How “miscalculations” may have made a “prostak” out of Mr Holocaust

Efraim Zuroff
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Photo: Yossi Zamut/F;ash 90


By Branko Miletic
(First published in Independent Australia 14 January 2018)

The Weisenthal Centre’s “Mr Holocaust” would seem to be undermining the very Holocaust history he claims to support, writes Branko Miletic.

In Yiddish, the term “prostak” denotes a wilfully ignorant person, while in the various interconnected Slavic languages, the word takes on a wider meaning of being uncouth or rude.

Historically, going back to the Ninth Century, Yiddish as a language was all but annihilated by the unmitigated evil that was the Holocaust.

And for almost as long as there has been the Holocaust, there has been Holocaust denial.

No-one is more aware of this than the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Yiddish-speaking and Jerusalem-based director Efraim Zuroff — a man who has given himself the nickname of “Mr Holocaust”.

Since taking up his post in 1998, “Mr Holocaust” has guided the Wiesenthal Centre into a growing list of controversies, ranging from victim-shaming in the Balkans, to alienating his allies across the world, and now to threatening the very Holocaust history he claims to support.

Denial, it seems, can be a two-way street.

Take, for example, his repeated comments on the July 1995 massacre of 8,372 Bosnians by Serb forces in Srebrenica.

Despite the U.N., EU, U.S. and most governments around the world declaring it an “act of a genocide”, Zuroff claimed it could not have been so “as only men were killed”.

His remarks earned sharp rebukes from many quarters, including from Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.

While Menachem Rosensaft, general counsel of the World Jewish Congress, who teaches the law of genocide at Columbia and Cornell universities, called Zuroffs opinion, “wrong from a legal point of view”.

Nor was his the first time Zuroffs’ miscalculations have caused mayhem, however the attempt to downplay the gravity of the Srebrenica massacre also goes to the heart of the issue here.

As Marko Attila Hoare, associate professor of economics, politics, and history at Kingston University, said in 2011 about the denial of the genocide at Srebrenica in July 1995:

It tends to go hand-in-hand with the denial of the genocidal crimes carried out by Serbian Nazi quislings and collaborators during World War II.”

As if to underline that he is an equal-opportunity offender, in 2011, Zuroff’s carelessness led to the acquittal of a suspected Nazi war criminal in Hungary, causing much consternation for both Holocaust survivors and their families.

In the ensuing aftermath, László Karsai, the central European country’s leading Holocaust historian and himself the son of a Holocaust survivor, labelled him an “hysterical, narcissistic Nazi-hunter, working only to earn a good living”. He went on to say the Wiesenthal Centre used publicity in order to “justify its own existence before its sponsors”.

Moving his attention back to the former Yugoslavia, Zuroff’s downplaying of Serbia’s World War Two “Judenfrei” history has assisted for now in keeping this fact out of the media spotlight.

Then there is his silence over the former Yugoslav State erecting statues to Nazi collaborators and the rehabilitation of its own collaborationist history — a process that goes on to this day unabated.

Any attempt to publicly challenge Zuroff over such anomalies to his public pronouncements in relation to World War Two Balkan history elicits instant condemnation from the man himself, his organisation and his fellow travellers in the media — most of whose idea of journalism often more closely resembles bullying rather than objective reporting.

Even when simple arithmetics highlights the unexplained holes in the “accepted” conclusions, those that have dared to cross this apparent verboten Rubicon find themselves in the crosshairs of a well-oiled and, apparently, well-funded media campaign of character assassination.

In 1996, American historian Dr Philip Cohen discovered this the hard way after publishing his book: Serbia’s Secret War, which used Yugoslav, U.S., British, German and Russian archives to disprove many of Yugoslavia’s inflated World War Two death tolls.

Cohen’s work demolished the “victimology” that for decades has characterised just about everything that has been written about Yugoslavia’s role in World War Two.

