Humanities & Social Sciences
Those fake photos (again)
Reply-To: H-NET List for History of the Holocaust
Sender: H-NET List for History of the Holocaust
Sun, 24 Oct 1999
Hans Moeller, director of the renowned Institut
für Zeitgeschichte München, crushingly
criticized the "Wehrmachts-Ausstellung" as being full
of blunders and faults. Moeller thinks it
irresponsible to show the exhibition in the USA. -
(dpa) Merkur, 23.10.1999
Prof. Moeller and other historians responded to a
just-published article by the German-Polish historian
Dr. Bogdan Musial: Bilder einer Ausstellung.
Kritische Anmerkungen zur Wanderausstellung
"Vernichtungskrieg. Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941 bis
1944" in: Vierteljahreshefte fuer
Zeitgeschichte 4 (1999), pp. 563-591.
Musial, who wrote his thesis on the German
administration in the Generalgouverment and their most
active role in the murder of the Jews (with special
reference to the district of Lublin), documents in his
thorough and careful study on the "Pictures of an
exhibition" that almost all pictures showing German
soldiers together with masses of corpses are wrongly
ascribed to the Wehrmacht: in fact the pictures show
victims of the Soviet secret police NKVD, who shot
Ukrainian, Polish and some Jewish political prisoners
before the Wehrmacht conquered the places in
question in East Galicia.
The bodies were exhumed, and photographs were
taken of them by soldiers. If the "Hamburger
Institut fuer Sozialforschung" (HSI), who made
the exhibition, were right with their
interpretation of the pictures in question,
then, Musial logically deduces, soldiers of the
Wehrmacht had killed the people at first, then
buried, next exhumed, and finally taken photos
of the exhumed corpses -- which would be an
absurdity in itself.
Rejudging the pictures on grounds of
convincing evidence by new found pictures and
new testimonies of witnesses and survivors
Musial comes to the conclusion that the
essential pictures of the exhibition, which were
intended to prove acts of murder committed by
the Wehrmacht, in fact document assassinations
by the NKVD.
The people shown were not killed by the
Wehrmacht because they were Jews, as is
suggested by the context of the exhibition, they
were Ukrainian, Polish and some Jewish political
prisoners killed by the Soviets before.
the pictures on grounds of convincing evidence
by new found pictures and new testimonies of
witnesses and survivors Musial comes to the
conclusion that the essential pictures of the
exhibition, which were intended to prove acts of
murder committed by the Wehrmacht, in fact
document assassinations by the
The mass killing of the Jews in these places by
Germans took place after the exhumations. But this cannot
be documented by pictures showing the Wehrmacht as active
perpetrators, as the organizers of the exhibition had
wished to demonstrate.
It is essential to emphasize
that Dr. Musial neither denies the role of the
Wehrmacht in the murder of the Jews, which is an
established historical fact for him, although further
research on this topic is strongly advocated. Nor is
Musial a right-winger who indulges in downplaying the
part of the German Wehrmacht, as some "alte Kameraden"
are wrongly assuming now in Germany. Musial's concern
is nothing but historical truth.
It will be interesting to learn in which way or if at
all the "HSI" will correct their exhibition for New York.
The damage the Hamburgers have caused by their sloppy
work (Prof. Moeller and others) by using wrong photos
(purposefully?) for a imo [in my opinion] mainly
correct thesis concerning the Wehrmacht, is hotly debated
in all leading German newspapers.
The HSI have learned criticism both by renowned
historians and countless visitors of the exhibition
referring to some photos long before Musial's article
appeared. They did not feel any need to react, but worse,
they simply tried to sue critics like Musial, which might
remind some people of D.J. Goldhagen and the way
he tried to get rid of his critic Bettina Birn.
Now we have it after Musial's article: the reputation of
the HSI is at stake. Let's wait and see.
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