Posted on February 6, 2013 at 8:58 am
By Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2013 carolyn yeager
Once again, a helpful commenter on this website has brought us an important discovery. Thanks to Attila Kovacs, I looked up Mel Mermelstein‘s 1979 “survivor memoir” titled By Bread Alone: The Story of A-4685 and discovered just what Kovacs reported — that the Famous Buchenwald Liberation Photo that is on the cover of the book (with Mel’s face circled in red) does not contain the tall standing man. In Kovacs’ words: “What is not shown on the cover photo is the tall man standing on the right leaning on the post. The post is there, but why then not the man standing?” Good question.
Another helpful reader supplied the larger image of the book cover, from Google Images! I confess, I never thought to look there. Thanks Simon! Now you can even more clearly see the post on the right edge of the picture, with no one standing beside it – just dark, empty space.
Kovacs continues, “On page 208 of the book, the same photo is reproduced, but magically the tall standing man is included in this photo. What the heck is going on?”
What seems to be going on can be explained this way: Elie Wiesel was not identified in that photograph until the 1980’s. As I have written elsewhere, it was a decision made to increase Wiesel’s chances for a Nobel Prize. He wanted one, and his supporters began in 1983 to lobby the Nobel committee and plant news stories that he was being considered for either the Peace Prize or the Literature Prize. In 1986, the Peace Prize was awarded to him. The first thing he did as follow-up was to travel to Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Israel to express his appreciation and get photographed in front of a wall-size blow-up of that famous picture.
Why are these dates important?
Mermelstein’s book came out in 1979; Elie Wiesel was first identified in the photo around 1983, so Mel would not have been aware that one of the men laying just two rows below him was (supposed to be) Elie Wiesel. He would also not remember a man standing naked when the photograph was taken … since there wasn’t one. When he saw this picture for the cover, it would have looked right to him. An editor may have added the pictures inside the book, without realizing the discrepancy with the one on the cover. We have already seen evidence of how most people miss sensing anything wrong when viewing the picture without the standing man.
An alternative explanation could be that the standing man was too dominating in the picture, taking visual attention away from Mel the author, who was way back in the upper bunk, barely visible. If this were true, however, it would verify that there are indeed two versions of the picture known — one with and one without the “naked” man. But also, since it has already been proven that this standing man was added by “photo composite” techniques known at the time, we know that he was not in the original photograph taken on that day.
This image (left) from a story in the New York Times, May 6, 1945 is exactly the same as what is on Mermelstein’s book cover. We can see the post, everything is there except the standing man next to the post. The man has not been ‘removed’ – he was never there. Those who want to argue that he was removed should provide an explanation of why and how that was done if they want us to believe it.
Does Mermelstein write in his book about meeting Elie Wiesel at Buchenwald?
I can’t find a readable version of the book online, but since Attila Kovacs has a copy we can ask him: What does Mermelstein say about Elie Wiesel being in the famous photo with him? If he says nothing, that is further proof of Wiesel’s chicanery. In looking at reviews of this book, I don’t see Elie Wiesel’s name anywhere. I am under the impression that the book is more about Mel’s lawsuit against the Institute for Historical Review than about his experience in the camps. So we’ll leave it here for now and see what more Attila Kovacs can tell us.
UPDATE: Feb. 10
For those who want to see a better quality image, this was taken from Winston Smith Ministry of Truth website. He obtained an original NYTimes Magazine from May 6, 1945. However, the man 2nd from the right in the upper row (to the left of Mermelstein) is not the same face or person as the standing man, as some want to believe.