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TBR News July 6, 2017

Jul 06 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., July 6, 2017:”Unchecked population increases leads to erratic and hostile behavior and this, always, leads to some manner of conflicts. What can be done about it? Nothing. When a species, and born-again Christians aside we are a species, becomes too overpopulated, there is always a readjustment to smaller numbers. With rodents and lesser creatures, this is manifested by disease but with the higher orders, warfare and bloody violence seems to be the preferable method of adjustment.”

Table of Contents

  • The ‘Forgotten’ US Shootdown of Iranian Airliner Flight 655­
  • Before G20, Erdogan accuses Germany of ‘committing suicide’: Zeit
  • European parliament votes to suspend Turkey EU accession talks
  • Can U.S. defend against North Korea missiles? Not everyone agrees
  •  Chinese purchase billions of dollars’ worth of real estate in Australia annually
  • Putin’s Chintzy Plan to Keep the Chinese Out of Siberia
  • The Espionage Act: One Hundred Years of Murky Law
  • The Farm Belt führer: the making of a neo-Nazi
  • Auschwitz: Fact and Fiction

The ‘Forgotten’ US Shootdown of Iranian Airliner Flight 655­

July 3, 2017

by Jeremy R. Hammmond

Foreign Policy

Today marks twenty-nine years since the shootdown by the USS Vincennes of Iran Air flight 655, which killed all of the plane’s 290 civilian passengers. This shootdown of a civilian airliner by a US naval ship occurred on July 3, 1988, toward the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War.

This incident is, of course, something that the people of Iran well remember. Americans who rely on the US mainstream media, on the other hand, would have to be forgiven for never having heard about it.

Furthermore, in the rare instances when the media do mention it, to this day they tend to maintain official US government falsehoods about what occurred and otherwise omit relevant details that would inform Americans about what really happened.

The lack of mention of the incident or, when it is mentioned, the deceptive reporting about what occurred illustrates an institutionalized bias in the media. The consequence is that Americans seeking to understand US-Iran relations today fail to grasp a key historical event that has helped to define that relationship.

How the Mainstream Media Report the US Shootdown of Flight 655

If one does a quick Google search for relevant keywords specific to the shootdown, only a handful of US mainstream media reports turn up on first-page results.

Max Fisher in the Washington Post wrote a piece about it several years ago, appropriately titled “The Forgotten story of Iran Air Flight 655”. For context, Fisher asserted that “the Vincennes was exchanging fire with small Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf.” As explanation for how the Vincennes “mistook the lumbering Airbus A300 civilian airliner for a much smaller and faster F-14 fighter jet”, Fisher suggested it was “perhaps” due to “the heat of battle” or “perhaps because the flight allegedly did not identify itself.”

The Washington Examiner a couple years ago ran a piece with the headline “Iran says 1988 airliner shootdown is why U.S. can’t be trusted”. The author, Charles Hoskinson, stated simply that “An investigation revealed that the cruiser’s crew mistook the airliner for an attacking F-14 fighter jet while involved in a confrontation with Iranian gunboats.”

Fred Kaplan in Slate noted in a 2014 piece that the incident “is almost completely forgotten” (at least in the US). His article was appropriately subtitled “The time the United States blew up a passenger plane—and covered it up.” As a journalist who had reported on the incident at the time and challenged the US government’s official story, Kaplan noted that “American officials told various lies” intended to blame the Iranians for the tragedy.

The government had claimed that the Vincennes was in international waters at the time, that the plane was flying “outside of the prescribed commercial air route” and descending at the “high speed” of 450 knots directly toward the Vincennes, and that the plane’s transponder was squawking a code over a military channel.

In truth, the Vincennes was in Iran’s territorial waters, the plane was ascending through 12,000 feet at 380 knots within the established commercial air route, and its transponder was squawking the plane’s identify over a civilian channel.

Like Fisher and Hoskinson, however, Kaplan nevertheless maintained the US government’s narrative that “the Iranian Airbus A300 wandered into a naval skirmish” and on that basis characterized it as a “horrible mistake”.

These are the only three examples from within the past decade that appeared in initial search results for various relevant keywords at the time of this writing. It’s also helpful see how America’s “newspaper of record”, the New York Times, has reported it over the years, by searching its online archives.

Doing various related keyword searches at the New York Times website turns up a smattering of articles. Without going further back, a November 1988 piece acknowledged that, contrary to the US government’s claims, “Flight 655 was behaving normally for a commercial jet”. The Times nevertheless maintained the government’s official line that “Iranian [air traffic] tower officials clearly are guilty of not listening to the dozens of radio warnings broadcast by the Navy and ordering the airliner to change course”.

The following month, the Times revealed that this attempt to blame the Iranians was also untruthful. As the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) determined in an investigation of the incident, seven of the eleven warnings issued by the Americans “were transmitted on a military channel that was inaccessible to the airliner crew.” The other four were transmitted on the international civil aviation distress frequency. Of these, only one, transmitted by the USS Sides “39 seconds before the Vincennes fired, was of sufficient clarity that it might have been ‘instantly recognizable’ to the airliner as being directed at it.”

The Times nevertheless sustained the US government’s narrative that Iran was at least partly to blame by “allowing an airliner to fly into the area at the time when warships were involved in an intense battle with Iranian gunboats.”

In May 1989, Iran sued the US in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the shootdown. The Times ran a piece in July about how the US was trying to settle the matter by offering to compensate victims’ families with up to $250,000. The only details of the attack the Times offered readers was to relay the claim from a senior State Department official that “the Vincennes was defending itself against what it believed was a ‘coordinated attack’”.

Another Times article that August reported that Iran’s case was proceeding at the ICJ. For context, the Times simply parroted the government’s official line that, “At the time, the Vincennes was part of a group of American warships protecting neutral shipping in the [Persian] gulf during the war between Iraq and Iran.”

(The ICJ case was dropped in 1996 when the US and Iran reached a settlement in which the US “expressed deep regret” and agreed to pay $61.8 million to the victims’ families.)

In 1992, a Times article reported on the further unravelling of the US government’s official account. It noted that, contrary to the government’s claims, Flight 655 was ascending and flying within the commercial air corridor. Vice President George H. W. Bush had told the UN that the shootdown occurred “in the midst of a naval attack initiated by Iranian vessels against a neutral vessel and subsequently against the Vincennes.” In fact, as government officials were now admitting, the Vincennes was in Iranian waters at the time. Furthermore, an investigative report for ABC’s Nightline determined that it was not the Iranian ships that started the naval skirmish, but the US Navy’s.

The US government maintained that, while the Vincennes was admittedly within Iran’s territorial waters, it was the Iranian ships who initiated hostilities. However, even the commander of the USS Sides, Captain David Carlson, whose ship was in the same American convoy, had stated three years prior that the actions of the Vincennes under the command of Captain Will Rogers were “consistently aggressive.”

The Times also noted that neither Captain Rogers nor any other officers or crew of the Vincennes were disciplined.

There are only scarce mentions of the incident by the Times since. Columnist Roger Cohen in an August 2009 piece referred in passing to “the mistaken 1988 shooting-down of Iran Air Flight 655, in which 290 people perished”. A 2015 article mentioned it, stating that the Vincennes was “patrolling the strait [of Hormuz]” and that its crew “apparently mistook the plane for an Iranian F-14 fighter.” The most recent mention that turned up was from February 2 of this year, in an article that states simply that “Iran called the attack deliberate and the United States called it a mistake.”

The above is not an exhaustive list, but these examples illustrate that, on the rare occasions when the US mainstream media do mention the incident, to this day they sustain the US government’s narrative that this killing of 290 civilians was simply a “mistake” for which no one should be held criminally responsible.

So how well does this narrative hold up?

The Facts about the US Shootdown of Flight 655

After the Vincennes shot down Flight 655, as Fred Kaplan noted in his Slate piece, Vice President George H. W. Bush responded by saying, “I will never apologize for the United States of America—I don’t care what the facts are.”

The facts were that the Aegis cruiser USS Vincennes, under the command of Captain Will Rogers III, had entered Iran’s territorial waters and opened fire on and sank two Iranian gunboats posing no threat to the American vessels. (Aboard another Iranian boat the Vincennes was passing by at the same moment Rogers gave the order to open fire, the crew was seen relaxing topside, as captured by the camera of US Navy journalists.)

