Scrapbookpages Blog

October 9, 2015

On this day in 1981, Holocaust deniers were defeated in court

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 8:49 am

The case of Moshe Mermelstein vs. a denial group wound up pulling the rug out from under the feet of Holocaust deniers.

This headline is on the news article which I quoted above:

A U.S. Court rules that the Jews were gassed in Auschwitz

The following quote is from the news article:

On October 9, 1981, Judge Thomas T. Johnson of the Superior Court of Los Angeles ruled once and for all that Jews had indeed been gassed to death in Auschwitz. It was the first time a court in the United States had ruled that the existence of the Holocaust was something that did not need to be proved when it arose in a court case.

Judge Johnson’s “judicial notice”, acknowledging the incontrovertibility of the fact that Jews had been gassed in Auschwitz, came in the case of survivor Mel Mermelstein. He had sued the Institute for Historical Review, a self-styled “revisionist” group, when it refused to pay him the sum of $50,000, which it had promised to pay for “verifiable proof that gas chambers for the purpose of killing human beings existed at or in Auschwitz.”

The notice didn’t mark the end of the judicial proceedings, but it virtually guaranteed that Mermelstein would win his case if and when it went to trial.

What qualifications did the judge have to rule on the existence of gas chambers in the Holocaust?  Had he gone to Auschwitz-Birkenau and examined the ruins of Gas Chamber No. 5, where the relatives of Mermelstein had been gassed?  No, of course not!  The judge was qualified to rule on this case because he was a judge.

Keep in mind that, in 19 countries today, you could wind up in prison for 5 years or more for denying the Judge’s ruling.

Gas chamber number 4 at Auschwitz was exactly like Gas Chamber 5.

Gas Chamber number 4 at Auschwitz was exactly like Gas Chamber 5

The photograph above shows the gas chamber building known as Crematorium IV, or Krema IV, taken in the Summer of 1943 after it became operational.

This building was blown up by Jewish inmates in a camp rebellion on October 7, 1944. The Krema IV gas chamber, disguised as a shower room, was located above ground in the wing of the building which is to the left in the picture. Note that the roof line of the gas chamber is lower than the roof of the main part of the building. Zyklon-B poison gas pellets were thrown into the fake shower room through windows on the outside wall of the gas chamber. (Don’t laugh — the Nazis were very advanced in scientific matters. They had the best engineers in the world.)

Sorry, but I can’t find a photo of Krema V, which was a mirror image of Krema IV.

A group of Jews pause for a photo as they head for the Krema V gas chamber

A group of Jews pause for a photo as they head for the Krema IV or Krema V gas chambers

In the far right hand corner of the photo immediately above, you can see a gate into the section of Auschwitz-Birkenau where the Sauna was located.

My 2007 photo of the gate into the section where Krema 5 was located

My 2007 photo of the gate into the section where Krema V was located (Click to enlarge)

The Sauna was the building where there was a shower room for the prisoners who were not gassed. Across the road, was the place where gas chambers No. 4 and 5 were located.

Are the Jews in the photo above headed to the shower room in the Sauna, or to a gas chamber?  It is impossible to determine their fate. Some of them look as if they are capable of working, but this would not have precluded gassing.  There was no rhyme nor reason for the gassing selections.

The Sauna was located across the road from gas chambers Number IV and V

The Sauna was located across the road from gas chambers Number IV and V

In a book entitled An Uncertain Hour, the author, Ted Morgan, wrote about a survivor named Otto Abramovic who stayed behind when the Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoners were evacuated on January 18, 1945. “He hid out in the area around Canada, which he knew well, and when the Russians arrived on January 27, he was there to greet them, for he spoke some Russian. He became their guide to scenic Canada, with its mountains and rivers – mountains of clothing, mountains of shoes, rivers of hair, rivers of gold teeth.” Other sources claim that the Nazis set fire to the buildings in “Canada” before they left.

At the end of October 1944, Heinrich Himmler had ordered gassing with Zyklon-B to be stopped, according to a guide book sold at Auschwitz; the last “selection” of prisoners was on October 30, 1944.

This decision, according to the guidebook, was prompted by the liberation of Majdanek and the discovery, by soldiers of the Soviet Union, of the incriminating evidence of 500 cans of Zyklon-B and three remaining gas chambers with blue stains on the walls, left by the gas. His decision was also influenced by the camp uprising when Crematorium IV was blown up by prisoners who used dynamite that had been smuggled in by women inmates who worked in factories outside the camp.

Crematorium V was blown up by the Nazis on Jan. 26, 1945, only the day before the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front arrived to liberate the remaining prisoners. Crematorium V was outside the barbed wire enclosure of the barracks and across an interior camp road from Crematorium IV.

September 21, 2012

$5 million dollars was awarded to a Holocaust survivor in a “Holocaust denial” lawsuit in 1986

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:13 am

Last night, I was watching the Dr. Drew TV show when I was stunned to hear Lisa Bloom say that one of the many accomplishments of her mother, Gloria Allred, was that she had won a case in which $5 million was awarded to a Holocaust survivor in his lawsuit against Holocaust deniers.  I knew that she could only be referring to the case brought by Mel Mermelstein against the IHR many years ago.

I knew that the Mermelstein lawsuit took place way back in 1985, but I had never bothered to read the details.  So I took some time to look it up.  I found the Jewish Virtual Library website, which has an extensive article about the case.

This quote is from the article on the Jewish Virtual Library website:

The one case directly involving the substance of Holocaust-denial propaganda in an American court was a 1985 lawsuit brought against the IHR by Mel Mermelstein, a Holocaust survivor living in Long Beach, California. In the early ’80s, Mermelstein had responded to a cynical IHR publicity campaign which offered $50,000 to anyone who could prove that Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz by submitting evidence that members of his own family had been murdered at that concentration camp. When the IHR failed to comply with its promised terms, Mermelstein filed his suit. In July 1985, the lawsuit was settled in Mermelstein’s favor. The settlement, approved by judge Robert Wenke of the Los Angeles Superior Court, called for the IHR to pay Mermelstein the $50,000 “reward,” as well as an additional $40,000 for pain and suffering. Moreover, at a pre-trial hearing, the Court took judicial notice of the fact that gas chambers had been used to murder Jews at Auschwitz.

Several months later, Mermelstein won another victory against the Holocaust-denial movement. In January 1986, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded Mermelstein $4.75 million in punitive damages and $500,000 in compensatory damages in a suit he had filed in 1981 against Ditlieb Felderer, a Swedish Holocaust denier whose publication, Jewish Information Bulletin (it is in fact none of these), had mocked the killing of Jews at Auschwitz and had attacked Mermelstein personally. Later that year, the IHR and Willis Carto sued Mermelstein, claiming he libeled them during a radio interview given in New York. In 1988, they voluntarily dropped the charges.

Did you catch that?  An American judge, in an American court, took judicial notice that gas chambers had been used to murder Jews at Auschwitz.  The term “judicial notice” means that a judge rules that a statement made in court is “common knowledge” and is so well known that it does not have to be proved in court.  In this instance, the judge ruled that the gas chambers at Auschwitz are such a well known fact, that anyone who mentions the gas chambers in a court of law in America does not have to prove his statement.

This “judicial notice” by an American judge has laid the groundwork for the prosecution of Holocaust deniers in America in the future.

How long before America joins many other countries that have a law against Holocaust denial?

I may have to change the photos of the gas chambers on my website. I should put some blue stains on the walls of the reconstructed gas chamber at Auschwitz to show that Zyklon-B was used to gas the prisoners.