Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwitz

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Worldwarstoday
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Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwitz

Post by Worldwarstoday » 25 Sep 2012 09:18

I understand the rules on Holocaust denial and will be very careful not to cross the line with this topic. But nevertheless, claims were made by a leading British politician which IMO are just not true and I would welcome some information on whether or not this was actually possible.

Michael Howard was leader of the Conservative Party in Great Britain from 2003 until 2005. Previously he had served as a senior minister in the Thatcher/Major Tory government of the 1990s.

In July 2004, during a radio interview on the BBC, Howard claimed that his grandmother died at Auschwitz and that his aunt and uncle both survived, despite his aunt being sent to the gas chamber on 3 separate occasions. On one occasion the Nazis had apparently "ran out of gas"

Source material below from one of Britain's most reputable newspapers (The Independent) and the BBC Desert Island Discs - the radio show in which Howard made his claims.

The second article rambles on a bit about his life and career in politics so you just need to read the first couple of paragraphs for confirmation of what he said.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/po ... 66242.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressr ... ward.shtml


A freelance reporter called Michael Crick did some digging into Howard's family history whilst working on a biography of Howard and the pieces of the puzzle just didn't add up for him. You can read about it here:

http://www.spearhead.com/0503-jtu.html

Now here's where it gets complicated. The above article was written by a politician who is a member of the right-wing British National Party and members of the BNP have previously been involved in Holocaust denial.

But please remember this story was written from a political angle, not a historical one so ignore the unnecessary and snide wisecracks from the author. But I think it's important to remember that just because the BNP are borderline neo-fascists doesn't make the story untrue. On it's own, for sure it would be an unreliable source but Howard eventually admitted later that some of the information he had provided during his interview was inaccurate and blamed his father.

Howard made these comments in an interview with The Daily Mail newspaper before the 2005 UK General Election. There was no website at the time so I don't have the full transcript of the article. But according to at least 2 sources it contained the following statements:
I have speculated on the reason, and I suppose that one possibility is that my grandfather might have entered Britain unlawfully. What my father did was wrong. I don't condone it, but I don't feel embarrassed because I have done nothing wrong myself.

(and later on in the article)

My grandmother and aunt were separated, as soon as they got off the train, by the SS guards. They were divided into two groups. Those who were young, able-bodied and capable of work were sent one way. Those too old, too frail or too young to be of use went the other way. At this point my aunt and grandmother were forcibly parted.

My aunt was taken to the gas chamber twice. On one occasion they ran out of gas and so she survived. On the other there was some malfunction. Then the third time they came to the barracks where she lived to take everyone in it to the chamber, but she was so thin – all she was given to eat were potato peelings – she managed to hide in the chimney. They didn't find her. She, alone among the group, miraculously survived.
8O

Howard makes 3 statements which just don't add up. When you take them all together, it's like something out of a bad Hollywood movie:

1. Auschwitz-Birkenau ran out of gas.
2. On a second occasion, the gas chamber malfunctioned.
3. His aunt somehow eluded the SS guards and avoided death by hiding in the chimneys. And survived to tell the tale.

In one of the interviews (I don't know whether it was in the Daily Mail or the BBC radio show) Howard claimed that on the second occasion above, his aunt could even "hear the hissing of the gas"

In February 2005, Michael Howard gave a 3rd interview to another British national newspaper, The Daily Telegraph and here is the full transcript:

Michael Howard: Grandfather might have been illegal immigrant

Mr Howard's father, Bernard Hecht, who came here in the 1930s, falsified details about his parents when he applied for British citizenship in 1947.

The Tory leader's grandmother died in Auschwitz but at the time his grandfather was living in London.

However his father, who anglicised the family name after settling in Britain, claimed they both died in his native Romania. In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper, he [Michael Howard] said: "I have speculated on the reason and I suppose one possibility is that my grandfather might have entered Britain unlawfully."

The Conservative leader, whose new hardline policies on immigration have attracted criticism, says the reason his father gave incorrect information will remain a mystery.

The revelation follows his announcement of proposals that would see MPs set a limit on immigrants who would be selected through an Australian-style points system.