At the time, as a Navy investigation later acknowledged, the Vincennes detected a plane ascending “on a normal commercial air flight plan profile” and squawking a transponder signal identifying itself as a commercial aircraft.

Aboard the Sides, with identical radar information as received aboard the Vincennes, Captain Carlson determined the plane was a “non-threat”.

Aboard the Vincennes, Lieutenant William Montford warned Captain Rogers that the plane was “possible COMAIR”, but Rogers nevertheless ostensibly convinced himself that his ship was under attack from an F-14 fighter plane and minutes later ordered it shot down.

(Incidentally, the US had sold F-14s to Iran in the early 1970s while it was under the thumb of Washington’s strongman, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was put in power after a CIA-orchestrated coup in 1953 overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government by deposing Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh for having nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The Shah was in turn overthrown during Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.)

Well aware that his action might kill civilians, Rogers ordered his gunner to open fire on the plane, shooting it out of the sky.

The Navy’s self-investigation attributed the discrepancy between the known facts and Rogers’ actions to “scenario fulfillment”. Rogers had made “an unconscious attempt to make available evidence fit a preconceived scenario.”

In other words, even though the information the officers and crew aboard the Vincennes were receiving indicated that the plane was ascending along a commercial flight path and squawking its identify as a civilian airliner, Rogers imagined it to be an F-14 fighter jet coming down out of the sky to attack his ship.

US government officials evidently also suffered from “scenario fulfillment” as they proceeded to make claims about what had happened bearing no relationship to reality.

President Ronald Reagan claimed that the killing of 290 civilians was justified as “a proper defensive action”.

Never one to apologize, Vice President Bush, while campaigning for the presidency, called it “just an unhappy incident” and reassured Americans that “life goes on.”

As he was scheduled to speak before the UN Security Council about the incident, Bush said, “I can’t wait to get up there and defend the policy of the United States government” by presenting “the free world’s case” for why 290 mostly Iranian civilians were dead.

Speaking before the Security Council, Bush blamed Iran for allowing a civilian airliner to go about its business carrying passengers to Dubai at a time when an American warship was “engaged in battle”.

He declined to explain how the pilot, Captain Mohsen Rezaian, or the air traffic controllers at the airport in Bandar Abbas, where Flight 655 had taken off, could possibly have known that a US warship with an imaginative captain on board was in Iran’s territorial waters firing at anything that moved.

Bush lied to the Council that the Vincennes had “acted in self-defense” against “a naval attack initiated by Iranian vessels” on the American ship when it “came to the aid” of an “innocent ship in distress.”

Also not wont to question the actions of the US government, the New York Times in an editorial published July 5, 1988, urged Americans via their headline to put themselves “In Captain Rogers’s Shoes”.

Sympathizing with the killer, the Times editors described the shootdown as “horrifying”, but “nonetheless an accident.” It was “hard to see what the Navy could have done to avoid it.” Captain Rogers “had little choice” but to open fire, they opined, assuming the US government’s account “turns out even approximately correct”.

Of course, the official account turned out to be pretty much the opposite of the truth in virtually every aspect, but the Times was, as ever, not over-eager to seriously question the government’s claims.

Thus, the editors maintained the deception that the Vincennes was “in a combat zone” and “engaged in action against Iranian gunboats making high-speed runs against it.”

The editors also relayed as fact that the radar operators aboard the Vincennes had “reported an aircraft heading toward the ship and descending.” Furthermore, they “apparently had indications, which the Navy refuses to discuss, that the plane was a powerful F-14 jet.”

Unimaginatively, the Times editors failed to conceive of the most obvious reason why the Navy would refuse to discuss that claim: because there were no such indications.

The furthest the Times would go to question the official narrative was to state that it was “not yet clear why sophisticated radar did not distinguish between an F-14 and a much larger Airbus.”

The lie the Times was upholding then—as to this day—was that the ship’s sophisticated radar had indicated it was something other than a civilian airliner.

After axiomatically accepting this lie, the editors immediately urged their readers to “put yourself in Captain Rogers’s shoes”. They proceeded to assert that the “evidence” suggested “an imminent attack” by the plane on the Vincennes.

Note that the word “evidence” in this context is being used euphemistically by the Times’ editorial board to mean claims by US government officials that were directly contradicted by the actual evidence available to them.

The Times proceeded to state that, if the US government’s account was at least “largely correct”, then we could safely conclude that the Iran Air pilot was to blame “for failing to acknowledge the ship’s warnings and flying outside the civilian corridor. Iran, too, may bear responsibility for failing to warn civilian planes away from the combat zone of an action it had initiated.”

They concluded that “the onus for avoiding such accidents in the future” fell not on the captains of American warships operating in the territorial waters of other countries, but “on civilian aircraft” flying in their own airspace.

The takeaway lesson presented by the Times was that civilian aircraft should just “avoid combat zones, fly high, [and] acknowledge warnings.”

Finally, the editorial concluded that ultimate blame lay with the government of Iran, with the “accident” instructing the world that it was time for Tehran “to bring an end to its futile eight-year war with Iraq.”

Of course, as the Times editors were perfectly well aware, it was Iraq who started the war, which dragged on for eight long years in large part due to the fact that the US was backing the aggressor.

Far from being held accountable for the mass murder of 290 civilians, Captain Rogers was later presented with the Legion of Merit award “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service” during his time as commanding officer when the shootdown occurred.

Rogers’ weapons and combat systems officer at the time, Lieutenant Commander Scott E. Lustig, received two commendation medals and was praised for “heroic achievement” for his conduct during the incident.

The entire crew of the Vincennes received combat action ribbons.

Conclusion

The US shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655 receives only rare mentions in the US mainstream media despite being a key incident in the history of the US’s relations with Iran that serves as critical context for understanding how Iranians today view the US government.

When it is mentioned, the media’s tendency is to characterize the mass killing as an honest “mistake”, resulting from an action any other country’s navy would have taken if put in the same position. Although it has long been known that the US government’s account of the incident was a pack of lies, the US media to this day characterize it as though the resulting death of civilians was just an unfortunate consequence of war.

When Max Fisher wrote in in the Washington Post in 2013 that “the Vincennes was exchanging fire with small Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf”, it is hard to fathom that he was unaware that the US warship was in Iranian waters; and yet he declined to relay that critical piece of information to his readers.

It is equally hard to fathom that he was unaware it was the Vincennes that initiated hostilities; yet this fact, too, he omitted.

Fisher also unquestioningly parroted the US government’s claim that the Vincennes’ crew “mistook” the plane for an F-14, which he attributed either to “the heat of battle” or the plane’s failure to identify itself.

It may be true that, as the naval investigation determined, Captain Rogers imagined it to be an F-14. Yet, as Lieutenant Colonel David Evans wrote in the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings Magazine in August 1993, the information received by the American ships from the plane’s transponder unambiguously identified it as an ascending commercial aircraft.

“Both Captain Rogers and Captain Carlson,” Evans noted in his essay, “had this information.”

It is no less hard to fathom how Fisher could have been unaware of the fact that Flight 655 had been squawking its identify as a civilian aircraft, something even the most precursory research into the incident would have revealed to him.

It is therefore difficult to escape the conclusion that Max Fisher’s purpose in writing was not to educate Americans about what happened, but to sustain the central myth that the shootdown was merely an unfortunate accident of the kind that happens in the fog of war.

He was, in other words, dutifully serving his role as a propagandist.

Charles Hoskinson in his 2015 Washington Examiner piece was hardly more forthcoming.

Fred Kaplan was far more forthcoming in his Slate piece from three years ago; yet even in the face of his own contrary evidence, he still preserved the central myth that the shootdown was merely a “mistake” resulting from Iran Air Flight 655 having “wandered into a naval skirmish”.

This is the same false narrative that America’s “newspaper of record” maintains on those rare occasions when the incident receives a passing mention.

The real story, in sum, is as follows:

Twenty-nine years ago, on July 3, 1988, US warships entered Iranian waters and initiated hostilities with Iranian vessels.

