When it first came out it caused a lot of fuss and a huge amount of trouble to the rather innocent young Hayward (You can read about it for yourself - just google Joel Hayward). The pressure must have been terrible and Hayward recanted but, like all such recantations, I believe it was done out of fear and exhaustion rather than conviction.
In “How I Became a Holocaust Denier” I wrote how I read Hayward in 2004 and how I was knocked out. Although I had begun to think about the role of special suffering in Jewish identity and about its exploitation and even about how truthful it was – I'd never dreamed of questioning the veracity of the Holocaust.
This was the first piece of Holocaust revisionist literature I read and it's always been my favourite. Why? Because, as I read it, Hayward's growing astonishment at what he was discovering exactly matched my own astonishment at what I was reading.
Formatting this document took some time and I'm sure there are some mistakes. I'm equally sure there are some mistakes in Hayward's original document. Orthodox Holocaust scholars and activists like to search for these mistakes as if exposing them somehow exposes the whole of revisionism as a fraud. This is just not true. Hayward's thesis seems to me to be fundamentally true and written in absolute good faith and that, for me, is the source of its power.
After each section there are links to the other sections.
ABSTRACTHolocaust Revisionism is the name given to the controversial school of historical thought which challenges received opinion on the Holocaust. It is ideologically linked to the Revisionist school founded in the 1920s by Harry Elmer Barnes and other scholars. The ideological basis of Revisionism is a belief that the wider historical profession generally fails to present the origins, courses and consequences of wars in an honest and impartial manner. Whilst Holocaust Revisionists now possess a wide range of political outlooks, the movement's origins are in the postwar writings of Paul Rassinier, a French Socialist. Rassinier, formerly a Nazi concentration camp internee, believed that what actually transpired in the camps during the war was being misrepresented or even lied about by the majority of authors writing in the years immediately after the conclusion of hostilities in 1945. Particularly since the mid 1970s increasing numbers of researchers have been challenging various aspects of accepted opinion on the Holocaust. Building upon the foundation laid by Rassinier, who had comparatively few sources at his disposal, these researchers make use of the wide spectrum of primary material now available, including documents and other literary sources, original blueprints and architectural plans, and wartime aerial photographs taken by reconnaissance planes. This thesis describes and explains the development and significance of Holocaust Revisionism from 1948 to 1993. This involves identifying the Revisionists, describing what they have to say, assessing the sources and methods they employ, and arriving at an impartial and dispassionate judgement on their work. Because public and scholarly responses to Holocaust Revisionism have at times directly shaped and influenced the growth and development of this highly unorthodox school of historical thought, this study also describes and explains those responses.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSWriting a thesis on an international phenomenon such as Holocaust Revisionism without being able to travel to archives or libraries in the United States, continental Europe or Great Britain has been a very difficult task. It could not have been accomplished at all had it not been for the kind assistance of the many people in many countries who supplied material in response to my letters of request. After searching out addresses in overseas telephone books at the local public library I wrote more than two hundred such letters, and I am pleased to say that I received responses to all but about twenty. I obtained additional material by placing an advertisement, explaining the nature of my investigation and requesting source material, in an American Revisionist newsletter and in two Jewish newspapers, one in the United States and one in Great Britain. I have chosen, of course, not to side with one school of thought against the other, but to seek critical distance and get "both sides of the story". Noting that many scholars involved in the Holocaust controversy wear their moral values on their sleeves, I have consciously attempted not to do so, and not to let my own values harden into biases. Thus, I have contacted and on many occasions received and used material from both anti-Revisionist and Revisionist organizations and individuals. I make no apologies for this and I am tiling to acknowledge on this page the assistance I received from members of both camps, even from those whose views or actions I personally find unpalatable.
My first thanks go to my dear wife, Kathy, who not only served as an admirable coffee maker during the year I worked on this thesis, but who also constantly encouraged and assisted me. I would now like to express my gratitude go the following people (listed alphabetically), whose assistance was invaluable: Ola N. H. Bruhner of Stockholm, who supplied me with French and German newspaper clippings on "The Faurisson Affair", "The Roques Affair" and "The Paschoud Affair"; The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of New Zealand. Its small scholarship allowed me to purchase books and other necessary resources. David Irving, who supplied me with some of the material I requested and answered most of my questions; Howard English, Managing Editor of the B'nai B'rith Covenant (Canada), who assisted me several times in obtaining Canadian newspaper articles on the Ernst Zundel and James Keegstra trials; Mariette MacDonald, who translated for me newspaper clippings and journal articles from French to English; my thesis supervisor, Dr. Vincent Orange, a kind and patient mentor whose enthusiasm and knowledge about the events of the past greatly inspired me; Tony Robson of Searchlight magazine (London), who talked openly with me about Searchlight's activities and supplied me with copies of almost all of Searchlight's articles on David living, their bitter enemy; my deal friends Margaret and (the late) Allen Stott, who defended my right to intellectual autonomy when immoderate and uninformed factions challenged it, and who assisted me in many other ways; Mark Weber of the institute for Historical Review, who also talked openly with me on two or three occasions, providing important information. His frequent criticism (occasionally in the form of an admonishment) was very helpful. He also supplied a wealth of requested (and much unrequested) material, John W. Weir of Overland Park, Kansas, who very kindly allowed me to borrow for a lengthy period his substantial and valuable collection of Revisionist newsletters. I would also like to thank the following individuals and organizations, who provided me with the advice, information or source material I requested from them: Robert Erwin and the indefatigable staff of the Information Services of the University of Canterbury library, who almost always managed to track down the obscure German or Austrian sources I wanted; American Jewish Archives (Cincinnati); American Jewish Committee, William E. Wiener Oral History Library (New York); the Anne Frank Institute (Philadelphia); the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (New York); the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation (Paris); John Bennett, President of the Australian Civil Liberties Union; Friedrich Paul Berg; B'nai B'rith Canada; Jo-anne Brick of the Australian Institute of Jewish Affairs; Pat Brodie, Assistant to the Editor, Macleans (Toronto); the staff at the Bundesarchiv, Koblenz; the staff at the Bundesministerium f¸r Unterricht und Kunst in Vienna; Scott Burckbuchler, Research Assistant to Hugh Dykes M.P., House of Commons, London; Canadian Jewish News (Toronto); Willis A. Carto; Gregg Clemmer, Dr. Robert Countess; Ann C. Crispell of the Central Intelligence Agency (Washington, D.C.); the staff at the Dokumentationsarchiv des sterreichischen Widerstandes in Vienna; Professor Robert Faurisson; Patrick J. Ferral; Ditlieb Felderer; Leonie Fleiszig of the Maker Library and Resource Centre (Melbourne); Professer Gerald Fleming; The archives department of The Guardian; Globe and Mail (Toronto); Toby Green of Pergamon Press; Linda Greenlick of the Jewish Chronicle (London); C. Horowitz, Library Director, The American Jewish Committee (New York); Jewish Frontier (New York); T. L. Jones of the Cremation Society of Canterbury (Christchurch); Nathan M. Kaganoff of the American Jewish Historical Society; H. Kneeshaw, Information Centre, University of London; R. Clarence Lang;, Los Angeles Times,;Thomas Marcellus, Director of the Institute for Historical Review; E. Meilen Press (Lewiston, New York); Chris Mitchell, Deputy Editor of The Australian; Sasha Mitchell of The New Statesman; Ed Mueller; David Nathan, Deputy Editor, Jewish Chronicle (London); Rev. Herman Otten, Editor of Christian News (Washington, MO.); C. H. E. Philpin of Past and Present; the staff at the Pantswowe Muzeum Oswiecim Brzezinka (particularly Krystyna Oleksy and Jerzy Wroblewski); the staff of Revue d'Histoire RÈvisionniste; Paul Russell; Yvonne Schleiter; Michael Sedley, Information Officer, Embassy of Israel (Wellington); Shelly Shapiro, Director of Holocaust Survivors and Friends in Pursuit of Justice; Bradley R. Smith; Sydney Morning Herald, The Age (Melbourne); The Jewish Eagle (Montreal); The Times (London); The Bulletin (Sydney); Karen J. Underhill, Archivist and Manuscripts Curator, Northern Arizona University, Jack Wikoff, Editor of Remarks (Aurora, New York); Laird Wilcox of Editorial Research Service (Olathe, Kansas); Wisconsin State Historical Society (Madison); Dr. Karl Wippermann; Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority (Jerusalem); Ernst Zundel. These people have all contributed to this thesis in one way or another, but they carry no responsibility for any errors or misinterpretations of which I may have been guilty.
GLOSSARYAnti-Judaism. Most religions - including Christianity, Islam and Judaism - advocate Opposition to other theological viewpoints. Criticism of the theology of Judaism or those Jews adhering to that theological system is referred to as 'anti-Judaism'. Anti-Judaism is not synonymous with anti-Semitism, although, of course, most anti-Semites are also anti-Judaic and anti-Zionistic
Anti-Semitism. Although Arabs are also 'Semites', the present writer will follow common usage and use the term throughout this thesis to define the hatred, fear or resentment of persons identified racially or culturally as Jews.
Anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism is opposition to the aims and methods of political Zionism. Like anti-Judaism, anti-Zionism is not necessarily synonymous with anti-Semitism. Indeed, many Jews are themselves anti-Zionistic.
