In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that long ago--I can't even remember for sure how long ago, but I think it was in 1988--I once voted for Pat Buchanan in a Republican primary. Well, that was then; this is now. I'm certainly older and hopefully wiser now, not to mention better informed. And I don't think Buchanan was spewing this vicious nonsense then, though even then I had a vague feeling of disquiet about what I knew was his dislike of Israel. That, of course, was before the blogosphere and very nearly before the Internet, so information was not as widely available then as it is now.
What is the worst thing Buchanan says in the above linked article? This:
But for the six years before Britain declared war, there was no Holocaust, and for two years after the war began, there was no Holocaust. Not until midwinter 1942 was the Wannsee Conference held, where the Final Solution was on the table....The Holocaust was not a cause of the war, but a consequence of the war. No war, no Holocaust.You get that? Buchanan says there was no Holocaust before the Wannsee Conference in midwinter of 1942. And if nasty old England and presumably America hadn't kept going with the war, if they had found some way to end the war before midwinter of 1942, there would have been no Holocaust at all. Hence the article's title: "Was the Holocaust Inevitable?"
Perhaps it is from reading Buchanan's sort of unblushing balderdash that some people have gotten the impression that there were no concentration camps in 1939. (See the discussion here and here.)
As the quotation shows, Buchanan claims that there was no Holocaust prior to midwinter of 1942 by defining "the Holocaust" as not beginning until the Wannsee Conference. This redefinition is so misleading that it is hard to refrain from calling Buchanan an outright liar. Indeed, he probably in one sense knows more than I do about the events of 1939-1942, yet he makes such a bald claim without so much as a qualifier or explanation. I make no claim to expertise, but I do know how to use Google and read a timeline. So let's look at a few facts.
(Note: The dates in what follows are all taken from the Yad Vashem timeline, which can be accessed by clicking through a couple of links starting here. For some strange reason, there are no separate URLs that appear for the different links, nor even for the separate timelines for groups of years--e.g., 1939-1941. I find this rather frustrating, as it prevents me from putting in links to each of the facts I cite separately. In the absence of such different links, I will give dates for each item. To check the timeline, go to the general link, click on "Chronology," then click on the group of years in question and scroll down to the particular date. The dates are also clickable, and I am getting my specifics from the brief paragraph that comes up when you click on the date.)
Jews in Poland were forced to begin wearing the Jewish badge on November 23, 1939.
The Lodz ghetto was sealed on April 30, 1940.
The Warsaw ghetto was sealed on November 15, 1940.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp began construction on March 1, 1941
German Jews were forced to wear the Jewish badge beginning on September 19, 1941.
The first experimental gassings took place at Auschwitz on September 3, 1941.
The Zhitomir ghetto in the Ukraine was liquidated on September 19, 1941.
In Kiev, the Germans liquidated over 30,000 Jews by gunfire after forcing them to march in ranks towards the guns, on September 29-30, 1941.
The Vitebsk ghetto in Belorussia was liquidated on October 8, 1941.
The Germans began deporting Jews from Austria and Germany to Eastern European ghettos on October 15, 1941.
Eichmann approved the use of mobile gas vans as killing machines on October 25, 1941.
The gas vans began to be used at Chelmno by December 8, 1941.
And all of this is only a sample. I could have given even more examples of massacres, mass deportations, and mass imprisonments of Jews in concentration camps, all before the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, where officials discussed how to make the systematic murder of European Jewry better organized and more efficient.
If you knew of someone who was killed in one of the liquidated ghettos before the Wannsee Conference, would you not say that he died in the Holocaust? What about the Jews systematically murdered in Kiev and elsewhere? If you heard of a child who escaped from one of the sealed ghettos and was taken in and passed as a Christian child by a Catholic family and survived, would you not say that he survived the Holocaust? Were not the building of extermination camps, the requirement for the Jewish badge, and the quarantining of Jews in ghettos in the first place obviously part and parcel of the Holocaust even before the actual murders of those specific Jews took place? The questions are hardly worth asking.
I can't help wondering not only how Buchanan can square his conscience with such blatant falsehoods as those he tells in his article but also how these falsehoods are intended to help his case. In what way is the ever-more-fervent murder of European Jews supposed to have been a response by Hitler to the fact that the war was going badly for him? It makes no sense to say, "Ah, Britain won't make peace with me. I know what I'll do. I'll start sending Jews to extermination camps by the trainloads. That will help." Yet this is, bizarrely, the thinking Buchanan apparently attributes to Hitler, while at the same time having the gall to refer dismissively to the "Hitler madman theory." Are we to think that, if England had made peace with Hitler and acquiesced in his rule over the places he had conquered prior to 1942, he would have stopped all massacres of Jews (like the ones already sealed in ghettos but not yet liquidated)? Or is the theory simply that the slaughter would have taken place more gradually? Hardly a comforting thought.
I hate to have to say this, but someone who can say what Buchanan says in this article is seriously out of touch with reality and, I believe, with the sheer evil of the Holocaust itself. I would not be overwhelmingly surprised if he sinks yet lower in the years to come in his revisionism of the events of World War II. He who hears will understand.