The consoles of the radar operators aboard the USS Vincennes at the time unambiguously showed an aircraft ascending within a commercial corridor in Iranian airspace, with the plane’s transponder signaling its identity as a commercial aircraft.

Captain Rogers nevertheless ordered his gunner to open fire on the plane, shooting it out of the sky and killing the 290 civilians on board.

Subsequently, rather than being held accountable for committing a war crime, Rogers and his entire crew received awards for their actions.

Like Captain Rogers, the mainstream media establishment seems to suffer from institutional “scenario fulfillment”, in which this action did not constitute a war crime or, at best, an act of international terrorism.

In the case of the media, the preconceived notion is that the US is an exceptional nation whose government is sometimes capable of “mistakes”, but only ever acts out of benevolent intent.

It is an assumption that, while deemed axiomatic by the mainstream media establishment, is no less self-delusional than Captain Rogers’ imaginary scenario of this “forgotten” episode in US-Iran relations.

Before G20, Erdogan accuses Germany of ‘committing suicide’: Zeit

July 5, 2017

Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying that Germany was “committing suicide” by not letting him speak to Turks in Germany during his visit to the country for a G20 leaders summit, which starts on Friday.

“Germany is committing suicide,” he told German weekly Die Zeit, adding: “Germany must correct this mistake.”

Erdogan also said as long as Germany did not send supporters of Erdogan’s foe Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey, his country would view Germany as a land that protected terrorists.

Ankara has blamed Gulen, a Muslim cleric, for orchestrating a failed coup last July. Gulen has denied involvement.

However, Erdogan also said Germany and Turkey needed each other and on a personal level he did not have a problem with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Michael Nienaber)

European parliament votes to suspend Turkey EU accession talks

The European Parliament has voted to ask for Turkey’s accession talks to the EU to be suspended. Meanwhile, police have detained a group of human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director.

July 6, 2017

DW

The European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday voted for the suspension of membership talks with Turkey on Thursday.

The vote on the proposal passed by a wide margin, with support from the biggest party groups.

Proponents of the measure say Erdogan’s crackdown on opposition forces and the media mean Ankara cannot meet the bloc’s democratic criteria.

However, the parliament has little sway on the issue. The European Commission and EU member state governments have so far ignored calls for the process, already effectively in limbo, to be formally suspended.

Anticipating the vote, Turkey’s EU affairs minister warned it would be a “terrible mistake,” adding that European lawmakers should show solidarity with Turkey after last year’s failed coup attempt.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftugolu separately said the decision was based on false claims and allegations.

Arrests at island meeting

Meanwhile, Amnesty International demanded the release of a group of human rights activists – including its country director – on Thursday, citing their detentions as a “grotesque abuse of power.”

Amnesty’s Turkey Director Idil Eser and others were taken to a police station on Wednesday evening after they gathered at a hotel on the island of Buyukada, just south of Istanbul.

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said 12 people had been arrested. It was unclear why they were being held, with police saying they would make an announcement later on Thursday.

The detentions follow thejailing of the chairman of Amnesty’s branch in Turkey, Taner Kilic, on charges that he was a member of a terrorist organization.

Amnesty: Human rights ‘meltdown’

Amnesty demanded the group’s release, saying it was “profoundly disturbed and outraged” at the detentions, as the group met on the island to discuss strategies for digital security and information management.

“Idil Eser and those detained with her, must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Amnesty’s International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

“Her incommunicado detention and that of the other human rights defenders attending a routine training event, is a grotesque abuse of power and highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists in the country. ”

Amnesty urged world leaders meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg to address Turkey’s human rights “meltdown” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Among those detained with Eser were seven human rights activists and two foreign trainers, one from Germany and one Swedish.

Can U.S. defend against North Korea missiles? Not everyone agrees

July 6, 2017

by Mike Stone

Reuters

WASHINGTON-Not everybody asserts as confidently as the Pentagon that the U.S. military can defend the United States from the growing threat posed by North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile capability.

Pyongyang’s first test on Tuesday of an ICBM with a potential to strike the state of Alaska has raised the question: How capable is the U.S. military of knocking down an incoming missile or barrage of missiles?

Briefing reporters on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said: “We do have confidence in our ability to defend against the limited threat, the nascent threat that is there.”

Davis cited a successful test in May in which a U.S.-based missile interceptor knocked down a simulated incoming North Korean ICBM. But he acknowledged the test program’s track program was not perfect.

“It’s something we have mixed results on. But we also have an ability to shoot more than one interceptor,” Davis said.

An internal memo seen by Reuters also showed that the Pentagon upgraded its assessment of U.S. defenses after the May test.

Despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on a multi-layered missile defense system, the United States may not be able to seal itself off entirely from a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile attack.

Experts caution that U.S. missile defenses are now geared to shooting down one, or perhaps a small number of basic, incoming missiles. Were North Korea’s technology and production to keep advancing, U.S. defenses could be overwhelmed unless they keep pace with the threat.

“Over the next four years, the United States has to increase its current capacity of our deployed systems, aggressively push for more and faster deployment,” said Riki Ellison, founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

MIXED RESULTS

The test records of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), charged with the mission to develop, test and field a ballistic missile defense system, also show mixed results.

MDA systems have multiple layers and ranges and use sensors in space at sea and on land that altogether form a defense for different U.S. regions and territories.

One component, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD), demonstrated a success rate just above 55 percent. A second component, the Aegis system deployed aboard U.S. Navy ships and on land, had about an 83 percent success rate, according to the agency.

A third, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, anti-missile system, has a 100 percent success rate in 13 tests conducted since 2006, according to the MDA.

Lockheed Martin Corp is the prime contractor for THAAD and Aegis. Boeing Co is the lead contractor for GMD.

Since President Ronald Reagan’s administration in the 1980s, the U.S. government has spent more than $200 billion to develop and field a range of ballistic missile defense systems ranging from satellite detection to the sea-based Aegis system, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Funding for MDA was on average $8.12 billion during President Barack Obama’s administration that ended on Jan. 20. President Donald Trump has requested $7.8 billion for fiscal year 2018.

‘ANOTHER YEAR OR TWO’

Last month, Vice Admiral James Syring, then director of the Missile Defense Agency, told a congressional panel that North Korean advancements in the past six months had caused him great concern.

U.S.-based missile expert John Schilling, a contributor to the Washington-based North Korea monitoring project 38 North said the pace of North Korea’s missile development was quicker than expected.

“However, it will probably require another year or two of development before this missile can reliably and accurately hit high-value continental U.S. targets, particularly if fired under wartime conditions,” he said.

Michael Elleman, a fellow for Missile Defence at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that although North Korea was several steps from creating a dependable ICBM, “There are absolutely no guarantees” the United States can protect itself.

In missile defense, “Even if it had a test record of 100 percent, there are no guarantees.”

(Reporting by Mike Stone; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by Chris Sanders, Howard Goller and Peter Cooney)

 Chinese purchase billions of dollars’ worth of real estate in Australia annually

July 6, 2017

RT

China’s investment in foreign real estate reached a record $133.7 billion last year, according to property website Juwai.com. Australia stayed very much in demand with Chinese buyers last year, it said.

Statistics show Chinese buyers purchased $23.8 billion worth of Australian property in the 2016 financial year compared with $18.4 billion in the previous year, according to the website, as cited by Business Insider Australia.

While demand remains high, China’s property investments in Australia are unlikely to remain at last year’s levels once results for the 2017 financial year are released.

“In Australia, we see that investment flows have decreased markedly from their peak while remaining strong by historic standards,” said Sue Jong, Chief of Operations for Juwai.com.

“Capital controls, bank lending standards and foreign buyer taxes have combined to wind back the clock to 2015,” she said.

Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are the three most-searched cities in Australia, the report showed. Chinese investors have often been blamed for Australia’s escalating house prices which surged 20 percent last year.

China was the largest source of foreign investment in Australia in 2016, pouring almost $32 billion into local real estate.

In May, the Australian government restricted overseas purchasers to 50 percent of apartments in new developments and imposed hefty levies on homes that are left unoccupied for at least six months of the year. The measures have been reportedly taken in response to public concern over Chinese investment.

China’s foreign exchange regulator has also tightened controls on overseas transactions last month as it tries to stem the risks of continuous capital outflow and safeguard the national currency. The new legislation requires Chinese banks to report any overseas credit card transactions of over 1,000 yuan ($147).

