The Lies of Gabrielle Haller in UNLIMITED X-MEN #2The Errors, Lies, and False History of Magneto Presented by the character Gabrielle Haller in the comic book UNLIMITED X-MEN #2, published in 1992:
We supposedly learn about Magneto's "history" in a speech given by the character Gabrielle Haller, to an Empire State University audience. Gabrielle Haller at this time is the Israeli ambassador to Great Britain, and once was friends with Magneto when she and Charles Xavier knew him in Israel some 25 years ago, Marvel Time. Haller also is the former lover of Charles Xavier, and the mother of his son. In the comic, it is not explalined exactly why Haller felt it necessary to suddenly "reveal" the "facts" about Magneto at this point. One thing is certain, Magneto had recently reemerged as a threat to the world, and the State of Israel certainly did not want any link with him, given that he once lived and worked in the country, and was an operative working for the intelligence agency, Mossad.
All of which informs the fact that Gabrielle Haller's speech is a lie, filled with mistakes form beginning to end.
There is very little of it that does not contradict either Marvel continuity, or real-world history. It may be the most globally inaccurate speech any character has ever given in the Marvel Universe.
In the real-world, according to several sources, including Scott Lobdell, the purpose of Haller's speech in UNLIMITED X-MEN #2 (1992) was apparently to change Magneto's Jewish identity into something more "politically correct" because the character was about to be made into a major Fatal Attractions villain. According to Fabian Nicieza, the UNLIMITED editor of the time Kelly Corvese, said, if Magneto were changed into a Gypsy, he would "match" the ethnicity of his two children, Wanda and Pietro, who were adopted by Gypsies, and whose mother was a Gypsy. Corvese felt it was important that they all "match." If this is true, Corvese's reasoning is bigotted at worst, and specious and highly insensitive at best.
ALSO, beyond the question of Magneto's ethnic identity , the editors and writer for some reason felt it necessary to contradict Magneto's backstory! The story of his escape with Magda, the chronology of events leading to the incident in Vinnitsa, even the description of the events in Vinnitsa -- not one thing Fabian N. wrote (as in, Gabrielle Haller said) is accurate.
An analysis of the speech follows:
Unlimited #2 -- page 17
The only half-way accurate thing Haller says about Magneto is, "... A man we know precious little about -- with the OFFICIAL record having precious little to say." Yes, that's right. Which doesn't stop Haller from proceeding with her speech using photograph-slides projected behind her.
Next, Haller makes the startling announcement, that "Erik Magnus Lehnsherr" was a Gypsy, a Sinti Gypsy at that. She says he was born in "Gdansk, Poland, then known as Danzig," "around" 1928.
In the first place, the Sinti of Germany had a VERY specific history during World War II, and at Auschwitz. The Sinti were considered by some of the Nazi hierarchy to be Aryans. The officials who ran Auschwitz thought so.
Second, the Sinti were forced into local German municipal camps in the mid to later 1930s, in Danzig that would have been Stutthof, just outside the city. They weren't sent to Auschwitz until 1943. Magnus was at Auschwitz from the beginning of the camp, in 1940 or from the beginning of Birkenau, in 1941. He had to have been either a Polish Christian or Jew, since no Gypsies were at the camp from the beginning.
Third, Magneto makes several references to events of his childhood, and the persecution of the Jews -- if he were a Sinti, imprisoned in a municipal German camp in the mid-1930s -- why would he have mentioned only Jewish suffering? He would not have been aware of the persecution of the Jews in any case.
Fourth, Magneto says, in New Mutants #61 -- his people were "registered" in Poland -- all of his people. Only the Jews were registered in Poland, by the Nazis after the Nazi invasion, and the Sinti did not live throughout Poland, but only in Germany.
There is more -- to prove that Magneto cannot possibly be a Sinti Gyspy --including the fact that the Gypsy Family Camp was liquidated at Auschwitz in August of 1944, after over 1,000 young Gypsy men and women were sent to other camps closer to Germany. And "Erik Lehnsherr" -- according to Haller's own speech -- was at Auschwitz in January 1945!
Including, the fact that Magnus was in the Sonderkommando, the "Special-Handling Command" -- (Special Handling was Nazi-ese for the Final Solution, as in genocide). Magneto tells us this directly, in diary-like format, in UXM #274, and in EXCALIBUR vol. 3 #7 and Charles Xavier and Dr. Strange confirm this in EXCALIBUR vol.3 #15. Only Jewish men -- with the exception of German and Polish kapos and 19 Russian POWs who were assigned in the summer of 1944 -- were in the Auschwitz Sonderkommando. No Gypsies were in the Sonderkommando. (Which is something the Gypsy survivors tend to be proud of.) And young Magnus was not "pretending" to be Jewish, or was misidentified as Jewish, because only Jewish men and boys were circumcised, and there was no way that a Gypsy boy could be taken for a Jew in Auschwitz. And why would anyone want to pretend to be Jewish in Auschwitz, in any event?
