Holocaust: chapter unexplained

From an early age, I knew that my grandfathers had served in the armed forces during the Second World War. Not surprisingly, the first documentary I ever saw on the subject pulled me in; I wanted to know more about what had been experienced. At the same time, the documentary featured a plot that was as intriguing as any novel, except it was real and yet told of a world so fundamentally different from the one I knew. It was a curious dichotomy - and it left me wanting to learn more about the Second World War.

In time, I bought my first major publication on the war - a Time-Life hardcover anthology:

I still remember the purchase; I was browsing through a line of stores along a beachfront boardwalk and walked into a bookstore where the book caught my eye. It sat on a shelf and was opened up to a page with colorized images from the past. The color images brought history to life in a way I had never seen before, and led my youthful self to believe the publication was a unique find, well worth its weight in gold.

Today, colorized photos from the past are quite common, and the publication, which has since gone out of print, now costs less than a dollar on Amazon. Nevertheless, it was an important part of my early understanding of the Second World War, just as it surely was for thousands of others. For that reason, I was alarmed to discover that the book I had purchased, which I had trustingly accepted as the "truth" from a "trustworthy source", is filled with distortions. The following examines the issue in greater depth, raising an important question: why do people continue to trust those who abuse our trust?

1) Photo manipulation: a primer

In the 1920s, supporters of the Soviet Union picked up where D.W. Griffith left off and became masters of persuasive and manipulative media. Initially, there was Sergei Eisenstein's cinematic masterpiece Battleship Potemkin (1925), which incorporated special editing techniques to depict the rise of the Soviet Union most favorably. The Soviets also made use of political posters and media products with carefully-chosen imagery and slogans designed to get the public to respond positively to their ideology. Finally, the Soviets became skilled at modifying photographic imagery to promote their political agenda. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin took full advantage of this industry and its technological capabilities; in one example, Stalin had a photograph cropped and transformed into an artistic print to emphasize his position not just as a head figure in the Soviet Union, but as the head figure:

Top left: the original photo, followed by
increasingly-selective renderings

Another photograph, shown below, was physically retouched to hide the fact that the person on the right, Nikolai Yezhov, had been associated with Stalin (Yezhov was eventually murdered by Stalin's henchmen):

In the example above, note the use of white - a "Gaussian blur" - to retouch the edited area; the same strategy was employed to modify the image below, if only for optimal aesthetic, by eliminating the man behind the Soviet cosmonaut:

The Soviets used the same tactic to remove Grigoriy Nelyubov from photographs after the state no longer wanted to promote him:

But the Soviet craft of photograph manipulation went well beyond making Stalin appear more powerful or erasing whoever was deemed to be problematic to the Soviet state; in 1941, following the invasion of the Soviet Union by German and Central European forces - and the anti-Soviet rebellions in the Baltic states and Ukraine - image modification tactics were employed to depict the rebels and invaders as a murderous band of bloodthirsty exterminators. The objective was to gain worldwide support against the rebels and invaders. Here are several examples, in sets which show the original above each of the manipulated copies:

In the manipulated photo above, note the facial features of the man, suggesting he is of Russian heritage. Also, note the white smudge/Gaussian blur where the figure in the original photo was edited out.

But the Soviets were not the only ones to take advantage of the possibilities of image modification.

2) Buchenwald liberation photo

The following photo is commonly used to represent the plight of the Jews during the Second World War:

A former Buchenwald inmate, holding up the widely-used photograph

It is currently featured on the National World War II Museum website:

Website of the National WWII Museum

But it is a fake photo; the originally-produced image, shown below, appears in the following, rare publication:

Note the difference...

Critically, when the common, doctored photo is enlarged, the signs and symptoms of manipulation become apparent:

The standing man's shoulder is blended into the post (above).
No wonder the museums crop the blowup image (below).

Note where the same photo - now a print on the wall - ends. The snapshot was taken during U.S. President Obama's tour of the Buchenwald Museum in 2012.

Notably, the version of the photo with the scrawny, naked standing man creates an entire narrative that the photo really lacks without him.

