Claims of Forged, Altered or Missing Evidence

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Claims of Forged, Altered or Missing Evidence

Post by David Thompson » 12 Jan 2003 05:40

Scott, Erik & anyone else -- Because the subject has come up on several occasions, I think it would be very helpful to have a separate thread devoted to allegedly forged, altered or missing evidence relating to war crimes. This would allow the problem to be confronted directly, and not be buried in a different discussion. If there's something wrong with the evidence, people need to know about it.

If there are many such claims, please post an overview here, and individual controversies can be discussed under a thread title like "Evidence -- Himmler's Posen Speech," or "Evidence -- The Jaeger Report." This will make the posts easier for contributors to find, and be useful for all concerned.

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Post by David Thompson » 12 Jan 2003 07:08

A fair number of documents I've been posting recently have come from the 8 volume series "Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression." Happily, these are in the public domain and there are no copyright concerns for that reason. The preface in the first volume of the set has a description of how this collection was put together:
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Post by David Thompson » 12 Jan 2003 07:10

Part 2:
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Post by David Thompson » 12 Jan 2003 07:13

Part 3:
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Post by David Thompson » 12 Jan 2003 07:15

Final part (Acknowledgments section omitted):
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Post by Erik » 13 Jan 2003 02:44

Thank you very much for an excellent idea, Mr. Thompson!

A suspicion/claim/squeal of forgery is bound to introduce “red herrings” in ANY proceeding, economical, scientific, political, devotional, educational, criminal investigational…whatever.

(And social proceedings, too…I remember that horrifying story by Maupassant, about a false necklace: (on the Net, OC!)
http://www.bartleby.com/195/20.html)

Perhaps the phenomenon can be dismissed out-of-hand as irrelevant to truth, on the pretext that truth can be ascertained by other means and ways?

Mr. Bunch wrote:
One shouldn't consider documents forged unless one has a reason to believe so.

A given document, or piece of evidence, is not conclusive. It must be viewed in combination with other evidence in order to arrive at a good sense of the truth of the matter.

The evidence for Nazi policies in Poland is hardly limited to a document or two, and the possibility you suggest of forgery, based on nothing other than your argumentative nature, tends to be exposed as nonsense as the amount and types of evidence increase.

http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/v ... 582#116582

Mr. Smith objected:
Wrong. The historian does not need to prove that a document is forged to be skeptical of it, especially if it is presented as a smoking-gun that might just be too good to be true. Instead, it is incumbent upon those using the document as evidence to demonstrate that it is genuine or qualify it accordingly. That means knowing where the original came from and other details. (….)What we get are "documents" largely generated in 1946 with photocopies and translations. Where are the originals? If copied, then by whom copied? Where did the originals come from? What is the custodial chain-of-evidence before the court culled something and then set it into print? This is pretty basic stuff. For convergence-of-evidence to be valid the evidence must independently converge and be independently verifiable, not merely by card-stackers polishing the rumors and calling this evidence.
http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/v ... 210#117210


Some “convergence” or other can be believed to emanate from some “polishing the rumors and calling this evidence”?

Mr. Bunch didn’t agree, although he had allowed a consideration of forgery when “one has a reason to believe so.”(see quote above.)

He added a qualification in his reply to Mr. Smith:
Without evidence of document forgery, there is no reason to believe a document is forged.


“Belief” must be suspended, until “evidence” presents itself--- perhaps by “intruding” itself, “forcing its attention” on belief(?).

Does history present examples of this process? How does it look like, when beliefs are revised by evidence? Does any belief ever search for evidence, freely, and on its own “behalf”? Or does it protect itself, assured of its “knowledge”?

Mr. Bunch turns the table on the skeptic:
… the possibility you suggest of forgery, based on nothing other than your argumentative nature, tends to be exposed as nonsense as the amount and types of evidence increase.
The “belief” that evidence is forged, “tends to be exposed as nonsense as the amount and types of evidence increase”.

And not the other way around, accordingly.

The “actual policy” will expose the evidence for it as true or forged, eventually.

Mr. Thompson wrote:
If there are many such claims, please post an overview here, and individual controversies can be discussed under a thread title like "Evidence -- Himmler's Posen Speech," or "Evidence -- The Jaeger Report." This will make the posts easier for contributors to find, and be useful for all concerned.


I hope I’m not introducing another “red-herring” here if I broach the issue of Population Statistics under this thread?

