I received Mr. Cole’s 16-page letter along with a cover letter a few
days ago. I have not yet posted that cover letter because I am
waiting for Mr. Cole to give me permission to do so. Meanwhile, I
would like to post my reply to him.
Since this reply addresses both the cover letter and the 16-page
letter, it may be a bit confusing in places. But I addressed fairly
broad issues, so I imagine it will still be worth reading.
10 June 1995
I received your letter of May 29th, day before yesterday. You’ll have
to excuse the length of this reply; to misquote Mark Twain, “I didn’t
have time to make it shorter.” I’ll just address the double-standards
and disingenuousness of revisionists, the phone, my research
priorities, and that finally I’ll spend a few pages discussing your
claim that Majdanek is especially important because I might find REAL
HOMICIDAL GAS CHAMBERS there.
I found the whole argument with Faurisson, and your letter to me
about the reaction in the revisionist community, to be quite amusing.
Forgive me for saying this, but I find it humorous that you think
it’s news to the rest of the world that Faurisson is disingenuous and
Weber and Smith are hypocrites. It’s not. It’s only news to people
who have swallowed the revisionist line.
Your 16-page letter points out a great many problems with arguments
that Faurisson has raised in the past: his confusing the time frame
in suggestions that e.g. the glassless peephole is evidence against
gassing in Krema I; his ignoring that delousing in Krema I and
phosgene-testing at Struthof would be just as supposedly-dangerous or
-impossible as homicidal gassing; his “fraudulently misrepresent”ing
photos; his changing the word “ovens” into “gas chambers” in the
retelling of a story; and so on. Obviously you don’t think these were
simple mistakes (the words “fraudulently misrepresent” are yours). In
other words: we’re talking deliberate deceit.
The question now is, why did you and your fellow revisionists let
Faurisson get away with this deliberate deceit for so long? Why
didn’t you speak up? The historians you and your colleagues have been
insulting have been pointing out Faurisson’s dishonesty for quite a
while. Pierre Vidal-Naquet pointed out _fifteen years ago_ that
“Faurisson has indeed spent an incalculable number of workdays in the
French or German archives in search not, as he pretends, of the
truth, but of falsehood.” Why are you just joining the bandwagon now?
Furthermore, most revisionists, Bradley Smith in particular, have
been arguing for years that historians need to get out into the real
world more, to make the plebes more aware of modern academic
historical thought. Smith et al. pounce upon every instance of the
media reporting the RIF soap story as if it were true. They claim the
academic historical community is tightly-knit, that it doesn’t show
its supposed dirty laundry to the outside world often enough. In
fact, you’ve made the same accusations: what was the main point of
your Krema I video? Not to reveal a new truth about the room being a
reconstruction — historians and researchers were saying that long
before you came along — but rather to illustrate how the history
given to _tourists_ was not the history that was known in academic
And now you reveal that you’ve known for years that Faurisson is
guilty of multiple counts of deliberate, blatant dishonesty — and
yet you haven’t said a word to the media, to us “tourists.” You’ve
only complained in private faxes to your friends. If the academic
historical community is tightly-knit, the revisionist community is
moreso. Doesn’t this strike you as hypocrisy of the worst order?
In your letter to me, you indict Smith’s protective attitude toward
Faurisson as a double-standard. Perhaps you don’t realize that the
same hypocritical double-standard is shared by every revisionist (or,
more precisely, every one I’ve ever read or had contact with). Ross
Vicksell, for example, recently encountered a humorous
mock-“revisionism” of the Zuendel arson on Usenet — someone
alleging, tongue firmly in cheek, that there was no physical evidence
of Zuendel’s house, no reliable witnesses, and thus it never
happened. Mr. Vicksell’s response was to fire off a “FUCK YOU” to the
author of the piece, and to explain later that he thought it was in
“Bad taste”? This is the same Mr. Vicksell who, when asked what use
the Nazis had for 52 cremation furnaces in Auschwitz, replied: “maybe
the winters are cold in Poland.” The same who, when asked why so many
Auschwitz inmates committed suicide, replied “maybe they got bored.”
“Bad taste” indeed!
