Yes, an insightfull article. This attitude of believing ridiculous stories until they are proven wrong will end up painting them into corner.
Interesting how history is repeating itself, it took Germany until 7 years after the war to dispell the glyserin myth, and it took 15 years until after WW2 to dismiss Soap Libel.
These paragraphs I found interesting:
McVay and Keren seem to hold that everything that is not proved
false, necessarily must be considered as true. I object strongly
against that attitude, because good propaganda is issued in
such a way as to convince people of the reality of what in truth
is a lie.
Adhering to e.g. the soap story because there exist photographs
of soap bars, in my view is a travesty of the science of history.
You don't have to discount the possibility that such things, indeed
happened, but any honest researcher should point out the high
probability that in fact plain propaganda stories crept in here.
Now what is so horrible in thinking like I do? I really am appalled
by the idea that therefore I belong to the IHS-crowd or whatever.
Or is it that many readers of my postings try to shout down
the creeping realization in themselves that some things they
have learned may well be false?
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Even the most popular atrocity story of all-the German
corpse factory-turned out to be another war correspondents'
invention. This particular story had a long and highly
successful run. It had several variations, but basically it was
that close behind their front line the Germans had established
factories for boiling down the corpses of their soldiers, from
which to distill glycerine for munitions. The Times initiated
the story, on April i6, 19I7, with a suspiciously vague
paragraph that said baldly: "One of the United States consuls,
on leaving Germany in February, stated in Switzerland that the
Germans were distilling glycerine from the bodies of their
dead." The account quickly blossomed. The Times expanded the
original report by reproducing a dispatch by a German
correspondent, Karl Rosner, in which he referred to the German
army's Kadaververwertungsanstalt, which The Times translated as
"Corpse Exploitation Establishment." Foreign newspapers picked
up the story. It appeared in LInde'pendance and La Belge, two
Belgian newspapers published in France and Holland. French
correspondents were instructed by their army authorities to send
dispatches to their newspapers over their own signatures
detailing what was known about the corpse factories. The matter
came up in the House of Commons on April 30, when the Prime
Minister was asked if he would make the story known as widely as
possible in Egypt, India, and the East generally. A
corpse-factory cartoon appeared iii Punch, and in general the
affair had world-wide circulation and considerable propaganda
The Germans protested in vain that the report was
"loathsome and ridiculous" and that The Times had mistranslated
Rosner's report, the word Kadaver not being used for a human
body. In vain a British MP tried to get the government to
clarify the matter. He said it was perfectly clear, from
accounts published in the Frankfurter Zeitung and other leading
German papers, that the factories were for boiling down the
corpses of horses and other animals from the battlefield. Would
the government therefore try to find out whether the story
published in Britain was true or absolutely false? The
government, of course, had no such intention. Lord Robert
Cecil, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, replied that the
government knew no more than had been published, but "in view of
other actions by German military authorities there is nothing
incredible in the present charge against them"-a typical case of
appearing to lend substance to the report without the
responsibility of actually doing so.
Germany had to live with the accusation untill 1925.....