In modern society where numbers – digital or not – and their “theories”(?) are helping and guiding and planning and steering and tormenting our daily lives to an ever increasing degree, the attempts to forge and/or manipulate them in the interest of profit and/or power will inevitably suggest themselves.

Is scepticism called upon?

Why does a shop assistant look with suspicion at my presented 100 dollar bill( or its “equivalent” in Swedish currency), and not at all on my 10 dollar bill? Are “big” bills easier to forge? Or is the loss on the account of a forgery making precaution more necessary at the higher amount of money?

When it comes to population statistics of Genocide the “precaution” seems to work the other way around. Stangl (the commendant of Treblinka, interviewed by Gitta Sereny in “Into That Darkness”) amazed Sereny by turning red with anger when confronted with testimonies of him having shot at his victims on their way to the gas chamber, but accept with tranquillity the statistics of him being one of the worst mass killers in history.

Well, that is the “psychology of mass number”, perhaps. Human beings are mentally equipped to handle “primary group” statistics. The “others” don’t “count”, at least not emotionally.

Does this explain the “easiness” to handle such numbers?


Angelo wrote:
And may I add that a great number of sources I checked places the
casualty record for non-Jewish Poles from well over 2.000.000 to
3.000.000
http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/v ... 406#119406


1.000.000 “non-Jewish Poles” more or less, are apparently easy to “place” in “a great number of sources”.

Of course, these fígures are “rounded off” from more precise countings or summations of “causalty records”.

Perhaps from something like the following?

From Roberto’s posting Fri Jan 10, 2003 10:21 am
http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/v ... 419#118419
Richard C. Lukas (Forgotten Holocaust, page 3 wrote: (…)

Various branches of the army and police carried out 714 executions, which took the lives of 16,376 people, most of whom were Polish Christians.
How does Mr. Lukas know this exact number of executed people, to the last man? Is he relying on records of executions like the Jaeger Report?

Here is its “record” for June to August 1941:
August 15
and 16, 41 Rokiskis 3200 Jews, Jewesses and Jewish children 5 Lith. Comm., 1 Pole, 1 partisan 3,207

August 9 to 16, 41 Rasainiai 294 Jewesses, 4 Jewish children
298

June 27 to
August 14, 41 Rokiskis 493 Jews, 432 Russians, 56 Lithuanians (all active Communists)
981

August 18, 41
Kauen - Fort IV 689 Jews, 402 Jewesses, 1 fem. Pole, 711 intell. Jews from the ghetto as a
reprisal for an act of sabotage
1,812

August 19, 41
Ukmerge 298 Jews, 255 Jewesses, 1 Politr., 88 Jewish children, 1 Russ. Communist
645
http://www.holocaust-history.org/works/ ... img002.htm

Rokiskis has two summations. Perhaps Jaeger was ashamed of not being able to “break down” those 3,200 “Jews, Jewesses and Jewish children” into precise numbers, like he did on other “locations”. The second summation rests content to say “493 Jews”, and we our left to our imaginations.

On such genocidal precision is its statistics calculated, apparently.

The Germans knew what they were doing when it came to “records”.

Later, from above (Lukas):
The Nazis were so thorough in their grim work that when Dachau was liberated at the end of the war, there were only 50 Polish physicians, 100 lawyers, 50 engineers and 100 teachers still alive there, in contrast to 5,000 farmers and 3,600 artisans. Testimony of just how successful the Germans were in their resolve is revealed by the fact that during the war Poland lost 45 percent of her physicians and dentists, 57 percent of her attorneys, more than 15 percent of her teachers, 40 percent of her professors, 30 percent of her technicians, and more than 18 percent of her clergy. The majority of journalists also disappeared - 73 were murdered, 77 died in concentration camps and jails, 50 died in the ghetto, and 12 perished in the Warsaw Uprising. [...]
You are tempted to ask : why were they not MORE "thorough"? Why leave ANY physicians etc behind, when their policy was as follows?:
Concerned about the difficulties in dealing with the professors from Jagellonian University in November 1939, Frank insisted that now Polish intellectuals would be dealt with “on the spot and we shall do so in the simplest way possible”. Taking advantage of the preoccupation of world opinion with military operations in the West in the spring of 1940, the Germans launched a massive program to exterminate the Polish intelligentsia in the General Government.
(from above).