This is just the most recent example of an egregious double-standard,
so it’s the first one that comes to mind, but believe me, there are
plenty more. I just want you to understand that what you’ve stumbled
across is only the tip of the iceberg.
And, the double-standards are not just regarding personal matters
like whether a modern-day researcher deserves criticism or not, or
whether something is in bad taste or not. A related double-standard
serves as the chief weapon of revisionists: a double-standard that
makes everything said by eyewitnesses to be false by default, but
anything that questions the traditional model to be valid by default.
I would like to know what you have to say about Himmler’s speeches at
Posen on the 4th and 6th of October, 1943. I find it much easier to
correspond in print, however. It’s probably that I’m a
visually-oriented person, but I tend to forget the details of phone
conversations three minutes after hanging up the phone. And,
unfortunately, my digital answering machine only records for nine
minutes (I’m assuming you wouldn’t mind my recording our
conversation). If I can figure out how long my old-fashioned tape
answering machine records, I might call you.
But, as I say, I work much better in print, and would prefer to
correspond that way. I’m quite familiar with the issues surrounding
the Posen speeches, so you don’t have to give me very much background
information; that might save you some time.
I would like to address your comment about my smugness, and your
gently impuning my “seriousness” due to my merely mild interest in
Majdanek. I think with a little background, you’ll understand a bit
My lack of interest in Majdanek is due primarily to my lack of
knowledge about it. For a historian, I freely admit, that would be a
cop-out: it’d be my business to know as much as I could about
everything. But I’m not a real historian.
Now, you write that it’s “nonsense” for me to say “I’m not a real
historian,” and you say it sounds “fishy” that Majdanek doesn’t
interest me. Let me give you a little background on myself.
I’m a 24-year-old computer programmer; I got my degree in Computer
Science from a small liberal arts school. I recently made the plunge
into self-employment. That’s a big step for me, but, as they say, I’m
getting to be an “old man” in the computer business, I’ve got to take
the plunge sometime. Right now I’m making frightening little money
and my savings are running out. I was hoping to avoid having to do
consulting work in the area, because it can take a large bite out of
my programming time, but it looks like I’m going to have to, to pay
the rent. The utility program I’m writing won’t get me any money
until it starts selling well, which is certainly months away.
What history classes did I take? In college, I had to take two to
fulfill the departmental requirements, and I found the two that
seemed the most non-traditional (“Ancient Satire” and “History of
American Architecture”). Before that, a U.S. history class in high
school. That’s about it. I’m about as professionally unqualified to
be a historian as…well, as you, come to think of it.
I really would like to learn more about Majdanek. But, to do a proper
job of it, I’d want to fly to Poland and visit it. As I said, I’m a
visual person, I don’t get to know an area without seeing it. Even
after spending quite a bit of time studying maps of Auschwitz (the
camp I’m probably most familiar with), I must confess to having only
the most basic understanding of which buildings are where. That makes
things hard enough normally, but with Majdanek it’s twice as hard
because, apparently, the rooms under discussion don’t have
standardized names. “Building #2” never seems to mean the same thing
twice. If you want to confuse me, that’s a great way to start.
Not that I’m complaining. Hey, picking that stuff up should be
simple, and I can only plead my own lack of the “historical knack”
for not getting it. I don’t know why my brain works one way but not
another. I can rip through computer books and “get” instruction
pipelining, segmented addresses, arrays of function pointers, no
problem. But I read this:
Upon entering the “Bath and Disinfection” building, one first passes
through the hair cutting room, then the shower room. Then one comes
to the largest supposed gas chamber, which I designate as “chamber
l.” After chamber 1 there is a block of three rooms; a small room,
which I call “chamber 2,” a medium sized room, “chamber 3,” and
another small room, “chamber 4.”
….and my mind glazes over. At that point I know I’m either going to
have to find a map to consult, or put on a fresh pot of coffee. I
don’t pick that stuff up well. I can struggle through it, but I won’t
have much original to say by the time I get through it. And I have
yet to find a map that clearly spells out what’s what and what’s
where at Majdanek (does one exist?).
