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Yitzhak Arad   Letter 05   25-Jun-1999   You suppressed The Black Book
"In evading discussion during the Demjanjuk trial of the Vasily Grossman description of Treblinka, you played the role not of expert witness assisting the court in determining truth, but rather you played the role of false witness assisting the court in conducting a political show trial." Lubomyr Prytulak
  June 25, 1999
Yitzhak Arad
Yad Vashem
PO Box 3477
91034 Jerusalem
Israel

Yitzhak Arad:


I Discover The Black Book

A few days ago, I came across the book, Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book: The Ruthless Murder of Jews by German-Fascist Invaders Throughout the Temporarily-Occupied Regions of the Soviet Union and in the Death Camps of Poland During the War of 1941-1945, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981.  The advisory board of the Holocaust library is given as follows:  Alexander Donat (Chairman), Sam E. Bloch, William H. Donat, Abraham H. Foxman, Hadassah Rosensaft, Leon W. Wells, and Elie Wiesel.


Which Contains Vasily Grossman's Description of Treblinka

Of particular relevance to your 1987 testimony in the Jerusalem trial of John Demjanjuk for the crime of having been Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka is that The Black Book has a description of Treblinka written by Vasily Grossman which occupies pp. 399-429, a total of 31 pages.  Upon reading these 31 pages, and upon reviewing your testimony in the Demjanjuk trial, I come to certain conclusions concerning your competence and your integrity to which I invite your response.


You Had Every reason to Know Grossman's 31 Treblinka Pages, and Yet at the Demjanjuk Trial You Claimed to be Ignorant of Them

Ten reasons you should have known Grossman's 31 Treblinka pages

At the Demjanjuk trial in 1987, there are many reasons why you should have known the contents of The Black Book, and why you should particularly have known Grossman's 31 pages devoted to Treblinka:

(1) Your own Yad Vashem held the copyright.  You were chairman of Yad Vashem, had been since 1972, and The Black Book's 1980 copyright was held by "Yad Vashem & Israel Research Institute of Contemporary Society."

(2) You had eight years as chairman of Yad Vashem to read the manuscript prior to its publication.  As the manuscript for The Black Book had been brought to Yad Vashem in 1965 (as mentioned on pp. xix, xxiv of The Black Book), and as you had been chairman of Yad Vashem from 1972, you could have read this manuscript during the eight years of your chairmainship between 1972 to 1980, which is to say during eight years when the manuscript was being analyzed and verified and collated by the Yad Vashem researchers in your employ.

(3) You had seven years to read the book following publication.  As The Black Book was first published in 1980, you had seven years until your testimony at the Demjanjuk trial in 1987 to learn what it contained.  In total, then, you had eight plus seven equals fifteen years to learn what The Black Book had to say in general, and what Grossman had to say about Treblinka in particular.  (In fact, as the manuscript had been brought to Eretz-Israel in 1946, some researchers may have had an even longer interval to learn its contents, among whom you may have been one.)

(4) You wrote one of the prefaces.  The Black Book was not unknown to you if you recall, you actually wrote a four-page preface to it titled "The Destruction of the Jewish Population" which can be found on pp. xv-xviii.

(5) The Black Book was a blockbuster of a book.  I venture to suggest that The Black Book was one of the more prominent and influential publications ever to come out of Yad Vashem, such that all Yad Vashem personnel, and especially its chairman, and especially a chairman who had written a preface to the book, would have followed its preparation closely, and once it was published would have read it with care.  I venture to suggest that given the importance of the book, and given that you had contributed a preface to it, and given that your own Yad Vashem claimed copyright over it, you kept a copy of The Black Book in your office always at hand where it could be consulted at a moment's notice.

(6) The Demjanjuk trial was a blockbuster of a trial.  You were about to testify in the role of expert witness at the most prominent war crimes trial in Israel's history after that of Adolf Eichmann, and the trial centered on events at Treblinka.  Therefore, you had a strong motive to review the contents of The Black Book's 31 Treblinka pages.

(7) Your scouring the literature had turned up evidence disappointing to the prosecution.  The prosecution wanted you to confirm that Ivan the Terrible had existed at Treblinka, and that John Demjanjuk was that Ivan the Terrible, and yet the evidence that you were able to dig up was skimpy and vague and contradictory, and altogether unconvincing.  Thus, you had the strongest possible further motive to re-read The Black Book's 31 Treblinka pages because they might have contained the very information that you were seeking but as yet had failed to find.  For you not to have, in preparation for the trial, re-read Grossman's 31 Treblinka pages more attentively than you ever had before would have been symptomatic of an unbelievable incompetence.