Why not “take advantage” of the situation at Dachau, gas chamber and all? And more so since their Poland policy apparently “radicalized” with time (according to Mr. Mills)?
http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/v ... 342#119342

I’m reminded of my old grandmum’s favorite funny story (she was a “cowed” farmer’s wife) : ‘The farmer excused himself to the miller, being late : “My old woman tied the sacks so badly that I had to re-tie them seven times on the way”!’ And then granny laughed ‘til she choked. Everytime.

Well, to us listening it was never really funny, since we knew how she had been treated when things went wrong for her oppressor.

Dachau isn’t funny either.

But Mr. Lukas seems to be using a sort of “sack logic” to blame the Germans in this case, when the very survival of those “intellectuals” in the near presence of a gas chamber seems to confute such a policy of extermination!

Here is another “record” for “summation”:

Oleg quoted, Mon Dec 30, 2002 ,on the thread "German Plans to Seize Food from the Soviet Union":

http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/v ... highlight=
A post-war commission made the following estimate of the mortality attributed DIRECTLY to the occupiers:
Deliberately exterminated: 7,420,379
Died as slave laborers in Germany: 2,164,313
Died of the harsh conditions of the occupation regime: 4,100,000
Total: 13,684,692
That leaves us with 1.8-2.8 million excess deaths on the homefront, including mass starvation of civilians in Leningrad and other besieged cities.
Sources: Krivosheev, "Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka"; Harrison, "Accounting for War"
http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/v ... 382#112382

Is it the same sort of German “records” (as the Jaeger Report) that make the precision of “deliberately exterminated” and dead as “slave laborers in Germany” possible to the last man, while the dead “of harsh condition” make a rounded figure?

Why were the Germans so anxious to document their extermination records to this last man? Couldn’t they help themselves, being what they were? Nazis in a “realm of madness”?

Or are such “records” so easy to set up and maintain, and make precise to the last figure, since they can’t be checked?

Neither by Stahlecker(unlocated mass graves; see link to the “Jaeger Report”), nor by us?

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Post by Scott Smith » 13 Jan 2003 03:06

Erik wrote:The “belief” that evidence is forged, “tends to be exposed as nonsense as the amount and types of evidence increase”.

And not the other way around, accordingly.

The “actual policy” will expose the evidence for it as true or forged, eventually.
What we have here is not convergence-of-evidence but instead analogous to multiple newspapers repeating the same lies and nonsense from a single wire-service, i.e., Allied propaganda.
:)

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Post by Roberto » 13 Jan 2003 03:17

Two of our esteemed fellow posters are bent on raising suspicions about evidence to facts inconvenient to their political/ideological beliefs.

One of them engages in a lengthy, barely intelligible monologue, without giving substance to any of the suspicions he would like to raise.

The other dutifully nods to this fathomless nonsense, decorating his nodding with some of his beaten "Revisionist" slogans.

A rather poor show, but nothing we haven´t seen before on this forum.

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ESSAYS ON EVIDENCE...

Post by Scott Smith » 13 Jan 2003 03:27

Robin W. Winks, Editor. The Historian as Detective: Essays on Evidence. Harper and Row, NY: 1969, (ca. 1968). Chapter 10.

From The Case of the Cheating Document: False Authority and the Problem of Surmise-from "The Gateway to History," by Allan Nevins. D.D. Heath & Co., Boston: 1962 (c. 1938).
Robin Winks wrote: Much of what we are taught seems designed to inculcate precisely the reverence for the written word of which Jerome so justly complains in the preceding chapter. Historians, or at least teachers of history, are not free of this trait, for all too often history is taught as though it were a body of facts to be gathered from an attic of patriotic knowledge essential to Americanization and memorized. Nor are teachers in other nations any more likely to wish to reveal to their charges that so much of history is a mere matter of opinion, for to open such a Pandora's box in the midst of a classroom, and especially in one which must, as in England, march to the tune of a nationally prescribed syllabus, is to disrupt tempers, schedules, and indoctrination. Of course, one must find some middle ground between blind acceptance and utter rejection of that which is put before us as history. It may be Justice who wears the blindfold but it is Clio, the Muse of history, who seems to have needed it. If in Tennessee one could not until 1967 or later teach as fact that man evolved from some lower order of being, one still may not teach it in Arkansas [1968]. Even Wisconsin, that home of progressive enlightenment and of a truly great state university, once proposed to pass a pure-history law which prohibited teaching anything that would tend to lower the Founding Fathers in the esteem of the school children. "But what are we to tell the children?" is not a question asked only upon divorce. What we must tell them sometime, however, is that history is more akin to philosophy than it is to grammar. Of course, as we have seen before, myths held long enough have a way of becoming true, just as wants entertained long enough (especially by small children) tend to become genuine needs.

