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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

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

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

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 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

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.


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

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

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

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.