I got a comment on a post yesterday from a professed “skeptic” who does not leave a name, of course (they never do), nor does he share his name at his website, though on his “About” page he does reveal that it “is about Holocaust history and what I see as malign political influences that have distorted our understanding of history. My interest in the subject came about after I was expelled from a History Honours course run by a University in the city of Melbourne after presenting some material criticising some of the more wild claims in the literature several years ago. This traumatic experience lead me to investigate further and everything confirmed my initial suspicions.”
Hmm, sounds like a conspiracy to me. Sorry about the trauma, so as he wishes, here is what he left to be published on this site, with my responses.
Hello, I came here after reading Dan Porat’s The Boy, where some of the Hillersleben photos feature.
Hi. Yes, I was consulted by the author, and helped him get some of the photos of the liberation- which was at Farsleben, not Hilersleben.
Maybe I am missing something here, but the people on this train don’t look like walking skeletons to me. German civilian rations were 1600 calories pro Tag 1944/1945, so the fact that the photos you present show individuals that look slim but hardly starved seems to undermine your central thesis – namely History Matters. Clearly, you don’t think so or you would use your material more carefully.
Clearly, it was not I, but a soldier who referred to the victims he cared for as “walking skeletons”. Also, these ” slim” individuals were so weak that many could hardly stand- again, more eyewitness liberator testimony. Maybe the soldiers are lying, something that has been suggested by skeptics before. Several “slim people” are lying dead on the hillside in the background- and the skeptic has missed the point that the ones physically able to pose for a photograph have done so. Many more could not even get out of the cars without assistance-many were dead inside the cars, literally falling out on top of horrified soldiers as they slide open the doors-something the skeptic would have learned had he/she been more thorough in his research of my work. Perhaps he would suggest that the boys in the photo to the left, taken by US forces the day after liberation, are the picture of health. And thanks for bringing in the plight of the unfortunate German civilians. Perhaps we should compare suffering here as well.
Secondly, don’t you think you are being rather disrepectful of the sacrifice shown by the American GI by continually reducing their experience down to the liberation of some detainees on a train. It verges on insulting to continually insist that people who repeatedly saw their buddies being blown away would privilege the experience of 2500 Jewish people on a train who don’t look starved at all
I think a little ironic that the post above the one that the skeptic commented on mentions the sacrifice and not the train liberation at all(“Hell came in like a freight train. I heard an explosion and went back to where my friend was.” 67 yrs. ago this week.), a common thread throughout my work, which he must have run across if he used the link in Porat’s book to get to this site. And it is also stated at the bottom of my “About” page, which the skeptic should take the time to read before invoking one’s “skepticism”, that “if you are a Holocaust denier/minimizer/revisionist, and/or run-of-the-mill hate spewer, thank you in advance for sparing me your epistles… I’ve already heard it all.” It really can get tiring, but thanks for writing to remind me that I have a better job to do. Sadly, I’ll also be adding the word “skeptic” to my list.
And while I usually refrain from posting photos such as will follow, unfortunately it feels necessary now. The train survivors left this camp 12 days before this photo was taken by British troops.