Reason Magazine and Holocaust Denial
A few years ago I somehow heard about a ferocious online dispute involving a left-leaning journalist named Mark Ames and the editors of Reason magazine, the glossy flagship publication of America’s burgeoning libertarian movement. Although I was deep in my difficult programming work, curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to take a look.
During the Immigration Wars of the 1990s, I’d become quite friendly with the Reason people, frequently visiting their offices, especially during my “English” campaign of 1998, when I’d located my own political headquarters in the same small Westside LA office building they used. As my content-archiving software project began absorbing more and more of my time during the early 2000s, I’d gradually lost touch with them, but even so, the 40-odd years of their magazine archives had become the first publication I’d incorporated into my system, and I was now pleased to discover that both sides in the ongoing feud had put my system to good use in exploring those old Reason issues.
Apparently, the libertarians grouped around Reason had successfully been making political inroads into Silicon Valley’s enormously wealthy technology industry, and had now organized a major conference in San Francisco to gather together their supporters. Their left-leaning rivals decided to nip that project in the bud by highlighting some of the more unsavory ideological positions that mainstream libertarian leaders had once regularly espoused. Perhaps Ron Paul and other libertarians might oppose overseas wars and drug laws, and support cutting taxes and regulations, but they and their Republican Party allies were unspeakably vile on all sorts of other issues, and all “good thinkers” should therefore stay very far away.
The debate began in rather mundane fashion with an article by Ames entitled “Homophobia, Racism, and the Kochs” denouncing Reason for sharing a platform with a high-ranking Republican Congresswoman of Christian conservative views, as well as the magazine’s reliance upon Koch funding and its alleged support for Apartheid South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s. The response by the Reason editor seemed quite persuasive, and he rightfully dismissed the guilt-by-association attacks. He also outlined the gross errors and omissions in the charges regarding South Africa, and ridiculed Ames as a notoriously error-prone “conspiracy theorist.” Surely few outsiders would have paid any attention to such a typical exchange of mudslinging between rival ideological camps.
But then things took a very different turn, and a week later Ames returned with a 5,000 word article bearing a title sure to grab attention: “Holocaust Denial.” He claimed that in 1976 Reason had published an entire special issue devoted to that explosive topic.
Surely everyone on the Internet has encountered numerous instances of Holocaust Denial over the years, but for a respectable magazine to have allotted a full issue to promoting that doctrine was something else entirely. For decades, Hollywood has sanctified the Holocaust, and in our deeply secular society accusations of Holocaust Denial are a bit like shouting “Witch!” in Old Salem or leveling accusations of Trotskyism in the Court of the Red Czar. Progressive Sam Seder’s Majority Report radio show devoted a full half-hour segment to the charges against Reason, and Googling “Reason Magazine”+”Holocaust Denial” today yields thousands of hits. This substantial explosion of Internet controversy was what caught my own attention at the time.
My initial reaction was one of puzzlement. Reason had been the first periodical I had digitized in my system a dozen years earlier, and surely I would have noticed an entire issue promoting Holocaust Denial. However, I soon discovered that February 1976 had been excluded from the supposedly complete set the magazine had shipped me for processing, an omission that itself raises serious suspicions. But Ames had somehow located a copy in a research library and produced a full PDF, which he conveniently placed on the Internet to support his accusations.
Carefully reading his article and then glancing through the contents, I decided that his accusation was technically false but substantially true. Apparently the actual theme of the issue was “Historical Revisionism” and except for a couple of paragraphs buried here and there among the 76 pages, Holocaust Denial never came up, so characterizing it as a Holocaust Denial issue was obviously a grotesque exaggeration. But on the other hand, although few of the authors were familiar to me, it seemed undeniably true that they were numbered among America’s more prominent Holocaust Deniers, and most of them were deeply associated with organizations situated in that same camp. Furthermore, there were strong indications that their positions on that topic must certainly have been known to the Reason editors who commissioned their pieces.
The clearest case comes when Ames quoted the explicit statements of Dr. Gary North, a prominent libertarian thinker who had served as one of Ron Paul’s earliest Congressional aides and later became his longtime partner in politics and business:
Probably the most far-out materials on World War II revisionism have been the seemingly endless scholarly studies of the supposed execution of 6 million Jews by Hitler. The anonymous author [Hoggan] of ‘The Myth of the Six Million’ has presented a solid case against the Establishment’s favorite horror story—the supposed moral justification for our entry into the war…The untranslated books by the former Buchenwald inmate Prof. Paul Rassinier, have seriously challenged the story…A recent and very inexpensive book in magazine form, Did Six Million Really Die?, appeared in 1973, written by Richard Harwood.
A later issue carried a thousand word letter by Prof. Adam Reed of Rockefeller University, a past Reason contributor, strongly affirming the mainstream Holocaust narrative by quoting from standard works, and taking Dr. North to task for his citation of Holocaust Denial works of doubtful quality. But North firmly stood his ground:
“The second point, that about 6 million Jews really did die in the concentration camps, is one that will be open until the records of the period become fully available. I am not convinced yet, one way or the other. I am happy to have Dr. Reed’s interpretation of the data, but until the publishing companies and academic guild encourage the re-examination of the data, I shall continue to recommend that those interested in revisionist questions read The Myth of the Six Million and Did Six Million Really Die? as reasonable (though not necessarily irrefutable) pieces of historical revisionism. If a person can’t make up his mind, he should do more reading.”
Dr. James J. Martin was the lead contributor to the February Revisionism issue, and the preceding January issue had featured an extended Q&A by the editors, with one of the queries directly addressing the controversial topic:
REASON: Dr. Martin, do you believe (1) that the specific charge against the Nazis of having a mass extermination program of several million Jews is true, and (2) that the Allied atrocities were as great or greater than those of the Germans, from your study of the question?
MARTIN: Well, I never made a head count of all who lost their lives in the War-we’ve seen a wide variety of statistical materials, some of which have been pulled out of thin air. As a consequence, it’s hard to make any kind of estimate of this sort, whether ten more were killed on the one side or the other is not a particularly entrancing subject as far as I’m concerned. Whether allegations can be proven it remains to be seen. I don’t believe that the evidence of a planned extermination of the entire Jewish population of Europe is holding up. I have been influenced over the years by the works of Paul Rassinier, and he still has to be reckoned with. His works have been ignored for a long time, and sooner or later somebody’s going to have to do a decent job of coping with what he has presented. I think Rassinier’s general case is sound at the moment and I haven’t seen any strong evidence to upset his allegations or his assertions that there was no planned program for the extermination of European Jews. His other main case is that there were no gas chamber extermination programs. The fact that a great many people lost their lives is incontrovertible—that the German concentration camps weren’t health centers is well known-but they appear to have been far smaller and much less lethal than the Russian ones.
Another major contributor to the issue was Dr. Austin J. App, and just three years earlier he had published a short book bearing the lurid title The Six Million Swindle: Blackmailing the German People for Hard Marks with Fabricated Corpses.
In a follow-up column by Ames’ own editor, the stunned reactions of various journalists are listed, with one of them Tweeting out “I had no idea that Reason Magazine was once a haven for Holocaust Revisionism. Holy Moly.” Despite the angry obfuscations of present-day Reason staffers, this description seems quite correct.
Indeed, there seems considerable circumstantial evidence that around that time “Holocaust Skepticism” extended rather broadly within the entire nascent libertarian movement. Aside from the sharp critique of the aforementioned Prof. Reed, the overwhelming majority of the reader responses seemed totally favorable, with Samuel Konkin III, editor of New Libertarian Weekly and various similar publications, suggesting that the February issue was one of the best they had ever published. David Nolan, founder of America’s Libertarian Party, also praised the issue as “outstanding.”
The two editors of the issue in question even today remain quite prominent figures at Reason and within American libertarianism, while the masthead then carried names such as David Brudnoy and Alan Reynolds, who both later became influential figures in conservative and libertarian politics. There seems no evidence of any resignations or angry recriminations following the issue’s publication, which seems to have been digested with total equanimity, apparently arousing less rancor than might have been generated by a dispute over monetary policy.
I’d never paid much attention to Holocaust discussions over the years, but the name of Murray Rothbard on the 1976 Reason masthead prompted a memory. Rothbard is widely regarded as the founder of modern libertarianism, and I recalled in the 1990s reading somewhere that he had often ridiculed the Holocaust as being total nonsense, which had stuck in my mind as a typical example of libertarian eccentricity. A quick Google search seemed to confirm my recollection that Rothbard was an avowed Holocaust Denier.
Although the whole controversy regarding Reason’s editorial line of the mid-1970s soon died down, it remained a nagging puzzle in the back of my mind. I’d always been quite skeptical of libertarian ideology, but my Reason friends from the 1990s had certainly seemed like smart and rational people to me, hardly raving lunatics of any sort, and two of the ones I’d known best had been the co-editors of the controversial issue in question.
I could easily understand how zealous libertarian ideologues might be swept past the point of rationality on certain matters—perhaps arguing that the police and the army should be abolished as statist institutions—but the factual question of what had or had not happened to the Jews of Europe during World War II hardly fell into that sort of category. Furthermore, libertarianism had always attracted a very large Jewish contingent, especially in its upper ranks, and one of the issue editors came from that background, as did Rothbard and numerous others featured on the masthead. While deranged anti-Semitism is not impossible among Jews, I would think that it is somewhat less likely. Clearly something very odd must have been going on.
I was then too busy with my work to focus on the matter, but some months later I had more time, and began a detailed investigation. My first step was to carefully read the Reason articles produced by those controversial writers previously unknown to me. Although those pieces were not Holocaust-related, I thought they might give me a sense of their thinking.
To my surprise, the historiography seemed outstandingly good, and almost certainly accurate based on what I had picked up over the years from perfectly mainstream sources. Dr. Martin’s long article on the notorious framing of “Tokyo Rose” was probably the best and most comprehensive treatment I had ever encountered on that topic, and Dr. App’s analysis of the tragedy of the Sudeten-Germans was equally strong, raising several points I had previously not known. Percy Greaves effectively summarized many of the very suspicious aspects of the Pearl Harbor attack, and although his case for the prosecution against FDR was certainly not airtight, it accorded with the views presented by numerous scholars in other books on the subject. Moreover, his position was seconded by a young Bruce Bartlett, later a prominent Reagan and Bush official, and still later a strong Republican opponent of George W. Bush, routinely feted by the New York Times. Most of the other writings also seemed of very high quality, including Dr. North’s summary of World War II Revisionism. In general, the academic scholarship of those articles greatly surpassed anything found in opinion magazines of more recent decades, Reason itself included. Those so interested can click on the above links, read the articles in question, and decide for themselves.