Maybe if my interest in the Holocaust doesn’t wane, and if I make
tons of money for myself over the next few years, I’ll have both the
time and the finances to visit Majdanek, Auschwitz, and maybe a few
other camps. But the one vacation I did take to Europe, for three
weeks, cost something like $4000, which, coincidentally, is the
reported street price for the new Macintosh I hope to buy in about
three weeks. It’s Europe or it’s the computer, and I’m not giving up
The above has been a very circuitous, chatty way of explaining that I
reserve the right to set my own priorities. You’re free to cajole or
insult me in an effort to change those priorities, but I consider my
effort best spent on other things, at the moment: both other things
in my life in general, and other things specifically within the
avocation of doing amateur work on the Holocaust and its denial.
You write “It’s THERE [at Majdanek] that we supposedly have our REAL
PROOF of HOMICIDAL GAS CHAMBERS!” This assumes that nowhere else does
such “proof” exist. This is like asking me to prove that water exists
and then criticizing me for not immediately flying out to do a
personal investigation of Lake Titicaca. Why there particularly?
The problem is that you’ve fallen into one of the revisionist traps.
This particular one, I believe, was laid first and best by Faurisson,
and I’ve seen a recent variant by Greg Raven. “Show me or draw me a
homicidal gas chamber!” is Faurisson’s cry. “Show me physical
evidence!” is Raven’s.
When I first heard “show me or draw me,” it was the stupidest thing
I’d ever heard of: what on earth could be Faurisson’s point? His
point is not the challenge itself, it’s that _nobody has ever met the
challenge_. Boy, doesn’t that sound impressive? All Faurisson wants
is for someone to show him a gas chamber, and no one’s ever been able
to do it. Ergo the gas chambers don’t exist.
The problem is, of course, that Faurisson’s standard for proof is
impossibly high. If I walked up to him with a stack of photos of
Kremas I-V and the chambers at Majdanek, and drawings of the chambers
at the Reinhard camps etc., he would simply flip through the stack,
saying “nope, nope, nope” — none of those things qualify. For him.
This is what Vidal-Naquet referred to, in that same essay fifteen
years ago, as Faurisson’s “nonontological proof.” The gas chambers
don’t exist for Faurisson, because an essential quality of the
homicidal gas chambers is that they don’t exist. That’s the real
reason he doesn’t want further investigation of Struthof or Krema I
or any other place: because, in Faurisson’s world-view, “there is no
more problem” with _any_ gas chamber. There has never _been_ a
That’s the reason Faurisson’s “challenge” is effective: it cleverly
sidesteps any problems of fact or reasoning. It sends the question
“do homicidal gas chambers exist?” back one level: if they exist,
surely you can show me one. And then, if and when a photo or drawing
is produced, the same old invalid reasoning is applied: that’s not a
homicidal gas chamber, that’s a morgue. Discussion may ensue, but
when someone says something Faurisson doesn’t like and can’t refute
— as when, at dinner with him, Mike Stein made a good point about
chemistry — Faurisson ends the discussion. Later, he can still say
“no one has ever shown me a gas chamber.”
Why can no one show Faurisson a gas chamber? Because they don’t
exist. And what’s a denier’s major argument against their existence?
No one can show him one.
At this point, you may be asking yourself why I think you’ve fallen
into this particular trap. You seem bright, so I’m sure you
recognized from the beginning that the whole “show me or draw me”
game was just a game to score rhetorical points. Bear with me for a
moment while I discuss Raven’s variant: “physical evidence.”
On Usenet, Raven has been asking for someone to provide him with
“physical evidence” of the Holocaust. After a bit of back-and-forth,
it became clear that what he meant was the actual corporeality of an
apparatus which had been constructed expressly for the purpose of
killing lots of people at once. (Either that, or autopsies revealing
that, say, a few million corpses had traces of cyanide poisoning in
them. Actually, even that wouldn’t have been enough, because autopsy
reports are not “physical evidence,” so only the corpses themselves
would qualify — read on.)