(8) You had only 31 pages to read.  The brevity of The Black Book's coverage of Treblinka a mere 31 pages would have enabled you to read it at any time over breakfast, over lunch, during a break in your testimony, in bed before turning the lights out for the night.

(9) You knew a lot of other things about the book.  Upon the witness stand, you offered detailed information concerning the nature of the book and its authorship, which demonstrated that you were not suffering from any general memory loss, but only a selective amnesia.  Furthermore, your own words testified to the authenticity and undisputed value of The Black Book, and to its potential for providing evidence of the highest quality and of the greatest relevance to the Demjanjuk case:

This book consists of testimony taken by Ilya Ehrenburg and Vassily Grossman in those areas which were liberated within the Soviet Union areas which were taken back during the counterattack of the Soviets, and when they came to certain camps and cities, they took testimony concerning what had happened there.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 533)

Yes, but this book consists only of direct testimony; it is direct, accurate testimony of the same manner as the one you introduced to me earlier.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 534)

I'll say it only briefly, because I am not an expert in their biographies, but from what I know Ilya Ehrenburg as a writer, a journalist, very well known.  During the Second World War he published many articles which encouraged the Soviets in their fight against Nazi Germany and it should be noted that in most of these articles he also made mention of the Jewish point.  Now as part of the Jewish anti-fascist council which operated in the Soviet Union during the Second World War he assumed responsibility together with Vasilli Grossman for drawing this book concerning the tragedy of Soviet Jewry under Nazi Germany and in the process of the liberation of Cracow, Kiev, and Smolensk, he and Grossman or someone else on their behalf made sure that testimony was taken concerning deeds of murder of the Germans and especially the Einsatzgruppen, as I noted in my remarks earlier, and this information was compiled in this book, The Black Book, a book which was not published in the Soviet Union, even though it was written, it pertains to the Soviet Union, but we won't go into that.  Vasilli Grossman, of course was also a journalist and a writer.  He was also a military correspondent during the Second World War.  He is also known for his other books and together with Ehrenburg he wrote this book.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, pp. 548-549)

(10) You admitted knowing The Black Book.  Demjanjuk defense attorney Yoram Sheftel asks you: "I have shown you a book in English, The Black Book, edited by Ilya Ehrenburg and Vassily Grossman.  I gather that you are familiar with this book."  You reply: "Yes, I am" (Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 533)

And yet you tenaciously clung to the claim of ignorance

For the many reasons above, then, it is inconceivable that you were not thoroughly apprised of the contents of Grossman's 31 Treblinka pages, and even more inconceivable that you would plead utter ignorance of their contents, and yet that is what you did.  And neither were you being asked about esoteric details you were being asked about the most relevant part of Grossman's 31 Treblinka pages mainly a single sentence that might be interpreted as containing a description of Ivan the Terrible.  This was a sentence that would have jumped out at any expert witness who read Grossman's 31-page Treblinka account in preparation for the Demjanjuk trial.  It must be acknowledged that occasionally one cannot always be sure when in your pleadings of amnesia below you are not referring to Grossman's 31-page Treblinka section in The Black Book, but rather to Grossman's repeating the same information in an independent publication which you helpfully identify as the "small book" but whatever the source of the Grossman account being referred to, your position is always the same that you are unaware of what it was that Grossman had to say concerning Treblinka:

At the moment I haven't looked through this book.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 549)

I read this small book by Ehrenburg about ten years ago, I mean Grossman's book, that is, about ten years ago.  I don't remember the details about any specific name that appears there.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 550)

As I said earlier, this small book I read over ten years ago.  I simply do not remember these details and I cannot answer.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 551)

I don't remember.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 552)

No, I don't remember any details from this small book.  After 10 years and after having read dozens if not hundreds of other books, testimonies, documents on the subject.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 552)

No, I don't remember the excerpt.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 554)

But I don't remember.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 554)

Yesterday when I was asked about this, I noted that the name Schmidt is something that I do remember.  He was someone who was in charge of Ivan and Nicholai, but I remember it in order to make sure I would have to look it up again.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 555)

I'd have to re-read the passage.  Because I'm not sure.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 555)

I can answer as I said earlier, I don't remember what this book says.
(Yitzhak Arad, Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 557)

Two interpretations of the above incongruity

Either you really didn't know Grossman's Treblinka.  One interpretation of the above incongruity between what you had every reason to know and what you claimed not to know is that you genuinely did not know The Black Book statement on Treblinka, in which case your knowledge of Treblinka was so scanty that you were unfit to appear as an expert witness in any trial, and most emphatically not in a capital case.