3) Hanging man in Buchenwald

The themes to pay attention to in this example are "Hollywood" becoming our understanding of reality, as well as mislabeling and recaptioning. The results can be just as dramatic as any alternation of the physical image. Our exhibit is a photo that is also associated with the Holocaust. It appears in the Time-Life book I prefaced earlier, above the following caption: "[s]uspended by their wrists, two tortured inmates dangle from trees near Buchenwald. An SS guard stands over a fallen victim."

What the book fails to establish is that the image is not from Buchenwald; it instead comes from a post-war East German film studio called DEFA, dating back to 1958. This was revealed only in 1996. The question is: who originally presented the image as authentic - and did so without doing the research?

 was not the only one to mislead the public about the image; as late as 2009, museums sometimes featured it in their displays. Berlin's Jewish Museum, for example, had the photo blown-up to near life-size proportion, on canvas:

3) The legacy of Buchenwald: a psychological warfare project with ties to Time-Life?

The rabbit hole is quite deep, and I would like to share a video here pertaining to the topic. However, I would need to consult a source that I would feel better editing first, to focus on the most critical parts that matter. Stay tuned.

4) Photo alleging to portray Jews being killed near Ivangorod in 1942

The following image is commonly featured in displays and books dealing with the Second World War. It is said to document the mass murder of Jews during that period, as part of the so-called "Final Solution", in an event now known as the Holocaust:

The image also appears in the Time-Life book, as shown below, as part of its section on the Holocaust:

Looking at what the image conveys, it is easy to see why it is used to represent the Holocaust; one instantly sees a man in uniform who is armed and appears to be taking aim at a woman who is helpless, defenseless and holding a small, presumably innocent child tightly in her arms. The image thus contains all the emotion, power dynamics and brutality that the public has been shown of, as has come to associate with, the Holocaust. But there are several problems with the image, raising the question whether there has been a deliberate attempt to manipulate the public with it.

First of all, the image we are often shown has been cropped; below is a less-cropped version of the same photograph which is used on Wikipedia:

To be fair, the Time-Life book actually features this part of the image as well, on the opposite page:

So far, everything checks out.

The caption at the bottom of the page guides the viewer, and states: "On a bleak plain in the Nazi-occupied East, an SS trooper takes aim at a Jewish mother and child while frightened peasants prepare a grave for them." 

From this, one might determine that the cropping does not necessarily change the understanding and emotional value of what is portrayed and is not really an issue worth discussing.

But lets forget both the Wikipedia and Time-Life version and look at the full picture - or, rather, all of its known parts:

Several things should immediately jump out at you. First, there is a body at the foot of the soldier:

In the Time-Life book, the body is blurred and lightened out of existence, as shown below:

The image on Wikipedia has the body not only lightened out of existence, but cropped out for good measure.

And what about these guns, on the left side of the full picture?

They were cropped out of the Time-Life book image:

That is also the case in the image Wikipedia chose to feature:

One might argue that at the cropping and removals simply eliminate the distraction and allow the viewer to focus on certain parts, like the soldier and the helpless mother with the child or, when a more complete image is used, the people crouching in front of her. Arguably, these modifications are thus just as immaterial as the others cited. But take a closer look at a version without all this tampering and you will see several important things. First, let us concentrate on the dark, shadowy patch below the man pictured with the gun:

The dark patch kind of looks like a shadow, but it does not really sit like a shadow on the natural landscape; more importantly, it does not trace back to anything observable and likewise ends too abruptly to be attached to anything out of frame. Furthermore, note that there is some sort of unnatural-looking raised area in the middle of the dark patch:

What is that?

Perhaps this is a mark left from tampering with the image, which leads one to question whether the black patch ever really existed in the natural photo, or was merely inserted to cover up something that took away from the narrative we are expected to believe the image conveys.

Notably, with all the cropping and high contrast editing, the black patch just looks like a shadow created by some out-of-frame element, regardless whether that means another soldier, a landscape object or something else:

But there is more.