He said:"As for my grandfather, there might have been some irregularities about his status." Mr Howard decided to reveal the mystery after investigative journalist Michael Crick began looking into his family background.
Now we turn our attention to Michael Crick. It would be convenient if he were a "two-bit" researcher, but in fact he is a highly respected journalist and investigate reporter who has also authored many books:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Crick


This isn't a political forum and I'm sure 99% of you reading this aren't interested in the political angle that Howard's father was probably both a liar and an illegal immigrant.

My focus is on the historical significance of Michael Howard's claims. Is it really possible that all of this could have happened?

At the time of the interview in 2004, Michael Howard was already an experienced politician who had served as a senior government minister and from his comments in the 2nd Daily Mail interview, he freely admits that his father probably lied.

So why tell the story in the first place? It's one thing being told a lie by your father. It's quite another to know/suspect that it's a lie but attempt to pass it off as truth to the British people whilst running for Prime Minister a few months before a General Election.

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by Worldwarstoday » 25 Sep 2012 09:36

After typing all that out, I'm not even sure what point I'm trying to make. Does it really add any research signifance to the Axis History Forum? Probably not.

But IMO Howard's allegations are a slur on genuine Holocaust survivors, just as Denis Avery came in for severe criticism and suspicion over his own tales of being smuggled into Auschwitz.

It's a sad state of affairs when a leading politician deliberately stooped so low as to invent (or regurgitate) a story in order to gain sympathy with the British public just a couple of months before a General Election.

Despite previously admitting that his father's information on the family history was incorrent during the Daily Mail interview in 2004, he goes onto repeat the EXACT same story a year later after resigning as Tory leader and being elevated to the House of Lords:


http://hmd.org.uk/resources/podcasts/un ... al-parties
Next we’re speaking to Lord Michael Howard.

Please can you introduce yourself?

My name is Michael Howard.

And please can you tell us your Untold Story?

Well I lost my grandmother in Auschwitz, a grandmother I never saw. She was taken from the small town of Ruscova, [from] which [she] had been moved from Romania to Hungary early in the war, to Auschwitz in 1944, together with my aunt. My aunt survived, although she had actually been in the gas chamber on more than one occasion, miraculously, on one occasion, the gas didn’t function properly, and on another occasion, something else went wrong, and she came out again. And she came to live with my family in Wales after the war and helped to bring me up.

About 18 months ago, I took my family to the smaller town of Ruscova, which my father had left before the war, and we did what we could to retrace the journey which my grandmother and my aunt had been forced to take from Ruscova to Auschwitz. Of course we did it in the comfort of a modern motor-car. They did it, in a stinking, steaming cattle truck. And they were separated as soon as they got to Auschwitz, and my grandmother was sent to the gas chamber. I’ve been to Auschwitz three times, and of course I never cease to be moved by the stark horror which that place still evokes.

I hope that people will learn that humanity for all its goodness has another side too. And I suppose the real lesson to be learned is that we should all do all we can to keep that other side in check and under control. Because if we don’t, we forget again and see the deaths of millions that we saw in the Second World War.
Unbelievable. :roll:

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by wm » 25 Sep 2012 10:04

There was a case of a gas chamber malfunction, repairable from inside only which saved the lives of the people already there. And there was at least one case of hidden lone survivor of selections to the gas chambers.
So the story can't be dismissed as impossible, it is just very unlikely.

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by Worldwarstoday » 25 Sep 2012 10:20

wm wrote:And there was at least one case of hidden lone survivor of selections to the gas chambers.
So the story can't be dismissed as impossible, it is just very unlikely.
Yes for sure. I remember Miklos Nyiszli recounted the story of a young girl who was found alive when the Sonderkommando entered the gas chambers to remove the corpses. He explained how she had manage to survive the gas but I can't recall the specific details. Something to do with a pocket of air I think.