With the Leuchter/Majdanek piece you wrote early this year, you
happened to “walk in” on the middle of the discussion. As I think I
mentioned before, the point was to get Raven to talk about what his
requirement for “physical evidence” really meant, not to discuss
Majdanek. Unfortunately, you seem to have been a pawn to let Raven
avoid entering the discussion — he just waved me off onto you,
saying, essentially, “yeah, what Cole said.” Not that I blame you or
anything; how could you have known? I’m sure they didn’t give you the
whole story. But I digress.
What I was trying to get at — and if it seems off-track, that’s only
because you missed the earlier, more-direct approaches I tried on
Usenet — was that “physical evidence” means nothing without
“non-physical evidence.” This is the point that Raven has
deliberately turned away from repeatedly, and it’s the point that
Faurisson tries to cloud with his “show me or draw me” argument.
The short version: without testimony telling us how it was used, the
Vergasungskeller of Krema II is nothing but a big, dynamited,
rubble-filled hole in the ground.
The longer version: I had CNN on the other day while I was
programming, and I heard the phrase “physical evidence,” so I started
watching. I immediately heard that it was Day 42 of the O.J. Simpson
trial, and that the first physical evidence of the trial was about to
be introduced. Wait a minute, I thought, Day 42 and this is the
_first_ physical evidence we’ll see? Out of that sprang an open
letter to Raven which I won’t repeat here, but the gist was that in a
courtroom, as in any endeavor in which we seek historical knowledge,
we must first hear stories from people, witnesses, which lay out
possibilities for us. Only after that’s done can we start looking for
“physical evidence” which supports one possibility and belies others.
Until those possibilities are laid out, any rooting around for
“physical evidence” is simply impossible. How would Leuchter have
known to test for cyanide compounds, if not for Hoess’ testimony that
Zyklon-B was used? He wouldn’t. Physical evidence follows testimony,
not the other way around. (Raven, typically, had no answer.)
So (finally! this is turning out to be longer than I thought): you’ve
fallen into the trap because you tell me, in your letter, that at
Majdanek I may find “not a euphemistically worded document, not a
report that can be dismissed by revisionists as a forgery, not an
ambiguous speech — but REAL HOMICIDAL GAS CHAMBERS, in the ‘flesh.'”
Your error, Mr. Cole, is in assuming that knowledge can only be found
by snooping around the physical remains of the rooms used to kill
people, looking for clues.
On the contrary, the Nazi Holocaust has left reverberations that span
the globe. The witnesses of horrible events have them indelibly
etched into their minds, and they share them with us through books
and interviews. Testimony, confessions, admissions, explanations from
the perpetrators has been printed and distributed to thousands of
libraries. Memos regarding the Auschwitz/Birkenau gas chambers have
been captured, and rest in archives not even on the same continent as
the chambers themselves. The blueprints for the construction of the
enormous ovens, begun in 1942 when the “natural” death rate was quite
low, rested in Soviet archives for almost five decades, until van
Pelt began doing thorough research on them.
And (the piece of evidence I’d like to discuss with you) there is a
recording of a speech by Himmler which has made its way through the
ages, until finally a copy of a copy came to rest here on my desk, in
which the Reichsfuehrer-SS says “the Jewish people is being
exterminated…it’s in our program.”
To assume that these reverberations will be strongest at the site of
the actual gassings is invalid and, in my opinion, a bit mystical. To
be sure, some knowledge can be gained by visiting the actual sites.
Dynamite, acid rain, and Communist occupation have obscured many
details which once may have been there. If one takes this inclarity
into account, one can surely learn from the remains. But to assume
that those remains will reveal more than the rest of the evidence,
scattered around the globe? Why on earth?!
That line of thinking, which you espouse, seems to have its root in
Faurisson’s “show me or draw me” claim. Totally bogus.
