Sunday, November 07, 2010

“Holocaust survivor” self-mythologizing

A new book on Adolf Hitler has been published (he seems to have  as many would-be biographers as Abe Lincoln). It is titled “Hitler’s First War” by Thomas Weber and it is not the typical lurid screed. It’s actually impressive, in certain respects. It concerns both the reality of Hitler’s World War I military service and how that service was distorted by propaganda later. The author and his publisher (Oxford University) enjoy sneering at Hitler’s own account of his actions during World War I (in "Mein Kampf" and elsewhere) as “self-mythologizing.”

Hitler is of course easy to attack and critique. It takes no courage to go after Der Fuhrer anymore than it does to assail Muslims.  Both are perennial and popular targets in American media and politics. Consequently, the sneer at Hitler for "self-mythologizing," while perhaps accurate in many respects, is not particularly impressive.

I doubt that either Thomas Weber or Ann Farmer, a reporter for the New York Times, would ever ascribe that epithet to a saintly “Holocaust survivor.” Even  if the charge were true, it would take considerable audacity to make it in public and risk one’s career.

Like many World War II revisionists, this writer collects "Holocaust Survivor" Tall Tales. I have a thick file of fairy tales and tales of miracles and relics invented by the these media-canonized saints, including one about the Seven Dwarves of Auschwitz! I have another in which “Trudy, the Wonder Child of the Camps” was made to clean the entire kitchen floor of Auschwitz with her tongue! The false witness these characters spew about the Germans knows no limit — and they can always find a gullible New York Times scribe to report their tales to the world without the least tinge of skepticism.

The most devastating observation on the credibility of these yarn-spinners was made by a Judaic sociologist sixty years ago:  "...most of the memoirs and reports [of 'Holocaust survivors'] are full of preposterous verbosity, graphomanic exaggeration, dramatic effects, overestimated self-inflation, dilettante philosophizing, would-be lyricism, unchecked rumors, bias, partisan attacks...”
--Samuel Gringauz, "Jewish Social Studies" (New York), January 1950, Vol. 12, p. 65.

Just for fun, I wish to share with you the latest entry in my file. It’s about a famous and wealthy Judaic tailor now working in Brooklyn, who makes suits for presidents and movie stars, and whose life was saved in Auschwitz by the fact that he regularly wore an SS officer’s shirt around the camp!

The Magic Shirt

“He looked like a somebody"

A Meticulous Tailor, Called Upon by Designers and Politicians Alike
by Ann Farmer | New York Times | Nov. 6, 2010 [p. A18]

...for more than 60 years, Martin Greenfield has been an influential face of men's fashion in New York City...Mr. Greenfield, 82, is still old-school in his devotion to the labor-intensive, exacting and vanishing art of making tailored garments by hand...(He works) on the second floor of the factory in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he and his two sons oversee 117 workers...

Mr. Greenfield first grasped the importance of appearances while trying to survive the Holocaust. When he was 14, he and his father, mother, two sisters and a brother were taken from their home in Pavlova, in what was then Czechoslovakia, and later delivered to Auschwitz.

He was assigned to wash clothes in the camp's alteration shop, and one day he accidentally ripped an SS officer's shirt, an affront for which he was beaten. The officer threw the shirt at Mr. Greenfield, who mended it and started wearing it instead of the uniforms the other prisoners wore. From then on, he said, the guards and prisoners began treating him with respect.

"He looked like a somebody," said Jay Greenfield, 52, Mr. Greenfield's oldest son and the executive vice president of the company, Martin Greenfield Clothiers, explaining that his father attributes his survival to that shirt.

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2 comments:

Damien said...

"The Jews will sell you any dream you please for small change." --Juvenal, Satires

Michael Hoffman said...

Mr D'Armancault has asked this writer to post the following comment.

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On Nov 17, 2010, at 0:48, Pierre D'Armancault wrote:

This is a pretty remarkable story, considering that there was really nothing special about SS officers' "shirts" beyond the fact that they were only a plain, brown, collared men's shirt accented with a black tie.

After 1935, when the distinctive black 4-pocket Allgemeine-SS tunic was introduced for all ranks, the shirts themselves bore no special outward insignia whatsoever. They were brown only to represent the SS' origins with the brown-shirted National Socialist Sturmabteilung, or SA - even after the Night of the Long Knives, which emasculated the SA, and accelerated the supremacy of the SS. Are we to understand that his wearing of a plain, brown, collared men's shirt set Mr. Greenfield apart as a "somebody?" If they were indeed the totalitarians we are asked to believe, the SS would have never allowed this to occur.

Moreover, by the time Martin Greenfield would have landed in Auschwitz - after 1940, the SS personnel would have been wearing the gray wartime tunic as opposed to the black Allgemeine-SS tunic. (The Reichsfuehrer-SS, Heinrich Himmler, instituted the change from Allgemeine-SS black to Waffen-SS gray in 1938. Most of the leftover black uniform stock was sent to other countries like Norway for use by burgeoning SS-inspired units.)

Even then, the SS personnel would have continued to wear only a plain, brown, collared men's shirt underneath the gray Waffen-SS tunic.

I suppose that for Martin Greenfield to confuse an SS officer's "shirt" for an SS officer's "tunic" would be especially remarkable. But that is not here made at all clear. The SS officer's tunic was considerably heavier than was his actual shirt, being made of thick wool, and impossible to confuse, especially - we would expect - for such an "experienced" tailor, as is Mr. Greenfield, supposedly.

Just the same, are we to believe that the SS were really so lax about uniform regulations as to allow a Judaic prisoner - experienced tailor on no - the privilege of wearing insignia (namely, the SS runes) that was reserved for Aryans only? Heinrich Himmler refused the privilege of wearing runes to certain volunteer Waffen-SS regiments, such as those composed of Ukrainian and Hungarian recruits.

Any brief consultation with an experienced WWII German militaria collector would debunk this ridiculous contention. It is just pure intellectual dishonesty on parade.