Or you perjured yourself.  Another interpretation is that you knew very well what Vasily Grossman had to say about Treblinka, but feigned ignorance because Grossman's account of Treblinka was exculpatory of John Demjanjuk, because it contradicted your account of Treblinka, because it exemplified the existence of Holocaust fantasy, and because your having published it demonstrated your readiness to confuse Holocaust history from Holocaust fantasy.


Did You Feign Ignorance of Vasily Grossman's Account of Treblinka Because it Exculpates John Demjanjuk?

The Black Book describes Treblinka personnel, lingers over those who acted with particular cruelty, and typically gives concrete particulars such as names.  However, it is totally exculpatory of John Demjanjuk because it never mentions any Ukrainian guards, never mentions the name John Demjanjuk or any name resembling it, never mentions the appellation Ivan the Terrible or any appellation resembling it, never even mentions the Christian name, Ivan.  Neither does it mention any Nikolai, whom you testified was an individual working together with Ivan.  And never is there any individual described of whatever name or nationality who had the appearance of John Demjanjuk.  The two individuals described by Grossman of whom we might ask, "Could either of these have been John Demjanjuk?" are below.  Please keep in mind that a full identification would involve mention of the name "Ivan Demjanjuk," of the nationality Ukrainian, and of the physical characteristics, young, blond, and tall.  And how many characteristics from this list do we in fact find in the two "assistants" mentioned by Grossman below?

The wide door of the slaughterhouse opened slowly and two of the assistants of Schmidt, the chief of the death factory, appeared at the entrance.  These were sadists and maniacs.  One, about thirty years of age, was tall with massive shoulders, dark hair and a sallow-complexioned face beaming with excitement; the other, slightly younger, was short, brown-haired, with a pasty, jaundiced complexion, as if he had just taken quinacrine.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 414, emphasis added)

So, as John Demjanjuk was young, blond, and tall, he couldn't have been the first of the above assistants who differed in being 30 and having dark hair, and he couldn't have been the second of the above assistants who differed in being short and having brown hair.  In fact, the only characteristic John Demjanjuk shares with either of Schmidt's assistants is that John Demjanjuk was tall and the first assistant was tall, and that John Demjanjuk was young and the second assistant was young.  That's as close as Grossman came to supplying inculpatory information about John Demjanjuk, which is the same as saying that Grossman exculpated John Demjanjuk.

That is because if an Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka had existed, then this most monstrous of all murderers and torturers in Treblinka, if not in the whole world, would have been known to the entire camp and would have been featured in every recollection of the camp.  If Grossman knew that the commandant's dog's name was Bari, how could he have missed knowing that the monster of Treblinka's name was Ivan Demjanjuk, or at least Ivan the Terrible or at least Ivan?  The absence of any reference to Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka demonstrates that Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka did not exist, and the absence of any mention of Ivan Demjanjuk demonstrates that if he had been at Treblinka, he passed unnoticed.  This appears to be the most likely reason that when asked about The Black Book, you were stricken with amnesia.  Amnesia concerning Vasily Grossman was what was called for in the conspiracy to get John Demjanjuk hanged, and you were ready to provide whatever it happened to be that the conspiracy called for.  Such was your contribution to Israeli justice.


Did You Feign Ignorance of Vasily Grossman's Account of Treblinka Because it Contradicts Your Own Account of Treblinka?

You testified at the Demjanjuk trial that there was one kind of gas chamber at Treblinka.  However, The Black Book says there were three.