As for the part about Magnus being born in Gdansk, then known as Danzig. That is just worded strangely. Why would Gabrielle Haller phrase it like this? She was born in the 1930s herself. Danzig was a major city, called DANZIG for centuries -- Haller wouldn't think of it as Gdansk. She should have said, Magnus was born in Danzig, which today is a Polish city called Gdansk. She says Magneto's birthdate is "around" 1928. Well "around" is close enough. He could have been born anytime between 1926 and 1930.
At the point Haller is talking about Magneto's birthdate, etc, she is displaying a supposed photo-slide of "Erik Lehnsherr" as an adult, dressed in a peasant shirt open to the waist, wearing a scarf around his neck, and two earrings. This photo is the most obviously fake of Haller's collection. By her own statements, "Erik" was only 11 years old when she says he was sent to Auschwitz. He was either 11 or 12, probably, in 1941, but certainly not the adult man featured in Haller's slide. The clothing is simple peasant clothing. And European peasants, AND Gypsy men, whatever their origins, usually did not wear earrings. That is a cliche. So, the fact that the man presented as "Erik Lehnsherr" is wearing an earring in each ear, is not indicative of any ethnic heritage. The photo could have been taken at any time Magnus lived in the Carpathian Mountain village with Magda, or, it could have been taken after Magda left him. But I think it is most likely a deliberately faked photograph, that Magnus had made or was doctored by the forger Odekirk, to bolster his false Gypsy identity.
Unlimited #2 -- page 18 --
At the top of the page, Haller says, "After Danzig was annexed to Nazi Germany in 1939, the young man named Erik --- along with thousands of other Gypsies -- was shifted to a work camp in the city of Auschwtiz" This is blatantly false history. And a falsifying of Holocaust and Auschwitz history. Marvel should always be ashamed of itself for allowing this comic book to be printed.
(1) Danzig wasn't annexed! It was the Free City of Danzig, under League of Nations protection, and it voted itself a Nazi government -- I believe in 1938. It had a vehemently anti-Semitic goverment, and persecution of the Jews of Danzig began early.
(2) The Jews, not the Gypsies, the Jews, were exiled from Danzig in 1939. It was one of the first times this happened after the start of the war.
(3) Auschwitz didn't even exist in 1939. No one was sent to a work camp "in the city of Auschwitz" in 1939, because the camp didn't exist, and because ---
(4) The death camp was not in the city of Auschwitz, but outside it. No one was sent there until the summer of 1940, and the first inmates were Polish political prisoners.
(5) If there were any Sinti Gypsies in the city of Danzig, they were sent to the Stuthoff prison-camp, or to work camps until late 1942 and 1943. If they were Polska Roma (Polish Gypsies -- which was most likely) they were given false reassurance of safety until 1942, at which time the Nazis betrayed their king, and attacked without warning, killing thousands and sending the rest to camps.
(6) The Nazis CLEARLY had different plans for the Jews of Danzig and other areas of the Baltic and parts of occupied Poland -- there was some initial confusion about this after the Sept. 21st Heydrich announcement, but it was cleared up and decisons were made by October. The Jews were to be exiled, their belongings confiscated, kicked out of their homes, dumped in Central Poland. The picture behind Haller as she says these things is supposed to be a photo. Of what? Of who? The first thing Holocaust deniers, or those who try to twist Holocaust history try to do, is insert photos which cannot be verified. So, you have a picture at the top of page 18, divided in half by a supposed fence post. On one side is a picture of people in rags, men and women. They could be anyone! Gypsies in the Gypsy Family Camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, or Jews in the Jewish Czech Family Camp! Or Nazi victims from any country. It's just a picture. Then there is the other half of this "photo" showing a couple of women in their camp uniforms, with kerchiefs on, and a man in a coat who appears to be Magnus. Behind them is the crematorium and chimney. (a) The Gypsy family camp was not next to the crematoria, but the Woman's Camp B 1b (after July 1943) was right next to Crematorium 2! That second half of the picture, on the right at the top of the page, is of the Woman's Camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau -- not the Gypsy camp. And yes, young Magnus could have been able to get in and out of that camp, by bribing guards and kapos. He smuggled food to women in this camp, as witnesses have testified to (UXM #199). The women wore pale blue or gray uniforms, or bits and pieces of clothing taken from the gassed victims, and parts of the striped uniforms that the men wore. Those are two different pictures at the top of page 18, in UNLIMITED X-MEN #2.