Back then, Reason was a young and struggling magazine, with a shoestring staff and budget. Publishing articles of such obvious quality was surely a remarkable achievement for which the editors could feel justifiably proud, and the overwhelmingly positive letters they received seemed absolutely warranted. Meanwhile, the nasty attacks by Ames appeared to be those of a mere political hack who may not have even bothered actually reading the articles whose authors he vilified.
As a further sign of Ames’ dishonesty, he flung the epithet “Nazi” some two dozen times in his hack-job, along with numerous uses of “anti-Semitic” as well, and Greaves was certainly the subject of many of those slurs. But although Greaves and Bartlett wrote back-to-back articles on exactly the same Pearl Harbor topic, and according to Wikipedia, the former was the academic advisor to the latter on that subject, Bartlett’s name appears nowhere in Ames’s hit-piece, presumably because denouncing a prominent policy expert much beloved by the New York Times as an “anti-Semitic Neo-Nazi” might prove self-defeating. Even leaving that aside, accusing the Jewish libertarians running Reason of being Nazi propagandists must surely be the sort of charge that would strain the credulity of even the most gullible.
Deborah Lipstadt and Holocaust Denial
With Ames’ credibility totally shredded, I decided to carefully reread his article again, looking for what clues I could find to the whole bizarre situation. Academic scholars who publish very good history on certain subjects might still have totally irrational views on others, but normally one would assume otherwise.
It appeared that much of Ames’ understanding of the issue had come from a certain Deborah Lipstadt, whom he characterized as a great Holocaust expert. Her name was very vaguely familiar to me as some sort of academic activist, who years before had won a major legal victory over a rightwing British historian named David Irving, and Irving himself received further denunciations in the Ames article.
However, one name did stick out. Apparently based on Lipstadt’s information, Ames described Harry Elmer Barnes as “the godfather of American Holocaust denial literature” and Martin’s “Holocaust denial guru.”
A dozen years earlier, the name “Barnes” would have meant almost nothing to me. But as I produced my content-archiving system and digitized so many of America’s most influential publications of the last 150 years, I had soon discovered that many of our most illustrious public intellectuals—Left, Right, and Center—had been suddenly purged and “disappeared” around 1940 because of their stalwart opposition to FDR’s extremely aggressive foreign policy, and Barnes, an eminent historian and sociologist, had been among the most prominent of those. He had been one of the earliest editors at Foreign Affairs and for many years afterward his important articles had graced the pages of The New Republic and The Nation, while even after his fall, he had edited Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, an important 1953 collection of essays by himself and other once-prominent figures. But to have a figure of such intellectual stature accused of being a Holocaust Denier, let alone the “godfather” of the entire movement, seemed rather bizarre to me.
Since Ames was merely an ignorant political hack transmitting the opinions of others, I moved on Lipstadt, his key source. Anyone who has spent much time on the comment-threads of relatively unfiltered websites has certainly encountered the controversial topic of Holocaust Denial, but I now decided to try to investigate the issue in much more serious fashion. A few clicks on the Amazon.com website, and her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust arrived in my mailbox a couple of days later, providing me an entrance into the mysterious world.
Reading the book was certainly a tremendous revelation to me. Lipstadt is a professor of Holocaust Studies with an appointment in Emory University’s Department of Theology, and once I read the opening paragraph of her first chapter, I decided that her academic specialty might certainly be described as “Holocaust Theology.”
The producer was incredulous. She found it hard to believe that I was turning down an opportunity to appear on her nationally televised show. “But you are writing a book on this topic. It will be great publicity.” I explained repeatedly that I would not participate in a debate with a Holocaust denier. The existence of the Holocaust was not a matter of debate. I would analyze and illustrate who they were and what they tried to do, but I would not appear with them…Unwilling to accept my no as final, she vigorously condemned Holocaust denial and all it represented. Then, in one last attempt to get me to change my mind, she asked me a question: “I certainly don’t agree with them, but don’t you think our viewers should hear the other side?”
Lipstadt’s absolute horror at having someone actually dispute the tenets of her academic doctrine could not have been more blatant. Surely no zealous theologian of the European Dark Ages would have reacted any differently.
The second chapter of her book supported that impression. Since many of the individuals she castigates as Holocaust Deniers also supported the Revisionist perspective of the underlying causes of the First and Second World Wars, she harshly attacked those schools, but in rather strange fashion. In recent years, blogger Steve Sailer and others have ridiculed what they describe as the “point-and-sputter” style of debate, in which a “politically-incorrect” narrative is merely described and then automatically treated as self-evidently false without any accompanying need for actual refutation. This seemed to be the approach that Lipstadt took throughout her rather short book.
For example, she provided a very long list of leading academic scholars, prominent political figures, and influential journalists who had championed Revisionist history, noted that their views disagree with the more mainstream perspective she had presumably imbibed from her History 101 textbooks, and thereby regarded them as fully debunked. Certainly a Christian preacher attempting to refute the evolutionary theories of Harvard’s E.O. Wilson by quoting a passage of Bible verse might take much the approach. But few evangelical activists would be so foolish as to provide a very long list of eminent scientists who all took the same Darwinist position and then attempt to sweep them aside by citing a single verse from Genesis. Lipstadt seems to approach history much like a Bible-thumper, but a particularly dim-witted one. Moreover, many of the authors she attacked had already become familiar to me after a decade of my content-archiving work, and I had found their numerous books quite scholarly and persuasive.
Barnes, in particular, figured quite prominently in Lipstadt’s chapter and throughout her book. The index listed his name on more than two dozen pages, and he is repeatedly described as the “godfather” of Holocaust Denial, and its seminal figure. Given such heavy coverage, I eagerly examined all those references and the accompanying footnotes to uncover the shocking statements he must have made during his very long scholarly career.
I was quite disappointed. There is not a single reference I could find to his supposed Holocaust Denial views until just the year before his death at age 79, and even that item is hardly what I had been led to believe. In a 9,300 word article on Revisionism for a libertarian publication, he ridicules a leading Holocaust source for claiming that Hitler had killed 25 million Jews, noting that total was nearly twice their entire worldwide population at the time. In addition, Barnes several times applied the word “allegedly” to the stories of the Nazi extermination scheme, an sacrilegious attitude that appears to have horrified a theologian such as Lipstadt. Finally, in a short, posthumously published review of a book by French scholar Paul Rassiner, Barnes found his estimate of just 1 million to 1.5 million Jewish deaths quite convincing, but his tone suggested that he had never previously investigated the matter himself.
So although that last item technically validated Lipstadt’s accusation that Barnes was a Holocaust Denier, her evidence-free claims that he was the founder and leader of the field hardly enhances her scholarly credibility. Meanwhile, all the many tens of thousands of words I have read by Barnes has suggested that he was a careful and dispassionate historian.
A notorious incident that occurred soon after the Bolshevik Revolution came to my mind. Eminent philologist Timofei Florinsky, one of Russia’s most internationally renowned academic scholars, was hauled before a revolutionary tribunal for a public interrogation about his ideas, and one of the judges, a drunken Jewish former prostitute, found his answers so irritating that she drew her revolver and shot him dead right there and then. Given Lipstadt’s obvious emotional state, I have a strong suspicion that she might have wished she could deal in a similar fashion with Barnes and the numerous other scholars she denounced. Among other things, she noted with horror that more than two decades after his 1940 purge from public life, Barnes’ books were still required reading at both Harvard and Columbia.
All of us reasonably extrapolate what we already know or can easily check against what is more difficult to verify, and the remaining chapters of Lipstadt’s book left me very doubtful about the reliability of her work, all of which was written in a similar near-hysterical style. Since she had already been vaguely known to me from her well-publicized legal battle against historian David Irving more than a dozen years earlier, I was hardly surprised to discover that many pages were devoted to vilifying and insulting him in much the same manner as Barnes, so I decided to investigate that case.
I was only slightly surprised to discover that Irving had been one of the world’s most successful World War II historians, whose remarkable documentary findings had completely upended our knowledge of that conflict and its origins, with his books selling in the many millions. His entire approach to controversial historical issues was to rely as much as possible upon hard documentary evidence, and his total inability to locate any such documents relating to the Holocaust drove Lipstadt and her fellow ethnic-activists into a frenzy of outrage, so after many years of effort they finally managed to wreck his career. Out of curiosity, I read a couple of his shorter books, which seemed absolutely outstanding historiography, written in a very measured tone, quite different from that of Lipstadt, whose own 2005 account of her legal triumph over Irving, History on Trial, merely confirmed my opinion of her incompetence.
Lipstadt’s first book Beyond Belief, published in 1986, tells an interesting story as well, with her descriptive subtitle being “The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust, 1933-1945.” Much of the volume consists of press clippings from the American print media of that era interspersed with her running rather hysterical commentary, but providing little analysis or judgment. Some of the journalists reported horrifying conditions for Jews in pre-war Germany while others claim that such stories were wildly exaggerated, and Lipstadt automatically praised the former and denounced the latter without providing any serious explanation.
Lenni Brenner’s remarkable book Zionism in the Age of the Dictators had been published three years earlier. Although I only discovered it very recently, surely any half-competent specialist in her own topic would have noticed it, yet Lipstadt provided no hint of its existence. Perhaps the reality of the important Nazi-Zionist economic partnership of the 1930s, with Nazi officials traveling to Palestine as honored Zionist guests and leading Nazi newspapers praising the Zionist enterprise might have complicated her simple story of fanatic German Jew-hatred under Hitler steadily rising towards an exterminationist pitch. Her faculty appointment in a Department of Theology seems very apt.
Lipstadt’s wartime coverage is just as bad, perhaps worse. She catalogs perhaps a couple of hundred print news reports, each describing the massacre of hundreds of thousands or even millions of Jews by the Nazis. But she expresses her outrage that so many of these reports were buried deep within the inside pages of newspapers, a placement suggesting that they were regarded as hysterical wartime atrocity propaganda and probably fictional, with the editors sometimes explicitly stating that opinion. Indeed, among these under-emphasized stories was the claim that the Germans had recently killed 1.5 million Jews by individually injecting each one of them in the heart with a lethal drug. And although I don’t see any mention of it, around that same time America’s top Jewish leader Rabbi Stephen Wise was peddling the absurd report that the Nazis had slaughtered millions of Jews, turning their skins into lampshades and rendering their bodies into soap. Obviously, separating truth from falsehood during a blizzard of wartime propaganda is not nearly as easy as Lipstadt seems to assume.
Ordinary Americans were apparently even more skeptical than newspaper editors. According to Lipstadt:
Writing in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, [Arthur] Koestler cited public opinion polls in the United States in which nine of ten average Americans dismissed the accusations against the Nazis as propaganda lies and flatly stated that they did not believe a word of them.
Lipstadt convincingly demonstrates that very few Americans seem to have believed in the reality of the Holocaust during the Second World War itself, despite considerable efforts by agitated Jewish activists to persuade them. Over the years, I have seen mention of numerous other books making this same basic point, and therefore harshly condemning the American political leaders of the time for having failed “to save the Jews.”