You dismiss all other evidence — without a trace of a smile, I
assume — as being “euphemistically worded documents,” “ambiguous
speeches,” and “reports that can be dismissed by revisionists as
Examples of each of those come immediately to mind. And I hope you
don’t mind my asking you what you think about them. Is the memo from
Bischoff to Kammler, which mentions the “Vergasungskeller” in Krema
II, “euphemistically worded”? I believe the revisionist position was
originally espoused by Butz, that the word meant “carburetion cellar”
(and I assume you’re familiar with that argument). But after Pressac
pointed out that this was not merely a linguistic but a physical
impossibility, Butz modified his theory to be that the carburetion
was done in a room outside the Krema II building. As I’m sure you
know, no such room has even been mentioned by anyone, anywhere, at
any time; it’s an invention of Butz’s to try to preserve what remains
of his credibility. So what was the “Vergasungskeller”? Do you even
buy the “Vergasung means carburetion” argument, and if so, what do
you make of Hirt’s letter about “das Material zur Vergasung,” which
you translate as “the gassing equipment”? Or Broszat’s “Keine
Vergasung in Dachau” letter?
“Ambiguous speeches”? Like Hitler’s repeated public speeches that the
Jews, who he claims started the war, were going to be exterminated?
Like Goebbels telling sixty newspaper editors that all the Jews in
Berlin were going to be delivered to “a murderous fate”? Like Hans
Frank saying that he could not exterminate all the lice and the Jews
in only one year? And (why not repeat myself) Himmler referring to
“die Ausrottung des juedischen Volkes”? How ambiguous is “the
extermination of the Jewish race”?
“Reports that can be dismissed by revisionists as forgeries”? Well,
that would be all of them.
You didn’t mention in your letter one of the most important tactics
deniers have in disregarding hard evidence, namely: simply
disregarding it. Your commentary on Faurisson’s distortions of the
Goebbels “60/40” diary entry and the “Jewish transport from Berlin”
telegram are just two examples, the tip of the iceberg. Faurisson
looks at them, states that _they don’t mean what they say_, then
moves on to something else. You’re exactly right that he has “grown
too used to having his word taken as gospel,” except that there
wasn’t any growing involved — he, and many other revisionists, have
always taken that attitude. Have you seen his explanation of
Himmler’s “exterminating the Jewish race” speech? I quote: “Himmler
was engaging in a bit of braggadocio.” “A bit of braggadocio”! David
Irving has confirmed a similar position to me in private
correspondence: the Himmler speech means exactly what it says,
Ausrottung means extermination, “the Jewish race is being
exterminated,” but, in his professional opinion, Himmler must not
have meant it seriously. And that’s that.
The question is, why does anyone take Faurisson and Irving’s
arguments seriously? More specifically, why do you take them
seriously? How can you say that something as simple as the Goebbels
diary entry “has yet to adequately explained by any revisionist”
(you’re quite right) and still call yourself a revisionist? Have you
really not recognized that your associates (who appear to be
disassociating themselves from you when you don’t roll over for them)
have been swimming in a sea of double-standards since the beginning?
All in all, I think such wartime evidence — not to mention the
reliable postwar evidence such as the sworn testimony of the Nazi
conspirators themselves and their memoirs and diaries — is
ultimately more valuable than examining the buildings as they stand
in 1995 and asking many possibly-unanswerable questions. Your
approach isn’t valueless (unless you let preconceived notions blind
you to possible answers to those questions, which, having seen your
Piper video, I think you might). But neither is it the only approach.
So, to address your question: will Majdanek “prove my theory
INCONTROVERTIBLY TRUE?” That’s a bad question. My “theory,” the
accepted “theory” of historians worldwide, has already been proved by
fifty years of research and discussion in courtrooms, books, and
peer-reviewed historical journals. The only controversy is raised by
people who have double-standards for their standards of proof, and
there will always be such worthless “controversy.” Your question
assumes that the “theory” is along the ridiculously simplistic lines
of “mass gassings occurred _somewhere_ in the Reich,” and it ignores
that the facts which it fits are complex. Do you really think
historians (or I) are simply trying to prove that the Nazis gassed
Jews, they don’t care where, and that they might at some point give
up and say, “well, I can’t prove gassing at Auschwitz, but hey look!
there really _are_ gas chambers at Majdanek!” Surely not.
Again, I apologize for the length of this letter. I look forward to
your reply. Also, I will type in and post your 16-page essay to
Usenet, since it seems to be an “open letter,” and if you give your
consent I’ll do the same with your cover letter to me.