Beneath that is a picture that is not of Auschwitz. It is supposed to be, again, a photo. But it is not. It is a stylized representation of DEATH as in genocide. It is a burial pit, and piles of skulls and some form of tombstone are at the right. The mass grave and skulls could be a picture of Mauthausen, or Dachau, or Bergen-Belson. But it's not Auschwitz. Although the Russians no doubt buried the remains of several thousand dead they found when they liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau. the mass graves and piles of bodies we've seen on the documentaries and in pictures, that the American and British armies had to deal with, were from Bergen-Belson and Mauthausen, and other camps that these armies liberated. At Auschwtiz, most of the graves had already been sealed, deliberately. Most of the skulls that hadn't been reduced to ashes, were already buried.
Haller says, "We ALL know what happened then. It is -- or should be -- indelibly branded on our collective consciousness..." Yes, indeed it should. So then why does Haller next get things so wrong? "Genocide," she continues, "... Extermination. Not only of the Jewish race, but also of the Poles, Gypsies, the homosexuals, the intellectuals, anyone the "Master Race" felt was disposable..."
(1) The Nazis decreed genocide for first, the mentally ill and the handicapped. These people were the first to be murdered. It was on these people that the Nazis tried out the various methods of killing, like using gas.
(2) The other groups that the Nazis decreed should be wiped out in their entirety -- men, women, and children -- were the Jews. Then the Gypsies. The Jews then became the primary target of genocide, sometime in 1940 or 1941, it isn't certain when. The Jews became the official target of genocide in January of 1942, at the Wannsee Conference. The Gypsies became official targets of genocide by late 1942.
(3) Poland was an invaded country, the Polish people were the target of incredible cruelty and brutality, it was a subjugated land. The Nazis felt the Polish people were "subhuman" and made plans to enslave them. The people of Poland were forced from their homes, millions of people, and many were sent to other countries under Nazi rule as slave laborers. But the Nazis did not call for or have specific plans for, genocide of the Polish people. There are millions of Poles alive today. There are no Jews left in Poland today. Approx. 1/3 of the Polska Roma survived, and their descendants live in Poland today. From the country with the highest Jewish population before the war, Poland went to being virtually 100% "Judenrein."
(4) Homosexuals were persecuted horribly, from the earliest days of the Nazi regime. Many gay men died in the camps because of the cruel treatment they received. But no order of genocide was issued.
(5) And the intellectuals? What kind of nonsense is that? Half the Nazi hierarchy were intellectuals! The Nazis didn't decree genocide for the intellectuals of Europe. For the Socialists and left-wing intellectuals, for all Polish intellectuals, teachers, artists -- any Polish citizen with a college education -- there was almost certain imprisonment and oftentimes murder.
Some people seem to feel the need to constantly say, every time the word "Holocaust" is mentioned: "Those Jews weren't the only ones the Nazis persecuted. The Nazis picked on everyone." Why is it necessary to ignore the true dimensions of Nazi genocide? By ignoring the facts and details of the Holocaust, does this somehow make the suffereing of everyone in Europe during WW II more valid?
Haller goes on -- "Lehnsherr lost his parents and sister during his imprisonment at Auschwitz." No, he didn't. He lost them BEFORE he got to Auschwitz. They were machine-gunned over a mass grave, and Magnus was shot with them. But his powers manifested, unknown to him at the time -- he being 12- or 13-years-old -- and he protected himself from the bullets. A fact that later haunted Magneto -- as in, Why couldn't he save those he loved? Magnus was then hunted down by the Nazis (as shown in New Mutants #49) and trucked to Auschwitz with other men and boys, in the summer, or early fall, of 1941.
Haller continues, "But he gained something in the liberation of the camp in 1945, as well. He gained hope in the form of a wife, a woman named Magda. In 1946, they took up residence in the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa... where Magda, gave birth to a daughter they named Anya."
There are many errors in these statements:
(1) Magnus was not "liberated" in January of 1945. He escaped, with Magda, before the Russian army got there. Most likely, that escape was on Jan. 20th 1945, because of events pictured in the Classic X-Men #12 back-up
(2) He met Magda well before the liberation -- he saved her life! If he hadn't been in the Sonderkommando, and hadn't had prior knowledge of the impending destruction of Auschwitz's Gypsies, he wouldn't have been able to save Magda! He must have bribed a lot of guards and kapos, and disguised Magda as a Jewish woman prisoner, and moved her to the Woman's Camp.