Explicit and Implicit Holocaust Denial After World War II
Yet as I began further investigating the history of Holocaust Denial in the wake of the Reason contretemps, I was very surprised to discover that this same pattern of widespread disbelief in the Holocaust seems to have continued unabated after the end of the war and throughout the 1950s, being especially strong among high-ranking American military figures, especially top generals and individuals with an Intelligence background, who seemingly would have had the best knowledge of the true events.
Some years ago, I came across a totally obscure 1951 book entitled Iron Curtain Over America by John Beaty, a well-regarded university professor. Beaty had spent his wartime years in Military Intelligence, being tasked with preparing the daily briefing reports distributed to all top American officials summarizing available intelligence information acquired during the previous 24 hours, which was obviously a position of considerable responsibility.
As a zealous anti-Communist, he regarded much of America’s Jewish population as deeply implicated in subversive activity, therefore constituting a serious threat to traditional American freedoms. In particular, the growing Jewish stranglehold over publishing and the media was making it increasingly difficult for discordant views to reach the American people, with this regime of censorship constituting the “Iron Curtain” described in his title. He blamed Jewish interests for the totally unnecessary war with Hitler’s Germany, which had long sought good relations with America, but instead had suffered total destruction for its strong opposition to Europe’s Jewish-backed Communist menace.
Beaty also sharply denounced American support for the new state of Israel, which was potentially costing us the goodwill of so many millions of Muslims and Arabs. And as a very minor aside, he also criticized the Israelis for continuing to claim that Hitler had killed six million Jews, a highly implausible accusation that had no apparent basis in reality and seemed to be just a fraud concocted by Jews and Communists, aimed at poisoning our relations with postwar Germany and extracting money for the Jewish State from the long-suffering German people.
He was scathing toward the Nuremberg Trials, which he described as a “major indelible blot” upon America and “a travesty of justice.” According to him, the proceedings were dominated by vengeful German Jews, many of whom engaged in falsification of testimony or even had criminal backgrounds. As a result, this “foul fiasco” merely taught Germans that “our government had no sense of justice.” Sen. Robert Taft, the Republican leader of the immediate postwar era took a very similar position, which later won him the praise of John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. The fact that the chief Soviet prosecutor at Nuremberg had played the same role during the notorious Stalinist show trials of the late 1930s, during which numerous Old Bolsheviks confessed to all sorts of absurd and ridiculous things, hardly enhanced the credibility of the proceedings to many outside observers.
Then as now, a book taking such controversial positions stood little chance of finding a mainstream New York publisher, but it was soon released by a small Dallas firm, and then became enormously successful, going through some seventeen printings over the next few years. According to Scott McConnell, founding editor of The American Conservative, Beaty’s book became the second most popular conservative text of the 1950s, ranking only behind Russell Kirk’s iconic classic, The Conservative Mind.
Moreover, although Jewish groups including the ADL harshly condemned the book, especially in their private lobbying, those efforts provoked a backlash, and numerous top American generals, both serving and retired, wholeheartedly endorsed Beaty’s work, denouncing the ADL efforts at censorship and urging all Americans to read the volume. Although Beaty’s quite explicit Holocaust Denial might shock tender modern sensibilities, at the time it seems to have caused barely a ripple of concern and was almost totally ignored even by the vocal Jewish critics of the work.
Much of this very interesting story is told by Joseph Bendersky, an expert in Holocaust Studies, who devoted ten years of archival research to his 2000 book The “Jewish Threat.” His work chronicles the extremely widespread anti-Semitism found within the U.S. Army and Military Intelligence throughout the first half of the twentieth century, with Jews being widely regarded as posing a serious security risk. The book runs well over 500 pages, but when I consulted the index I found no mention of the Rosenbergs nor Harry Dexter White nor any of the other very numerous Jewish spies revealed by the Venona Decrypts, and the term “Venona” itself is also missing from the index. Reports of the overwhelmingly Jewish leadership of the Russian Bolsheviks are mostly treated as bigotry and paranoia, as are descriptions of the similar ethnic skew of America’s own Communist Party, let alone the heavy financial support of the Bolsheviks by Jewish international bankers. At one point, he dismisses the link between Jews and Communism in Germany by noting that “less than half” of the Communist Party leadership was Jewish; but since fewer than one in a hundred Germans came from that ethnic background, Jews were obviously over-represented among Communist leaders by as much as 5,000%. This seems to typify the sort of dishonesty and innumeracy I have regularly encountered among Jewish Holocaust experts.
Meanwhile, with the copyright having long lapsed, I’m pleased to add Beaty’s work to my Controversial HTML Books selection, so individuals interested can read it and decide for themselves:
Beaty’s very brief 1951 discussion has been the earliest instance of explicit Holocaust Denial I have managed to locate, but the immediate postwar years seem absolutely rife with what might be described as “implicit Holocaust Denial,” especially within the highest political circles.
Over the years, Holocaust scholars and activists have very rightfully emphasized the absolutely unprecedented nature of the historical events they have studied. They describe how some six million innocent Jewish civilians were deliberately exterminated, mostly in gas chambers, by one of Europe’s most highly cultured nations, and emphasize that monstrous project was often accorded greater priority than Germany’s own wartime military needs during the country’s desperate struggle for survival. Furthermore, the Germans also undertook enormous efforts to totally eliminate all possible traces of their horrifying deed, with huge resources expended to cremate all those millions of bodies and scatter the ashes. This same disappearance technique was even sometimes applied to the contents of their mass graves, which were dug up long after initial burial, so that the rotting corpses could then be totally incinerated and all evidence eliminated. And although Germans are notorious for their extreme bureaucratic precision, this immense wartime project was apparently implemented without benefit of a single written document, or at least no such document has ever been located.
Lipstadt entitled her first book “Beyond Belief,” and I think that all of us can agree that the historical event she and so many others in academia and Hollywood have made the centerpiece of their lives and careers is certainly one of the most very remarkable occurrences in all of human history. Indeed, perhaps only a Martian Invasion would have been more worthy of historical study, but Orson Welles’s famous War of the Worlds radio-play which terrified so many millions of Americans in 1938 turned out to be a hoax rather than real.
The six million Jews who died in the Holocaust certainly constituted a very substantial fraction of all the wartime casualties in the European Theater, outnumbering by a factor of 100 all the British who died during the Blitz, and being dozens of times more numerous than all the Americans who fell there in battle. Furthermore, the sheer monstrosity of the crime against innocent civilians would surely have provided the best possible justification for the Allied war effort. Yet for many, many years after the war, a very strange sort of amnesia seems to have gripped most of the leading political protagonists in that regard.
Robert Faurisson, a French academic who became a prominent Holocaust Denier in the 1970s, once made an extremely interesting observation regarding the memoirs of Eisenhower, Churchill, and De Gaulle:
Three of the best known works on the Second World War are General Eisenhower’s Crusade in Europe (New York: Doubleday [Country Life Press], 1948), Winston Churchill’s The Second World War (London: Cassell, 6 vols., 1948-1954), and the Mémoires de guerre of General de Gaulle (Paris: Plon, 3 vols., 1954-1959). In these three works not the least mention of Nazi gas chambers is to be found.
Eisenhower’s Crusade in Europe is a book of 559 pages; the six volumes of Churchill’s Second World War total 4,448 pages; and de Gaulle’s three-volume Mémoires de guerre is 2,054 pages. In this mass of writing, which altogether totals 7,061 pages (not including the introductory parts), published from 1948 to 1959, one will find no mention either of Nazi “gas chambers,” a “genocide” of the Jews, or of “six million” Jewish victims of the war.
Given that the Holocaust would reasonably rank as the single most remarkable episode of the Second World War, such striking omissions must almost force us to place Eisenhower, Churchill, and De Gaulle among the ranks of “implicit Holocaust Deniers.”
Many others seem to fall into that same category. In 1981, Lucy S. Dawidowicz, a leading Holocaust scholar, published a short book entitled The Holocaust and the Historians, in which she denounced so many prominent historians for having so totally ignored the reality of the Holocaust for many years following World War II. Indeed, discussion of that topic was almost entirely confined to the Jewish Studies programs which Jewish ethnic activists had newly established at numerous universities throughout the country. Although Lipstadt’s poor scholarly habits and hysterical style hardly impressed me, she appears to have been among the most successful academics who began a career in those ethnic studies departments, which suggests that their average quality was far below her own.
Meanwhile, Dawidowicz emphasizes that mainstream histories often entirely omitted the Holocaust from their presentations:
But it is plain from the most cursory review of textbooks and scholarly works by English and American historians that the awesome events of the Holocaust have not been given their historic due. For over two decades some secondary school and college texts never mentioned the subject at all, while others treated it so summarily or vaguely as to fail to convey sufficient information about the events themselves or their historical significance.
With regard to serious scholarship, she notes that when Friedrich Meinecke, universally acknowledged as Germany’s most eminent historian, published The German Catastrophe in 1946, he harshly denounced Hitler as the leader of “a band of criminals” but made absolutely no mention of the Holocaust, which surely would have represented the height of such criminality. Major British accounts of Hitler and World War II by leading historians such as A.J.P. Taylor, H.R. Trevor-Roper, and Alan Bullock were almost as silent. A similar situation occurred in America as late as 1972 when the massive 1,237 page Columbia History of the World, having a Jewish co-editor, devoted a full chapter to World War II but confined its discussion of the Holocaust to just two short and somewhat ambiguous sentences. One almost gets a sense that many of these experienced professional historians treated discussion of the Holocaust as a considerable embarrassment, a subject that they sought to avoid or at least completely minimize.
Dawidowicz even castigates Slaughterhouse-Five, the 1969 fictional masterpiece by Kurt Vonnegut, for its bald assertion that the firebombing of Dresden was “the greatest massacre in European history,” a claim that seems to reduce the Holocaust to non-existence.
I myself had noticed something similar just a couple of years before Dawidowicz’s book appeared. The English translation of German journalist Joachim Fest’s widely praised Hitler had been published in 1974 and I had read it a few years later, finding it just as excellent as the critics had indicated. But I remember being a little puzzled that the 800 page book contained no more than a couple of pages discussing the Nazi death camps and the word “Jews” never even appeared in the index.
The vast majority of Hitler’s Jewish victims came from Russia and the Eastern European nations included in the Soviet Bloc. That was also the location of all the extermination camps that are the central focus of Holocaust scholars, and therefore the Soviets were the source of most of the key evidence used at the Nuremberg Trials. Yet Dawidowicz notes that after Stalin grew increasingly suspicious of Jews and Israel a few years after the end of the war, virtually all mention of the Holocaust and German wartime atrocities against Jews vanished from the Soviet media and history books. A similar process occurred in the Warsaw Pact satellites, even while the top Communist Party leadership of many of those countries often remained very heavily Jewish for some years. Indeed, I recall reading quite a number of newspaper articles mentioning that after the Berlin Wall fell and the sundered halves of Europe were finally reunited, most Eastern Europeans had never even heard of the Holocaust.