The historian psychologically reacts badly to anyone who says "History tells us," for the historian knows that history tells us nothing: we must painfully extract every message from Clio, for she is mute. The historian also is likely to seem somewhat agitated when someone justifies a conclusion, or a value judgment, by saying that "he read it in the newspapers." Newspapers are not only the products of fallible men; they are the products of fallible men under pressure and they are owned, on occasion, by men who would use them for their, or even their advertisers', purposes. Everyone remembers the 1948 headlines which proclaimed Dewey's victory over Truman; similar errors creep daily onto the pages of even the best newspapers. The historian knows just how fallible his daily paper may be (although there are many who seem to feel that they cannot be certain whether it is raining or snowing until the New York Times has told them so), and so he is doubly conscious of the errors of fact, as well as of the distortions of opinion and the misquotations of authority, that lie in wait for the unwary researcher in nineteenth-century sheets, in an age when journalism was yellow, as they say, as well as red, white, and blue.

Today we suggest to students that they not treat any story as true until they have seen it reported in roughly the same factual form by more than one wire service, in more than one newspaper, and in the latest edition of that newspaper. We also suggest that they read the "Letters to the Editor" column for several days after each event in order to pick up correction suggested by other participants. Most important, we suggest that they study the newspaper for general credibility before they attempt to use it as a source. The Christian Science Monitor is a remarkably accurate newspaper on national events, and often on international matters as well--its reporter was the first in Indonesia to write of Sukarno's decline--but one might not wish to trust its reports on fluoridation any more than one would want to rely solely on the Wall Street Journal, also a highly reliable paper, when reading of the Dixon-Yates affair. The venerable Times of London has been known to distort the truth now and then (more now than then if one is of the Labour persuasion), and Time magazine has been suspected of viewing life Lucely on occasion (even to its weekly way of finding some means, however irrelevant, to mention a certain Ivy League university). Why, then, should a researcher trust all that he finds in a once-forgotten file of the Rochester (New York) Daily Democrat & American for the eighteen-sixties?

One newspaperman who should know the answer to this and similar questions is Allan Nevins. For years the doyen of Americans historians, an author in the grand tradition, Nevins has been so productive, so prodigious in his research, and so efficient as to qualify for the title, "the Last Victorian," which I mean entirely in praise. Nevins began as a newspaperman--as have several other fine American historians, such as Bruce Catton, W. J. Cash, and George Fort Milton-and became one of the leading scholars of the Civil War, of American business history, of Rockefeller, Ford, Hamilton Fish, and Grover Cleveland. Until recently he was a professor of history at Columbia University; he is now a research associate of the Huntington Library in California. When he was at the height of his powers he wrote a charming, wry and witty book which is still an excellent guide through the gateway to history, and from it I take the following selection, as well as the title for this portion, "The Case of the Cheating Documents."

*****
From Allan Nevins, The Gateway to History.
Nevins wrote: Mankind dearly loves a good story, and dearly loves to believe it true. Before any tale can greatly please the hearer thereof, it must have some degree of verisimilitude; it must conquer part of our faith. Many of the earliest masters of fiction dressed it as absolute fact, and were credited beyond their expectation. Thus multitudes have accepted [Daniel] Defoe's Memoirs of a Cavalier as a true history--Lord Chatham did so; and even astute critics, impressed by the wealth of circumstantial detail in Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year, have declared that it must have been based on some work by an actual observer. In daily social intercourse and in literature, an artistic lie is sooner swallowed than a clumsy truth. Indeed, many people insist through thick and thin on having the artistic lie in place of the bald and unattractive fact. Historians may explain a thousand times that Wellington never exclaimed, "Up, guards, and at them!" and that C. C. Pinckney never blazed, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute." These supposed ejaculations will nevertheless remain immortal. Sober critics have now labored for generations to show that Tacitus's portrayal of Tiberius is cruelly unjust; but its vigor and artistic unity render it indestructible. Legends often become a point of faith…

Credulity is pleasant; we all like to be cozened a bit. We love to cover the harsh grey stone of the everyday world with the moss and ivy of the fancy. And it must be added that pleasing inventions fly like gossamer before the wind. Mr. H. L. Mencken early in his career wrote an article on the bathtub, in which he asserted with plausible historical detail that it must have been that it had been invented in the 1840s, that Millard Fillmore had been the first to install one in the White House, that the medical profession and public long regarded it with deep suspicion, and that laws had been passed against the perilous contraption by Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. He was astonished to find this jeu d'esprit accepted by most readers at face value. He was still more astonished to find newspapers and magazines copying these "facts" in ever-widening circles, so that they cropped up year after year in the most dignified periodicals. The naïveté of humankind has its humorous side. But to historians it is not quite so amusing.