(3) Magnus and Magda had a very hard time after the escape. They moved south, or south-east, into the Carpathian Mountains. They survived, and came to a village in the Carpathians. They lived in this village for years, before Magnus moved them to Vinnitsa.
(4) Anya was born in this Carpathian village.
The picture behind Haller shows a man, seen from behind, in a trenchcoat, watching a group of people on a hill. What the heck is this supposed to be a picture of? Of Auschwitz and the liberation? Of Magneto, living in the village? With a tailored trenchcoat? Haller's talking about his life with Magda, at this point -- why a picture of Magnus by himself, if that is he? I submit, that picture could be of anyone, and if it is of "Erik Lehnsherr," it could have been taken at anytime. We have no idea what that picture represents, in relation to what Haller is saying.
Haller goes on, "But Lehnsherr had learned something else about himself in Auschwitz, something which was becoming more apparent and more frightening to him everyday ... he learned he was a mutant ..." What? Magnus may have suspected that he had some power that protected him, when his family was shot. But in no story before this UNLIMITED #2 speech, was it ever implied that he knew he was a mutant, until that day in Vinnitsa, when his powers exploded.
Haller says, "... and when Anya was tragically killed in an arsonists fire, Lehnsherr lashed out at the villagers who refused to help save her..."
(1) The history of Magnus, Magda, and Anya actually continues -- that the family left the Carpathian village because Magnus wanted to get to a city, to continue his education and make something of himself.
(2) They arrived in Vinnitsa, and were staying at an inn, while Magnus got his first construction job.
(3) Magnus' powers manifested when his construction foreman tried to cheat him of his first wages, and he used magnetism to throw a crow-bar just past the man's head.
(4) Magnus rushed home immediately after this, to find that the inn where his family was staying was on fire. There is NO reference I know of as to what started the fire! How does Haller know it was an arsonist? Someone
once suggested that it was Magda herself, manifesting latent magical or mutant abilities of her own. Maybe it was the KGB, maybe it was someone else, wanting to flush out the young Magnus and his mutant powers. We don't know. Haller certainly doesn't know for sure.
(5) Magnus' powers manifested for the third time in his life (the first being the day his family was killed), as he and Magda were INSIDE the inn, trying to get to Anya, and the fiery ceiling collapsed -- Magnus erected a magnetic shield, a bubble around Magda and himself, and saved them.
(6) He then went outside, to rescue Anya from the window ledge where she was calling to him for help. Magda ran outside with him. As Magnus was about to rescue Anya -- using his powers -- the KGB, and the local police, led by his "foreman" showed up, and beat him and restrained him as Anya fell burning, to her death.
(7) Magnus did indeed lash out -- but not at the "villagers" -- at the men beating him and holding him down, in the middle of the CITY of Vinnitsa -- not purposely to punish people who didn't help. Magnus simply exploded with fury, grief, pain, agony -- the scene in Classic X-Men #12 is rendered with a totally black panel, followed by his explosion of power. Perfectly representing Magnus' mental state.
Haller continues, "... and Magda, seeing what fires raged behind her husband's ice cold eyes, FLED ... she ran as far away from him as she could ..." Okay, Magda did flee. But what is that about "fires that raged" and "ice cold eyes" ? Was Gabrielle Haller there? Did she see this? How the heck does she know what was going through Magda's head when she ran away from her husband?
Next, we see a picture of the hospital in Haifa, Israel, where Magnus was an orderly at the time he first met Charles Xavier. It is quite possibly a genuine photo. Gabrielle herself is pictured in a chair, in her catatonic state. She could have kept this photo, as a memento of what she had endured. In the foreground, is "Erik Magnus" himself, helping an elderly lady. Yes, "Erik Magnus" was an orderly in this hospital. Haller says, "... And, in his misery, in his loneliness, he went to Israel ... to save his OWN soul, he chose to work with survivors of the camps, and in turn helped them regain theirs."
Well, this is very nicely said, but is it accurate?
(1) First, Magnus didn't go to Israel right away. He spent some time first, looking for Magda, or wandering Central and Eastern Europe. We don't really know how many years there were between Magda's flight, and Magnus' immigraton to Israel. We do know that Georg Odekirk helped Magnus forge a false Gypsy identity, that of *Erik Lehnsherr* "twenty-five years ago." And some time after that, Magnus, possibly calling himself *Erik Magnus* -- immigrated to Israel.
(2) As a Jew, and a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz with a tattoo on his arm, "Erik Magnus" was granted automatic citizenship of Israel. It's called the Law of Return. Only a Jew could use this law at this time. Why would a Gypsy go to Israel to help Holocaust survivors, who are nearly 100% Jewish in Israel? Why would a Gypsy want to find his own "soul" in Israel, when this country would be meaningless to him? (The Sinti, for example, returned to Germany. There was a large community, regaining it's strength, in the 1970s. The other center of Gypsy immigration after World War II was Paris. It certainly was not Israel.)
