Friday, 15 May 2009

Distorting the Holocaust: The Case of Haim Bresheeth

Following a request, I reproduce a post that I once made as a comment in a thread to Harry's Place blog about Haim Bresheeth. The post was made in October 2007 and for some reason, when Harry's Place moved to a new blog in 2008, the posts from that month were not copied accross. A point that I would change in that post is that I would not use  Anna Porter's book for the reference for footnote 5 as Porter's book, in my opinion, is unreliable. A better reference for the same point from a far more reliable scholar is the following:

Randolph L.Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary, Volume 2, (New York: Columbia University Press, Revised and Enlarged Edition, 1994) p.1,115

Subsequent to me writing that post, I have obtained a copy of the 1994 book, The Holocaust for Beginners, of which Bresheeth is  a named author along with Stuart Hood and Litza Jansz. In my opinion it is an absolute disgrace that Icon Books published this ideologically motivated travesty of history.  I feel that I must comment on the following. On page 144, the claim is made:


the Judenrat [in Hungary] ... went so far as to fabricate postcards from a non existant work camp with optimistic reports about food and conditions, in order to entice those left behind to join them.

What is a clear fabrication is that claim. The Jewish Council [Judenrat] did not fabricate any postcards and Bresheeth has no evidence that they did. As Randolph Braham comments (The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary, Volume 2, p.737), the postcards were "brought back from Auschwitz ....[and] were often written by the victims just before they were gassed."

On page 156, the book alleges that Jews who escaped from Auschwitz "delivered [to the Allies] in 1942 ... extremely accurate information about the camps and the numbers killed since 1941."  This again is a disgraceful error. The report that Bresheeth and his co-authors are referrring to is known as The Vrba-Wetzler Report. Given that  Vrba and Wetzler did not escape from Auschwitz until April 1944, .(Rudolf Vrba, I Escaped From Auschwitz, [London: Robson Books, 2006] pp. 246-7), the Allies could have hardly seen the information in 1942.  In fact, by the time the report was written and it was in the hands of the Allies, it was the middle of June 1944. (Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz & The Allies: The politics of rescue, [Feltham, Middlesex: Hamlyn Publishing Group, 1983] pp. 231-9). Given how many Jews were killed at Auschwitz between 1942 when the authors allege that the Allies received this information and June 1944 when the Allies did recieve this report, such an error by the authors is simply inexcusable. 

The section at the end of the book (pp.170-173) "The Zionist View of the Holocuast" is where the authors have gone to town with their own crass political views e.g. on page 171: 

While it is unfair and inaccurate to compare the Israeli occupation of eastern Palestine since 1967 to the Nazi occupation of Europe, there are undoubtedly similarities between the Israeli occupation and some of the worst, most racist occupations elsewhere.... This has produced ideas, practices and policies which resemble those found in Germany in the late 1930s
.On a book that theoretically should be suitable for school children, the inclusion of such drivel should mean that no school librarian should allow such a book on their shelves. 

The post that I made to the comments section of Harrys Place is copied below:

For those not familiar with the despicable Bresheeth he was associated with the notorious but defunct RETURN magazine and infamously wrote an article for that magazine entitled "Zionism and the Holocaust."

