I am firmly of the opinion that journalists, taken as a whole, are both honest and well-informed. Alas, the ones that are honest are seldom well-informed and the ones that are well-informed are never honest. A rarity is a journalist like Ian Bell of the Herald, who combines a lack or honesty with a surprising level of general ignorance. Normally I would not bother correcting such a low profile individual, since there aren’t enough hours in the day to correct foolish statements by journalists, but Mr Bell managed to cram enough errors into this post and then refused to allow polite corrections to stand to make an exception in this case.
My interest was directed to Mr Bell and his journalism/blog by a slight interest I have in police corruption surrounding the Lockerbie investigation. The Pan Am flight was allegedly brought down by explosives hidden in a radio cassette, using an MST-13 timer constructed in Switzlerland and sold to the Libyans, and wrapt in clothing purchased in Malta from the store of Tony Gauci. Every one of these strands of evidence can be shown to have been deliberately fabricated by elements within the British investigation. Tony Gauci made numerous errors in identification and his evidence was widely believed in Malta to have been that of a perjurer; with the benefit of some 3 million dollars from the US Government the Gauci brothers have started a new life in Australia . The manual of the radio cassette that supposedly contained the explosives, which was found intact by a Mrs Horton, was ripped and damaged in police custody to appear like it had been through an explosion:
Zeist Court Transcripts
“Q Right. I wonder if you would look, please, at Label 24. You’ll see there is a bag which contains items there. Do you recognise anything?A Well, not in its present state. I’m sure when I handed it in, it was in one piece.
The MST-13 timer itself was stated by the manufacturers, MEBO telecommunications, to be a falsification and not a genuine, functioning timer. In 2007, former employee Ulrich Lumpert, stated in an affidavit that he had given false testimony at Zeist and that in fact he had stolen a prototype MST-13 circuit board and given it to an “investigating official”.  In short, the entire “forensics” of the Lockerbie case was a conscious and deliberate fabrication from start to finish. That the MST-13 timer, wrapt in Tony Gauci’s clothing, was only found many weeks after the downing of the plane also points to investigator misconduct [officially it was found on 13 January 1989, although the first documented reference to it dates from May 1989]. Mebo directors also claimed that, like the Gauci brothers, they had been offered 4 million dollars to give false testimony.
There is further evidence to support the falsificaton and planting of the MST-13, for example this affidavit:
A former Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.
The retired officer – of assistant chief constable rank or higher – has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people.
The police chief, whose identity has not yet been revealed, gave the statement to lawyers representing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, currently serving a life sentence in Greenock Prison.
While I would have no theory of what did in fact bring down the Pan Am flight, it is worth noting that a few seconds before the explosion an unexplained radar signal turned up in close proximity to the aircraft. As the Air Accidents Investigation Report described it:
Recorded radar information on the aircraft was available from from [sic] 4 radar sites. Initial analysis consisted of viewing the recorded information as it was shown to the controller on the radar screen, from this it was clear that the flight had progressed in a normal manner until Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) was lost. There was a single primary return received by both Great Dun Fell and Claxby radars approximately 16 seconds before SSR returns were lost. The Lowther Hill and St Annes radars did not see this return. The Great Dun Fell radar recording was watched for 1 hour both before and after this single return for any signes of other spurious [sic!!!!] returns, but none was seen. The return was only present for one paint [sic] and no other explanation can be offered for its presence [Appendix page C-11]
I have always been amazed at the rapidity which which the plane is supposed to have disintegrated. As for the radar return, my only suggestion is that it was probably Al-Megrahi on his broomstick chasing the Pan Am flight, waving the samsonite suitcase and crying “You forgot this!”
The Auschwitz myth revolves around the claim that everyone on an arriving transport that was not selected for labour and entered as a registered prisoner was gassed. This claim is usually enforced by strident demands of where are all the transport records for departing trains from Auschwitz. The fact that this questioned can not be answered depends on two factors; a) the documentation in question has probably been deliberately destroyed, b) in all other cases professional historians are supposed to exercise self-censorship and not call attention to any lacunae in historical data.
However, even the most reliable of historians can sometimes slip up and amusingly I have found one from Yitzhak Arad, who ought to have known better, showing off by quoting a document that would have been best left gathering dust in whichever file he found it. (more…)
[Draft – This will be a work in progress as more materials come to hand]
Treblinka and Sobibor had very different public profiles during and in the years after World War II. Most press reports and propaganda during the war and through the Nuremberg trials period focused on Treblinka, less prominent but still visible was Belzec and finally barely mentioned at all was Durchgangslager [Transit Camp] Sobibor. It is my contention that the Treblinka Revolt never occured and the early descriptions were simply the events at Sobibor transfered for propaganda purposes to the more well known Treblinka. To my knowledge the Treblinka revolt first appeared in the wartime account A Year in Treblinka by Yankel Wiernik, which devoted the last chapter to it – it also appeared in Vasily Grossman’s journalism and in his report The Hell of Treblinka. I am not aware of the Sobibor escape in literature until They Fought Back appeared in 1967, a brief mention can be found in The Black Book of 1946. (more…)
The bizarre assertion that bodies were seen by American journalists at Babi Yar is made by a group of somewhat erratic bloggers can be read here. The post begins with the perfectly reasonable observation that American journalists did see some dead bodies in a rather frightful Soviet exhibition at Klooga, Estonia. But then tries to claim by pointing to an archived news report from 1943, that American journalists also saw dead bodies at Babi Yar. In order to disprove this I will reproduce the entire article that they point to below (in fairness a journalist did say he saw some fingers). In contrast to the claims of the Holocaust Controversies blogging team, the scepticism of William Lawrence regarding a massacre at Babi Yar during his visit is an established fact: “[William] Lawrence had been sceptical that a massacre had taken place at Babi Yar. Years later, he said his doubts evaporated when he arrived at the camp near Lublin [Majdanek, 30 August 1944], Lublin” .
Why this scepticism might exist can be easily understood when viewing the photographic materials produced by the Soviet Special Commission of 1943. I reproduce a few of these photos and the rest can be viewed offsite here. I should add I have quite a bit of material regarding Babi Yar, problems with its documentation and twisted path of its genesis, but I won’t be presenting it at this stage – although as always the case, there is certain to have been some level of executions at various points during the occupation.
Orthodox Holocaust historians often display an approach reminiscent of the drunk man and the lamp post – they use documents for support, not illumination. Richard Breitman’s biography of Heinrich Himmler provides a classic example. (more…)
David Cesarani, who wrote a very readable biography on Arthur Koestler, has also written a slightly less favorable treatment of Adolf Eichmann. He provides one of the most extraordinary, albeit not of major importance, misinterpretations of a historical document I have ever seen. David Cesarani gives an anecdote illustrating Eichmann’s early, extreme antisemitism. (more…)