Have another look at the full picture - or rather, all of its known parts:

Do you see anything else peculiar about the full-blown photograph that disappeared in the modified versions - specifically, the versions that opt for a higher contrast?

If not, recall the white blurs on the photos manipulated by the Soviets, like the ones below:

The issue becomes more apparent if you colorize the photograph:

What could possibly be the explanation for the giant smoke-like blur that extends downwards from the sky, or the scratched blur to the right of the stick object, as shown above?

Also, notice that the same smoky-white discoloration smudging wraps around the body of the woman and the child. That seems to suggest the woman and child were not part of the original photo. The same is true of the soldier, especially as there is a faintly visible, thin line to the right of his leg, which extends the length of his leg. That supports the theory that the solider was not even part of this landscape photo, but spliced over it instead:

Finally, notice that the body lying on the ground is a completely different shade than all the other, highly-silhouetted figures; is that not peculiar? The body lying on the ground is really the only figure that looks like it is part of a natural, original photograph. So maybe that was the original photo: a body lying in a field somewhere.

But let's have a closer look at the only man pictured holding a gun:

Does that look like the face of a German to you? The man's face is round and Mongoloid, thus fitting the profile of a Soviet soldier as to the extend of a caricature, and almost as well as the stereotypically Russian face did in our other, earlier example. Moreover, note the fat, black line across the orbital region/eye area of the man; the fat, black line just so happens to hide part of the facial area that would provide the best opportunity to determine the soldier's ethnic profile - especially if his features, given the Mogoloid facial structure, were to reveal an epicanthic fold, a trademark of people from Siberia, Mongolia and the Far East (i.e. Soviet). If you wanted to hide the fact that you took a photo of a Soviet actor posing in a German uniform and inserted it into a landscape photo, that is exactly what you would do: find a way to blacken out the facial features. Combine this with the fact that the high-contrast of the soldier (as well as the woman and child) which does not really fit the image, as well as the edit line running parallel to the man's trousers and the smoky blur around the periphery of the figures, and you have plenty of reasons to suspect that there was some image-tampering going on.

Finally, there is the history of the photo to consider; as it turns out, the photo was produced by a Polish photojournalist named Jerzy Tomaszewski, who was working in a secret, Warsaw-based photography lab called Foto-Ris, which served the underground Polish resistance by producing war-time propaganda. The lab was fully capable of doing things like editing and manipulating photos for propaganda purposes - and would have plenty of reasons for doing so, given its stake in the outcome of the war.

Tomaszewski claimed that he had merely intercepted the image after it was seized in a Warsaw Post Office on its way from Soviet territory to Germany. Defending himself against accusations that the image was fake, Tomaszewski produced another photo allegedly featuring one of the same civilians, and several soldiers in similar uniforms, standing on similar-looking terrain. The image had the same inscription on the back, with the date and location, and the handwriting was comparably similar to the handwriting on the other, more controversial photo. The claim is that the images were part of a series and in the same attempted mailing.

Apart from whether Tomaszewski is a reliable witness or not - especially in view of the implications of the photo and the consequences if he were found to be a fraud -  the fact that somebody wrote on the back of the two photos in the same handwriting proves nothing. Nor does the fact that similar terrain appears in the second image (what, flat, plain land?) or similar-looking uniformed men (what, dark silhouettes with eyes blurred?), or similar-looking civilians (in universally common peasant clothes?). Likewise, the idea that the Soviets would not be able to sew a uniform that looked like a German one or take a German one based on all the dead German soldiers lying around their country, is laughable, considering the Soviets already did exactly that.

