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Holocaust denial today

Holocaust Denial Today

Manuel Prutschi

The story is told of the Jew who, on being captured by the
Nazis, was dealt eighty brutal blows by his captors and yet
managed to live to tell the tale. This survivor carried with
him not only the memory and the pain of those eighty blows,
and what he and his people underwent during the Holocaust,
but also the fear that the suffering of the Jews would not
be believed because the inhumanity that they underwent was
unfathomable. To him that would constitute the eighty-first

The Nazis, while committing mass murder, were covering up
their tracks so that the Jewish story in fact would not be
believed, and they would get away with their crime. They
carried out their program in secrecy. They developed a whole
vocabulary to mask genocide in euphemism. Transportation to
death was referred to as emigration, repatriation, or
resettlement in the east. Murder of Jews was referred to as
special treatment or special action. The annihilation of the
Jewish people came to be known as the final solution. The
disappearance of the Jews off the face of the European earth
was to be made, for future generations, as puzzling a
mystery as the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

The final solution did not wholly succeed. The Nazis lost
the war and the story of the Holocaust has very much gotten
out. But the eighty-first blow has been struck nonetheless,
in a manner more vicious than the survivor could have
anticipated. Rather than the survivor’s story not being
believed because the level of inhumanity was
incomprehensible, the story is actually being denied. And
there is an international movement engaged in that denial.

Holocaust deniers contend that for mass murder to have taken
place there had to be a ‘super weapon.’ That super weapon
was the gas chamber. They proceed to assert that not a
single human being was gassed to death by the Nazis.
Gassing, they argue, was purely used for disinfection. Only
thousands of Jews died during the Second World War and these
perished as the unfortunate victims of the exigencies of
war, mainly at the end of the conflict. There was no policy
of genocide.

Even in its broad strokes Holocaust denial is deliberately
misleading. It focuses exclusively on gassing as the sole
means of murdering Jews, when there were a series of other
methods. The einsatzgruppen, or mobile SS killing squads,
followed the German army as it advanced eastwards, and
engaged in mass shootings which claimed the lives of well
over one million people. The deniers do not speak of the
crowding of Jews into ghettos or of the labour in the
concentration camps, and the deaths that resulted from
starvation, disease, and brutality.

The deniers, in their questioning of gassing, deal only with
Auschwitz, which was both a slave labour camp and an
extermination camp. Nothing is said of the other factories
of death: Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, Belzec, and Majdanek.
These were small points on the map – non-descript, tiny
villages -to which trains took hundreds of thousands of
Jews, and returned empty. The deniers are silent on the use
of gas vans. And they do not speak at all of the Nazi
euthanasia program against their own “Aryans” in Germany
itself. Tens of thousands described as mentally or
physically infirm by the Nazis were gassed to death, setting
the precedent for the use of gas against the Jews in a
massive way during the Holocaust.

The Holocaust deniers are individuals with an idee fixe.
They reject all evidence which undermines their so-called
thesis. Documents and photographs are all forgeries.
Survivor eyewitnesses are all victims of mass delusion and
indoctrination. Confessions of Nazi war criminals are
invalid because they were all extracted by torture or were
the result of plea bargaining. The scholar Nadine Fresco has
looked at the work of the Holocaust deniers, and written
that in their “research the only ethic is suspicion…
distrust is the only certitude.” This does not make for a
workable, honest methodology of history.

In history you do not begin by attaching yourself to a wild
theory and then reject anything that flies in the face of
it. Yet the Holocaust deniers want to portray themselves as
disinterested truth seekers, real historical researchers.
That is why they choose to refer to themselves as
“historical revisionists.”

The revision of history is a legitimate pursuit. Every
generation takes a new look at its past and revises it
somewhat in the light of new evidence, new perspectives.
When engaging in such reinterpretation, historians ask
themselves what happened, how it happened, why it happened.
They do not deny the events themselves.

Historians, for example, when looking at the dropping of
atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, might ask themselves
why it was necessary; how was the decision made; could it
have been avoided; could the Japanese surrender have been
obtained in some other way. No historian suggests that bombs
were not dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; that the whole
thing was an invention by the Japanese to extract
reparations and to get the United States to rebuild their
country’s economy; that the survivors of those nuclear
holocausts are simply suffering from delusion.

