It's purpose at least in part is to "provide resources and support for educational programs that" ... "portray accurate historical information about the Holocaust". I am totally in favor of Federal Government funding of programs that accurately portray history. Honesty is important. Let's get this right.
The following to the best of my understanding is Holocaust story as it currently stands.
The following is a brief description of the Holocaust. It is the basics of the Holocaust story. It is not Holocaust denial; it is not revisionism. Holocaust deniers are directed to the few comments at the end which explains how certain events were possible.
What Is the Holocaust?
The Holocaust is the allegation that during World War II the National Socialist government of Germany tried to kill everyone who they identified as a Jew. It is further claimed that this attempted genocide of Jews resulted in the death of 6,000,000 of their number.
When, where, and how did this happen? When, where, and how were 6,000,000 people murdered? This seems to be the place to start in understanding the Holocaust yet I was unable to find a clear tabulation of such information from Holocaust education organizations such as the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum (USHMM) or Israel's Yad Vashem. The only such list that I am aware of is from Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews. Table B-1, page 1219, of the 1985 edition of that work, is a summary of Holocaust deaths by camp or specific action. Five major groupings account for well over ninety percent of the victims. These categories are the Action Reinhardt killing centers, Einsatzgruppen executions, Auschwitz gas chambers, general deprivation in ghettos, and the Chelmno and Majdanek camps in Poland. I've added an "all other" to account for smaller numbers. The groupings are:The above total is short of the 6,000,000 but that doesn't detract from the magnitude of the crime.Action Reinhardt (Treblinka, Belsec, Sobibor camps) - 1,500,000 gassing victims
Einsatzgruppen, executions in towns and villages - 1,300,000 firing squad victims
Auschwitz, mostly in gas chambers - 1,000,000 mostly gassing victims
Ghettorization&Occupation - 800,000 general deprivation victims
Kulmhof/Chelmno and Lublin/Majdanek - 200,000 primarily gassing victims
All other including the well known camps in Germany - 300,000 of various causes
Further, the foregoing numbers should not be subjected to scrutiny for accuracy. The numbers are just estimates. Despite some claims that the Holocaust is well documented the opposite is true. Very little, in truth an insignificant amount, is documented. None of the executions whether by Einsatzgruppen, in gas chambers, or in the ghettos are clearly enumerated. There are no lists of victims. There is no count of the dead not even a record of the number of times executions were carried out. The documented deaths are from disease or other natural causes plus a few executions for disciplinary reasons.
Although this post is purposefully brief a little additional information is necessary to fill out answers to the "when, where, and how". Following are some of these details for the five major categories, or sub-stories if you will.
Action Reinhardt Camps
Action Reinhardt with 1,500,000 victims is the largest of the above categories. These victims were the murdered in the death camps of Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor. Hilberg puts the respective deaths at 750,000, 550,000, and 200,000. Combined this is the most deadly Holocaust action. These three camps were located in what is today eastern Poland, not far from the current borders with Belarus and Ukraine. They began operation in March 1942 and were closed in the fall of 1943. These were pure extermination camps. Only prisoners needed to help run the camps were allowed to live. All others were executed immediately upon arrival. What is known about the operation of these camps is largely based on the reports of two Jews who claimed to be members of the Jewish forced laborers at Treblinka -Yankel Wiernik and Chil Rajchman.
In brief the operation was: Jews arrived in trains of twenty or more carloads, disembarked and were stripped of all possessions. The men were then separated from the women and children. Both groups would be told to remove all clothes to take a shower. Instead they were then forced into a building where they were killed by a poisonous gas. Wiernik said it was diesel engine exhaust gas but Rajchman wasn’t sure. They were all dead within minutes and initially they were buried in large mass graves. In order to eliminate all evidence of this massive crime the later victims were cremated and the previously buried corpses were exhumed and also cremated. Since there were no crematory facilities at any of the Action Reinhardt camps open air cremation was used. The following is part of Rajchman’s description of the cremations:Wiernik provides a similar description of the cremation. His words were "The workers piled the corpses on the grate and set them on fire." and “It turned out that bodies of women burned more easily than those of men. Accordingly, the bodies of women were used for kindling the fires.” The cremations resulted in only ashes leaving no recognizable human remains as evidence of the massive crime.“He [the “cremation expert”] had laid out more than thirty meters of railway gauge. Right on top of the ground a pair of concrete foundations were cast, both with a height of approximately 50 centimeters. ... On top of the foundations six railway rails were placed, that was all. The expert ordered us to put women, particularly fat women, on the first layer on the roast, face down. The second layer could consist of whatever was brought – men, women or children – and so on, layer upon layer like a pyramid, up to a height of two meter."