Furthermore, we now know, that Magnus had papers. Forged papers, those of "Erik Magnus Lehnsherr" He could have immigrated to any country in the world, including the United States. Why would he go to Israel, unless he were Jewish?
As an aside, I wonder what Haller means by "Erik Lehnsherr" helping survivors "regain" their sanity. Did Magnus actually talk to people? Act as a therapist? He was an orderly, doing more mudane but necessary things around the hospital. Moreover, he was a volunteer. This begs the question, what was Magnus living on, and why would he consign himself to "bedpan duty" in a mental hospital for Holocaust survivors, for no pay? There is the suggestion that he might have been working for Mossad even at this time, and his purpose for being in that hospital in Haifa was to keep an eye on Gabrielle Haller herself, who was being watched by the Neo-Nazi group Hydra.
In any case, it was at this point (as shown in UNCANNY X-MEN #161 -- and the X-Men issues that featured the Legion Quest stories) that Xavier and "Erik" first met, and Xavier saved Gabrielle Haller from her catatonia and from Baron von Strucker. (And left her pregnant with David, Haller and Xavier's son.)
Unlimited #2 -- page 19
Gabrielle Haller goes on to discuss the "Erik Lehnsherr" name -- she says, "And that is where I met him. For I was a patient in that hospital in Haifa. Lehnsherr had taken to calling himself MAGNUS ... as if by choosing his MIDDLE name, he could bring some semblance of balance and simplicity to his haunted life." The real-world explanation for this statement, is the writer was trying to shoehorn the fact that Magneto was called Magnus, and was calling himself Magnus, before UNLIMITED X-MEN #2, and the rather clumsy and silly new name "Erik Lehnhserr" had to be reconciled with the preexisting name Magnus.
Regarding the in-universe Haller point of view, how does Haller know all this? Did Magnus tell her this? Did she surmise this from something he said to her? We now know, after XM #72, that this is just speculation on Haller's part, which she is presenting as fact. Since Magneto was called "Magnus" by several people even before Gabrielle Haller met him, and that he has affirmed the only part of his name that he acknowledges is Magnus, we have to conclude that Haller is wrong. In any case, the name Magnus itself may not even be part of Magneto's birth name, but a name he took while a prisoner at Auschwitz.
Finally, Haller says -- "Magnus helped nurse me back to health. Does that make me an objective lecturer, you may well wonder?"
Yes, we do wonder. First, did Magnus actually help "nurse" her back to health? He accompanied Xavier and Gabby as they went around Israel, having a good time, and Gabby was indeed being restored to mental and physical health. (If getting pregnant can be called a restorative of good health.) But Haller totally leaves out Xavier's role in helping her, during this speech. In other words, she just skips over Charles Xavier's involvement in the story. It is selective memory. Selected for an audience. And, is Gabrielle Haller an "objective" lecturer? She is a former Israeli ambassador to Great Britain, she is a Holocaust survivor and Israeli citizen. She will spend a great part of the rest of UNLIMITED X-MEN #2, trying to facilitate a way to shoot down Magneto. (But not to kill him, she protests.)
Haller goes on for the rest of page 19 to make some very interesting observations, many of which I can find little fault with -- like, she emphasizes that Magneto sees himself as a mutant crusader, not a dictator, she points out that mutants have no country to call their own. She points out that Magneto has not been fighting for personal power or gain. She asks the very profound and real question, "...Was Magneto a DEMAGOGUE or an IDEALOGUE?" "Was he a tyrranical madman, placing himself above the rights of humanity or a righteous zealot fighting for a noble cause ... equality for mutants?" But she asks these as questions which she has already answered -- she's presenting her point of view, and it is not an objective point of view, by her own admission.
And again, she completely leaves out the role in Magneto's life of Charles Xavier and the X-Men. She presents the events of X-Men #1-3 in only a political way -- there is not one mention of the reality of the events as they transpired. Which she would have been aware of. Like Cortez escaping the authorities on earth, like the way the governments and leaders of the nations of the world overreacted to the existence of Asteroid M -- etc.
So, although I like what Haller actually says about Magneto's motives on page 19 -- by leaving out 60% of the facts surrounding Magneto's actions during X-Men #1-3 (facts that were presented subsequently, in UNLIMITED X-MEN #2, as Magneto's would-be German assassin was studying his target), we have to conclude that Gabrielle Haller was again deliberately misleading her audience.