Part of Tomaszewski's theory also conflicts with what we know about history. As this book explains, all mail which the German soldiers sent from the Soviet Union back to Germany was opened and searched by German military services. The objective was to locate and censor whatever was necessary to hide the gravity of the situation on the war front and preserve morale. And, at least according to the mainstream interpretation of history, censorship was also practiced to cover up the genocide that the German forces were involved in. After all, that intended secrecy is why we are told that there is no order, in direct language, revealing what we are told was happening as part of the Final Solution; that is why, we are told, the meeting minutes from the Wannsee Conference do not give any explicit indication of what was supposedly happening; that is why, we are told, Allied intelligence, despite cracking the German code, never produced a single memorandum detailing what we are told the German forces were carrying out, in explicit terms. We are told German soldiers on the Eastern Front were well aware of what was supposedly happening, but sworn to secrecy and well-versed on the repercussions of sending photos back to Germany that supposedly would have exposed the whole genocidal operation. At the very least, a photo depicting something that was supposedly happening and no ordinary civilian was to know about - which Hitler, the Wannsee Conference attendees and every commander refused to speak of in explicit terms - would have been detected and thrown out.Just as importantly, the envelope that was in transit, in which the images would have been found, was never produced as part of the record, so we do not know who the letter was addressed to - or who sent it or when it was stamped, which is really what would be clear and convincing evidence that the image is not a forgery. Unfortunately, all we have is this photo and the myriad of questions it raises.

5) Photo of prisoners in Nordhausen who were allegedly burned alive by the Germans in a barn

When the British bombed Nordhausen on April 3 and 4, 1945, about 8800 people were killed as well as an additional 1500 sick prisoners who had been interned at the Boelcke-Kaserne in the area. It is unknown how many survivors died in the week that followed - until April 11, 1945, when the U.S. Army arrived and laid out the dead, away from the rubble.

In any case, covering up the bombing and utilizing its aftermath for propaganda purposes, the U.S. forces claimed that the Germans had lit the prisoner facilities on fire and burned it to the ground. Time (before the creation of Time-Life) was on site to frame the narrative in this manor, giving rise to the following, which was presented as evidence of German war crimes:

The caption for the Time photograph states: "At Nordhausen, bodies of almost 3,000 slave laborers are laid out along a bombed street before burial by U.S. troops. These dead once worked at the Nordhausen underground factory which made parts for V-1 and V-2 bombs. The plant was started in September 1943 and its construction probably cost the lives of 20,000 slaves who died from starvation, overwork and beatings."

Notice how the caption fails to indicate that the bodies laid out in the street were victims of the bombings, and instead throws in some "probably" statistic which, in connection with the bodies in the image, could lead the viewer to conclude that the dead pictured died from starvation, overwork and beatings going back to 1943, save the fact that two-year old corpses would look much, much different.

The following newsreel was produced about Nordhausen, too:

As you can see, it is equally disinformative.

Today, the false narrative that carefully navigated around the cause/effect of the Allied bombings has been corrected - but not before it ostensibly led American troops to go on a murdering spree in Nordhausen, killing the local population in a rage after discovering the deceased prisoners that had been laid out, and assuming - from the newsreels and all the propaganda - that the Germans did it.

Very similar was the situation at Dachau.

6) Dachau gas chamber

Photographs captioned like the one below, US Army photo SC 206194, were used to forward the false claim that Dachau was an extermination camp, equipped with gas chambers:

The original caption stated: "these chambers were used by the Nazi guards for killing prisoners of the infamous Dachau concentration camp."

The rumors of gas chamber exterminations had begun long before the Allies had even reached Dachau, and quite possibly influenced what the Allied troops did afterwards. But the truth is Dachau did not have gas chambers for any purpose other than delousing (spraying clothing to kill lice and thus prevent a disease called typhus).

7) Mass-murdered prisoners at Dachau

Yad Vashem - a Holocaust memorial site - captions the following image of Dachau as "Prisoners' bodies cast in a corner after liberation":

The caption is thus worded so ambiguously - and, if done on purpose, so slyly - that the viewer might conclude that the "bodies" of the "prisoners" were of inmates who were discovered after the liberation. But what actually happened after the U.S. Army took over at Dachau suggests otherwise. Below we see the same, textured wall in the image above, as well as the cart-like object, from a different angle. In the image below, you can see several men up against the wall with their hands up while the American soldier aims his machine gun, and others are already lying dead on the floor. And just who is lying dead on the floor?