You testified that there was only one type of gas chamber at Treblinka one that fed diesel exhaust into the chamber, killing the victims by means of carbon monoxide.  Leaving aside the difficulty that diesel engines do not appear to produce enough carbon monoxide to be lethal, we note here that The Black Book identifies not one variety of gas chamber, but three, and that the one employing diesel exhaust was not even the most common:

Various means were employed to effect this mass slaughter.  One of them was by forcing the exhaust fumes from the engine of a heavy tank that served as the Treblinka power station into the chambers.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 417)

The second method, and one that was the most widely used, was pumping air out of the chambers with suction pumps until the victims were dead.  As in the case of the first method, death was caused by depriving the victims of oxygen.

The third method, used less but nevertheless used, was murder with steam.  This method, too, aimed at depriving the organism of oxygen, for the steam was used to expel the air from the chambers.

Diverse poisons, too, were employed, but this was experimentation; the first two were the methods used for mass murder on industrial scale.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 418)


You testified at the Demjanjuk trial that the Germans left behind not a shred of physical evidence of the existence of Treblinka.  However, The Black Book says that much physical evidence must have been left behind.

The Treblinka infrastructure was extensive, and the idea that a retreating army would have allocated scarce resources to the impossible task of erasing every last bit of this infrastructure is preposterous:

There were concrete ponds for domestic fowl, pools for washing laundry with steps leading conveniently down, various services for the German personnel a modern bakery, barbershop, garage, a gasoline-filling station, warehouses.  Built on approximately the same principle with the gardens, the drinking fountains, the concrete paths was the Lublin camp at Majdanek and dozens of other labor camps in East-Poland where the Gestapo and the SS intended to settle for a long time.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 400)

To your testimony at the Demjanjuk trial that Treblinka had left absolutely no physical traces, my letter to you of 09Mar99 pointed out that it must have left garbage which could today be dug up to testify to Treblinka's existence, which supposition is confirmed by Grossman:

The valuable articles were carried away to the warehouses, and the letters, photographs of newborn babies, brothers and brides, yellowed wedding announcements, all these precious bits of paper that had been treasured by their owners perhaps for years, were just so much trash for the Treblinka officials who collected them in a pile and carted them away to huge pits already partly filled with hundreds of thousands of similar letters, postcards, visiting cards, photographs, letters written in shaky childish handwriting and crude childish crayon drawings.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 409)

The burning of garbage leaves behind residue from which anthropologists and forensic experts can draw inferences even many decades later; and burial without burning all the more so:

Articles of clothing considered worthwhile sending to Germany were taken away at once to the warehouse.  All metal and cloth labels were carefully removed.  The rest of the clothing was burned or buried.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 411)

Vasily Grossman portrays the earth as being saturated with Treblinka artifacts, and regurgitating them at every opportunity:

The earth ejects the crushed bones, the teeth, bits of paper and clothing; it refuses to keep its awful secret.  These things emerge from the unhealed wounds in the earth.  There they are the half-rotted shirts of the slain, the trousers, shoes, mouldy cigarette-cases, the tiny cog wheels of watches, penknives, shaving brushes, candlesticks, children's shoes with red pompons, towels with Ukrainian embroidery, lace underwear, scissors, thimbles, corsets, trusses.  Out of another fissure in the earth emerge heaps of utensils: cups, pots, basins, tins, pans, aluminum mugs, bowls, children's bakelite cups.  ...  And beyond, out of the bottomless, swollen earth, as though pushed forward into the light of day by some invisible hand, emerge half-rotted Soviet passports, notebooks with Bulgarian writing, photographs of children from Warsaw and Vienna, letters written in childish scrawl, a volume of poetry, a prayer copied on a yellowed fragment of paper, food ration cards from Germany....  Hundreds of perfume bottles of all shapes and sizes, green, pink, blue....
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, pp. 428-429)

Hair is everywhere on the Treblinka site:

We walk over the bottomless Treblinka earth and suddenly something causes us to halt in our tracks.  It is the sight of a lock of hair gleaming like burnished copper, the soft lovely hair of a young girl trampled into the ground, and next to it a lock of light blonde hair, and farther on a thick dark braid gleaming against the light sand; and beyond that more and more.  There are evidently the contents of one, but only one, of the sacks of hair the Germans had neglected to ship off.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 429)

And Grossman indicates places where such hair might be found far from the Treblinka site, which could nevertheless constitute a forensic confirmation of Treblinka, which forensic confirmation you testified does not exist:

All the witnesses questioned confirmed that the sacks containing their hair had German addresses on them.  What was it used for?  According to the written testimony of one Kohn, the hair was used by the navy to fill mattresses, to make hausers for submarines and for other similar purposes.  Other witnesses claim that the hair was used to pad saddles for the cavalry.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 411)

Deposits of charred bone and ashes must be present in the Treblinka countryside:

The peasants carted the charred bones and ashes from the spring of 1943 until the summer of 1944.  Every day twenty carts were out each making six or eight trips in the course of the day.  In every load went 100-125 kilograms or more of ashes and charred bones.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 424)

You testified at the Demjanjuk trial that only branches were interwoven into the barbed wire.  However, The Black Book says that blankets hid the barbed wire as well, and that it was the blankets that were the more noticeable and thus the more memorable.