This particular article makes absurd suggestions that the Zionists in Nazi German had "political power" when of course they had no such power. The whole purpose of the article is to try and argue that the "lives of individuals, Jews and non Jews" were secondary to "the Zionist enterprise in Palestine" and that is why the Zionists were involved with "collaboration" with the Nazis "over the death of almost a million Jews." [1] Bresheeth's article is simply ahistorical and full of distortions of the truth. The litany of errors is truly frightening. It argues that Eichmann's first act after the Nazis invaded Hungary was to appoint "Zionist federation members, headed by Kastner, as the agent and the clearing house for all Jews in their relationship with the SS." This was not the case. Kasztner's committee was not appointed by the Nazis, it was formed in late 1942/early 1943 before the Nazis even invaded Hungary. Moreover Kastner was not head of that committee. It's head was Otto Komoly. Furthermore the Nazis had dealings with the Jewish Council – a body that Kastner was not a member of. Three mistakes in one sentence alone. What is more concerning is what Bresheeth leaves out. For example, when discussing the Kastner matter, Bresheeth does not mention that is ruled by the Supreme Court in Israel that he had not collaborated with the Nazis despite the views of Bresheeth. [2] One wonders if Bresheeth had even read the Supreme Court judgment because Bresheeth discusses that collaboration was "the price paid" of rescuing the Jews on the Kastzner train. Had Bresheeth read the ruling of the Supreme Court he would know that that argument was ruled to be wholly wrong and Kastner's actions were reasonable .[3]I can continue here - Bresheeth argues that Kaszner persuaded Hannah Senesh to give herself up. This is a blatant lie. Senesh was arrested virtually as soon as she crossed the border in Hungary on June 9, 1944 and it had nothing to do with Kastner.[4]He argues "Kastner acted as a result of his strongly held Zionist convictions" but fails to mention that other Zionists such as Moshe Krausz who was with hi in Hunagry and who were also strong Zionists disagreed with the actions of Kastner. [5] He spends a long time discussing the Ha'varah (Transfer Agreement) that enabled Jews to leave Germany for Palestine. Pehaps Bresheeth would have preferred it those Jews who were saved by this agreement would have stayed in Germany and met the same fate as millions of other Jews in Europe.

He states "Zionism agrees with the basic tenet of anti-Semitism, namely that Jews cannot live with non-Jews." This is a ludicrous and false argument. There are many non Jews living in Israel and no serious Zionist thinker in the mainstream has suggested that Israel should purely be for Jews.

The above is just about one article and I could go on pointing out distortion after distortion - but I believe I have made the point so I will leave you with a review of Bresheeth's book on Holocaust that was written for school children.

Editorial Reviews
From School Library Journal
"Grade 9 Up-This strange and contradictory book is not an introduction to the Holocaust; it is a statement of the authors' revisionist political beliefs about that dark period of history. Written and illustrated in a graphic-comic format, it promulgates the view that the Nazis did not intend "to destroy European Jewry physically" but rather, that "many forces within the German state as well as outside it helped to bring it [the Holocaust] about." The authors do not deny that the Holocaust occurred, but assert that the Nazi policy of genocide evolved only after Hitler was unable to expel all the Jews. They indict Western nations for refusing to accept Jewish refugees and argue that Zionists worked to impede immigration to all countries other than British-controlled Palestine. They also postulate that middle-and upper-class European Jewish communities colluded with the Nazis instead of resisting them. The "Aftermath" presents the revisionist stance that Israel today has become the executioner instead of the victim, the colonial oppressor rather than the oppressed. In addition to the bizarre and unproven propaganda permeating the text, the authors' account negates one of their primary assumptions; they demonstrate repeatedly that the killing fields and concentration camps were the results of Nazi policy initiated by Hitler and his henchmen. There is no reason why libraries serving young people should consider this highly politicized, inconsistently argued, and misleading title. Steer them instead to Milton Meltzer's Never to Forget (HarperCollins, 1976), Barbara Rogasky's Smoke and Ashes (Holiday, 1988), or Art Spiegelman's "Maus" books (Pantheon)."
Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.[6]

[1] Haim Bresheeth "Zionism and the Holocaust" RETURN issue 1 March 1989 pp.25-26 (subsequently reproduced on the following web site
[2] Yechiam Weitz "Kasztner, Rudolf (Israel) (1906-57)" in Walter Laqueur ed. The Holocaust Encyclopedia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001) pp. 379-82
[3]Leora Bilsky Transformative Justice: Israeli Identity on Trial (USA: University of Michigan, 2004) pp. 41-66
[4] Judith Tydor Baumel "'Parachuting to Their People' – the Operation of the Parachutist-Emissaries During World War II in Historical Perspective" Yad Vashem Studies Vol XXV 1996 pp. 137-180
[5] Anna Porter Kasztner's Train: The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2007) pp. 395-6
Posted by: Mikey at October 30, 2007 03:11 PM