The eagle on the breast of the uniform
gives away that these bodies are German
...as does the American soldier squatting triumphantly over top

So, now we know the truth about the "bodies cast in in a corner": they were murdered by the Allies, specifically the Americans - and those bodies were German. We know this for a fact because, when pressed for details during a post-incident investigation, U.S. Lieutenant Howard Buchner provided the following information:

Meanwhile, the prisoners held at Dachau, which Yad Vashem failed to distinguish from the murdered victims along the wall, were liberated:

The prisoners actually look relatively healthy and well-fed, which is odd considering Dachau was a concentration camp for political prisoners, i.e. those with sympathies towards the Soviet Union. One would think such individuals would be singled out of torture and abuse - especially as word spread about the atrocities that the Soviets unleashed on the retreating and nearly-conquered German people as the end of the war neared. Perhaps the Germans at Dachau did not have a handle on the whole "point the machine gun and paint them full of hot lead" tactic that the Americans evidently understood well.

8) "Symbols of the Final Solution"

Here are two photographs from the Time-Life book which appear above the caption: "Symbols of the "Final Solution."

To recall, the Final Solution was, according to the conventional understanding of history, a plan established by German leadership at the Wannsee Conference in 1942 to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

But the first photograph, on the left, merely shows the number that was tattooed on a concentration camp inmate. The connection to the Final Solution - mass extermination - is not established. especially if the person was alive and holding out his or her arm to pose for the photograph.

The second photograph, on the right, is of a skull that was found atop a German vehicle. It is not clear under what circumstances the skull was left there, nor is it clear to whom the skull belongs whether that skull has anything to do with the Final Solution. The caption does not specify who the skull belong to, and does not clarify that the skull was not that of a combat casualty. It is worth noting that the skulls of deceased Japanese were a collector's item for some Americans who came across them in the Pacific.

9) "A convict released by the Germans" and the "pogroms against Jews" in the formerly Soviet-controlled Baltic region

A considerable part of the Time-Life book focuses on the violence that took place inside the Soviet-occupied Baltic states in June 1941, as the Germans and their allies in Central Europe invaded the Soviet Union. According to the Time-Life book, in the midst of the chaos, Jews were "pummeled and clubbed and stomped".

To support its claim, the book features a snapshot of the man attacking another man, complete with the following caption: "a convict released by the Germans uses a lead pipe on a Jewish pogrom victim in Lithuania. The pogrom took place on June 28, 1941, just days after the invasion of the Soviet Union."

This is another image that contains all the emotion, power dynamics and brutality that the public has come to associate with the Holocaust. Not surprisingly, it is used to demonstrate such:

In Lithuanian: "Genocide: the day on which we remember the Jews"

For Time-Life and the unquestioning viewer/reader, the violence in that photograph existed in a vacuum and took place because people are anti-Semitic and genocidal when told by Germans that Jews are bad. But the photo is important for what it does not show, along with what it does not tell and how it is captioned.

First of all, let us look at what is meant by "Lithuanian convict released by the Germans beating the Jews", because it sounds like the Germans arrived, freed a bunch of criminals with a penchant for violence and steered them towards some random Jews for kicks, because Nazis like to watch that kind of thing. In fact, that is exactly what the widely-published photo, above, suggests.

The truth is, the Soviets had annexed Lithuania in 1940 and begun a program of repression and deportation to Siberian labor camps. They also murdered Anti-Soviet partisans, priests and politicians of independent Lithuania. This gave rise to a resistance movement that led to mass incarcerations and, ultimately, the events that took place as the Soviets prepared to retreat from the area in view of the advancing German army.

As the Baltic Times reported in 1996:
"During a massacre of members of Lithuanian patriotic organizations on June 22, 1941, in the Rainiai forest of western Lithuania, Soviet soldiers cut men’s genitals and put them into the mouths of victims. Soviet activists cut tongues, ears, scalps, took out eyes, made belts from the skins of the victims and used for tying their hands – all that was done on living people. Pulling off fingernails was a common torture of NKVD [the Soviet secret police]."