The Holocaust deniers, in contrast, when they approach the
Holocaust flatly say there was none. It was an invention by
Jews or Zionists – and they use these terms interchangeably
– to gain reparations from Germany for themselves and for
the State of Israel. Holocaust deniers are not historians
but evil magicians. In the claims of the Holocaust deniers,
the victims of the genocide are made into liars and
criminals, perpetrators as they are of the greatest fraud in
history while the Nazis – the very perpetrators of the
genocide – emerge as victims. Since there was no crime of
genocide there can be no Nazi war criminals. Nazis in effect
are falsely accused. The criminals are innocent and the
innocents are criminal.

This is a classic inversion of images which George Orwell
warned us about in his book 1984. Orwell wrote the book in
1948, but since it was supposed to presage a future society,
for the title he simply inverted the order of the date’s
numbers and he called it 1984. In his book Orwell dealt with
the bastardization of language and doublespeak. Black is
white. Peace is war. Truth is false. Falsehood is truth.

With Holocaust denial, the world foreseen in 1984 has
arrived. Holocaust deniers are out to mesmerize, to confuse
and to dislocate. They are out to make people unsure about
definitions, to unhinge them from their certainties, to make
them lose sight of right and wrong. In this way they aim to
achieve their ultimate purpose, which is the unabashed and
unqualified rehabilitation of the Third Reich. If there was
never any crime of mass murder then there are no mass
murderers. Nazism and the Third Reich are whitewashed and
made once again respectable and, what is most important for
the neo-Nazis, attractive.

The Holocaust made Nazism into a tainted product, even
causing many who might otherwise be attracted to its
doctrines, to shy away from it. If Nazism was to remain
viable as an ideology, in light of the Holocaust, logic
absolutely demanded that, as neo-Nazism, it deny that the
Holocaust ever happened. A movement whose raison d’etre is
to hate and to promote the hatred of Jews, needs to attack
anything which elicits sympathy for Jews. A movement bent on
marketing the thesis that there is a Jewish conspiracy to
conquer the world, must deny that there was a conspiracy on
almost a global scale of commission, collaboration, and
omission, to destroy the Jewish people. Holocaust deniers
want to bring back Nazism and make it today and tomorrow the
powerful political force that it was yesterday.

The Nazis, to create the atmosphere which made the
delegitimization, the persecution and, ultimately, the
annihilation of the Jewish people possible, adopted and
disseminated the notion of a Jewish conspiracy to control
the world. The basic document which outlined and
encapsulated the conspiracy theory for the Nazis, was the
infamous Czarist Secret Police forgery, The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion

That is why the historian Norman Cohn, in a seminal study,
has rightly and so aptly described the Protocols as a
“warrant for genocide”. In the historian’s unchallengeable
view, the myth of a Jewish world-conspiracy led directly to
the Holocaust.

Holocaust denial is but a new layer, superimposed on the
traditional world Jewish conspiracy theory. It also
elaborates and expands upon the theory because it
incorporates another dimension drawn from the cosmology of
antisemitism – of the Jew as a cheat and extortionist. The
theory clearly implies that only the Jews, expert cheats and
conspirators that they are, successfully could pull off this
conspiracy of conspiracies, this scam to beat all scams – a
hoax not merely global but truly universal in its scope.

Ernst Zundel is the prime practitioner of Holocaust denial
in Canada In the early 1980’s he gave Canada the dubious
distinction of being the principal source for Holocaust
denial and neo-Nazi material being exported to West Germany.
Zundel, in his publications and activities, forthrightly
purveyed Nazi memorabilia, advanced Nazi doctrine, and
admired Nazi personalities. He sold military SS-like
paraphernalia, glorified Aryan man, and was the co-author of
the panegyric work, The Hitler We Loved and Why.

In 1985, in Toronto, Zundel was charged under Section 177 of
the Criminal Code which makes it a
crime to disseminate false information, known to be false by
the disseminator, and likely to cause injury
or mischief to the public interest. In the Zundel case
“public interest” was particularized by the Crown
to mean social and racial tolerance.