"... Then the "expert" ordered us to lay dry branches under the roast and to light them. Within a few minutes the fire would take so it was difficult to approach the crematorium from as far as fifty meters away.”
According to Holocaust historians, Belzec and Sobibor were operated the same way. There are very limited eye witness accounts of the operation of these camps. Apparently, the small number and lack of consistency in these accounts leads Holocaust scholars to the conclusion they were operated in the same manner as Treblinka. The United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial (USHMM) descriptions of operation of the three camps are brief but are nearly identical.
The next largest category is the execution by firing squad - 1,300,000 victims. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 special squads called Einsatzgruppen -Operation Groups- rounded up Jews in towns and cities marched them to the outskirts of town executed them and buried them in mass graves. Executions were carried out in groups of various sizes from a few individuals to groups of dozens, hundreds , or even thousands.
The best known execution of this type occurred at Babi Yar, a ravine on the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine, where 33,000 of the city’s Jewish residents were executed and buried.
There are no mass graves to be examined. In June 1942 Himmler ordered all evidence of the Einsatzgruppen executions destroyed. It is claimed that all bodies were exhumed and burned in a manner similar to the Treblinka cremations leaving absolutely no physical evidence that these million plus murder victims ever existed, not even in Babi Yar whose location is exactly known has any evidence of these murders been discovered.
Auschwitz, located in what is now southern Poland, was the largest of the German concentration camps. It actually consisted of three camps - Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II (Birkenau), and Auschwitz III (Monowitz). Auschwitz II (Birkenau) was by far the largest of the three. It had the barracks that housed the majority of the inmates and also the four large crematoria/gas chambers.
Auschwitz is almost synonymous with the Holocaust. However, Hilberg found it was only the third most deadly of the major groupings. Here approximately 1,000,000 Jews were murdered in gas chambers between September 1941 and November 1944.
Despite claims of efficient mass murder methods, the so-called “machinery of death” was rather crude. Jews to be gassed were herded into rooms actually built as morgues - “leichenkellar” in German. These rooms had no plumbing thru which the poison gas was introduced. Specifically, they did not have the shower heads, fake or otherwise, often mentioned by Holocaust survivors. Instead, Zyclon B pellets were poured into the packed rooms through holes in the roofs or through windows. Hydrogen cyanide released from the pellets killed all occupants within minutes. Sondercommando workers entered the chambers immediately and carried the bodies to the crematoria located in the same building.
As previously noted there are absolutely no records of the exterminations at Auschwitz. Those deemed useful for labor were selected for registration in the camp and their lives and activities are well documented. All others were sent to the gas chambers. There is no indication that they were even counted. There is not even a record of how often the makeshift chambers were used.
Ghettorization & Occupation
Hilberg attributes 800,000 holocaust deaths to general deprivation primarily in ghettos established for Jews in all larger cities in Eastern Europe. Also, certain Jews from Germany proper were deported to Theresienstadt, a ghetto in the what is now the Czech Republic.
Ghettos existed pretty much from the beginning of German occupation until their retreat. Deaths resulted from disease caused by crowded conditions and general deprivation.
Kulmhof/Chelmno and Lublin/Majdanek
These two camps were similar to the Action Reinhardt camps. Majdanek comes up often the story but I know little about it. The same is true for the less often mentioned Chelmo. Since Hilberg claims 200,000 were killed in them but the USHMM has a death total of 600,000, I really don't know what is say about them.
The concentration camps in Germany proper are in the catch-all category of "All Other". Total Jewish deaths in these camps were less than 150,000 . The majority of whom died of typhus in the last three months of the war as conditions throughout Germany deteriorated due to Allied bombing. These were the camps liberated by the Western Allied forces in April and May 1945. The horrible conditions were filmed and used extensively in anti-German propaganda.
There were a number of these camps but the limitations of this brief description does not permit further explanation.
The first event that I came across that clearly needs clarification is the burning of bodies at Treblinka. What eyewitness describe is not possible according to natural law. Animal carcasses including human corpses will not burn. the only possible explanation for this happening is Devine intervention, i.e. a miracle. Natural law was temporarily suspended.
Devine intervention occurred at other times during the Holocaust. The complete disappearance any trace of the victims of Belsec, Sobibor, and Einsatzgruppen mass graves is another example of the "miracle of combustible corpses."
Another miracle was the ability of Sondercommando workers to enter the hydrogen cyanide filled chambers in Auschwitz and remove the bodies of Holocaust victims without themselves succumbing to the gas.
That the Nazi's were so favored by God that they could work miracles is contrary to everything I have been taught in my life but that does seem to be the only explanation of how the Holocaust occurred.