Holocaust. The Holocaust is a theological term with a very precise meaning. It is derived via the Latin holocaustum from the Greek 'olokauston' (holokauston), which specifically denotes a 'whole burnt sacrifice'. This term was used frequently in the Greek Septuagint and once or twice in the Greek New Testament texts to describe entirely burnt sacrifices. Earlier this century, however, the term was used on rare occasions by Christian theologians and historians to describe a variety of catastrophes in which Christian populations were thought to have been 'wholly sacrificed' for their faith. It was used, for example, to describe the Turkish massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915-16. Used in this manner the term was always written 'holocaust', with a lower-case 'h'. Only after 1957 did the term come into popular use to describe loosely the wartime treatment of Jews by the Nazis. Even in the first issue of Yad Vashem Studies (the journal of Israel's Yad Vashem, then translated as Yad Vashem), published in late 1957, the term repeatedly used to describe the fate of the Jews during World War II was "the catastrophe". Since around the early 1970s 'the Holocaust' (now with an upper-case 'H') has been used by historians and the general public to define the ordered, planned and systematic extermination of approximately six million European Jews - the majority in gas chambers and gas vans constructed especially for the task - as an act of state by the Nazis (with assistance from their collaborators) during the Second World War. For want of a better term, 'the Holocaust' is used throughout this thesis - even when referring to the subject matter of literature published prior to 1957 - to denote the Nazi maltreatment of European Jews during the Second World War. However, its use should not be seen as the present writer's agreement with any fixed definitions, even the definition given above. 'The Holocaust' is used loosely to denote the ordeal of European Jews without implying any fixed opinions on the precise nature and dimensions of their ordeal.
Revisionism. Naturally, every historical event or period has been revised to some extent, because historians of each new generation carefully re- examine the past in the light of newly found documentary sources, by employing a different methodology, or by reconsidering the known data from a different point of view. Therefore, in one sense almost all histories are revisionists. However, the terms 'Revisionism' and 'Revisionist' have come to be used more specifically. They are now used to denote a distinct group of people sharing a common set of unorthodox historical approaches, methodologies and interpretations. Sidney B. Fay's ground-breaking articles, "New Light on the Origins of the World War", parts I, II, III, American Historical Review, July 1920, October 1920 and January 1921) were the first important examples of Revisionist scholarship. Fay's work inspired many other major scholars - most notably Professor Harry Elmer Barn's (now considered the "father of Revisionism") - to re-examine received opinion on the First World War. They hunted out and used bodies of evidence other than the subjectively-edited 'official' documents which the various governments had published during the war (the so-called colored books). Their research and findings permanently weakened the hypothesis of sole German responsibility for the outbreak of war in 1914.
Revisionism, established by these scholars as a distinct school of historical thought, flourished in Europe and the United States during the 1920s and early 1930s. Even the largest publishing houses and most prestigious periodicals sought Revisionist material for publication. Amongst the leading Revisionists were Raymond Beazley, M. H. Cochran, Georges Demartial, G. Lowes Dickinson; G. P. Gooch, Alfred Fabre-Luce, Hermann Lutz, Maximilian Montgelas, Frederich Stieve, Joseph Ward Swain; and Alfred von Wegerer. Turning from the Kriegschuldfrage (war guilt question), Revisionist scholars - most importantly Clinton Hartley Grattan, Walter Millis and Charles C. Tansill - also investigated the entry of the United States into the war in 1917 and other related topics. These works influenced not only academia but also the general public. For example, when Millis's Road to War: America, 1914 to 1917 was published in 1935, it was well-received by critics and became one of the best-selling American history books of the decade.
However, as war in Europe became imminent in the late 1930s, American Revisionists - who were mostly isolationists - argued against the United States' intervention. Their views, especially after the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war, became very unpopular. Their theses on Pearl Harbor did nothing to check their decline in popularity. Certain Revisionists asserted that that disaster would probably not have happened had it not been for Roosevelt's policy in the Far East at a time when Japan's military and civilian leadership would have preferred a peaceful accommodation with the United States rather than war.
Perhaps because there was far less debate in the 1940s and 1950s on the war guilt question of the Second World War than there was in the 1920s and 1930s on the war guilt question of the First World War, Revisionism never regained the popularity it previously had. A. J. P. Taylor's The Origins of the Second World War was the first [p. V] major Revisionist work on the causes of World War II, and that appeared in 1961. Some of the Revisionist books from the postwar period were, nonetheless, generally well-documented and thoughtfully argued, these include George Morgenstern's Pearl Harbor, Chiles A. Beard's President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War, 1941 (1948), R. Sanbom's Design for War (1951), Charles C. Tansill's The Back Door to War (1951) and Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (1953), edited by Harry Elmer Barnes. As the titles indicate, these works deal principally with Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war.
Revisionism declined in public popularity after the Second World War, but did not disappear altogether. Well-known Revisionist books of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s include Taylor's The Origins or the Second World War, David Hoggan's The Forced War (Der Erzwungene Krieg), David Irving's The Destruction of Dresden and Hitler's War, John Toland's Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath, and James Bacque's Other Losses.
A new form of Revisionism emerged in the 1970s, with the Nazi treatment of Jews as its object of investigation. Holocaust Revisionism is ideologically linked to the Revisionist 'school' founded by Barnes and others. Like all Revisionists, Holocaust Revisionists are skeptical of the claims of 'establishment' historians, and believe that the wider historical profession generally fails to present the origins, courses and consequences of wars in an honest and even-handed manner. Holocaust Revisionists therefore attempt to re-examine the Holocaust and related social and political events in what they claim is a dispassionate and impartial manner. The accuracy of this claim will be examined in this thesis.
Notes: For an example of the word 'holocaust' being used to describe the massacre of Armenians, cf. A.J. Grant and H. Temperley, Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (1789-1932) Fourth Edition, 1932 (London/New York/Toronto: Longmans, Green and Co. First published in 1927 as Europe in the Nineteenth Century 1789-1914), p. 574
 Cf. G. Kormam "The Holocaust in American Historical Writing", Societas 2, Summer 1972, pp. 251-270
|ADL||Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith|
|CODOH||Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust|
|HCN||Hydrogen Cyanide (Hydrocyanic Acid)|
|IHR||Institute for Historical Review|
|IMT||(International Military Tribunal) Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 14 November 1945 - 1 October 1946, 42 volumes (Nuremberg, 1947-1949)|
|JDL||Jewish Defense League|
|JHR||Journal of Historical Review|
|NC & A||Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, 8 volumes plus two supplementary volumes, A and B (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1946-8)|
|NMT||Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Nuernberg, October 1946 - April 1949, 15 volumes (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1949-53)|
|PMO||Panstwowe Muzeum Oswiecim Brzezinka (Auschwitz State Museum)|
|RSHA||Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Reich Security Head Office. Formed in 1939 and combining the existing police (Gestapo and Kripo) and the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst).|
|SZTR||(Second Zundel Trial Records) = In the District Court of Ontario Between: Her Majesty the Queen and Ernst Zundel. Before the Honorable Judge R. D. Thomas and Jury (1988), followed by volume and page numbers.|
|WRB||(War Refugee Board Report) = The German Extermination Camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau: Two Eye-Witness Reports (Washington, D.C.: War Refugee Board, Executive Office of the President, November 1944)|
|WVHA||Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt. Economic and Administrative Head Office of the SS. Formally established in early 1942, although management of most SS construction and economic activities was unified in the hands of SS General Oswald Pohl well before then. Branch D was responsible for running the concentration camps, but Branch C (Works and Buildings) and Branch W (Economic Enterprises) also had direct interests in the camps.|
INTRODUCTIONA person denying the existence of the Auschwitz gas chambers is invariably either an old Nazi or a neo-Nazi. Moreover, he is probably a fool, for he is venturing out on ground where, except with children or mental defectives, he has no chance of success.
Simon Wiesenthal, the famous Austrian 'Nazi hunter', penned these words in 1989, forty-four years after Hitler's Third Reich was destroyed by the Allies. In all but three of those years, however, people have been challenging the accepted opinion that Nazis killed Jews and others in gas chambers, and many of those people have not been - as the present writer will argue below - old Nazis, neo-Nazis or fools. Further, despite Wiesenthal insisting that only "children or mental defectives" would be convinced by their arguments, those people - who call themselves Holocaust Revisionists - have been able to persuade very many intelligent people, including prominent academics, that the Nazis did not use gas chambers to murder Jews and others.
In fact, the rapidly growing influence of Holocaust Revisionism has been a major reason for concern amongst those historians who uphold Holocaust orthodoxy. In 1984 Professor Yehuda Bauer of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel's leading historian of the Holocaust, expressed this concern when he stated: "I believe that the denial of the Holocaust is one of the gravest dangers we face. The message is spreading, Finding its mark, more and more. It is becoming a large-scale danger". Yisrael Gutman, also of the Hebrew University, echoed Bauer's fears when he said: "As for the Holocaust deniers, the truth is that their influence is growing. I am not certain that we are dealing here with a catastrophe. But it definitely represents a grave threat that ought not to be ignored."
