The Holocaust Historiography Project

Letters to the Editor (May/June 2000)

The 13th IHR Conference

Congratulations on your excellent conference. It was very well organized and informative — very good for everyone’s morale.

John Bennett
Carlton, Australia

Swastika Charm

Regarding the March-April 1999 Journal article about the swastika, and the remark [p. 34] that “in India it was revered as a sign of good fortune and prosperity,” it is notable that such was also the case in the USA well into the 20th century. An example is seen in the 1931 Hollywood movie “Blonde Crazy.” In the latter part James Cagney examines a two inch square metallic “swastika charm.” The dialogue makes clear that Americans generally interpreted such a charm as a “good luck piece.” (The title of the movie does not fit well. The original title, “Larceny Lane,” was better.)

Arthur R. Butz
Evanston, Illinois

Massive Historical Distortion

While we are inundated with “remembrance” of the greatest war crime that never occurred, the record of the greatest such crime that actually did occur are being expunged. I refer to the expulsion at the conclusion of World War II of twelve million Germans from the real east Germany — Silesia, Pomerania, East Prussia, the Sudetenland, and other areas east of the Oder-Neisse line — which involved the deaths of some two million people.

Then these lands, which constituted a quarter of Germany’s territory, were incorporated by the Allied leaders into Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union. Although just as German as the rest of Germany, these regions had the geographic misfortune to be vulnerable to Allied, and especially Stalinist, vengeance.

With this great crime has come distortion of history on a grand scale. My 1986 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (a work under the guidance of the University of Chicago) refers to east German cities as being “under Prussian control” until “liberated” by the Poles in 1945. A Maps of the war on the History Channel and on the boxes of model airplanes show postwar boundaries. An article in the neo-conservative magazine The American Spectator imagines a wartime event occurring in “Wroclaw” (Breslau). A few years ago Poles in the city of Stettin (Szczecin) celebrated the city’s 800th anniversary. With the current Pope in attendance, they arranged the festivities as a celebration of their history. Even some Germans seem eager to eradicate their historical heritage and collective memory. During a visit to the Nietzsche house in Naumburg in 1998, I was startled to see the philosopher’s life traced on wall maps not of his era, but of today.

Eric Rachout, M. D.
Moody, Texas