Our simple forefathers drank delightedly at many fountains on which modern scholarship long ago pinned up the harsh placard "Condemned." Take as an example that ingratiating old book called Sir John Mandeville's Travels. Sir John saw many wonderful matters in his Eastern journeys, and heard of more--the monarch Prester John; a haunted valley in Armenia; two-headed monsters; the dragon of Cos; the castle of the sparrow-hawks; and miracles aplenty. Long after his marvels began to be taken with large pinches of salt, men still believed him a reality and his travels a fact. But he has melted to nothingness like a ghost in sunshine. Critics now doubt whether there ever was a Mandeville, a knight or even an Englishman connected with the book's composition. Possibly one John Burgoyne, living at Liege under the name of Jean de Bourgogne, was the author. But author is not the correct word, for the volume is an arrant jackdaw's nest. It was stolen in bits from other writings, among which may be named Brunetto Latini's Tresor, Albert of Aix's chronicle of the first crusade, the Speculum of Vincent de Beauvais, and works by Jacques de Vitry, Piano Carpini, Petrus Comestor, and Hayton the Armenian. Tracing the origins of this pastiche has furnished no little amusement to scholars.

Or consider the delight with which our forefathers read Parson Weems's Life of George Washington, first issued in 1800 and greatly expanded by anecdotal material in successive editions. Mason Locke Weems was part clergyman, part book-agent, part schoolmaster in northern Virginia, and probably held occasional services in Pohick Church, where Washington had once worshipped. Upon this he based his title of "formerly rector of Mount Vernon parish." In its original form the Life was a brief, inaccurate, and highly rhetorical record of Washington's military career. Subsequently Weems added many homely stories which, if not true, were at least ben tovato. Each carried an ostentatious moral. His immortal tale of George, the hatchet, and the cherry tree was introduced as "too true to be doubted," though his only authority was an "aged lady" who as a "distant relative" had sometimes visited the Washingtons. Like the book's long dialogues and set speeches, it was probably invented. According to a grandson of Weems, it was probably suggested by the fact that one of his own children had cut down a "Pride of China" tree and frankly confessed his misdeed. But multitudes have believed it:
Parson Weems wrote: One day in the garden where he often amused himself hacking his mother's pea-sticks he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet on the body of a beautiful young cherry-tree, which he barked so terribly that I don't believe the tree ever got the better of it. The next morning the old gentleman, finding out what had befallen his tree, which by the way was a great favorite, came into the house; and with much warmth asked for the mischievous author, declaring at the same time that he would not have taken five guineas for his tree. Nobody would tell him anything about it. Presently George and his hatchet made their appearance. "George," said his father, "do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry-tree yonder in the garden?" This was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment, but quickly recovered himself, and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all-conquering truth, he bravely cried out: "I can't tell a lie, pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet."
Forgery is in fact one of the oldest and commonest of human offenses. In ancient India grants of land made by rulers for sacerdotal purposes were often defined in inscriptions upon plates of copper. But implicit reliance cannot be placed upon these records. As early as the time of the lawgiver Manu punishments were decreed for the falsification of grants, and copper plates have been found which are barefaced forgeries. In this instance the motive was venal in the lowest sense, and the action untouched by artistry. Forgeries committed by politicians who wish to damage an opponent, such as the famous "Morey letter" falsely attributed to [James] Garfield in 1880-a letter approving the importation of Chinese labor-are equally devoid of dignity. Much more dangerous are those forgeries in which a skilled hand attempts to supply the market for writings by famous men. One of the first warnings the teacher of Renaissance history must give students of Luther, Erasmus, and numerous other figures is to beware of the stream of manufactured documents attributed to them. The forgery of letters purporting to be by Marie Antoinette has long been a thriving industry, and still continues. In Americana, the New York Public Library maintains a large collection--a veritable museum--of false autobiographical material. As spurious letters of Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Poe, and other famous figures come up for sale and are recognized, dealers turn many over to the library. The most notorious of American autograph forgers, Robert Spring, a bookdealer in Philadelphia just before and after the Civil War, turned out hundreds of skilful forgeries to supply the market. His fictitious documents are more plentiful today than his own genuine letters… Manufactured Lincoln letters have found their way even into printed compilations of his papers.