The criminal charges brought against Zundel arose out of his
publication and dissemination of two pamphlets. One was a
thirty-two-page pamphlet entitled “Did Six Million Really
Die?” which branded the Holocaust a hoax. It was widely
distributed throughout Canada, especially to politicians,
media people, and librarians. The second one was a four-page
letter entitled “The West, War and Islam!”. It advanced the
notion of a conspiracy by Zionists, bankers, communists and
Freemasons to control the world. It was mailed to twelve-
hundred specific addresses, in the Middle East.

Zundel was acquitted on the charge connected with “The West,
War and Islam”. Since precious little time was spent on this
charge at trial, one can only speculate that the jury
thought it unimportant and, also, possibly reasoned that the
letter could not have done much harm in Canada since it was
mailed out of the country. On the other hand, the jury did
convict on the key Holocaust denial charge and Zundel was
sentenced to a jail term. Zundel appealed the conviction. On
legal technicalities, a re-trial was ordered. The second
trial was held in 1988 and a jury, again, found Zundel
guilty, and a jail term was imposed. The case is now once
more under appeal.

Two other notorious Canadian antisemites who have been
identified with Holocaust denial are James Keegstra and
Malcolm Ross. Keegstra, for many years, taught high school
in the small town of Eckville, Alberta while Ross is a
teacher in the Moncton, New Brunswick area.

For Keegstra and Ross Holocaust denial is not as central to
their world view as it is to Zundel’s, but it is nonetheless
a direct outgrowth of it. Both these men consider themselves
religious Christians and have imbibed deeply at the well of
Christian antisemitism. They can rightly be described as
theologians of hate.” To them Jews are evil, satanic world
conspirators out to wreck western Christian civilization. Of
course this view of a world Jewish conspiracy, when rid of
its religious dimension, is precisely what the Nazis

Outside of Canada, Europe and the United States yield the
most significant examples of Holocaust deniers.

The intellectual father of the movement was the Frenchman
Paul Rassinier, who died in 1967. Rassinier was a bundle of
contradictions. He was a socialist, an anarchist, and a
communist. His ideological, political background was from
the left, not from the right as one might expect. He was a
politician, hero, and a pacifist. He was a concentration
camp survivor, having spent two years at Dora and

Rassinier, in his personal concentration camp experience,
found that the everyday suffering inflicted on the inmates
was done primarily by the kappos. These were individuals –
themselves drawn from the camp population – placed on top of
their fellows, as a way of shielding the SS and other
authorities from the direct anger or the wrath of the
inmates. Rassinier, in a bizarre mental odyssey, went from
blaming the kappos, through absolving the Nazis of any
responsibility, to blaming the victims for inventing the
whole thing.

Rassinier’s mantle was inherited by another Frenchman,
Robert Faurisson who, in some ways, today is the movement’s
`elder statesman.’ He has a doctorate from the Sorbonne in
literary textual criticism. He was a professor of literature
at the University of Lyons II but has been suspended from
teaching since 1979. He has been found guilty of libel,
racial defamation and incitement to racial hatred, and
failure properly to discharge his responsibilities as a
historian, both in his approach to evidence and testimony as
well as in his research methods. He was a star witness for
Zundel at both his trials.

Another Holocaust denier in France of more recent prominence
is Henri Roques, a sixty-five-year-old retired, agricultural
engineer. He produced a long thesis which was Holocaust
denial through-and-through, and shopped around for a
university to grant him a doctorate. Rejected by the
universities of Paris and the Sorbonne, among others, he
finally hit pay dirt at the University of Nantes. An
academic panel of three granted the thesis a Ph.D. and gave
it top grades. The supervisor, Jean-Claude Riviere, is a
specialist in the medieval history of Provence. Sixty Nantes
professors protested. After the Ministry of Education
investigated, the doctorate was withdrawn in July, 1986 and
the thesis supervisor was suspended.

Faurisson and Roques have their younger disciples. In April
of 1987, on the eve of the trial of Klaus Barbie, fliers
appeared in Lyons on behalf of what alleged itself to be a
group of high school students from Lyons, Nancy, and
Strasbourg. They claimed that the only gassing the Nazis had
engaged in was for purposes of disinfection. ‘Only fleas
were gassed in the camps,’ the posters read.