The phrase "Holocaust deniers", used by Bauer and Gutman (and almost every other anti-Revisionist), is, unfortunately, inaccurate and misleading. Holocaust Revisionist scholars - as opposed to Revisionist propagandists, of which there are many - have never denied that the Nazi regime was rabidly anti-Jewish, that it sought to drive the Jews out of Germany and then from all of German-occupied western Europe, or that it constructed a vast network of concentration camps for Jews and other 'enemies of the state'. They do not deny the fact that very large numbers of Jews were deported from all over German-occupied Europe into ghettos and concentration camps, or that many died in the process or from forced labour and acts of brutality after their arrival. They do not deny that the Einsatzgruppen executed very many Jews and others as they sought to implement, before regular civil administration could be established, a "rough and ready" form of law and order in the occupied Soviet regions behind the front. They do not deny that very many Jews died amongst the almost fifty million people who lost their lives during the Second World War, or that untimely Jewish deaths - from all causes, including disease, malnutrition, brutality, exhalation, Allied bombings, pogroms, military action, Einsatzgruppen activities, nameless ad hoc atrocities and general wartime havoc - numbered unquestionably in the hundreds of thousands. And they do not deny that Allied troops found, when they liberated the western concentration camps, horrific scenes of terribly emaciated internees and piles of corpses. Thus, it is apparent that Revisionist scholars (at least the vast majority) do not deny all commonly held views on the Holocaust. Whatever else they may be - and they are accused of being many things, including fascists, Nazis, racists and anti-Semites - they are not "Holocaust deniers" as such.
What is denied by Revisionists, however, is that "there was a deliberate German policy of systematic extermination of Jews, such policy implemented mainly by mass-murder in gas chambers in extermination camps, with the total number of dead in the area of four to six million or even more". To most informed people in the western world, even the denial of these things would seem ludicrous. It was 'proven' at the International Military Tribunal (the main Nuremberg trial, 1945-46), they might argue, that the Nazis planned to murder all the Jews of Europe, that they built gas chambers and other murder machinery for the task, and that the total number of Jews killed was around six million.
Be that as it may, because of newly-found documentary sources, the employment of new methodologies, and the reconsideration of data from different vantage points, accepted opinion has changed considerably since the 'facts' of the Holocaust were first 'proven' at the Nuremberg trials. Many previously-held claims have been quietly abandoned by scholars. At the main Nuremberg trial, by way of illustration, it was seriously claimed that four million persons (two-and-a-half million of them Jews) were murdered at Auschwitz alone; that countless Jews in certain other camps were murdered en masse with electricity and in special "steam chambers"; that gas chambers were used in Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and other camps in the Altreich; that the skins of numerous Jews were tanned and made into gloves, jodhpur, book covers, handbags, lampshades and other household products; and that the Germ's made soap from the cadavers of Jews. As this writer will argue below, all of these claims - and others - have been quietly dropped by historians over the years, although few non-specialists have been informed of this and, consequently, the claims are continually repeated.
Holocaust Revisionist arguments have also undergone a transformation over the same period. When Paul Rassinier, a French Socialist who had himself been interned in two Nazi concentration camps, began in the late 1940s to challenge some of the concentration camp atrocity stories then abounding, his principal arguments were based mainly on his own experiences and observations. Apart from the documents presented at the Nuremberg trials, few documentary sources on the genocide of Jews were available to Rassinier, the first, and for a time only, person to challenge accepted opinion on the Holocaust in anything approaching a scholarly manner. By the 1970s, however, Revisionists in numerous nations around the world were gaining access to aerial photographs of the concentration camps, original blueprints of the alleged gas chambers, German documents relating to the 'Jewish question', military reports and a variety of other sources that had previously been classified and locked away in archives. As a result of this new information and years of refining the arguments of their predecessors, those Revisionists were able to challenge Holocaust orthodoxy with theses that were generally sophisticated and well argued (although, of course, persuasive arguments are not always synonymous with sound conclusions).
The mental habits, cognitive styles, and moral tone - not to mention the sources quoted and methodological approaches - of scholars of the two opposing schools of thought are markedly different. Those who uphold accepted opinion on the Holocaust, contemptuously called "exterminationists" by leading Revisionists, base a large percentage of their arguments and hypotheses on the memoirs of eyewitnesses and the postwar confessions of alleged perpetrators. Some of these statements were recorded immediately after the war finished, but others were recorded twenty, thirty, or even forty years after the events they describe. Dozens of Holocaust memoirs continue to be written every year, despite the fact that the war finished almost fifty years ago.
Additionally, Jewish organizations in numerous countries (including New Zealand) have established oral history programs in order to preserve what they perceive to be perishable historical data about the Holocaust. Their apparent sense of urgency is understandable and, from an historian's point of view, commendable: raw data exists in the human memory, which survives only as long as its possessor lives, and often deteriorates even sooner. Every death of a Holocaust survivor, therefore, represents the loss of a potential narrator and a diminution of the Jewish people's collective memory.
Although they should always be checked against other evidence (if it exists), oral sources are clearly valuable and can fill in numerous details not found in documentary or other types of sources. Additionally, there are many events and epochs in recent history for which only oral sources exist. Many pogroms and outbursts of violence would fall into this category, and this fact may partly account for the disproportionate reliance on oral sources by orthodox historians of the Holocaust.
Unfortunately, human memory is not infallible, as anyone involved in oral history quickly learns. Every time we attempt to remember an episode from our past - no matter how wonderful or horrific - we must recreate the memory, and, as a result, each time it is different, influenced by "succeeding events, increased understanding, a new context, suggestions by others, or other people's recollections." Further, the longer it has been since the information about the person, event or thing observed was first encoded (put into memory), the poorer the recollection of it will be when it is retrieved and formed into an account.
The problems involved in accepting testimonies based on memory as legal or historical evidence have been the life study of Professor Elizabeth Loftus of the University of Washington, an American psychologist who has written several books and numerous scientific papers on the subject. She has, additionally, appeared in over one hundred courtrooms as an expert witness on the fallibility of eyewitness accounts. She noted, for example, in her most recent book on the subject:
As new bits and pieces of information are added into long-term memory, the old memories are removed, replaced, crumpled up, or shoved into comers. Little details are added, confusing or extraneous elements are deleted, and a coherent construction of the facts is gradually created that may bear little resemblance to the original event.
Memories don't just fade, as the old saying would have us believe; they also grow. What fades is the initial perception, the actual experience of the events. But every time we recall an event, we just reconstruct the memory, and with each recollection the memory may be changed - cored by succeeding events, other people's recollections or suggestions, increased understanding, or a new context.
Truth and reality, when seen through the filter of our memories, are not objective facts but subjective, interpretative realities. We interpret the past, correcting ourselves, adding bits and pieces, deleting uncomplimentary or disturbing recollections, sweeping, dusting, tidying things up. Thus, our representation of the past lakes on a living, shifting reality; it is not fixed and immutable, not a place way back there that is preserved in stone, but a living thing that changes shape, expands, shrinks, and expands again, an amoebalike creature with powers to make us laugh, and cry, and clench our fists. Enormous powers - powers even to make us believe in something that never happened.
Survivors of the Holocaust - even despite the valiant efforts of many to remember accurately what transpired - have gained no extra physical or mental capabilities as a result of their suffering. Their memories remain as imperfect, malleable and fallible as everyone else's. It may be that the recollections of some survivors have been altered or influenced after the war by their increased comprehension of what transpired, by talks with other survivors, by films they have watched or books they have read, and that consequently their recollections bear little resemblance to the historical reality. They are not to be condemned for this, nor can they be considered liars just because they cannot recollect events accurately. Information introduced after we view an incident can, without our knowledge, transform our memories.
When a memory-based testimony - that is, an 'eyewitness' account - is analysed for its reliability, historical interest and evidential value, the historian should apply to it the same methodological principles used to analyse documentary and other types of sources, plus he or she should investigate the various psychological factors than can play an important part in the formation of such a testimony. These factors include the age of the witness when the information was "first encoded, and his or her age at the lime the information was retrieved and formed into the testimony; the exposure time, or the amount of time (or number of times) the witness had to observe the person, thing or event later described; prior knowledge and expectations; the retention interval, or the duration between the time the memory was first encoded and the time the testimony was formed; the degree of stress suffered by the witness at the lime the memory was encoded; and the degree of stress suffered both before and during the formation of the testimony. Stress, as Professor Loftus explains, interferes with a person's ability to process information, and when a person is experiencing extreme stress his or her ability to perceive and recall the details of the event witnessed is considerably diminished (a phenomenon known to psychologists as the Yerkes-Dodson Law).
Those who uphold orthodox opinion on the Holocaust, however, have tended to accept automatically almost all Holocaust survivor testimonies as being reasonably accurate and reliable historical records. This tendency is understandable; right-thinking people have wanted to empathise and sympathise with those, who suffered so badly, and, therefore, they have treated their recollections with a diminished degree of circumspection. They have not wanted to question the survivors' recollections, to allow the possibility that they could be lying, exaggerating, or making genuine errors as a result of their fallible memories. Nonetheless, by not analysing eyewitness accounts according to accepted methodological principles, some of these historians have accepted testimonies so unreliable that they cause unfair prejudice, confuse the issues, or mislead readers about the incidents described. For example, Martin Gilbert, the renowned British historic, has written two popular books on the Holocaust which are based almost entirely on 'eyewitness' testimonies, although, as a result of incautious document criticism, he allowed numerous errors of fact to enter into print.
