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Find More Articles By Freeland

Not every claim to Victimhood should be understood as challenging Historical Revisionism, whose time has come

Historical Revisionism

Ken Freeland

Dear Shamireaders,

Recently there occurred, behind the scenes of Shamireaders, an unfortunate altercation between two of our readers, Gordon Arnaut and Frank Scott.  Gordon had made claims about his close relatives' suffering and deaths in the Jasenovac concentration camp in Yugoslavia during WWII.  Frank countered that claims of Jewish suffering during "the" holocaust needed to be taken with a large grain of salt, since many traditional gross exaggerations have more recently been debunked.  The original claimant took personal offense, and a kind of verbal donnybrook ensued that might have been expected to lead to something more serious were these two in physical proximity.  Ever the peacemaker, I sent a message to both parties trying to reconcile them to the merit I found in both of their messages.  At Shamir's request, I am republishing my interlocution below.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of all, I would like to attempt an amelioration of the conflict here.  I know it seems hard to believe, but I want to suggest that both Mr. Arnaut and Mr. Scott have valid points to make.  There is not necessarily conflict here, so long as Mr. Arnaut does not insist on taking Mr. Scott's comment personally, and so long as Mr. Scott does not continue to lump all "holocaust" claims in the same category.

We are living in a time where the entire "Holocaust" narrative is undergoing devastating challenge.  Historical revisionism has, in my studied opinion, made the traditional "Holocaust" narrative untenable. As just one very recent example, I refer you to Thomas Dalton's recent part 1 exposition of Goebbel's diary (the conclusion will be published this summer):  http://www.inconven ienthistory. com/archive/ 2010/volume_ 2/number_ 1/goebbels_ on_the_jews. php  I read Frank Scott's rejoinder in this the pendulum swings in the direction of skepticism, all historical claims to "Holocaust" victimization become questionable.

Personally, however, I have no problem accepting the credibility Mr. Arnaut's claims about his family's history during WWII.  I am well aware that what happened in the Jasenovac concentration camp occurred not as part of any German master plan for ethnic extermination, but by license of the Croation Ustashi that many historical chroniclers report caused even the Nazis to blanche.  Yes, the Ustashi were doing their own thing.  It was uglier yet because it appeared (unlike the German) to have religious sanction (the involvement of Catholic clergy, Franciscans in particular, is a matter of historical record).  Moreover, the primary target of the Ustashi was not the was the Serbs!  Remember, please, that the Nazis had a saying:  allen Serben mussen sterben  (all Serbs must die).  There is no record of any equivalently morbid saying about Jews.  And indeed, if we can say there was a Croatian holocaust, its primary victims were Serbs.  However, it is also true that Jews were targeted, and suffered along with their Serbian countrymen.  In short, the Yugoslavian death camp history is much better documented than the German, and much less disputed.  There is no question that wholesale murder took place in those camps, and thousands of Serbs and Jews were the victims.  The condign and long overdue historical criticism of the "holocaust" narrative has the tendency to include within its aegis all historical claims of victimhood under fascist rule, but it is my hope that both Mr. Arnaut and Mr. Scott will better appreciate after reading this that all that glitters is not gold.  General criticism of the "holocaust" narrative should not be understood to dismiss all historical claims of ethnically targeted murder during WWII, and not every claim to such victimhood on behalf of survivors should be understood as challenging the historical revisionism whose time has come.

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