In Switzerland there is Mariette Paschoud, a teacher at a
high school in Lausanne. In August 1986, at a press
conference in Paris, she denied that there had been any
gassing of Jews in the Second World War. She has been
stripped of her history course but she still remains in
school teaching French. Students went on a city-wide protest
feeling that the authorities had been over-lenient.

In Germany there is the case of Wilhelm Staeglich, formerly
a Hambourg judge with a doctorate from the University of
Goettingen. In 1981 he published The Auschwitz Myth. He was
stripped of his doctorate, fined ten percent of the salary
he had received as a judge since 1981, and authorities have
banned his book.

Sweden provided the example of Ditlieb Felderer. In April,
1983 he was convicted of hatemongering and underwent court-
ordered psychiatric treatment. It seemed to have been of no
avail, since he also twice testified in Zundel’s defence.

In England there is the case of Richard Hawood or Richard
Verrall. He was the editor of the neo-Nazi National Front’s
magazine Spearhead. He authored the pamphlet “Did Six
Million Really Die?”, for whose publication and distribution
in Canada Zundel has been twice convicted under the “false
news” section of the Criminal Code. It was first published
in 1974 by “Historical Review Press” which was owned by R.F.
Beauclair. Beauclair is an ex chairman of the Racial
Preservation Society, which subsequently merged with the
National Front.

More notorious than Harwood/Verrall however is David Irving.
He is an ultra-nationalist Englishman with fascist
sympathies. He is a prolific writer of popular, as opposed
to scholarly, historical works – dozens of them.

In _The Destruction of Dresden_, Irving declared that the
Allies were as bad as the Nazis in the commission of
atrocities against civilians. In _Hitler’s War_ he argued
that Hitler neither ordered nor knew about the destruction
of the Jews. He in fact offered a reward of one-thousand
pounds to anyone who could produce a written Hitler order to
annihilate the Jews. Until recently David Irving, in what he
wrote or said publicly, had gingerly straddled the line
between legitimacy and illegitimacy. However he never has
been coy about the company he kept. He has attended
conferences at the Holocaust denying Institute for
Historical Review, for instance. At one convention he is
quoted as proclaiming that “Hitler was probably the biggest
friend the Jews had in the Third Reich, certainly at least
when the war broke out.”

Irving, at long last, chose to come out of the Holocaust
denial closet at the second Zundel trial. In the closing
moments of the case for the defence he was brought out as a
“surprise” witness and he openly declared himself for the
Holocaust denier that he really is.

Under vigorous cross-examination Irving was confronted with
what he himself had written ten years earlier in his book,
_Hitler’s War_. In that work Irving did not deny the
Holocaust – far from it. In fact he outlined in detail its
extent and its horrors, ascribing it to Heinrich Himler
[sic] and his subordinates but insisting that Hitler was
ignorant of it. Repeatedly, when faced by the Crown with
passages from that book which asserted the reality of the
Holocaust, Irving monotonously countered that “He believed
then but he no longer believed now.” When he was asked
whether he had done any research in the last ten years in
this field which led him to change his mind, he candidly
admitted that he had not. When pressed further, as evidence
for his turnaround, he cited the Leuchter “report”.

Fred Leuchter is a self-confessed expert in “execution
hardware” whom Ernst Zundel found in the United States, and
recruited to go to Auschwitz for him to collect samples of
the soil and off the walls of the gas chambers. Zundel and
Leuchter had this soil “analyzed” and then, in a “report”,
presented “findings” which suggested no evidence for gassing
at Auschwitz. Irving would have seen this worthless “report”
no earlier than forty-eight to twenty-four hours before he
took the stand. Yet he pointed to it as a significant
influence in changing his mind away from what he had written
about the Holocaust ten years earlier, in _Hitler’s War_. If
Irving had any credibility as a historian, the a-historical
and indeed anti-historical way in which he dealt with the
facts of the Holocaust while testifying, under oath, in the
Zundel trial reduced his credibility to zero.

Irving frequently visits Canada on cross-country tours
sponsored by various radical right groups.

In the United States there is the case of Harry Elmer
Barnes. He died in 1968 at the age of 79. He was responsible
for translating Rassinier into English.