Whereas orthodox historians of the Holocaust tend to be overly reliant on memory-based sources, and accordingly make many mistakes, their Revisionist counterparts treat those sources with excessive and unreasonable skepticism. Revisionists generally believe that contemporary documents and other types of material evidence are the only sources worthy of the historian's serious attention. They insist that memory-based sources (particularly those relating to such emotion-laden topics as the Holocaust) are too prone to lapses, errors, fabrications and distortions to be truly valuable historical evidence. To support this claim, they constantly point out that even one or two Jewish scholars concede that many eyewitness testimonies are either unreliable, exaggerated or entirely spurious. For instance, they are especially fond of quoting the comments of Shmuel Krakowski, Archives Director of Yad Vashem, the international centre for Holocaust documentation in Jerusalem. Krakowski told the Jerusalem Post that in his opinion over half of the 20,000 testimonies from Holocaust survivors on record at Yad Vashem are "unreliable", and that many survivors, wanting merely "to be part of history", may have let their imaginations run away with them. "Many were never in the places where they claim to have witnessed atrocities, while others relied on second-hand information given them by friends or passing strangers", asserted Krakowski. In an interview in the international edition of the same newspaper, Raul Hilberg, an eminent American Holocaust specialist, had already made statements which essentially agree with the conclusions of Krakowski. To the obvious delight of several prominent Revisionists, who have frequently republished his comments in tracts and newsletters. Hilberg stated:
Much of personal testimony is unreliable about names, locations or dates.... What survivors speak about most is their suffering. Samuel Gringauz, himself a survivor, had harsh words for these personal histories. In the January 1950 issue of Jewish Social Studies he chilled them 'Judaeocentric, logocentric and egocentric'. For him, most of the memoirs were full of 'preposterous verbosity, exaggeration, dramatic effects, dilettante philosophizing, would-be lyricism, unchecked rumors, bias and apologies'.
This is not to suggest that most Revisionist scholars believe that the memoirs and testimonies of Holocaust survivors are the only such sources that need to be treated with caution. Whilst some with anti-Jewish ideologies have, to their discredit, expressed the belief that Jews are naturally more likely to exaggerate their sufferings than non-Jews, the majority of Revisionist scholars would agree that all human recollections are subject to inaccuracies, oversights, fabrications and distortions. Their work, one must admit, reveals that they are almost always even-handed in their treatment of memory-based accounts; they approach accounts that support their own theses about the Holocaust (and various other events and periods) with the same excessive and unreasonable skepticism as they approach those that challenge or refute them. Revisionists quite correctly examine all such sources for internal inconsistencies, but, rather than attempting to explain the inconsistencies they find (which they would probably do with documentary evidence), they simply dismiss the sources because of them. Indeed, they set aside and ignore many hundreds - if not thousands - of memoirs relating to the Holocaust, and attempt to justify this by claiming they are all biased and flawed.
Revisionists might do well to remember that all historical sources contain biases and flaws, so in at least an absolute sense memoirs and oral sources are no less reliable than contemporary records such as letters and diaries, newspapers, police reports, or diplomatic and military dispatches. The responsible historian will not dismiss memoirs and oral sources out of hand, but will submit them to a rigorous and systematic analysis based on the methodological principles outlined above. When carefully analysed according to these principles - and especially when supplemented and enriched by other sources - memory-based sources can be used to reconstruct the past in a way that will survive the standard tests of historical evidence. This is especially true with regard to the Holocaust, because in some cases there are dozens, or even hundreds, of testimonies recounting the same events or experiences.
Some of the inaccuracies, distortions and fabrications found by Revisionists in many of the accounts of Holocaust survivors are relatively minor and do not - contrary to the Revisionists' opinions - effect the memoirs' overall reliability or credibility. However, it is clear that Revisionists have also identified major contradictions or errors in a small number of accounts, and that these flaws seriously diminish their overall reliability and credibility. Amongst these sources are the memoirs of Henryk Tauber, Paul Bendel, Miklos Nyiszli and the War Refugee Board Report of November 1944 - key sources on the gassing procedures at Birkenau used by scholars upholding accepted opinion.
Nonetheless, whilst the many inconsistencies in such testimonies make it difficult to form from them accurate and reliable conclusions regarding the mechanics of the alleged gassings - at least without additional, corroborating evidence (and for some camps there is none; for others it is scarce ) - almost all memoirs and oral sources speak of the widespread brutalization and maltreatment of Jews under German control. Although Revisionists clearly acknowledge that millions of Jews suffered - even terribly in several regions - during the Second World War, they mention it only in passing, merely to show that they do not actually deny it. There have been no detailed Revisionist studies of the pogroms, abominable ghetto conditions or brutal slave labour programmes, nor, to their shame, have any Revisionists condemned these almost unparalleled horrors. Yet they frequently condemn the Allies for their crimes of firebombing Hamburg, Dresden and other German cities, or for maltreating millions of German POWs in the immediate postwar years. All crimes - Allied or Axis, against Germans, or against Jews - should be condemned with similar passion by Revisionists if their constant claims of impartiality are to be believed.
Additionally, Revisionists very frequently condemn what the present writer calls 'anti-Germanism' - the continued negative stereotyping of Germans as heel-clicking Nazis or Jew-hating racists. They claim that there have been over four hundred feature films, as well as numerous television mini-series and books, produced since the end of the Second World War with negative stereotyping of Germans. These include The Boys from Brazil, Sophie's Choice, The Winds of War and the massively-successful mini-series Holocaust, to name just a few that are well-known. Revisionists, who try to justify their claims by calling attention to examples of Jewish anti-Germanism (as if it somehow negates the 1930s German anti-Semitism), frequently quote the following statement by Elie Wiesel, a leading Jewish author on the Holocaust and the 1986 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize:
Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate - healthy, virile hate - for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of the dead.Revisionists have been very selective with their indignation, however. Whilst they have repeatedly attacked anti-Germanism - which, unfortunately, clearly does exist - they have, in their studies on the Holocaust, entirely avoided criticizing the racial ideology and policies of the Nazi regime. These helped create in Germany in the 1930s an anti-Jewish environment considerably more prejudicial and destructive than the anti-Germanism created by countless films, television series and books since the Second World War. Whereas almost all postwar anti-Germanism has been coven [aaargh: ?], low-key and violence free, German anti-Semitism in the 1930s was government-sanctioned, unconcealed, frequently violent and, less frequently, murderous. Even if the abominable Nazi treatment of Jews during the war could be temporarily hidden from the view of historians (and the sheer weight of evidence means that it can not), they would still agree that the National Socialist government's peacetime treatment of Jews and other undesirables was horrible even by the most generous standards. That almost all Holocaust Revisionists downplay the racism and widespread civil rights abuses of the Nazi regime, whilst frequently harping on about lingering anti-Germanism, also weakens their claims of impartially.
This naturally leads on to a brief discussion of objectivity and bias. Each side accuses the other of biases leading to subjective and egregious misuses of evidence, and of making untrue statements about the past. Historians upholding accepted opinion accuse Revisionists of attempting to rehabilitate fully the Third Reich and of attacking and trying to discredit the Jewish people by 'proving' that the Holocaust is merely a well-executed Jewish lie. Revisionists, they say, are motivated only by anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi ideologies, and not by a quest for truth about the past.
To support this charge they point out - quite accurately, as it happens - that many Revisionists are of German descent or known to express affection for Germany, or are involved in or support right-wing or nationalistic organizations. On the other hand, Revisionists accuse their counterparts of exaggerating and distorting the nature and dimensions of the Holocaust in order to gain sympathy and support for Jewish and Zionist causes - especially the founding and subsequent maintenance of the state of Israel. In defense of these claims Revisionists point out - also accurately - that most historians specializing in the Holocaust are Jewish or known to express affection for Israel, or are involved in or support Zionist organizations.
It is apparent that historians on both sides of the Holocaust debate have been guided by their own points of view to selecting certain topics to investigate, to asking certain questions about those topics, and to experimenting with new ways of trying to gain the answers. But it does not necessarily follow that the work of either or both sides is biased or lacking in objectivity. A person's views may, in fact, happen to coincide with his or her own interests, current beliefs or point of view, and yet still have been based on an impartial consideration of evidence. If historians' theses have to be heterodox or in conflict with their interests or unexpected for persons in their positions before they can claim to be objective, almost no historians of the Second World War, the National Socialist regime or the Holocaust could make such claims. By way of illustration, around ninety-five percent of all historians specializing in the Holocaust - including Raul Hilberg, Martin Gilbert, Saul Friedlaender, Gitta Sereny, Gerald Fleming and Walter Laqueur - are Jewish and actively support political Zionism. Clearly their experiences, interests, beliefs and values have guided their decisions to specialize in this field, and to produce works describing and explaining the nightmarish conditions experienced by European Jews during the war. Indeed, no inquiry takes place in an intellectual vacuum; every historian approaches his or her object of study with information and guiding ideas derived in large measure from his or her point of view.
