Nick Griffin and The Four Million Variant

24 Mar 2010 by CST

Total Politics has published an extensive interview with BNP leader Nick Griffin, which covers a lot of ground. I only want to address one aspect of it: his continued refusal to acknowledge the facts of the Holocaust.

After trying to dodge the question several times, which Iain Dale to his credit does not let him get away with, Griffin comes up with aconvoluted answer based on two misconceptions common to Holocaust Denial narratives: firstly, that he doesn't understand how the number of 6 million deaths is sustainable, and secondly that he isn't allowed to say so properly:

I suppose I can tell you that the reasons for my doubts were, specifically with the six million figure. The problem was the way it was used as a moral club to prevent any sensible debate about immigration. That's the issue. It's nothing to do with anti-semitism or anything. And there's been people, including Jews and former concentration camp inmates, who've said that aspects of this history have been exaggerated and so on. So that's the base line. When I was at school, the figure of six million was made up of four million murdered at Auschwitz and two million murdered elsewhere. That's six million.

Well, that's not true.

That was the fact as presented to people in the 1970s. Then it emerged that the authorities of Auschwitz downgraded the scale of the murders there from four million to a still shattering and appalling 1.1 million. So you're 2.9 million short.

There were lots of other death camps, not just Auschwitz.

No, the figure of six million came from the idea that in all the other death camps and elsewhere, two million died and in Auschwitz there were four million gassed and cremated - that's where the figure was made up from. Take the noughts off. If you have six and take away 2.9, do you still have six?

No one would say where they came from. All they would do is persecute anyone who said six, take away 2.9, does not equal six. They were put in prison, beaten, had their houses firebombed, driven from their jobs. That greatly offended me and made me take up the issue of their behalf. But what I will say now is I believe that the evidence that came from British intelligence of German operations behind the lines on the Eastern front makes it quite possible to believe that a million people were shot to death on anti-partisan warfare, mainly as hostages and that the Germans, naturally enough, didn't pick white Russian or Belarussian peasants, who were quite often on their side. They picked the local Jewish community because most of the partisans were Jewish, which again you can't really be surprised about, as it's one of these cycles of horror. So therefore, you are no longer missing the 2.9. You are missing nearly two million. That's all. It would be interesting to be told where they come from. But because the powersthat- be are so convinced that it's true and have passed laws to say that it's true, and because it is irrelevant and because it's deliberately misunderstood, anyone who questions this is held up as anti-semitic. Whereas, it's nothing to do with antisemitism at all. It's about the rights of free speech, or the right of the states and powerful vested interest groups, to prevent free speech. That's what it's actually about. But because everyone's misunderstood or it leads one to jail, I have no doubt whatsoever that the others, the missing ones, must have been there so clearly the six million figure is correct.

In fact, like much of what comes out of Griffin's mouth, this is nonsense. As just a few minutes Google searching will show, most serious historians of the Holocaust have put the Auschwitz death toll at around the one million mark since the 1960s, and none have been accused of antisemitism. The Anti-Defamation League website explains:

Holocaust-denial attacks on this record of mass murder intensified following the end of the Cold War when it was reported that the memorial at Auschwitz was changed in 1991 to read that 1 million had died there, instead of 4 million as previously recorded. For Holocaust deniers, this change appeared to confirm arguments that historical estimates of Holocaust deaths had been deliberately exaggerated, and that scholars were beginning to "retreat" in the face of "revisionist" assertions. Thus, for example, Willis Carto wrote in the February 6, 1995, issue of The Spotlight, the weekly tabloid of his organization, Liberty Lobby, that "All 'experts' until 1991 claimed that 4 million Jews were killed at Auschwitz. This impossible figure was reduced in 1991. . . to 1.1 million. . . . The facts about deaths at Auschwitz, however. . , are still wrong. The Germans kept detailed records of Auschwitz deaths. . . These show that no more than 120,000 persons of all religions and ethnicity died at Auschwitz during the war. . . ."   

In fact, Western scholars have never supported the figure of 4 million deaths at Auschwitz; the basis of this Soviet estimate — an analysis of the capacity of crematoria at Auschwitz and Birkenau — has long been discredited. As early as 1952, Gerald Reitlinger, a British historian, had convincingly challenged this method of calculation. Using statistics compiled in registers for Himmler, he asserted that approximately 1 million people had died at Auschwitz; Raul Hilberg in 1961, and Yehuda Bauer In 1989, confirmed Reitlinger's estimate of Auschwitz victims. Each of these scholars, nonetheless, has recognized that nearly 6 million Jews were killed overall during the Holocaust.23  Polish authorities were therefore responding to long-accepted Western scholarship, further confirmed subsequently by documents released in post-Soviet Russia; the cynical allegations of "Holocaust revisionism" played no part in their decision. 

Far from Griffin's current position being an acknowledgement of the Holocaust, it is in fact, just another form of Holocaust Denial, which the Nizkor website calls 'The Four Million Variant':

Holocaust deniers often misstate a historical fact to confuse and confound an otherwise naïve reader, and the "Four Million Variant" is no exception. Each piece of this denier puzzle is flawed, from the contention that the number killed at Auschwitz was protected as an "irrefutable fact" to the existence of some cabal that slanders all those who question this figure.

Deniers often use the "Four Million Variant" as a stepping stone to leap from an apparent contradiction to the idea that the Holocaust was a hoax, again perpetrated by a conspiracy. They hope to discredit historians by making them seem inconsistent. If they can't keep their numbers straight, their reasoning goes, how can we say that their evidence for the Holocaust is credible? One must wonder which historians they speak of, as most have been remarkably consistent in their estimates of a million or so dead.

In short, all of the denier's blustering about the "Four Million Variant" is a specious attempt to envelope the reader into their web of deceit, and it can be discarded after the most rudimentary examination of published histories.


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