Barnes was once a respectable historian. He was an
isolationist. He felt that the United States, contrary to
its interests, was led into two disastrous world wars. So he
started to see a conspiracy which had maneuvered his country
into these conflicts. During the First World War there were
a series of propaganda stories that had been circulated by
the allies to taint Germany. Subsequent investigation proved
a number of these atrocity stories had been false. To
Barnes, World War II atrocities would once be shown to have
been as false as World War I propaganda. Paul L Berman, in a
1981 Village Voice article on Holocaust denial, which is
probably still the best single journalistic piece on the
subject, having studied Barnes, contends that in the United
States, Holocaust denial intellectually has its roots in
American isolationism with its revisionism of World War I
and its suspicion of “western militarism”.

Arthur R. Butz is another American. He is the author of what
has become one of the classic texts of the Holocaust
deniers: The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, published in
1977. He is still a professor of Electrical Engineering and
Computer Science at Northwestern University.

The world nerve centre of Holocaust denial is the Institute
for Historical Review, in Torrance, California It holds
conferences which bring Holocaust deniers together from all
across the world. It issues a journal called `The Journal of
Historical Review’ which, on the surface, has all the
appearance of a legitimate research periodical.

Willis Carto, of the unabashedly antisemitic Liberty Lobby,
founded the Institute in 1979, after the N.B.C. television
series on the Holocaust. The tremendous impact that the
series had, not only in North America but indeed in a good
part of the world, spurred Holocaust deniers to counter it
with increased activism. The series is what brought Zundel
out of the shadows and, in 1979, brought him to the
Institute’s founding convention. At the convention
Faurisson, not sufficiently confident of his English, asked
Zundel to read his paper for him. This was to be the
beginning of an enduring association.

The Institute for Historical Review had David McCalden as
its first Director. McCalden hails from Northern Ireland,
lived in Britain for a number of years, and now resides in
the United States.

In Britain, McCalden, as an outgrowth of the neo-Nazi
National Front, organized the National Party in 1975.
Because of his known racism the British National Union of
Journalists denied him membership in their organization.

In the United States, McCalden (under the pseudonym Lewis
Brandon) has worked for Noontide Press, another branch
organization of the Liberty Lobby. McCalden, while in the
employ of Noontide Press, was in charge of distributing The
White Student, a promotional organ of the Ku Klux Klan Youth

The Institute of Historical Review, in a 1981 mailing signed
by McCalden (under his alias Brandon), as a stunt to
publicize its Holocaust denial claims, offered a $50,000
reward for “proof” that Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz.
Melvin Mermelstein, an Auschwitz survivor, took up the
challenge and supplied the necessary proof, only to be
ignored by the Institute. Mermelstein then sued. In July,
1985, the Institute, as a result of a Superior Court of Los
Angeles ruling, agreed to pay Mermelstein the $50,000 reward
as well as an additional $100,000 for suffering he underwent
as a result of the Institute’s publicity stunt; apologized
in writing to Mr. Mermelstein and other survivors for
calling the Holocaust a hoax; accepted a 1981 California
Superior Court ruling (which formed part of the case of
Mermelstein against the Institute) that the Nazi mass murder
of Jews was an indisputable fact, and undertook publicly to
so declare.

David McCalden has also been actively involved with Zundel.
He formed part of Zundel’s “Brains Trust” at his trial and
was also present at the trial of James Keegstra. McCalden
has now broken with the Institute, and formed his own
enterprise, “Truth Missions”, through which he continues to
purvey Holocaust denial materials. A variety of Canadian
addresses are on his mailing list.

Antisemitism is a most redoubtable of bacteria, ever
mutating and developing new strains to survive the times.
Holocaust denial has emerged in the contemporary world as
the ideological synthesis in the dialectics of antisemitism.
It incorporates within it the age-old stereotype of the Jew
as financial finagler, satanic, anti-Christian force, and
the vicious and deadly libel of the Jew as world
conspirator. Holocaust denial, most effectively, has managed
to pull together the various antisemitic strains into a
single, coherent whole. Nazis, theologians of hate, and
white supremacists are as one in their Holocaust denial.
Holocaust denial is the point and the cutting edge of the
antisemitic knife in the 1980’s.