Proving that protagonists on either side of this heated debate are biased, however, is different from demonstrating that their historical theses coincide with their interests, current beliefs or points of view (however unpalatable or unorthodox they may be). It would have to be shown that their values have hardened into biases - preconceived feelings, for or against someone or something - which have led to an improper or defective consideration of the evidence. Nevertheless, a defective consideration of evidence may not be, in itself, evidence of bias. A historian with no bias for or against his or her object of study can still make mistakes or poor judgements in the selection and employment of sources, either because of an unfamiliarity with the extent or nature of the sources relating to a certain question, or because of a lack of comprehension about how that question relates to other questions, and therefore other bodies of sources.
If members of either side could show that their counterparts had preconceived feelings about their objects of study and deliberately arranged their evidence to support or defend those preconceptions, their biases could be proved. Both Revisionists and anti-Revisionist claim they have done this; they have found, they insist, evidence that the other has entirely ignored several important sources and variously overestimated and underestimated the significance of others. Such tests, though, are based on the supposition that these people can correctly identify their opponents' points of view, can comprehend and answer the questions they are asking about the past, are familiar with all of the sources they employ (and the relevant ones they fail to employ), are able to consider the evidence without making errors of judgement, and - most importantly - are themselves able to undertake an unbiased investigation. As the present writer will argue at length in the following chapters, the intensity of emotion manifest in the work of many of the protagonists in this debate - uncharacteristic of historians reviewing the work of peers - suggests that only a minority on either side have approached the issues involved in a dispassionate and non-partisan manner. The majority, whose biases are all too evident, are clearly not governed by the exacting techniques of impartial investigation used by historians in their quests for truth about the past. For these people - Revisionists and anti-Revisionists alike - history has become what David Thomson calls "the tool of propaganda: not the touchstone of truth, but the whetstone for grinding axes."
A relatively- small number of persons on both sides of the Holocaust debate have striven
conscientiously to throw light on the past by the careful and systematic piecing together of evidence. Yet the vast majority on both sides - including many historians - appear to believe the past is important only as a source of ammunition to fire at their present-day religious, racial or political opponents. As their dissemination of information is designed to assist their own causes and damage the causes of their opponents, these people could rightly be called propagandists.
It is not the purpose of this study to dwell on the war being waged between propagandists on both sides of the debate, but to describe and explain the activities of - and responses to - those Revisionists engaged in more scholarly activities. Before we continue, however, it may be germane to deal briefly with the anti-Revisionist claim that all Revisionists are right-wing, racist extremists who are unworthy of serious consideration.
Revisionists, according to their opponents, are anti-Semites and neo-Nazis with 'extreme right' social and political ideologies. By way of illustration, the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith, which is fiercely opposed to Revisionism, stated:
The Holocaust "revisionism" movement is motivated by three main goals: 1) to develop new avenues of expression for anti-Semitic themes, especially conspiracy theories accusing "Zionists" (read, "Jews") of manipulating the news media and financial and political institutions; 2) to rehabilitate the reputations of the Third Reich and its leaders; and 3) to attack and undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
Deborah Lipstadt - a Jewish historian at Occidental College, Los Angeles, and an authority on the subject - believes that Revisionists are like flat-earth theorists whose beliefs are founded on ideology, not on a careful consideration of evidence. "The deniers' quest is not a search for truth," she says. "Rather, they are motivated by racism, extremism and virulent anti-Semitism". On another occasion Lipstadt insisted that Revisionists are motivated "by a strong conglomeration of conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic ravings, and neo-Nazi tendencies." Gill Seidel, a lecturer in French at Bradford University and the author of The Holocaust Denial, a well-researched but tendentious volume on Revisionism, wrote:
Why attempt to deny the Holocaust? Neo-Nazis today are trying to revive Nazi racist ideas. They are keenly aware that they must do something about their public image if they are to attract an important following. The Holocaust is the biggest obstacle in their way, so it must be explained away or denied altogether.... Contemporary Nazis claim to be 'Revisionists' engaged in 'revising' history ... but these neo-Nazi fabrications bear no relation to historical data.
Claims that Revisionists are necessarily anti-Semites and neo-Nazis with extreme right social and political ideologies do appear at first sight to be well-founded. Most anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi groups promote the Revisionist interpretation of the Holocaust, as even a quick glance through their unsavory newspapers reveals. Upon closer scrutiny, however, it becomes evident that these claims are probably not sustainable. Whilst the majority of anti-Semites and neo-Nazis promote Revisionism, the majority of Revisionists do not promote anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism.
The present writer selected at random 110 organisations listed in Laird Wilcox's Guide to the American Right: Directory and Bibliography (1991 edition), and sent them all an identically-worded letter asking if they were active in either the dissemination of Holocaust Revisionist material or efforts to oppose and prevent its dissemination. 110 organisations listed in Wilcox's Guide to the American Left: Directory and Bibliography (1991 edition), were also selected at random and sent the same letter. It was also sent to 60 randomly-selected organisations listed in the directory of 'foreign' right-wing groups compiled by Ed Nowicki of Willow Springs, Illinois, who works closely with various Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups. A similar list for left-wing groups outside the United States was not available.
Replies were received from 69 American right-wing organizations. Of these, 27 (39%) said they were active in the dissemination of Holocaust Revisionist material, whilst none said they were involved in efforts to oppose and prevent its dissemination. Replies were received from 46 American left-wing organizations. Of these, only 4 (8.5%) said they were active in the dissemination of Holocaust Revisionist material, whilst 9 (19.5%) said they were involved in efforts to oppose and prevent its dissemination. Replies were received from 41 right-wing organizations in a variety of countries (including Argentina, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Holland, South Africa and Spain). Of these, 13 (36%) said they were active in the dissemination of Holocaust Revisionist material. None said they opposed its dissemination.
Because of the small number of letters sent and the even smaller number of replies received, this survey exercise obviously has a high margin of potential error. Nonetheless, it at least allows conclusions to be made which are based on evidence more substantial than the claims of
groups with known biases. Of the 27 American right-wing groups actively supporting Revisionism, only 2 appear to promote Nazi themes and symbolism, whilst 9 appear to advocate strong ethnic or racial chauvinism (without any Nazism). The other 16 appear to have libertarian, conservative or fundamentalist Christian focuses with no strong evidence of fascism or anti-Semitism. Of the 13 right-wing groups outside the United States, only 1 appears to promote Nazi themes and symbolism, whilst 4 appear to advocate strong ethnic or racial chauvinism. The other 8 show no evidence of fascism or anti-Semitism. Thus, it appears that most right-wing groups are not interested in Holocaust Revisionism. Moreover, the majority of right-wing groups which do actively support Revisionism are not anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi. These findings clearly contradict the claims of anti-Revisionists.
Additionally, four left-wing groups informed this writer that they actively support Holocaust Revisionism. All four groups have traditional liberal focuses. None exhibit ethnic or racial chauvinism. Whilst these groups are far outnumbered by left-wing groups actively opposing Revisionism, their position demonstrates that Revisionism is not exclusively right-wing. Indeed, several of France's leading Revisionists are leftists (as was Paul Rassinier, the very first Holocaust Revisionist). It should also be remembered that Wilcox's political guides only list groups and organisations that are perceived to be left-wing or right-wing. They do not list those which would be classed loosely as 'centrist'. Moreover, they do not list individuals. There are countless Revisionists around the world who are not involved in right-wing or left-wing groups or organizations, or who are not politically-active in any relevant sense.
Thus, the results of this writer's small survey suggest that Holocaust Revisionism is actively supported by a sizeable minority (but nowhere near a majority) of right-wing groups, whilst it is actively opposed by a sizeable minority of left-wing groups. Yet its support does not come only from the right; a small amount comes from the left. Doubtless some also comes from persons of neither the left, nor the right. Of the right-wing organizations and groups supporting Holocaust Revisionism, only a minority are anti-Semitic or fascistic (an important point to note). Therefore, claims that Revisionists are necessarily anti-Semites and neo-Nazis with extreme-right ideologies appear to be groundless.
It is disconcerting, nonetheless, that a high proportion of anti-Semites and neo-Nazis choose to support Holocaust Revisionism. Their publications contain Revisionist articles, although they are generally of a very low standard of scholarship and full of indefensible conspiracy theories involving Jews and international Zionism. Anti-Semites and neo-Nazis frequently attend Revisionist meetings, and turn out to protest with placards containing racist or fascistic slogans at the court appearances of Revisionists on trial for their beliefs. It is clear that these propagandists are not really Revisionists. Unlike some Revisionist writers, they do not impartially reappraise events of the past in the light of newly found documentary sources, by reconsidering the known source from a different point of view, or by using a different methodology. They are unconcerned about historical truth, and have simply appropriated elements of genuine Revisionism in order to support their preconceived notions about the Nazi regime and to attack and discredit the Jewish people.
These extremists must never be denied the right to express freely their views without fear of reprisals. That does not mean that their views on history are worthy of the same scholarly consideration as those of Revisionists who strive to illuminate events of the past by the thoughtful even-handed and systematic piecing together of evidence. It is therefore only the latter group which will be investigated in this study.