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by siwiec » 25 Sep 2012 11:25

wm wrote:There was a case of a gas chamber malfunction, repairable from inside only which saved the lives of the people already there.
Which case are you referring to? It is unclear what is meant by malfunction in this case; it could be electricity, leak somewhere, jam in the ventilation system, broken elevator, or just too many bodies to burn so they had to wait and some survived because of that, or something else.

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Why are we even discussing this?

Post by waldzee » 25 Sep 2012 11:28

Its a present day story about a British Politician.

I wasted time reading half The OP's post, one of your links & formed only one conclusion-

Moderator- please kill this topic
....

( clarified typo correction)
Last edited by waldzee on 26 Sep 2012 06:54, edited 1 time in total.

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waldzee
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Oh for the love of it!

Post by waldzee » 25 Sep 2012 11:58

RRe:
Michael Howard: Grandfather might have been illegal immigrant

Mr Howard's father, Bernard Hecht, who came here in the 1930s, falsified details about his parents when he applied for British citizenship in 1947.

The Tory leader's grandmother died in Auschwitz but at the time his grandfather was living in London.

However his father, who anglicised the family name after settling in Britain, claimed they both died in his native Romania. In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper, he [Michael Howard] said: "I have speculated on the reason and I suppose one possibility is that my grandfather might have entered Britain unlawfully."
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

He was an Eastern European Jew in the 1930`s trying to èscape`.

I would have claimed to be Albert Einstein if it improved my chances!

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by michael mills » 26 Sep 2012 00:57

These "I survived the gas chamber" stories are not uncommon, and are invariably false.

There is a possible source for them, that is based on witness testimony of the use of the underground cellars of Birkenau Crematoria 2 and 3 as make-do air-raid shelters late in 1944.

In October 1944, Himmler ordered the cessation of homicidal gassing at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, so the cellars of those two crematoria were no longer used as gas chambers. Since the crematoria were not demolished until January 1945, just before the evacuation of the camp, there was a period of at least three months when the crematorium buildings and their underground cellars were available for other uses; one survivor account describes rabbits being kept in the cellars (they were being bred to supply fur for SS winter clothing).

There is at least one witness acount of prisoners being taken for shelter into the cellars of one of the crematoria during an air raid. The sight of prisoners being taken into a crematorium building (which was generally known to be a place of mass killing), and then emerging alive some time later, probably gave rise to all the accounts by individuals about being taken to the gas chamber but not being gassed. Stories about "malfunction" or "running out of gas" are most probably retrospective explanations for the non-gassing that have become embroidered over time (since of course the inmates did not know about Himmler's order to stop the gassing).

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by David Thompson » 26 Sep 2012 04:29

An off-topic post from waldzee was removed by this moderator, pursuant to many previous warnings and deletions - DT.

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Re: Why are we even discussing this?

Post by Worldwarstoday » 26 Sep 2012 04:33

waldzee wrote:Its a present day story about a British Politician.

I wasted time reading half The OP's post, none of your links & formed only one conclusion-

Moderator- please kill this topic
....

I disagree. Perhapaps it's not interesting to everyone, but as I said earlier, it's easy for politicians, authors and celebrities to jump on the WW2/Holocaust bandwagon. And all the more pleasing when they are caught telling fibs about it.

Remember when Hillary Clinton gave a speech during her Presidential campaign in 2008 about landing in Sarajevo and having to be rushed to her car whilst coming under constant sniper fire? Only for amateur video footage to emerge of her emerging from the plane calmy and in no hurry, shaking hands with NATO forces as she did so. Ouch!!! :oops:

Afterwards she claimed to have "mispoke" about the incident when the footage claim to light. :wink:

Then you have author Sven Hassel's dubious accounts of being a frontline soldier during WW2, and if you care to browse the forum a few years back you'll find an old (and very interesting) topic about an author called Paul Harker who wrote a biography of an SS-officer who claimed to have served in the Einsatzgruppen units on the Eastern Front.

http://www.amazon.com/Directive-19-Memo ... 1598003925

The only problem is that this man (Rolf Otto Shiller) didn't exist and our forum experts easily picked the story to pieces. Far from being duped, the author had deliberately invented him and given him an entire fictious life story to get his book published.