Putin’s Chintzy Plan to Keep the Chinese Out of Siberia

May 5, 2016

The American Interest

Trying to stave off a possible Chinese takeover of parts of Siberia, Moscow is encouraging Russians to move there by offering free land to settlers. The Times has the details:

Russian citizens will receive the deeds to a one-hectare plot of land if they put it to good use during an initial five-year, rent-free period. The idea is to increase the number of Russian inhabitants in the area and prevent any possible encroachment by the nation’s Asian neighbours.

The Far East, bordered by China and North Korea, and relatively close to Japan, was absorbed into the tsarist empire during the mid-19th century. It remains sparsely populated, despite having some large cities, such as the port of Vladivostok.

About 6.2 million people live in the area, which stretches to the Arctic Ocean and incorporates vast reaches of steppe, forest and tundra. By contrast, 109 million people live in the three nearby Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning, beyond the Amur river.

Giving away land to encourage frontier settlement is a proven strategy, but is this offer really good enough to entice people to move? When the U.S. wanted to settle the Wild West the deal was a quarter section (160 acres or about 65 hectares) for homesteaders. Russia is giving away miserable little one-hectare plots in frigid Siberia—which, it’s worth recalling, is the place Russia has often sent criminals and persecuted ethnic groups over the centuries.

In general, encouraging more Russians to look East and give them the chance to build better lives is a smart idea, but if Russia is serious about populating Siberia it’s going to have to sweeten the deal.

The Espionage Act: One Hundred Years of Murky Law

June 14, 2017

by Grayson Clary

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June 15, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Espionage Act. Earlier this year, as if to commemorate the centennial, President Trump suggested to then-FBI Director James Comey that he extend the Act into new territory—that he use it to prosecute journalists.

While no reporter has ever been charged with violating the statute, this is hardly the first time, as we reported in 2012, that the government has threatened to pursue Espionage Act charges against journalists who base their reporting on leaked classified documents.

Unfortunately, there is little in the language of the law itself that would limit the application of the Espionage Act’s nondisclosure and possession prohibitions to journalists who did not themselves remove the documents from the control of the government. By their terms, two key sections of the Act seem to threaten criminal liability for journalists who shed light on government secrets. 18 U.S.C. § 793(e), for instance, broadly criminalizes the following:

Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over . . . information relating to the national defense, which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, [or] transmits . . .  the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;

A related provision, 18 U.S.C. § 798, reaches anyone “who[] knowingly and willfully communicates . . . or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States” certain classified information.

These provisions have no express exception for journalists reporting on issues of public concern—and no implied shield has emerged from the handful of precedents handed down over the last century. The Supreme Court brushed up against the question for the first and only time in New York Times Co. v. United States, the federal government’s effort to block the publication of the Pentagon Papers. While the court’s brief per curiam opinion didn’t touch the issue, several justices wrote separately to suggest that the Justice Department could still prosecute the reporters responsible for the story after it made the front page.

Why have no such prosecutions followed? In part, probably, because the law is unclear, shot through with undefined terms that courts rarely see an opportunity to interpret. Justice Harlan called the Espionage Act “a singularly opaque statute” in his dissent from New York Times Co.; Professors Harold Edgar and Benno Schmidt, in a 1986 law review article, went so far as to call the statute “incomprehensible if read according to the conventions of legal analysis of text, while paying fair attention to legislative history.” There’s no guarantee that the prosecution of a journalist under the Act would succeed—and from the government’s perspective, a loss would undermine the coercive value of threatening prosecution to protect secret surveillance programs.

There are at least two compelling (but untested) legal arguments that would complicate any effort to prosecute a reporter who relied on leaked documents in that kind of case. In New York Times Co., the lower court thought—and Justice Douglas agreed—that the word “communicates” in § 793(e)’s was never intended to include publication by the media. That question is still an open one. What’s more, at least some Espionage Act precedents suggest that “reason to believe [the leaked information] could be used to the injury of the United States” is a stiff requirement, one that it’s hard to imagine would be satisfied in the case of public reporting. In United States v. Rosen, for instance, the district court for the Eastern District of Virginia insisted that that language “requires the government to demonstrate the likelihood of the defendant’s bad faith purpose to either harm the United States or to aid a foreign government.” In other words, it’s not enough to publish sensitive information that a news organization knows might harm national security; harming U.S. national security needs to be the point of publishing.

The application of the disclosure provisions of the Espionage Act to third party recipients and republishers of government materials is likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Bartnicki v. Vopper, a 2001 case in which the Supreme Court afforded near absolute protection to the republication of information pertaining to matters of public interest that the republisher legally acquired even if their source illegally acquired and transmitted it to them. But the interaction of the Bartnicki doctrine and the Espionage Act has never been tested.

In essence, for decades, journalists have been protected against prosecution under the Espionage Act by an informal truce, not a battery of legal arguments. As Justice White noted—disapprovingly—in New York Times Co., a legal carve-out for reporters would “conform[] with the past practice of using the statute only to prosecute those charged with ordinary espionage.” Or as David Pozen described the government’s approach to leak prosecutions in The Leaky Leviathan, “In formal terms this legal regime looks forbidding, draconian. In practical terms, as a frustrated intelligence professional once put it, the system amounts to ‘permissive neglect.’”

That norm may be on the brink of changing. In 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder promised, “As long as I am attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions declined to make the same basic commitment at his confirmation hearings earlier this year. For better or worse, the Trump Administration may finally test the Espionage Act’s sweeping, ambiguous language against reporters’ core First Amendment rights.

With that test looming and with the 100th birthday of the law upon us, it’s clear that the Espionage Act needs to be reformed. Sign our petition calling for changes to this overly broad and outdated law.

The Farm Belt führer: the making of a neo-Nazi

Gerhard Lauck was Germany’s biggest supplier of neo-Nazi materials. His trajectory is a valuable case study in recognizing the signs of a budding hatemonger

July 6, 3017

by Carson Vaughan in Beatrice, Nebraska.

The Guardian

They’re easy to spot, the neo-Nazi and his driver, strolling side by side up Main Street beneath a noonday sun, flanked by the two-story brick and limestone buildings of Beatrice, Nebraska. But it’s not the way they’re dressed.

Gerhard Lauck, the man they call the “Farm Belt führer” doesn’t draw attention to himself heedlessly, doesn’t swaddle himself in swastikas – not any more, anyway, and not out here in south-east Nebraska, where he finally retreated after serving a four-year stint in a German prison for distributing neo-Nazi propaganda. He doesn’t bark “Heil Hitler!” He doesn’t shoot his right arm into the air.

No, it’s not the way they’re dressed, though Lauck is wearing a military brown shirt, and his driver, who won’t identify himself, is over-buttoned for a warm spring day. It’s something about their posture, a self-seriousness reflected in their stride, as if they’re not conducting business so much as playing at it.

At 6ft 4in and roughly 240lb, Lauck towers above his driver. Were it not for his illicit activity abroad, his tireless promotion of “racial purity”, his worship of Adolf Hitler (whom he likes to call “too humane” just to revel in the outrage), the pair would seem almost comical, a Laurel and Hardy, or closer still, a Pinky and the Brain.

“A joke? He was never a joke,” said Bob Wolfson, former director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Plains States Region, when I questioned Lauck’s significance. “If you’re talking about American Nazis that have had an impact internationally in the last 50 years, Gerhard is probably number one.”

For Wolfson, Lauck’s trajectory is a valuable case study, a narrative worth repeating to recognize the signs of a budding hatemonger.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “the radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year (2016) than in half a century”. This extremism has reared its head in forms both violent and purely ideological, from the exploding popularity of websites like the Daily Stormer, founded by an avowed Hitlerite, to the rash of hate crimes recorded immediately following Donald Trump’s election.

Lauck fits squarely into a succession of far right ideologues pushing an anti-globalist agenda. But unlike so many shouting their hate today, he has been peddling his particular brand in Europe for decades: before, during and after the internet disrupted traditional propaganda channels.

“His methodology and effect have been changed by technology,” Wolfson says, “but the fact that he’s still running a hosting site, that he hasn’t lost his ability to connect all these groups, that he has very good relationships with thousands and thousands of neo-Nazis all over the world – that’s not insignificant.”