These days, my morning newspapers seem to carry Holocaust-related stories with astonishing frequency, and probably no event of the twentieth century looms so large in our public consciousness. According to public survey data, even as far back as 1995, some 97% of Americans knew of the Holocaust, far more than were aware of the Pearl Harbor attack or America’s use of the atomic bombs against Japan, while less than half our citizenry were aware that the Soviet Union had been our wartime ally. But I’d suspect that anyone who drew his knowledge from the mainstream newspapers and history books during the first couple of decades after the end of the Second World War might never have even been aware that any Holocaust had actually occurred.
In 1999 Peter Novick published a book on this general theme entitled The Holocaust in American Life, citing that survey, and his introduction began by noting the very strange pattern the Holocaust exhibited in its cultural influence, which seems quite unique among all major historical events. In the case of almost all other searing historical occurrences such as the massive bloodshed of the Somme or the bitter Vietnam War, their greatest impact upon popular consciousness and media came soon afterward, with the major books and films often appearing within the first five or ten years when memories were fresh, and the influence peaking within a couple of decades, after which they were gradually forgotten.
Yet in the case of the Holocaust, this pattern was completely reversed. Hardly anyone discussed it for the first twenty years after the end of the World War II, while it gradually moved to the center of American life in the 1970s, just as wartime memories were fading and many of the most prominent and knowledgeable figures from that era had departed the scene. Novick cites numerous studies and surveys demonstrating that this lack of interest and visibility certainly included the Jewish community itself, which had seemingly suffered so greatly under those events, yet apparently had almost completely forgotten about them during the 1950s and much of the 1960s.
I can certainly confirm that impression from my personal experience. Prior to the mid- or late-1970s, I had had only the vaguest impression that virtually all the Jews and Gypsies of Europe had been exterminated during the Second World War, and although the term “Holocaust” was in widespread use, it invariably referred to a “Nuclear Holocaust,” a term long-since supplanted and scarcely used today. Then, after the Berlin Wall fell, I was quite surprised to discover that Eastern Europe was still filled with vast numbers of unexterminated Gypsies, who quickly flooded into the West and provoked all sorts of political controversies.
The Rediscovery of the Holocaust
The late scholar Raul Hilberg is universally acknowledged as the founder of modern Holocaust studies, which began with the 1961 publication of his massive volume The Destruction of the European Jews. In his very interesting 2007 Hilberg obituary, historian Norman Finkelstein emphasizes that prior to Hilberg’s work, there had been virtually no writing on the Holocaust, and discussion of the topic was considered almost “taboo.” For a recent event of such apparent enormity to have been so completely wiped away from public discussion and the consciousness of historians and political scientists can be explained in several different ways. But once I began to investigate the circumstances behind Hilberg’s ground-breaking work, I encountered all sorts of strange ironies.
According to Wikipedia, Hilberg’s family of Austrian Jews coincidentally arrived in the United States on the exact day in 1939 that war broke out, and in his early teens he was soon horrified to read all the news reports of the ongoing extermination of his fellow Jews in the continent his family had left behind, even telephoning Jewish leaders asking why they were doing so little to save their kinsmen from annihilation. He subsequently served in the U.S. military in Europe, then majored in Political Science at Brooklyn College after the end of the conflict. The inspiration for his future scholarly focus seems to have come when he was shocked by a remark made by one of his lecturers, Hans Rosenberg:
The most wicked atrocities perpetrated on a civilian population in modern times occurred during the Napoleonic occupation of Spain.
When Hilberg asked how Rosenberg, himself a German-Jewish refugee, could have so totally ignored the murder of 6 million Jews, a monstrous crime committed just a couple of years earlier, Rosenberg sought to deflect the question, saying that “it was a complicated matter” and “history doesn’t teach down into the present age.” Since Rosenberg was a student of Meinecke, whom Lipstadt has bitterly denounced as an implicit Holocaust Denier, one wonders whether Rosenberg may have shared the beliefs of his mentor but was reluctant to admit that fact to his overwhelmingly Jewish students in emotionally-charged postwar Brooklyn.
Later, Hilberg conducted his doctoral research at Columbia under Franz Neumann, another German-Jewish refugee scholar. But when Hilberg indicated he wanted his research to focus on the extermination of Europe’s Jews, Neumann strongly discouraged that topic, warning Hilberg that doing so would be professionally imprudent and might become “his academic funeral.” When he attempted to publish his research in book form, it received numerous negative reviews, with Israel’s Yad Vashem fearing it would encounter “hostile criticism,” and over a six year period, it was rejected by several major publishing houses along with Princeton University, based on the advice of the influential Jewish intellectual Hannah Arendt. One naturally wonders whether all these established scholars may have quietly known something that a naive young doctoral candidate such as Hilberg did not. His book only appeared in print because a Jewish immigrant whose business had suffered under the Nazis funded the entire publication.
I’d never paid much attention to Holocaust issues, but the supporters of my local Palo Alto Library operate a monthly book sale, and with serious nonfiction hardcovers often priced at just a quarter each, my personal library has grown by hundreds of volumes over the years, now including several of the thickest and most influential Holocaust texts. Aside from Hilberg’s classic volume, these include Nora Levin’s The Holocaust (1968), Lucy Dawidowicz’s The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945 (1975), Martin Gilbert’s The Holocaust (1985), and Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners (1996).
I claim absolutely no expertise in Holocaust issues, and analyzing the evidence and argumentation these voluminous works offer is entirely beyond my ability. But I decided to attempt to assess their overall credibility by exploring a few particular items, without actually bothering to read the thousands of pages of text they provided.
Consider the interesting case of Field Marshal Erhard Milch, Hermann Goering’s very powerful number-two in the German Luftwaffe. His father was certainly a Jew, and according to researchers Robert Wistrich and Louis Snyder, there is archival evidence that his mother was Jewish as well. Now is it certainly not impossible that a Third Reich supposedly dedicated with grim fanaticism to the extermination of each and every Jew might have spent the entire war with a full- or half-Jew near the absolute top of its military hierarchy, but surely that puzzling anomaly would warrant careful explanation, and Milch’s apparent Jewish background was certainly known during the Nuremberg Trials.
Yet when I carefully consulted the very comprehensive indexes of those five books, totaling over 3,500 pages, there is virtually no discussion of Milch, except a few very brief mentions of his name in connection with various military operations. Either the authors were unaware of Milch’s Jewish background, or perhaps they hoped to keep that fact away from their readers lest it cause “confusion.” Neither of these possibilities enhances the trust we should place in their research skills or their scholarly objectivity.
Indeed, the fascinating and widely-praised 2002 book Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers by Bryan Mark Rigg notes that aside from Milch, Hitler’s military contained over a dozen half-Jewish generals and admirals and another dozen quarter-Jews of that same high rank, plus a total of roughly 150,000 additional half- or quarter-Jewish soldiers, with a large fraction of these being officers. All of these individuals would have had some fully-Jewish parents or grand-parents, which seems decidedly odd behavior for a regime supposedly so focused on the total eradication of the Jewish race.
Another obvious matter casts further doubt upon the historical quality of those five immensely thick volumes of standard Holocaust narrative, which together occupy nearly a linear foot on my bookshelves. For prosecutors of any crime, establishing a plausible motive is certainly an important goal, and in the case of the Jewish Holocaust, these authors would seem to have an easy task at hand. Hitler and his German colleagues had always claimed that the Jews overwhelmingly dominated Bolshevik Communism, and much of their struggle against the former was in order to prevent further bloody deeds of the latter. So surely devoting an early chapter or so to describing this central Nazi doctrine would provide an airtight explanation of what drove the Nazis to their fiendish slaughters, rendering fully explicable the horrifying events that would occupy the remainder of their text.
Yet oddly enough, an examination of their indexes for “Bolsheviks,” “Communism,” and all variants reveals almost no discussion of this important issue. Goldhagen’s 1996 book provides just a couple of short sentences spread across his 600 pages, and the other works seem to contain virtually nothing at all. Since all of these Holocaust books almost totally avoid Hitler’s self-declared motive for his anti-Jewish actions, they are forced to desperately search for alternative explanations, seeking clues buried deep within the German past or turning to psychanalytical speculations or perhaps deciding that what they describe as the greatest massacre in all human history was undertaken out of sheer Nazi wickedness.
The obvious reason for this glaring omission is that the authors are constructing a morality-play in which the Jews must be portrayed as absolutely blameless victims, and even hinting at their role in the numerous Communist atrocities that long preceded the rise of the Third Reich might cause readers to consider both sides of the issue. When purported historians go to absurd lengths to hide such glaring facts, they unmask themselves as propagandists, and we must be very cautious about trusting their reliability and candor in all other matters, whether great or small.
Indeed, the issue of Communism raises a far larger matter, one having rather touchy implications. Sometimes two simple compounds are separately inert, but when combined together may possess tremendous explosive force. From my introductory history classes and readings in high school, certain things had always seemed glaringly obvious to me even if the conclusions remained unmentionable, and I once assumed they were just as apparent to most others as well. But over the years I have begun to wonder whether perhaps this might not be correct.
Back in those late Cold War days, the death toll of innocent civilians from the Bolshevik Revolution and the first two decades of the Soviet Regime was generally reckoned at running well into the tens of millions when we include the casualties of the Russian Civil War, the government-induced famines, the Gulag, and the executions. I’ve heard that these numbers have been substantially revised downwards to perhaps as little as twenty million or so, but no matter. Although determined Soviet apologists may dispute such very large figures, they have always been part of the standard narrative history taught within the West.
Meanwhile, all historians know perfectly well that the Bolshevik leaders were overwhelmingly Jewish, with three of the five revolutionaries Lenin named as his plausible successors coming from that background. Although only around 4% of Russia’s population was Jewish, a few years ago Vladimir Putin stated that Jews constituted perhaps 80-85% of the early Soviet government, an estimate fully consistent with the contemporaneous claims of Winston Churchill, Times of London correspondent Robert Wilton, and the officers of American Military Intelligence. Recent books by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Yuri Slezkine, and others have all painted a very similar picture. And prior to World War II, Jews remained enormously over-represented in the Communist leadership, especially dominating the Gulag administration and the top ranks of the dreaded NKVD.