The Soviets' carnage into the morning of June 25, 1941 and, under the command of a Jew named Petras Rasianas, 70-80 Lithuanian political prisoners were killed in the Rainiai forest.  In another example, in the Estonian city of Tartu, the Soviets murdered nearly 250 people. By the end of the month, the Soviets had butchered several hundred thousand people throughout the Baltic - Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. One of the other leading perpetrators, a Soviet agent and Jew named Noachim Dusanski, is peacefully living out his days in Israel, despite the efforts by the Baltic Unity Organization (BVO) to bring him and Rasianas to justice. None of this is mentioned in the Time-Life book.

Not surprisingly, the Time-Life book also fails to provide the details as to why this "Lithuanian convict", likely a political prisoner, grabbed his lead pipe, and who exactly he was targeting - and why. Perhaps we can learn something from the case of a young boy who participated in the same incident, called the "Lietukis garage" incident, and murdered several with a crowbar:

A photographer attached to a German army unit gave the following account:

"I noticed a crowd of people in the forecourt of a petrol station which was surrounded by a wall on three sides. The way to the road was completely blocked by a wall of people. I was confronted by the following scene: in the left corner of the yard there was a group of men aged between thirty and fifty. There must have been forty to fifty of them. They were herded together and kept under guard by some civilians. The civilians were armed with rifles and wore armbands, as can be seen in the pictures I took. A young man—he must have been a Lithuanian...with rolled-up sleeves was armed with an iron crowbar. He dragged one man at a time from the group and struck him with the crowbar with one or more blows on the back of his head. Within three-quarters of an hour he had been beaten to death the entire group of forty-five to fifty people in this way. I took a series of photographs of the victims...

After the entire group [had] been beaten to death, the young man put the crowbar to one side, fetched an accordion and went and stood on the mountain of corpses and played the Lithuanian national anthem. I recognised the tune and was informed by bystanders that it was the national anthem. The behavior of the civilians present (women and children) was unbelievable. After each man had been killed they began to clap and when the national anthem started up they joined in singing and clapping. In the front row there were women with small children in their arms who stayed there right until the end of the whole proceedings. I found out from some people who knew German what was happening here. They explained to me that the parents of the young man who had killed the other people had been taken from their beds two days earlier and immediately shot, because they were suspected of being nationalists, and this was the young man’s revenge. Not far away there was a large number of dead people who according to the civilians had been killed by the withdrawing Commissars and Communists...

The following is part of an account, given by Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) member Alexandras Bendinskas. It was published in a Lithuanian journal called Pergale in 1989, and later cited in Bitter Legacy:

What occurred on the “side of the Bolsheviks” I and others did not know. But already on the evening of June 22 in the general commotion the Bolsheviks began to flee en masse. But not everyone fled on the first day. Some top security, police, Party and government officials remained to destroy documents which testified to their crimes and their scope, the lists of their agents, the direct involvement of Moscow in provocations of that time. Among these zealous ones were Russians, Lithuanians, and Jews. Toward evening on June 23, security personnel (the majority of whom were investigators) also decided to save themselves. They ran to the Lietukis garage for cars. They were caught by [autonomous Lithuanian freedom fighters], disarmed and locked up in the garage, since the prison and security departments were not yet fully in our hands. Furthermore, street battles were going on. In some plants and institutions the security departments were broken into and lists were used to find out the names of their heads. Some of these were caught and they also were put into the garage. On June 25, some political prisoners liberated from Soviet jails found out that security personnel were being held in the garage. They came to check this out and recognized some of them. There began something which no one could have foreseen in advance: filled with malice, their backs bloody, driven by revenge, with broken fingers, some had lost their families carried off in train cars to Siberia, the former prisoners killed those held in the garage. They beat them with whatever they found in the garage – with metal bars, with spades, etc. It was a terrible sight! The Lord’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill” was broken. There are people still alive who saw this execution. They are known to me. Neither I nor others whom I know find any justification for the bacchanalia of death.