I watch from across the street as they enter the restaurant. Above them, a crew of Hispanic workers dangle their legs from the scaffolding as they re-mortar the exterior. He’s not concerned. It’s not the individuals that bother him – it’s the groups, slowly “mongrelizing” the planet, he believes, playing the long con of “white genocide”.

The room is banquet sized and bare. The lights are dim, and the driver, still in his boxy jacket, stands beside our table. He doesn’t greet me when I step inside. I ask if he’s with Gerhard. He nods toward the restroom.

Seconds later, Lauck barrels out, belly forward, thumbs tucked in his waistband, mustache thick, hair peppered and neatly trimmed.

The world’s top supplier of printed neo-Nazi propaganda is ready for his first mainstream media interview in years.

“You do a great public service by saying these folks are around,” says Wolfson, who spent years of his career tracking Lauck’s work. “It’s healthy for people to get close to darkness so they can triangulate what darkness looks like.”

I first contacted Lauck last February, after studying the Southern Poverty Law Center’s newly published “Hate Map”.

Of the 917 active hate groups shown nationwide, 99 were Nazi groups, and five fell within the borders of my home state of Nebraska. Two of them in the neo-Nazi category: the NDSAP/AO, the German acronym for the National Socialist German Workers Party/Overseas Organization and Third Reich Books, both spearheaded by Gary “Gerhard” Lauck. The former was listed in the capital city of Lincoln, the latter in Fairbury, population 3,800.

After finding the website for Third Reich Books, I quickly emailed the only address listed, astonished to find someone with Lauck’s history living quietly among us. I didn’t think he would write back, but just 20 minutes later, his response was sitting in my mailbox.

“I’m semi-retired,” he wrote, “and routinely decline interviews from the local and state media.” If I were writing for a national or international publication, however, he’d be willing to make an exception. Though corresponding with a neo-Nazi fried my nerves – the very thought of his name in my inbox keeping me up at night – we stayed in touch for several months until we finally locked in a time and place to meet.

In person, Lauck is nothing if not self-aware.

He jokes about his “excessive modesty” as often as he calls himself a “sex symbol”, which is to say: frequently. He is fine with being called a Nazi propagandist. He doesn’t argue otherwise, though he insists he fabricates “a lot less than most propagandists” and certainly less than “the mass media”. The more appropriate question, he later tells me, isn’t whether or not what he says is true, but how much he’s omitted. He says these things frequently, purposely throwing himself in doubt, relishing in the grey zone between fact and fiction.

His fluency in German has led many in the past to confuse a very real speech impediment with an affected German accent. He struggles with the “r” sound, substituting a “w” or deleting it entirely. And he often crutches on the phrase “type of thing”, even when the phrase doesn’t apply: “I’m not say’n we should, type of thing, but the conkest of living space to poetect yuh own wace, yuh own culcha is OK.”

Born in Milwaukee in 1953, Lauck grew up in a bubble of pro-German sentiment. Once nicknamed the “German Athens of America”, by the 1930s Milwaukee hosted the largest German-born population in the country outside of Chicago and New York City. But a host of factors shattered the myth of a monolithic German American community, not the least of which was the political approach to preserving its heritage in the wake of the first world war – an era of fierce anti-German sentiment – and the looming shadow of the Third Reich.

Lauck’s parents, both from Wisconsin, grew up in this polarizing atmosphere, though he claims they were non-political. “Of course, there were comments about the United States fighting on the wrong side,” he says. “But, after all, that’s pretty obvious.”

Cocooned by his heritage, Lauck developed an acute sense of family and ethnic identity – something he’d fetishize for the rest of his life.

“I’ve been an American for over 60 years,” he says. “I’ve been a German for over 4,000.”

When Lauck was 11, his father Francis, formerly an engineer with the AO Smith Corporation, accepted a professorship at the University of Nebraska, transplanting the family to Lincoln. They moved into a modest home on a quiet, tree-lined street on the eastern edge of the city: middle class, upwardly mobile and overwhelmingly white.

Though Nebraska, too, boasted significant German heritage, the Germans here were more Americanized, Lauck says. Few of them retained the language, but more than that, they’d lost what he now viewed as the hallmarks of German culture.

This sudden departure from his nationalistic upbringing in Milwaukee, combined with a burgeoning American counterculture, pushed him over the edge. He considered Lincoln “a spiritually foreign country”.

When Lauck was 11, his father Francis, formerly an engineer with the AO Smith Corporation, accepted a professorship at the University of Nebraska, transplanting the family to Lincoln. They moved into a modest home on a quiet, tree-lined street on the eastern edge of the city: middle class, upwardly mobile and overwhelmingly white.

Though Nebraska, too, boasted significant German heritage, the Germans here were more Americanized, Lauck says. Few of them retained the language, but more than that, they’d lost what he now viewed as the hallmarks of German culture.

This sudden departure from his nationalistic upbringing in Milwaukee, combined with a burgeoning American counterculture, pushed him over the edge. He considered Lincoln “a spiritually foreign country”.

It started with a run of just 1,000 swastika stickers mailed to Germany. A year later, Lauck writes in his autobiography, the average run was 100,000. Soon, the AO published a German-language newspaper, the NS Kampfruf, and later still, an English version called The National Socialist Report.

During the next two decades, between 1975 and 1995, he moved around between Lincoln, Chicago and New York, but he always used the same return address on the propaganda. The newspapers expanded to nearly a dozen languages and 30 countries. Bolstered by its own reflection – “We realized we were not just a bunch of old people ready to die,” Lauck says – the resistance movement in Europe, and especially in Germany, exploded.

Though numbers varied widely at the time, the Anti-Defamation League estimated in 1993 that nearly 60,000 Germans were involved in neo-Nazi activity. The German government itself guessed that while only 2,000 Germans fit a strict Nazi mold, nearly 43,000 rightwing extremists were active in various hate groups, and as many as 6,400 had been militarized. Either way, all of the estimates had multiplied significantly since Lauck’s arrival in the 1970s.

In November 1976, celebrating the 38th anniversary of Kristallnacht, neo-Nazis in Frankfurt plastered the city with AO posters that read: “We are here again. Red Front perish. Don’t buy Jewish.”

When a rash of antisemitic crimes broke out in Hanover in February 1978, German sources alleged the demonstrators were financed by the AO through a Swiss bank account.

And when a 26-year-old construction worker shot and killed himself and three foreigners with a pistol at a nightclub in Nuremberg in August 1982, police found his pockets stuffed with AO stickers.

In 1992, Lauck’s propaganda was found at the crime scene of more than 200 criminal investigations, nearly all of them triggered by violent activities. And in the early days of the Yugoslav wars, Lauck used the AO newspapers to recruit and solicit money for a unit of more than 100 neo-Nazi militants of various nationalities to fight for Croatia, a Nazi ally in the second world war.

Lauck’s activities were heavily monitored – by the FBI, by the CIA, by the Anti-Defamation League. And yet, Lauck remained virtually untouchable on American soil. Despite his disdain for democracy, he’d armored himself with the First Amendment.

There were hiccups. Caught in March 1976 with 20,000 stickers, a fake passport and a large sum of money, Lauck spent four and a half months in German prison, or as he calls it, a “state-run luxury hotel”. And he once received a cigar-box sized black powder bomb in the mail, powerful enough to kill anyone within a five- to 10ft radius. That could have been his mother, father or his brother Robert, all of whom frequently picked up his mail. Or it could have been his Lithuanian wife, a sympathizer he met in Chicago named Janina Bareisa.

His brother Jerry, however, who had publicly disavowed his brother’s ideology, never picked up the mail.

Lauck says politics had nothing to do with it, but on 7 February , 1978, he loaded a 12-gauge shotgun, aimed it at Jerry and pulled the trigger, wounding him. At the hearing, Jerry – who hadn’t stepped foot in the home for more than two years – testified that he’d stopped by the home to drop off a package for his ailing twin sister, but his father, weak from lung cancer, rebuffed him. Lauck, who kept a shotgun nearby in case of political blowback, heard the commotion and ran upstairs. When Jerry slapped his father, Lauck took aim and fired. The charges, which carried a penalty of up to 50 years, were dropped after Jerry refused to come forward and the time for a speedy trial elapsed.

