein he portrayed Catholic Poles as a villainous people. Why? Because some Poles had searched for valuables among the ashes of murdered Jews at the sites of death camps.

It is very easy for someone who has never lived through a war to moralize about the conduct of those who did. And if the accuser can score better Jewish-victimization points at Poland’s expense, then so much the better.

Author Laurence Rees interviewed some Poles confessedly involved such ghoulish actions, and found that it had nothing to do with Poles being some kind of primitive, heartless people. He writes, “When Polish teenager Jozefa Zielinska and her family returned to Auschwitz after the war, they discovered THEY HAD NOWHERE TO LIVE. Their house had been destroyed in the massive Nazi reorganization of the area and they were forced to live in a shed that had once housed chickens. To make money, Jozefa and her friends went to the site of the crematoria at Birkenau and searched for gold. They dug up the soil and the fragments of bones that lay within it, placed them in a bowl, and sieved them through with water. ‘EVERYONE FELT BAD DOING IT,’ says Jozefa. ‘Whether they had family that had died in the camp or not, everyone felt uneasy because they were human bones, after all. It wasn’t a pleasure. BUT IT WAS POVERTY THAT FORCED US TO DO SUCH A THING.’ With the money gained by selling the gold they had prospected from the soil of Birkenau, Jozefa Zielinski’s family managed to buy a cow.” (p. 294; Emphasis added).

Laurence Rees added, "Jan Piwczyk was another Pole, forced by circumstance to live in one of the chicken coops near Birkenau, and he too admits that he searched for valuables near the remains of the crematoria: ‘I remember I found a gold tooth and a Jewish coin and a gold bracelet. Now today I wouldn’t do it, right? I wouldn’t look through human bones, because I know this is sacrilege, BUT AT THE TIME THE CONDITIONS FORCED US TO DO IT.’ When he was not searching for valuables, Jan and his friends also bribed the Soviet soldiers, who occasionally patrolled nearby, so that they could take wood from the barracks of Birkenau to use to build their own houses. ‘You know,’ says Jan, ‘AFTER THE WAR IT WAS TOUGH—YOU HAD TO START FROM SCRATCH.’” (p. 294; Emphasis added).
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