Both of these simple facts have been widely accepted in America throughout my entire lifetime. But combine them together with the relatively tiny size of worldwide Jewry, around 16 million prior to World War II, and the inescapable conclusion is that in per capita terms Jews were the greatest mass-murderers of the twentieth century, holding that unfortunate distinction by an enormous margin and with no other nationality coming even remotely close. And yet, by the astonishing alchemy of Hollywood, the greatest killers of the last one hundred years have somehow been transmuted into being seen as the greatest victims, a transformation so seemingly implausible that future generations will surely be left gasping in awe.
Today’s American Neocons are just as heavily Jewish as were the Bolsheviks of a hundred years ago, and they have greatly benefited from the political immunity provided by this totally bizarre inversion of historical reality. Partly as a consequence of their media-fabricated victimhood status, they have managed to seize control over much of our political system, especially our foreign policy, and have spent the last few years doing their utmost to foment an absolutely insane war with nuclear-armed Russia. If they do manage to achieve that unfortunate goal, they will surely outdo the very impressive human body-count racked up by their ethnic ancestors, perhaps even by an order-of-magnitude or more.
Holocaust Frauds and Confusions
Since the Holocaust only became a major public topic after wartime memories had grown dim, the story has always seemed to suffer from the problems traditionally associated with “recovered memory syndrome.” Truths and falsehoods were often mixed together in strange ways, and the door was opened wide to an astonishing number of outright frauds and liars.
For example, in the late 1970s I remember many of my high school classmates devouring The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski, perhaps the first widely popular Holocaust memoir. But then a few years later, the media revealed that Kosinski’s national best-seller was simply fraudulent, and the plagiarizing author eventually committed suicide. Indeed, there have been so many fake Holocaust memoirs over the years that they nearly constitute a literary genre of their own.
Probably the most world’s most famous Holocaust survivor was Elie Wiesel, who parlayed the stories of his wartime suffering into becoming an enormous political celebrity. His career was capped with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, and the announcement declared him “a messenger to mankind.” Yet journalist Alexander Cockburn has persuasively argued that Wiesel was simply a fraud, and his famous autobiographical work Night just another literary hoax.
Although the iconic figure of “the Six Million” has been endlessly repeated by our media, the estimated numbers of the dead have actually been shockingly variable over the years. Although I never paid much attention to Holocaust issues, I have closely read my major newspapers and magazines for decades, and had regularly seen the statement that the Nazi death machine had brutally exterminated five million Gentiles along with the six million Jews. But just last year, I was stunned to discover that former total was simply a whole-cloth invention by prominent Holocaust-activist Simon Wiesenthal, who simply made the figure up one day with the intent of giving non-Jews more of a stake in the Holocaust story. And despite being based on absolutely no evidence or research, his casual claim was never effectively refuted by actual Holocaust scholars, who knew it to be total nonsense, and therefore it was so regularly repeated in the media that I probably read it hundreds of times over the years, always assuming it had some firm grounding in proven reality.
Similarly, for decades I had always read the undeniable fact that the Nazis had exterminated 4 million inmates at Auschwitz, with most of the victims being Jews, and Lipstadt certainly treated that number as absolutely rock-solid historical reality. But in the early 1990s after the fall of Communism, the official total was quietly revised downwards to as little as 1.1 million. The fact that a sudden reduction in the official Holocaust body-count by 3 million has had so little impact upon our public Holocaust media narrative hardly seems to inspire great confidence in either the total figures or the media reporting of them.
Over the last couple of generations, our media has engraved that figure of Six Million so deeply onto the minds of every Western citizen that the meaning of the iconic number is universally understood, and those who question it risk a prison sentence in many European countries. Yet its actual origin is somewhat obscure. According to some accounts, Jewish groups lobbied President Truman into casually inserting it into one of his speeches, and thereafter it has endlessly echoed in the media down to the present day. Some angry Internet activist has put together a graphic displaying extracts from dozens of New York Times stories between 1869 and 1941 all citing the figure of 6 million Eastern European Jews as being threatened with death, suggesting that our official Holocaust body-count actually predated World War II by as much as three generations. I really wouldn’t be surprised if that might be the original source of the number.
Sometimes the creation of a new Holocaust hoax was only narrowly averted. Throughout most of the twentieth century, Jews and blacks had been close political allies in America, with the top leadership of the NAACP almost invariably being Jewish, as were nearly all of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s top white advisors and a very large fraction of the key white activists involved in the black Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. But by the late 1960s, a schism had erupted, with many younger black activists becoming deeply hostile to what they perceived as overwhelming Jewish influence, while more militant blacks, whether Muslim or otherwise, began siding with the Palestinians against Zionist Israel. This growing conflict became especially bitter during Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign of 1988 and reached a flash-point in the New York City of the early 1990s.
A couple of film-makers sought to help heal this rift by producing a major 1992 PBS documentary entitled The Liberators, recounting how black American troops had been among the first units that captured the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps, thereby freeing the tens of thousands of Jewish inmates from Nazi captivity. A historical narrative of such deep symbolic resonance quickly attracted overwhelming support from both black leaders and Jewish ones, with Jesse Jackson sharing the stage with Holocaust survivors and numerous Jewish luminaries at the Harlem premiere, and the film received an Oscar nomination. However, in early Febuary 1993 Jeffrey Goldberg took to the pages of The New Republicto reveal that the story was merely a hoax, based on falsified history. Although the film’s Jewish co-producer angrily denounced her critics as racists and Holocaust Deniers, those charges stuck, and were eventually reported in the New York Times and other major media outlets. The leading Jewish organizations and Holocaust centers that had been heavily promoting the film soon distanced themselves, and in 2013 The Times of Israeleven marked the twenty-year anniversary of what it described as a notorious hoax. But I suspect that if matters had gone a little differently, the story might soon have become so deeply embedded in the canonical Holocaust narrative that anyone questioning the facts would have been vilified as a racist.
A few years earlier, The New Republic had actually been in the forefront of promoting a different hoax also relating to Jewish issues, one which might have had far greater international political significance when Joan Peters, an obscure Jewish writer, published a major historical work in 1984. She claimed that her extensive archival research had revealed that the bulk of the present-day Palestinians were actually not native to Palestine, but instead were recently-arrived immigrants, drawn there by the heavy economic development produced by the Zionist settlers who had actually preceded them.
Her shocking findings received hundreds of glowing reviews and academic endorsements across the entire spectrum of the mainstream and elite American media, and her book quickly became a huge bestseller. Leading Jewish Holocaust luminaries such as Dawidowicz and Wiesel took center stage in praising her remarkable scholarship, which seemed likely to completely demolish the claims of the expelled Palestinians, thereby reshaping the nature of the Middle East conflict to Israel’s great advantage.
However, a young graduate student in History at Princeton named Norman Finkelstein had considerable interest in the history of Zionism, and being very much surprised by her findings, decided to investigate those claims. Once he began carefully checking her footnotes and her alleged sources, he discovered they were entirely fraudulent, and her groundbreaking research merely amounted to a hoax, which some later suggested had been concocted by an intelligence organization and merely published under her name.
Although Finkelstein widely distributed his important findings, they were totally ignored by all the American journalists, scholars, and media organizations he contacted, with the sole exception of Noam Chomsky, and the growing Joan Peters Hoax might have destroyed the legal basis of the international Palestinian claims to their own Palestine homeland. But some independent-minded British publications eventually picked up his information, and the resulting wave of media embarrassment caused the Peters claims to fade into oblivion. Meanwhile, Finkelstein himself suffered severe retaliation as a consequence, and according to Chomsky was completely blacklisted by his Princeton department and the wider academic community.
More than a dozen years later, Finkelstein’s work became the focus of a second major controversy. In the late 1990s, international Jewish organizations launched a major effort to extract many billions of dollars from the largest Swiss banks, arguing that such funds were the rightful property of European Jews who had died in the Holocaust. When the banks initially resisted, arguing that no solid evidence was being presented for such enormous claims, they were harshly denounced by America’s Jewish-dominated media, and Jewish lobbying led the American government to threaten them with severe financial sanctions that could have destroyed their businesses. Faced with such serious extortionate pressure, the banks finally gave way and paid out the bulk of the funds being demanded, with those billions mostly retained by the Jewish organizations leading the campaign and spent on their own projects since the purported Jewish heirs were impossible to locate.
This situation led historian Finkelstein to publish a short book in 2000 entitled The Holocaust Industry, in which he harshly critiqued what he characterized as a global Jewish money-making enterprise aimed at unfairly extracting wealth on behalf of the supposed Holocaust victims, often with little regard for truth or fairness. Although almost entirely ignored by the American media, it became a major bestseller in Europe, which eventually forced American publications to give it some attention. Among other things, Finkelstein noted that more than a half-century after the end of the Holocaust, the number of officially designated Holocaust survivors had grown so large that simple mortality considerations seemed to imply that huge numbers of European Jews must have survived the war. This obviously raised serious questions about how many might have actually died during that conflict and its accompanying Holocaust.
Over the years, I had noticed the same sorts of media reports claiming enormous totals of Holocaust survivors still alive now six or seven decades after the event. For example, even as late as 2009 an official at Israel’s Jewish Agency justified laws criminalizing Holocaust Denial by explaining that almost 65 years after the end of the war “there are still hundreds of thousands of living Holocaust survivors,” a statement which itself seems to constitute rather explicit Holocaust Denial. Indeed, a very noticeable number of all the New York Times obituaries I read these days in my morning newspapers seem to include Holocaust survivors still expiring in their eighties and nineties.
Anyone who reads serious history books knows that Jews have generally enjoyed a reputation for producing many of the world’s greatest swindlers and frauds, hardly surprising given their notorious tendency to lie and dissemble. Meanwhile, the Jewish community also seems to contain far more than its fair share of the emotionally disturbed and the mentally ill, and perhaps as a consequence has served as a launching-pad for many of the world’s religious cults and fanatic ideological movements. Any exploration of the Holocaust certainly tends to support this rather negative appraisal.
The Holocaust and Hollywood
Although the Holocaust began to enter American consciousness during the 1960s and 1970s with the publication of major books by Hilberg, Levin, Dawidowicz, and others, together with the resulting articles and reviews that these generated, the initial social impact was probably not substantial, at least outside the Jewish community. Even highly successful books selling in the many tens of thousands of copies would have little impact in a population of more than 200 million.
Our media completely shapes our perceived reality of the world, and although intellectuals and many of the highly educated are greatly influenced by books and other forms of printed content, the vast majority of the population understands the world through electronic media, especially that of popular entertainment.
Consider, for example, the 1974 publication of Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, a magisterial two volume analysis by economists Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman. By applying quantitative methods, the study overturned generations of assumptions about the American social institution, demonstrating that black slaves in the South were encouraged to marry and maintain their households, while having diets and medical care comparable to that of the free white population and often superior to that of Northern industrial wage-earners. Moreover, following emancipation the life expectancy of freedmen declined by ten percent and their illnesses increased by twenty per cent. All of this is summarized in the extensive Wikipedia entry.