None of it slowed Lauck down. Not the deportations. Not the bomb threats. Not the family drama. The mail kept coming. The mail kept going. And by the early 1990s, Lauck was considered “the biggest supplier of neo-Nazi materials in the German scene”, according to Bodo Becker, a spokesman for Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, established specifically to monitor neo-Nazi activity.

“That’s what I do,” Lauck says. “It’s a really good job.”

His sins would catch up with him. In December 1993, after years of frustration with German law enforcement and powerless to prosecute the man perhaps most responsible for their country’s surge in rightwing extremism, then-FBI director Louis Freeh opened an investigation focused on Americans facilitating German neo-Nazis.

Though he didn’t identify individuals, those who followed the case knew exactly where he’d start.

Two years later, in March 1995, Lauck was arrested in Denmark on warrants issued from Hamburg via Interpol charging him with 36 separate counts of “distributing propaganda against the German constitution, encouraging racial hatred, inciting criminal acts and participating in a criminal organization.” He was soon extradited to Germany, which had been surveilling his activities and wiretapping his German cohorts. What role, if any, the FBI played in Lauck’s seizure remains unclear, though both Lauck himself and other sources close to the case who asked not to be identified claim US officials were involved.

Either way, Lauck was sentenced to four years in German prison. He maintains he knew the arrest was coming, citing the continued publication of the NS Kampfruf after his arrest as proof of the AO’s foresight.

What he wasn’t prepared for, however, was the internet.

By the time he finished his sentence and returned to the US – Chicago first, and then back to his mother’s basement with his wife in tow – the internet had undercut the importance of his work. Dissident neo-Nazi cells all over the world could now easily connect online, and the print industry had lost nearly all of its currency.

He entered prison as a king among his people, Wolfson says. He left as something less.

Neighbors in Lincoln say he stayed quiet after his return. Often times, one neighbor told me, the only way you could tell he was home at all was the strange smell of cigarettes wafting from the backyard.

But Lauck wasn’t completely out of the game. In 2000, just a year after his return, he launched a web-hosting platform called Zensurfrei.com, meaning “censorship free”.

Aimed primarily at European hate groups, the website boasts: “We … believe there is no such thing as ‘hate speech,’ only free speech that is hated by the established authorities. Zensurfrei.com is the first fully managed and secure web hosting provider for those denied access to mainstream hosting due to ‘offensive’ content.”

In addition to its still expanding web-hosting platform, the AO continues to publish hard-copy translations of original SS literature through its online bookstore, Third Reich Books. In total, they publish over 400 titles in 13 languages, Lauck says, and recently purchased their own binding equipment, moving the entire book-building process in-house.

“If it was up to me I’d move back to Germany to be on the front lines,” he says. “But it’s not practical … I can do more good here.”

After our interview, the photographer and I waited for Lauck and his driver to pull away. I had no interest in following them – not in a clandestine sense, anyway – but I wondered how neighbors felt about an internationally notorious Nazi propagandist camping out quietly among them, so we drove the 30 minutes west, slicing through budding cornfields on Route 136.

Nevertheless, I hadn’t planned on bumping into Lauck again just five minutes after parking the car.

He quickly appointed himself my liaison, ushering me into various businesses around town. He asked if I’d like to see his hiking path. We left the square and walked toward the Little Blue river, where the city converted an old rail line for recreational use.

I questioned him throughout the tour about White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was once called a “white supremacist” by Nancy Pelosi. He considers him “watered down” compared to the “Hitler youth and Wehrmacht” he once knew in Germany; about Donald Trump, whom he calls a transitional figure on the path toward revolution, comparable to “Kerensky in Russia”, admitting “the fact that he could be elected on the message he presented … is extremely significant”.

I also asked him about the sharp rise in antisemitic crimes in 2017. “The Jews claim that, but a lot of times Jews commit the crimes themselves and fake it to get sympathy,” he says. “You’ll know they’re really making progress if you watch the stock market for a company that manufactures a lot of Zyklon B.”

Lauck purchased a house some time around 2008. By then, his father had long been dead, and Lauck had let his parents’ home fall into disrepair, termites eating the floors and even the base of his mother’s piano.

Neighbors say he rarely took his mother out of the house. He eventually moved her to a nursing home outside of Lincoln, hastily packing up their belongings and what remained of his operations in the basement. A short string of new owners moved in and out. Nobody stuck around.

Most residents here in Fairbury don’t recognize his name. Those who do raise their eyebrows, whisper about his activities, laugh them away as if it were a quirk of this avid walker’s past. They don’t condone Nazism, certainly, but they won’t run him off. They respect his privacy, and expect he’ll reciprocate. “As long as he stays outta my yard I don’t care what he does,” says David George, who owns Pla Mor Lanes and Café. “As long as he stays on his side of the fence I won’t have to put a barrel in his face.”

Lauck asks that I keep Fairbury out of the story, telling me a cautionary tale of blackmailing a journalist who spied on his mother. He tells me it isn’t a threat.

“If I wanted to threaten you I’d have just taken you out further into the woods and pulled out my Luger and pointed it at you.”

In 2008, a Baghdadi construction worker named Rafid Al Nada, fearing for his young family’s safety in a radicalized Iraq, began trudging his way through the application process for an American visa.

After five interviews, they landed in Lincoln, Nebraska. Al Nada found employment with a local construction company, where he could put his considerable skills to work. At first they lived with his cousin, then an apartment of their own, and then a small house. In 2015, they upgraded again, this time into a modest home on a quiet, tree-lined street on the eastern side of the city: middle class, upwardly mobile and overwhelmingly white.

The yard was a mess and the floors were completely rotted through. Luckily for them, they knew a guy who could fix it up cheap, a skilled handyman with decades of experience behind him.

They’re still working on the yard, but the interior today is in impeccable condition. New floors. New paint. Framed photos of family members hanging from the walls, not a single one atilt. He built a new front porch. He paved a new sidewalk to the front door. He hasn’t finished the basement yet, but it’s on the list. When they first moved in, he says, he found something strange down there.

“He found a book talking about Hitler and things,” his son Mustafa says in perfect English, translating for his father.

I ask if I can see it. Al Nada laughs and gestures towards the trash can.

“I’m sorry, my friend. I tossed it.”

Auschwitz: Fact and Fiction

July 6, 2017

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

 

The question of the number of persons who died in Auschwitz has been addressed in a publication entitled Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp.

A chapter by Franciszek Piper entitled “The Number of Victims” addresses the issues discussed here and sections of it deserve to be quoted and enlarged upon.

“In erasing traces of the crimes perpetrated in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazis destroyed documents that could serve as the basis for determining how many people died there. When the Soviet soldiers liberated the camp in January 1945, they found documents that confirmed only 100,000 deaths. Yet surviving prisoners maintained that millions had perished at Auschwitz.

Faced with this disparity, officials of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, the organization entrusted with investigating the crimes committed at Auschwitz, conducted an in-depth study. Based on witness testimonies regarding the capacity of the camp and the length of time that its machinery for mass murder was operative, (emphasis added) the commission concluded that no fewer than four million (emphasis added) persons were put to death at the camp…Four million…is the number recorded in Polish literature, as well as in publications of other countries.

In The Final Solution, one of the first books to deal with the Holocaust, published in 1953, the figure of four million was radically reevaluated. English historian Gerald Reitlinger estimated the number of victims at Auschwitz to be roughly 800,000 to 900,000, (emphasis added) based on an analysis of the losses of Jews reported by specific countries…

The destruction by the Nazis of most Auschwitz records is the most important cause of divergent estimates…researchers had to rely on discrepant and imprecise data from testimonies and depositions of witnesses, former prisoners and Nazi functionaries and on court decisions and fragmentary and incomplete records of camp registries, archives, (sic) and other institutions. (Emphasis added).”

The question of the destruction of Auschwitz records has been raised over the years to support the claims that large numbers of people died in the camp but were not recorded. If the SS camp administration did destroy or remove official records from Auschwitz before the complex was overrun by the Soviets in early 1945, they did not and could not touch the records that had been sent to the headquarters of the camp system outside of Berlin, or any other copies sent to different agencies. According to the author of the article, the Soviets did find records indicating 100,000 deaths.