Despite being lauded by former British PM Margaret Thatcher for his extensive research and despite being Jewish himself, Cohen discovered what happens when you challenge the status quo, courtesy of a tsunami of vilification, threats of physical violence — even being labelled a “Nazi sympathiser” by both the global Left and the Wiesenthal Centre.

But in many ways, Philip Cohen was a trailblazer, as one of the first historians to actually use simple, primary school arithmetic on decades-old publicly available data to pry open the floodgates of truth in relation to parts of Balkan World War Two history.

For example, between 1931 and 1948, according to Dr. Cohen (and the Holocaust Encyclopaedia), Europe’s Jewish population fell from 9.5 million in 1931 to 3.5 million in 1948 — meaning a net loss of some 6 million people, mostly courtesy of the Nazi death camps.

Over the exact same period of time, according to Belgrade’s official and publicly available population statistics, the number of people in Yugoslavia increased by over 1.3 million people, with 700,000 of those newly born citizens being Serbs, according to the same figures.

Delving further into the statistics, as Cohen and others found, the population of Yugoslavia, according to its published last census just prior to the outbreak of War in 1939, was almost 15.4 million.

In 1948, in the country’s first post-World War Two census, which was published by its new Communist government and then republished by the United Nations, showed a population of over 15.8 million — a growth of some 400,000 people. This made Yugoslavia the only European country actively militarily involved in World War Two to have its population increase during the period of the war.

Although these figures have been publicly available for at least 70 years, Zuroff and other commentators have consistently claimed that the decrease of 6 million people during the Holocaust is somehow comparable to the increase of Yugoslavia’s wartime population by some 400,000 people.

This odd analogy has been repeated by historians far and wide – including prominent Australian ones, such as self-styled “Nazi-hunter” Mark Aarons – as somehow being equal in “monstrosity”.

While Yugoslavia’s role in World War Two is a typical Balkan mix of myth, propaganda and bravado, the fact that such obvious errors, most of which contravene even the basic rules of addition and subtraction, can enter the annals of standard and accepted history, and go unchallenged for decades simply beggars belief.

One excuse for this mathematical incongruity is the consistent failure to check simple raw data, such as publicly-available population figures, while at the same time blindly republishing and rehashing numbers that were little more than Communist propaganda.

The other reason is a fear of public abuse from those that wish to keep their “crimes of miscalculation” covered up.

Were they to become common knowledge, they could potentially provide a massive shot in the arm to those that crave for even a whiff of “scientific credibility” to disprove the Holocaust and who wish to wipe the history of this awful event from the collective memory of mankind.

Perhaps the Yiddish term prostak is applicable to a few more people, including all those so-called “historians”, for whom the use of a calculator stretches their already seemingly limited skill set.




  1. Sounds like the Simon Wiesenthal Centre needs a new Director before the reputation built up over so many years is reduced to tatters. Letting a suspected war criminal go is unforgivable by an organisation that is primarily set up for the purpose of catching and convicting. They should be happy to acknowledge and publish details of any Jewish massacres from WWII and not allow them to be swept under the mat as many other non Jewish massacres seem to be from the Yugoslav era, especially the Serbia.- Croatia war.
    It’s time for the truth to come out everywhere and people to be given information to help them get over these events of the bitter past, and forge ahead for the future.

    • We can only keep putting the truth out there in the hope that it will prevail, David. As to Zuroff, I don’t think I have ever come across a person with double standards when it comes to crimes as he has been. An awful state of affars for humanity.