Although their results were controversial, the authors had the strongest possible academic credentials, with Fogel, an eminent scholar, being a leading figure in a school of economics who went on to win a Nobel Prize. And Fogel’s ideological credentials were even more robust, given that he had had a lifelong commitment to black Civil Rights starting with the eight years he had spent as a young Communist Party organizer, while his 1949 marriage to a black woman had often subjected the couple to the indignities of the anti-miscegenation laws of that era. Consequently, their findings received unprecedented coverage in the mainstream media for an academic study and surely influenced numerous historians and journalists. Yet I think the long-term impact upon popular perceptions about slavery has been almost nil.
By contrast, in 1976 the ABC television network ran the prime-time miniseries Roots, a multi-generational account of a slave family. The story closely adhered to the traditionally harsh slavery narrative, while supposedly being based upon the recorded family history of Alex Haley, the author of the best-selling book of that same title. But although his work was later found to be fraudulent and apparently plagiarized, the ratings were stellar and the social impact enormous due to the audience of 100 million Americans who watched those episodes. Thus, even the most impressive written scholarship had absolutely no chance of competing with fictionalized television drama.
All three of America’s television networks were under Jewish ownership or control, so it was hardly surprising that two years later ABC decided to repeat this process with the 1978 television miniseries Holocaust, which also achieved an audience of 100 million and generated enormous profits. It seems quite possible this may have been the first time many American families discovered that colossal but almost entirely invisible event of World War II.
The following year, William Styron published Sophie’s Choice, a heart-rending tale involving deeply buried memories of the extermination of Christian Polish children in the Auschwitz gas chambers. Although such an occurrence was absolutely contrary to the doctrines of all Jewish Holocaust scholars, the novel became a huge national best-seller anyway, and a 1982 film of the same name soon followed, with Meryl Streep winning an Oscar for Best Actress. A decade later, Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Schindler’s List won a remarkable seven Oscars, while grossing nearly $100 million.
With Hollywood so overwhelmingly Jewish, the consequences were hardly surprising, and a huge cinematic genre soon developed. According to Finkelstein, Hollywood produced some 180 Holocaust films just during the years 1989-2004. Even the very partial subset of Holocaust films listed on Wikipedia has grown enormously long, but fortunately the Movie Database has winnowed down the catalog by providing a list of the 50 Most Moving Holocaust Films.
Many billions of dollars have surely been invested over the years on the total production costs of this ongoing business enterprise. For most ordinary people, “seeing is believing,” and how could anyone seriously doubt the reality of the Holocaust after having seen all the gas chambers and mounds of murdered Jewish corpses constructed by highly-paid Hollywood set designers? Doubting the existence of Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk would be almost as absurd.
Some 2% of Americans have a Jewish background, while perhaps 95% possess Christian roots, but the Wikipedia list of Christian films seems rather scanty and rudimentary by comparison. Very few of those films were ever widely released, and the selection is stretched to even include The Chronicles of Narnia, which contains no mention of Christianity whatsoever. One of the very few prominent exceptions on the list is Mel Gibson’s 2004 The Passion of the Christ, which he was forced to personally self-fund. And despite the enormous financial success of that movie, one of the most highly profitable domestic releases of all time, the project rendered Gibson a hugely vilified pariah in the industry over which he had once reigned as its biggest star, especially after word got around that his own father was a Holocaust Denier.
In many respects, Hollywood and the broader entertainment media today provide the unifying spiritual basis of our deeply secular society, and the overwhelming predominance of Holocaust-themed films over Christian ones has obvious implications. Meanwhile, in our globalized world, the American entertainment-media complex totally dominates Europe and the rest of the West, so that the ideas generated here effectively shape the minds of many hundreds of millions of people living elsewhere, whether or not they fully recognize that fact.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI sought to heal the long-standing Vatican II rift within the Catholic Church and reconcile with the breakaway Society of St. Pius X faction. But this became a major media controversy when it was discovered that Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the leading members of that latter organization, had long been a Holocaust Denier and also believed that Jews should convert to Christianity. Although the many other differences in Catholic doctrinal faith were fully negotiable, apparently refusing to accept the reality of the Holocaust was not, and Williamson remained estranged from the Catholic Church. Soon afterward he was even prosecuted for heresy by the German government.
Internet critics have suggested that over the last couple of generations, energetic Jewish activists have successfully lobbied Western nations into replacing their traditional religion of Christianity with the new religion of Holocaustianity, and the Williamson Affair certainly seems to support that conclusion.
Consider the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Funded by Jewish interests, it spent years launching vicious attacks against Christianity, sometimes in crudely pornographic fashion, and also periodically vilified Islam. Such activities were hailed by French politicians as proof of the total freedom of thought allowed in the land of Voltaire. But the moment that one of its leading cartoonists made a very mild joke related to Jews, he was immediately fired, and if the publication had ever ridiculed the Holocaust, it surely would have been immediately shut down, and its entire staff possibly thrown into prison.
Western journalists and human rights advocates have often expressed support for the boldly transgressive activities of the Jewish-funded Femen activists when they desecrate Christian churches all around the world. But such pundits would certainly be in an uproar if anyone were to act in similar fashion toward the growing international network of Holocaust Museums, most of them built at public expense.
Indeed, one of the underlying sources of bitter Western conflict with Vladimir Putin’s Russia seems to be that he has restored Christianity to a favored place in a society where the early Bolsheviks had once dynamited churches and massacred many thousands of priests. Western intellectual elites held far more positive feelings toward the USSR while its leaders retained a stridently anti-Christian attitude.
The Rise and Suppression of Holocaust Denial
Since the Holocaust had been almost unknown in America until the mid-1960s, explicit Holocaust Denial was equally non-existent, but as the former grew in visibility following the publication of Hilberg’s 1961 book, the latter soon began to awaken as well.
Lipstadt’s vilification of Barnes as the “godfather” of Holocaust Denial does contain a nugget of truth. His posthumously-published 1968 review endorsing Rassinier’s denialist analysis seems to be the first such substantial statement published anywhere in America, at least if we exclude Beaty’s very casual 1951 dismissal of the Jewish claims, which seem to have attracted negligible public attention.
Near the end of the 1960s, a right-wing publisher named Willis Carto came across a short and unpolished Holocaust Denial manuscript, apparently produced some years earlier, and he ignored legal niceties by simply putting it into print. The purported author then sued for plagiarism, and although the case was eventually settled, his identity eventually leaked out as being that of David L. Hoggan, a Barnes protege with a Harvard Ph.D. in history serving as a junior faculty member at Stanford. His desire for anonymity was aimed at preventing the destruction of his career, but he failed in that effort, and further academic appointments quickly dried up.
Meanwhile, Murray Rothbard, the founding father of modern libertarianism, had always been a strong supporter of historical Revisionism, and greatly admired Barnes, who for decades had been the leading figure in that field. Barnes had also briefly hinted at his general skepticism about the Holocaust in a lengthy 1967 article appearing in the Rampart Journal, a short-lived libertarian publication, and this may have been noticed within those ideological circles. It appears that by the early 1970s, Holocaust Denial had become a topic of some discussion within America’s heavily Jewish but fiercely free-thinking libertarian community, and this was to have an important consequence.
A professor of Electrical Engineering at Northwestern named Arthur R. Butz was casually visiting some libertarian gathering during this period when he happened to notice a pamphlet denouncing the Holocaust as a fraud. He had never previously given any thought to the issue, but such a shocking claim captured his attention, and he began looking into the matter early in 1972. He soon decided that the accusation was probably correct, but found the supporting evidence, including that presented in the unfinished and anonymous Hoggan book, far too sketchy, and decided it needed to be fleshed out in much more detailed and comprehensive fashion. He proceeded to undertake this project over the next few years, working with the methodical diligence of a trained academic engineer.
His major work, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, first appeared in print late in 1976, and immediately became the central text of the Holocaust Denial community, a position it still seems to retain down to this present day, while with all the updates and appendices, the length has grown to well over 200,000 words. Although no mention of this forthcoming book appeared in the February 1976 issue of Reason, it is possible that word of the pending publication had gotten around within libertarian circles, prompting the sudden new focus upon historical Revisionism.
Butz was a respectable tenured professor at Northwestern, and the release of his book laying out the Holocaust Denial case soon became a minor sensation, covered by the New York Times and other media outlets in January 1977. In one of her books, Lipstadt devotes a full chapter entitled “Entering the Mainstream” to Butz’s work. According to a December 1980 Commentary article by Dawidowicz, Jewish donors and Jewish activists quickly mobilized, attempting to have Butz fired for his heretical views, but back then academic tenure still held firm and Butz survived, an outcome that seems to have greatly irritated Dawidowicz.
Such a detailed and comprehensive book laying out the Holocaust Denial case naturally had a considerable impact on the national debate, especially since the author was a mainstream and apparently apolitical academic, and an American edition of Butz’s book soon appeared in 1977. I’m very pleased to have made arrangements to include the volume in my collection of Controversial HTML Books, so those interested can easily read it and decide for themselves.
The following year, these Holocaust Denial trends seemed to gain further momentum as Carto opened a small new publishing enterprise in California called the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), which launched a quarterly periodical entitled The Journal of Historical Review in 1980. Both the IHR and its JHR publication centered their efforts around Revisionism in general, but with Holocaust Denial being their major focus. Lipstadt devotes an entire chapter to the IHR, later noting that most of the main authors of the February 1976 Reason issue soon became affiliated with that project or with other Carto enterprises, as did Butz, while the editorial board of the JHR was soon well-stocked with numerous Ph.D.’s, often earned at highly-reputable universities. For the next quarter century or so, the IHR would hold small conferences every year or two, with David Irving eventually becoming a regular presenter, and even fully mainstream figures such as Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland occasionally appearing as speakers.
As an important example of IHR efforts, in 1983 the organization published The Dissolution of Eastern Europe Jewry, a very detailed quantitative analysis of the underlying demographics and population movements around the period encompassed by World War II, apparently the first such study undertaken. The author, writing under the pen-name Walter N. Sanning, sought to revise the extremely simplistic population analysis casually assumed by Holocaust historians.
Before the war, millions of Jews had lived in Eastern Europe, and after the war, those communities had mostly vanished. This undeniable fact has long stood as an implicit central pillar of the traditional Holocaust narrative. But drawing upon entirely mainstream sources, Sanning persuasively demonstrates that the situation was actually far more complicated than it might seem. For example, it was widely reported at the time that vast numbers of Polish Jews had been transported by the Soviets to locations deep within their territory, on both voluntary and involuntary terms, with future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin being including in those transfers. In addition, huge numbers of heavily urbanized Soviet Jews were similarly evacuated ahead of the advancing German forces in 1941. The exact size of these population movements has long been uncertain and disputed, but Sanning’s careful analysis of postwar Soviet census data and other sources suggests that the totals were likely towards the upper end of most estimates. Sanning makes no claim that his findings are definitive, but even if they are only partially correct, such results would certainly preclude the reality of traditional Holocaust numbers.
Another regular IHR participant was Robert Faurisson. As a professor of literature at the University of Lyons-2, he began expressing his public skepticism about the Holocaust during the 1970s, and the resulting media uproar led to efforts to remove him from his position, while a petition was signed on his behalf by 200 international scholars, including famed MIT professor Noam Chomsky. Faurisson stuck to his opinions, but attacks persisted, including a brutal beating by Jewish militants that hospitalized him, while a French political candidate espousing similar views was assassinated. Jewish activist organizations began lobbying for laws to broadly outlaw the activities of Faurisson and others, and in 1990, soon after the Berlin Wall fell and research at Auschwitz and other Holocaust sites suddenly became far easier, France passed a statute criminalizing Holocaust Denial, apparently the first nation after defeated Germany to do so. During the years that followed, large numbers of other Western countries did the same, setting the disturbing precedent of resolving scholarly disputes via prison sentences, a softer form of the same policy followed in Stalinist Russia.
Since Faurisson was a literary scholar, it is not entirely surprising that one of his major interests was The Diary of Anne Frank, generally regarded as the Holocaust’s iconic literary classic, telling the story of a young Jewish girl who died after being deported from Holland to Auschwitz. He argued that the text was substantially fraudulent, written by someone else after the end of the war, and for decades various determined individuals have argued the case back and forth. I cannot properly evaluate any of their complex arguments, which apparently involve questions of ballpoint pen technology and textual emendations, nor have I ever read the book itself.
But for me, the most striking aspect of the story is the girl’s actual fate under the official narrative, as recounted in the thoroughly establishmentarian Wikipedia entry. Apparently disease was raging in her camp despite the best efforts of the Germans to control it, and she soon became quite ill, mostly remaining bedridden in the infirmary, before eventually dying from typhus in Spring 1945 at a different camp about six months after her initial arrival. It seems rather odd to me that a young Jewish girl who fell severely ill at Auschwitz would have spent so much time in camp hospitals and eventually die there, given that we are told the primary purpose of Auschwitz and other such camps was the efficient extermination of its Jewish inmates.
By the mid-1990s the Holocaust Denial movement seemed to be gaining in public visibility, presumably aided by the doubts raised after the official 1992 announcement that the estimated deaths at Auschwitz had been reduced by around 3 million.
For example, the February 1995 issue of Marco Polo, a glossy Japanese magazine with a circulation of 250,000, carried a long article declaring that the gas chambers of the Holocaust were a propaganda hoax. Israel and Jewish-activist groups quickly responded, organizing a widespread advertising boycott of all the publications of the parent company, one of Japan’s most respected publishers, which quickly folded in the face of that serious threat. All copies of the issue were recalled from the newspapers, the staffers were dismissed, and the entire magazine was soon shut down, while the president of the parent company was forced to resign.
In exploring the history of Holocaust Denial, I have noticed this same sort of recurrent pattern, most typically involving individuals rather than institutions. Someone highly-regarded and fully mainstream decides to investigate the controversial topic, and soon comes to conclusions that sharply deviate from the official truth of the last two generations. For various reasons, those views become public, and he is immediately demonized by the Jewish-dominated media as a horrible extremist, perhaps mentally-deranged, while being relentlessly hounded by a ravenous pack of fanatic Jewish-activists. This usually brings about the destruction of his career.
In the early 1960s Stanford historian David Hoggan produced his anonymous manuscript The Myth of the Six Million, but once it got into circulation and his identity became known, his academic career was destroyed. A dozen years later, something along the same lines happened with Northwestern Electrical Engineering professor Arthur Butz, and only his academic tenure saved him from a similar fate.
Fred Leuchter was widely regarded as one of America’s leading expert specialists on the technology of executions, and a long article in The Atlantic treated him as such. During the 1980s, Ernst Zundel, a prominent Canadian Holocaust Denier, was facing trial for his disbelief in the Auschwitz gas chambers, and one of his expert witnesses was an American prison warden with some experience in such systems, who recommended involving Leuchter, one of the foremost figures in the field. Leuchter soon took a trip to Poland and closely inspected the purported Auschwitz gas chambers, then published the Leuchter Report, concluding that they were obviously a fraud and could not possibly have worked in the manner Holocaust scholars had always claimed. The ferocious attacks which followed soon cost him his entire business career and destroyed his marriage.
David Irving had ranked as the world’s most successful World War II historian, with his books selling in the millions amid glowing coverage in the top British newspapers when he agreed to appear as an expert witness at the Zundel trial. He had always previously accepted the conventional Holocaust narrative, but reading the Leuchter Report changed his mind, and he concluded that the Auschwitz gas chambers were just a myth. He was quickly subjected to unrelenting media attacks, which first severely damaged and then ultimately destroyed his very illustrious publishing career, and he later even served time in an Austrian prison for his unacceptable views.
Dr. Germar Rudolf was a successful young German chemist working at the prestigious Max Planck Institute when he heard of the controversy regarding the Leuchter Report, which he found reasonably persuasive but containing some weaknesses. Therefore, he repeated the analysis on a more thorough basis, and published the results as the Chemistry of Auschwitz, which came to the same conclusions as Leuchter. And just like Leuchter before him, Rudolf suffered the destruction of his career and his marriage, and since Germany treats these matters in harsher fashion, he eventually served five years in prison for his scientific impudence.
Most recently, Dr. Nicholas Kollerstrom, who had spent eleven years as a historian of science on the staff of University College, London, suffered this same fate in 2008. His scientific interests in the Holocaust provoked a media firestorm of vilification, and he was fired with a single day’s notice, becoming the first member of his research institution ever expelled for ideological reasons. He had previously provided the Isaac Newton entry for a massive biographical encyclopedia of astronomers, and America’s most prestigious science journal demanded that the entire work be pulped, destroying the work of over 100 writers, because it had been fatally tainted by having such a villainous contributor. He recounted this unfortunate personal history as an introduction to his 2014 book Breaking the Spell, which I highly recommend.
Kollerstrom’s text effectively summarizes much of the more recent Holocaust Denial evidence, including the official Auschwitz death books returned by Gorbachev after the end of the Cold War, which indicate that Jewish fatalities were some 99% lower than the widely-believed total. Furthermore, Jewish deaths actually showed a sharp decline once plentiful supplies of Zyklon B arrived, exactly contrary to what might have been expected under the conventional account. He also discusses the interesting new evidence contained in the British wartime decrypts of all German communications between the various concentration camps and the Berlin headquarters. Much of this material is presented in an interesting two hour interview on Red Ice Radio, conveniently available on YouTube:
The lives and careers of a very sizable number of other individuals have followed this same unfortunate sequence, which in much of Europe often ends in criminal prosecution and imprisonment. Most notably, a German lawyer who became a bit too bold in her legal arguments soon joined her client behind bars, and as a consequence, it has become increasingly difficult for accused Holocaust Deniers to secure effective legal representation. By Kollerstrom’s estimates, many thousands of individuals are currently serving time across Europe for Holocaust Denial.
My impression is that by the late 1960s, the old Soviet Bloc countries had mostly stopped imprisoning people merely for questioning Marxist-Leninist dogma, and reserved their political prisons only for those actively organizing against the regime, while Holocaust Denial is treated today in far harsher fashion. One clear difference is that actual belief in Communist doctrine had entirely faded away to almost nothing even among the Communist leadership itself, while these days Holocaustianity is still a young and deeply held faith, at least within a small slice of the population that exerts enormously disproportionate leverage over our public institutions.
Another obvious factor is the many billions of dollars currently at stake in what Finkelstein has aptly characterized as “the Holocaust Industry.” For example, potentially enormous new claims are now being reopened against Poland for Jewish property that was lost or confiscated during the World War II era.
In America, the situation is somewhat different, and our First Amendment still protects Holocaust Deniers against imprisonment, though the efforts of the ADL and various other groups to criminalize “hate speech” are clearly aimed at eventually removing that obstacle. But in the meantime, crippling social and economic sanctions are often used to pursue the same objectives.
Furthermore, various Internet monopolies have been gradually persuaded or co-opted into preventing the easy distribution of dissenting information. There have been stories in the media over the last few years that Google has been censoring or redirecting its Holocaust search results away from those disputing the official narrative. Even more ominously, Amazon, our current near-monopolistic retailer of books, last year took the unprecedented step of banning thousands of Holocaust Denial works, presumably lest they “confuse” curious readers, so it is fortunate that I had purchased mine a couple of years earlier. These parallels with George Orwell’s 1984 are really quite striking, and the “Iron Curtain Over America” that Beaty had warned about in his 1951 book of that title seems much closer to becoming a full reality.
Various figures in the Holocaust Denial community have attempted to mitigate this informational blacklist, and Dr. Rudolf some time ago established a website HolocaustHandbooks.com, which allows a large number of the key volumes to be purchased or easily read on-line in a variety of different formats. But the growing censorship by Amazon, Google, and other Internet monopolies greatly reduces the likelihood that anyone will readily encounter the information.
Obviously, most supporters of the conventional Holocaust narrative would prefer to win their battles on the level playing fields of analysis rather than by utilizing economic or administrative means to incapacitate their opponents. But I have seen little evidence that they have enjoyed any serious success in this regard.
Aside from the various books by Lipstadt, which I found to be of poor quality and quite unpersuasive, one of the most energetic Holocaust supporters of the last couple of decades seems to have been Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic magazine, who had earned his degrees in psychology and the history of science.
In 1997, he published Why People Believe Weird Things, seeking to debunk all sorts of irrational beliefs popular in certain circles, with the book’s subtitle describing these as “pseudo-science” and “superstition.” His cover text focused on ESP, alien abductions, and witchcraft, but rebutting Holocaust Denial was the single largest portion of that book, encompassing three full chapters. His discussion of this latter subject was rather superficial, and he probably undercut his credibility by grouping it together with his debunking of the scientific reality of “race” as a similar right-wing fallacy, one also long since disproved by mainstream scientists. Regarding the latter issue, he went on to argue that the alleged black-white differences claimed in works such as The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray was entirely pseudo-scientific nonsense, and he emphasized that book and similar ones had been promoted by the same pro-Nazi groups who advocated Holocaust Denial, with those two pernicious doctrines being closely linked together. Shermer had recruited Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould to write the Foreword for his book and that raises serious questions about his knowledge or his judgment since Gould is widely regarded as one of the most notorious scientific frauds of the late twentieth century.
In 2000, Shermer returned to the battle, publishing Denying History, entirely focused on refuting Holocaust Denial. This time he recruited Holocaust scholar Alex Grobman as his co-author and acknowledged the generous financial support he had received from various Jewish organizations. A large portion of the text seemed to focus on the psychology and sociology of Holocaust Deniers, trying to explain why people could believe in such patently absurd nonsense. Indeed, so much space was devoted to those issues that he was forced to entirely skip over the official reduction of the Auschwitz body-count by 3 million just a few years earlier, thus avoiding any need to explain why this large shift had had no impact on the canonical Holocaust figure of Six Million.
Although various writers such as Shermer may have been encouraged by generous financial subsidies to make fools of themselves, their more violent allies on the extreme fringe have probably had a greater impact on the Holocaust debate. Although judicial and economic sanctions may deter the vast majority of Holocaust Deniers from showing their face, extra-legal violence has also often been deployed against those hardy souls who remain undeterred.
For example, during the 1980s the offices and warehouse storage facilities of the IHR in Southern California were fire-bombed and totally destroyed by Jewish militants. And although Canada has traditionally had little political violence, in 1995 the large, ramshackle house that served as the residence and business office of Canada’s Ernst Zundel, one of the world’s leading publishers and distributers of Holocaust Denial literature, was similarly fire-bombed and burned to the ground. Zundel had already faced several criminal prosecutions on charges of spreading “false news,” and eventually served years in prison, before being deported back to his native Germany, where he served additional imprisonment. Various other prominent Holocaust Deniers have even faced threats of assassination.
Most historians and other academic scholars are quiet souls, and surely the looming threat of such serious terroristic violence must have dissuaded many of them from involving themselves in such obviously controversial issues. Meanwhile, relentless financial and social pressure may gradually wear down both individuals and organizations, causing them to eventually either abandon the field or become far less active, with their places sometimes taken by newcomers.
The year after the 9/11 attacks, the JHR ceased print publication. The growth of the Internet was probably an important contributing factor, and with the national focus shifting so sharply toward foreign policy and the Middle East, its IHR parent organization became much less active, while much of the ongoing debate in Revisionism and Holocaust Denial shifted to various other online venues. But at some point over the years, the JHR digitized many hundreds of its articles and posted them on its website, providing over three million words of generally very high-quality historical content.
Over the last couple of months, I have been repeatedly surprised to discover that the historians associated with the IHR had long ago published articles on topics quite parallel to some of my own. For example, after I published an article on the Suvorov Hypothesis that Germany’s Barbarossa attack had preempted Stalin’s planned attack and conquest of Europe, someone informed me that a reviewer had extensively discussed the same Suvorov book twenty years earlier in an issue of JHR. I also discovered several pieces by CIA defector Victor Marchetti, a important figure for JFK assassination researchers, who had received little attention in the mainstream media. There were also articles on the fate of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, a topic almost entirely excluded from the mainstream media.
Casually browsing some of the archives, I was quite impressed with their quality, and since the archives were freely available for anyone to republish, I went ahead and incorporated them, making the millions of words of their Revisionist and Holocaust Denial content much more conveniently available to interested readers. The material is fully searchable, and also organized by Author, Topic, and Time Period, with a few sample links included below:
- David Irving – 11 Articles
- Arthur R. Butz – 15 Articles
- Robert Faurisson – 47 Articles
- James J. Martin – 13 Articles
- Percy L. Greaves, Jr. – 8 Articles
- Holocaust – 306 Articles
- World War II – 201 Articles
- Pearl Harbor – 15 Articles
- USS Liberty – 3 Articles
So for those particularly interested in Holocaust Denial, well over a million words of such discussion may now be conveniently available, including works by many of the authors once so highly regarded by the early editors of Reason magazine.
Secretive Holocaust Denial
The steadily growing economic and political power of organized Jewish groups, backed by Hollywood image-making, eventually won the visible war and crushed the Holocaust Denial movement in the public arena, enforcing a particular historical narrative by criminal prosecutions across most of Europe and severe social and economic sanctions in America. But a stubborn underground resistance still exists, with its size being difficult to estimate.
Although my interest in the Holocaust had always been rather minimal, once the Internet came into being and my circle of friends and acquaintances greatly expanded, the topic would very occasionally come up. Over the years, a considerable number of seemingly rational people at one time or another privately let slip their extreme skepticism about various elements of the canonical Holocaust narrative, and such doubts seemed to represent merely the tip of the iceberg.
Every now and then someone in that category spoke a little too freely or became a target for retaliation on a different matter, and our media went into a feeding frenzy of Holocaust Denial accusations and counter-accusations.
For example, during the impeachment battles of the late 1990s, Clinton partisans believed that prominent liberal pundit Christopher Hitchens had betrayed the personal confidences of presidential aide Sidney Blumenthal, and journalist Edward Jay Epstein decided to retaliate in kind, widely circulating a memo to the media accusing Hitchens of secretly being a Holocaust Denier. He alleged that at a 1995 dinner gathering following a New Yorker anniversary celebration, Hitchens had drunk a little too much wine and began expounding to his table-mates that the Holocaust was simply a hoax. Epstein backed his claim by saying he had been so shocked at such statements that he had entered them into his personal diary. That telling detail and the fact that most of the other witnesses seemed suspiciously vague in their recollections persuaded me that Epstein was probably being truthful. A bitter feud between Hitchens and Epstein soon erupted.
In 2005 Hitchens denounced various opponents of Bush’s Iraq War as anti-Semites, and in retaliation Alexander Cockburn published a couple of Counterpunchcolumns resurrecting that 1999 controversy, which is when I first discovered it. As a regular reader of Counterpunch, I was intrigued and Googling around a bit, quickly located media accounts of Epstein’s explicit accusations. Numerous reports of the the incident still survive on the web, including one from the NY Daily News as well as a portion of an MSNBC piece, and although some of the more extensive ones have disappeared over the last dozen years, the media text I remember reading in 2005 has been preserved on the static HTML pages of several websites:
Epstein told MSNBC that Hitchens had misspoken himself on the Holocaust on Feb. 12, 1995 – in fact, practically four years ago – as the two of them, along with some other friends, were dining in New York.
Epstein was so shocked, he says, and considered Hitchens doubts so grave, that he went home and noted them in his diary!
According to the Epstein diary: “Once seated in a booth, and freely sipping his free red wine, Hitchens advanced a theory more revealing than anything going on at the Hudson theater. His thesis, to the shock of everyone at the table, was that the Holocaust was a fiction developed by a conspiracy of interests bent on ‘criminalizing the German Nation’”
“He explained that no evidence of German mass murder had ever been found – and what gruesome artifacts had been found had been fabricated after the event,” Epstein confided to his diary.
“What of the testimony of Nazi generals at Nuremberg about the death camps,” he asked.
Hitchens, according to the Epstein diary notation, explained “. . . without missing a beat, that such admissions were obtained under Anglo-American torture.” Epstein then asked, as noted in his diary: “‘But what happened to the Jews in Europe?’ Hitch shrugged and said, ‘Many were killed by local villagers when they ran away, others died natural deaths, and the remainder made it to Israel.”
After reading these interesting columns, I began noticing that Cockburn himself sometimes provided hints suggesting that his own personal opinion on the Holocaust might be somewhat heretical, including his cryptical remarks that huge hoaxes were actually much easier to create and maintain than most people realized.
Just a few months after his attack on Hitchens, Cockburn published a two-part article strongly arguing that Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel, the most famous of all Holocaust survivors, was simply a fraud. I had always been taught that Zyklon B was the deadly agent used by the Nazis to exterminate the Jews of Auschwitz and I had vaguely become aware that Holocaust Deniers absurdly claimed the compound had instead been employed as a delousing agent in the camps, aimed at preventing the spread of Typhus; but then the following year, I was shocked to discover in one of Cockburn’s columns that for decades the U.S. government had itself used Zyklon B as the primary delousing agent for immigrants entering at its Mexican border. I recall several other columns from the mid-2000s dancing around Holocaust issues, but I now seem unable to locate them within the Counterpunch archives.
My growing realization 15-odd years ago that substantial numbers of knowledgeable people appeared to be secret adherents of Holocaust Denial certainly reshaped my own unquestioning assumptions on that subject. The occasional newspaper account of a Holocaust Denier being discovered and then flayed and destroyed by the media easily explained why the public positions on that subject remained so unanimous. Being busy with other things, I don’t think I ever had a conversation with anyone on that controversial subject or even so much as an email exchange, but I did keep my eyes and ears open, and huge doubts had certainly entered my mind many years before I ever bothered reading my first book on the subject.
Meanwhile, the concurrent collapse of my belief in our official American Pravda narrative on so many other controversial topics played a major role as well. Once I realized to my dismay that I couldn’t believe a word of what our media and political leaders said about major events in the here and now, their credibility on controversial happenings so long ago and far away entirely disappeared. For these reasons, I had grown quite suspicious and held a very open mind on Holocaust matters as I eventually began reading books on both sides of the issue in the wake of the Reason controversy.
The Future of Holocaust Denial
For many years following the end of World War II very little seems to have been written about the momentous topic now known as the Holocaust. But from the 1960s onward, interest surged so enormously that many thousands or even tens of thousands of volumes on that once-ignored event have been produced. Therefore, the fifteen or twenty books that I have personally read is merely a sliver of that total.
I have invested only a few weeks of reading and research in studying this large and complex subject, and my knowledge is obviously dwarfed by that of the considerable number of individuals who have devoted many years or decades of their lives to such activity. For these reasons, the analysis I have presented above must surely contain numerous gaping errors that others could easily correct. But sometimes a newcomer may notice things that deeply-involved professionals might normally miss, and may also better understand the perspectives of those who have likewise never paid much attention to the subject.
Any conclusions I have drawn are obviously preliminary ones, and the weight others should attach to these must absolutely reflect my strictly amateur status. However, as an outsider exploring this contentious topic I think it far more likely than not that the standard Holocaust narrative is at least substantially false, and quite possibly, almost entirely so.
Despite this situation, the powerful media focus in support of the Holocaust over the last few decades has elevated it to a central position in Western culture. I wouldn’t be surprised if it currently occupies a larger place in the minds of most ordinary folk than does the Second World War that encompassed it, and therefore possesses greater apparent reality.
However, some forms of shared beliefs may be a mile wide but an inch deep, and the casual assumptions of individuals who have never actually investigated a given subject may rapidly change. Also, the popular strength of doctrines that have long been maintained in place by severe social and economic sanctions, often coupled by criminal ones, may possibly be much weaker than anyone realizes.
Until thirty years ago, Communist rule over the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies seemed absolutely permanent and unshakeable, but the roots of that belief had totally rotted away, leaving behind nothing more than a hollow facade. Then one day, a gust of wind came along, and the entire gigantic structure collapsed. I wouldn’t be surprised if our current Holocaust narrative eventually suffers that same fate, perhaps with unfortunate consequences for those too closely associated with having maintained it.