Reliance on anything originating from Stalin’s agents is totally unrealistic. The Soviets had no problem continuously rewriting their own history and obviously would have had no problem rewriting the history of other nations. The concurrence of the Poles in Soviet findings has no validity whatsoever. Poland was under complete control of the Soviets at the time of their reports and any official commission would do precisely as it was told by its masters.

It was only after the implosion of the Soviet Empire that their state archives became available to outside researchers, at least on a limited basis. As has been noted before, it was the standard policy of the Soviet government to denigrate and attack the government of West Germany, not support it. The microfilms released by the Russian archives in the early 1990s were copies of documents found at the SS camp headquarters in 1945 and had these supported the theory of extensive extermination programs, they certainly would have been released years before.

There is another argument used to explain the lack of documentation supporting the thesis of a million or more dead at Auschwitz. This argument claims that endless transports of Jews were delivered to the camp, not recorded anywhere and immediately executed. This, it is claimed, explains why there is such a disparity between official German figures and those proposed by others.

This argument has some fleeting validity but the question arises that if these transports were unrecorded in German records, how could anyone use them as references other than by supposition and speculation? It is very difficult to have one’s cake and eat it too.

The question of transport also needs to be addressed. When the German Reichsbahn scheduled rail transportation to Auschwitz, it was listed officially as special trains (Sonderzug) which indicated that the transports were privately contracted…in this case by the SS. If these transports were of an official, State nature, they would be listed as regular traffic, paid for by the government. While in the beginning of the forced Jewish emigration prior to the war, the Jewish community in Germany and overseas was compelled to pay for the emigration out of their own pockets, such accommodations were not operational during the war except in rare cases. It should also be noted that transport from Auschwitz taking manufactured products to various points in Europe were also listed as Special Trains. Auschwitz was part of the SS economic empire and as such, was run by the SS and not the German government. The Armed SS (Waffen-SS) was not an official part of the Wehrmacht and its operating expenses, as were the operating expenses for the entire SS, had to be paid for by the SS itself.

This in itself would cast considerable doubt on the thesis that a vast extermination program had been ordered by Hitler officially as State policy. When the SS ran out of operating capital, the transports stopped running.

The use of prisoner labor was certainly addressed in the numerous trials held after the war.

Another thesis often expressed is that the victims at Auschwitz were nearly all Jewish. Reports from the camp break down the exact number of inmates by groups, to include Jews. At Auschwitz, by far the largest group were those held in protective custody or as political prisoners

With former Soviet archival material now available, a greater balance should be much easier to obtain. It was only their stubborn refusal to release these records that allowed inflated figures, supported only with anecdotal and unsupported material, to flourish and, like ivy, expand and cover every aspect of the building beneath.

This archival material has, in fact, been available on microfilm since 1989 but is rarely discussed. An article in the New York ‘Times’ of March 3, 1991 quotes the Soviet sources with considerable accuracy. Forty six camps are covered with a total death toll of more than 400,000. Auschwitz records contain approximately 70,000 death certificates and in addition the death totals of 130,000 among the forced laborers in all camps and 200,000 additional names of various classes of prisoners in all camps to include Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Gross Rosen.

When queried about this article and the numbers reflected in it, Red Cross officials in Washington, DC agreed that they were indeed the figures contained in the microfilms they had received from Soviet sources but that “special secret lists” existed that boosted the death toll far higher. Further questioning elicited that no one had seen these “secret lists” but that they must certainly exist and that quoting from the official records was “misleading” and should not be done.

The records of the concentration camp system discovered by the Soviets at the system headquarters outside of Berlin in 1945 are complete. From a chronological point of view, there are no gaps. Many of the records found by the Soviets at Auschwitz are not complete but the headquarters files contain copies of all the Auschwitz records. Müller’s files, like the files found in Auschwitz, contain nearly all of the statistical data found in the headquarters files. The main office file is the complete file; the documents discovered in Auschwitz and the papers in Müller’s archives all match these files exactly.

The arrest, deportation and forced labor of a large number of people, including Jews, was repugnant and on a parallel with the British concentration camps (from whence the name came) instituted during the Boer War in which over 20,000 Boer women and children died in conditions of disease, filth and squalor, and is not possible to ignore or justify.

Aside from the records of the camp headquarters seized by the Soviets in 1945 from Oranienburg, another source exists that deals with the monthly population reports made by the individual camps to headquarters. These consisted of radio reports sent in to Oranienburg on a monthly basis. From early 1942 through February of 1943, British intelligence was monitoring these reports and in their official history of the British intelligence system, stated that, “The returns from Auschwitz, the largest of the camps with 20,000 prisoners, mentioned illness as the main cause of death, but included references to shootings and hangings. There were no references in the decrypts to gassing.”

Given inaccurate demographics about the post-war Jewish population, there is still a considerable gap in the number of Jews, mostly Polish Jews, who were living in Poland in 1939 and unaccounted for in 1945. The assumption was made, and is still being made, that these differences were clearly explained by the extermination theory.

The former Soviet Union maintained a rigid control over its files until its collapse, and it has only been since this point in time that a much clearer picture of events has become evident. In 1995, Russian author Arkady Vaksberg, a Jewish writer, attorney, and investigative journalist, published a book entitled Stalin Against The Jews, the basic theme of which is the persecution of Soviet Jews by Stalin after he had used them against his enemies. Vaksberg goes into some detail about the Polish Jews who, in September of 1939, fled the German advance into Poland and went into the Soviet Union.

Vaksberg states that these Polish Jews were seized by Stalin’s agencies and put into prison camps. The author states that exact figures of these prisoners are not presently available but speaks of “hundreds of thousands.” He also mentions that Soviet border police shot down many escaping Jews before they crossed the border into Communist territory. Survival in Soviet Gulags was very poor; of the 80,000 German prisoners of war captured at Stalingrad, only 6,000 were alive in 1955 to return to Germany. How many of these hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews survived the war is not known, but perhaps former Soviet archives hold the final answer to this issue, an issue that has persisted for half a century.

After the breakup of the Yugoslav state in the 1990s, the “ethnic cleansing” by the winsome Serbs of anyone they disliked, including Catholics and Jews, was greeted with a chorus of dismay from other nations…but nothing more.

There is a great deal of truth in the observation that no one wanted to help the tormented Jews of Europe. This lack of common humanity is still evident.

 

THE DIMINISHING NUMBERS OF ALLEGED JEWISH DEAD IN AUSCHWITZ

9,000,000

Source: Cited by the French documentary, Night and Fog, which has been shown to millions of school students worldwide.

8,000,000

Source: The French War Crime Research Office, Doc. 31, 1945.

7,000,000

Source: Also cited by the French War Crime Research Office.

6,000,000

Source: Cited in the book Auschwitz Doctor by Miklos Nyiszli. It has since been proven that this book is a fraud and the “doctor” was never even at Auschwitz, even though the book is often cited by historians.

5,000,000 to 5,500,000

Source: Cited in 1945 at the trial of Auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss, based on his confession which was written in English, a language he never spoke.

5,000,000

Source: Cited on April 20, 1978 by the French daily, Le Monde. Also cited on January 23, 1995 by the German daily Die Welt. By September 1, 1989, Le Monde reduced the figure to 1,433,000.

4,500,000

Source: In 1945 this figure was cited by another witness at the aforementioned Höss trial.

4,000,000

Source: Cited by a Soviet document of May 6, 1945 and officially acknowledged by the Nuremberg War Crimes trial. This figure was also reported in The New York Times on April 18, 1945, although 50 years later on January 26, 1995, The New York Times and The Washington Post slashed the figure to 1,500,000 citing new findings by the Auschwitz Museum officials. In fact, the figure of 4,000,000 was later repudiated by the Auschwitz museum officials in 1990 but the figure of 1,500,000 victims was not formally announced by Polish President Lech Walesa until five years after the Auschwitz historians had first announced their discovery.

3,500,000

Source: Cited in the 1991 edition of the Dictionary of the French Language and by Claude Lanzmann in 1980 in his introduction to Filip Muller’s book, Three Years in an Auschwitz Gas Chamber.