Anti-Revisionists - including many scholars - tend to be intolerant to all views other than their own. They insist that most aspects of the Holocaust are not, and can never be, open to legitimate scholarly debate. Deborah Lipstadt, for example, condemns teachers and lecturers who believe the Revisionist interpretation of the Holocaust should be mentioned in history courses as the 'other side' of the debate. There is no debate, she insists, and there certainly is no 'other side'. Moreover, "those who are committed to the liberal idea of dialogue fail to realize that certain views are beyond the bounds of rational discourse." Lipstadt, who is clearly disturbed by what she perceives to be the "dangers of free inquiry", advocates a kind of censorship of Revisionism. The media should deny Revisionists a public airing of their views, and the public should be discouraged from giving them a 'fair hearing'.
The historical arguments of Revisionists should not be, according to their opponents, treated with the same consideration as orthodox views. To do so, or even to enter into rational discourse with Revisionists, risks "giving their efforts the imprimatur of a legitimate historical option." The present writer asked Yad Vashem, one or the world's largest Holocaust research centres, how the theses of Holocaust revisionists should best be responded to. Menahem Fogel of that institute replied: "my advice to you is not even to enter into a discussion of this nature. The only thing it does is give legitimisation to the creeps & low-lifes who argue the opposite. Don't dignify them with a response."
Lipstadt, Fogel and other anti-Revisionists appear to be in error on several points. First, [p. 15]
Revisionism has emerged as a distinct group of people sharing a common set of historical approaches, methodologies and interpretations. Regardless of what one thinks of Revisionism or the strength of its arguments, one must agree that it is now a clearly-defined school of thought. Accordingly, there are now two rival schools of thought on the Holocaust, and their competing theses now represent two 'sides' of a controversy.
Second, claims that Revisionist theses will somehow gain "legitimization" by being discussed as the 'other side' of a debate, or by being impartially analysed by scholars and students, are indefensible. Any viewpoint based on (and containing no departures from) sound cognitive processes is as "legitimate" as any other viewpoint until someone can demonstrate that it is lacking in logic or rationality or that it is based on a defective or improper consideration of evidence. Therefore, it is nonsensical to assume that one can "legitimise" another person's views by merely mentioning them as the 'other side' of a debate or by analysing them impartially. It is proper that if a controversy exists teachers should present students with the arguments of both sides and then demonstrate which arguments lack rationality or are based on a defective or improper consideration of evidence. If Revisionist arguments are specious they will not be "legitimised" by being presented in this fashion. They will be exposed and discredited.
Lastly, the censorship and repression or Revisionist views have not managed to prevent their dissemination. On occasions such actions have even given Revisionists an underdog image and buttressed their claims that anti-Revisionists refuse to debate the issues for fear that their theses will not stand up to criticism. Moreover, some anti-Revisionists have gone beyond attempts at censoring and repressing Revisionist views, and have been willing to use violence to silence the Revisionists. Professor Robert Faurisson, by way of illustration, had spent almost a decade fighting legal suits brought against him because of his Revisionist views. He had also been suspended indefinitely from his teaching position at the University of Lyon-2. Nonetheless, he refused to bow to what he considered to be intimidation and continued to defend publicly his views on the Holocaust.
Accordingly, whilst walking his dog through a park near his Vichy home on September 16, 1989, Faurisson - a slightly-built, bespectacled man - was attacked by three Jewish members of Les Fils de la mémoire juive ('The Sons of the Memory of the Jews'). Even after the sixty-year-old had acid sprayed into his eyes and was knocked to the ground in a flurry of blows, his assailants continued to kick and punch him repeatedly in the head, face and chest. Only the intervention of passers-by stopped the violent attack. Nonetheless, Faurisson was left with a [p. 16] broken jaw, nose and ribs, and severe injuries to his head. After ten days in hospital, during which time he underwent a four-and-a-half hour operation to repair his badly shattered jaw, he was allowed to return home, still in pain. It took another two months before he could speak and eat without difficulty. Les Fils de la mémoire juive not only claimed responsibility for the attack but ominously threatened: "Professor Faurisson is the first but will not be the last. Let those who deny the Shoah [Holocaust] beware." ("Le professeur Faurisson est le premier, mais ne sera pas le dernier. Que les négateurs de la Shoah soient prudents") Actually, Faurisson may have been the first target of this particular Jewish group, but previously he had been physically assaulted six times. Moreover, his September 1989 attack was the worst he had personally suffered, but it was not the worst attack on a Revisionist. On March 18, 1978 François Duprat, another French Revisionist, was murdered by a "Jewish revolutionary group" which had planted a bomb in his car.
Dozens of similar acts of violence against Revisionists could be described. Whilst these violent acts are certainly not typical of the Jewish response to Revisionism, they do cast new light on Jewish claims that Revisionists are militant extremists. In fact, one must concede that there has been considerably more violence against Revisionists than from them.
Much of the anger towards Revisionists has been generated by their claims - which at first sight seem astonishing and indefensible - that there were no Nazi gas chambers. Jews and other anti-Revisionists have clearly found these claims about the gas chambers to be the most hurtful and distressing of the many Revisionist arguments on the Holocaust. However, that the Nazis never exterminated systematically Jews and others by gassing is the most important Revisionist argument. The Institute for Historical Review claims, for example:
without the gas chambers, this tiling [the murder of six million Jews] could not exist. Neither could have existed the "program of extermination" itself' nor today could exist quite the same degree and kind of emotional imagery that the "program" conjures up. In order to really have implemented such a program, much less be so "successful" at it, the Nazis would have had to have some sort of modern, technological, large-scale apparatus to accomplish it; assorted shootings wouldn't do it. In order to impress upon peoples' minds the specially cold, calm, bureaucratic and efficient horror-image of the Nazis that is desired, there must be some such mental image as that of SS guards packing naked people sardine-tight into a giant gas chamber and then turning on the technology in the form of gas and vents and hermetically sealed doors; assorted shootings - so common in a war, after all and to all won't do it. No, the gas chambers are essential; by their stress the [Holocaust] propagandists have made them so. If they didn't really exist, the core of the "extermination program" story comes tumbling straight down.
Even if Revisionists are right and there were no gas chambers, the Nazis would not be 'off the hook' regarding their treatment of the Jews. Hundreds of thousands of Jews (or even more) unnecessarily lost their lives during the Second World War. Pogroms, random atrocities and Einsatzgruppen actions claimed the lives of tens of thousands. Routine brutality claimed the lives of thousands more. Because of the squalid conditions they were forced to live in, tens - perhaps even hundreds - of thousands perished from diarrhea, typhoid fever, and a range of other epidemics. Countless other Jews simply served or were worked to death.
However, if it could be demonstrated conclusively that the Nazis never operated homicidal gas chambers it would indeed be difficult to sustain the argument that they had a programme of systematic extermination or that their crimes were historically unique. One could argue, after all, that the Nazis' other crimes (deportations, concentration camps, slave labour, random massacres and so on) were not unique. The Stalinist purges of the 1930s, for example, resulted in innumerable deaths. During the Second World War the Soviets committed many well-documented atrocities, including the massacre of over 14,000 Polish officers in the Katyn forest. Between 1945 and 1949 the Soviet occupation authorities forced hundreds of thousands of Germans into internment camps, many of them actually former Nazi concentration camps. In Buchenwald alone some 13,000 Germans died at the hands of the Soviets. A number of the mass graves were found only in recent years. Around one million German prisoners of war - most forced to sleep in holes in the ground with no shelter - died of starvation, disease and exposure in mid-1945 at the hands of the French and Americans who deliberately withheld food and medical care. At the Potsdam Conference of July-August 1945 the 'Big Three' - the governments of Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union - jointly agreed to the forced expulsion of more than twelve million Germans from their homes in central and eastern Europe. During these brutal deportations more than one (and possibly up to two) million German men, women and children perished.
Relativising the Nazis' crimes in this manner is only possible and appropriate if it can be demonstrated conclusively that systematic extermination by gassing did not occur. The realisation of this fact may account for the obsession both sides have with the gas chambers. Jews and other anti-Revisionists sincerely believe that the Nazis systematically exterminated many millions of people (mostly Jews) in gas chambers designed and constructed especially for the task. They believe that Nazi crimes against the Jewish people are therefore unique and without anything remotely approaching an historical precedent. Accordingly, they feel distressed and outraged that Revisionists question and challenge the reliability and credibility of the evidence supporting claims of mass gassings. Whilst these feelings are understandable and it is easy to empathise with those who have them, they effectively discourage free inquiry. A number of anti-Revisionist scholars unfortunately appear to have become so defensive of the gas chambers that they see no need to submit the evidence for their existence and mode of operation to even-handed analysis based on accepted methodological principles. In 1979, for instance, thirty-four French historians issued a strange public statement in response to Robert Faurisson's complex argument that it was technically impossible to gas people in the manner described in the sources. Insisting that there was no need to investigate exactly how the gas chambers operated, the historians stated:
It is not necessary to ask how technically such a mass murder was possible. It was possible technically since it took place. That is the necessary point of departure for any historical inquiry on the subject. It is our function simply to recall the truth: there is not, there cannot be, any debate about the existence of the gas chambers.
