Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.
writes from Warsaw, Poland, Friday, July 21, 2000
More in Defence of Jan Karski
With reference to Theodore J. O'Keefe's letter concerning Jan Karski. It seems to me that Mr O'Keefe is merely trying to twist words, so let me use different ones to make the point quite clear. Belzec was an extermination camp for the greater part of 1942. The camp that Karski visited, according to his words, "was located near the town of Belzec" (The Story of a Secret State (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 344) And now I quote Mr O'Keefe: "The following pages leave no doubt that Karski claimed to have entered the camp." He entered a camp which, as no doubt Jews died in it, was called a death camp. It was not the extermination camp with the gas chambers. If Mr O'Keefe seeks historical evidence as trying to be clever with semantics then I think he is on somewhat thin ice. Alternatively he could try reading a little more closely pages 128 -- 130 in Wood and Jankowski's book which I think back my version.
I find it hard to believe that Mr O'Keefe thinks that Karski was famous because he claimed to have witnessed the Holocaust. Does Mr O'Keefe have any idea how many witnesses to the Holocaust are still alive in this country, or for that matter, on his own doorstep in California?
Of the victims of Belzec only five managed to get out. Only one, Rudolf Reder, told the story. None of the former Belzec inmates is alive but there are survivors of Treblinka, Sobibór, and Chelmno. We also have the evidence of the perpetrators and Polish eye witnesses. As far as the latter are concerned Thomas Blatt's excellent book From the Ashes of Sobibór gives a good description of when the author went near the camp in the train. If Mr O'Keefe wants to speak to other witnesses, there is still no shortage in the nearby countryside and I would be very happy to arrange this if required.
As far as an investigation is concerned, what type of investigation would Mr O'Keefe like? Does he seriously expect people to have turned up at the police station during the war and report the fact that murders were going on in the camp? There have been many police investigations in both Poland and Germany since 1945; to suggest the opposite is just perverse. A Belzec Trial took place in Munich 1963 -- 4. Furthermore detailed archaeological studies were made in 1997 and last year. I think details can be found on a page of the Nizkor site. Finally camp staff are alive: Unterscharfuhrer Robert Juhrs lives in Frankfurt (Main) and Oberscharfuhrer Kurt Franz lives in Düsseldorf. Staff from Treblinka and Sobibór are also alive in Germany. I do not suppose they would be too happy to give an interview but one could always try.
As to the bone fragments at the site, I am not the only person to have claimed to have seen them, indeed it would be impossible to ignore them. Of course I would not expect a revisionist to look at the site when it is easier to play with words to prove that the Holocaust did not happen. I am not sure what the aims of Mr O'Keefe and the Journal of Historical Review are but the finding the truth is certainly not one of them.
Mr Heath is British and has lived in Poland for eight years where he is the publisher of Polish Business News.
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