3,000,000

Source: Cited in a forced confession by Rudolf Höss, the Auschwitz commander who said this was the number of those who had died at Auschwitz prior to Dec. 1, 1943. Later cited in the June 7, 1993 issue of Heritage, the most widely read Jewish newspaper in California, even though three years previously the authorities at the Auschwitz museum had scaled down the figure to a minimum of 1,100,000 and a maximum of 1,500,000. (see below).

2,500,000

Source: Cited by Rudolf Vrba (an author of various fraudulent accounts of events he claims to have witnessed at Auschwitz) when he testified on July 16, 1981 for the Israeli government’s war crimes trial of former SS official Adolf Eichmann.

2,000,000

Source: Cited by Leon Poliakov (1951) writing in Harvest of Hate; Georges Wellers, writing in 1973 in The Yellow Star at the Time of Vichy; and Lucy Dawidowicz, writing in 1975 in The War Against the Jews.

2,000,000 to 4,000,000

Source: Cited by Yehuda Bauer in 1982 in his book, A History of the Holocaust. However, by 1989 Bauer revised his figure to 1,600,000.

1,600,000

Source: This is a 1989 revision by Yehuda Bauer of his earlier figure in 1982 of 2,000,000 to 4,000,000, Bauer cited this new figure on September 22, 1989 in The Jerusalem Post, at which time he wrote “The larger figures have been dismissed for years, except that it hasn’t reached the public yet.”

1,500,000

Source: In 1995 this was the number of Auschwitz deaths announced by Polish President Lech Walesa as determined by those at the Auschwitz museum. This number was inscribed on the monument at the Auschwitz camp at that time, thereby “replacing” the earlier 4,000,000 figure that had been formally repudiated (and withdrawn from the monument) five years earlier in 1990. At that time, on July 17, 1990 The Washington Times reprinted a brief article from The London Daily Telegraph citing the “new” figure of 1,500,000 that had been determined by the authorities at the Auschwitz museum. This new figure was reported two years later in a UPI report published in the New York Post on March 26, 1992. On January 26, 1995 both The Washington Post and The New York Times cited this 1,500,000 figure as the new “official” figure (citing the Auschwitz Museum authorities).

1,471,595

Source: This is a 1983 figure cited by Georges Wellers who (as noted previously) had determined, writing in 1973, that some 2,000,000 had died.

1,433,000

Source: This figure was cited on September 1, 1989 by the French daily, Le Monde, which earlier, on April 20, 1978, had cited the figure at 4,000,000.

1,250,000

Source: In the book, The Destruction of the European Jews, by Raul Hilberg (1985).

1,100,000 to 1,500,000

Source: Sources for this estimate are Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum in their 1984 book, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. This estimate was later also cited by Walter Reich, former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, writing in The Washington Post on September 8, 1998. The upper figure of 1,500,000 is (the new) “official” figure as now inscribed at Auschwitz, with the earlier figure of 4,000,000 having been removed from the memorial at the site of the former concentration camp.

1,000,000

Source: Jean-Claude Pressac, writing in his 1989 book Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers. This is interesting since he wrote his book to repudiate so-called “Holocaust deniers” who were called that precisely because they had questioned the numbers of those who had died at Auschwitz.

900,000

Source: Reported on August 3, 1990 11, by Aufbau, a Jewish newspaper in New York.

800,000 to 900,000

Source: Reported by Gerald Reitlinger in his book, The Final Solution.

775,000 to 800,000

Source: Jean-Claude Pressac’s revised figure, put forth in his 1993 book, The Crematoria of Auschwitz: The Mass Murder’s Machinery, scaling down his earlier claim of 1,000,000 dead.

630,000 to 710,000

Source: In 1994 Pressac scaled his figure down somewhat further; this is the figure cited in the German language translation of Pressac’s 1993 book originally published in French. Again, this is substantially less than Pressac’s 1989 figure of 1,000,000.

Using all available wartime records from the various camps it has been estimated that between 400,000 and 500,000 people died in the German concentration camp system (from all causes)between the years 1935-1945.

Note: All of the above information was suppositional, based on myths, legends and political expedience. Here is the actual listing of all inmates lodged in Auschwitz camp from the beginning to the end from the complete German records now in Russian archives.

Russian Central State Archives No 187603, Rolls 281-286 (Auschwitz)

Total non-Jews in Auschwitz, 1940-1944: 161,685

Sources: CSA No. 187603: Roll 281-1940: Frames 107-869-Roll 282-1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852- Roll 286-1945: Frames 001-329.

Total Jews in Auschwitz, 1941-1944: 173,000

Sources: CSA No. 187603: -Roll 282-1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852.

Total number of inmates in Auschwitz, 1940-1944

334,785

Sources: CSA No. 187603: -Roll 282-1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852.

Total deaths by typhus in Auschwitz, 1941-1944

103,447

Sources:  CSA No. 187603: 1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852- Roll 286.

Total Jewish deaths by typhus in Auschwitz, 1942-1944

58,240

Total non-Jewish deaths by typhus in Auschwitz, 1940-1944

45,207

Sources: CSA No. 187603:  Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852.

Death by natural causes (other than typhus), 1940-1944

4,140

Sources: CSA No. 187603: Roll 281-1940: Frames 107-869-Roll 282-1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852- Roll 286.

Total Jewish deaths by natural causes (other than typhus), 1941-1944

2,064

Sources: CSA No. 187603: 1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852- Roll 286.

Total transferred from Auschwitz, 1940-1944

121,453

Sources: CSA No. 187603: Roll 281-1940: Frames 107-869-Roll 282-1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852.

Total number of Jews transferred from Auschwitz, 1941-1944

100,743

Sources: CSA No. 187603: 1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852- Roll 286.

Administrative Executions at Auschwitz, 1940-1943

Sources: CSA No. 187603: Roll 281-1940: Frames 107-869-Roll 282-1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852- Roll 286.

Total number of inmates executed: 1359     Total Russians executed: 19

Total Gypsies executed: 19              Total Poles executed: 1208

Total Jews executed: 117                           Total Czechs executed: 6

 

Total number of Hungarian Jews sent to Auschwitz, May-October, 1944:  23,117

Note: Number of Hungarian Jews claimed sent to Auschwitz, May-October, 1944:

Lucy Dawidowicz. The War Against the Jews, New York, 1975.: 450,000

Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, New York, 1985. 180,000

Total number of Hungarian Jews entering Auschwitz, May-October, 1944:  23,117

Total number of Hungarian Jews transferred from Auschwitz, May-October, 1944: 21,527

Total number of Hungarian Jews remaining in Auschwitz after October, 1944: 1,590

Sources: CSA No. 187603: Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852- Roll 286-1945: Frames 001-329

Summation: From July, 1941 through October, 1944

Total number of Jewish prisoners in the Auschwitz camp system: 173,000

Total number of Jewish prisoners who died of typhus: 58,240

Total number of Jewish prisoners who died of natural causes: 2,064

Total number of Jewish prisoners transferred to other camps: 100,743

Total number of Jewish prisoners executed: 117

Total number of Jewish prisoners  in camp after German evacuation on January 15, 1945:  11,839

Sources: CSA No. 187603: Roll 281-1940: Frames 107-869-Roll 282-1940-41: Frames 001-875-Roll 283-1941-42:Frames 001-872-Roll 284-1942-43: Frames 003-862-Roll 285-1943-44: Frames 019-852- Roll 286-1945: Frames 001-329.

 

  • The General Government was the German term for the part of Poland they occupied after 1939. Himmler wished to have all deported Jews sent to the Lublin area where they were supposed to work for the SS.
  • N0-034, NMT vol 5, pps 356-358.
  • IMT NO-021 Vol 5, p. 385.
  • “Federal Republic of Germany Restitution,” Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, Bonn, 1988.
  • “Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941-1945,” New York, 1953, p 72, Protocol 52.
  • “Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp,” ed. Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, 1994, Indiana University Press. pps 61 et seq.
  • Amery, vol.5, 252, 253, 601; vol. 6, 24-25.  “British Intelligence in the Second World War,” Hinsley et al, London, 1980, vol. 11, p 673.
  • “Stalin Against the Jews,” Vaksberg, New York, 1995, pp 103-107.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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