If you want MEGA LOLZ times, then search for "Paul Harker / Directive 19" on the Axis History or Feldgrau forums and you'll be able to enjoy the drama unfold in real-time in front of your very eyes. The classic case of an author being outed as a liar by the research community.

So I think when politicians or celebrities tells fibs, it's important they are exposed as being liars when research can prove the stories are false. Michael Howard, a prominent UK politician and former government minister, who was running for Prime Minister in 2005 falls into this category.

Claiming that his grandmother died in Auschwitz in 1944 is perhaps not the brightest thing to do when investigative reporters (and his own father at one point) claimed she had died in Romania in the late 1930s before WW2 had even started.

When confronted with the story, he passed it off as his father lying on his documentation in order to enter the UK as a refugee. An argument which is completely blown out of the water when he repeats the EXACT same story 18 months later in a radio interview after standing down as Tory leader and being given a peerage.

That sir is despicable IMO. :x For politicians to use the Holocaust and fabricate/exaggerate stories in order to gain sympathy and votes.

I have nothing else to say on the matter, except that it's acceptable for the research community to expose these scumbags for what they really are - liars who will stoop so low as to fabricate stories and hide behind wars and genocide because it suits their own agenda.

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by sobel » 27 Sep 2012 03:42

Well as a UK citizen, you learn something new every day!!

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by Ian Hulley » 27 Sep 2012 22:28

'Politician in lies shock ! '

Well fancy that.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt he was probably only repeating what his family had lead him to believe, possibly taken from a combination of the truth mixed with half truths and rumours.

Ian

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by Worldwarstoday » 28 Sep 2012 05:10

I actually have to correct one of my above posts just for accuracy.

When Michael Howard repeated the story about his family's experiences for the aforementioned "Holocaust Stories" article, it was actually in 2010, not in 2005 as I stated above.

I forgot that although the Conservatives lost the 2005 election and Howard stood down as leader, he stayed on in parliament for another term before standing down as an MP in May 2010. Then he was elevated to the House of Lords and became Lord Howard which was when he gave the interview, sticking with his original version of events that his grandmother had died in Auschwitz when there was credible evidence to the contrary.

By this time, Michael Crich's biography "In Search of Michael Howard" - which made the initial allegations - had been published a whole 5 years earlier.

This makes it all the more bizarre that Howard would continue to stick by his story when interviewed for Holocaust Stories. By this time, he had already freely admitted when challenged there were inaccuracies in his previous claims (blaming it on his father) yet still decided to go with the original version of events anyway. All rather strange. :?

Possibly he can't or won't face up to the truth that he had been lied to by his family about his grandmother's death in the 1930s. Blaming it on your father for being deceitful with the truth is one thing, but continuing to perpetuate the lie in television and radio interviews many years later is another and is quite unacceptable.

One more thing pointing out (for the benefit of those not familiar with UK politics) is that Michael Howard referred to throughout this topic is NOT the eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard who is Professor of the History of War and Modern History at Oxford University. They are two completely different people.

Anyway, unless more information comes to light we won't know for certain what is true and what is lies. The records and documents which could either prove or disprove his claims would have been lost or destroyed in the 1930s and 1940s and if Howard had firm evidence that his grandmother was ever in Auschwitz then he would surely have published it when the claims were made back in 2005.

But of course Lord Howard is no stranger to telling lies and avoiding the truth. When asked the same simple question 12 times on a live Newsnight programme he refused to answer whilst ducking and diving through the whole interview.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/n ... 740130.stm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwlsd8RAoqI

The man is a disgrace.

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by Ian Hulley » 28 Sep 2012 08:51

Worldwarstoday wrote: The man is a disgrace.
He's a politician OF COURSE he's a disgrace :wink:

Ian

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Re: Michael Howard's allegations of what happened at Auschwi

Post by Worldwarstoday » 28 Sep 2012 10:34

Ian Hulley wrote:
Worldwarstoday wrote: The man is a disgrace.
He's a politician OF COURSE he's a disgrace :wink:

Ian
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Especially being a Tory too. :D :wink:

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