  2. Esther Gitman says:

    Director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Efraim Zuroff was in Juky 2015 on a visit to Serbia. On that occasion, he was asked what are his thoughts relative to naming Stepinac a saint? He stated: “although Pavelić was one of the biggest mass murders during WWII, Cardinal Stepinac was his spiritual saint” (Tanjug, July 14, 2015). “What does it say about the Catholic Church?
    Sometimes I wonder: why would Zuroff, degrade himself and concoct historical events? Would Pavelić ask Stepinac to become his personal priest when the later dared to proclaim:

    The Catholic Church cannot admit that one race or one nation, because it is more numerous or better armed, may do violence to a smaller nation with fewer people. We cannot admit that innocent people may be killed ….The system of shooting hundreds of hostages for a crime, when the person guilty of the crime cannot be found, is a pagan system which only results in evil. It is absolutely certain that if order is sought with such measures, many people who up to now have obeyed the voice of the Church, …will, finally, attempt to seek safety in the forests … We condemn all injustice; all murder of innocent people; all burning of peaceful villages;….We sorrow for the miseries and the sadness of all who today suffer unjustly, …the Catholic Church upholds that order which is as old as the Ten Commandment of God.

    Also, Evelyn Waugh, then a captain affiliated with the British Mission in Yugoslavia sent the following testimony: On June 17 1945, the writer Evelyn Waugh, then a captain affiliated with the British Mission in Yugoslavia sent the following testimony:

    In Zagreb in June 1941achbishop Stepinac led a deputation to Pavelić to protest against the persecution of the Jews; many of the clergy of Zagreb wore the yellow star in the streets to ridicule Pavelić’s attempt to mark Jews in the Nazi manner. Also, Archbishop Stepinac, still in German hands, issued a condemnation of the acts of cruelty committed by both sides…. The Archbishop also expelled professor [Stevo] Zunić from the university for his criticism of the anti-Ustaše activities of the clergy.

    This is just one example out of many that demonstrate the ignorance and the bias of Efraim Zuroff toward Croatia and it people. I would dare Mr. Zuroff to produce even one document which will demonstrate how the Serbs protected the Jews like the one I am enclosing in this letter, I can produce hundreds documents written and signed by Croatia’s ordinary citizens. Many of them demonstrated their courage and decency.
    Mr. Efraim Zuroff visit the archives before you speak and demonstrate your ignorance.

    • Thank you Esther. The letter attached to your comment could not be posted in comment area as software does not provide to embed photos without links. However, I will endeavour to use them in future. Your research into the saving of Jews especially Archbishop Stepinac and others surpasses all that we have seen so far and are a great credit to you and Croatian people. Your pointing out in your research findings the “Judenfrei” Serbia, which Serbia along with Zuroff’s help, tries hard to hide and deny, will one day be a testament for a shining justice to the victims who perished in the exterminations of Jews in Serbia as Serbia raced to become one of the first Jew-free countries in Europe in 1942.

  3. Thanks Ina, great article!

  4. David R Byler says:

    shame shame on Zuroff !!

  5. Jure Nakic says:

    Hi all, I need someone to explain something to me. Whenever somebody in the world does or says something negative about Jewish interests there’s always an avalanche of criticism and accusations of anti antisemitism(kiwi singer Lorde as a perfect example).
    How then does Serbia get away scott free with all they did during WW2. What do Serbs have over Jews that makes them immune from any blow back. Am I missing something here. What deal do they have with each other to keep it all hush hush.
    I must be stupid or blind as I can’t see the real reason for this silence but the evidence of their crimes is so obvious yet not a peep out of dip sh_t Zuroff and his story tellers just more excrement thrown Croatia’s way.
    Someone please explain

    • It is absolutely deplorable how Serbia ignores its WWII Jewish victims, Jure and what makes it scandalous is that people like Zuroff stand in support of this, often stating how it was the Germans that did it in Serbia not Serbs – yeah right the Germans came in, identified 94% of Serbian Jews all by themselves and just exterminated…

  6. Reblogged this on Ace News Desk.

  7. Great post Ina …..Today’s media seems to allude more and more to denying the existence of anything like massacres or holocaust as they do not need to apologise by denying it happened and have not learned how to prevent it happening ever again God Forbid …Ian 🙏🌟😊👍 Denial is the invention of man not God

    • So true, Ian and denial as invention of politics not doing any favours to humanity even if it is supposed to, i.e. the end product of politics should always be for betterment of human lives but we have lost that path I think

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