What was behind that massive six-meter wall covered thickly with yellowing pine branches and blankets?  The blankets too inspired fear: they were quilted and made of colored silk or calico exactly like those packed in bedrolls of travellers.  How had they got there?  Who had brought them?  And where were their owners?  Why had they no further use for their blankets?
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 407)


You testified at the Demjanjuk trial that corpses were transported from the gas chambers to the burial pits in only two ways carried on stretchers or dragged along the ground by means of straps.  However, The Black Book says that the chief method was waggonettes on narrow-gauge tracks.

The latter [the doors to the outside] led to platforms running on both sides of the building.  Narrow-gauge tracks led up to the platforms.  The corpses were first emptied out on the platforms and then loaded into waggonettes to be carried to the huge burial pits the excavators dug day and night.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 417)


You testified at the Demjanjuk trial that Himmler's reason for digging up and burning the 870,000 Treblinka bodies was to hide the incriminating evidence of the Nazi murders.  However, The Black Book demonstrates that the evidence of the murders was spread far and wide, such that the disinterment and burning gained Himmler nothing.

Work went on day and night.  People who took part in the cremation of the corpses say that the ovens resembled volcanoes; the frightful heat burned the faces of the workers, the flames leapt up to a height of eight to ten meters, clouds of thick black smoke reached the sky and hung in a heavy motionless blanket in the air.  Inhabitants of villages in the neighborhood saw the flame at night from a distance of thirty and forty kilometers as it licked above the pine woods surrounding the camp.  The stench of burning flesh poisoned the whole countryside.  When the wind blew in the direction of the Polish camp three kilometers away, the people there were almost asphyxiated by the frightful odor.  More than 800 prisoners (which is more than the number of workers in the blast-furnace or open-hearth departments of big iron and steel plants) were engaged in burning the corpses.  The monster workshop operated day and night for eight months in succession without managing to handle the myriad of buried bodies.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 421)


You testified at the Demjanjuk trial that branches woven into the barbed-wire fence surrounding Treblinka kept the local Polish peasants from being aware of what was happening at Treblinka, or even that there was anything more at Treblinka than a woodland.  You testified at the Demjanjuk trial that one of the chief motives for the building of the gas chambers was that they allowed executions to be conducted in secret.  However, The Black Book draws a picture of the local Polish population being aware of everything.

The locals counted the trains:

Railway workers and peasants secretly kept count of these trains.  Kazimierz Skarzynski, a sixty-eight-year-old peasant from the village of Wulka (the inhabited point nearest to the camp), told me that on some days as many as six trains would pass along the Siedlce line alone and hardly a day passed throughout these thirteen months without at least one train coming in.  [...]  We are in possession of dozens of like statements.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 403)

The locals watched escape attempts:

There were cases when prisoners who knew where they were being taken mutinied.  A peasant by the name of Skarzynski saw people smash their way out of two trains, knock down the guards and run off into the forest.  In both cases every one of the fugitives was killed.  Four children between the ages of four and six were killed with them.  Similar cases of skirmishes between the victims and the guards were described by a peasant woman named Marianna Kobus.  Working in the fields one day she saw sixty people break away from a train and make for the forest.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 409)

The locals ran away from the screams of the victims:

Inhabitants of the village of Wulka, the settlement nearest to Treblinka, say that sometimes the shrieks of the women being murdered were so terrible that the whole village would run for miles into the forest to get away from the piercing cries that rent the air.  Presently the screaming would subside only to break out again as terrible and soul-searing as before....  This was repeated three or four times a day.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 415-416)


You testified at the Demjanjuk trial that except for a small number of Gypsies, only Jews were shipped to Treblinka.  However, The Black Book indicates that others were shipped to Treblinka as well.