The most dangerous and vicious of all forgeries are those committed for a cause-the cause of a nation, of an institution, or of a leader--and intended to bring about the permanent falsification of history. Perhaps preëminent among such forgeries stands the so-called Donation of Constantine. This was a supposed grant by the Emperor Constantine to the pope Silvester and his successors. In gratitude for his conversion to Christianity, Constantine according to this document not only recognized the spiritual supremacy of the Roman pontiffs over the other patriarchates of the church in all that pertained to faith and worship, but also gave them temporal sovereignty over Rome, parts of Italy, and all provinces and places of "the western regions." The document was forged sometime between 750 and 800 A.D. During the ninth century the ecclesiastical writer now called the Pseudo-Isidore included it in the collection known as the False Decretals; and in time, with the authority of Pope Nicholas, it was accepted as part of the canons of the church. Gibbon pointed out that in his own day it was still formally "enrolled among the decrees of the canon law." Throughout the Middle Ages adherents of both popes and emperors regarded it as genuine. Two early popes, Silvester II and Gregory V, used it to support important territorial claims, and in 1050 Leo IX employed it in his controversy with the Byzantines involving still larger papal pretensions. During the twelfth century and afterward it became a powerful engine of the church in its contests with the political rulers of Europe, the partisans of the Holy Roman Empire regarding it with dread and hatred, and the partisans of the Pope somewhat cautiously employing it. Dante regarded it as genuine, and as a good Guelph execrated Constantine for the supposed grant as a source of enormous evils. But Laurentius Valla critically assailed the Donation in 1440, and though the controversy persisted until the close of the eighteenth century, its fraudulent character was at last completely demonstrated.

In this instance the forgery, which long imposed upon chroniclers and historians as well as ecclesiastical authorities, which indeed enjoyed almost six centuries of unchallenged vitality, was at last consigned to outer darkness. Discussion has long since shifted to the question of its authorship, some Catholic writers attempting to prove that the church had no hand in it. The best evidence is that it was executed by the papal chancery about 775, partly as a defense of papal possessions, and partly as a means of attacking Byzantine heresy. The wonder is that it had so stubborn a life…

In one striking instance the debate as to whether certain documents represent a political forgery still rages. Men even yet take side heatedly on the question of the "Casket Letters." These letters, together with a sonnet-sequence, Mary Queen of Scots is accused of having written to her lover [the Earl of] Bothwell in 1566-67. They have long ago disappeared. Their very disappearance is a mystery, some students believing that Mary's royal son James obtained and destroyed them. But the text remains, and if authentic, offers incontrovertible proof that Mary was an accomplice in the murder or her husband [Lord] Darnley. If authentic! The controversy revolves chiefly about the second or "Glasgow letter," a long and peculiar epistle. If even the compromising parts of it were genuine, Mary was certainly guilty. But her accusers, the men who first produced the letters and pushed their evidence vigorously, were completely lacking in veracity. The Earl of Morton and the Regent Moray cannot be believed upon oath; they lied, they contradicted themselves, and throughout the episode they behave most disingenuously. Nevertheless, the ablest student of the subject, Andrew Lang, concludes that the whole "Glasgow letter" was written by Mary. Some German writers, applying the principles of the higher criticism of Homer and the Bible, conclude that the documents are of composite origin, being partly letters by Mary and partly a diary, combined and edited by other hands. Still other writers attack the letters as wholly or largely false… In this instance the problem of authenticity is of vital importance to our view of a great historical figure--and yet it is probably insoluble…

Even when the falsity of a document has been amply proved it frequently makes so striking an impression upon the public mind that, as we have said, vestiges of belief in it linger for many years. […]
[Emphasis added.]
More later...

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Re: ESSAYS ON EVIDENCE...

Post by Roberto » 13 Jan 2003 07:57

Scott Smith wrote: More later...
Before you type down more, I suggest you explain what the text so far transcribed tells us about the burden of proof in regard to manipulations of documentary evidence.