What kind of people were killed in the Lietukis garage? Most authors who wrote about this event have presented it as a pogrom of Jews. Was it that in fact? According to the facts, the majority of those killed were investigators of the security organs and heads of the “special departments” of enterprises and institutions; they were killed as officials rather than as representatives of a certain nationality. It turned out that a majority of the victims were Jews (documents found show this).

One is amazed by the manipulations of authors who in describing this crime continually inflate the figures. At the time of the uprising, people spoke of more than ten killed. Later the Soviet press reported thirty, subsequently forty, and recently the respected E Zilberis already mentioned seventy. Only competent legal organs can establish the number killed, the identity of the victims and the circumstances of this horrible event; if necessary – with the participation of foreign observers. All the spots in this ugly incident of our country – the white ones, the black ones, and the red ones – must be clarified.

None of this surfaces in the Time-Life book; nor does it register in the minds of the general population, thanks to articles like this one, which only tell one side of the story - the same side everybody always hears, thanks to the agenda and influence of major publishing companies like those under Time-Life's umbrella.

10) "Execution in a Nazi camp sketch by Simon Wiesenthal"

Odd how the drawing illustrating how the Germans supposedly tied Jews to poles with rope and executed them mirrors, almost exactly, these real, live photographs of German soldiers who were tied to poles with rope and executed:

11) "Shower baths of death": the seven gas chambers in Majdanek

The Time-Life book claims that there were seven gas chambers at Majdanek and, with the camp claiming 1.3 victims, only Auschwitz took more lives.

Apart from the fact that this assessment is based on the longstanding and now-discredited claim that 4 million people died at Auschwitz, the problem is the figure of 1.3 million deaths at Majdanek has no real basis in fact, with even Tomasz Kranz, the director of the Research Department of the State Museum at Majdanek, only forwarding a figure of 78,000. The number was supposedly determined in view of a German memorandum that allegedly surfaced in 2000 showing arrivals at Majdanek and other camps, and interpreted to provide insight on the number of inmates. How that pertains to the number of prisoners who actually died while interned by the Germans is unclear, considering the grueling mass retreat as the Soviet Red Army approached, the subsequent disease epidemics following that relocation to sites like Bergen-Belsen, and other factors, but it is the number that Kranz is forwarding.

As for the Time-Life book's claim that there were seven gas chambers, that number was more recently reduced to four and then only one, at Block 41. The allegations concerning Block 41 were based on the testimony of Rudolf Hoess, a German commandant who was tortured by the Allies, and subsequently the only site where residue from Zyklon B gas, the gas supposedly used for mass extermination, was found. But the claim that gas was used in Block 41 for gassing prisoners as part of the Final Solution (and not just for delousing clothing) is being increasingly challenged.

As far as the Final Solution is concerned, it is worth nothing that, alongside the gas chamber narrative, there is a conventional belief - accepted from Soviet documentation - that on one single day in November 1943, in response to mass uprisings, 18,400 Jews were executed by firing squad. Assuming that to be the case, that would be nearly 40% of the total alleged Jewish deaths during the camp's entire operation. Equally perplexing, between when th mass gassings supposedly began in 1942 and ended in 1944, the trainloads of people sent to the camp swelled upwards, but half the arrivals were not even Jewish, which is inconsistent with the "mass transport for gassings" narrative. Furthermore, for such a camp with the purpose of mass extermination, it is unclear how a number of Jews there who rose to fame - Halina Birenbaum, Maria Albin Boniecki, Marian Filar, Otto Freundlich, Mietek Grocher, Israel Gutman and Rudolf Vrba - survived. And, as a final point of consideration, the Germans allowed inmates to receive food packages from the Polish Red Cross and Central Welfare Council on name order, and evidence of over 10,300 packaged items has survived the war.

12) Piles of bodies at Auschwitz: mislabeled photo

After a train crash occurred in the Dresden, Ohio in 1912, the following snapshot was taken (left). It was later used to show "evidence" of a burning pile of bodies at Auschwitz (right, and below).

The caption, in Spanish, reads: "when the numerous ovens were still insufficient to incinerate the number of individuals sent to the gas chambers, the bodies were incinerated in large ditches, as can be seen in the above picture taken from the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp."