Archive/File: holocaust/education carlos.huerta people/h/huerta.carlos conservative-judaism.fall94 Source: Conservative Judaism Fall, 1994 Vol. XLVII, No. 1 pp 19-26 Revisionist Literature: Its Place in Holocaust Literature and Its Role in Teaching the Holocaust. Carlos C. Huerta Ten years ago saying that Holocaust revisionist literature has a place in Holocaust literature would have engendered a flurry of criticism. Even five years ago the suggestion to a Holocaust studies teacher that some time should be spent on introducing revisionist claims in leterature would have drawn heated debate. Today the story is quite different. In the last ten years Holocaust revisionism has made such inroads into the fiber of American and world thinking that it has become evident that it must be addressed. This article will look at the need to introduce Holocaust revisionist literature to the study of the Holocaust, will offer a quick survey of the more readily available revisionist literature, analyzing some of the works and their authors, and, finally, will address the issue of how one can most effectively incorporate such literature into Holocaust studies. Why teach it? <1> It is difficult to frame an answer aimed at someone not knowledgeable in the scope, volume, and effect of Holocaust revisionism today, just as it is difficult to explain to a high school student why he or she needs to learn algebra or a foreign language. What is evident to someone studying the revisionist phenomenon can be obscure to one not acquainted with it. The fact that one out of five Americans believe it is possible that the Holocaust may not have happened is indicative of something more than just a lack of knowledge about the Holocaust.<2> Not knowing about the Holocaust is very different from believing that it may not have happened. The latter indicates some inadequate knowledge and then a rejection of that knowledge. This rejection is not created in a vacuum, but rather develops through contact with arguments attempting to show that the Holocaust either did not occur or did not occur in the way depicted by Holocaust historians. This contact is primarily through the printed word. Not exposing students to Holocaust revisionist literature leaves them open to such arguments when they are eventually encountered. An educator who assumes that students will not come across the views of Butz, Faurisson, Leuchter, Smith, and the like is dangerously naive. One would like to live in a world with no crime, but only a suicidal nation would not create a police force. Similarly, one would like to think that Holocaust revisionism is insignificant, but only a naive and uninformed educational system would not create a curriculum to meet the challenges created by this revisionism. The first problem encountered in introducing revisionism in Holocaust education is resistance, sometimes quite vocal and unrelenting. A story best serves to exemplify this. The author, wanting to analyze the statements of _The_Leuchter_Report_, which claims that the gas chambers existing at Auschwitz were not used to gas human beings, went to a large, universally known university and made an appointment with the chairperson of the chemistry department to discuss the report and see where the errors were. At the start of the meeting, the author explained that he was seeking to combat Holocaust revisionism and wanted to prove _The_Leuchter_Report_ wrong. The chairperson, after being handed the report and scanning it for a few minutes, suddenly went into an uncontrollable tirade, verbally abusing the author, and almost physically threw him out of the office. What should be clear from this incident is that, even when one's motives are explained, many people will resist the introduction of revisionism into Holocaust studies. These people have little patience for talking about something whose main purpose is to tell them that their loved ones did not suffer, were not murdered, or maybe did not even die. This resistance can come not just from an audience, but also from colleagues (other Holocaust educators), supervisors, and even one's family. What is interesting is that one will often find support for addressing Holocaust revisionism from the survivors themselves. Survivors seem to understand instinctively that people should be made aware of Holocaust revisionism so that its challenges will be effectively met. One of the best ways to introduce revisionism to an audience is to begin with a survivor who explains in his or her own words why he or she feels there is a need to understand what the revisionists are saying. One should not underestimate this resistance, because unless it is properly dealt with and fears assuaged, introducing revisionist literature into the Holocaust curriculum will be counterproductive. After this resistance is overcome, the next step is deciding what to introduce. This can be dealt with most easily by considering the question: what revisionist literature will the student most likely first encounter? Experience has shown that the first contact will probably be through a revisionist leaflet or pamphlet. Holocaust revisionists quickly recognized the effectiveness of a leaflet/pamphlet blitz. Mark Weber, author of three leaflets and editor of the _Journal_of_Historical_Review_, a revisionist journal, readily admits that much of the success enjoyed by Holocaust revisionism is due to the grass roots work of the leaflet publishers. Much of the credit for our steady progress is due to the quiet work of activists across the United States. A good example ... is Jack Riner, a long-time IHR [Institute for Historical Review] supporter who recently passed out 2400 IHR leaflets to students at two university campuses. ... We applaud and strongly encourage such grass-roots efforts. Experience has shown that, even when they might not seem to have any noticeable effect, the real long-term impact of such efforts is very difficult to measure. Don't forget the example of Bradley Smith - now one of the most active of activists - who was introduced to all of this quite a few years ago when someone handed him a revisionist leaflet. Reading that short item jolted Bradley and transformed his life.<3> There are several reasons for the success of these leaflets and pamphlets. The most obvious are their portability and brevity. A person will not bother to read, let alone buy, the major revisionist works by Butz, Faurisson, or Staeglich until he or she is motivated by the seeming reasonableness of their position. Their works cover many hundreds of pages and are rather technical and, no doubt, boring to a high school or college student whose reading load is already too much to handle. The leaflets and pamphlets stimulate the desire for these full-length works by giving the reader a concise, overall view of what Holocaust revisionism is, demonstrating the reasonableness of its position, depicting the problems and lies of the official Holocaust story, and showing the great cost and burden the Holocaust myth is creating in the world as a whole and American society in particular. The Institute for Historical Review publishes these revisionist pamphlets. There are seven that deal directly with the Holocaust, one on the Dead Sea Scrolls,<4> and one on historical revisionism.<5> Of the seven that deal with the Holocaust, three are written by Mark Weber, editor of _The_Journal_of_Historical_Review_, two by Robert Faurisson, the leading French Holocaust revisionist, one by Theodore J. O'Keefe, an editor for the Institute for Historical Review, and one by Fred A. Leuchter, a gas chamber consultant in the United States and author of _The_Leuchter_Report_.<6> The three tracts written by Mark Weber are "Auschwitz: Myths and Facts," "The Holocaust: Let's Hear Both Sides," and "Simon Wiesenthal: Bogus 'Nazi Hunter.'"<7> In these pamphlets Mark Weber exhibits, with fine precision, the use of arguments by extrapolation. In "Auschwitz: Myths and Fact,s" for example, he starts his argument by quoting - correctly, one should add - from the Nuremberg trials that the official death toll at Auschwitz was 4 million human lives. He then shows, through various news clippings, that the Soviets and other historians supported this number until 1986. He then quotes Holocaust historians to show that this number has been constantly decreased. First he quotes Yehuda Bauer saying that the 4 million is too high, then he moves on to Raul Hilberg's one million, then to Gerald Reitlinger's 700,000 minimum. The reader is given the impression that given enough time the Holocaust historians will get the numbers correct and will hit the rock bottom number of the revisionists: a couple of hundred thousand, maximum. He quotes come of the testimony cited at Nuremberg, but now universally discredited, to show, again by extrapolation, that perhaps all of the mass killing stories coming out of Auschwitz could be a lie. To understand the effectiveness of these and similar arguments, one must read these leaflets not as a Holocaust educator, but rather as an open-minded college student or other adult, detached from the subject matter and perhaps not so well educated in the Holocaust. When one learns that there was testimony at the Nuremberg trials of mass electrocution, soap making from human fat, use of devices that could instantaneously vaporize 20,000 people, and that all of these were since discredited, it is not hard to make the jump to challenge all the other data presented at the trial. This is what the pamphlets are designed to do. They are written not to turn one into a Holocaust revisionist on the spot, but rather to have their readers question various aspects of the Holocaust, then hopefully move on to question the entire thing. "The Holocaust: Let's Hear Both Sides" addresses an entirely different aspect of revisionism. One of the more sacred rights to the American citizen is that of free speech. In general, Americans abhor anything that appears to limit this right. In this pamphlet Mark Weber has drawn on this concept of free speech and the American instinct for fair play to try to paint the picture that important work of Holocaust revisionism is being systematically suppressed by various "hate" groups (which invariably turn out to be Jewish) in America. Again he uses argument by extrapolation, showing how the "offical" Holocaust story has changed over the years, clearly implying that there exists another, suppressed, side to which the "official" position must ultimately come. He would have us believe that in other countries around the world this "other side" is freely discussed but in America it is not. For several years now, the Holocaust story has been the subject of legitimate controversy in Europe. It was debated for several hours on Swiss television and over French radio. The leading French daily, _Le_Monde_, and the respected Italian historical journal, _Storia_Illustrata_, have given extensive coverage to both sides of this issue. Here in America, though, powerful organizations have so far prevented any real public exchange of views on this issue. Many thoughtful Americans are having growing doubts about at least some of the more sensational Holocaust claims, but all the public ever sees and hears is the orthodox view of the extermination story. That's not right. Americans have the right to judge this important issue for themselves.<8> This purported open debate in Europe stands in direct contradiction to articles and speeches by European revisionists on the state of Holocaust revisionism in Europe.<9> This other side that he would have one believe is openly debated in Europe simply does not enjoy the publicity and acceptance he describes. Two pamphlets written by Robert Faurisson, "A Prominent False Witness: Elie Wiesel,"<10> and "The Problem of the Gas Chambers," follow the general pattern described above. What makes "The Problem of the Gas Chambers" unique is that a version of it enjoyed publication in the French newspaper _Le_Monde_<11> Robert Faurisson is arguably the leading French Holocaust revisionist. From his constant stream of articles to _The_Journal_of_Historical_Review and his many speeches to revisionist groups around the world, he might easily be considered the world's leading Holocaust revisionist. This fact alone warrants the need to address his works, both his pamphlets and his many articles published in revisionist journals.<12> The pamphlet by Theodore J. O'Keefe entitled, "The 'Liberation of the Camps': Facts vs. Lies," uses various documents and eyewitness testimony of American military officers to try to induce the reader to believe that it was the Allied destruction of Germany's infrastructure that led to massive deaths in the concentration camps, first by impeding and then by destroying Germany's ability to care properly for the camp's inmates as it had done before 1942. He rehashes many of the points of the other pamphlets to convince the reader that there was no systematic muder in the camps condoned by the German authorities in Berlin, and that where corruption and cruelty did occur, it was addressed and the instigator or perpetrator was quickly punished. This pamphlet would be a good vehicle for teaching the student about the misuse of historical documents. Here the student would see some of the classic tricks of the trade: taking a document out of its historical context, extrapolating the data and meaning of a document and applying them to another unrelated situation, using a document designed for propaganda purposes as one that factually describes the situation, and taking the one document that supports a particular position while ignoring the hundreds that do not. In analyzing any of these pamphlets, an educator should be sure to introduce good historical methodology. In many of the pamphlets the flaw is not necessarily in fact but rather in use of that fact. The student must be exposed to good historical technique in order to appreciate fully how it is misused by many Holocaust revisionists. Furthermore, in using the pamphlets as a means to discuss Holocaust revisionism, the educator should not bite off more than he or she can chew; there is too much material in the collected pamphlets to be effectively addressed. Rather the Holocaust educator should choose one or two pamphlets to discuss and make the remainder available for independent student analysis. After the pamphlets,<13> the next classics of Holocaust revisionism that students are most likely to encounter are Fred A. Leuchter, _The_Leuchter_Report_<14>, Arthur R. Butz, _The_Hoax_of_the_Twentieth_Century_; Wilhelm Staeglich, _Auschwitz:_A_Judge_Looks_at_the_Evidence_; Thies Christopersen, _Auschwitz_:_Truth_or_Lie_; or _The_Myth_of_the_Six_Million_ by an anonymous author. This list is certainly not all-inclusive. The next contact could very well be a past issue of the _Journal_of_Historical_Review_ or one of the revisionist newsletters or articles put out by Bradley Smith.<15> The point to be made here is that the Holocaust educator cannot and should not try to address the entire gamut of revisionist literature. The educator should be familiar with it bust must choose which material to address on the basis of his or her own expertise and of the audience's ability to deal with the subject matter. For example, _The_Dissolution_of_Easter_European_Jewry_ by Walter N. Sanning,<16> whose thesis is that most European Jewry disappeared through emigration, is a highly technical book filled with demographic tables and charts; this book would be totally unsuitable to bring to the attention of high school or most college audiences. If it is at all feasible, the Holocaust educator should poll the group at the beginning of the course and encourage them to tell what revisionist material they have come in contact with and want to discuss. In doing this the educator must have complete control of the class to permit an open discussion of any revisionist leanings a participant may have. No one should feel ashamed to admit to personal views. Only in an open and free discussion of the facts can Holocaust revisionism be effectively dealt with. If the Holocaust educator opens up the environment to free discussion, he or she will be quite surprised to find out just how many students have come into contact with revisionist literature or share some sort of revisionist view. By tailoring the discussion to the experiences and needs of the class, the Holocaust educator can best meet the challenge that such literature poses in the minds of many Americans today. The environment must always be an honest one. If there are points that the educator is not equipped to address, he or she should admit that fact. If there are legitimate points that Holocaust revisionists make, and there are some, the Holocaust educator must openly admit to them. The Holocaust educator should always realize that the truth is on his or her side and should not be afraid, after proper preparation, to deal with revisionism and teach the students how to deal with it as well. In doing so, the educator will help ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust will be learned and perhaps life on this planet may be a little more secure for all. FOOTNOTES: 1. For a fuller treatment of this subject see Carlos C. Huerta, "Holocaust Revisionism in the Classroom," _Ten_Da'at_: A Publication of the Torah Education Network, Vol V, nO. 2 (sPRING 1991), PP. 5-6 2. A survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee in 1993 showed that at least one in five Americans think it is possible to believe that the Holocaust never took place. 3. Mark Weber, "From the Editor," _Journal_of_Historical_Review_, Vol. 13, No. 4 (July/August 1993), p. 3. Jack Riner passed out 1,200 pamphlets at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, on January 20, 1993, in front of the student union building. Earlier he had passed out a similar number of revisionist pamphlets at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. The majority of these pamphlets challenge the Holocaust or some aspect of it. 4. This pamphlet, "Whatever Happened to the Dead Sea Scrolls," by Martin A. Larson, Ph. D., deals with the lack of publication on the contents of the scrolls over forty years after their discovery. This very problem has been addressed by various writers, among them Hershel Shanks, editor of the _Biblical_Archaeology_Review_. The fact that many scholars are in agreement with this position shows the danger of sweeping all revisionist positions with the same brush. 5. This pamphlet is "The Tradition of Historical Revisionism," by Tom Marcellus, the Director of the Institute for Historical Review. [transcription note: Marcellus left the IHR in 1995 to pursue other interests. knm] It makes the very reasonable argument for the need for historical revisionism. Most people, in principle, would agree with Marcellus' comments concerning the damaging effect that war has on the truth. After Vietnam, most Americans would agree with him concerning "the existence of the underlying causes of war and what our own leaders have done to encourage war, and prolong it." One should differentiate between the need for good historical revisionism versus the rewriting of history to promote a pet political theory. It is necessary to point out to students that historical revisionism and Holocaust revisionism are two separate camps that many Holocaust revisionists would like to combine; they would legitimize Holocaust revisionism by riding on the coattails of legitimate historical revisionists. 6. _The_Leuchter_Report_ is a report compiled by Fred Jeuchter for use at the Zuendel trial in Canada. Ernst Zuendel was on trial for "dissemination of false news," in particular for distributing books like _The_Auschwitz_Lie_, which is a Nazi officer's eyewitness account of the nonexistence of gas chambers at Auschwitz. Leuchter, a prominent U.S. execution gas chamber consultant, was sent by the Zuendel defense team to visit Auschwitz and give his professional opinion. He ends his report with the conclusion that the facilities of Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Majdanek "could not have been, or now be utilized or seriously considered to function as execution gas chambers." 7. This pamphlet is a personal attack on Simon Wiesenthal. Since it does not directly attack the Holocaust, it will not be addressed here. However, it should be included in the Holocaust curriculum on revisionism since it attacks an important personage who to many represents the Holocaust. The same applies to the pamphlet written by Robert Faurisson entitled, "A Prominent Flase Witness: Elie Wiesel." This too is an attack on an important person who has done much to bring the Holocaust into proper focus in history. Though space does not allow it to be addressed here, it would be proper to look at this pamphlet in a discussion of Holocaust revisionism. 8. Mark Weber, "The Holocaust: Let's Hear Both Sides," Institute for Historical Review, p. 7. 9. In the March/April 1993 issue of _The_Journal_of_Historical_Review, pp. 26-28, one sees an article describing the tremendous legal entanglements involving the French revisionists, amonth them Robert Faurisson, in regard to their publication and distribution of Holocaust revisionist material. On pages 29-30 one can read about the Nazi general Otto-Ernst Remer sentenced to 22 months' imprisonment for publishing articles disputing the gas chambers and mass killings at Auschwitz. The apparent acceptance of Holocaust revisionism as a legitimate point of debate in Europe that Mark Weber would have us believe flies in the face of data supplied by the revisionists themselves. 10. See note number 7. 11. Many Holocaust revisionists constantly use this fact to demonstrate the ligitimacy and acceptance of their position. This was the pamphlet that converted Bradley Smith to become a Holocaust revisionist activist. 12. The Institute for Historical Review is publishing a compilation of his articles entitled, "Faurisson on the Holocaust." This book contains all of his articles in the journal published by the IHR, plus previously unpublished articles in English. 13. A one-page flyer entitled "66 Questions and Answers on the Holocaust," published by the IHR, also has a wide distribution. This flyer is published in Spanish, French, English, Portugese, and soon Arabic. 14. Leuchter's pamphlet, entitled "Inside the Auschwitz 'Gas Chambers'," serves as an introduction to "The Leuchter Report." This pamphlet describes the background to the report, his description of his trip to the camp, and his conclusions. 15. For a more complete description of Bradley Smith and his work on the college campus, see Carlos C. Huerta, "Revisionism, Free Speech and the Campus," _Midstream_, April 1992, pp. 10-11. 16. This book was published by the Institute for Historical Review in 1983 and has a foreword by Arthur R. Butz. Carlos C. Huerta, Ph.D., has had articles published in "Ten Da'at" and "Midstream" on the topic of Holocaust revisionism. He is the father of eight children.
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