Unless, of course, that is supposed to be contained in the "more".

So sorry I have to leave now. More later.

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Post by David Thompson » 13 Jan 2003 18:53

Scott -- Thanks for taking the time to post the excerpts from "The Historian as a Detective" -- a work I like and enjoy re-reading. Another excellent work along the same lines is David Hackett Fischer's "Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought," Harper Torchbooks, New York: 1970.

On that subject, in an earlier post on this thread you state, "What we have here is not convergence-of-evidence but instead analogous to multiple newspapers repeating the same lies and nonsense from a single wire-service, i.e., Allied propaganda." This sort of broad generalization is not very helpful.

In the first place, the undefined expression "propaganda" does not give the reader any guidance to sifting fact from fiction, which is the purpose of this thread. Not only is the expression "propaganda" an "emotionally loaded" term, it is so general that it could mean everything or nothing.

In the second place, the reader can't tell if you're saying that every declaration originating with the allies is a "lie and nonsense," or whether you have something more specific in mind.

In the third place, it's always a bad sign when a person starts a line of reasoning with a conclusion, and then stops. The reasoning is missing, and you have to ask yourself "Why? Is it because there isn't any?"

From having read your previous posts, I know you're a thoughtful fellow, and well-read. Could you give us a little more to work with here?

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Post by witness » 13 Jan 2003 20:51

Not only is the expression "propaganda" an "emotionally loaded" term, it is so general that it could mean everything or nothing.
I agree . Besides this is a very good indication of the poster bias.
In the third place, it's always a bad sign when a person starts a line of reasoning with a conclusion, and then stops. The reasoning is missing, and you have to ask yourself "Why? Is it because there isn't any?"
Absolutely.Thus for me it remains to be enigma why Scott keeps on ignoring the question presented by Roberto about those 700000 Jews deported to Treblinka ( where all these people disappeared )
This was exactly an example of starting "a line of reasoning " and then
bringing it to an abrupt stop when the evidence becomes incompatible with the political agenda of the poster.

Alexx
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Post by Alexx » 14 Jan 2003 06:23

Thanks for the initiative to this thread. This is a topic I hope to learn more about.

When interpreting trialscripts and documents we have to be aware of the circumstances in they were made. The atmosphere and background.

David Thompson wrote:
In the first place, the undefined expression "propaganda" does not give the reader any guidance to sifting fact from fiction, which is the purpose of this thread. Not only is the expression "propaganda" an "emotionally loaded" term, it is so general that it could mean everything or nothing.
I hope you don't want to stop the discussion on propaganda. I think it is essential in understanding the issues involved. And of course, propaganda contains both facts and fiction. Which are coordinated in the single purpose of making your enemy look bad. And I agree the purpose of this thread is to sift fact from fiction.

The magnitude of the allied propaganda-barage (both fact and fiction) against the German nation is unparalled in history.
They were made so evil that anything could be done to them. And was done to them. You could burn the women and children alive (the terror-bombing) and get a medal for it.

And much of this propaganda has still not been debunked, and it's over 50 years since the war ended. This is a big difference from the situation after the ww1. When revisionists like Elmer Barnes and others in the 20's and 30's debunked the propaganda lies.

Again, not considering the propaganda aspect when interpreting the trial-transcrips and documents is very naive,indeed.
They should be read with the utermost suspicion.

Have to stop, must get to my workplace.

Regards :) Alexx

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Scott Smith
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TALKING THROUGH HIS HAT...

Post by Scott Smith » 14 Jan 2003 06:43

Roberto wrote:
Scott Smith wrote: More later...
Before you type down more, I suggest you explain what the text so far transcribed tells us about the burden of proof in regard to manipulations of documentary evidence.

Unless, of course, that is supposed to be contained in the "more".

So sorry I have to leave now. More later.
You claimed in the Poland thread (below) that one could entirely discount the possibility of forgery unless it could be proved that something was forged. I said that was nonsense and that the historian must consider the possibility of forgery as part of the general weighing of evidence. This is particularly true when there might be rational and irrational motives for fraud, whether we are talking about atrocity-propaganda or Lincoln Letters. I think the above passage makes the point. It also counters Chuck's ill-informed and anti-intellectual notion about the Holy Facts of History from an academic type with another sterling education.