Revisionists, on the other hand, sincerely believe they can prove that the Nazis did not murder Jews or anyone else in gas chambers. Consequently, they argue that whilst the Nazis' crimes were bad they were no worse than those of their opponents. Their relativist arguments are generally plausible, but they occasionally say and write things that diminish the weight of those arguments. Several Revisionists claim, for example, that the fire-bombing of Dresden, Hamburg and other German cities was "the real Holocaust" (a holocaust is a 'burnt' offering). In a decidedly biased and unscholarly article in the Journal of Historical Review, Michael A. Hoffman II wrote:
The overwhelming holocaust of the modern era, for which there is a lot of the forensic proof the Jewish "Holocaust" is supposed to contain and from which it is also intended to detract, is the merciless Allied fire-bombing holocaust against Hamburg, Berlin, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and dozens of other major civilian centres.
Such insensitive statements convey nothing of substance or significance and are likely to inflame and distress Jewish people.
Revisionists zealously submit the evidence for the gas chambers' existence and mode of operation to what they claim is even-handed analysis based on correct methodological principles. They first point out that popular - as opposed to scholarly - opinion on the gas chambers is based largely on ignorance and misinformation. Many people, they note, still describe them as "gas ovens", a term implying that Jews were somehow gassed and burned in the same apparatus by the same process. Revisionists are correct, of course, in scoffing at these claims about "gas ovens". There were no such things. Accepted scholarly opinion is that Jews and others were crowded into concrete and brick buildings ("gas chambers"). Poisonous gas was then fed into the chambers, which caused, after a short duration, the deaths of everyone inside. After being dragged from the chambers by special teams of prisoners, the cadavers were then taken away to separate cremation facilities and burnt in coal fired or coke fired cremation ovens (electric versions of which are still used in all major cities).
In their efforts to furnish proof that there were no Nazi gas chambers, Revisionists have uncovered important bodies of evidence previously ignored by their opponents. For example, the Panstwowe Muzeum Oswiecim Brzezinka (PMO, or Auschwitz State Museum) had in its archives numerous original German architectural plans and blueprints of the buildings believed to have been gas chambers. Yet these plains and blueprints were not published and discussed by scholars upholding accepted opinion on the Holocaust until after Robert Faurisson began publishing them as evidence that the buildings could never have functioned as gas chambers. Faurisson first published two blueprints in the August 1979 issue of the Italian magazine, Storia Illustrata. Since then, Revisionists have clearly been more active than their opponents in familiarising themselves will the blueprints and - through visiting Auschwitz - with the physical remains of the structures purported to have been gas chambers. As a result of this research Revisionists now maintain that the specifications and layouts of the buildings' physical remains match identically those shown in the blueprints. Yet descriptions of the gas chambers given in the already-contradictory eyewitness accounts resemble neither the physical remains nor the buildings shown in the blueprints. They also argue that many physical features in the buildings - as indicated by the original blueprints and an examination of the physical remains - reveal the impossibility of the gassing procedures described in those accounts. Further, the very dimensions of the buildings reveal the physical impossibility of even getting the claimed numbers of victims into them at a time.
The brick and concrete rooms at Auschwitz claimed to have been gas chambers were, according to Revisionists, ordinary morgues. They point out that they are described as morgues ('Leichenkeller', lit. 'corpse cellars') in the original German blueprints and in the large number of extant documents and invoices issued or received by Auschwitz camp authorities. They are not described as "gas chambers" (Gaskammern) in any of these sources.
The crematory ovens in Auschwitz and other alleged death camps did exist, Revisionists claim, but are certainly not evidence of mass murder. Tens of thousands of people died in the camps from typhus, starvation and a range of other 'natural causes' and their cadavers were disposed of efficiently and hygienically in crematory ovens. The ovens in these 'death camps' were the same as those in dozens of concentration camps where mass murder is known to have not been conducted. They were also the same as those in many mortuaries in German cities. Moreover, neither these ovens nor the highly-advanced crematory ovens of today could cremate anywhere near the staggering numbers per day claimed in the so called eyewitness accounts of gassings.
Scholars upholding received opinion on the Holocaust were slow to respond directly to these arguments. Until the late 1980s only a small number of articles were published (most in France) in which the claims of Revisionists regarding the operation of the gas chambers were challenged. In 1989, however, Jean Claude Pressac's book Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers was published. This 564-page book was promoted by the publishers as "a scientific rebuttal of those who deny the gas chambers". Indeed, Auschwitz: Technique is a painstakingly-researched attempt to refute and discredit the claims of Revisionists (particularly Faurisson). Pressac visited Auschwitz fifteen times between 1979 and 1987, and spent a total of almost one hundred days conducting detailed investigations of the sites and the museum's extensive archives, probably the only researcher to have made more trips to Auschwitz is Ditlieb Felderer, an eccentric Swedish Revisionist. Pressac's book contains numerous photographs of Auschwitz taken in the 1970s and 1980s as well as many taken during -the war. It also contains several hundred high-quality photographic reproductions of original German plans, blueprints and relevant camp records (with translations). Added to these sources is a significant series of documents from the Staatsarchiv Weimar relating to the design and construction of the J. A. Topf & Söhne cremation ovens used in the Auschwitz complex. Most of the material compiled by Pressac was previously unpublished. Even if only for this fact, the book is worthy of praise.
Auschwitz: Technique is clearly the strongest defense of accepted opinion on the gas chambers to date. Pressac admitted that there is "an absence of any 'direct', i.e. palpable, indisputable and evident, proof" that homicide gassings occurred in Auschwitz, but he argued that there are numerous "indirect proofs". An "indirect" proof, he said, is a German document that does not clearly indicate the presence of homicidal gas chambers but which contains evidence that logically it is impossible for it to mean anything else. Pressac actually discovered a large amount of indirect evidence which supports by inference the conclusion that homicidal gas chambers did exist in Auschwitz and were used to exterminate systematically over a million humans. Most historians would be satisfied with this level of evidence and would consider it almost to be 'proof'. Nonetheless, the book fails to demonstrate conclusively that such gassings took place or that the principal Revisionist theses are erroneous.
Revisionists, aware that inferential evidence is always more open to multiple interpretations than direct evidence, have had no difficulty in countering all of Pressac's arguments. As they point out in many reviews of Auschwitz: Technique, various other logical and plausible interpretations of Pressac's "indirect proofs" are possible, and none indicate the existence of homicidal gas chambers. Moreover, they say, Pressac actually made a number of major concessions to Revisionism. To provide just a few examples: Pressac stated that certain Soviet propagandists manufactured incriminating evidence and made structural changes to buildings after the liberation of Auschwitz. He acknowledged that cremation is considerably more time-consuming and problematic than Holocaust historians have claimed. The numerous eyewitness accounts about 10,000 or more cadavers being cremated daily in Auschwitz are grossly exaggerated and impossible. Also ridiculous, he continued, are the widely-repeated claims that the ovens operated continuously for days or weeks on end. He agreed with Revisionists that 'Sonderaktion' ('special action'), a seemingly-incriminating phrase found in some German documents, was not necessarily a euphemism for 'extermination'. He also agreed that the well-documented delivery of many tons of Zyklon-B to Auschwitz is not evidence of homicidal gassings. Whilst he stated that a little Zyklon-B was used for such gassings, Pressac admitted that approximately ninety-five percent of all Zyklon-B delivered to Auschwitz was used both in sophisticated disinfestation chambers to delouse clothing and bedding and in the barracks and facilities themselves as a means of countering the many typhus epidemics. Zyklon-B was, after all, a pesticide. Perhaps most importantly, he conceded that several key eyewitness accounts of gassings in Auschwitz - including those by Bendel, Nyiszli, Tauber and Vrba (WRB) - are filled with errors, distortions and fabrications. Holocaust scholars' excessive reliance on, and improper consideration of, these sources even prompted Pressac to attack accepted opinion on the Holocaust. "My work," he said, "has enabled me to demolish certain absurd theories, expose certain lies and correct certain errors." "This study", he said at another point,
already demonstrates the complete bankruptcy of the traditional history [of the Holocaust]... a history based for the most part on testimonies, assembled according to the need of the moment, truncated to fit an arbitrary truth and sprinkled with a few German documents of uneven value and without any connection with one another.
Because of the wealth of previously unknown primary documentation it contains, which has resulted in both anti-Revisionists and Revisionists considering new approaches and new evidence, Pressac's book should be seen as an important contribution to the accumulated body of knowledge about the Holocaust. Nonetheless, the book is not what its publishers promote it as: the definitive refutation of Revisionist claims regarding the gas chambers in Auschwitz. The controversy over the gas chambers continues and will probably do so for several years to come.
We have so far only briefly introduced the debate over the existence of Nazi gas chambers. Important aspects of that debate will be described and explained in more detail in relevant sections of this thesis. It may already be apparent, however, that there exists a major Historikerstreit over the nature and scope of the Holocaust and that the historical issues involved in this dispute are of great importance. These issues are so important that the claims of Revisionists - by no means limited to the gas chambers - can no longer be ignored or dismissed out of hand.
