Dear United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,
Your web page promoting the 75th anniversary of the arrival of Stalin’s troops at the Auschwitz labor and concentration camps should mention the major revisions and corrections that have occurred in the official history of the camps since 1945.
We specifically refer to the slow dismantling of Soviet propaganda; propaganda that exaggerated the camps’ death toll by millions and created various horror stories of human soap factories, skull smashing “murder machines,” shipments of gold fillings being sent to Berlin, and lurid sex-bondage brothels. This macabre propaganda insults both truth and the dignity of the actual victims of Auschwitz.
The USHMM has been slow to correct the propaganda errors which contaminate history.
The USHMM web page mentions 14 cases of mass atrocities. Amazingly, you neglect the most successful and perhaps the most brutal system of slave labor that ever existed; Stalin’s vast Gulag of labor camps. The system was successful in that the records and evidence of its crimes were largely destroyed and a small army of Stalin’s killers and sadists escaped all earthly justice. However well-researched estimates put the number of prisoners between 14 and 19 million souls, including numerous American citizens. The number of deaths in the Gulag from exhaustion, starvation, cold, and brutality is estimated to be 1.6 million.
Your web site writes that “The mandate of the Simon-Skjodt Center is … to advance justice and accountability.” Your web site also writes that “Memory is what shapes us. Memory is what teaches us.” The USHMM has neither remembered the Gulags nor called for justice for its victims. Perhaps it is your right to ignore these vast crimes but there are many indications that Stalin exaggerated the crimes of Auschwitz to cover his own. By failing to speak out against Soviet propaganda and by turning your back on the victims of Kolyma, you fail in your own stated mandates. Stalin would smile at your double standard.
Member of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust
cc: Holocaust Historiography Project