I'm willing to type but it is not a substitute for visiting a library, my good man.
:)
Roberto wrote:
Scott Smith wrote:
Roberto wrote:
Scott Smith wrote:
Charles Bunch wrote:
One shouldn't consider documents forged unless one has a reason to believe so.
Wrong. The historian does not need to prove that a document is forged to be skeptical of it, especially if it is presented as a smoking-gun that might just be too good to be true. Instead, it is incumbent upon those using the document as evidence to demonstrate that it is genuine or qualify it accordingly.
Says Smith and who else?

I'd say the last sentence goes agains the rules of historiography and criminal justice, which presume the authenticity of a document unless there are at least strong indications to the contrary.
No. Every "Lincoln Letter" (or whatever) is rigorously doubted, and all the more so the more relevant that it is to historiography.
Is that so, Smith?

Any source of historiography you can quote in support of your statement, or are you again just talking through your hat?
SOURCE: Nazi plans for Poland

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Scott Smith
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Legal Fictions...

Post by Scott Smith » 14 Jan 2003 07:20

David Thompson wrote:Scott -- Thanks for taking the time to post the excerpts from "The Historian as a Detective" -- a work I like and enjoy re-reading. Another excellent work along the same lines is David Hackett Fischer's "Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought," Harper Torchbooks, New York: 1970.

On that subject, in an earlier post on this thread you state, "What we have here is not convergence-of-evidence but instead analogous to multiple newspapers repeating the same lies and nonsense from a single wire-service, i.e., Allied propaganda." This sort of broad generalization is not very helpful.
Why not? It all comes from essentially the same source, Allied propagandists and the Nuremberg trials. The evidence-stream became hopelessly contaminated in the public mind when the "Belsen and Buchenwald" newsreels hit the cinema screens before the war was even over. The gaschamber propaganda dates even earlier, from the Black Book and the New York Times, and in near final form goes back to the War Refugee Board Report and the Soviet liberation of Majdanek.
In the first place, the undefined expression "propaganda" does not give the reader any guidance to sifting fact from fiction, which is the purpose of this thread. Not only is the expression "propaganda" an "emotionally loaded" term, it is so general that it could mean everything or nothing.
I have argued consistently that the Nuremberg trials were nothing but Greuelpropaganda, even when their facts were right.
In the second place, the reader can't tell if you're saying that every declaration originating with the allies is a "lie and nonsense," or whether you have something more specific in mind.
The "he is using the good old falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus argument again" is a red-herring. Falsus doesn't mean that everything out of a known-liar's mouth is a lie; it means that one should suspect anything he says because he has lied and it might possibly be a lie. The behavior of the past is the best prediction of the future. It is all a matter of probabilities.

Were the Allies bent on discrediting German military and political leaders and generating atrocity-propaganda for public consumption to make themselves and their peace look good? Of course they were! How much significance we should give to this fact is a value judgment. I say a great deal. For some, Nuremberg is Gospel. And the Gospel of Nuremberg cannot legally be doubted in France and Germany--to save democracy, or so they say. This is the kind of "democracy" that doesn't need saving. Nuremberg taught nothing.
In the third place, it's always a bad sign when a person starts a line of reasoning with a conclusion, and then stops. The reasoning is missing, and you have to ask yourself "Why? Is it because there isn't any?"
I was merely answering the question posed many times before why we don't have a truly independent convergence-of-evidence. It is like a thousand newspapers repeating the same falsehoods from the same wire-service.
Robin Winks wrote: Today we suggest to students that they not treat any story as true until they have seen it reported in roughly the same factual form by more than one wire service, in more than one newspaper, and in the latest edition of that newspaper. [Op Cit.]
You check two newspapers (or two witnesses) and see if their stories match. But what you need to ask before you can call this a "convergence of evidence" is the original source of their information. How do they know this? Some of the lawyers on this forum don't even know when affidavits are hearsay. Just because some political-court accepted it into evidence does not make it a true-fact for the purposes of epistemology or historiography.
From having read your previous posts, I know you're a thoughtful fellow, and well-read. Could you give us a little more to work with here?
Perhaps it is confusing that I posted this here where you posted the bastard parentage of the Nuremberg documents. Arguing that was not my intention. I stated in the original thread (Poland) that evidence needed to be weighed on a case-by-case basis, and only then could one look for independent-convergence. However, this is the breakoff thread, so I posted it here.
:)
Last edited by Scott Smith on 14 Jan 2003 08:08, edited 1 time in total.

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