This study is not intended as an attack on Revisionists or their detractors, nor is it intended to provide simply an overview of the bitter war being fought between the two sides. Rather, the purpose of this study is to describe and explain the development and significance of Holocaust Revisionism. This involves identifying the Revisionists, describing what they have to say, assessing the sources and methods they employ, and arriving at an impartial and dispassionate judgement on their work. Because public and scholarly responses to Holocaust Revisionism have at times directly shaped and influenced the growth and development of this highly unorthodox school of historical thought, it is also necessary to describe and explain those responses. This focus on the Revisionists was prompted by neither antipathy nor admiration for them, but by the realisation that very little has been written on them by persons willing to give them a 'fair hearing'.
 S. Wiesenthal, Justice: Not Vengeance Translated from the German by Ewald Osers (London: Mandarin, 1989), p. 393
 Denying the Holocaust, Paper no. 3, delivered by Yisrael Gutman (with responses by Bauer, et al.) at the Study Circle on World Jewry at the Residence of the President of Israel, May 13, 1984 (Series 14, 1984-1985). Published by the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Antisemitism, Jerusalem, 1985, p. 33
 Ibid., p. 39
 Worldwide Growth and Impact of 'Holocaust' Revisionism, IHR Special Report (Costa Mesa: Institute for Historical Review, 1987). The above summary of which Holocaust claims are accepted by Revisionists was also based on a summary found within this booklet
 E. Loftus, Memory: Surprising new insights into how we remember and why we forget (Reading, Mass., and other centres: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1980), p. 169
 E. Loftus and K. Ketchum, Witness for the Defense (New York: St. Martins Press, 1991), p. 20
 Cf. G. Sereny, "The men who whitewash Hitler", New Statesman, November 2, 1979, p. 670-673. According to Sereny, "even reputable historians often fail in their duty of care. For instance, Martin Gilbert (biographer of Churchill) offers in Final Journey what is in many ways an admirably-presented résumé of what happened to the European Jews. But by quoting supposed 'eyewitnesses' who in fact are repeating hearsay, Gilbert perpetuates errors which - because they are so easily disproved - provide revisionists opportunities." (p. 672)
 B. Amouyal, "Doubts over evidence of camp survivors", Jerusalem Post, August 17, 1986, p. 1
 Hilberg interview, Jerusalem Post: International Edition, week ending June 28, 1986, p. 8
 Cf. Arno J. Mayor's comments to this effect on page 362 of his Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? The "Final Solution" in History (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988)
 "Appointment with Hate", Legends of Our Time (New York: Avon Books, 1968), pp. 177-8. Cf. R. Faurisson, A Prominent False Witness: Elie Wiesel, p. 5; Weber testimony, SZTR, 23-5768, 5769; M. Weber, "An Open Letter to the Rev. Mark Herbener", The Journal of Historical Review. Volume Eight, Number Two (Summer 1988), p. 18; et al.
 Cf. Q. Gibson, The Logic of Social Enquiry (London: Published for the International Library of Sociology and Social Reconstruction by Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960), pp. 83 ff.
 D. Thomson, The Aims of History: Values of the Historical Attitude (London: Thames and Hudson, 1969), p. 10
 Holocaust "Revisionism": Reinventing the Big Lie (New York: Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1989), p. 4
 Quoted in R. Gillman, "Truth of the Holocaust", The San Diego Union, 1991; cf. R. Bernstein, "Untwisting Revisionism on Holocaust", New York Times, June 20, 1988
 D. E. Lipstadt, "Deniers, Relativists, and Pseudo-Scholarship", Dimensions: A Journal of Holocaust Studies, Volume 6, no. 1, p. 5
 G. Seidel, The Holocaust Denial: Antisemitism, Racism & the New Right (Leeds: Beyond the Pale Collective, 1986), pp. 38, 41. Beyond the Pale Collective promotes itself as "a radical Jewish publishing collective". "As far as we are concerned," writes the Collective, "a personal 'obsession' with the Holocaust is not only legitimate; it is a political necessity", (p. xxii)
 (Olathe, Kansas: Laird Wilcox Editorial Research Service, 1991). Laird Wilcox is the founder of the Wilcox Collection on Contemporary Political Movements, housed in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas. It is one of the largest collections of the literature of the American political 'left' and 'right' in existence. Wilcox, an authority on extremist groups, publishes a civil rights newsletter and a variety of useful political guides.
 Lipstadt, "Deniers", p. 7
 Ibid., p. 6
 Ibid., p. 8
 Letter from Menahem Fogel, Spokesman for Yad Vashem, dated 19 Kislev 5750 (December 17, 1989). Deborah Lipstadt, also warned that Revisionist theses would gain legitimacy by being made the object of this study, told the present writer: "I certainly hope you do not fall ''into the trap of taking them seriously." Letter dated January 15, 1992.
 "Robert Faurisson attaqué à Vichy", La Montagne, September 17, 1989; "L'agression contre M. Robert Faurisson revendiquée par «Les fils de la mémoire juive»", Le Monde, September 19, 1989; et al.
 "Une agression revendiquée par «les Fils de la mémoire juive»", La Montagne, September 17, 1989, p. 5. Faurisson is considered to be the world's leading Holocaust Revisionist. He was educated in Singapore, Japan, Marseilles and in Paris at the renowned Sorbonne where he received in 1956 the Agrégation des Lettres, the highest competitive examination for teachers in France. In 1972 he earned his Doctorat d'État of Lettres et Sciences Humaines from the Sorbonne, where he taught from 1969 to 1974. From 1974 to 1979 he served as Associate Professor of French Literature at the Université Lumière in Lyon. The public controversy surrounding him began on November 16, 1978, when he published an article on his Revisionist beliefs in the newspaper Le Matin de Paris. In December 1979 the president of that university succumbed to pressure from Jewish groups outraged at his Revisionist views, and suspended Faurisson indefinitely. Finally, on March 17, 1990, a decision of Lionel Jospin, the French Minister of Education, deprived Faurisson of his tenured chair and assigned him to the Vanves branch of the Centre National d'Enseignement à Distance (National Centre for Correspondence Courses). Faurisson has published four books on French literature and several Revisionist books, booklets and articles on the Holocaust.
 Cf. Le Monde, March 19-20, March 23, April 26, May 7-8 (all 1978). Duprat had been a Revisionist for many years, and had published an article on the gas chambers as early as 1967 Défense de l'Occident, June 1967, pp. 30-33)
 Worldwide Growth and Impact of 'Holocaust' Revisionism, IHR Special Report (Torrance: Institute for Historical Review, 1987), p. 22
 "Il ne faut pas se demander comment, techniquement, un tel meurtre de masse a été possible. Il a été possible techniquement puisqu'il a eu lieu. Tel est le point de depart obligé de toute enquête historique sur ce sujet. Cette verité, il nous appartenait de la rappeler simplement: il n'y a pas, il ne peut y avoir de débat sur l' existence des chambres à gaz." (Le Monde, February 21, 1979, p. 23. Emphasis in original)
 M. A. Hoffman II, "The Psychology and Epistemology of 'Holocaust' Newspeak", The Journal of Historical Review, Volume Six, No. 4, Winter 1985-86, p. 470; Cf. Weber testimony, SZTR, 24-6133, 6134; D. Irving, "On Contemporary History and Historiography", The Journal of Historical Review, Volume Five, Nos. 2,3,4, Winter 1984, p. 273; C. Weber, The 'Holocaust': 120 Questions and Answers (Torrance: Institute for Historical Review, 1983), p. 7; et al.
 There is only one possible exception: a civilian Auschwitz construction worker's daily report of March 2, 1943 (PMO Pile BW 30/28, p. 68). It refers to concrete being placed on the floor of the Gasskammer (sic) of Krema IV. However, see the clarifying comments of E. Aynat in his article, "Neither Trace Nor Proof: The Seven Auschwitz 'Gassing' Sites", The Journal of Historical Review, Volume Eleven, Number Two, Summer 1991, p. 203-204
 J-C. Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (New York: The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1989). Sec below, pp. 226 ff.
 Felderer is a talented and experienced researcher, and the approximately 30,000 photographs and slides he has taken during his forty or so visits to the Auschwitz complex are an extremely valuable source of information. Felderer's photographs, for example, include many of the cinema, brothel, sports fields and swimming pool used by Auschwitz internees. That they were used by internees and not by the SS was confirmed by Franciszek Piper of the PMO. (SZTR, 19-4258, 4266, 4267, 4275, 4276, 4277, 4278, 4375, 4376, 4413,4713). Unfortunately, Felderer occasionally deviates from normal patterns of behavior, and has done such bizarre things as publishing a satirical pamphlet (R!1305 ] 19S!) [aaargh: ?] entitled "Please Accept this Hair of A Gassed Victim". The pamphlet was addressed to Kazimierz Smolen, the PMO's director. It informed him that their exhibits of human hair are no more proof of homicidal gassings than his own garbage at home in Sweden. The pamphlet encouraged readers not to discard their hair next time they have it cut but to send it Smolen and the PMO to enlarge the museum's collection of fabricated exhibits. Felderer's evidence regarding Auschwitz should not be disregarded because of his obvious eccentricity but several of his ill-considered and insensitive actions - such as sending out this pamphlet - have naturally distressed Jewish people and are therefore to be condemned.
 Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique, p. 429
 For the most important Revisionist critiques, see below, p. 227, n. 82
 Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique, p. 472
 Ibid., p. 264