Although the Anglophones in the first quote below succeeded in winning their release, the fact that they had been shipped to Treblinka in the first place indicates that Treblinka was not reserved exclusively for Jews:

Once a train arrived in Treblinka filled with English, Canadian, American, and Australian citizens who had been stranded in Europe and Poland when the war broke out.  After lengthy negotiations involving the payment of huge bribes, they had succeeded in gaining permission to travel to neutral countries.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 405)

Poles too were sent to Treblinka:

Several trains brought young Polish peasants and workers who had taken part in uprisings and fought in partisan detachments.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 405)


You testified at the Demjanjuk trial that 870,000 were murdered at Treblinka.  However, The Black Book puts the number at millions.

Himmler ordered all the buried corpses to be burned, every single one of them, and the ashes and residue to be carried out of the camp and strewn over the fields and roads.  Inasmuch as there were already millions of corpses in the ground this seemed an incredibly difficult task.
(Vasily Grossman, Treblinka, in Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, New York, published in Hebrew in 1980, published in English in 1981, p. 420)



Did You Feign Ignorance of Vasily Grossman's Account of Treblinka Because it Demonstrates the Existence of Holocaust Fantasy, and Because Your Having Published His Account Demonstrates Your Readiness to Confuse Holocaust History With Holocaust Fantasy?

I think that you yourself, Yitzhak Arad, must disbelieve much of the Grossman account of Treblinka that is to be found in The Black Book.  I think that you yourself must disbelieve that millions were murdered at Treblinka, as Grossman testifies.  You yourself must disbelieve that vacuum was the most common method of execution at Treblinka, or that steam was the third-most common method.  You yourself must disbelieve that whole Polish villages ran several miles into the forest three or four times each day to escape the sound of the screaming from the Treblinka victims.  You yourself must disbelieve that the Nazis could think of no better way to block a view than to weave pine branches into a barbed wire fence, and then to also drape blankets over the fence.  You yourself must disbelieve that Treblinka had concrete ponds to hold domestic fowl.  You yourself must recognize that Vasily Grossman's account of Treblinka was manufactured in Soviet war-propaganda factories.  I think that when you testified in 1987 at the Demjanjuk trial in Jerusalem, one reason that you evaded discussing Vasily Grossman's Treblinka was because it was clearly fantasy, and because your having published it demonstrated that you were, at least in part, a dealer in Holocaust fantasy.


Conclusions

Yitzhak Arad, you had every reason to know the contents of Vasily Grossman's 31-page description of Treblinka in The Black Book, and yet you claimed to be ignorant of it.  However, what the above accumulation of evidence suggests is that you were indeed congizant of Grossman's account of Treblinka, but avoided testifying on it because

if taken to be true, it would have been exculpatory of John Demjanjuk, and would have contradicted your own account of Treblinka; and because

if taken to be false, it would have demonstrated the prevalence of Holocaust fantasy, and because it would have demonstrated that in publishing The Black Book, the Yad Vashem of which you had been chairman for the past 15 years had endorsed as Holocaust history what had been only Holocaust fantasy.

If taken to be partly true, and partly false.  The worst nightmare for the prosecution, of course, would have been to have the parts of Grossman's Treblinka that were accepted as true be the parts that exculpated John Demjanjuk and that contradicted your own testimony, and to have all the rest rejected as false thus in one blow both exculpating John Demjanjuk and discrediting yourself and Yad Vashem.  And yet something approaching this worst of all possible scenarios did threaten, as Soviet propagandist Vasily Grossman would have been motivated to feature any Ivan the Terrible in his writing had Grossman the slightest inkling of his existence so that Grossman's failure to mention any Ivan the Terrible would have been probative, while the remainder of his account could have been written off as Soviet war propaganda.  In other words, in a context like the present, what a writer neglects to relate may carry greater significance than what he does relate.  This is why it was essential for the presecution to obstruct discussion of Vasily Grossman's account of Treblinka.

The charge that you stand accused of in the present letter, then, is that in evading discussion during the Demjanjuk trial of the Vasily Grossman description of Treblinka, you played the role not of expert witness assisting the court in determining truth, but rather you played the role of false witness assisting the court in conducting a political show trial.  In denying knowledge of the Vasily Grossman's description of Treblinka, you committed perjury in an attempt to get John Demjanjuk executed.



Lubomyr Prytulak


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