It should therefore not surprise us that Holocaust denial is
also anti-Zionist. The term Zionist rather than Jew is often
used in Holocaust denial lexicon. Israel figures prominently
as the conspirator and benefactor state. The Palestinian
people appear in tandem with the German people as the two
communities victimized by the Jews. The aim is to bar the
Jewish state from its legitimate place in the community of
nations, in the same way that Nazism denied, and neo-Nazism
intends to deny, Jews their rightful place in the societies
of the diaspora. The integral inclusion of anti-Zionism in
Holocaust denial makes it uniquely dangerous. Of all
antisemitic ideologies, Holocaust denial has brought about
the convergence of the radical right and the radical left.
Right and left are elements as anathema to one another as
fire and water yet Jews are able to work such miracles even
among their enemies.

A number of radical leftists in France are intimately
connected to Holocaust denial. They include Serge Thion, who
is a defender of both Rassinier and Faurisson. Thion is
linked with the Marxist publishing house “La Vieille Taupe”
ŪThe Old MoleŊ, founded by Pierre Guillaume. Guillaume is
the publisher of many of Faurisson’s works and has now
associated himself with Henri Roques. The most shocking
association of all is that of the world-famous Jewish
linguist and radical Noam Chomsky. Chomsky has described the
Holocaust as “the most fantastic outburst of collective
insanity in human history”. Yet this did not lead him to
prevent a piece he had allegedly written purely to uphold
the right of free speech from being used as an introduction
to one of Faurisson’s books. It also did not stop him from
giving Guillaume publication rights in France to one of his
important books. As Professor Werner Cohn has pointed out in
his pamphlet “The Hidden Alliances of Noam Chomsky”,
Guillaume’s publishing house is a very obscure one and, if
it has any credibility at all, it has it in good measure as
a result of the connection with Chomsky.

A number of radical leftists, because of their antagonism
towards Israel and their anti-Zionism, have become Holocaust
deniers or, at the very least, are not loath to associate
with deniers. In the same way that the neo-Nazis have to
deny the Holocaust to whitewash Nazism, radical leftists
have to deny the Holocaust to undermine the strongest
justification for the creation and the existence of the
State of Israel. And the radical leftists also resort to the
Orwellian inversion of images. Israel is described as a Nazi
state and accused of perpetrating genocide on the

There is also, as Paul Berman has pointed out, a certain
strain of the left which mistrusts the west under all
circumstances, and so it has come to mistrust the west on
the whole matter of World War 11 as well. As far as these
leftists are concerned there is no difference between
bourgeois democracy and bourgeois Nazism and fascism.
Furthermore, twentieth century genocide flies in the face of
Marxist optimism and the assurance of the inevitability of
historical progress. Marxist optimism can only be saved if
the various genocides that we have witnessed in the
twentieth century can be portrayed as “rumours” rather than

In the convergence of the left and the right, in Holocaust
denial the circle, paralleling Rassinier’s own life, has
finally been closed.

Paul Berman, in his analysis of Holocaust denial, has
written that “It has long been known that in times of acute
social crisis antisemitism takes to the streets. The
corollary now looming into focus is that in times of acute
ideological crisis, antisemitism takes to the intellectual
presses.” Our examination of Holocaust deniers in Europe and
North America clearly indicates that one can take Berman
some steps further, to say that antisemitism has not only
infiltrated certain intellectual presses but has become the
preserve of a portion of the western intelligentsia
Holocaust deniers are in the main university-educated
teachers, academics, writers, professionals. They are not
exactly like flat earthers. They are not mere kooks or
inconsequential eccentrics dealing with a rather bizarre but
harmless theory.

Holocaust denial is a matter of concern to the Jewish
community, certainly, but in fact it should be of concern to
all who prize democracy. The ultimate aim or consequence of
Holocaust denial is the collapse of the open, pluralistic
societies which we have all built together and hold so dear.

[In Edmond Y. Lipsitz, ed. Canadian Jewry Today: Who’s Who
in Canadian Jewry. Downsview, Ontario. J.E.S.L. Education
Products, 1989, pp. 30-36.]